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.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Merry Christmas Seniors!


Today's blog is a special "Christmas Gift" to my senior readers.  And, for the rest of you, just remember, in a few years you, too, will understand and experience the joys of aging that are shared in this song.  Beware - it comes more quickly than you expect!   These words are to be sung to the tune of "Sleigh Bells Ring/Winter Wonderland":

(Verse 1)
Sleigh bells ring? Its tinnitus
What's that pain? My arthritis. 
We're both growing old - You're grey-haired, I'm bald 
Using walkers in the winter once again.
(Verse 2)
When we try watching TV:
"Turn it up! Can't you hear me?"
We don't like the shows, but that's how it goes,
We feel about a century too old.
(Bridge)
In the kitchen: "What did I come here for?"
Guess I'll go ahead and make a snack.
"Have you seen my glasses?"  "Shut the fridge door!" 
"If you use my dentures, could you give them back?"
(Verse 3)
Early on, we retire,
Eating prunes by the fire.
We've had a great life;
We're husband and wife.
"Tell me what your name is once again?"

Copyright 2011 Bill DiGennaro. Permission is granted to send this to others, with attribution, but not for commercial purposes.

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Christmas To Forget


It was about 45 years ago.  I had been having bad hip and back problems for quite some time and nothing seemed to help.  Some mornings it was all that I could do to get out of bed.  I finally went to see a neurologist who ordered some tests.  Because I didn't want to use my sick days at school, we decided to have two of the tests, a spinal tap and a myelogram, done the day before Christmas when I didn't have school.  Nobody warned me how difficult these tests would be.  Thirty years later I had another myelogram done and, with all the advances made in medicine, that one was a snap.  But the first one certainly wasn't.  I had to wear one of those gowns that didn't cover very much and I was placed on a cart with a sheet over me.  My first trying experience came when I found out that the assisting nurse had been a student of mine in high school just a few years earlier.  The embarrassment of being practically nude during the tests soon gave way to the pain of the spinal taps.  Later I was taken to a hospital room to recover and wait for the doctor to release me.  Our plans were, upon my release, to head for Sunbury to spend Christmas with my wife's family.  Well the hours went by and the doctor did not appear.  Late in the afternoon, fearing that he may have forgotten me and left for vacation, we called his office.  Finally he arrived to tell me that the tests just showed some arthritis and I was free to go home.  Nobody warned me about the possible side effects of the tests and, to be fair, we didn't tell them about our planned trip that night.  Incidentally, it was years later that another doctor diagnosed my problem as ankylosing spondilitis, a condition that I have learned to live with since that time.  Anyway, we packed up our two small boys, our luggage and our presents, and headed north on Christmas Eve. Our boys were very excited about going to see Gramps and Muz for Christmas.  Dianne drove so that I could rest.  But soon it began to snow and she had much mountain and country driving to do for the next two hours.  Then I began to get sick - terrible headaches, stomach problems, and I needed a restroom.  But since it was Christmas Eve, nothing was open.  We finally found a small dirty bathroom at a gas station in a small town.  It was a long hard trip.  Fortunately we arrived safely.  I spent much of the next few days on my back to relieve the terrible headaches.  Then when it was time to head back home we were hit with a major snowstorm which delayed our departure.  I still wasn't able to drive so my wife had to drive once again.  Her sister and brother-in-law decided to follow us home in their car to make sure that we wouldn't get stuck or have any  trouble.  At the other end, my father and brother came to shovel our driveway and even part of the road so that we could reach our house.  I felt helpless, and sick, and without the help of all of these family members, I'm not sure how we would have made it.  But we did.  And now that Christmas is just a memory and I hope that we never have any more like that it.  But as I look back over my life I see so many situations, like this one, where God has intervened and taken care of me in difficult situations.  Always He provides the strength needed for the day, just as He has promised, and with that knowledge we can face tomorrow.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Daily News


A female college student kidnapped in Harrisburg, several home invasions and murders in Harrisburg and Lancaster,  a robber beats and terrorizes three elderly Mennonite women near Ephrata, a gunman shoots and kills innocent theater goers, and, very sadly, a young man breaks into an elementary school, after killing his mother, and guns down a host of teachers and first graders.  And that was just part of the news during a recent week.  And the reactions to all of these events included various degrees of unbelief, horror, sadness, anger, and fear.  Parents are afraid to send their kids to school.  Theater patrons look for possible escape routes.  Home security sales increase dramatically.  More folks purchase guns for self protection.  And, ironically, politicians who have chipped away religious expression and liberties, now actually quote scripture as an attempt at comfort.  And, politically, many press for new gun laws, especially longer waiting periods to purchase a gun.  That appears to be the nation's answer.  And every politician is getting soundbites promising to control guns.  But what a waste of time and energy since criminals and mentally unstable folks will continue to find guns no matter how long a legal waiting period may be.  Ironically, the shooter in Connecticut used his mother's guns. He didn't purchase them.  So how would a longer waiting period have stopped this violence?  And since when can morality be legislated?  There is no question that we live in a society where there are many unstable folks all around us and that is a problem.  The government says that 1 out of every 17 of us has a mental illness and less than 1/3 are getting any treatment.  In some cases this is a result of the increase in use of illegal drugs. And if drug control has been unsuccessful why do we think gun control will be any more effective?  It is interesting to note that several states have now made the purchase and use of some drugs legal and the Obama administration refuses to enforce federal drug laws.  Many young people have grown up with "legal" drugs to control their behavior problems - it seems almost everyone has an "alphabet type behavior problem" today.  Who knows what the longterm effect of these behavioral drug treatments will be.  And today our kids are growing up in a violent environment where television and computer games feature violence and killing and nobody seems concerned about controlling this, certainly not even the government or even most parents. And you need to be a little unbalanced yourself if you think these experiences don't effect behavior. Kids today seem tied to their smartphone and computer games. But it seems nobody really wants to talk about the main cause of these problems ... a little word with major consequences ...  SIN! That would not be politically correct.  We are living in a society where you are called intolerant if you believe in Biblical values and truths.  Judges and government officials openly remove Christian principles from everything in the name of "separation of church and state".  As a nation we openly approve of and support abortion in which many more unborn babies are killed each day than the number of first graders shot in Connecticut in one morning.  In the name of tolerance we have taken down the Ten Commandments from all public places, including schools.  And, as I remember, one of the commandments is "Thou shalt not kill".  But we can't talk about that in our schools.  So what more can we really expect in a society that has turned its back on true righteousness and promoted a "do whatever feels right to you" philosophy?   Media and government officials vainly look for "the reasons" and quick fixes, but ignore the truth which should be so clear to all who have open minds.  I think the scripture also tells us that whatever we sow, that we will also reap.  And maybe harvest time is upon us.  In my opinion, the only answers to this increasing violence are a national revival or the return of the Lord.  And since I feel that it may be too late for a national revival, my daily prayer is "come quickly, Lord Jesus"!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Hymns And Carols


