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.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Changing Technology

When you've survived almost 70 years, you have encountered many changes. I've been thinking recently about the changes I've seen in technology. My technology while in college was a slide rule. When I did my masters work in math a few years later at Bucknell we used huge desktop statistical calculators. A few years later I took 12 credits at Florida State and there we used punch cards to run on a huge computer that filled several rooms. Unfortunately, I don't remember the year when we first rented a Monroe programmable calculator at Penn Manor to teach a form of programming, again with punch cards. It cost almost $4,000 a year to rent this even though it was limited to 256 lines of directions. A year later we were able to purchase the same machine for about $3,500. As the price dropped, we purchased one for each math classroom. Then came the first handheld scientific calculator and we purchased one from Sears for the entire department at about $300. A few years later Radio Shack produced the first actual small computer, TRS-80, with a monitor and separate keyboard. Programs were inputted and saved on a tape recorder. Soon we purchased a complete lab of these even though all you could do was write BASIC programs. However, we were the first school in the county to do this and actually teach computer programming. Then things really took off and when I retired we had a lab of iMacs and every teacher was doing grades, attendance, and record keeping on computers. We were also able to send all of our tests, letters, and reports from our computer to the printer or even post them online. It was an incredible change. Now it seems as though technology is almost a necessary part of our lives - e-mail, purchasing, Facebook, smart phones, ipods, ipads, etc.. I'm not sure how folks get along today without having access to the technology. And if you have a problem, just ask a young person and they'll probably give you the help you need. All the kids use it. But what about the older generations? I just read some interesting information that says 47% of adults, 50 - 64, use social media sites, primarily Facebook. And 26% of those over 64 also are users. Of those 50 - 64, 92% send and read e-mail and more than half of those use it more than once a day. 94% of online grandmothers are on Facebook as are 84% of granddads. I admit that I spend hours at the computer with e-mail, Facebook, managing a website, writing two blogs, keeping records,banking, looking at favorite sites, and purchasing. I love it. Last fall our vent puppet, Grandma, read an appropriate poem (which I had modified) about technology at the Sr. Saints retreat. Here it is for your enjoyment.

In the not too distant past,
We remember it quite well,
Grandma tended to her knitting
And her cookies were just swell.

She was always there and ready
When you needed some advice
And her sewing let me tell you
Was available--and nice.

Well Grandma's not deserted you,
She loves you without fail,
You'll find her on the internet
Reading her e-mails.

She thinks about you daily
You haven't been forsook.
Your photos are quite handy
On her wall on her Facebook.

She scans your artwork now,
And combines it with cool sounds
To make electronic greetings;
To e-mail all around.

She's right there when you need her
You really aren't alone.
She's listening to her ipod
And she has her own cell phone.

Her answering machine is ready,
Your questions you may leave,
She'll google up an answer
At speeds you won't believe.

Yes, the world's a different place now,
There's no doubt at all of that,
So "E" her from her web page,
Or join her in a chat.

She's joined the electronic age
And it really seems to suit her,
So don't expect the same old gal, '
cause Grandma's gone "Computer."

