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.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

To Tell The Truth

Do you remember the old television show To Tell The Truth?  As I recall they used to have three contestants who all claimed to be a certain person.  One told the truth and the other two lied.  Then the contestants were asked to pick out the one who told the truth.  Maybe this was really the first "reality" show since that seems to be what life is all about today - trying to determine if a person is telling the truth when telling a lie is so common.  If you read my blog of January 13 you know that we were hit by a lady who ran a red light.  She freely admitted to all at the scene that it was her fault.  She was 77 and we felt that she could be trusted.  In fact, when the policeman finally showed up, almost an hour later, after listening to our story he said that he didn't need to file a report unless we wanted one.  Filing a report would probably have gotten this women a citation.  She was upset about the accident and was concerned about her husband who was very ill at home.  She remarked how calm and kind we had been. And I trusted her.  I decided to show some mercy and not have the report written by the officer so that she wouldn't get a citation.  As it turns out, I was really outsmarted by this little old lady.  I first realized that when I had to pay the $500 deductible to get my car back from the repair shop.  Then a friend warned me that they had trouble collecting on an accident when Nationwide was the other person's insurer.  And, sure enough, Nationwide has denied responsibility placing me at 100% fault for an accident which clearly was not my fault at all. So apparently this smart old lady reported a different story and now it is her word against ours.  Now my insurance company is fighting the decision but I suspect we will be out the $500.  So I've learned a few lessons.  First, if you are not at fault in an accident get a written police report.  Second, do not take the word of anyone, especially a kindly old lady, who has much to gain by telling a lie.  Now I am reminded that the Lord is the final judge and despite the $500 reminder, He will honor my act of mercy, honesty and Christian response. She will be accountable to Him for her action.  But telling a lie is so common and accepted today.  The newspapers are full of examples such as the Notre Dame linebacker who lied about his girl friend.  Then there is the "honorable" Vice President Joe Biden who, in an effort to gain sympathy for his campaign to control guns, claims that he was golfing close enough to the Nickel Mines School tragedy in 2006 to hear the gun shots as the students were killed.   Newspapers have checked all the area golf courses and have no record of Biden golfing there and, even so, none of the courses are even close enough to have heard the shots.  And just to think that Biden is one heartbeat away from being our President.    I just read some statistics that show how common it has become not to tell the truth in today's society.  According to Statistic Brain, 1.6 million people have lied on their taxes and 53% have put false statements on their resumes.  According to NBC, 40% say lying is sometimes acceptable.  And 44 of 56 schools is Atlanta were part of a cover up by teachers who falsified test scores (erasing kids' answers and putting in the correct answers, etc.)  Sadly that is where we have come to in this secular society that denies God and won't even allow postings of the Ten Commandments.  So I guess we need to learn not to be so naive, even when dealing with kindly older women.  And that advice won't cost you $500 as it has for me.  And that is the truth!  But the Psalmist has given me the words for my real reaction.  In Psalm 26:1 he prays, "Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering."  And that too is my prayer.

Friday, January 25, 2013


Over the past two weeks, five acquaintances of ours have passed away - the mother of one of our missionaries, the husband of a friend from church, the mother of a fellow Awana worker, the husband of a teacher that I hired, and a former student. Now they weren't what i would call close friends, but they were people who crossed our paths in one way or another. The older we get, it seems the more frequently we are attending viewing and funerals.  Checking the obituaries has become a daily routine.  I guess this is a part of senior life that nobody warned us about.  During this same time period I've also talked to two widows who are struggling with the loss of their husbands.  And what can you really say to them?  That has to be one of the most devastating experiences of life.  This week is also the one year anniversary of the unexpected sudden passing of my very close friend, Jim Herrold.  We met 54 years ago at Susquehanna University, became college roommates, and were like brothers to each other. He prayed for me regularly and few people have such a faithful prayer partner. But Jim was just one of my very close friends who are now in glory, each leaving a widow behind here on earth.  In 1984 my friend Paul Brosious was called home with a sudden heart attack.  We met while I was in college and I became his tutor and close friend. He went on to earn his doctorate and become one of the early developers of minicomputers for IBM.  During my  college years I also met Norm Zellers.  We sang together in the Gospel Four Quartette in church and each week on the radio.  He was responsible for getting Dianne and I together.  We used his car in our wedding party and we had much in common throughout our lives.  When we moved to the Lancaster area after my graduation, a young man by the name of Gary Varner came to help us move.  He and his wife attended our church and we soon became very close friends.  We sang together in a mixed quartette.  We enjoyed the same things.  We helped start several fellowship groups at church.  Our children and now even our grandchildren grew up together.  He died unexpectedly of lung cancer.  Then there was Ralph Michel.  We also met Ralph and his wife in our church many years ago and we too had much in common.  We vacationed together.  We would have been the guardians for their children if they had died before their kids were of age.  We, too, had so many great times together.  His death was also very quick and unexpected.  Then, of course, there was my brother, Terry.  A star athlete, a godly man, a man with a heart for others, but a victim of prostate cancer. Even though he was four years younger than I was, he taught me so very much about living ... and preparing to die.  Terry, Jim and Norm were the men in our wedding party and all are now home with the Lord.  And that is so hard to believe.  But that is part of aging.  I think a person is blest if he has just one close friend during his lifetime.  I guess I have been blest many times and I thank the Lord for that.  But I do deeply miss these good friends who are now sharing together in the splendor and joy of heaven.  And I have the hope of seeing them again when the Lord calls me home to heaven.  If you have a good, close friend, please take time to thank them and spend time with them.  For those extra special relationships here on earth may soon be gone and then all you will have here are the good memories and maybe some regrets.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Facebook Users

