Welcome to my blog, or should I say to the ramblings of an old man. I doubt that my ramblings are of much value, but at least I have an opportunity to share them.  So, please be kind and humor me. If nothing else of value stands out in these thoughts, I hope that you at least sense the value I place on a daily walk with the Lord.  That walk is what has provided me with motivation and a sense of purpose throughout my lifetime.  My prayer is that you, too, are experiencing this direction and joy in daily living which is available to everyone who puts his trust in Christ.  So, thanks again for joining me.  Please don't go without leaving some comments here so I can get to know you better as our paths intersect today in this blog.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Lessons In Living and Dying

Tomorrow we will bury my Aunt Thelma Smock. Over my lifetime she taught me many lessons about living and serving the Lord. During the past few weeks she taught me many lessons about making the final journey home to heaven. Aunt Thelma has always been a part of my life. She helped care for me as a baby. Her wedding and reception are the first that I remember attending. I recall going to visit her and Uncle Bob when they led tent meetings at their mission work in Trenton, New Jersey. Later I loved visiting them when they ministered in Staten Island. There they taught me to love and enjoy the city of New York. I can recall going swimming there and riding the ferry and the subway to visit museums and zoos. For most of my life they have been part of Christmas, sharing in the family celebrations in Bethlehem and Sunbury and hosting the family gatherings where they ministered in Terre Hill, Royersford and Ephrata. When I was a teenager they cared for me while I worked to set up tents at Mizpah Grove and later a second week when I helped tear them down at the end of the season. In the evenings we would go to Hellertown to swim and to the parsonage in Bethlehem to play games. Yes, in those days I enjoyed playing games! During times at Mizpah they introduced me to pizza - well, maybe that wasn't a good thing because now I can eat too much of it. For many summers we spent a week together as a family at Mt. Gretna. As a teen, growing up in a small newly formed church in Lancaster, they often included me in their teen activities at their church in Terre Hill. They cared about my spiritual and social growth. They attended my high school graduation and I can still remember Aunt Thelma complementing me on the special number sung there by our choir. But maybe the biggest influences upon me came from their work with children. They had a huge bus ministry in Ephrata and their DVBS's were exciting and spectacular everywhere they ministered. Some years they had nearly 1,000 children attend. They always featured some large mechanical model - a train, a boat, a space ship, a car - something that would actually move and kids who earned the most points could ride. Aunt Thelma used a vent figure - she wasn't really a good ventriloquist, but she did keep the attention of the kids as she shared Gospel truths. They had a Bible verse put to music for every letter of the alphabet and would rotate teaching these over three years. They loved and reached many thousands of children over the years. They influenced us in ministering to children. As we've now spent about 50 or more years doing that, we have borrowed many of their ideas, like using ventriloquism and teaching verses by putting them to music (I've probably written 50 or more of these choruses). They always shopped for bargains and their storage areas were always filled with tablets, paper goods, candy, food and you name it. If there was a bargain to find, they found it and would buy large quantities for future uses at church or in entertaining others. They had the gift of hospitality and were loved by many. In recent years, one of the highlights of our summers has been attending the same week at Pinebrook that they attended. We'd sit and talk and play games (there is that ugly word again) until late in the night. It was just special being with them and learning from them. We will miss this time greatly. But Aunt Thelma also taught me much about dying. After her husband passed away she continued to joyfully serve the Lord and others. She was faithful in visiting and caring for those in need until she could no longer do it . We first visited her in the hospital a few weeks ago when she was having an ultrasound in her room. They allowed us to stay while this was being done. Aunt Thelma was so kind to the technicians - they said they loved her - and she was so faithful in witnessing to them, despite her discomfort. She told us that she was looking forward to our annaul New Year's Day Kauffman reunion. In our hearts that day we knew that she might actually be attending a more important reunion that day, and she will. She determined that she was ready to move on to heaven and that she would not take any treatments or surgery to try and prolong her life here. Later, when the doctors fearfully came to tell her that her situation was terminal, she rejoiced and told them that the Lord had given her 87 great years here on earth and that she was ready to go home. As we visited her in Calvary Homes, her mind was so alert. She always smiled and asked about others. She never complained and I always went home helped more than I had helped her. She was a witness and an encouragement to all who crossed her path. The last time we were with her I asked her to give our love to our loved ones when she arrived in heaven. She said that she would spend the first 100 years there doing just that. When we were ready to leave her, I decided that since she was so weak and tired that I would not pray this time - that was a very bad choice on my part. But she grabbed our hands and closed her eyes. We just waited thinking that she might have gone to sleep. But moments later she opened her eyes and said that she was praying for us. And that one action just portrays the godly woman that she was. Sixty hours later the Lord took her home. I have been blessed to have family members, especially on my father's side, who lived godly lives and demonstrated their genuine and deep faith to me both in life and in death. I deeply miss all of them, but they are now so much better off. And I know that someday we will be reunited and I look forward to that time with much anticipation. Thank you Aunt Thelma. You are special! We will see you again.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Babe In The Manger

For my Christmas blog this year I am sharing the words of a song which my wife and I used to sing every other year, for many years, at our Candlelight Service. Since our simple duets were replaced by the music of more talented musicians, this media is the only way to share this Christmas mesage.

(1) Do you worship the babe in the manger,
but reject the Christ of the Cross?
Your redemption comes not by the manger,
but the death of Christ on the Cross.

(2) If you worship the Babe in the manger,
but ignore the blood of God's Son,
to you Christ is only a stranger,
till you trust the work He has done.

(3) Will you look past the Babe in the manger,
will you look to Calvary?
Oh my friend can you see the danger,
of a lost eternity?
Chorus:
The Babe in the manger was God's only Son,
who came to the world to die.
The Babe in the manger could never have done
the work of His God on high.
The Babe left the manger and went to the Cross,
to pay the wages of sin.
Your way of forgiveness is not by the Babe,
but the Christ who died for your sin.

And that is the message of this wonderful day. Have a very merry and blessed Christmas. May you know the joy of forgiveness of sin provided by the Christ on the Cross who came to earth as the Babe in the manger.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Republican or Democrat?