Friday, January 28, 2011

Some Things I Dislike

With any job there are some things that you must do that you really don't enjoy doing. I can recall a few of those things that I had to endure when I was teaching - things life cafeteria duty, hall duty, supervision of study halls, and discipline. But those are now part of a "former lifetime" for me ... gone, never to return again. But there are a few things that I still must do that I really dislike. In my "community service" as judge of election of my voting precinct I must search for folks to work on my election board twice a year. It is extremely hard to find capable folks willing to do this. The hours are long (14+) and the pay isn't great. And most people have jobs or must care for their children. Fortunately, I have had a stable staff for the past few years. But now I face the task of finding one, and possibly two replacements for May. So far I have had no success and I really don't enjoy this search. But there is another responsibility that I dislike even more. In my role as Awana Commander I must make the decision to cancel Awana if the weather is bad. I really dislike this decision making. It is especially hard when the roads are wet during the day and you don't know if they'll freeze at night or when the snow hasn't yet started but they are predicting it to start later that night. Sometimes you make the decision to call it off and then it is clear and fine all evening. And then folks are upset because it has been called off. Or sometimes you don't call it off and then the weather turns bad. Then folks are upset because you "forced" them to come in bad weather. Now my decision affects the lives of about 250 people, not counting those in the youth program. I would feel terrible if somebody had an accident because of Awana being open. On the other hand, each night that you miss decreases the effectiveness of your program. And a few winters we have had to miss numerous evenings. This January we have missed twice and that has impacted our adopt-a-club project. And we still have February and March to go. At least this week the weather made the decision to cancel very easy to make. Now there is one job that I would never want to have, no matter what the salary would be, and that is superintendent of schools. They have even a tougher job when the weather gets bad because they might be responsible for 4,000 or more students and employees. And people don't realize how far in advance that this decision must be made because of how early the bus drivers must start. Some of my former superintendents used to get up and drive the roads at 4 am to help them make the decision and then things can suddenly change until the busses begin to pick up kids a few hours later. And they do hear from upset parents no matter what decision they make. But I guess superintendents and Awana Commanders are expected to endure this pressure because of the "big bucks" that we earn. Right! Now if I can just find one or two workers for my election board and if it doesn't snow anymore this year ... dream on.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Life Keeps Coming At You

Sometimes life just keeps coming at you. We thought that after Christmas our schedule would slow down. Wrong! Last week was filled with doctor appointments, medical tests, business appointments, Awana, and snow. Then we spent three packed days this weekend at Hershey attending Awana Commander's College 101. After completing the course and "graduating", we returned home late Sunday afternoon to host our small group from church. Monday it was back to the hospital for more tests. Then that night the real adventure began. I was working at the computer when Dianne called to tell me that something was on fire - smoke was coming from the clothes dryer. I assumed that lint had caught on fire and I ran to the basement to turn off the electricity and pull out the venting. But there was no fire there. Dianne called that the smoke was getting worse so I ran back up to the dryer and found that the inside drum was scorched and that the back was very hot. I pulled the dryer out and disconnected it. I hoped that would take care of it since the smoke then slowed down. But the back was still very hot and to be sure it was safe, I called the Millersville Fire Chief who we know. He came over and we found that there was lint jammed underneath that had caught on fire and melted the drum and the belt. He called some other men to come and help carry it outside just to be safe. I planned to call our trash company the next morning to have it picked up. But an hour later Dianne heard a truck stop out front and when we checked we found that somebody had taken the dryer. I hope that they can get a few dollars for the metal, because everything inside is melted and ruined. It certainly can't be repaired - but I guess at night they couldn't see that. But they did save us $10 - $25 that it would have cost us to have it taken away. We realize that we were very fortunate. It could have been much more serious. The whole wall and things stored around the dryer could have caught fire if Dianne wouldn't have seen it. And at least we know that our smoke detector works. The Lord protected. All that we lost was a dryer. And I admit, it was my fault. I never got around to cleaning out the vent line this Fall. There is no excuse for that ... except being too busy. Now we need to get rid of the smell and find time to go shopping for a new one. Unfortunately, the schedule doesn't slow down. Tuesday Dianne starts teaching her Bible study and we will need to find time to shop for a dryer. I need to get caught up with the church giving records. Later this week we have two, and possibly more, doctor appointments scheduled. I also just found out that I must replace at least two folks on our election board and that is so hard to do. We have Awana and two other appointments on the calendar. And then there is the probability of that dreaded four letter word - SNOW. So life keeps coming and we keep going. But we are so thankful for God's care and protection and know He will be with us no matter what is ahead. One of my favorite verses in the KJV says, "Thou compasseth my path and my lying down and art acquainteth with all my ways." (Psalm 139:3) Well, I better get back to work. The smell is still strong from the fire. But February is coming - maybe things will slow down then. Probably not!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