I have talked here before about Facebook.  I now have 71 friends, or folks listed as being my friends.  But over the past year only 34 of these have ever placed a comment on facebook or have even said that they "liked" something that I posted.  And most of these 34 have only done this once or twice, at most, during the past year.  But despite this, I still enjoy checking Facebook each day.  I do hear from a few of my friends and I do enjoy hearing what is happening in their lives.  I don't spend hours there and I don't play games, but I do enjoy exchanging both serious and humorous comments.  It often lightens up my day.  Recently somebody sent me a listing of the 12 Types of People who are on Facebook.  So I thought I'd share these with you and if you are a Facebook user you will probably be able to find friends of yours in each type.  Here goes.  (1) The "Rooster" -- Always tells Facebook "Good Morning" every day.  (2) The "Lurker" -- Never posts or comments on your post, but reads everything, and might make reference to your status when seeing you in public. (3) The "Hyena" -- Doesn't ever really say anything, just LOLs and LMAOs at everything. (4) "Mr/Ms Popular" -- Has 4,367 friends for NO reason. (5) The "Gamer" -- Plays Words With Friends, Mafia Wars,Farmville, and Bejeweled Blitz, and bakes virtual cakes and stuff, etc. (ALL DAY).  (6) The "Cynic" -- Hates his life, and everything in it, as evidenced by the somber tone in ALL of his status updates. (7) The "Collector" -- Never posts anything either, but joins every group and becomes fans of the most random stuff.  (8) The "Promoter" -- Always sends event invitations to things that you ultimately delete or ignore.  (9) The "Liker" -- Never actually says anything, but always clicks the "like" button. (10) "Drama Queen/King" -- This person always posts stuff like "I can't believe this!" or "They gonna make me snap today!" in the hopes that you will ask what happened, or what's wrong ... but then never finishes telling the story. (11) The "News" -- Always updates you on what they are doing and who they are doing it with, no matter how arbitrary, and lastly... (12) The "Thief" -- Steals status updates ... and will probably steal this one ... just like I did!  What type of user are you?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Hawk

Several weeks ago my wife called me to look out our back window.  There, perched on our wash pole, was a huge bird.  It was at least two feet tall with a huge puffy breast.  We watched it for awhile and then we were able to see enough of it to identify it as a red tailed hawk.  Now we have hawks visit out yard quite often, but never anything close to this size.  We think that the visits of hawks are one reason that our bird population is much smaller than it used to be.  Well we watched this hawk for quite awhile and it just sat there on the post.  Finally we left to continue some jobs we had to complete.  Then later my wife called me once again.  This time the huge hawk was on the ground, near our flower bed.  My wife was sure that it had something in its claws and was chewing at it.  She guessed that it might have been some bird.  When I was watching the hawk stopped chewing and for several minutes just turned its neck about 360 degrees, both ways, scanning all around.  In fact, we think it may have even noticed us despite the fact that we were inside, probably 40 yards away.  This time we could see the hawk's entire body and it was then very easy to confirm our identification.  Finally the bird spread its huge wings and took off.  It was impressive.  I would not have wanted to mess with a creature this huge.  When it didn't return I decided to go and see if I could identify its victim.  Sure enough, I found the body of a large squirrel with blood all over its neck.  I decided to wait until the next day to remove the remains.  But the next morning it was gone.  I don't know if the hawk returned to finish his meal or if a vulture or other animal enjoyed the remains.  Now I would be glad if the hawk returned regularly to feast on our nasty squirrel population.  As you may remember from a previous blog, the squirrels have beaten all my efforts to stop them from invading my birdfeeders.  But they can't beat this new weapon.  If only the hawk would stick with squirrels and forget the smaller, less tasty, birds.    I was never this close to a bird this huge as it completed a successful hunt.  But it was impressive! Once again it made me marvel at God's great creations.  It truly was a stunning experience.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Deja vu? Allmost