Here is an easy way to decide if your friends and relatices are Democrats or Republicans.
* Republicans say "Merry Christmas!" Democrats say "Happy Holidays!"
*Republicans help the poor during the holidays by sending $50 to the Salvation Army. Democrats help the poor by giving $50, one buck at a time, to panhandlers on the street.
* Democrats get back at the Republicans on their Christmas list by giving them fruitcakes. Republicans re-wrap them and send them to in-laws.
* Democrats let their kids open all the gifts on Christmas Eve. Republicans make their kids wait until Christmas morning.
* When not in stores, Republicans shop from a catalog. Democrats watch for "incredible TV offers" on late night television.
* Democrats do much of their shopping at Target and Wal-Mart.
So do Republicans, but they don't admit it.
* Republican parents have no problem buying toy guns for their kids. Democrats refuse to do so. That is why their kids pretend to shoot each other with dolls.
* Republicans spends hundreds of dollars and hours of work decorating the yard with outdoor lights and Christmas displays. Democrats save their time and money, and drive around at night to look at *other* people's lights.
* Democrats' favorite Christmas movie is "Miracle on 34th Street." Republicans' favorite Christmas movie is "It's a Wonderful Life." Right-Wing Republicans' favorite Christmas movie is "Die Hard."
* Republicans always take the price tag off expensive gifts before wrapping. Democrats also remove price tags off pricey gifts ... and reposition them to make sure they are seen.
* Republicans wear wide red ties and green sports jackets during the festive season. Democrats do too, all year round.
* Most Republicans try, at least once, enclosing indulgent, wretchedly maudlin form letters about their families in their Christmas cards. Public ridicule from Democrats usually discourages them from doing it again.
* Democrats' favorite Christmas carol is "Deck the Halls." Young Democrats' favorite Christmas carol is "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer." Republicans' favorite Christmas carol is "White Christmas." Young Republicans' favorite Christmas carol is "White Christmas."
* Cheapskate Republicans buy an artificial Christmas tree. Tight-fisted Democrats buy a real tree, but they wait until the week before Christmas when the lots lower their prices. Green Democrats buy a real tree with roots, and then replant it after New Years.
* Republicans see nothing wrong with letting their children play "Cowboys and Indians." Democrats don't either, as long as the Indians win.
* Republicans first began thinking like Republicans when they stopped believing in Santa Claus. Democrats became Democrats because they never stopped believing in Santa Claus.
* Democrat men like to watch football while the women fix holiday meals. On this, Republicans are in full agreement.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas 1914

The war in Europe was only four months old, yet it had already reached a savagery unknown until that time. After the initial success of the German army, the war became a desperate trench struggle with a very high casualty count. The promise of early success seemed like a far away dream. The snow and the cold of 1914 made things even worse, but as the darkness fell on Christmas Eve something happened that would never occur again. Sir Edward Hulse, a 25-year-old lieutenant, wrote in his diary about this strange occurrence. "A scout named F. Marker went out and met a German Patrol and was given a glass of whisky and some cigars, and a message was sent back, saying that if we didn't fire at them they would not fire at us." That night, where the fighting only five days earlier had been fierce, suddenly just stopped. The following morning, Christmas day, German soldiers walked towards the British lines while the British came out to greet their enemy. They exchanged souvenirs with each other and the British gave the German soldiers plum pudding as a Christmas greeting. Soon arrangements were made to bury the dead British soldiers whose bodies were lying in no man's land. The Germans brought the bodies over and prayers were exchanged. The spirit of Christmas overcame the horror of war as peace broke out across the front. The Germans, who previously were viewed as demonized beasts by the British and French, almost always initiated it. This contact was followed by song. The Germans sang 'Die Wacht Am Rhein' and the British soldiers sang 'Christians Wake.' It was in many ways a miracle. Sapper J. Davey, a British soldier, wrote this in his diary. "Most peculiar Christmas I've ever spent and ever likely to. One could hardly believe the happenings." Hate, for a moment, disappeared along the Western front. Another British soldier, Second Lt. Dougan Chater wrote, "About 10 o'clock this morning I was peeping over the parapet when I saw a German, waving his arms, and presently two of them got out of their trenches and came towards ours. We were just going to fire on them when we saw that they had no rifles so one of our men went out to meet them and in about two minutes the ground between the two lines of trenches was swarming with men and officers of both sides, shaking hands and wishing each other a happy Christmas." This continued for nearly an hour before their superiors ordered the men back to their trenches. The powers to be objected to this display of humanity by the common soldier. For a brief moment, their gesture ended a war that the leaders of both sides would continue to fight for nearly four more years. Millions more would die, indeed many of the men who greeted each other would perish, but their sprits live on in history as an example to all of us. Sources: The First World War, Martin Gilbert

P.S. - For those interested in the two false trivia statements from my last blog, the last two were false. Spiders have eight legs and the speed limit was 35 mph.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Stimulating Trivia For You

It is better to give than to receive, so I am going to give you some of the great insights that I have recently learned. Here we go. (1) A full moon is nine times brighter than a half moon. (2) Hawaii is further south than Florida. (3) Six-year-olds laugh an average of 100 times a day. Adults only laugh 15 to 100 times a day. (Let's work on improving the adult average in 2012) (4) Male moose shed their antlers every winter and grow a new pair the next year. (5) A venus flytrap can eat a whole cheeseburger. (I wonder if that includes the new Wendy's cheeseburger). (6) George Washington took the oath of office in New York in 1789. (7) The archer fish can spit water up to seven feet to shoot down bugs from overhanging leaves. (8) All scorpions glow. (9) Children grow faster during springtime. (10) The scientific name for sneezing is sternutation. (I thought it was godblessyou.) (11) You burn more calories sleeping than you do watching television. (Time for more naps!) (12) Children have more taste buds than adults. (13) The fear of vegetables is called Lachanophobia. (And I always thought it was asparagusphobia.) (14) Your skull is made up of 29 different bones. (15) The youngest U.S. president to be in office was Theodore Roosevelt at age 42. (16) The fastest growing nail is on the middle finger. (17) During World War II the national speed limit was 45 mph. (18) Spiders have six legs. Well there you are, 18 bits of trivia for you to consider. Now here is the problem, two of them are not true. Can you identify the false ones? Leave a comment with your guesses. Now where did I come up with these "facts"? Simple, I like Snapple tea and 16 of these were on the bottle caps of the last ones that we opened. Interesting combination - a good taste and "stimulating" trivia. Have a good day.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

