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

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

1, 2, 3, ...

Here's another math test for you - a very practical one this time.  This Thanksgiving season try to begin counting the many blessings that God has given you since your birth.  If you realize that his mercies alone are new everyday, you will soon realize that this is one math challenge that you'll never be able to complete.  But this season at least take some time to meditate on this and think about the challenge presented in this old hymn.

(1)     When upon life's billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

(2)     Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

(3)     When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings. Wealth can never buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

(4)     So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be disheartened, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey's end.
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Text: Johnson Oatman, Jr., 1856-1922
Music: Edwin O. Excell, 1851-1921

Have a blessed Thanksgiving season.  God is so good ... all the time.

Friday, November 22, 2013


       If you are over 50 you most likely remember exactly where you were during the afternoon 50 years ago.  It was one of those moments in history that you just don't forget - the killing of President Kennedy.  On a Penn State football board that I read regularly somebody recently asked where we were when the announcement was made.  Here are a sampling of some of the replies....  I was walking across campus  on the campus side of the Hammond Building.  I became aware that many of my fellow students were carrying transistor radios, (younger posters do a google on transistor radios)    My first thought, and I remember it vividly was " What is everyone listening to, it can't be baseball. because the World Series was last month.   I stopped a nondescript guy I knew from my freshman dorm and asked why are you listening to the radio .  You know the answer, the President has been shot.   And that is my November 22,1963 moment .... I was in the HUB . You could have heard a pin drop. Nothing but the radio. Will never forget that moment .... I was returning from class to my fraternity on E. Fairmount Ave. and when I entered the foyer area I saw a fraternity brother crying and very emotional and that is when I heard the terrible news .... I was in seventh grade when the principal called the entire 1000 strong middle school student body to the auditorium.  I had gone to a small rural elementary school so being in the auditorium for the first time was overwhelming by itself.  Most students were in shock and just stared ahead in silence.  A few of the girls cried inconsolably.  Kennedy and his photogenic family made a very favorable impression on young teenagers especially the girls. I remember someone speculating that it had to be either the "Mob" or the country of Italy because the sniper's rifle was an Italian version of a Mauser rifle .... Beginning of ninth grade biology class. Ironically, daily school announcements were always made at that time -  by students for speech class credit. Sometimes the kids were good, sometimes they were nervous.  So the announcements come on and it sounds like the student body president says, "There's a black dog in American History." He actually said "black day." Then he says, "no, I can't do this." By now everyone is cracking up. Then the school principal comes on and tells everyone what happened .... The biology teacher says, "Just like that, huh?" and goes on with the regularly scheduled lesson. What a jerk .... I was jumping off a buddies porch into a pile of leaves.  My mom came running out of the house screaming hysterically.  I also remember sitting in front of the black and white tv Sunday morning and watched Oswald get shot .... I was a sr. in high school when our teacher had left for a few minutes. When he came back we got the horrendous news. Shortly the announcement was made over the pa system. Leaving school many were crying. We had three days off school. I saw Ruby shoot Oswald on live tv at my neighbor's house. Trying times .... I came home from morning kindergarten and parked myself on the floor in front of the TV, playing with my favorite toys. I remember the news break, and on comes Walter Cronkite. When he said the president had been shot I got up, went to the backdoor and shouted it out to my mom. It was uncharacteristically warm that day and she was out hanging laundry. She didn't believe me until she came in and saw it for herself. That day is as vivid as if it happened yesterday .... It was announced over the loud speaker. The teachers started crying hysterically .... I was in 1st grade.  I still remember our teacher telling us what happened and that we were going to be dismissed immediately.  It was a quiet ride on the bus and at home all weekend ....  I was in an Algebra 2 class, taking an exam. The witch would not stop the test.  Kids were in tears any I don't think anyone did too well on the mid-term .... Heard the news when I walked out of our school's library.  I remember staying after school that day and talking about the events of the day with my friends.  We were lost and didn't know exactly what to do .... I was in kindergarten as well, got sent home immediately.  Everybody everywhere crying.  Didn't know what happened until i got home.  Extremely vivid in my memory .... I was walking to a Music Appreciation TV class on the Mall and saw a girl sitting on one of the benches, crying.  I couldn't understand why - until I got to my class and found the news on instead of the class .... And those were some of the memories that were posted. 
       My moment was teaching an Algebra II class when the announcement was made. We were all stunned, there was silence, and then there were tears.  Fortunately it was near the end of the day and we were soon sent home.  And the events of the next few days are also etched permanently in my memory.  Now we tend to remember the important events in our lives - births, marriages, deaths, etc. - but there are a few national events that we never forget.  For me those include Kennedy's death, the shooting of Oswald (watching it on TV), the launching of Sputnik by the Russians (driving on route 283), killing of Martin Luther King (driving to a church meeting), shooting of President Reagan (driving to a school meeting) and of course 9-11 (preparing for class), as well as several others.  I wish that I could ask my parents what they were doing when the attack on Pearl Harbor was announced.  I guess we never know what a day may bring so it reminds us to walk daily close to the Lord and trust Him fully for not only today, but also for tomorrow.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