On November 6, 1994, my parents were shopping.  On the way home, late afternoon, a teenager ran a stop sign and hit them on the passenger side of their car. My mother was seated there.  Emergency personnel told us that they think mother may have died instantly.  She was 72.  My dad was taken to the hospital where he stayed for a few days under observation.  We were at a Penn State football game and since they couldn't reach us, they called my oldest son who met them at the hospital.  On January 8, 2013, we were shopping and were on our way home, also in the late afternoon.  A 77 year old lady ran a red light and hit us on the passenger side where my wife was seated.  Dianne is 72.  Thank the Lord we were not injured seriously and while we waited to have our car towed we called our oldest son who came and picked us up.  At the time we were very shocked since, like my parents, we didn't see it coming when we were hit.  It was shortly after our accident that we began to see the similarities in the two situations. Deja vu?  But there were some major differences.  The most important of these is that Dianne was not killed or seriously injured.  The impact to my parents was at a 90 degree angle.  Our impact was about 45 degrees, sparing us serious damage and injury or death.  In my parents' accident, the driver, upon the advice of his parents, left the scene before the police could check him for alcohol or drugs.  We still suspect he may have been drinking as well as  speeding.  In our case the driver stayed until our car was towed away.  She just claims that she didn't see us - we don't know if she might have been on her phone or if she just didn't see the traffic light.  She had to just miss a van that must have crossed in front of her seconds before she hit us. None of the many witnesses to our accident stayed to help us or make a report.  But we thank the Lord once again for His protection.  We never know what a day will bring and that is why it is so important to know that we are right with the Lord.  In seconds one could be with Him or even elsewhere if they aren't in God's family.  We always pray for safety when we take longer trips, but I must admit that I don't usually do it for the short ones.  And yet with all the crazy, inattentive drivers on the road, we need His protection, moment by moment.   And it appears that we will get our car back and it won't be totaled as we thought.  We were looking to trade it in or sell it and having it totaled would have made that decision easier, but I guess the Lord has other plans right now for the car ... and for us.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Freedom of Speech

Shah of Iran
It was the mid 1970's when I was informed that my mathematics department was to host a visiting Iranian math educator who would spend about three weeks with us observing our program and our teachers.  This visit was part of a program to improve the Iranian education process and to foster closer relationships between the two countries.  Our guest was to live with one of my teachers who lived just a block away from our school.  As it turned our, our visitor was a member of the Iranian Education Administration.  He frequently reminded us that he was just a poor country teacher who was honored to have won promotions to this position.  It soon became evident that our visitor was finding it extremely difficult to adjust to our country.  When he visited in our home he marveled that we actually had carpet on our floors.  He said that we must be very rich to be able to afford carpet.  He had a very difficult time adjusting to news coverage in which people actually criticized the president and the government.  He couldn't believe that anyone would dare do that and this made him very uneasy during his entire stay.  Unfortunately, at a government reception in Washington, just prior to his visit with us, he got caught up in the meaningless light conversations.  And when somebody joked about not selling arms to Iran, he countered by saying if we didn't sell them arms they wouldn't sell us oil.  He quickly regretted having made that comment and from that day on he was sure that his remarks would get back to the Shah of Iran.  During his stay with us he lived in constant fear that upon his return to Iran he would be taken prisoner and that he would never see his family again.  We thought he was just imaging this, but at times he seemed like he was about to have a nervous breakdown.  On the day of the Shah's birthday he begged me to take him to a Western Union office so that he could send a birthday message to the Shah.  I finally found this small dark office in downtown Lancaster from where a telegraph message could be sent.  The location of the office and the entire experience were like something you would see in a spy movie. But the message was sent. Well his visit finally came to and end and he left with promises to communicate with all of us upon his return to Iran.  He never did.  And based on what happened in Iran we can't help but wonder if his fears actually came true.  Did he become a political prisoner?  Was his family taken from him?  According to official statistics, Iran had as many as 2,200 political prisoners in 1978, a number which multiplied rapidly as a result of the revolution.  A secular Muslim, the Shah gradually lost support from the Shi'a clergy of Iran, particularly due to his strong policy of modernization, secularization, conflict with the traditional class of merchants known as bazaari, and recognition of Israel. By 1979, political unrest had transformed into a revolution which in January of that year forced the Shah to leave Iran. Soon thereafter, the Iranian monarchy was formally abolished, and Iran was declared an Islamic republic. Facing likely execution should he return to Iran, he died in exile in Egypt, whose President, Anwar Sadat, had granted him asylum.  So I guess I will never know what actually happened to our visitor.  But I did come to realize that most folks around the world don't begin to have the freedoms, especially the freedom of speech, that we have here.  And as I view the history of Iran I can begin to understand why our visitor was on the verge of a nervous breakdown because of a casual comment made at a reception.  Could we also begin to lose these freedoms that we have taken for granted in this country?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Need A Resolution?

