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, May 28, 2014


        I think any surgery may have four parts to it.  The first is the surprise, or maybe the disappointment, when one finds that an operation is necessary.  Nobody ever wants to have to go through such experiences and often it is even stunning when you are given this verdict.

         The second aspect is the preparation and anxiety.  Often there are additional tests that must be done.  Pages of instructions are usually provided and then there are the dear friends who share all their experiences, at least the bad ones, about their past surgeries. Many folks will say "I am praying" or "if I can do anything, please let me know."  If only all of these were true.  And then time usually begins to slow down as you count the days remaining until the surgery begins. You just want it to get there so you can get it over.  And, fortunately, for the Child of God, this is where His special peace begins to take hold in your life.
         Then, of course there is the surgery itself.  The good part is that you are suddenly asleep and miss most of the action.  Finally you may hear them calling your name and you begin to wake up.  Then the "fun" begins - the time usually called recovery.  It's the time that you realize how well you were feeling the last time you were talking to someone and how miserable you now feel.  You also know that you may not feel much better for hours, or days, or weeks or maybe even months.
          This thing called recovery happens in many ways.  For my gall bladder surgery I was quickly out of the hospital and was back to normal very quickly. Nice! For my cataract surgeries, no pain, but a period of adjustment until I finally got my new glasses.  I recovered very quickly from my thumb/wrist surgery except for the huge cast I had to wear for months.  My surgery for my torn patella and quads was much different.  They rushed to dismiss me from the surgery center and I got very ill from the anesthesia that night.  Then I had to keep my leg in a straight cast for six weeks - no bends allowed.  Then it was months of physical therapy.  While those first six weeks went slowly, except for not being very mobile,  I was able to still do many of the normal things that I enjoyed, with the help of my wife.
     But my latest surgery, on my cervical spine, appears to be a different animal.  I am still taking pain pills every four hours and don't see an end to that at this point. And the pills are also causing new problems for me with my diabetes and constipation. But the pain and the fusion are putting a real strain on things that I love to do.  For example, it is almost impossible to keep up with my computer work.  Since I have two blogs and a webpage this has been very difficult.  PTL I did write many entries well in advance.  I have had trouble maintaining our church prayer chain and especially doing the church financial work.  I am keeping individual gift records for 41 of our folks who are going on mission trips and have already prepared and sent about 175 receipts to their supporters.  Now I am almost two weeks behind in doing this and not sure when I can begin again.  That is frustrating.
          One of the side effects of my surgery is the sore throat and voice issues that accompany it.  And while I am not a telephone person, this limits my ability to communicate with folks.  And, very unfortunately, the neck limitations prevent me from working on my puzzles and that is a hardship for me.  This is all in addition to not being able to drive, not being able to read, cut grass, pay bills, etc.  I can watch TV, but have you looked lately at what is being broadcast?  How many times can you watch the news, Law and Order, Judge Shows, reruns of Castle, or, ... even worse ... the Phillies? And the more naps one takes, the less one sleeps at night ... I'm still in my La-Z-Boy. I do have a wonderful nurse to care for me. But I feel so guilty leaving her with everything to do and I long for the days when I can back to doing my share once again. I have learned to relax, a little, by listening to WDAC all night until morning breakfast.  And I am enjoying Comcast's Easy Lightening Music throughout much of the days.  But even that has its limits.  And, even worse, I'm beginning to use a word that I told my boys never to use ... BORING!   But it is!    And it is only ten days since surgery!
          But as I attempt to "recover"  I do have much to thank the Lord for.  He has been good and has brought me through this major surgery with the prospect that someday I may feel better.  And, of course, there will be a day when all of us will be completed healed - no more recovery periods then.

Friday, May 23, 2014


There are so many things in this life that make us wonder and ask ourselves why?  I imagine we've all had that experience numerous times in our lives.  Actually, in today's mixed up world, many things are just beyond explanation.  I've listed some of these and it will be interesting to see if any of these have puzzled you over the years.  For example ...
Why do supermarkets make the sick walk all the way to the back of the store to get their prescriptions while healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front? 