It was back in 2008 that I decided to create a weekly blog featuring hymns. I thought that I would try it for a few weeks and see what would happen.  Four years and 225 blogs later, I continue to be amazed at its impact.  During the month of November my blog averaged almost 900 visits each week.  I have only had a few comments left, but these have actually come from all over the world.  I now view this blog as a ministry and pray that my comments and the words might be a spiritual encouragement to those who visit.  This growth also shows me that there are many who miss the hymns which were part of many of our lives for years.  Most church services today use just praise choruses and many of these are great and lead us to worship.  If any hymns are used, often the beat, the words, and the tune has been modified and just not the same.  And this is a hot topic in churches today and I don't intend to get in the middle of it.  I love both.  But I do miss hymns that speak about the blood of Christ, heaven and the Lord's return, and testimonies of what Christ has done for us.  These themes are usually missing from today's praise choruses.  And we now have generations who have never sung "Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise",  "How Deep the Father's Love For Us", "Great Is Thy Faithfulness", "O Sacred Head Now Wounded", "O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go", "Tell It To Jesus", "It Is Well With My Soul" and many more of these great works that have survived the centuries.  I often wonder which choruses, if any, will survive the decades as the great hymns have done.  How many of the choruses that were sung even five years ago are still used today?  I guess time will tell.  Music has changed over the years.  A century ago most churches did not use pianos.  I have a picture of my grandfather and my step-grandfather, serving together in an organization called the Gospel Heralds.  One of them is using a banjo.  Just a few decades ago, when we still had our family ministry, we had to turn down a ministry opportunity in a church which did not use a piano.   As a teen, my father questioned some recordings I had of Phil Kerr and that music certainly was mild compared to what is aired today.  When my boys were teens our elders passed a policy prohibiting drums in our church.  Today many churches no longer have pianos or organs and now most use guitars - maybe even banjos once again. Maybe someday pianos and even hymns will return to worship - who knows.  There are two reasons this topic has been on my mind recently.  First is because of the growing response to my blog.  Second is because I love Christmas and the traditional carols.  But even many of these are no longer part of church services.  Fortunately, here in Lancaster County, we have radio stations which play them daily during December.  And I love listening to them.  Well, no matter where you stand on this still controversial subject, remember that our desire should be to glorify and worship God in all that we do, even if the style of music being used isn't our preference.  Don't let your mental objections taint your worship.  We serve a great God and there are many ways to worship and praise Him.  I wonder what music will be like in heaven.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Interesting Times


I guess that I shouldn't admit it, but even though I continue to write my blogs, I seldom take time to read the works of other bloggers.  But one of those that I do read regularly is "ApPARENTly Blogging" which is sponsored by Awana.  Recently the blog commented about a book, Artificial Maturity, by Tim Elmore.  His premise is that kids today are growing up faster in some ways, but in more important ways, not being ready to face adulthood.  Now if that premise is true, it is a very sad situation with potentially devastating results for our families in particular and our country in general.  In his book he points our some differences he sees between Generation Y (born in the 1980's) and Generation iY (born in the 1990's).  Here is a summary of his key comparisons.  Highly compassionate ... Low empathy.  Activists ... Slacktivists.  Technology as a tool ... Technology as an appendage to my body.    Passionate about a cause ... Only if my friends are involved.  Civic-minded ... Self-absorbed.   Ambitious about the future ... Ambiguous about the future.   Accelerated growth ... Postponed maturation.  Now that gives you something to think about.  The blog also shared some statistics from Statistic Brain, about teens and shopping.  Here are some of them.  80% of teens listed shopping under "hobby or activity."   75% would choose new shoes over 50 mp3 downloads.   63% would choose a new pair of jeans over concert tickets.   27% of girls said they would break up with their boyfriends for $10,000.   40% said they were regularly saving money -  57% are saving for clothes.  54% for college.   38% for a car.   Total teen spending is more than 208.7 million a year.   Average income of a 12-14 yr is $2,167.  Average income of a 15-17 yr is $4,032.    Interesting world we live in. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Sad Ending


IBM has been trying to increase market share by recruiting to more obscure markets for Internet access. They've even attempted to get monasteries connected to the Internet. At one small monastery in France, the monsignor, Father Jean-Paul, was not interested in getting access to the Internet, but one monk, Brother William, tried to persuade him. As an additional incentive, IBM even offered to give them free access for one year. The Father finally agreed but only under strict conditions that the monk would only use the Internet for biblical research.  Brother William started using the Internet and became amazed at the amount of information available. He downloaded texts of the Dead Sea Scrolls and biblical commentaries, and he talked with people who studied the ancient Greek and Hebrew languages. Father Jean-Paul was impressed with the research done and the amount of information available, but he continued to warn Brother William about the temptations of the Internet.  Well, Brother William continued his research, and soon he became a bit of an authority himself on biblical matters. Soon, people were e-mailing him for information on the Bible and spiritual matters. He would answer their questions and even set up his own "Dear Monk" Web site. He even started sending out weekly heartwarming stories about how God was working in people's lives. Eventually he noticed that many people kept asking the same questions over and over, so he created a little booklet of frequently asked questions about God. But now Brother William had a dilemma. He knew that according to human nature, people value information more if they have to pay for it, but he had taken a vow of poverty and did not want any money. So, he decided to set up charity fund for widows and orphans, and all proceeds from his booklets would go to charity. So Brother William set up an Internet business where people would order one of his booklets, and he would send it to them after they sent a small amount of money to the charity fund. When Father Jean-Paul discovered what Brother William had done, he discharged him immediately from the monastery. It seemed that the Father did not like his monk e-business.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Often It Is Hard To Change, But ...


