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.

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Great Reunion

        Hopefully this will be the last blog for awhile that I write concerning things during the past 50 years of my life.  However, I do want to share some observations from my recent 50th class reunion at Susquehanna University, in Selinsgrove, because it turned out to be a very special day.  I almost didn't go since I didn't have many close friends at SU.  My physics classes were very small and my math classes weren't much larger.  I didn't belong to a fraternity and I spent my final year commuting.  Much of my spare time was spent traveling with the football and basketball teams, working on campus, visiting family in the area, participating in church services and activities in Sunbury, and dating my wife to be.  And my very best friend, Jim Herrold, my roommate for two years, passed away over a year ago. So I really didn't have many friends there.  But fortunately, I chose to attend.

         As it turns out, three of my best friends, members of the basketball team, were there and we really enjoyed being with them and their wives.  During the four years that I was there, SU probably had the best basketball record of any four years in SU history.  The fellows on the team were fun to be around - they were clean cut and mature.  Our captain was about eight years older than the rest of us, had four children, worked 40 hours a week and commuted from Shamokin every day.  He led the league in rebounding. An amazing story. Another good friend was one of SU's top scorers.  And my roommate the first year was the team manager.  It was fun to talk about the "good old days" with them.  The two players looked like they could play tomorrow.  In fact, the scorer, still plays in an over 70 league and his team has competed for national titles.
           It was very interesting to see how folks have changed.  Some have really aged and a few even had canes.  But many seemed to be in very good shape for being about 72. I'm not sure where I fit in, but many humored me by saying that I hadn't changed much. Yeah, right!  And everyone was so friendly - even those who I hardly knew or remembered acted like long lost friends.  I guess wer were 50 year survivors and had that in common.  Even the spouses were very friendly - my wife had no trouble striking up conversations with many of the wives who were there.
          One of the highlights was getting to see my physics professor who I had for all four years.  He came to SU when we came there and he finally retired last year.  I had seen him twice before since I graduated.  One day we visited SU's tremendous new science building and I was fortunate enough to see him then.  And, I was amazed that he knew me right away - I must have made some sort of impression on him - either good or bad.  But he always was very friendly and interested in his students and I was glad that he came to our reunion to see some of us.
          Much has changed there over 50 years and SU now has a beautiful campus with top notch facilities.  The sports complex is amazing, although few of their teams can match those from our time there.  We saw a quarter or so of their football game against Moravian.  I think both teams looked smaller than our present high school team at Penn Manor.  Both teams hadn't won a game all year and SU was fortunate enough to finally gain a victory.  When we were there our team was one of the top small school football teams in the nation.  We even beat Temple.  Our coach was the father of the present head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.
           The dormitories are also much improved.  Our class was the first large class in SU's expansion.  As a result, they were short of rooms.  My first year four of us were squeezed into what had been a storage room.  The second year, three of us were squeezed into a room in a building which burnt to the ground a few years later. That didn't surprise me. In my third year we enjoyed the luxury of a brand new dorm and I worked as a proctor there.  My old classrooms have been completely renovated and you barely can visualize what they had been.  And one more major difference.  When I went there it cost us about $10,000 per year.  Today it cost about $42,000 per year.  Wow!   But it is a great school with a great campus and staff.
          One final comment - 154 of us graduated in 1963.  About 84 of those contributed or pledged to a fund in honor of the man who served his first year as president when we arrived as freshmen.  That pledge amounted to $2,219,000!  Obviously many of the 84 must have had very successful careers and earned and saved quite a bit, much, much more than I did. But while I couldn't prove it with my meager donation, Susquehanna gave me a tremendous background and I have no regrets in going there.  If I could do it again, I would jump at the opportunity.  Those were great years and I thank God for leading me there.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Faithful Service

       In my last blog I talked about things that happened in my life 50 years ago. That was an important year in my life.  But after I wrote that, I thought of another important event that happened that year.  It might not seem too important to any of you, but that was the year my bride officially became a member of Faith Bible Fellowship Church in Lancaster.  Before we moved here she was a member of Emmanuel Bible Fellowship Church in Sunbury and my grandfather, Norman H. Wolf, was her pastor.