Why do people order double cheeseburgers, large fries, and a diet coke? 

Why do banks leave vault doors open and then chain the pens to the counters?

Why do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in our driveways and put our useless junk in the garage?

Why does the sun lightens our hair, but darkens our skin?

Why can't women put on mascara with their mouth closed? 

Why don't you ever see the headline 'Psychic Wins Lottery'? 

Why is 'abbreviated' such a long word?

Why is it that doctors and attorneys call what they do 'practice'? 

Why is lemon juice made with artificial flavoring, and dish washing liquid made with real lemons?

Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker? 

Why is the time of day with the slowest traffic called rush hour? 
Why isn't there mouse-flavored cat food?

Why didn't Noah swat those two mosquitoes? 

Why do they sterilize the needle for lethal injections?

You know that indestructible black box that is used on airplanes? Why don't they make the whole plane out of that stuff?? 

Why don't sheep shrink when it rains? 

Why are they called apartments when they are all stuck together? 

If flying is so safe, why do they call the airport the terminal?

And finally, why would you ever take your time wondering about these unimportant things.  Or better yet, why would a sane person write these things in a blog.  (Maybe the word 'sane' gives a clue to the answer to this question.) 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

God's Timing

          One of the lessons that I've learned throughout my life is that the Lord's timing is always right.  And while I admit that I sometimes forget it, our lives and schedules are under His control and He knows our present as well as our future.  I could give many examples of times in my life where this was so obvious.
          For example, for over 25 years we were involved in a family ministry where we had a very full schedule of over 100 programs each year.  And we never had to cancel a program because unplanned events developed.  They always seemed to happen when we had openings in our schedule.  There were two times that we were sick and probably should have canceled.  But we didn't.  Even family emergencies and funerals came when our ministry schedule was open.  We never could have planned for that, but God was in control.
          Last year we decided to give up our jobs as Judge of Elections and Majority Inspector in our local voting precinct.  The May 20 primary will be the first that we haven't had to prepare for and conduct in almost 12 years.  These elections always involved many days and hours of work for me.  And we would have been very busy next week with those responsibilities if we hadn't "retired".
          This past winter we were surprised to learn that we weren't needed to lead Pinebrook hymn sings in April, May and June of this year.  For the last 12 years we have led many of the sings during those months.  I admit that when learning this my feelings fluctuated from disappointment to relief.  And it did unexpectedly open our schedule during these months.
         I also have the early stages of prostate cancer and need an annual biopsy.  I was scheduled to have my third biopsy towards the end of May.  But at my three-month checkup the specialist said that this year we could postpone it for another three months.  That also opened our schedule for this time of the year.  And once again I began to sense that God had some special plans for us during these months.
        Then, about a month ago, I went to the emergency room thinking that I might be having a heart attack.  They decided to admit me to the hospital and began to do a series of tests.  About midnight they ruled out heart and sent me for mri's of my brain and spine.  These were done about 2:30 in the morning.  Then, on Saturday morning, they informed me that I had cervical spine problems that probably were causing my symptoms and maybe also the headaches that I have endured for about 12 years.  They recommended that I contact a neurosurgeon as soon as possible.
         I knew that the surgeon that I wanted because he is highly recommended usually was booked for two to three months in advance. Expecting this to be the case, on Monday I called his office.  The nurse immediately viewed my mri on the computer and said that I should be seen as soon as possible.  About a week later I saw the surgeon and he set up more tests, including a myelogram and more cat scans.  It did take almost two weeks to get these done, but as soon as he read the test reports they quickly set up another appointment.  When we met he showed me how serious and risky my neck problems really were and we immediately set up a date for surgery.  This all happened so very quickly ... and my schedule was open.
        Now I had often said that I would never have neck or back surgery, especially the type where they go through the front of your neck.  I guess I've now learned never to say never.  So on May 19, at 7:45 am, I will have cervical spine surgery that may take four to five hours. I just pray that he can safely solve the possible complications that he said he will face dealing with my problems. I will probably be hospitalized about three days and then very limited for quite some time.  For example, I will not be allowed to drive nor lift for four to six weeks, and I will probably need a neck brace.  What an inconvenience that will be.
         But the amazing thing is that once again our schedule is "open" during these times - no election, no hymn sings, no biopsy, and Awana is over for the season.  And God also performed a miracle in allowing me to go to the emergency ward where the problem was finally found and then by allowing me to be taken care of by an outstanding surgeon, without months of waiting.  God's timing is always perfect.  And it is with the knowledge that he knows and controls our paths, that I can move ahead with the surgery knowing He is in control and the results are in His hands.
          “In His time, in His time, He makes all things beautiful in His time.  Lord, pleaase show me everyday as you’re teaching me your way, and I’ll do just what you say, in your time.”