As long as I can remember, we have always done the majority of our clothing shopping at a J C Penney department store.  As a child my parents shopped there regularly.  As our kids grew up we made most of our purchases there.  I would guess that 95% of my present wardrobe has come from one of their stores.  Two of my uncles made their careers with the company, serving as managers of numerous stores in at least four different states.  The founder was a born again Christian who was a great businessman and  provided families with good value at good prices.  We were loyal customers.  But the last few years that has changed. My one uncle told me that the recent changes would make Mr. Penney turn over in his grave.  The store made major changes and I guess has attempted to create a new reputation.  Gone are the regular sales and the special coupons which we frequently used to save money.  They claim that their present regular prices are low enough that you don't need sale prices.  If that is true, I guess I haven't really noticed it.  Their advertising is poor with flashy colorful booklets which appear to include very few products, loads of white unused space and questionable bargains.  They now claim that they are the home of the "square deal", whatever that means, but that hasn't impressed me and apparently it hasn't impressed too many other buyers.  When shopping recently I have found that they didn't have the selection they used to have and it almost appears that they are cutting some of the traditional lines.  When I couldn't find what I wanted I have been told to use the internet.  Now if that is the answer, why even have the store open.  If you must use the internet to get what you need why not just use the internet all the time.  It saves on the gas money.  I had been looking for a particular product that I had purchased in the past in the local store only to find out that they just haven't restocked it.  After being told to try the internet, my wife suggested that we go next door and try Kohls.  I said that wouldn't work because Kohls wouldn't have the quality I was looking for.  But I was wrong.  Not only did Kohls have it, but they had all sizes and colors readily available.  And I have been told by others that this is true of most of the products we used to buy from Penneys.  So maybe even a senior guy like me can change his ways.  Maybe old dogs can learn new tricks.  P.S. - I just stopped in once again today looking for some clothing items that I have always purchased there.  Not only was the store almost empty of customers, I found that they no longer carried the lines that I have bought there for years.  On the way out I said to my wife, "so long Penney's, it has been nice to know you!"

Friday, November 30, 2012

A Dog Named Norman


A few days ago I went out front to do some chores and I noticed a young mother pushing her child in a stroller.  But what caught my eye was that she also had a dog on a leash.  I was sure it was a Boston Terrier, my favorite dog.  I called out to her and asked if her dog was a Boston.  She replied that it was and that his name was Norman.  When I told her that I had  had two Bostons in my life she unhooked the dog and let him run to me.  At first he was just glad to be free and he ran all around.  But then he settled down and came over to me.  It was a special pleasure to talk to him and rub his neck as I had so often done in the past with my Bostons.  She told me how much they loved Norman and how he was so smart and easy to train.  I fully understood and agreed.  During my life I have had four dogs.  I was only one or two when I had my first one - I'm not even sure what kind he was (small and white) but I think his name was Penny.  About all that I remember is that I saw him run in front of a car and get killed while I stood and watched.  I can still picture that moment.  I never really talked to my parents about Penny and now I wish that I knew more about him.  My mother's brother raised Bostons and that is how we got our second dog, my first Boston, Frisky.  I remember quite a bit more about him since I was probably in first or second grade.  When we lived on the campus of Elizabethtown College Frisky had plenty of room to run but when we moved into Lancaster we first lived in an upstairs city apartment.  Maybe that is why my parents decided to give Frisky away.  We gave him to some friends who lived on Mile Hill in Sunbury.  And I understand that he eventually was killed by a car near their house.  Those two dog experiences were enough for my parents.  Many years later, after we had our boys, a friend gave us a Kerry Blue Terrier, named Peanuts.  He was a show dog who had been raised by a bachelor.  And maybe that is why he liked me and often wasn't too sure about our boys. He was a beautiful dog but you had to be very careful with him when people came to visit.  In fact, one time he attacked one of our son's friends and bit through his heavy winter coat.  He had a problem with tumors and we were shocked one day when Dianne took him to the vet and came back without him.  The vet wanted to do more surgery and she decided, rightfully, that we didn't want to invest any more money in Peanuts.  I often wander if the vet really put him to sleep or if he operated on him and sold him to somebody else.  Then a few years later we got the urge once again and went to a farm to see some Bostons.  We fell in love with the runt of the litter and named him Spike.  Spike charmed our hearts and all of us loved him.  He was intelligent and he was easy to train.  He had just two problems.  First, he loved to lick.  But I think that habit was encouraged by some of our boys who loved his kisses.  The second problem was that our mild mannered dog became a different dog when going to the vet.  He began to shake as soon as we came to the vet's driveway.  He would ignore the vet and we are told that he wasn't very cooperative when we put him in the kennel there.  But Spike was a real part of our family and gave us all many years of good memories.  Then one day he had a seizure.  Later I took him out for a walk.  He always stayed in our backyard but this time he got lost and wondered out front.  Then he couldn't find his way back.  We were all sick as we took him to the vet where we learned that all that could be done would be to give him medicine the rest of his life to calm him down.  We knew that this wouldn't be the Spike we loved and with the recommendation of the vet we decided to have him put down.  I just couldn't stay to watch that and walking out of that room was one of the hardest things I've ever done.  I can still see him looking at me, with his sad eyes, and that thought can still bring tears to my eyes today.  But Spike was our last - no more vet bills, no more messes to clean up, no more kennel expenses.  Instead, everyday I look at a Boston Terrier calendar that I purchase each year.  And once in awhile I have the special joy of seeing and petting another Boston, just like the Norman I met this week.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Two Diaries


Recently one of my blogs talked about differences between people. I thought about that blog when somebody sent me the following story of diaries written by a husband and a wife.  I think you will see the point after you read both of them.

Wife's Diary:
Tonight, I thought my husband was acting weird. We had made plans to meet at a nice restaurant for dinner. I was shopping with my friends all day long, so I thought he was upset at the fact that I was a bit late, but he made no comment on it. Conversation wasn't flowing, so I suggested that we go somewhere quiet so we could talk. He agreed, but he didn't say much. I asked him what was wrong; He said, "Nothing." I asked him if it was my fault that he was upset. He said he wasn't upset, that it had nothing to do with me, and not to worry about it. On the way home, I told him that I loved him. He smiled slightly, and kept driving. I can't explain his behavior I don't know why he didn't say, "I love you, too." When we got home, I felt as if I had lost him completely, as if he wanted nothing to do with me anymore. He just sat there quietly and watched TV. He continued to seem distant and absent. Finally, with silence all around us, I decided to go to bed. About 15 minutes later, he came to bed. But I still felt that he was distracted and his thoughts were somewhere else. He fell asleep -- I cried. I don't know what to do. I'm almost sure that his thoughts are with someone else. My life is a disaster.