It's Dangerous Out There

It has been a tragic few weeks around here as far as fatal accidents. Recently in Adams County five teens were killed when their car crossed the center line and hit a vehicle in the other lane. Last week, north of Manheim, twin brothers and their elementary age sister were killed when their car apparently skidded off the wet road and crashed. The sister of a friend of ours suffered severe injuries when a teenager in his new car went through a stop sign and broad sided her. He had been drinking. Among other things, she had brain damage. However, the good news is that while she is still in a nursing home, she seems to be recovering but still suffering some short term memory loss. Unfortunately, her accident reminds me so much of the one that killed my mother instantly. A teen also went through a stop sign and broad sided my parents. The teen's parents quickly removed him from the scene so no tests were performed to see if he had been drinking. The highways are a very dangerous place. We just completed a two-day 300 mile trip to visit seven of our relatives, three of whom are in nursing homes. The dangers of being on the highway were very evident during the trip. Even before we left Lancaster, I had to avoid a young female driver going about 40 mph over the parking spots at the Park City Mall. Later it was a senior driver, at a retirement center, who took a wide turn while I was waiting at a stop sign. I don't know how she missed me. On Saturday we were on our way to a restaurant for breakfast , going 55 mph, when a van pulled right out in front of us at a stop sign. Thankfully I was able to hit the brakes and stop before hitting him from behind. Incidentally, he was going to the same restaurant as us, just a mile down the road. There were two other situations that I observed that bother me. First was the speeding that we observed. I couldn't' count the number of cars that passed us in 65 mph zones going 80 mph or greater. And many of them tailgated drivers who were going the speed limit. Or they dangerously weaved in and out of traffic to get ahead. Most of these appeared to be 30 years of age or less. Many were out of state drivers, mainly from New York. The second major problem that I observed is that few people actually yield when entering a main highway from an on ramp. They just try and beat you, often at high speeds. Coming home I saw this young driver in his "hot" car come up the ramp at a high speed. I was in the far lane passing a car in the other lane. There was nothing the two of us could do as he began to force his way on to the highway. At one point we appeared to be three cars side-by-side with only two lanes to drive in. Fortunately he stopped short of forcing both of us off the road. But then he came up behind me and. when I could get out of his way, he passed me at a very high speed. During this trip I was reminded of the importance of asking the Lord for safety before you even drive out of your driveway. If I had my way, here is what I would do to remedy the situations. First I would put more policemen on the roads enforcing the laws. They need to stop the speeders and they need to enforce the meaning of yield. When the state and municipalities are in such dire shape financially, maybe enforcing the laws and giving tickets would help fill the treasuries and at the same time improve safety on the highways. Incidentally we didn't see a single cop in two days, except for those at an accident location in Sunbury. Second, I would make fines much heavier. If a drunk driver is at fault for a minor accident, his license should be revoked for five years. If a drunk driver is at fault for a serious accident with injuries, his license should be revoked for ten years. And if a drunk driver is at fault for an accident with a fatality, his license should be revoked permanently. That might make a few more people think about driving after drinking. But none of this is politically correct and it is far too conservative, so nobody would ever dare consider such penalties. So the accidents will continue, the fatalities will mount, and the roads will continue to be a dangerous place to be. Hopefully, none of my family members will be the victim of such carelessness by other drivers. One time in my family in my lifetime is more than enough. So be careful, it is a dangerous world out there on the highways.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I Wonder As I Wander

One of the classic Christmas songs is "I Wonder, As I Wander". Well, today I'm not wandering, but I am wondering. So here are a number of things that I wonder about .... How can the Sheetz just north of Lancaster be selling gas at 3.159 per gallon when the one to the west, closest to us, is charging 3.379. And about ten miles from here it was selling for 3.099. Why the differences from the same company just miles apart? ... Why can't the Republicans find just one credible candidate to take on Obama for president? It is so sad and it defies common sense. ... And while I am on politics, why are there no longer any congressmen who put the needs of the country ahead of party policy and getting themselves reelected? Don't we have any true patriots in Washington anymore? ... And back to oil. What are seniors going to do with the continual rise in the price of heating oil? My ceiling price for 2012, with a discount for being a long time costumer, will be 4.199! In 2010 it was 2.949. That's an increase of $1.25 per gallon or 42% in just two years. How much less heat can one use without freezing? ... And how can state politicians accept an "automatic" cost of living 3% raise when few others are getting raises, when folks are out of work, and when they haven't given retirees any increase in over ten years. Their pay has now increased 17.7% since 2005 while mine, which they control - 0.00%. One representative tried to introduce a bill to get their cost of living raise canceled, but he could not get any support to get the bill to a vote. I wonder why. Once again it is self-serving politicians. Maybe they all should be sent to the unemployment lines in future elections. I know I will no longer vote for one who has not opposed this "quiet" increase ... Maybe it helps to realize that half of the people are below average ... Away from politics to some more important things I wonder about ... Why are things called apartments when they are all stuck together? And why are things called buildings when they are already finished? Shouldn't they be called "builts"? .... And why did kamikaze pilots wear helmets? ... Why do "tug boats" push their barges? ... Why do we wait until a pig is dead to "cure" it? ... And think about this one this winter, why does your nose run and your feet smell? ... Why doesn't glue stick to the inside of the bottle? ... And why is abbreviation such a long word? ... Why is it when a door is open it's a jar but when a jar is open it's not a door? ... Why is there an expiration date on a sour cream container? ... I wonder, can you cry under water? ... And here is one that has always really bothered me, why doesn't Tarzan have a beard? ... I wonder why Comcast keeps sending me offers for business packages once or twice every week. I'm not a business. I don't need more of their services. I just throw the mail out. Keep the advertising and don't raise my rates as they do annually ... On a more serious concern, why aren't most people courteous to the handicapped? Now that Dianne is using a cane, I am amazed at the number of folks who won't move for her and will make her walk around them or who will cut in front of her while she is walking. Where have courtesy and good manners gone? ... I wonder why she doesn't just hit them with her cane. But I guess I know why ... Finally, I wonder why I take time to write such meaningless stuff and why anybody takes the time to read it. That probably makes you wonder, too. Now you may "wonder" about that, but please don't "wander away" from this blog. Maybe I'll actualy have something interesting to post the next time. I wonder about that.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Scandals

The media has been filled lately with news about scandals seemingly everywhere. The attached picture is at least a "scandal" that we can laugh about - hopefully. Maybe we need something to laugh about. I am getting tired of this now daily news - teachers, presidential candidates, coaches, public officials, police - on and on it goes. As I've said here before, it is revealing human nature and sin! The one getting the most publicity is the very sad situation involving Jerry Sandusky. It is being called by the media the Penn State Scandal. Why shouldn't it be the Jerry Sandusky Scandal, or the Second Mile Scandal or even the State College Scandal? As a Penn State and Joe Paterno fan for many years, I have been stunned at all the negative attacks that have been aimed at Joe and the football team. Most of it has been stirred up by the media which has been judge and jury, without all the facts. Actually, the facts have generally been ignored and replaced by their opinions. They have been quick to condemn a man, possibly because he has stood successfully for many years as a pillar of good values and honesty, far above the standards and values of the media experts who now jump to condemn him. They have jumped at the chance to pull him down to a level below their own. Hopefully, someday the truth - whatever it is - will be known, and maybe, probably too late, his reputation will be restored. Then again, maybe his reputation and the successful football program will never be restored to what it had been and what it should be. It is interesting, however, to see that a few folks are beginning to speak out and condemn the media One of the best reactions that I have read appeared in a blog by Marc Rubin. For those who are interested, here is a link to his thoughtful comments. PATERNO ROSE TO THE OCCASION

