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, February 25, 2014

An Amazing Project

          For 32 years I have had the honor of serving in Awana. Awana is an amazing program for boys and girls and it is a true joy to be associated with it.  For 30 years I served as the founding Commander at Faith Bible Fellowship and for the past two years I have served as Commander Emeritus.  Over those 32 years we have reached thousands of area boys and girls with the Gospel and helped many grow spiritually.  I can't think of a better way to invest your life.

          Now in my new position I am responsible for handling the finances, ordering materials, training leaders, handling promotion, organizing the Awana store, opening the church each week, and filling in where needed. The only thing I really miss is the presentation of awards to clubbers who have worked hard to earn them.  But it was time to pass the other responsibilities to a new Commander and I have no regrets.
          But there is one more responsibility that I have retained - the annual Awana adopt-a-club project.  This is a program where Awana invites you to adopt a country and for $340 a year you either provide funds for the operating costs of a club in that country or you support the training of leaders in that country.  Awana estimates that every $10 given enables at least one clubber to be involved in Awana.  Awana has clubs in almost every country, even those in very dangerous areas.
          At Faith Bible Fellowship we first adopted clubs 21 years ago.  I think we may have started with four or five clubs.  But over the years as our club grew and interest increased we expanded that to 14 different countries.  Now we have adopted clubs in Brazil, Ghana, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Mexico, Nicaragua, Philippines, Romania, Russia, South Africa and Venezuela.  In the past we sponsored clubs in places such as Israel, Jordan, Australia, Haiti, Kazakhstan, and Hungary.
          Now there have been a number of traditions that we have developed over the years in raising money.  For example, clubbers can receive a patch for their uniform for making a donation.  Leaders can earn a series of patches, pins and bookmarks for giving a gift.  But the biggest tradition is that each club is given a goal and if they meet that goal they get to "pie" a leader.  That is a great incentive and lots of fun.  And over the years the Kauffman Family puppets have been a regular feature.  Originally this involved my three sons.  Then we began to use the grandchildren.  And as they grew and schedules got more complicated, their participation had to drop off.  Now we feature Tim and his three children, the three youngest of our grandchildren.  But over the years it has been fun to work at one time with all of my boys and all seven of my grandchildren at various times.  Dianne has also used her vent dummy Grandma several times.  The last two years Awana has actually sent two of their staff from Chicago to speak to our clubbers doing the month-long campaign because they recognize our unusual commitment to this missions project.  And that is a special honor that few Awana clubs ever receive.
          And that finally brings us to this year.  With 14 clubs our annual goal has been $5,040 for the past several years.  And the Lord has allowed us to always reach our goal.  In fact, a few times we have actually hit $6,000.  But this year the Lord really chose to bless our efforts and we raised an amazing $8,100!  Incredible!  And we had decided that if we surpassed our goal, the extra amount would be given to Awana's Philippine Relief Fund.  These funds are being used to help churches, Awana clubs and clubbers and families who lost everything in the recent typhoon.  And we are excited to be able to give $3,060 to that fund.
          Now this project requires much of my time and effort in organizing, counting money, keeping records, presenting awards, organizing the puppets and the pieing, and promoting the project.  But it is a very special privilege to do this so that children all around the world can meet the Lord.  I am blessed to have a small part in this great outreach.  I invite you to join with us in praying for the clubs, leaders and clubbers that we are supporting financially, because that must be a major component of this outreach.  Incidentally, sometimes we place pictures and reports from our clubs on our Facebook page, fbfawana.  We'd love to have you join us there.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Senior Benefits