Husband's Diary:
Boat wouldn't start, can't figure it out.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Have A Blessed Thanksgiving

Our Beautiful Tree Taken This Week

For the beauty of the earth, 
for the glory of the skies, 
for the love which from our birth 
over and around us lies; 
Lord of all, to thee we raise 
this our hymn of grateful praise.

For the beauty of each hour 
of the day and of the night, 
hill and vale, and tree and flower, 
sun and moon, and stars of light; 
Lord of all, to thee we raise 
this our hymn of grateful praise.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Wasted Hours


For many years one of the major Lancaster Country tourist attractions was Willow Valley Restaurant and Inn.  Folks came from all around to stay in this beautiful setting which included a lake, a covered bridge, a golf course, area bus tours, a great bakery, a gift shop, fine rooms and pools, and a great restaurant.  The original owners created a family atmosphere and daily worked there and talked with the visitors who came from all over the world.  It was really Pennsylvania Dutch hospitality at its best.  But over the years things changed.  Younger family members took over and change was inevitable.  The food was expensive and not quite as good or as much as before.  A liquor license was obtained and that was quite a contrast from the days when the restaurant would not open on Sundays.  Then the newer part of the complex with its beautiful atrium was sold to Doubletree.  Then very unexpectedly, about two months ago, all the employees were told that Willow Valley Inn, Restaurant and Bakery would be closed and torn down.  And it would not be rebuilt.  The community was stunned.  Folks who had worked there for many, many years would be unemployed.  A few days ago it was announced that everything in the complex would be sold - signs, bedding, tables, chairs, televisions, toilets, sinks, all the kitchen materials, sheets and pillows, cookware, the salad bar and even the doors - everything.  For up to 30 days, or until all was sold, it would be open for anyone to come and purchase what was left.  The sale was to start on Thursday, November 15. They expect to clear $300,000 from the sale of these items.  When the sale was completed the complex will be demolished with no information about the site's future. The only thing of interest to us at the sale were the 32" Samsung LCD televisions.  They had 160 of them for sale at $165 each.  So we decided to go and see if we could purchase one.  When we arrived there already was a line of well over 200 waiting.  The line quickly doubled and tripled after our arrival.  To control the crowd, they only allowed groups of 50 to enter at one time.  We were in the fifth group and we waited outside for about an hour to gain entrance.  Then we learned that you had to stand in another line to make your purchase and only then would you know if what you wanted was still available.  So we joined the line hoping that they would have one television left when we reached the cashier.  The problem with that was that the line was the whole way through the lobby, down the stairs and into the bakery.  We only had an hour that we could wait since we had other appointments that we couldn't miss.  After about 40 minutes in line, when we had only moved about five yards to the bottom of the steps, I decided to investigate.  It appeared that there were about 100 folks in front of us and it looked like they only had two cashiers.  It then became obvious that we would never get to the cashier in time.  Later we heard that one person waited in line for two hours and I can easily believe that.  So we had no choice but to leave without having a chance to make a purchase.  The company man at the door said they never expected that number of buyers. How stupid could that be - anybody with common sense would know that Lancaster Countians would flock to such a sale, especially from one of the best known establishments in Pennsylvania.  We did return about 3:30 in the afternoon and the line was gone - but so were the televisions.  And maybe that was good since we had no idea how good they were and there was no guarantee and no returns allowed. So in a way it was a gamble.  But there were some other things still to sell - the swinging doors to the bakery were still there and could be had for $450 and the single door there was just $250!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Differences


One of the biggest challenges I had as a teacher was meeting the different learning and personality styles of my students.  For those who were analytical, logical, organized and able to visualize geometrically, math was fun and relatively easy.  But for the many others it was a real challenge and as a teacher I had to work extra hard to try to help them.  As a student, I myself often found myself in such situations in other classes.  Probably you have taken tests to try to learn your style - there are many such tests.  I have taken several and have even administered some.  However, the one that we took at Commander College 201 was one of the best and most meaningful to me.  Through testing we were classified according to one of four colors. Then our team of five was sent out on a project to collect and prepare items for a presentation.  It didn't take us long to see the color styles in action since all four colors were part of our group. It was a great application.  As expected, I was a yellow - an organizer. My wife was a green - a helper.  This really wasn't a surpise to either of us.  It is interesting how the Lord usually puts two contrasting colors together in a good marriage.  We would probably be in trouble and run into many conflicts if we were both yellow.  Fortunately our differences complement each other.  For example, my wife likes to talk to friends on the phone.  They can talk for hours and folks do share with her their needs and prayer requests.  I dislike the phone and will avoid it whenever I can.  I would rather write a letter or an e-mail.  She can meet a person and remember things like what they were wearing and their features, such as their hair color.  I will more often sense things about their personality and sometimes, if I am observant, actually remember that they had hair.  She is good at remembering names.  When we used to work with children at Pinebrook, she could talk to 50 - 60 kids using her Grandma vent figure and by the end of the session she would remember most of their names.  I would go the entire week and not remember half of the names.  I had the same problem with new classes at school and the only way I could beat this problem was to take group pictures of my students.  Then, outside of class I would use the pictures to try and memorize the names. (Note the organization technique.) I learned to play the trombone, logically, by following the music and memorizing where the notes were found on my instrument - very logical, but mechanical.  And I no longer play because I never learned to just sit and play without music and enjoy being creative.  The Lord blessed her with different skills.  She can hear or remember a song and play it on the piano without music.  In fact, often before programs, when she is playing, she'll ask me to whisper the name of a hymn to her and then she'll play it so beautifully, without any music in front of her. We both enjoy jigsaw puzzles, but she prefers to match colors while I prefer to look for particular parts of the picture.  And I could go on and on with examples. Life is interesting because the Creator made us so different.  But if we can't recognize and appreciate that fact, life can be frustrating.  That can especially be the case if the other person is our boss or our spouse or our child.  When we expect them to be the very same as us we are asking for trouble.  I'm sure that many of us could share stories about dealing with a boss who had a contrasting personality style.  My experiences could produce many more blogs, but I guess I won't go there.  But I am reminded of Psalm 139:13-14, "For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother's womb, I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works; and that my soul knows very well."  And also Ephesians 2:10. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."   It is amazing how the Lord has created us, all different, but with a single purpose and we should never forget that, especially when dealing with others. And, PTL, I am  actually improving on my ability to accept those folks who arrive late for everything, even though it is quite a contrast with my style!

