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.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Special Ceremony

It was 53 years ago. It was in the Warwick High School Auditorium. It was the annual National Honor Society Installation Ceremony. It was the second one held by the newly merged Warwick School District. Four students spoke on the four NHS characteristics - Scholarship, Service, Character, and Leadership. Each speaker lit a candle before they spoke. One of the recipients that night was me. Many years have gone by since then. This week it was the new auditorium of Warwick High School. It was the 54th NHS Installation Ceremony. The program was the very same - four students, lighting candles and discussing the four characteristics. But the major difference this time was that one of the new inductees was my grandson, Joshua. And I know that I was prouder this time than when I was the recipient 53 years ago. It is a very special accomplishment. At Warwick a student must have a GPA of 3.7 or higher, must have been involved in numerous service activities, and must be elected by the faculty. Now there was another difference this time that could have been very serious. After one of the candles was lit, the candle fell over. Fortunately it was picked up before the table cloth caught on fire. But then it fell a second time and this time it rolled off the table to the floor. One again it was rescued before anything could catch on fire. Now I've had considerable experience with such ceremonies because for many years I was the advisor of the Penn Manor NHS. But the worst induction ceremony experience that I observed actually came when I was student teaching at Shikellemy High School in Sunbury. Their ceremony was a full school assembly and when one of the speakers went to light her candle, her hair caught on fire. Fortunately, before anything more serious happened to her, somebody threw a coat over her head and extinguished the fire. Now I don't remember too many ceremonies - they haven't changed in six decades - but I do remember that one. And I will now remember the last one that I attended because I am proud of my grandson. He is a fine gentleman who presently has an interest in engineering. I continue to pray daily for him that the Lord will lead Him into the field of God's choosing. But I especially pray that God will continue to help him to walk with Him and serve Him with a passion. And that is my daily prayer for all of my seven grandchildren of whom I am equally proud and thankful.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Church Signs

I often enjoy reading sayings that are posted on church bulletin boards. We pass one in particular almost every day that has a different one each week. Some are clever. Some are questionable and a few times I've wanted to stop and ask about what they mean. But I don't need to create any controversy, so I just pass by. However, a few days ago somebody sent be a video of unique church signs. Some of these are funny, some are challenging, and most are definitely unique. Here are a few of them. Don't give up - Moses was once a basket case .... Try Jesus. If you don't like Him, the devil will take you back .... ATM Inside - Atonement, Truth, Mercy ... To be almost saved is to be totally lost .... If you don't like the way you were born, try being born again .... Free Coffee, Free Everlasting Life, Membership has its benefits .... Let's meet at my house Sunday before the game. God .... You are on heaven's most wanted list .... Jesus. Coming soon. .... Don't be so open-minded that your brains fall out .... We believe in UFO's - Unity, Forgiveness, Outreach .... Can't sleep? Counting sheep? Talk to the Shepherd .... You may party in Hell, but you will be the barbecue .... Keep using my name in vain. I'll make the rush hour longer. God .... If God had a refrigerator your picture would be on it .... Life stinks. We have a pew for you .... Read the Bible. It will scare the hell out of you .... God does not believe in atheists, therefore atheists don't exist .... There are some questions that can't be answered by google .... Wal Mart is not the only saving place in town ..... and my favorite .... Tomorrow's Forecast: God reigns and the Son shines.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Resurrection Day!