I'm not sure when my interest in football really began.  It might have been in first grade when I used to watch my dad coach at New Cumberland High School.  It probably grew when I played midget football in fifth and sixth grade.  However, while I enjoyed that, the experience made me realize that I would never be a football player.  In seventh grade I joined the high school band and for seven years we marched at all the Lititz High and Warwick High football games.  
          But my real interest began to grow when for four years I served as statistician for the Susquehanna University football team and I was able to travel, by bus and plane, to all of their games.  And during that time we had one of the strongest small college football teams in the nation.  We even beat Temple University at Temple.  Then for 25 years I covered football games every Saturday afternoon for the Lancaster Sunday News Sports Department and I loved doing that.  Then we got turned on to going to Penn State football games and we thoroughly enjoyed doing that during the years when we could get good seats that we could afford.  And the Penn State experience could be another blog sometime in the future.

In 1963 I was offered teaching jobs at four different high schools.  I really believe that the Lord led me to Penn Manor where I eventually worked for 39 years.  But the one drawback in going there was the fact that this large school did not have a football team.  That was so unbelievable.  Now when I was in high school, at Warwick, we used to look down on Penn Manor because they didn't play football.  We used to think of them as a bunch of farmers who weren't athletes, even though they had great baseball, basketball and soccer teams.  And they even had a state wrestling champ.  When I began to teach there I realized that they weren't just a bunch of farmers.  They also had many gifted students.  They just didn't have a football team.
Well, it was hard to work for a school that didn't have football. I missed the games and the traditions. We hired a teacher in our department who had played football at Hempfield.  He and I knew what football could do for a school and we felt that we should try and change the situation.  He was advisor to the school's spirit club so we met with the club members and decided to start a petition drive.  Our drive was very successful.  Although I no longer remember how many signatures we obtained, it was enough to impress the School Board, and it wasn't long until football was approved.  And the rest is history.
Unfortunately, most of Penn Manor's football history hasn't been too great.  Early in the program they did win one league championship, beating Manheim Central for the Conference of Roses title.  A few decades ago a new coach produced outstanding teams the two years that he was head coach.  But until about five years ago, Penn Manor usually finished with just a couple of wins and generally was near the bottom of the league.  We just weren't very competitive and were often outclassed.  However, things have now turned around with a new coach and Penn Manor has had excellent teams the past few years, qualifying for the district tournament regularly.  Now they have an excellent program and all that they need is for the cheerleaders, fans and band to learn what football games and traditions are all about.
Now there is a sad aspect to this history.  Many years ago my brother served as a football coach and later athletic director at Warwick.  They had great teams during those years and we were terrible.  One Christmas he started what he hoped would be a family tradition when he gave me a crying towel.  His idea was that each year it would go to the one whose team lost that year.  But, after many years of keeping it, I finally "retired" it and eventually destroyed it.  Penn Manor was so outclassed by Warwick in those days that I never did have the chance to give it back to him.  Unfortunately, he passed away before things were reversed. Today Penn Manor regularly beats Warwick in football.  If Terry were alive today he would have now received and kept the towel for several years.  I sure wish that I could now give it to him.  So much changes over a lifetime.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Turning Another Page

          Last Tuesday I completed another phase of my life.  It was my 17th and final time serving as Judge of Elections for our Manor New East voting precinct.  My wife and I have officially retired by not running for another four year term.  It has been an interesting experience and I admit that part of me will miss it, especially the part of working with a good team.  But times have changed and I have gotten older. 

