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

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Lessons In Living and Dying

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

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Babe In The Manger

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Republican or Democrat?

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

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas 1914

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

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

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Stimulating Trivia For You

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

Saturday, December 10, 2011

It's Dangerous Out There

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

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I Wonder As I Wander

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

Saturday, December 3, 2011


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