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, 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


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


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.