He is Risen! What a special day is Easter when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. It was a day that set Him apart from all other religious leaders because, unlike any other, He had conquered death. Salvation's plan was complete, except for the decision that all humans must make to accept or reject his free gift. Easter has always been a very special day for me. I've now seen 70 of them (that should answer my age puzzle for those who couldn't solve it). Many of my memories are of special church services and cantatas. I also have fond memories of the Moravian Trombone Choir which plays on street corners around Lititz before sunrise and then again at the sunrise service in the cemetery at the end of "our" street. Most of my memories were of hearing them play early Easter morning while we were still in bed. However, a couple of years I actually played with them - great memories. This week the Lititz newspaper published a picture of the trombone choir at a sunrise service in the late 1950's. The picture wasn't very clear but I think I can find myself and a few of my friends in the photo. But Easter has also been a time for family. After we were married, my parents always graciously allowed us to spend most other holidays with our in-laws. However, on Easter we would attend Sunday morning services together and then go to their home in Lititz for Easter Dinner. We would share the afternoon together, including a traditional egg hunt for the grandchildren. Some would play games and some took a nap. Dad would update the morning church finances. When the weather permitted, I would take a walk through Lititz. It is a great town in which to take an afternoon walk and explore and I really miss those special opportunities to do so. Then we would eat a light supper before heading back to Lancaster to participate in the evening service which was usually a cantata. My favorite memory of the Easter food was mother's great macaroni salad which she made for the evening lunch. No matter how hard we have tried, nobody has been able to recreate her macaroni salad, although our son Ken has come close. It is one of those things that is gone forever. I really miss her salad, but even more I miss my mother and dad and my brother who are now celebrating together in heaven. We have continued some of the tradition with our family. Generally most of our kids are able to come, after church, for dinner. We sing the our traditional prayer together, enjoy a good meal, and then hold a hunt for the kids. As our grandchildren are now growing older, there are fewer "hunters" remaining, but we do have more "hiders" now. Did you know that egg hunts are also a great activity for seniors? We seniors can actually hide our own eggs because we won't remember where we hid them! But seriously, I hope that you have a blessed Easter, worshipping our great Lord and, hopefully, spending some time with family. Many years ago, Charles Wesley penned these great words: "Christ the lord is risen today, Al-le-lu-ia! Sons of men and angels say, Al-le-lu-ia! Raise your joys and triumphs high, Al-le-lu-ia! Sing ye heavens and earth reply, Al-le-lu-ia! Lives again our glorious King, Al-le-lu-ia! Where O death is now thy sting? Al-le-lu-ia! Dying once He all doth save, Al-le-lu-ia! Where thy victory O grave? Al-le-lu-ia! Love's redeeming work is done, Al-le-lu-ia! Fought the fight, the battle won, Al-le-lu-ia! Death in vain forbids Him rise, Al-le-lu-ia! Christ has opened Paradise, Al-le-lu-ia!" And that really explains Easter. Happy Resurrection Day!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

From The Newspaper

I continue to be amazed by things that I read in the newspaper. Recently I read about a city or a township in South Carolina that is supposed to be the only one along route 95 that regularly uses radar. And they claim that they only ticket those who are going 80 mph or more. And during the time that they have been doing this the number of accidents and road deaths has dropped dramatically. However, they have come under fire by several local and state legislators who claim that it is only being done to raise revenue and that it is creating bad public relations. They want it stopped. Now come on - it's only those going 80 mph or more that are ticketed and it has improved safety. That is bad public relations? And in a time when all public bodies are in debt and having revenue problems, what is wrong by charging those who don't want to obey the law? It seems to me that this is better than raising the taxes of law abiding citizens. Having recently driven on routes 281, 30, and 222, I wish PA would enforce speeding laws instead of cutting funds for education. Then there was the article about a lawmaker from Montana railing against the state's drunken driving reform because it is harmful to small businesses. He said tough DUI laws "are destroying a way of life that has been in Montana for years and years." Until only recently, Montana had one of the most permissive drunken driving cultures in the country. Montanans could legally sip a beer while driving and repeat DUI offenders tallied sixth and seventh offenses with little punishment. And he is upset with the laws which are attempting to correct this. Obviously this lawmaker has never had a friend or relative killed by a drunk driver. Now if it were up to me, a DUI would mean an automatic minimum of five years in jail and ten years without a license. A second offense would result in a life sentence. That would really make the highways safer overnight. But then we really don't want to get serious about drunk driving since so many, including lawmakers, do it. Then there was the article about a local man who was pulled over for a traffic violation when he ran a red light. Police reported it was the 21st time he had been stopped while driving on a suspended license. Now come on, 21 times and he is still driving. Why wasn't he thrown in jail the second or third time? Finally, there is the sad story of the 18-year-old senior who was killed on his way to school. Ironically, he was on a highway named after his father, a soldier killed in Afghanistan in 2006. The driver of a truck crossed over the center line and smashed head-on into his car. The driver of the truck had lost his license a year earlier because he had 14 tickets since 2003, most of them for speeding. And once again I wonder why we allow offenders like that out to continue to break the law and kill innocent people. It is a strange and sad society where lawmakers protest enforcement of speeding and drinking laws and we allow violators to continue to endanger our lives on the highways. It always has been a good idea to pray for safety before driving, but now it appears to be a necessity. So beware and take care. The person coming at you might be drunk, might be speeding, or might not even have a license. Today's America - the home of individual rights and freedoms.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Beauty In Ashes