Do you make your bed every morning?   Do you feel productive in your daily activties?  Do you stick to a budget?  Do you generally experience happiness?  I wish that I had a good way to track your answers.  Maybe I should set up some polls on my blog.  Now why would I ask these odd questions? Well they might be appropriate for one of the first blogs of the year.  In a recent article in Readers Digest, a Jackie Ashton examined the relationship of these questions.  She commented about Charles Duhigg's The Power of Habit in which Duhigg claims that making your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity and stronger skills at sticking to a budget.  It also boosts happiness.  Now can an act that takes about three minutes actually make that much of a difference in your life?  Apparently making your bed and other feel-good tasks, like exercising and cooking your own food, are considered to be "keystone habits", routines that spill over to others and are catalysts for other good behaviors.  Interesting.  I really don't remember if I made my own bed at home when I was growing up - I probably had to.  I do know that we had bunk beds and they were hard to make.  In college I did make my bed.  Fortunately, my roommate for two of those years was very neat and, unlike most college students, we prided ourselves in keeping a neat, clean room.  I guess for most of my working years, my wife took care of the bed making because I generally left early in the morning for work.  But since I am retired, whoever gets there first makes the bed and sometimes we do it together.  Now I have always stuck to a budget but probably because it was the only way to get by on a low income and not because of making my bed.  Productive? - probably yes, but because that is my personality.  Happiness? - generally yes, but not because I make my bed.  Although part of my happiness in life is being able to crawl into a nicely made, comfortable bed each evening.  So does this "research" and these conclusions make any sense?  I don't know, but if you need a good New Year's resolution, why not try making your bed each morning.  Let me know how it goes.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Special Traditions

Like most families, we have numerous Christmas traditions.  Ours include gathering at our house after the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, enjoying a buffet and then exchanging presents.  For years we have read the Christmas story from Luke and prayed before opening the presents.  When our boys were younger we made it a point each year to give them a Bible study book and some tool for their toolbox as part of their gifts.  But in recent years our gift giving has gone a different direction.  Since 2005 I have annually prepared a DVD for each of our families that contains pictures taken throughout the year, highlighting special events such as birthdays, graduations, awards, etc.  I have always chosen background music for the DVD which has a special message.  This year it was "Ten Thousand Reasons".  I also include a special Bible verse for the year. This year it wa Psalm 128:1.  We view this DVD before presents are opened.  But several years ago I began another tradition for my grandchildren.  I have been preparing a book for them, sharing stories and pictures from my life and from the lives of those in our family lines.  I've entitled the book "In His Grip" and the key verse is Isaiah 41:13.  With the six pages I prepared for this year, the total pages in their book is now 106 (many of these can actually be found on the website fbfawana.com)  Some of the highlights in the book are chapters about my dad, my father-in-law, my brother, my grandparents and people who have influenced my life.  Many chapters show how God has worked in my life  in experiences and events throughout the years  There are even some letters from my grandparents and pictures of all the family members I could find.  There are family trees which trace the Herrold line back to 1555 in Germany and the Kauffman line back to 1780 when three brothers came to America.  Realizing that there is so much of  our family history that is now gone with the deaths of our parents, I have had a challenge to pass on as much of this rich heritage as I can.  This year my wife decided to follow the tradition which I have been developing and she prepared the beginnings of a book about her family and background.  This year she shared ten pages which she prepared about her life and that of her mother and father.  Some special family pictures were included.  I'm not sure if our grandchildren appreciate this work now, but I think the time will come - probably after we are gone - that they will value this work.  It is my desire not only to share pictures and details about our history, but, more importantly, details about how the Lord has worked and led in our lives.  My greatest desire is to see my grandchildren learn to love and serve the Lord and trust Him in all that they do.  He has been so faithful to me over the years and my hope is that someday they will each have the same testimony to share.  Traditions are important in family life, but those that point our children to the Lord are vital.