My Special Seven

I am very proud of my seven grandchildren, but unlike many grandparents, I don't go around showing their pictures and bragging about them. I guess every grandparent thinks his/her grandchildren are the greatest, most brilliant and talented. So I don't try to compete, especially since I know mine are the best. But I will still love them no matter how talented they are or what they achieve. And it does warm my heart when they are successful. I have enjoyed seeing several of them in bands and orchestras. Our oldest was part of an award winning high school band. Several have been active in athletics. One made the high school golf team and one has played rugby (dangerous!) and made traveling soccer teams. Several have won special awards in school - one took a first place in a science fair and another in a social studies fair. One has had art work displayed in a local historical site. Several have excelled in the Word of Life Teens Involved competition, including first places in the international competition. All have been outstanding honor roll students in school, ranking high in their classes. Two have earned Timothy Awards and five have earned Sparky Awards in Awana. One leads our youth praise team. Four have had leads in our church Christmas musicals and have done excellent jobs. Then, last week, one of our granddaughters earned a special honor. Her elementary school teacher came to see her in the Christmas musical at church and then recommended that she try out for a part in the Conestoga Valley High School musical production, "Sound of Music". They needed three elementary students to play parts of the Trapp family. She tried out and passed the auditions for size, singing, dancing, and then acting. As a result she will play the part of Brigitta in the April musical. And that is quite an accomplishment of which we are very proud. But while I get excited about all of these accomplishments, my biggest concern and prayer is that all seven would grow up with a love and passion for the Lord. Not only do I pray for this daily, but I also pray for their future spouses. For all of the great earthly accomplishments will soon just be memories as they fade away. But a relationship with our Lord is what will last for eternity. I can't think of anything more exciting then to gather around God's Throne and worship Him, with all of my grandchildren. And that is my desire and prayer.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Sad Day

I will never forget the evening that I received the phone call that nobody ever wants to receive. My son called to tell me that my parents were in an auto accident and that my mother was killed instantly. Even though that was nearly two decades ago, the memory of that moment will never be forgotten. Who among us hasn't feared having this happen to them, especially when the phone rings in the middle of the night. Or when the phone rings and we know that one of our loved ones is overdue in arriving. This weekend, four parents received such a call telling them that their son was killed in an auto accident. In an instant these families had their lives dramatically changed. In case you are not from the Lancaster area, let me recap what happened. On Sunday morning these four members of the Manheim Central football team were apparently speeding when their car skidded, hit another car, and all four were killed. The boys were in grades 9, 10 and 11. All four were well known in the local community and were part of one of the best small town football programs in the state. The whole town and area mourns for them. Ironically, last August, another Manheim Central football player was also killed in an auto accident after his car went off the road and hit a house. Five players gone in less than six months. As I watch the continuing news coverage of this tragedy there are numerous reactions that have come to my mind. First, why do so many people - especially young people - tempt fate by speeding and breaking the law? I guess they think they are invincible and obeying the laws is not for them. Second, none of us, young or old, know what a day may bring so we should live each day as though it could be our last. We need to spend time with our loved ones - I was so glad that I went to see my mother the night before she was killed. We need to be sure that our spiritual lives are right before the Lord. I can't help but wonder if any of these boys knew the Lord as Savior. Third, we need to realize that death is final. I've watched several TV interviews with grieving students who are praying for those who died. Unfortunately, it is now too late to pray for them Their eternal fate is now final and can't be changed. Fourth, I feel so sad for the families left behind. Nobody expects their children to die before them and these young men seemed to have such promising futures. While time will provide some healing, these families will never be the same. But I have one more observation that makes me so sad. Football is supposed to build character and mold boys into men. At least that is what they say. Well the story is that before their final ride, the boys were at a restaurant for a breakfast for the football team. My question is why was that football gathering held on a Sunday morning? It would seem to me that a better character developing activity would have been to allow these young men to attend Sunday morning services, or better yet, attend as a team. It would appear that attending church is no longer important when a team schedules a team event that prevents its members from worship. I guess attending Sunday morning services is no longer politically correct, manly, or even character building. And if this is really the case, to me that becomes the biggest tragedy in this sad event.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Number 80!