A friend and former student of mine, Jim May, is a veteran missionary to Japan. He and his family have lived in the Tokyo area for a number of years. We have prayed for them and followed their experiences very closely especially since the March 11 devastation in Japan. PTL they are safe and are continuing to minister in a country that has been rocked by this disaster. The Lord has really protected them, especially since Jim's wife and daughter had just returned from the U.S. the day before. They also relocated for about ten days out of concern for the radiation and their children. Daily we read about the huge number of deaths, the staggering numbers of those who are forced to vacate their homes, probably permanently, because of the nuclear radiation, and the numbers of those who have not even been located. Yet, in the midst of this disaster, many are trying to go on with their lives. Jim recently posted pictures on Facebook of his youngest daughter's first day in kindergarten. It was a special day of joy for their family. And he also posted beautiful pictures of the cherry blossom season and Japanese people holding traditional cherry tree viewing parties in their parks. These are held at the request of the government out of respect for the dead and for those currently hurting. I love cherry blossoms and to see beautiful pictures of these in the midst of disaster is very special. I can't help but think how this pictures the way Christ can give new life and new hope to individuals who are lost in sin. Beauty in ashes. The old song by Bill Gather says "He made something beautiful out of my life." But cherry blossoms are short lived. Our cherry tree at our house will lose its beautiful blossoms in just a few days, especially if we have wind or rain. Jim said that one man in the news said this: "Thinking about how these people living normal lives suddenly disappeared, you can't escape the feeling that humans, like flowers, are transient things." James says that our lives are like "a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes." Our next breath and tomorrow are not guaranteed. Each breath and each day is a gift of God's grace and we need to redeem the hours and live for Him. So as you view for a few days the beautiful flowering cherry trees, remember the people of Japan, their physical and spiritual needs. Remember the shortness of our lives and our need to be about the work of the Lord. And remember that just as the trees are blooming beautifully in the midst of untold disaster in Japan, Christ can bring new life and beauty to a life controlled by sin. That is a message we need to share in these troubled times.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Twenty And Counting!