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Three Special Mothers

           As we celebrate another Mother's Day I am reminded of three of my mothers who had a profound impact on my life in various days.  There were a number of things that all three had in common.  First, they loved and served the Lord faithfully.  Second, they went through very difficult times, including the depression.  Third, they trusted the Lord and He took care of them in both the good and tough times.  Fourth, they were caring and loving and resourceful.  And fifth, they loved and cared for me and prayed for me regularly.
         The first one of the three was my mother.  When she was married, jobs were scarce and we moved numerous times.  In fact, until I was in fourth grade we had moved nine times. Mother cared for us and supported dad as he worked numerous part time jobs to support us. She never complained. My parents couldn't even afford a car until I was in first grade.  But somehow we managed to get to church each week, sometimes by bus or by train or with a friend.  I learned how important it was to be in the house of the Lord regularly. She also learned how to care for us without much money. Once in awhile she would have an extra quarter and she would send me to the store to purchase a bottle of soda for us to enjoy.  That was a special treat!  As I grew older, mother was very active in Christian service.  She taught a Good News Club in our basement for many years.  There I learned how to teach and reach kids for the Lord.  She was active in church as a Sunday School teacher and in the Women's Missionary Society.  She had the gift of hospitality and we were always hosting visiting missionaries and pastors.  The Lord was first in all that happened in our home and family life. And she always had time to help us and care for her children and grandchildren.  She was a faithful volunteer at the county home where she helped many helpless folks.  As I grew older she was my supporter and encourager.  She was always ready to listen.  And today I really miss that.  I often wish that I could still drop by to chat with her or call her on the phone to tell her what is happening.  But over 20 years ago the Lord saw fit to take her home as a result of an auto crash.  Her life ended too soon, but she is so much better off where she is now.  Thank you Lord for a special mother.
          The second special mother was my grandmother, Esther Wolf.  She faced much tragedy in her life.  When she was a young girl her father, a pastor, died and the children were raised by different people.  When she was married and had my father and was pregnant with his sister, her husband, Rev. H. A. Kauffman, died unexpectedly of the Spanish flu.  The presiding elder arranged a second marriage to Rev. Norman H. Wolf.  And for many decades they served together successfully in numerous churches.  She was a tremendous supporter of his ministry.  They, too, never had much in the way of material goods living on a pastor's salary, but they showed a profound faith in the Lord and He provided all that they needed.  As their first grandchild I had the privilege of spending many times with them. In fact, during the early days of my life, my mother and I lived with them because, as a beginning teacher, my father's salary wasn't enough to provide a home. He had to work out of the area and come home on weekends. And I guess they, as well as my aunts, spoiled me and got attached to me. Growing up, almost every summer I would visit my grandparents for at least a week. I looked forward to that.  I used to love the evenings when we would go for a picnic at Monacacy Park in Bethlehem.  After eating, grandpa would go visit members of his congregation and grandma and I would play games until he returned. Those days provided such special memories. But maybe the biggest impact on me came during my college days when for three years I spent each Friday through Sunday with them.  They would often host missionaries and pastors in their home and I would get to listen and share. She taught me to like salads - how could you refuse your grandmother.  At other times I would get to talk to grandma and I gained so much from her wisdom.  Later I remember how much she enjoyed seeing our three boys.  Her final days of suffering with cancer and then her funeral are still vivid in my mind.  I was blest to be her grandson.  Thank you Lord for such a special grandmother.
         The third special mother was my mother-in-law, Mary Bickle.  Now many folks make jokes about mother-in-laws, but I could never do that about mine.  She, too, was a very special godly mother.  She also had a very difficult life and they also moved numerous times until they purchased the Tulpehocken Water Company and settled outside of Sunbury.  In those days she worked many hours to help make the business go and to provide the necessities for her family.  But her hard work and her sincere faith in the Lord pulled her through those difficult times.  She, too, learned how to make much out of little.  She found time to be active in various ways in the Lord's work, teaching, leading and serving.  And she raised two godly daughters for which I am eternally grateful.  And she loved me and accepted me.  For my final year of college she opened their home to us when we couldn't afford to rent an apartment.  And then for three summers, while I did my master's work at  Bucknell, she again welcomed us into their home for six weeks each summer.  I didn't realize until later in life how much extra work that required of her.  But she lovingly took care of us and always welcomed us.  She, too, was a special mother who challenged me with her faith in the Lord and her special concern for others.  Lord, thank you for a special mother-in-law.
            As some of you may know, the Lord has given me a very special heritage of family members who have served the Lord faithfully.  Three of my aunts have also been great influences on me - Thelma Smock, Beatrice Derck and Ellen Derck.  All three cared for me when I was a baby and lived in their home and their care extended throughout all of our lives.  Today Aunt Ellen is still one of the few people I know who prays for me daily.  And that is a very special blessing.  Thank you Lord for my special heritage.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