I celebrated 80 this week! No, not my 80th birthday. Not my 80th anniversary, either. Hopefully not my IQ. This week I returned my 80th request from the Republican National Committee for a donation that was mailed to my father at my address. Now dad died just about two years ago, so we are averaging about 40 a year. And the RNC is kind enough to even send a postage paid return envelope which I have enjoyed using all 80 times. I have included "clever" remarks in each, letting them know that dad can no longer donate - from heaven (there are no credit cards there). I've even tried changes of address using the address of the Moravian cemetery in Lititz or his new email address at hak@heaven.com. I now use a form letter that tells how many requests I've returned requesting that dad be taken off their mailing list. It's interesting that most of the donation requests have come in the name of Michael Steele who just a few days ago was removed as Chairman of the RNC. I wonder how much money they waste by corresponding with deceased folks. It doesn't give one much confidence - if one still has any - in the political process. But they aren't the only ones doing this. The Heritage Foundation has now sent 28 requests and made numerous calls. And other organizations have done the same, but since they did not include a postage paid envelope, I didn't waste my money by responding to them. Then there are the phone calls that we continue to get. They usually ask to speak to Mr. Kauffman and then start by telling me how much they've appreciated my support in the past. Then I know to ask them what Mr. Kauffman they want. They usually reply, Horace Kauffman. Now what I still don't know is how all of these folks have gotten my address and my phone number. The post office will not forward "junk" mail, but somehow these organizations tied dad to my address and phone. At times it has been funny. Sometimes it is disgusting. Sometimes the calls have been a bother. But now we are reaching the two year mark. Will they stop? I doubt it. In fact I am looking forward to reaching number 100. When I do, I'll be sure to share that news on my blog. Will the RNC meet my expectations? Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Meaningless Words

There are a few little things that people say that really bother me. One of those is when people pass me, especially at church, and say "how are you doing?" Then they keep on walking away before you can give an answer. Obviously they don't care how I am doing and really don't want to know. So often we are guilty of saying things which we really don't mean or don't intend to do. Here are a few examples.
* (after giving directions) ...you can't miss it.
* I never watch television except PBS.
* The engine is supposed to make that noise.
* Just ignore him -- he's never bitten anyone.
* Don't worry, I can get another 40 miles when the gauge is on "empty."
* It's not the money, it's the principle of the thing.
* You get this one and I'll pay next time.
* I have read and agreed to the terms and conditions.
* I'll call you right back.
* Don't worry.
* I don't need a nice ring when you ask me to marry you.
* I will pay you back next week.
* I'll be there in 5 minutes.
* No, your driver's license picture looks fine.
* The dog ate my homework.
* This car is just like new.
* Guaranteed to last a lifetime.
* This will pay for itself the first time you use it.
* We don't need to stop for directions. I know exactly where we are.
* Congratulations! You've just won an all expense paid trip to the destination of your choice. Absolutely free! No strings attached.

* Sadly, "I'll be praying for you." Several women in a church prayer group were visiting an elderly friend who was ill. After awhile they rose to leave and told her; "We'll do what we can to help. We promise to keep you in our prayers." "Just do something more useful like wash the dishes in the kitchen," the ailing woman said, "I can do my own praying."

When my mother died folks kept saying to us, "If there is anything we can do, please let us know." We knew that most of them didn't really mean that. So we started answering them by suggesting that they take dad out for a meal once in awhile. Most never did.

So how are you doing? Have a good day.

Monday, January 10, 2011

True Wisdom

Recently I have been reading Proverbs and have been reminded about the wisdom that God gives as compared to the foolishness of man. Proverbs 9:10-12 tells us "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." Proverbs 3:6 says " Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil." Proverbs 28:26, "He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe." Now I could list dozens more, but let me jump to an application. Last Friday there was a letter to the editor of the local newspaper in which the author shared "his wisdom" about religion. Now I don't know why I keep reading these letters to the editor, but I do. And as I read this one, verses from Proverbs just kept popping into my mind. Well here is some of the intellectual babble which was shared by the letter's writer.