Two blogs ago I talked about some of the problems that seniors have and the ways they are often treated.  But growing old also has some very interesting benefits.  So let me list 18 benefits of growing old for you in this blog.
1.    Your church has special reserved parking spaces for those who are over 65, as long as you can beat the other old guys to get there first and secure those special places.
2.     If you have someone who always corners you and bores you talking about things that don't interest you, it is no longer a problem because you can't hear them anyway.
3.     You get  to met many new friends.  For example, I've gotten to know Dr. Fuchs, Dr. Snyder, Dr. Bushong, Dr. Foley, Dr. Sieber, Dr. Clark, Dr. Miller, Dr. Givens, Dr. Eshleman, Dr. Dodge, Dr. Perezous, Dr. Roberts and many more.
4.     And because you are retired you have plenty of time to make appointments to see all of your new friends whose names begin with Dr.
5.     You don't need to search for a new health insurance plan due to Obama Care like others do because you have medicare.  That really is good thing.
6.     You don't have to worry about what to do with your excess money.  Rising taxes, food prices, gasoline, heating oil, electricity, medical costs and other basic living costs, while living on a fixed income, will take care of any excess you might think you'll have.
7.     You can get up in the morning with nothing to do and then go to bed having gotten it half done.
8.     You can keep in good physical shape and improve your balance during coffee and conversation time at church by dodging all the running kids who cut in front of you while you are carrying your coffee.  But better yet, you can use your cane to whack those inconsiderate kids who get in your way.
9.     You no longer have to worry about what to wear or what to bring to parties, like Super Bowl parties, because you won't be invited.  Actually your back will go out more than you will.
10.     You can safely share your secrets with your closest friends because either they won't be able to hear you or they won't remember what you said.
11.     You get all sorts of unexpected exercise such as when you finally get all bundled up to go out and shovel the snow, you suddenly have to undress to go to the bathroom.
12.     You don't need a weatherman since you will know when it is going to rain or snow because joints, which you never even knew you had, will ache.
13.     You can take advantage of those early bird dinner specials for seniors and, with 10% off your bill, you can fill up with all the carbs, sugar and cholesterol you desire.  Then you can use the money you've saved to pay for the co-pay needed to visit all those friends whose name begins with Dr.
14.     You can still learn many important real life facts, such as wrinkles don't really hurt.
15.     You don't have to put up with folks saying you are getting old.  You can just squash their toes with your rocking chair or your walker.
16.     You can learn to cope with your loss of sight and hearing, your arthritis, your loss of balance and even your early signs of dementia as long as you still have your driver's license.
17.     You no longer need to worry about having flabby thighs because your stomach covers them.
18.    While you were taught to respect your elders, now you can forget that, for you no longer have any elders left for you to respect.
19.     When you make mistakes, such as saying 18 items when you actually have 19, you can laugh them off as "senior moments".
Well that's enough benefits for one day - my rocking chair is calling!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

What Is A Kiss?

Yesterday was Valentine's Day and most people's thoughts were turned to love.  And, thinking about love, a number of college professors were asked to define a kiss. College professors?  Yes, after all, aren't college professors supposed to know everything?  Well, I don't really think so, and, if you happen to think that is the case, then you still have much to learn. I could tell you many, many stories - like the one about the prof at Elizabethtown College who lived in the same house with us and placed the hot ashes from the furnace in cardboard boxes.   Well, the fire company came and took care of the consequences of that "wise" move. He may have had considerable knowledge of Biology, but not of something called common sense.  Fortunately we were safe and no serious damage was done.  But enough of that for this blog. Here for your information, and hopefully your enjoyment, are their definitions of a kiss.  Enjoy!

Prof. of Computer Science: A kiss is a few bits of love compiled into a byte.
Prof. of Algebra: A kiss is two divided by nothing.
Prof. of Geometry: A kiss is the shortest distance between two straight lines.
Prof. of Physics: A kiss is the contraction of the mouth due to the expansion of the heart.
Prof. of Chemistry: A kiss is the reaction of the interaction between two hearts.
Prof. of Physiology: A kiss is the juxtaposition of two orbicularis oris muscles in the state of contraction.
Prof. of Dentistry: A kiss is infectious and antiseptic.
Prof. of Accountancy: A kiss is a credit because it is profitable when returned.
Prof. of Economics: A kiss is that thing for which the demand is higher than the supply.
Prof. of Philosophy: A kiss is the persecution for the child, ecstasy for the youth, and homage for the old.
Prof. of English: A kiss is a noun that is used as a conjunction; it is more common than proper; it is spoken in the plural and it is applicable to all.
Prof. of Engineering: Uh, What? I'm not familiar with that term.
Now aren't those great romantic responses?  They might even make good themes for Valentine's Day cards.  Check out Hallmark next February.

(Received from Andychap)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Growing Old