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Just Blame Me

I'm ready to take the blame! It might just be my fault. Should Santa be late visiting your house on Christmas this year or should you not get what you asked for, it just might be my fault. On Black Friday I was out driving around doing some errands. I was not shopping - I tried to stay clear of that mess. I turned on to route 741 off Columbia Avenue and headed south to Millersville. The speed limit there is 35 mph and I usually try to obey it. Once in awhile I might get up to 38 mph, but seldom more than that. I really don't want to get a speeding ticket on that two mile stretch. Suddenly I noticed this car speeding up behind me. He quickly caught up to me and began to tailgate me - the whole way to Millersville. It was then that I looked in my rear view mirror and saw the driver. He was an older man, with a beard - the fullest white beard that I had ever seen - except on Santa Claus. Could it have been Santa? I'm really not sure. Was he out shopping for bargains on Black Friday? Could be. With the present economy he just might be looking for bargains just like the other crazies who were up all night shopping. Was he rushing for the outlets? Could be. He was going in that direction. And now that I held him up, did he miss the bargains he was looking for? Did I put him behind schedule? I certainly hope not. But as I said, if he is late this year or if you are missing something that you wanted, it just might be my fault. Maybe if I had been sure that it was Santa, I would have pulled off and let him pass me. But I didn't. However I am still puzzled by one other thing. Why was Santa driving an old dented Chevy? Maybe times are really tough at the North Pole.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Day

I was awake very early ... it was Thanksgiving Day ... I had been battling some very unusual and unexplained highs and lows with my sugar and I wasn't feeling the best. We were also facing some additional challenges in the days ahead and these were heavy on my mind. So I decided to get up and head to our enclosed porch and my recliner. There I opened the blinds to watch the spectacular sunrise. I turned on the radio to listen to beautiful praise and thanksgiving songs. I turned on our fireplace to keep warm and I opened and read my Bible. I also spent much time praying and thanking God for His goodness to me. God has been so good. And I shared with Him my concerns about the challenges that we were facing and the needs of many of our family and friends. It was a wonderful start to Thanksgiving Day. Later I got up, dressed and left for my morning walk at Park City. I thought that it might be closed because of the holiday, but I was prepared to walk outside around the complex if that was the case. It was a cool clear morning and I was practically alone while I walked. It was interesting, but sad, to view the bad habits of many shoppers. The lots, empty of cars, were filled with dozens of shopping carts that had been taken, but not returned, from the stores, especially from Kohl's. Food trash was on the ground around some of the trash cans - could folks really miss the large openings in the cans? The worst was the condition of the enclosed "shelter" area for smokers. The container for butts was broken off the wall and the "shelter" was littered with butts and trash. I've always though smokers were some of the dirtiest and least considerate folks I have ever seen. When I came to the Boscov's area I was surprised to see the parking lots full of cars. It was the only store open that morning. And it was busy. Unfortunately I had to walk through groups of smokers on the sidewalks around the store. I also observed a husband and wife (I assume) arguing at their car. He was furious and demanding that she get out of the car. I don't know what the argument was about but I was concerned that it was about to get physical. I decided to keep walking. Incidentally, I did notice a large bumper sticker on the car - "Obama For President". I originally thought that I was the only walker there that morning but on my return loop I saw a man, about my age, that I have seen recently walking inside the mall. He always walks the opposite direction from all the others. He is always alone and is always frowning and looking so sad. I decided that when we passed I would at least say "Good morning". His response was a grunt. I feel so sad for him. Did he lose a spouse? Did he lose his job? Is he facing a health problem? Does he have any friends? Does he know the Lord? My heart goes out to him even though I don't know what his problem may be. I guess Thanksgiving can be a very difficult time if you are depressed, alone, or without hope. From now on when we pass at the mall, I will pray for him. It also helped me put into perspective my situation. I was heading home to spend Thanksgiving with my family. I am so blessed. I do miss the holidays spent with my parents and my in-laws, but I know that they are all having a better time of thanksgiving in heaven. And that is so comforting. Our challenges are still there but I know the God who will grant wisdom, strength, and peace as we go through them with Him. And He has been present with me yesterday and He will be today and tomorrow as well. And maybe that assurance is the thing that I am most thankful for.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

In Everything Give Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope that you didn't eat too much. Here are a few signs that you might have: (1) Paramedics bring in the Jaws of Life to pry you out of the recliner; (2) You receive a Sumo Wrestler application in your e-mail; (3) You set off 3 earthquake seismographs on your morning jog Friday; (4) Pricking your finger for cholesterol screening only yielded gravy; (5) That rash on your stomach turns out to be steering wheel burn; (6) Your arms are too short to reach the keyboard & delete this. And a little Thanksgiving trivia as well. Why do Pilgrims have trouble keeping their pants up? 'Cause they wear their belts on their hats! Why do turkeys eat so little? Because they are always stuffed. What did the mother turkey say to her disobedient children? If your father could see you now, he'd turn over in his gravy! How do you keep a turkey in suspense? I'll tell you at Christmas. But we all know that Thanksgiving is not about eating, even though we look forward to that and enjoy it. It obviously is about being thankful. One child was asked what he was thankful for. His answer? " I'm thankful that I'm not a turkey." But seriously, here are several things that I am thankful for. (1) My salvation and my relationship with God. Nothing in this world compares to that and yet we so often forget about it. Thank you Jesus for all you've done, thank you Lord. (2) My wife. Next to my salvation, this is the greatest gift that I have ever received. We've shared over 49 years of marriage and they have all been wonderful. (3) My family. The Lord has blessed us with three great sons and daughter-in-laws and seven wonderful grandchildren. We love them all and rejoice in the fact that all have asked Jesus to be their Savior. What more could a parent ask for? (4) My health. While I do have some health issues - as most seniors do - I thank the Lord that for over 70 years I have not had serious issues that have sidelined me. (5) My heritage. The Lord has blessed me with previous generations who have served the Lord, set a good example for me and have influenced me. This is a gift that not too many folks have and I am reminded of that daily. (6) Ministry. I am thankful for many years of opportunities to serve the Lord. And while those opportunities seem to decrease as one gets older and you are no longer needed or wanted, I am thankful that the Lord has still provided several for me. And an added blessing is that most of those can be done with my wife and often with other family members. Now I could list many more, but these are the key ones. I'm often reminded of the song that says, "count your many blessings, name them one by one, count your many blessings, see what God hath done." If you haven't done that today, take time now to begin counting and thanking God for all that He has done for you. "I will thank you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High" (Psalm 9:1-2, New Living Translation).