Twenty - no that's not the answer to the question about my age (the product of three difference prime numbers). And it's not the number of pounds I've lost this week - unfortunately. It's not the number of miles I walk in a day - or even in a week. And it's not even the number of doctor visits I've had this year - although it may be close. It's not the amount of money needed to fill my gas tank each week - those days are gone forever. Sometimes I think it might be my IQ, but no matter what others may think, I don't believe that it is. It's not the speed of the cars that go by our house, although I wish it were that low. It is close to the number of hymn sings that we have led at Pinebrook, but we actually surpassed that number last Fall. It's not the number of months until Penn State opens its football season, although the annual Blue White Game is on Saturday. So do you give up? Or most likely, do you even care? Well, ready or not, here is the answer. It is the number of squirrels that I have trapped and removed this winter (see my blog for March 2 to read of my battle). As I write, number 20 is outside in the cage waiting to be transported to a new home. And, actually future number 21 has been sniffing around the cage and eating my bird food. But his turn to be relocated will come soon enough. Several weeks ago we hit number 16 and then it appeared that I had finally won the battle. For weeks we didn't see a single squirrel and I filled my feeders once again. And the birds came back. But then about a week ago the nasty critters returned. But this time I learned a new trick. Before I used peanut butter on a cracker as my bait. And it did work. But now I am using pretzel sticks, since I can't eat them at present, with a wad of peanut butter. And it pulls them in very quickly - usually within an hour. And so the battle rages on. I will probably lose, but I'm not ready to quit. I have to go now and relocate number 20 and then tomorrow I'll reset the trap again for number 21. Incidentally, a few years ago I learned an important lesson - close the trap at night! One night I forgot to do that and my overnight trapping was a success. Unfortunately it wasn't a squirrel. It was a skunk. But that is another story for another day. Time to go and provide some transportation.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Now if you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that I've commented frequently about teacher pay and the major deficits schools and states are facing. Unfortunately, many of my predictions are now coming true and education is in serious trouble. And it will get worse, but that is a subject for another day. Instead I can't help but comment on the actions of an area school district which I won't name here. It is a district that has loads of money, loads of expensive housing developments, and loads of professionals living within the district. Many of us have often felt that this district has often displayed arrogant attitudes and they appear to be mostly concerned about their high achievers. There are three recent situations that confirm my feelings. The first was the incident where many of their students refused to say the Pledge to our flag or even show respect for those that did. I commented on this several weeks ago when this attitude made the newspaper. The second happened recently when their School Board announced some programs that would be eliminated. One of their decisions was to drop a work-study program to save money. This program was for those not planning on going to college. At the same time they announced that they would introduce the International Baccalaureate program because some of their high achievers were not being challenged enough. Drop a program for low achievers while adding one for high achievers in a year when major cuts are needed? Something just doesn't seem right or fair about this action. Then the third thing happened just last week. A few months ago I suggested that the best things teachers could do statewide was to turn down their pay raises for the coming year to help districts with their major deficits. I was very pleased when Hempfield teachers first agreed to do so. This was followed by several other districts, including my school, Penn Manor. But one school refused to take a freeze or even cut their raises from 3.9% to 2%. And, as you have probably guessed, it is the same district that I referred to in the two actions above. How could they, probably the teachers with the highest salaries in the county, refuse to reduce their pay to help their district and senior taxpayers, especially when other schools are doing so? To me, no matter what they say, this decision is just plain arrogance. They have done nothing to refute the opinion that so many have about their district. Now they claim that they want several things before they will consider a freeze or reduction and they might eventually accept something. But to me, and much of the public, the damage has already been done. I have always said that a district like mine, with no industry and so much tax-exempt property (Millersville University, PPL, etc.), has done so much more with their limited resources than a district like this one with all its advantages. But when you have a professional population with college expectations, you can look superior without doing much. Teaching them and riding their achievements is easy. Unfortunately, most folks and most media don't realize that, or at least won't say so. But actions like these I think begin to expose the truth. But after all of that, what does it really matter to me? I didn't work in that district ... I don't live in that district ... I don't pay taxes to that district ... none of my grandkids are in that district ... fortunately!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Welcome Back Baseball

It's hard to believe but it is already the start of another baseball season. And to celebrate, I am sharing one of my favorite baseball stories. Enjoy! ... Two 90-year-old men, Moe and Joe, have been friends all of their lives. When it's clear that Joe is dying, Moe visits him every day. One day Moe says, "Joe, we both loved baseball all our lives, and we played minor league ball together for so many years. Please do me one favor - when you get to Heaven, somehow you must let me know if there's baseball there." Joe looks up at Moe from his deathbed, "Moe, you've been my best friend for many years. If it's at all possible, I'll do this favor for you." Shortly after that, Joe passes on. At midnight a couple of nights later, Moe is awakened from a sound sleep by a blinding flash of white light and a voice calling out to him, "Moe, Moe." "Who is it?" asks Moe, sitting up suddenly. "Who is it?" "Moe -- it's me, Joe." "You're not Joe. Joe just died." "I'm telling you, it's me, Joe," insists the voice. "Joe! Where are you?" "In Heaven," replies Joe. "I have some really good news and a little bad news." "Tell me the good news first," says Moe. "The good news," Joe says, "is that there IS baseball in Heaven. Better yet, all of our old buddies who died before us are here, too. Better than that, we're all young again. Better still, it's always springtime, and it never rains or snows. And best of all, we can play baseball all we want, and we never get tired." "That's fantastic," says Moe. "It's beyond my wildest dreams! So what's the bad news?" ... "You're pitching Tuesday."