       During the past 50 years she has had a quiet but profound influence on the history and development of our church which was actually founded just 63 years ago.  Her first impact has been on the music.  She had been the church pianist in Sunbury and since her move here she has faithfully played both the piano and organ - solos and accompaniment. She was actually our first organist.  In addition, she has sung solos, in duets, trios, quartets and in the choir.  And for about 25 years she arranged the music schedules for all of our weekly worship services.  In addition, she has played for many, many weddings, funerals and other special events.  Working with me, we planned and directed the Christmas Eve service for about 25 years.
       She has been a teacher, teaching children for many years, and, in recent years, teaching  Bible studies for women.  She has worked for 32 years as cofounder and head secretary of our Awana program.   She helped teach and lead the senior high program for many years as well as the junior department in Sunday School. She served as an officer in the former Women's Missionary Society and also as a member of several church committees.  She helped start the Young Married Couples Group, the Middlers Fellowship Group, and the Primetimers Group.  Unfortunately, none of these fellowship groups exist today in our church.  She faithfully remembers the birthdays of many of our folks, including children, and many look forward to the cards she prepares annually.
       For 25 years she served as custodian of our building in Lancaster.  While she did receive some pay for this, she never had a paid vacation in 25 years. A few times family members had to fill in when she really couldn't be there.  That also meant that there often were very late nights to complete the work before we could leave for something like Pinebrook.  It meant cleaning after all big events, such as Bible School, weddings, funerals and special services.  That often included trying to clean up rice after weddings, which is almost impossible, as well as scraping wax off the benches and ironing the carpet to clean up the wax after Candlelight services.  Faithfully she served, behind the scenes, and few ever understood the time and energy that it took her to keep the church so nice and clean for services.
        Now she has never wanted praise or recognition for her service and she will probably be upset about me drawing attention to her.  She did receive a certificate from the church when she retired from cleaning.  But she has quietly served the Lord and His people here for 50 years.    She has been an example of a very faithful servant who has given her life to serving the Lord, often quietly, in the background.  I am so proud of what she has done and while she may never be rewarded here on earth, I know the Lord has a crown for her in glory.  And the things that I've mentioned here are just those done with our church.  It doesn't include the 25 years of family ministry, the 40 years of ministry at Pinebrook, teaching community women's Bible studies, or serving on the board of Bible Visuals and Chrsitian Womens Committees.
       Oh that more folks today would serve faithfully.  Today most won't take the time to do so.  They'd rather pay someone to do the work in church - look at how church staffs have grown.  And things, such as possessions and vacations seem to be more important.  Sports, the shore, and the mountains regularly draw people away from church and service today.  The Lord often seems to get just what is left over.  But in doing that, one misses the blessings that the Lord has for those servants who are faithful, and that is sad.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Golden Memories

Recently I was shopping at Cherry Hill Orchard in New Danville and I stopped to talk to the owner who had once been my boss during a summer that my brother and I spent picking cherries and apples in the two orchards he managed.  He asked me if I knew how many years ago it was that I had worked for him.  After thinking about it I suddenly recalled that it was 50 years ago - a half century ago.  He remembered because that was the year he built and opened his market.  Since then all the many acres of trees in the two different locations where we worked have all been been cut down and replaced by corn fields and new buildings.  It is so hard to realize that all of this is now gone, almost as hard as it is to believe that 50 years has passed since I worked there.

Since this meeting I have been doing much reminiscing.  So much happened in my life fifty years ago.  We had our first son that year and then four months later almost lost him when he had to undergo emergency surgery for a rare intestinal condition.  The emergency came just days after we moved back to Lancaster County to live in a country apartment in Silver Springs.  It was a miracle that a new doctor that we had just met recognized the symptoms in time to spare Craig's life.  He recognized them because he had seen one similar case, his own daughter.  That miracle is a special memory from 1963.
Fifty years ago I also graduated from Susquehanna University.  We hope to be going back there in October to attend Homecoming and meet classmates that I haven't seen for fifty years.  I'm sure they will all look older ... just like me.  However, I will really miss my roommate and best friend, Jim Herrold, who is now home in heaven.  That same year we also won the league championship in basketball with one of the best teams that Susquehanna has ever had.  For four years I thoroughly enjoyed traveling with the team as scorer and statistician. They were special men and  those are great memories, some of the best of my life.
   This was also the year I began my first teaching job.  At that time I had four interviews and four job offers -  Donegal, Elizabethtown, Hershey and Penn Manor.  It was a very hard decision to make, especially since my wife and I had both previously lived in Elizabethtown and had such good memories about that town.  But the Lord led me to accept Penn Manor's offer and my 39 years there showed that it was the correct decision.  I would later be offered jobs by Wagner College, Ephrata SD, and Manheim Twp. SD, but I was very content with my first choice.  The Lord gave me a great career there.
But one of my biggest memories of that year was the assassination of President Kennedy.  I was teaching an Algebra II class when the announcement came over the loud speaker.  All of us were stunned and there was complete silence in my classroom. It was one of those moments in life that you never forget. Schools were closed for days. We spent the time in Sunbury with my in-laws where we watched all the sad proceedings on television.  I especially remember being glued to the television when Jack Ruby was assassinated right in front of millions of viewers.  I can still picture that event in my mind fifty years later.
Yes, fifty years ago was a very memorable year for me - a half century ago.  My how time has flown.  Recently I asked my wife, "How did we get this old so fast?"  And for that question I have no answer.  But God has been so good to us and has richly blessed us,   And, it is good to hold on to such great memories.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Analyze This!