          I would like to think that our precinct was one of the best run during our years of leadership.  We were able to process the folks very quickly and seldom did anyone have to wait very long to vote.  However, never in 17 years of service did any of my bosses ever tell me that we did a good job or thank me personally for my work.  I guess that is par for the course.  I was told one time that I had packed some unused materials in the wrong container.  But that was the extent of any personal feedback that I ever received.  
          Generally the folks that we served were very patient and kind.  However, I did take some abuse from those who were upset about photo ID's (even though they weren't required) and having Spanish on the ballots (required by federal law).  I did have a run-in with a poll watcher who said I was picking on him when I was just enforcing the law.  But otherwise it was a pleasure to serve our voters.
          Our precinct was unique in the way that I handled things.  Our workers rotated jobs every 30 minutes to keep them fresh and I even gave them breaks to eat and go to the restroom four times a day.  The day was officially 14 hours long plus several hours for setup, cleanup, and writing reports.  That was too long a period for one person to sit and do the same job.  Believe it or not, we even opened our morning with prayer - I probably could have gotten fired for doing that, but my staff all excepted that.  And I did have a great and faithful staff.  Finding good people to serve is the toughest part of the job.
          I served through the period of transitions with two moves of our polling place to new locations and the change from lever machines to the scantron and e-slate.  We sat through hours of training sessions over the years.  I did get some pay - I figure about $4.50 an hour with no reimbursement for the 30-40 miles I would put on my car each election cycle.  But one doesn't serve for money.  It was a pleasure to serve my country.
          Now why am I retiring?  Well it is a very stressful process which I don't need anymore.  It is a commitment in one's personal calendar without any sick or personal days.  One of my best friends was buried on a voting day and we had to work.  Without any positive feedback from the bosses, there was no encouragement to continue. Maybe I'll finally get some positive feedback next Spring when they discover that they must replace me and my entire team.  But even if they do, it's too late and I'm done.  Also, some rules are being changed and this will limit the number of staff members that I can hire and will also take the choice of staff members out of my hand.  I'm not sure that I could deal with that.  And to continue would have meant canvassing to get signatures of voters on my petition, then running for office, and then making a four year, eight election, commitment.  So I've made the decision to just meet my obligation in the future as a voter and let somebody else deal with all the paper work and stress
          But it has been a good run and a joy to have served my country in this way.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

My Favorite Season

      I am thankful that I live in an area where we can experience all four seasons.  The variety is very special.  However, there is no question that Fall is definitely my favorite season and I wish that it lasted a little longer. It is so hard to see it end! If only Summer and especially Winter were just a month shorter.  Here are a few of the reasons I love the Fall.
1.   The beautiful colors - there is nothing more spectacular in nature than God's handiwork in the Fall.  The oranges, browns, reds, yellows with some green sprinkled in, can be amazing.  I love to drive through the mountains and observe miles of beauty.  Unfortunately this year the time of beauty was short and there weren't too many reds, but it was still beautiful.
       2.     The cooler temperatures - I really love this time because we can sleep with covers on at night and yet it is not bitterly cold as it gets in the Winter.  It is nice to be able to wear a light jacket outside and not get soaked with perspiration as we do in the Summer.

       3.     Savings in bills - during this season the ac can usually be turned off, cutting down the electric bills.  The heat isn't needed yet so I save on oil costs which continue to rise.  This really helps in the family budget.