Friday, November 9, 2012

An Interesting Day!


On Tuesday I served as Judge of Elections for the fifteenth time.  Doing the job right involves quite a time commitment.  In addition to attending a training session, I probably spent at least 12 hours in preparation of materials and setting up the precinct.  On the day of election we spent 16 hours and later it took another two hours to return materials, keys and equipment.  I don't get any travel allowance, but I do get some pay, about $3.70 an hour, so obviously I don't do it for the money.  But I am continually amazed at how people act.  Now I know that I shouldn't be, especially after 39 years in public education, but I am.  People ignore signs and directions. They can't get in the proper lanes even if there are three sets of directions posted for each lane.  They can't follow exit signs to leave at the proper place.  Despite a sign at the front door that all cell phones are to be turned off, frequently you hear phones ringing and people talking on them, even in their voting booths.  Now legally, photo ID's were not required this time even though we were asked to request them.  But showing us an ID can actually cut a person's registration time in half.  And that can be so helpful when you are processing nearly 1,500 voters.  So I posted a large 2'x3' yellow sign where I thought voters couldn't miss it which said that ID's weren't required but showing one would speed up their wait time.  It asked them to present one.  The majority did so.  However, many walked right by the sign, that was right at their face level, and didn't read it.  And there were some (guess which party) who loudly exclaimed that they would not show one because they were opposed to it.  Unbelievable!  And their opposition and refusal just slowed things down for them and for the folks behind them in the lines.  Some wondered why we were now using paper ballots, even though this was the 14th election since the lever machines were replaced with paper ballots.  Where have they been?  But my biggest problem came from folks who weren't registered.  Several of them hadn't voted in many years and were no longer on the rolls.  After taking time to call the election office to get an answer, I had to tell them that they didn't vote in the last two federal elections.  A notice had been mailed to each of them warning them about being dropped.  Of course, all said they never received one and several took their disappointment out on me.  One proclaimed that he was a veteran and should be allowed to vote anyway.  Another told me that she can't believe that this would happen in America.  Another told me that this was the way that election outcomes were controlled.  Some had moved, even years ago, but had never had their registration changed.  Because of the possible requirement of photo ID's this year, the media has been filled with announcements urging people to call ahead to make sure that they were registered.  But I guess these folks either don't read or watch tv or just ignored the recommendations.  It was just easier to blame their failure on the government or on me.  After a day like this, you wonder why any volunteers continue to give of their time and energy.  At times it can be a very thankless effort.  In my case, I have decided that I have just two more elections until my term runs out and I am not running again for another four year term.  However, there were some positives.  With a great team of workers we were able to process many voters in a short time.  I doubt that any voter took more than 15 minutes to get through in our precinct.  We did process 175 in the first 45 minutes.  And, thankfully, we finished the day at a reasonable time and all of our figures balanced out correctly the first time.  But even more importantly, this time we did have a few folks who took the time to tell my poll workers "thank you" for serving. That was nice and I am thrilled that many of those working with and for me were recognized in this manner.  I am exhausted but proud that we processed so many efficiently. And, believe it or not, my group allowed me to start the morning with prayer and I think that was why God permitted us to accomplish what we did.  As far as the abuse and blame that was sent my way, I was a teacher for 39 years so this wasn't a new experience.  It seems today that everyone's carelessness is somebody else's fault.  And that is the summary of my 15th election as Judge of Elections - just two more to go!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Precious Memories


Today, November 5, my mother would have been 91.  On Tuesday, November 6,  it will be 19 years since the Lord called her home in an auto accident.  There are some moments of your life that you will never forget.  We were returning from a Penn State football game and stopped in Selinsgrove at my in-laws' house.  My mother-in-law was in the hospital, not doing well, and we planned to visit her before returning home.  As we walked in the door I was told to call my son immediately.  I was stunned to find out that a teenager had driven through a stop sign and had hit my parents broadside.  My mother died instantly and my father was in the hospital.  We jumped back in the car and quickly and silently made the two hour trip to the hospital in Lancaster where we met our family and confirmed what had happened.  The next few days were a blur, making arrangements and visiting dad in the hospital.  He was released in time for the private funeral service.  However, hundreds showed up for the memorial service and we spent hours in line greeting friends who loved mother and were also stunned.  It was easy to wonder "why?" at that time.  But almost two decades later we realize that God's ways, though often unexpected, are always right.  As we've watched other folks age and suffer, often spending years in nursing homes, we realize that mother, and all of us, were spared that agony.  Our final destination of heaven is something that we look forward to, but often the journey to get there is full of pain and suffering.  Mother was spared having to face that.  While dad did suffer some in his final years, he remained active and generally able to take care of himself until the Lord suddenly took him home one morning.  He too was spared the dreaded nursing home.  And as we look back at those events we do remember our emotional pain but also the special peace and wisdom that God provided for us at those times.  But more than that, many years later we have come to see how God was in all the events.  So often we experience events that surprise us and we wonder "why?".  Sometimes it takes years to see how these were really part of God's special plan for our life.  And sometimes we may not understand that until we reach heaven and can comprehend the entire picture of God's plan.  The blessing comes when we face these trials and can reflect upon God's faithfulness to us in the past and then realize that He will not forsake us and that He has a plan for us.  If you are like me, you probably have many "why? questions" that haven't yet been answered.  But we trust an omnipotent, omniscient Father and move on with His grace and strength.  I do miss mother. I have so many fond memories  At times I do feel that I should be able to pick up the phone and call her or visit her as we did on her birthday 19 years ago.  But I don't wish her back and I thank God that He spared her from possible suffering as He welcomed her home to a much better place.  And I do have the hope that I will see her again.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Few Observations