Did you ever take one of those personality tests that labels you one of four types or a mixture of two?   There are many of those tests around and they use different labels that mean the same thing.  The last one that I took was one that Awana uses and it labels you as one of four colors.  It was especially interesting because after our color was identified, we were given a group project to complete.  And after working with out group for several hours it was very easy to see all four colors at work in the individuals in our group.  It really helped us to see the theory applied.

Now these tests show that I am an analyzer, organizer, and administrator and that is certainly true.  That certainly coordinates with my interest and experience in mathematics and computers.  But it also shows that I am not very verbal and there is some truth to that.  I do like to write, but most of my 30+ years experience in working for newspapers involved writing where I wasn't rushed.  I could analyze and organize and then write.  The same is true of my blogs.  However, I'm not sure how I can justify that completely with my experience in the classroom.  For some reason, when I was in the classroom, my verbal deficiencies never bothered me.  They would come alive.  I thoroughly enjoyed teaching and miss it to this day.  Of course I taught math which was very logical.  And I think I handles myself well when I was leading our family ministry or when I lead hymn sings, etc.  But in those cases I do prepare most of my comments in advance.
I do not enjoy playing most games, especially those where you must perform before the group or those that involve things like trivia and fast thinking.  I need time to analyze and just don't enjoy being pressured to perform or come up with a quick answer. I avoid them whenever I can. But give me a problem or puzzle where I have time to analyze it and I will work and most likely solve it.   I once heard a Bible teacher, who was like me, say he was sure that there won't be games in heaven.  I've often hoped that he was right.
Now besides my dislike for games, my verbal limitations make me cringe when I need to participate in group discussions, including Bible studies.  Folks who are verbal can quickly respond while I sit there listening and analyzing before I am willing to make a response.  For about a dozen years I had to participate in a monthly administrative discussion group.  The majority of the participants were very verbal folks who always had responses, while I would sit and analyze.  My boss, who was very verbal but not very analytical, used to chastise me because I didn't participate more.  I dreaded those sessions and the pressure put on me to perform like all the verbal participants. That boss wasn't very tolerant of learning styles that were different from his and I had to learn to accept that.
Now this might shock you, but I also don't enjoy praying in public or even in small groups.  It isn't because I don't believe in prayer, because I certainly do.  It isn't because I don't share the needs of others, because I certainly do. And I do pray regularly - by myself - and I know that God hears me. But I often find it difficult to quickly find the right words to pray out loud when others are listening.  So many folks, especially women, can just pray so beautifully, finding all the right words and phrases to convey their requests.  Not me.  Sometimes I think others must feel that I am not very spiritual when I don't volunteer to pray publically. But does the Lord find their public prayers more important than my private ones?  I really don't think so.
Now why am I sharing this personal information with you?  The older I get, the more aware I am becoming of differences in personalities and learning styles.  God did not make us all the same - fortunately.  But so often we try to force everyone into our mold and we judge them because they aren't the same as us.  That is a real challenge for the classroom teacher and I had to recognize this since those who were analyzers like me often excelled in math.  Those who were verbal or had different learning styles would struggle if I, as their teacher, didn't recognize and adjust to this.  But whether you are style yellow, red, green, blue or some other label, God made you as you are, for a particular reason.  My prayer (in private) is that you will use your styles for the Lord and that each of us will be more understanding of those who aren't the same as us.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Who Stretched The Hill?

Recently one of our cars had to go in for repairs.  Dianne was very ill and in bed and I really didn't want to disturb her.  It was a beautiful afternoon so I thought I'd just walk home.  It was only about a mile from our house and I had walked that route a few times before.  Now I do walk farther than that almost every morning at the large area shopping center where it is climate controlled and flat.  So I thought it was no big deal and the first few blocks went fine.  But then I turned the corner and started to walk on Prince St., the longest leg of the journey.  As I looked ahead I was shocked to see how steep the hill ahead of me seemed to be. Ten to 15 years ago I walked on Prince St. several times a week when I was teaching nights at Millersville University.  It was always a nice easy walk.  But I don't remember the steep hills being there before.  Were they new?  I don't think so.  Did somebody stretch them to make them steeper?  Well maybe, but I doubt it.  Was I now a decade older?  I guess that is a good excuse.