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Media Circus

Writing for newspapers has been a big part of my life. In junior high I began to cover sports for the weekly Lititz Record Express. In high school my work expanded and I wrote two weekly columns in addition to covering all athletic contests. During the summers I covered all the area news and one summer I actually served as editor, responsible each week for the entire publication. While in college I wrote for the Lancaster and York Sunday News during summers and later I spent a summer working for the Sunbury Daily Item. While teaching I also covered Saturday football games for the Sunday News for about 25 years. So the newspaper media has been a big part of my life for over 35 years. I had good bosses who taught me and held me to strict standards of accuracy and fair reporting. However, times have changed. Print newspapers are no longer the main source of information. Now it is television, the internet, electronic newspapers and magazines, television news, shows twitter, Facebook, etc. But while news is now readily available at our finger tips, I think the quality, accuracy, and integrity of the media and information has deteriorated. If you have followed the media circus of coverage of the "scandal" at Penn State, this becomes obvious. Not only has false information been shared as fact, but rumors have been spread and everything has been stretched and sensationalized. The media has tried and convicted folks without a jury trial. They have abandoned the American principal of innocent until proven guilty. They have been judge and jury and, right or wrong, they have ruined reputations. Videos of the "riot" have been played over and over again. One reporter who claimed to be hit by thrown rocks was actually hit on the pant leg by a pebble. TV had cameras posted at Joe's home, night and day, and before, during and following the football game. They kept showing that during the game nobody came or left his house, except for the mailman. I was surprised that they didn't interview him to see what mail he had delivered to Joe that day. When the interim president appeared at his first news conference, just hours after being appointed, one of the "intelligent" reporters asked him if he planned to move into the president's house. He handled that stupid question well saying that in light of all that happened in the last few hours, that was at the far bottom of his list of concerns. Then there was the insensitive question asked on TV of Joe's grieving son moments after the game. "What was it like to coach without your dad?" Jay handled this well but understandably it brought tears to his eyes. But that insensitivity was considered good journalism. Now this media circus has made me wonder what the requirements are to make it in today's media. Here is what I think. First, you must definitely be a liberal. There is no room for a conservative viewpoint, except maybe on Fox. Second, you must be insensitive to the feelings of others. You can't care about their pain or suffering. Third, you must be a master in innuendo, hinting that more revelations are still coming. Fourth, you must be good at digging for the negative and overlooking the positive. Fifth, you must be able to sensationalize (is that even a word?) even the most minor event. And sixth, you must be able to ask dumb questions - really dumb ones - with a smile. Maybe you can add some more qualifications of your own. Now while the reporting of recent events at PSU has made this more evident to me, there are many other examples of stupid reporting. For example, every winter when we have a snow, from heavy flurries to a foot, a local TV station sends reporters to five or six area counties. They stand with the traffic shown behind them and when they give their report, without fail, each one proudly reports how many trucks Penndot has ready to roll. Now who really cares how many trucks are loaded with salt in Dauphin County or that there are 23 trucks ready to roll in York County? But that seems to be the big news of their report. If nothing else, it is predictable and provides a good laugh. But it is stupid. Now while we can smile about some of the things that the media does, it is somewhat scary how the media can control what information is shared. That in turn controls what people hear and think. And, as a result, public opinion is molded by the media. And that is dangerous and a threat to our democracy.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sin

Everybody has been stunned by the charges brought against Jerry Sandusky for sexual abuse of children. How could a well known, apparently successful man like Sandusky do something like this? Unfortunately, the answer is very simple. It is because of something that nobody wants to talk about anymore, including many "politically correct preachers". It is that three letter word, SIN. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?" Sexual sins have not been uncommon among public figures. Just look at the politicians and prospective presidential candidates who have been forced to drop out of public office because of extra marital affairs. Then there is a recent former President who was charged with sexual encounters with an intern. He was impeached but not convicted and he held on to his position. But you say that these situations weren't as bad as what Sandusky is charged with doing. In some respects you may be right. But they were all immoral acts and they were SIN. And such actions by public figures aren't new. They have happened frequently throughout history. Today's media just makes them more visible in the news. Even the Bible records mankind as it is, sinful. What about King David? The Bible doesn't hide his affair that produced a child followed by a terrible plan that had his mistress's husband killed. But it isn't just well know leaders who do these deeds, it is people like us. It is no longer uncommon to see teachers fired because of their sexual sins with students. Pastors have lost their positions for sexual affairs. People are found with child porn. So called "ordinary" folks are charged with sexual abuse of children. Sexual abuse of children often happens right in the home. And when we hear these stories, we are shocked. Sin is no respecter of persons or position. And maybe we shouldn't be too critical of those who yield to these temptations, as evil as they really are. But for the grace of God it could be us. And we may be guilty as well. Matthew 5:28, "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." And the sin of one can have such profound effects on many others. I personally have some sympathy for folks, like those at Penn State, who are being punished for their actions or lack of actions in dealing with the situation there. We can all proudly say what should have been done, but until you have walked in their shoes, you don't really know what you would have actually done. In my early years as a department chairman, charges were brought against one of my best teachers. He was an excellent and well respected coach, a father of two young girls. And he was a good friend. Yet he was tempted, gave in, and had sexual contacts with a senior girl. I never had any indication that something like this was going on and even when the charges were presented, I still found it hard to believe. Even today, decades later, I still find it hard to believe. But in this case there was proof and the teacher immediately resigned to avoid being fired. If the information had first come to me, I would have passed it on to my superiors and then stayed out of it because of our relationship. If they hadn't acted on it, would I have then gotten fired? Just be glad that you've never faced such a situation. But sin is sin and it can have disastrous results on a wide range of people. The scripture sums up our situation in Ephesians 2, "In the past you were spiritually dead because of your disobedience and sins. At that time you followed the world's evil way; you obeyed the ruler of the spiritual powers in space, the spirit who now controls the people who disobey God. Actually all of us were like them and lived according to our natural desires, doing whatever suited the wishes of our own bodies and minds. In our natural condition we, like everyone else, were destined to suffer God's anger." What a sad commentary on the human race, but thankfully there is more. "But God's mercy is so abundant, and his love for us is so great, that while we were spiritually dead in our disobedience he brought us to life with Christ. It is by God's grace that you have been saved." And this is our only hope.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Expand Your Vocabulary