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Another Year!

Except for the birthdays of our grandchildren, we've never made a big fuss about birthdays. They just are like any other day of the year to us. Although I guess that having them is a good thing. Some folks worry about things like hitting the big 30 or 50. Others have special "Over the Hill" parties when they reach 40. For me, those "memorable" dates have just come and gone without fanfare. But today I have another one of those "special" birthdays that some would get very excited about. We will celebrate it by working at Awana tonight. I don't mind telling you my age, but as a former math teacher I'll challenge you to figure it out. Here is your clue. This birthday is the product of three different prime numbers. One more hint - one of the primes isn't 11. Like most people, I used to think that this age was old. But I no longer view it that way, except for the way my body feels much of the time. But there are many advantages to getting old. First, you can get senior discounts at many restaurants. You can keep repeating yourself. Things you buy now won't wear out. You no longer think of speed limits as challenges. You can keep repeating yourself. Your eyes won't get much worse. Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can't remember them either. You can keep repeating yourself. Your idea of weight lifting is standing up. You can wear black socks with sandals. You can quit trying to hold your stomach in no matter who walks into the room. You can keep repeating yourself. You smile all the time because you can't hear what anybody is saying. But all kidding aside, there are some serious realities of getting older. (1) One is that few people want or need you or value your experience, wisdom, or advice anymore. Now it is true that some old folks won't step aside from their positions, share the work, or train replacements. But many are ready to "put seniors out to pasture" and replace them. Today youth is in and seniors generally aren't really needed for anything important. The church in particular often fails to take advantage of this potential valuable resource. (2) Another problem is the reality that 80% or more of your life is now past and there is so much that you still would like to do - your bucket list. Sometimes health or finances or lack of opportunities prevent you from accomplishing all that you desire. But really your best years are still ahead, and probably not too far ahead. Heaven looks better every day. (3) Then there is the serious concern of how your trip to that perfect destination will go. Will you suffer? Will your mind stay sharp? Will others need to provide for your care? Will you lose your spouse? But the Lord can prepare us for this and God is faithful. When you reflect upon how He has taken care of you through many years, you can rest in the confidence that He will continue to care for you in the days ahead. You are His workmanship and He has a plan just for you. (4) Finally there is the difficult fact that the number of your really close friends becomes less because so many of them have already been taken home. I do rejoice that so many of my family members and friends are already with the Lord. But, I do miss them and I realize that I now have many fewer real friends here than I used to have. This limits your fellowship and companionship and can create loneliness at a time when you might need it the most. Young folks don't want to spend time with seniors. However, I guess at times the lack of close friends can also be an advantage. A reporter asked a 104-year-old woman: "And what do you think is the best thing about being 104?" The elderly woman replied, "No peer pressure." Maybe some peer pressure would be good for us at times. We need to be sure that we don't become nasty or bitter as many seniors do. Hopefully others will see the joy of the Lord in us - even though we are old. The secret to aging and finishing well is summed up by one of my favorite hymns. "Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth, Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide; Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside! Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see. All I have needed Thy hand hath provided; Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me! PTL! And since I am old, I may repeat myself. PTL! ... PTL!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

And The Reviews Are In!