       4.     Football - football, especially college football, has become my favorite sport and Saturdays can be filled with exciting games.  I like baseball, but the game is slow and so long without much action. I also like basketball but the pros are overpaid and the NCAA tournament is too short - although I do enjoy that.  But there is nothing like watching a fast paced football game, especially if you can go and watch it in person, especially at Penn State or at a local high school.   We haven't been able to afford going to Penn State as we used to, but I have been able to get to many of Penn Manor's games, and they have had great teams recently.  Another plus is that I can get into the Penn Manor home games without a charge and that is a plus for the budget.
      5.    Mums - I think mums are my favorite flower and I love to see them bloom in such a variety of beautiful colors.  I have enjoyed visits to Eve's Garden, near Millersville, where she had a huge field of beautiful mums to sell.  It was fun just to view them.
      6.    The smell of burning leaves -  this is a unique smell in this season which is hard to describe if you never smell it.  It lets you know that Fall is here.
       7.     Corn stalks and pumpkins - unfortunately they signal the close of this special season but it is special to travel through Lancaster County and see the fields filled with these.  More of God's beauty during this season.
        But alas the season must come to an end and then we prepare for the dark nights, the cold weather and the snow of Winter.  But there is the joy in knowing that Fall will return again.  I am reminded of the words from the great hymn, "Summer and winter and springtime and harvest ... join with all nature is manifold witness, to Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love."  So take some time while you still can to enjoy the special beauty of the Fall and as you do, thank God for His great faithfulness!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A Great Experience

I think it has been about nine years since we have taken a real vacation - a time away from home without any responsibilities or schedule to keep.  Now we have been on many trips, but they have been business related or to visit relatives. They aren't really vacations. We've been to Chicago and Pittsburgh for Awana training, to Wisconsin several times to visit with aging relatives, and to Pinebrook many times, usually to help in their programs.  Before I retired, we used to take long weekends away, but that hasn't happened for years.  Since retiring, our responsibilities with Awana, with Bible studies, with weekly church finances, church music, elections, etc. have sort of tied us down. I guess I am very old fashioned, but we feel a responsibility to be there when we make a commitment.  And then, of course, being retired our budget has placed some limits on what we can do.

My wife has always wanted to go to the shore during the Fall.  Now I really don't care for the sand, swimming in the ocean, or sub bathing.  But I do enjoy watching and listening to the waves roll in.  So this year I began to search the internet to find something that we could afford and enjoy.  And I was very fortunate to find a three day special at the Courtyard by Marriott in Ocean City, Maryland during a period that we could fit in between Sunday church finances and Wednesday night Awana.

We actually found a great location in a rather new hotel right on the beach.  We had an ocean facing room with a balcony.  We never got in the water, but we strolled the boardwalk several times a day, sat on the balcony and watched the waves and the people, read, wrote and relaxed.  There were very few people there - enough to make it interesting, but certainly not crowded. I think 70% looked "old" like us and about 25% had their dogs with them. The weather was just right.  It was just a perfect vacation that we needed, especially after about a month of various sicknesses.

However, one of the highlights of the week was finding a Chick-Fil-A just a few miles away.  There weren't many eating places open during this off season and those that were open were very expensive.  We have never spent much money on big meals, and once again, we are living on a budget.  Now we had only ever eaten once before at a Chick-Fill-A, when we were in Pittsburgh, but we have read of their admirable stands on moral issues as well as their refusal to open on Sundays. I have always appreciated their standing behind their convictions despite the possible resulting reduction in profits.
What we found was an amazingly clean store with a large variety of chicken products.  Everyone was extremely friendly and well dressed. Someone even came to our table and asked if they could give us a refill on our drink.  On our return, on the second day, the clerk at the counter actually remembered us and called me by name.  Of course, maybe I was so strange that she couldn't forget me.  But I hope not. The food was great.  In fact we took home salads to eat later in our room and they were fresh and great. It was just such a contrast to Wendys where we usually eat after church on Sundays.  It probably sounds strange, but our experiences there just topped off a great vacation.  My only regret is that we don't have a Chick-Fil-A close to us in Millersville.  If only they would build one in the new plaza on the New Danville Pike near Comet Field.  But I understand that they are asking "an arm and a leg" to rent or buy a location there.  But they will now be on my search list for a place to stop as we travel.  It is so very special today to see a firm with a good product and good moral convictions.  I guess that is the way it used to be in this country before it became politically incorrect to have both.
Lord willing we will be back to this motel and to Chick-Fil-A once again.  A+ to both!