Are you fascinated with words? I enjoy doing the word quizzes in Reader's Digest. But I find it difficult to keep up with the addition of new words to our English vocabuilary. And forget about spelling! I read that America's best-selling dictionary, Merriam-Webster, added over 150 new words and definitions in 2011. How many of these can you define and use - tweet, crowdsourcing, m-commerce, bromance, cougar, duathon, parkour, Americana, boomerang child, robocall and walk-off, automagically, bargainous, catastrophize, chilliax, frenemy, locavore, riff, or vuvuzela? Now learning all of these will be a challenge for you. Just don't ask me to define them. At times I think I'm stiill stuck on "See Mary run" (most of you are probably too young to know what I am talking about). But let me share some words with you that haven't yet made the dictionary, but probably should.
1. AQUADEXTROUS (ak wa deks'trus) adj. Possessing the ability to turn the bathtub tap on and off with your toes.
2. CARPERPETUATION (kar'pur pet u a shun) n. The act, when vacuuming, of running over a string or a piece of lint at least a dozen times, reaching over and picking it up, examining it, then putting it back down to give the vacuum one more chance.
3. DISCONFECT (dis kon fekt') v. To sterilize the piece of confection (lolly) you dropped on the floor by blowing on it, assuming this will somehow 'remove' all the germs.
4. ELBONICS (el bon'iks) n. The actions of two people maneuvering for one armrest in a movie theater.
5. FRUST (frust) n. The small line of debris that refuses to be swept onto the dust pan and keeps backing a person across the room until he finally decides to give up and sweep it under the rug.
6. LACTOMANGULATION (lak' to man gyu lay' shun) n. Manhandling the "open here" spout on a milk container so badly that one has to resort to the 'illegal' side.
7. PEPPIER (peph ee ay') n. The waiter at a fancy restaurant whose sole purpose seems to be walking around asking diners if they want fresh ground pepper.
8. PHONESIA (fo nee' zhuh) n. The affliction of dialing a phone number and forgetting whom you were calling just as they answer.
9. PUPKUS (pup'kus) n. The moist residue left on a window after a dog presses its nose to it.
10. TELECRASTINATION (tel e kras tin ay' shun) n. The act of always letting the phone ring at least twice before you pick it up, even when you're only six inches away.
And let me at least close with a tip for you auto owners. Costco and BJ's have a great deal on tires for your car. They sell them in packs of 64.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Longing

For centuries people have thought that the return of Christ had to be very soon. Some, unfortunately, have even gone as far as to predict dates. Christ has not yet come and those who have set dates have been wrong. Nobody but God the Father knows when it will be. I've never gotten too wrapped up in prophecy, especially when writers and speakers try to label current events as fulfillments of prophecy. I remember as a teen reading books that predicted that current events meant the soon return of the Lord - and that was more than a half century ago. However, as one views our world today, it is hard not to think and hope that His return will be very soon. You look at the economic problems in our country. You see that the financial problems in Greece and now Italy are currently even worse than ours. Maybe there is a growing need for a strong worldwide leader to take over and "straighten" things out. Then you see how rebellions around the Arab world have replaced leaders who may soon be replaced by strict Islamists. And Obama is pulling our troops out of Iraq and we will probably lose all that we had gained there over the years, allowing Iran to become even more powerful as a nuclear threat. That leaves Israel isolated and surrounded by governments which want to destroy them. Again, that certainly fits right into what the scriptures predict for the last days. Then there is the rapid spread of Islam throughout all of Europe and beginning in this country. Christianity is now openly being attacked around the world. Even in this country Christians are quickly losing their freedoms to speak, to share and defend Biblical truth, and in some cases even to worship. And it can only get worse. Now I'm not trying to sound negative, just sharing what I see happening. And if this time it indeed happens to be the fulfillment of what will happen prior to the Lord's return, I say then that the news is actually positive. Several times a year we led hymn sings at Pinebrook Bible Conference. Because of the history of Percy Crawford who began the ministry at Pinebrook, I always try to include a segment called "Pinebrook Echos" where we sing a few hymns and choruses from old Pinebrook song books. Percy had a history of almost annually producing song books filled with them. In preparing for the November sing I found a chorus that I hadn't heard for years and it quickly brought back a flood of memories. I recall hearing this sung so often, especially in prayer meetings when I was growing up. I remember how folks sang it so sincerely and meaningfully. And though I haven't heard it for years, I now can't get it out of my mind. And so I close this blog with these words which may also be the desire of your heart.

I've a longing in my heart for Jesus.
I've a longing in my heart to see His face.
I'm weary, oh so weary, traveling here below,
I've a longing in my heart for Him.

Even so Lord, come quickly! Keep looking up!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

18 Years

Eighteen years ago this weekend we experienced a weekend that we'll never forget. On Friday, November 5, 1993, we visited my mother to wish her a happy birthday. She was 72 that day. Thank the Lord, most of our family was able to do the same that day and that didn't always happen. That weekend Dianne's mother was very ill in the Sunbury Hospital. We had tickets on Saturday for the Penn State - Indiana football game, so we decided to go to the game and then return to Selinsgrove to spend the night and visit Dianne's mother in the hospital. When we got to Selinsgrove after the game, my father-in-law told me that I had to immediately call my oldest son because there had been an accident. When I reached Craig he gave me the bad news that my parents were in an auto accident and that my mother was killed instantly. My dad was in the hospital. In shock, we immediately left and headed for LGH in Lancaster. There we met with our family as the news was confirmed. The next few days were a blur as we made funeral plans and waited for dad to be released from the hospital. Those days were filled with pain but also resulted in times of special closeness for our family. We all still miss her so much and still feel at times like we need to call her to share what is happening in our lives. Now 18 years have gone and in February of 2009 mother and dad were reunited in their glorious home in heaven. Three months later, my brother, Terry, joined them. During these years I have been challenged by my father's life without mother. He missed her, but his confidence was in the Lord. I was challenged by my brother's testimony as he suffered with cancer. His confidence was also in the Lord. But there were four key lessons that I've learned about dealing with folks who are dealing with death. First, personal remembrances about the life of the deceased, written in sympathy cards, are really meaningful to those left behind, both at the time of death and later as well. It helped me to know how my family members had touched the lives of others. Second, don't quote scriptures about how those in heaven are rejoicing at the death of a believer. I believe that they are, but this is absolutely no help at the time to one dealing with the grief of losing a loved one. It's like saying, "Why are you crying because those in heaven are rejoicing?" That's almost like a slap in the face to those who are grieving. Third, don't say "I know how you feel". Maybe you did go through the death of a loved one, but you probably don't really know how a person feels or you wouldn't say such things. I wanted to say, "Was your mother suddenly killed in an auto crash by a teenager who ran a light rushing to work?" Probably not. And the fourth, and maybe the most important thing, don't say, "If I can be of any help, please let me know". 99% of the time that is just a cop out and you really don't mean it. We got so tired of hearing that when mother died, that we replied, "Just take dad out for a meal since he'll be lonely". Very few did. Dad's needs were soon forgotten by most. One of the biggest memories of those days was the family who knew we had many leaves to gather at our house. They unexpectedly showed up while we were away and raked them all up for us. They did a better job than we would have. They didn't just tell us to call if we had a need. They knew we wouldn't. Instead, they just showed up and met an unspoken need. Eighteen years later that good deed still stands out in our minds. Thank you Spedden family. Based on my personal experiences during these times, I now pray for wisdom, strength and peace for folks going through these difficult experiences. God did grant that for me and that is what I really needed from Him. Sometimes 18 years seems like an eternity and other times it seems like just yesterday. Their absence still hurts and I miss all three of them. But I would never wish them back. They are in a far better place and I am thankful for that. God is so good.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Disappointment?