It started in 2004 after we had just returned late in March from a vacation to Florida. For April Fool's Day I sent out a message that we had enjoyed Florida so much that we had purchased a home there and would be moving there within a few weeks. The response was unbelievable. Friends couldn't believe it. Many called and some even cried. The church administration planned to call a meeting to see who would replace us in Awana. And since then my April Fool's Day fun has continued annually with less successful messages on taxes on bulk prayer chain e-mails, taxes on gum, and a variety of other issues. This year's prank - The Taco Liberty Bell - was not original (see my April 1 blog). I found the idea on the internet and personalized it. Unfortunately, too many folks now anticipate this trick and aren't fooled. Here are some of the responses I've received this year. ... "Not this time but I sure came close! Great job as usual and great fun anticipating!" ... "Your reputation precedes you this time Barry!" ... "Another good one Barry. Gee I wonder what the date is." ... "It is always the day after our anniversary, so I've got your number by now." ... "Taco Liberty Bell? Not going to go there, Barry! Funny though! Enjoy getting these every year! Don't stop, even if few people actually fall for it! It just adds a little humor to the day." ... "I know Barry. What is next the McDonald Gate Bridge since they both have golden arches?! Happy April 1st!!" ... Now there is an idea for another year. ... "I knew all along it was going to be an April fools joke. But I had to click on the link any ways." ... And then there are those that are internet savvy, at least almost internet savvy ... "APRIL FOOLS DAY!!! (I check EVERYTHING I read online against Snopes!!)" ... "You are so bad!!!!!!!!! I went to your site but I was thinking I really should go through Snopes.com first to make sure!!! Good one!! Have a "foolish" day!!" ... Some had good advice to offer to me ... "Do you think about April fool's day all year? You do it to us every year and there are still those who fall hook, line and sinker. Some year you need to research something very odd but very true. Now that would be a good April fool's day joke. Have a great day." ... "You have too much time on your hands. Why don't YOU start some Mac workshops!?!" ... Then there was a "new" friend who hadn't received one from me before. Her response was ... "Are you aware that this is an April Fool's hoax?" ... Unfortunately, she, like so many of my readers, didn't click on the link that explained this. It also had a counter to see how many went there. Unfortunately, fewer than half of those who received my e-mail did. I guess they thought the whole thing was just disgusting. (I won't say that they were poor sports! Maybe they just don't enjoy a good joke!). But there were some who did get tricked and their comments were great. ... "You are too funny Barry. That was cute." .. "I have to tell you, I fell for it and I was upset about it. I was home schooling the kids when I read it. I told them about the email and said I could not believe they would mess with a national monument like that. I said "that's a part of history." Ha ha ha Barry. You got me. (it was my husband that clued me in that it was actually a hoax)." ... "Yesterday my husband said to beware of Barry on April Fools Day, he will be out to get us. Well, you got me ... of course that is not very hard to do." ... "I really did know I wasn't the sharpest tac in the box, but you've made me feel really, really dull. :) You're very, very persuasive in your writing!!!! :)" ... "I must tell you, my husband was telling me about your e-mail this morning (he hadn't clicked on your link), and he was a bit "worked up" about the Liberty Bell being called the "Taco Liberty Bell". He bought it …. Hook, line, and sinker. I'll just say, you better watch your back." ... So I am now watching my back. Not sure if I'll try this one more year or not. But if I do, be a sport and humor me. And have a good laugh - we all need to do that daily. And by the way, here is one for you to check out that I think is good, http://chocoley.com/onlinesamples, especially for you chocolate lovers. And finally, if you wonder what the dog picture had to do with this blog, I'll quit with one final response that I received ... "the Taco Bell dog says, "Yo quiero Taco Bell?""

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Downward Spiral

Dear friends, we are living in very difficult economic times when business failures and deep budget cuts are in the news daily. In recent years we have become used to major corporations purchasing naming rights to bail out sports venues, such as Citizens Bank Park or Lincoln Financial Field or the Capital One Bowl or even the Konica Minolta Gator Bowl. Local high schools are now also selling naming rights for their athletic fields to bring in additional income. At Penn Manor the baseball field is now known as Turkey Hill Field. But now, in my estimation, this trend has gone too far. To cut the national deficit, Congress is now said to support selling naming rights to many of our national monuments. One of the first to jump at this opportunity is the fast food chain Taco Bell. They have offered to purchase the naming rights for the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. It will then be known as the Taco Liberty Bell. This is so sad. If you feel the same as I do, please join me in signing a petition to oppose this by clicking on the site LIBERTY BELL. Thanks for your support.