        One day this winter I was driving to church to do some work.  It had snowed the day before and as usual, Donerville Road was somewhat hazardous.  So I was surprised to see an elderly man with a cane walking along this dangerous two lane road.  Since I was concerned about driving this stretch I didn't think too much about him until later.  Then I began to feel a little guilty.  Did he need a ride?  Did he have a dementia problem?  Did anybody realize that he was walking alone?   But by then it was too late to for me to provide any help.
          But the more I thought about it the more I realized that my response was the same that most people have concerning the elderly.  We may pity them but we really don't take time to help them or spend time with them.  They belong in retirement homes or nursing homes.  We eliminate them from our gatherings and exclude them from our groups and activities, even things like age based Sunday School classes. Let them be with the old folks, not with us. They have no real value anymore, especially to us personally.  Now we might not be crude enough to say that, but our actions often show such an attitude.  When was the last time you took time to help a senior?  When was the last time you actually sat down with one to listen to them or to encourage them?  Maybe our lives would be enriched if we took time to treat them with respect as equals.
          As I thought about this elderly man I couldn't help but wonder what his life had been like.  Probably there were days when he played pickup games with his friends or rode in the back of a truck or on the running board of a car.  Probably he had many memories of times with his parents or delivering newspapers or playing on an athletic team at school.  Most likely he has memories of going out with his friends for ice cream and then dating the young girls.  Probably he remembers the love of his life, his wedding, his children.  Maybe he risked his life serving in one of the wars.  Was he a farmer, a laborer, an administrator, a boss?  He probably took memorable vacations and probably cheered for his favorite sports teams.  I'm sure that he had many of the same experiences that we have and still are able to enjoy.
          And I'm sure, just like us, he never thought that he would get old.  He never anticipated the arthritis, the cancer, the diseases that one day come to all of us, or the fact that so many body parts would no longer work. He never thought about the hours with doctors and having tests. He probably never thought the day would come when all of his close friends would die, but if we live long enough that happens.  He probably never thought about developing dementia or, even worse, having a spouse die or develop that dreaded disease or reach the point where she no longer even knew him.  He probably never thought that he would reach a point where he was a burden to everyone and no longer seen as useful to anyone.  But it happens.
          Unless the Lord takes us home we are all destined to experience that time in life that nobody anticipates.  If we have some family members who really care for us and take care of us, we are so fortunate.  For others will not do that.  They will avoid you and forget you.  They don't want to hear of your life experiences, the wisdom you have gained and could share, your aches and pains, your concerns or your daily challenges.  Growing old can be lonely as you wait for the end to come.
           As I grow older I am finding so much of this to be true.  But I am relying on the truth of the scriptures.   I am encouraged by that part of Ephesians 2:10 that says "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."  We are His workmanship - He has a masterplan for our lives.  Now that plan differs for each of us.  For my dear friend Paul it meant it ended here on earth before he reached 50, leaving a wife and small children behind.  For others, like my brother and Gary and Ralph and Norm it meant being taken home when they had reached retirement age.  We don't know what His plan for us might be - it might even include a nursing home - but we are to serve Him with each day that we are given.  We are His workmanship!
         As I age, Psalm 37:25 has become one of my favorite verses.  "I have been young and now I am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging bread."  That is an encouraging realization as I age. He will provide just what I need, no matter how old I become. The Lord has promised never to leave us or forsake us.  While those in our neighborhood, our church, and maybe even our family forget us and avoid us, our Lord is always there, no matter how old we might be.  And, as a special bonus, He is preparing a special home for us where all the aches, pains, cancer and loneliness will be forgotten and gone.  We won't be excluded from things there.  We will be accepted and no longer lonely.
           May each of us accept the challenge to spend more time with the elderly and include them in our lives.  Take time to talk to them and let them share wisdom that they have gained over the years, for we may need it. But speak up when you talk for their hearing may be very limited. Include them in your activities and lives, for they may encourage you.  Remember them on important days, for one day you might be forgotten.  Treat them with respect, for one day you may walk in their shoes and may wish to be respected too.  Old age happens quickly.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Sad Accident

       With an apology to my friend, Dan Allen, I am sharing a story that I found on his FaceBook page.  Of course he probably borrowed it from someone else as well.  
       Bob Hill and his new wife Betty were vacationing in Europe, as it happens, near Transylvania. They were driving in a rental car along a rather deserted highway. It was late, and raining very hard. Bob could barely see 20 feet in front of the car.Suddenly the car skids out of control! Bob attempts to control the car, but to no avail! The car swerves and smashes into a tree. Moments later, Bob shakes his head to clear the fog. Dazed, he looks over at the passenger seat and sees his wife unconscious, with her head bleeding! Despite the rain and unfamiliar countryside, Bob knows he has to carry her to the nearest phone. Bob carefully picks his wife up and begins trudging down the road. 
       After a short while, he sees a light. He heads towards the light, which is coming from an old, large house. He approaches the door and knocks. A minute passes. A small, hunched man opens the door. Bob immediately blurts, "Hello, my name is Bob Hill, and this is my wife Betty. We've been in a terrible accident, and my wife has been seriously hurt. Can I please use your phone?"  "I'm sorry," replied the hunchback, "but we don't have a phone. My master is a doctor; come in and I will get him!"  Bob brings his wife in. 
       An elegant man comes down the stairs. "I'm afraid my assistant may have misled you. I am not a medical doctor; I am a scientist. However, it is many miles to the nearest clinic, and I have had a basic medical training. I will see what I can do. Igor, bring them down to the laboratory."  With that, Igor picks up Betty and carries her downstairs, with Bob following closely. Igor places Betty on a table in the lab. Bob collapses from exhaustion and his own injuries, so Igor places Bob on an adjoining table. 
       After a brief examination, Igor's master looks worried.  "Things are serious, Igor. Prepare a transfusion." Igor and his master work feverishly, but to no avail. Bob and Betty Hill are no more.   The Hills' deaths upset Igor's master greatly. Wearily, he climbs the steps to his conservatory, which houses his grand piano. For it is here that he has always found solace. He begins to play, and a stirring, almost haunting, melody fills the house.  
       Meanwhile, Igor is still in the lab tidying up. His eyes catch movement, and he notices the fingers on Betty's hand twitch, keeping time to the haunting piano music. Stunned, he watches as Bob's arm begins to rise, marking the beat! He is further amazed as Betty sits straight up! Unable to contain himself, he dashes up the stairs to the conservatory. He bursts in and shouts to his master: "Master, Master! The Hills are alive with the sound of music!!!!!!"