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.
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!"