If you read my blog on October 7, you know that I lamented the fact that after many years we would not get to see a game at Penn State this year due to health problems and the difficulty in getting good seats. Well two weeks ago a friend, Christine from Virginia, contacted me with two good seats for the Illinois game. She has sold to us in previous years and her seats are easy to get to. I accepted with the hopes that my wife would be good enough to go. Dianne has suffered with posterior tibia tendentious and bursitis. She had been in a cast and now must wear a brace and special shoes. Recently her bursitis got worse in both hips and she has had trouble walking and doing stairs. She has had a series of shots, physical therapy, and iontophoresis treatments. Last week her physical therapist told her that he felt she could go to the game. The next problem to face was the parking at Penn State. We had a parking pass and could use the handicapped lot. The shuttle before the game would get us there, but the shuttle is very slow after the game and you really can't leave early to beat the traffic. So I began to try a number of ticket sites to see if I could purchase a reserved parking ticket from somebody. I shared the reason I was looking for a reserved pass on these sites. And I got quite a few responses. Many were willing to sell to me, at $90 or more! Everybody was looking to make a profit on our problem. Great Penn State fans. I was about to give up. Then I received a surprise e-mail from Jim from Philadelphia. He had a pass for a spot 20 yards from the stadium. I was expecting that he would also want $90 or more for that. But I was shocked to learn that he was willing to give it to us - free of charge. Wow! There still are a few nice people around. We accepted and began to plan for the trip to Happy Valley. We planned to make it a two-day trip, going first to Sunbury to visit some relatives, then heading to Happy Valley on Saturday for the game. We planned to eat at a few of our former favorite places. We were excited and looking forward to a relaxing two days. Then the unthinkable happened. For the first time in history Pennsylvania got hit by a major snowstorm - in October. So we decided to stay home on Friday, hoping that the weatherman would be wrong about Saturday, as he often has been in the past. This time he wasn't. And so we sat at home on Saturday, in front of our fire, watching the snow and a mostly terrible football game. But if we had been there, we probably would have left midway in the fourth quarter, when Penn State was terrible. And we would have missed the exciting finish when Penn State pulled it out. So I guess we won't get to Penn State this year - there is just one more home game. But at least we didn't have to make the long trip home after the game. And Penn State did win. At home we only lost a few tree limbs and we didn't lose our electricity or cable as thousands of others did. I guess that is some consolation. Now, hopefully, that is the final snow of this season. That would be great.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Senior Trick Or Treating

In case you are still into trick or treating, I thought I should share some very important tips with you. I think most communities have an age limit but as we get older and more senile we might just forget and try to go out anyway. It's called a second childhood. Well if that is the case with you, here are a few tips that I have found that should let you know when you really are too old to do it.
10. People tell the kids with you that it is nice that their greatgrandfather is taking them around this year
9. You can't find your way home.
8. You get winded from knocking on the door.
7. You have to have another kid chew the candy for you.
6. You ask for high fiber candy only.
5. When someone drops a candy bar in your bag, you lose your balance and fall over.
4. People say "Great mask" and you're not wearing one.
3. When the door opens you yell, "Trick or ..." and you can't remember the rest.
2. You have to carefully choose a costume that won't dislodge your hairpiece.
1. You're the only Power Ranger in the neighborhood with a walker.

Monday, October 24, 2011

High School Football

It was a beautiful chilly night - perfect football weather. I did something that I hadn't done for several years. I went to see a high school football game. It was my alma mater, Warwick, at Penn Manor, the district where I had worked for 39 years. In fact, in the late 60's another teacher and I were instrumental in starting the campaign that finally brought football to Penn Manor. In the years that followed, until the time that I retired, I don't think I ever missed a Penn Manor game. For many years I managed the Penn Manor press box at home and I covered the away games for the Lancaster Sunday News. When my brother was athletic director at Warwick, he tried to add some significance to the "rivalry" by giving me a "crying towel" for Christmas, after a Warwick victory over Penn Manor. The idea was that each year the towel would go to the one of us from the losing school. Unfortunately, through most of Penn Manor's football history, Manor was not very good. And so, after keeping the towel for many years, I finally made it disappear. There was little chance that Manor would ever beat Warwick, giving me a chance to return the towel to my brother. So back to last Friday. I decided to go a little early to see the band do their show. Disappointment #1 - the band didn't march. Instead they had all the players, band members and cheerleaders who were seniors march, run or dance across the field, one by one, to greet their parents. Each one was introduced individually with announcements about their activities and their future plans. (Boring!). It took almost 30 minutes to accomplish this. Disappointment #2 - the crowd was not very large for either team. Disappointment #3 - the folks around me weren't even watching the game. Their kids were yelling, running around, standing in front of me, and constantly in and out of the rows. The women were talking to each other, as were the men. The only time anybody watched what was going on was when the cheerleaders threw small footballs into the crowd. Disappointment #4 - the cheerleaders were busy doing their dance steps. They didn't watch the game at all when Warwick had the ball. Once they started the cheer "Who wants a touchdown". Unfortunately, by the time they started the cheer, Penn Manor had already scored. Several parents of seniors, including two of the fathers, were in the cheerleading line trying to do the cheers with kids - interesting. Disappointment #5 - the Warwick band started with a rousing Big Ten fight song. just like we played when I was in the Warwick band at football games. But that was the only fight song I heard all night. I didn't recognize the remaining things that were played while the game was in progress. When I was in the band, the band was not permitted by the league to play while the game was going on. Playing was restricted to time outs as a courtesy to the teams calling their signals. And I don't even know if the Penn Manor band even played at all. I never heard them if they did. The actual game was not very exciting, so I left at the half. That was enough for me. I guess I am getting old. I remember the "good old days" when the bands played stirring fight songs like "On Wisconsin", the cheerleaders actually followed the game and cheered for their team, and the fans actually came to see football. Maybe I am just spolied by going to Penn State football games. Change, change, change. Oh yes, there was one more disappointment. If my brother would still be alive, I could finally give the towel back to him since Penn Manor now has a competitive team and beat Warwick. Oh how I wish I could do that.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Mighty Oak