Just a few unrelated observations today.... A few days ago I turned on the news and saw them interview several mothers who were extremely upset that their school district has prohibited Halloween celebrations and the wearing of costumes to school.  They were upset because their kids were going to miss an "important" part of their schooling.  They wouldn't have the opportunities that their older brothers and sisters had experienced.  My reaction?  Congratulations to the schools who have taken that stand.  I think there are many more important experiences to provide for children than dressing up in a costume, especially those which represent the Satanic world. And what about those families who can't afford these fancy costumes, especially with today's economy. Are these same mothers protesting the elimination of things like Christmas carols and Christmas and Easter celebrations?  I sincerely doubt it.  And it is so sad that TV picks out folks like this to interview and seldom those who have the opposite views.  Such is the world that we live in today. ....  As we've walked mornings at Park City we have noticed some interesting happenings over the years.  One of those observations has to do with the lines that sometime form outside of stores when new products are first introduced.  The biggest lines are those that form when new sneakers or new Apple products are introduced.  Usually Park City provides extra security and ropes to keep the lines orderly.  And the lines grow as soon as the mall opens, two hours before the stores actually open.  But here is what we have observed numerous times.  When a new sneaker is introduced the lines are predominately made up of Afro-Americans.  When a new iPod or IPhone is introduced, the majority of shoppers in line are Asian.  In fact, when the new mini iPad came out a few days ago it appeared for three days that everybody waiting in line was Asian. However, we did find Caucasians standing in line - at 7:30 am at the grocery store, stocking up for the big storm .... Finally, I am following with some interest the new Keystone Exams that are being introduced this year in high schools throughout the state.  This year all juniors will be required to take these new tests in Literature, Biology and Algebra I. It doesn't matter if the student took Algebra I years ago in seventh, eighth or ninth grade.  They must still take the test this year.  Other students who are taking these courses now will be required to take them this year.  And, beginning with the Class of 2017, the students will need to pass these exams to graduate.  It is interesting since I had to fight with a former boss to even offer algebra to all students and now they will need to pass an Algebra I exam to graduate.  But the negative part of this new testing program is that students will be required to spend more valuable school time taking standardized tests.  More and more teachers will be forced to take time to prepare students for these tests rather than challenging them with many topics and applications that used to be part of a solid high school program.  But I guess this is what society really wants - measuring "success" by standardized testing.  Test, test, test! And it is just one more example of topdown decision making.  The history of education in Pennsylvania is that a governor and his cohorts decide what they think is best for schools and then pass laws to require their ideas.  And these people have never spent even a day trying to teach in a public school classroom.  But they have all the answers, afterall they once were students.  After winning the Presidential Award several years ago I had the opportunity to work with educators from all over the country.  As we compared issues, it was obvious that our state's educational leadership was sad and at times almost laughable.  In PA, education has  always been a political issue and not an educational issue and that is why we continue to lag behind others.  But then, that is no longer my problem to deal with.  And knowing my grandchildren and their abilities, I am sure that they will be able to successfully handle these new Keystone tests.  But I wonder about the very large mass of students who won't.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Do Nothing Bob


Last week I expressed my opinions about the important presidential race.  But there is another race that is almost as important, the race for senator in Pennsylvania.  While who is president is certainly important, who controls the house and the senate may be even more important.  This year Senator Bob Casey is running for reelection and little is being said about that race.  Part of the problem is that his competition, Tom Smith, is not very well known.  Casey got the job originally because of his name.  His father had been governor of Pennsylvania and was well known for his major disagreements with his party, the Democrats, on the issue of abortion.  His dad was pro-life and was ostracized by his party because of his stands.  And Bob Casey was elected into office mainly because of his name.  But he isn't his father.  He has defended and approved Obama's programs and legislation.  To the best of my knowledge he has done nothing important for the state in his six years in office.  And now he wants six more and this time he may get it again because of his name and because he is riding the support for Obama.  He has done almost no campaigning, just like he apparently has done almost nothing of importance while in office.  He had refused to debate the challenger but recently was forced into one.  Even fellow Democrat Ed Rendell has criticized him for running a "non-campaign".  His advertising so far has been criticism of his challenger.  He has labeled him as "Tea Party Tom" and tried to paint him as a radical who will end medicare and social security and cut everything else.  To the best of my knowledge, he has done nothing else to get reelected.  I have not yet seen a single ad which tells of his agenda or accomplishments, maybe because they don't exist. Even his website is filled with negatives about Smith rather than positive plans and goals. I understand that he did make a rare campaign appearance recently and used this speech to directly attack his Republican challenger. However, I understand that he and his party are now running a little scared and so they plan to pump big money into his campaign the last week. We deserve much much more than that from our senators.  It is interesting that Tom Smith has run a new ad which features his mother and shares that he would never cut the benefits for seniors like her.  This contradicts the statements that Casey is promoting to scare voters.  While Smith has also attacked Casey's record, at least he has outlined many of the positive things that he proposes and stands for.  That is refreshing to hear.  He also appears to have been a very successful businessman and that is something our senate could use.  But, unfortunately, "Do Nothing Bob" will probably be swept into office once again by the Democratic majority and that is too bad for Pennsylvania and the nation.  But at least I know one person that won't be fooled by him and his negative campaign.  I will be casting my ballot for Tom Smith.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Not Sure Who To Vote For?

If you still are undecided about who to vote for in the presidential election, you need to view this video from YouTube.        The President

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Crying Towel


Many years ago when my brother served as a football coach and later as athletic director at Warwick High School, he began a tradition of a "crying towel" which would be presented to one of us at Christmas, depending upon who won the Penn Manor - Warwick football game.  Unfortunately, during most of those years Penn Manor played terrible football and I almost always ended up with the towel.  Finally, after many years of frustration and losing, I "retired" the towel and ended the brotherly tradition.  Last Friday I returned to Warwick to watch the annual football game between these schools.  The weather was to be nice and it actually was Warwick's Homecoming. I am an alumnus of Warwick even though my allegiance is now to Penn Manor. It was with mixed emotions that I found a seat in the stadium.  It was the first time that I had returned to watch a game at Warwick since my brother died three years ago. And much of their excellent stadium and athletic complex was planned and developed by him in his job as athletic director. I was proud to see the fruits of his hard labor, but I really missed his presence. It just wasn't the same.  Penn Manor jumped to an early 13-0 lead at the start of the second quarter and it was obvious that this year they were the better team.  Then suddenly they announced that an unexpected severe storm with lighting and hail was coming.  They stopped the game and advised spectators to leave the stadium.  I have never experienced anything like this before.  I reached my car before the rain really started and I finally decided to just go home.  The entire way home it poured.  At times it was even very hard to see the road.  It turns out that we actually received almost 2.5 inches of rain in just an hour.  It was a freak storm that the weather bureau didn't see coming.  Warwick has artificial turf on their field so they were finally actually able to restart and finish the game.  But I wasn't there to see the last three quarters.  And, as it turns out, Penn Manor continued its undefeated season with a 40 - 6 victory.  Their 8-0 start is the best in the school's history.  Too bad that this didn't start 20 years ago. But now there is no longer a "crying towel" to return at Christmas and even if there were, Terry is no longer here to accept it.  He is enjoying more exciting things in his new heavenly home.  Oh how times change.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