"True religion is what comes out of us. The evolutionary development of the ability to self-reflect is what has led to free will. Along with this is the responsibility to let out the good and to suppress the evil which are parts of our natures. Man created God in his own image. That is why the Christian deity is loving, merciful and sometimes permits evil. This is no different from the pagan gods or elemental forces which blessed and threatened the cavemen. Christ is an addition to strengthen the false hope of the hereafter, which the princes and priests use for the purpose of mind control. Everybody has a God, whether it is Jesus, Allah, sex, money and power, the benevolent state, logic and reason for the atheists, or the self-organizing tendency of the universe (which is my choice). That is, we all recognize a power higher than ourselves. That is fine, but we must all accept that we are the source of good and evil, not some external being to whom we transfer credit or blame."

Wow! Unfortunately that is the viewpoint of so many in our present age. Proverbs 26:12, "Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him." Now I do need some help with that - what real difference is there between a man wise in his own eyes and a fool? I would think they are the same. Proverbs 14:12 shares "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death." We live in an age where man believes that whatever he thinks is right and whatever is convenient for him is truth. And so we believers need to pray for wisdom and discernment for ourselves so that we can stand firm in the midst of this new age philosophy which explodes around us. For we have a genuine hope, not a false one, and the promises and instruction of the God of the universe on which to base our lives. Proverbs 23:12, "Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge." Proverbs 23:3,4, "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures."

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Man Of Few Words

Somebody passed this story on to me and I thought you might need something to brighten up your day, especially if you are facing some problems. So as every waitress says, after she brings you your meal, "enjoy!"

Once upon a time there was a prince who, through no fault of his own, was cast under a spell by an evil witch. The curse was that the prince could speak only one word each year. However, he could save up the words so that if he did not speak for a whole year, the following year he was allowed to speak two words. The spell would only be broken if he were to get married. One day he met a beautiful princess (ruby lips, golden hair, sapphire eyes) and fell madly in love. With the greatest difficulty he decided to refrain from speaking for two whole years so that he could look at her and say "My darling." But at the end of the two years he wished to tell her that he loved her. Because of this he waited three more years without speaking (bringing the total of silent years to five). But at the end of these five years he realized that he had to ask her to marry him. So he waited another four years without speaking. Finally, as the ninth year of silence ended, his joy knew no bounds. Leading the lovely princess to the most secluded and romantic place in the beautiful royal garden, the prince heaped a hundred roses on her lap, knelt before her, and taking her hand in his, said huskily, "My darling, I love you! Will you marry me?" The princess tucked a strand of golden hair behind a dainty ear, opened her sapphire eyes in wonder, and parting her ruby lips, said, "Pardon?"