It was only a few feet tall when I planted it about 40 years ago. It had a sharp bend in its narrow trunk and I feared that it would grow with that bend getting worse and making the tree unstable. Year after year it grew, taller and taller, and the bend became less noticeable. In fact that little plant became a tall, strong, mighty oak which reached to the sky and spread its branches over a portion of our yard. For years it provided shade and protection from the strong winds. Its acorns provided food for a variety of animals. But then, after many years, it was hit by a disease and many of its branches lost their leaves. Finally it was time to take it down. And last week that was done. Its work in our yard was done. The mighty oak has fallen. And now there is an empty space. One can now see the sky where the branches blocked the view before. It seems strange to realize that it is gone. This event has made me think of the many mighty oaks that I have known who have grown tall and strong, have provided me with a season of wisdom and protection, and then when their tasks in this life have been done, they have passed on. I think of my grandfather, Pastor Norman Wolf, who was a tremendous man of God. I had the special opportunity to spend much time in his home where I could see his concern for others and his Godly spirit. I saw how some folks treated him unfairly in his latter years and yet he never complained or talked about them. He was a strong oak in my life. Then there was my father who taught me how to work, how to serve, and how to face the difficulties of life trusting the Lord. I saw how he took care of his family after the war when jobs were scarce. I saw how that everything he had really belonged to the Lord. I know how he gave behind the scenes, without any credit or public attention. I saw how he reacted when he lost his job after 25 years with the company. And I saw his real faith when mother was killed in a car accident and he continued with life, trusting and serving the Lord. A big oak in my life. And of course, I must include my mother, who stayed at home to raise the three of us. She knew how to live with very little for many years. She modeled being a servant and ministering to others. There are others, like Pastor Jansen Hartman, a close friend of my father and my pastor for several years. He had a genuine love for others, including me, and a sincere concern about my spiritual growth. As a teen he challenged me with questions about my faith which made me think deeply about what I believed. Another strong oak in my life. And of course there was my brother, Terry, who God called home much too soon for me. Terry was an encourager to others and especially to me. His spiritual growth and ministry to others were both a challenge and an encouragement to me. Watching his faith grow as his cancer progressed was a real testimony and something I shall never forget. Another big oak in my life. And there were others that I could mention such as my father-in-law, Glenn Bickle, who modeled a faithful prayer life and personal evangelism ... my former pastor, Pastor John Dunn, who trusted and affirmed me and helped me mature in many leadership positions ... Uncle Bob and Aunt Thelma Smock who gave me a vision for ministering to children and helped shepherd me during my teen years .... and of course, my uncle John and aunt Ellen Derck, who led me to the Lord and have influenced my life for over 70 years. I thank the Lord for bringing all of these Godly people - my mighty oaks - into my life at various times. My life has been changed by my experiences with them. But like the oak tree in our yard, for some of them there came a time when their work on earth was done and I miss them. For others, their influence still affects my daily walk and ministry. One is very fortunate to have a big oak in one's life. Many, like me, have been blessed to have several. As you get older the big oaks become fewer and you long for their strength and encouragement. And you just pray that you may have learned well the lessons they have taught you and that, in turn, maybe the Lord will allow you to be a big oak for someone else who comes behind. That is my prayer.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

More Ramblings

I love the beautiful colors of Fall. I wish the Lord would allow the colored leaves to last one month longer. Then if all the leaves would just fall on one big pile - I wonder if it might have been that way in the Garden of Eden before Adam and Eve sinned and were kicked out ... How can a first or second grader not know his address? How can he not know his last name? At times we have an incredibly difficult time getting basic information from Awana kids who come on our vans. Last Wednesday we had six new clubbers who could not provide this information for us. Amazing! Is this the fault of the schools? I think more of the blame should be placed on the parents. Any responsible parent would make sure the children would know this vital information even before beginning school. This is the raw material that our schools must deal with today. .... And speaking about schools, our dear governor continues his campaign to destroy public education. First he makes a "no tax increase" pledge and then he makes public education pay the price with huge cuts in their state subsidies. Like many districts, my school district cut jobs and programs and while my state taxes didn't go up, my school taxes took another big jump. Now he is pushing vouchers, or scholarships as he calls them, even though this will cost millions more. But he wants vouchers only for those attending low achieving schools. Get real! Once the foot is in the door, it will be eventually expanded to allow any kids to attend another school - especially a private school. This threatens to wreck public education. But the private schools want it - actually they really want the money and the better students, not the ones who don't know their names and addresses. They want the kids who will add to their image, so they can boast like, Linden Hall (an expensive selective private school for girls in Lititz), that their college board scores surpass those of all the public schools. ...... Here is an interesting investment - if you can call it that. Nearly 40 years ago I planted an oak tree that cost me about $1. Now I have to have it taken down and that will cost me $1,250! I guess $31 a year for some shade isn't too bad a bargain. We also recently took down five huge pine trees that we had planted 40 years ago. We had purchased those for just 10 cents each! It is incredible to think about how tall all of these grew in 40 years. ... Why do doctors ask you to come 15 minutes before your appointment time? Then you must wait 45 minutes instead of 30 to be seen. ... Why aren't advertisements and phone messages from doctors recorded by folks who know to pronounce Lancaster properly. I'm tired of hearing "Lan' cast er". We natives know immediately that it was recorded by someone from another area. .... How comes when parts go bad on your car they are never covered by the warranty? When we bought our last Dodge - and I literally mean our LAST Dodge - I was talked into an extended contract. I have never done that before, but fell for it that time. So on Friday a sensor goes bad - a $290 sensor - and, of course, it's not part of the extended warranty. .... The same day I received a notice that our supplemental medical coverage is going up $21 a month. I guess in this economy it could be worse and it will be worse when Obama Care kicks in. I haven't heard yet if medicare will be increased as well. So what's a retiree whose pension was set ten years ago supposed to do? ..... Oh well, as I normally say in situations like this, it's only money. And how true that really is - there certainly are more important things in life.