No Debates Needed For Me


No, I did not watch the debates.  That doesn't mean I'm not interested in this presidential election.  Far from it.  It means that I know who I am voting for and no debate is going to change my mind.  And I can always predict the outcome of the debates before they even happen.  It never fails that the Democrats will claim that they have won and the Republicans will claim that they have won.  And all over television, on the internet and in the newspapers they will make these claims.  Now I must admit that a few weeks ago I did hear candidate Ryan interviewed on the radio show Focus on the Family and I was thoroughly impressed, especially with his views on morals and the family.  That clinched my vote for him, although that really wasn't ever in doubt.  Incidentally, Biden was also invited to share his views on that program but I don't think he ever responded.  But there is no question that my vote will be for Romney and Ryan.  Here are the important issues to me.  First there is the economy which is in terrible shape.  People are out of work.  More are now classified as poverty than ever before.  Do I think either candidate can solve the economic woes?  I'm not sure, but Obama has had four years to do so and he has just made things worse - no matter what he says.  Who do I trust more, a former community organizer or a man who has successfully led a state as governor and even more importantly, major businesses? I'll take my chances on the latter.  Then there are family values and moral values.  Obama has refused to enforce the Marriage Defense Laws.  He has advanced the homosexual agenda which is contrary to Biblical marriage standards.   And given four more years of the same, it can only get worse since he will no longer be accountable to the voters.  Now would I prefer an evangelical Christian as president rather than a Mormon?  Certainly, if he were qualified.  However, there is no question that the Mormons stand for many of the important moral and family values that  true Christians stand for.  And I trust Romney much more than Obama with these key issues.  As somebody told me, we are electing a president, not a pastor.  When it comes to international events and security, the president may have more experience than Romney, but I personally feel that we have lost ground around the world during the past four years.  And it is so wrong that we have wavered in our support of Israel. We need stronger policies and actions. It also upsets me that the president and his party have tried to evade defending their record by bringing attention to Romney's wealth and tax returns.  Now come on, when you have that much money, what does it really matter how much you have.  Both candidates are really millionaires.  And the president has continually spent huge amounts of our money to send his wife to exotic vacations all over the world. Is that something the middle class could do?  And I am appalled at his attempt to create class warfare and to distribute wealth to all - isn't that socialism?  But I guess my biggest fear and criticism is the fact that he has attacked religious liberties unlike any former president.  And I think these liberties are at risk in this election, especially since the next president will probably make key appointments to the Supreme Court and those choices will tilt the court  to that president's views, whether they be liberal or conservative.  So much is at stake in this election - maybe even more than ever before.  For that reason my vote is for Romney.  Let me remind you -to stay home and not vote is a vote for Obama.  To vote for another candidate such as Ron Paul is also a vote for Obama.  Now I wish that I felt better about the probable outcome of this election but I have taken this concern to the Lord in prayer.  I hope that you are doing the same.  And, regardless of the outcome, we must remember that God is still in control and we need to accept whatever He allows to happen.  But, hopefully, the Lord's return is near anyway.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Do You Matter?


Our October hymn sing was titled "Serving Joyfully".  As part of the program we showed a DVD by Max Lucado, "The Fear Of Not Mattering".  After the DVD I shared some observations that I've had about the decisions folks often make about serving the Lord as they reach their senior years.  Afterwards a retired pastor thanked me for my comments and said that somebody needs to share this topic - not only with seniors, but with all ages.  But seniors in particular do face this fear for a variety of reasons.  Sometimes it is the physical challenges of getting older that prevent them from serving, or at least serving as they have for years.  Sometimes it is the false belief that they've put in their years and now somebody else should serve instead.  And, unfortunately, sometimes seniors just aren't needed or used.  Even ministries often favor those who are young, full of energy and physically able.  And when you are no longer needed or valued by a ministry, you can easily develop the attitude that you really don't matter anymore.  And this fear of not mattering isn't just limited to seniors.  It can affect all adults as well, especially men who often see their personal worth in what they do or what position they hold.  Recently I have been using a new devotional book, "Living In The Psalms", by Charles Swindoll.  Some of his comments on Psalm 8 (take time to read it) caught my eye and mind.  Here is some of what he said. "It's humbling to think that the Creator of the universe, whose power, knowledge, and goodness show no limits, actually cares about us and loves us individually and personally.  Think about how difficult it would be to reach the CEO of a major corporation to discuss your problems with a product.  Or imagine trying to get a few moments alone with the President of the United States to talk about your foreign policy concerns.  We all know how poorly that would turn out.  It's not their fault; with limited time and energy they have to prioritize.  Furthermore, we who have large families sometimes find it difficult to stay current with all our little ones.  Keeping up with the daily lives of our ten grandchildren could turn into a full-time job; almost impossible for mere man.  So, the fact that the Ruler of the universe takes personal care of me is more than I can fathom.  He takes a personal interest in each one who trusts in Him.  He adds oil to our grind of feeling overlooked by reminding us of His personal interest.  Perhaps as you read this you feel alone, deserted.  What a distressing, barren valley is loneliness!  But listen!  If you have the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you have a constant Companion and Friend.  He never leaves you in the lurch.  This psalm is positive proof that He does not consider you unimportant or overlook you.  He isn't irritated by your coming to Him with your needs.  He never looks upon your prayers or requests as interruptions.  Even as James reminds us: He gives "generously and without approach" (1:5).  He provides good gifts without "variation or shifting shadow" (1:17).  Do you know why?  The answer is Grace - sheer, undeserved, unmerited, unearned favor.  Therefore, right now, cast your feeling of insignificance and despair on Him."