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

To Give Or Not To Give

One of my jobs - or ministries - as a volunteer is to count the church offerings each week and then keep the records of individual giving. It is a considerable amount of work, but I do enjoy doing something like this behind the scenes. I just completed preparing and distributing almost 400 annual receipts for givers and with those that I prepared for special gifts throughout the 2010 year, I've now prepared about 550 receipts for the year. While I enjoy doing this, there is a burden and responsibility to be carried. For you see, there are only three who know what a person gives to our church ministry - the giver, the Lord, and me. And at times I wish that I didn't know that information. I don't allow it to affect my thinking or my relationships with people. The amount given is really between the giver and the Lord. I am not a judge of people's finances. Now I do personally believe that a church member should, at a minimum, give their tithe to their church. Offerings above that could go to other good Christian organizations which should be held accountable for their use. But not everyone believes or accepts that and that is fine with me. I am sure that many are giving elsewhere. So, in fact, I really don't know what a person gives. And that is good and it is between them and the Lord. I do believe that we should give as an act of worship, not because we have to, and not because we hope to get something in return from God. But I also believe that God does honor and bless those that honor Him with their money. We have experienced that in so many ways. Giving is a spiritual matter. And I believe that many folks who might be shortchanging God with their money might be amazed at how their lives would change if they honored and worshipped God with their money. But that isn't why I am writing this blog. I am writing to share how watching some folks give has touched my heart and challenged me. I am not talking about the major wage earners who can give large amounts, but the folks - especially the elderly - who sacrificially give each week. These are folks who are retired and living on social security (without a cost of living raise in two years). I open their envelopes each week. When they are sick and absent they make it up the following week or they send it to the church. They are so faithful in their giving. And while their gifts are only a few dollars, I know it is a sacrifice and it touches my heart. I am reminded almost every week of the story in the Bible of the widow who gave all that she had. And this story is modeled to me each week and I am thankful for this unique experience. The Lord has been so good to our local church - we ended 2010 about $28,000 in the black, while most other Christian organizations ended deep in the red because of the economy. But as I watch the example of faithful, sacrificial giving by these seniors, I can't help but wonder what impact our church could really have if all of us - including me - gave sacrificially and joyfully as these folks do. Does your worship begin with the recognition that all you have - including your money - is a gift from the Lord and really belongs to Him? Or are you trying to worship while your hands tightly grasp your money and your possessions? Giving is a spiritual matter and the foundation of true worship.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Things I Won't Miss About Christmas

I miss my Christmas tree and many of the beautiful Christmas decorations. But here are some that I can do without - not only this year but forever. I had planned to take pictures of several others in the same category, but before I could take the pictures, the owners turned them off after Christmas day - fortunately!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Let God Be God!

I do enjoy reading most Christmas letters, especially those from people that we seldom see throughout the year. It is a great way to catch up on what is happening in their lives and in the lives of their family. This year there was one letter that really touched my heart. It came from my cousin Nancy who lives in Wisconsin. She is part of the Kauffman family that has included many who have enjoyed writing. Nancy's brother had a book published. My grandfather H. A. Kauffman wrote many sermons and devotionals and my father, like me, worked for numerous newspapers. So I am not surprised that Nancy has expressed herself so well and it has touched me. It is obvious that she has a vibrant Christian faith and testimony. The love of Christ flows through her. I thought that as we begin a new year that I should share some of her thoughts with you. She starts her letter by sharing that she and her husband are right in the middle of the sandwich generation. She says that "most people associate that term with the many pressures of meeting the needs of those older and younger. The challenges ARE many and great. Our faith is being challenged and stretched." Nancy and her husband are right "in the sandwich" at present, caring for serious needs of those older and younger. I suddenly realized that my wife and I are no longer "the meat" of the sandwich but have now become one piece of bread in that sandwich. My how times change. Anyway, after sharing the conditions of her aging parents she says "Does God carry His own all the way to their old age? Does God not yet do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine? Is. 46:4, Eph. 3:20. Oh, He does. He does!" After sharing how God has blessed their family through many challenges she concludes. "And All year long, we have seen GOD BE GOD for our parents and for us and for (our children) and our hearts are grateful, So what are we of the sandwich generation finding? We are finding ourselves in the BONUS YEARS as we are getting to see the BONUS-BLESSINGS of God's limitless care and creativity at meeting ALL our needs from 1 year olds to almost 92 year olds. The intensified pressures are only fortifying and strengthening our love and trust for our God as we are seeing Him do what ONLY He can. We are finding by experience that every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God is TRUE for the generation ahead of us, as well as for our generation, as well as for the generations following us ... that He has His special needed-manna for our parents, as well as for us, as well as for our children. We are seeing Him BE GOD for our parents, GOD for us, GOD for our children, and now, coming into view, we have greater confidence that He will be GOD for our grandchildren ... just as He said He would show Himself to be. May He BE GOD to you and for you ... just as He promised to those who follow Him by faith even as Abraham, the father of our faith, did. For God Himself has said, I will be your God, and the God of your descendants after you. Genesis 17:7" Wow, thank you Nancy. I needed that. What a challenge and comfort for the coming year! All that I can add is Amen and Amen!