Now I faced three choices.  I could have called Dianne and said "Help!".  But she was too ill for this option.  Second, I could have kept my eye on the peak of the hills and faced the challenge of getting there.  So often in life it is good to keep your eye on the finish line or the goal which you are trying to reach. Runners in track need to keep their eyes on the finish line so that they don't fall short.  I guess if you don't set goals in life and work to reach them, you really don't accomplish what you are capable of doing.  I thought of Hebrews 12: 1, 2, "let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;"  But I didn't quite feel that this had the proper application here.  The top of the hill just looked too far away.
My third choice was just to look at the next few steps as I climbed the hill.  The next few steps just didn't look nearly as steep and weren't hard to take.  And that is what I did. Little by little, step by step. And as I climbed I thought how often in life I worry about the tasks, changes, and challenges that might be ahead.  And one can grow very weary doing that.  Sometimes it is just better to take on today's challenges.  The Lord does promise us strength for today.  And tomorrow is in His hands. He will supply the strength that we need when tomorrow becomes today.  So while it is important to keep our eyes on our final destination - heaven for the believer - living needs to be daily, as we draw upon His resources for today.
So taking a few steps at a time, the hill didn't seem quite as steep, and I made it.  However, on the way up I was passed from behind by a young lady walking her dog and an "old man" carrying a bag of fruit.  Both the humans and the dog didn't seem to have too much problem with the hill.  Good for them!  And after reaching the top, I found going down the opposite side was a snap.  But I still wonder if I should ask the borough manager when they stretched the hill and made it steeper.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Unexpected Results

        Sometimes you can pour much of your life into a job or a ministry and never know if you really made a difference.  In ministry you may faithfully labor for the Lord for years and receive little or no feedback.  However, the results are eternal and you hope and pray that lives have been affected and that maybe someday, in heaven, you may see fruit of your labor for the Lord.  Teaching is another such situation.  You may work hard but your students move on at the end of a year or a course.  You may later see that they have been successful in their future jobs, but you may never know what impact, if any, that you may have actually had on their lives.  Now some jobs do have feedback and rewards - bonuses and promotions for example.  But that isn't the case in ministry or in teaching.  But every once in awhile the Lord allows something to happen that makes you realize that your years of faithful labor have not been in vain.
        For 32 years we have led an Awana ministry in our church.  Many thousands of boys and girls have come through our program and have been exposed to the Gospel.  An unknown number of verses have been memorized.  But the clubbers move on.  Some go to youth group.  Some continue to attend church.  But most of them just seem to "disappear".  But the Lord has recently provided two rewarding experiences for me.  The first is that my Awana training class this year has four new volunteers who are graduates of our Awana program.  They will join one other who has been serving with us.  I find that so exciting and rewarding.
        The second came a few weeks ago when we were grocery shopping at Stauffers.  As we were checking out, a line suddenly opened, and we were greeted by a young lady who would be our cashier.  We were using our Awana grocery bags and when she saw the bags she became so excited.  She proudly told us that she used to attend an Awana program and that she loved it.  Then she actually quoted the key verse to us.  Upon questioning, we found out that she was one of the city youngsters who actually attended our club, years ago, when our church was in Lancaster.  She then told us that Awana helped her grow close to the Lord and that she is still living close to Him today.  All I could quietly say was, thank you Lord.  Our 32 years has not been in vain.
        Now as far as teaching, I have been aware that many of my former students were very successful in college and that many now have important jobs all around the world.  But once they are gone from your classroom, you seldom if ever hear directly from them again, especially since most are no longer in the area.  And so you can't help but wonder if you had any impact at all on their lives.  Well a few weeks ago my granddaughter was discussing a math problem with a group of students in class.  In defending her answer, which was actually the correct one, she mentioned that she could always check with her grandfather who was a math teacher for 39 years.  Her teacher overheard her comment and asked where I taught and who I was.  When he heard her answer he told the group that the reason he was there today was because of me.  He enjoyed my classes so much that it motivated him to become a math teacher, too.  That made my day, or my week, or my month, or maybe even my year.  It was so encouraging to discover that I had motivated, in a positive way, at least one of my former students.
        The Bible has numerous reminders for us concerning our ministry and our work.  We are reminded to do all that we do, heartily, as to the Lord and not unto men.  And we are told not to grow weary in well doing.  And once in awhile we do get to see the results of our work here on earth.  But a day is coming when we will know all that the Lord has done through our faithful work for Him.