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Bonus


Sometimes things turn out much better than expected.  We had such an experience last weekend after a tough bout with colds and fevers.  On Friday we were committed to leading a monthly hymn sing at Pinebrook and we just weren't sure how we would do it, especially with our coughs and sore throats.  Then for Saturday we had tickets for the Penn State Northwestern football game and since they were calling for rain we felt that we might just need to "eat" the cost of the tickets and stay home. That happened to us last year when a surprise snowstorm hit in October.  But the Lord allowed us to finally improve enough physically and we decided to at least meet our commitment at Pinebrook.  It turns out that He gave us just a beautiful day.  The leaves in the Poconos had begun to change and it was refreshing to see God's beautiful Fall display.  And the hymn sing was well attended and went extremely well.  And an added benefit was being with a number of long time friends and being surprised by a special couple that we hadn't seen in several years.  It was a very special day for us.  Then we had to make a decision about Saturday and since we were both feeling somewhat better we decided to get out our rain gear and go for it.  I knew that we had excellent seats but it would also be a long walk in the rain to get there.  So we were on the road again at 5:45 am and we did drive through some rain.  But once we got parked the rain seemed to end.  And, in fact, during the first half of the game the sun came out and it ended up being another beautiful afternoon.  The pregame activities were great.  It was Homecoming so the Alumni Band was there and with the Blue Band there must have been over 500 instrumentalists on the field.  The drum major made his flips and split successfully to the roar of the crowd. The stadium was electric.  We were just 15 rows up and on the 20 yardline with a great view of the field. The game was very exciting and excellent.   In fact, Penn State rallied from behind in the fourth quarter and most of the action was right in front of us.  It was one of the best games that we have witnessed in our many years of going to Happy Valley.  And because the game was so close right to the end, the fans didn't leave early.  So we were able to wait until the closing seconds, then leave and get to our car before most of the others.  In fact, we were the second car out of our lot and we drove away without any of the traffic that 95,000 fans would soon create.  A great day, a great weekend, and a great experience.  And it was almost a perfect weekend for my three P's.  Penn Manor won, Penn State won, and the Philadelphia Eagles almost won.  I guess not everything can be completely perfect.  But I do thank the Lord for a memorable, relaxing, and enjoyable weekend.  Sometimes when we trust Him He provides us with some great and unexpected bonuses.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Robocalls, Junk Mail And Spam


We're eating our evening meal when suddenly the telephone rings.  We don't like to be interrupted when we are eating our meals but we know it could be something important so we give in and answer the phone.  Most of the time it is a disgusting recorded message offering us a chance to reduce our interest rates on our credit card.  Sometimes it is a call asking Mr. Kauffman, Horace Kauffman that is, to make a donation or collect donations for some charity. My father, Horace, died three years ago and never lived here or used this phone number, but they call here anyway. Sometimes it is a hang up.  But lately it is often a call from some politician telling us how we should vote in the November election.  Well we have now hung up on some very important people such as congressmen and Tom Ridge, Joe Pitts, and even Laura Bush, just to name a few. And unfortunately these political calls will pick up as the November election approaches. Now please tell me, how many folks actually listen to these political messages?  How many folks are really influenced by them?  How dare they interrupt my meal for this useless activity!  We supposedly are on the no-call list, but callers apparently aren't following this list and law anymore.  And, calls involving charities and politics are still allowed.  Today there are 209 million numbers on the list including 84 million with landlines.  The Federal Trade Commission reported that they received about 65,000 complaints about "illegal" calls in 2010 and that has increased to about 212,000 already this year. Of course there is also the junk mail that comes regularly. But at least that doesn't interrupt my meals.  Every week, towards the end of the week, I can expect my letter from Comcast offering my business a "special deal".  What business?  Writing blogs?  Why don't they use the cost of these weekly mailings and reduce my cable rates?  Then there is the weekly letter from Dish offering me spectacular cable service.  And of course there are the regular offers for preapproved credit cards.  And for we who are seniors there are the regular advertisements from retirement villages and, as the end of the year approaches, multiple offers for health care packages to supplement Medicare. Maybe if the post office would charge them first class rates they wouldn't need to run in the red annually. Of course then the delivery folks wouldn't have much to deliver. Can the economy really be as bad as we think it is when all of these groups can afford to send out mass junk mail on a regular basis?  But now they are joined by the numerous pitches from parties and people running for office.  Have you seen the "spectacular" multicolored post cards that candidates are sending out?  They have to be expensive to print and yet they are flooding my mailbox.  And they quickly get filed in my waste basket.  Some how priorities are out of order when candidates can spend loads of money to get elected while folks are unemployed, homeless, and in deep need.  Comparing the robocalls and junk mail to spam, give me the spam.  At least I can quickly ignore and delete that, unless, of course I am looking to be a mystery shopper or a personal assistant or a purchaser of vitamins or other spectacular meds.  But such is life - so much time dealing with junk.  Oh yes, if you need to call me at meal time, let the phone ring two times, then hang up and call again.  That will be our signal that you have something to share that is worth interrupting my meal!  Just make sure it is important or I might hang up on you!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

To Facebook Or Not To Facebook? That Is The Question.


Facebook - is it of any value?   Months ago I decided to try Facebook.  I'm not sure why, probably because I was curious.  Over the months I have obtained 72 Facebook "friends".  I don't go looking for new friends but I will generally accept those who ask to be my friend.  And, for a variety of reasons I have not accepted some invitations and have also eliminated some who I had originally accepted.  But my so called friends rarely respond to anything I post.  In fact, of the 72 who are listed as my friends, I think I have only ever seen or received responses from 24.  It can't be my bad breath or deodorant since you can't smell on Facebook - at least not yet. Maybe I am just that dull or over the hill. However, I do enjoy hearing from some of my friends once in awhile, especially those who are my relatives.  But I do often wonder if it is a waste of my time.  As I pondered that question this week I did think of several good things that have happened because I was on Facebook.  Recently a former student of mine and an ex-Awana clubber found me and I have enjoyed catching up with him.  He has completed his doctorate at Michigan and is now teaching at a college in Minnesota.  That was special.  I also found that I could use Facebook to get some action from UGI on the restoration of my lawn. By posting pictures on their homepage I was able to get the original work done.  But when I wasn't satisfied with their work I posted follow up pictures and again got their attention. I am convinced that without my postings on Facebook they would have continued to ignore me.   I also was able to participate in a Facebook contest run by Isaac's Restaurant in which I shared a story and picture of my father.  Several Facebook friends helped vote for my story which came in second.  And for that we received a $100 gift card to use at any of their restaurants.  My fourth positive experience on this social media involves Awana.  I have enjoyed following the postings on their page and I have picked up numerous ideas which were shared by others.  I have also been able to help others with their questions by providing suggestions which have worked for us.  That is one of the real positive uses of Facebook.  So I guess with those four positive experiences I  will continue to participate, at least for a little longer.  But as far as daily sharing and give and take, I guess maybe I am too old for most of my friends.  It appears that most who participate that way are women or young people.  Maybe men are just as private on Facebook as they are in real life.  Well, if you are one of my friends on Facebook, please drop by and at least say "hi".  (If you don't, maybe I'll just defriend you!)