          Recently many folks flocked to see the film "Noah". It raised millions. Unfortunately, the movie was not true to the scriptural account.  In fact, as I understand, among other fallacies, the movie emphasized man's misuse of the environment.  It just would not be politically correct today to speak of man's sin as the cause for God's judgment.  And if Noah had to build the ark today, his story may have gone something like this:
          And the Lord spoke to Noah and said, "In one year, I am going to make it rain, and the rain shall not stop until it submerges the entire earth and all living flesh is destroyed. Because of this, I want you to save the righteous people and two of every living species on earth. Therefore, I am commanding you to build an Ark."  In a flash of lightning, God delivered the specifications for an Ark. Daunted by this task, but respectful of God's wishes, Noah took the plans and agreed to build the Ark. "Remember," said the Lord, "you must complete and fill the Ark in one year's time."
          Exactly one year later, fierce storm clouds covered the earth and all the seas of the earth went into turmoil. The Lord saw that Noah was sitting in his front yard weeping.  "Noah!" He shouted. "Where is the Ark?"  "Lord, please forgive me, " cried Noah. "I did my best, but there were big problems."
          "First I had to get a permit for construction, and your plans did not meet the building codes. I had to hire an engineering firm and redraw the plans. Then I got into a fight with OSHA over whether or not the Ark needed a sprinkler system and approved floatation devices. Then my neighbor objected, claiming I was violating zoning ordinances by building the Ark in my front yard, so I had to get a variance from the city planning commission."
          "Then I had problems getting enough wood for the Ark because there was a ban on cutting trees to protect the Spotted Owl. I finally convinced the U.S. Forest Service that I really needed the wood to save the owls. However, the Fish and Wildlife Service won't let me take the two owls. The carpenters formed a union and went on strike. I had to negotiate a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board before anyone would pick up a saw or hammer. Now I have 16 carpenters on the Ark but still no owls."
          "When I started rounding up the other animals, an animal rights group sued me. They objected to me taking only two of each kind aboard. This suit is pending. Meanwhile, the EPA notified me that I could not complete the Ark without filing an environmental impact statement on your proposed flood. They didn't take very kindly to the idea. Then the Army Corps of Engineers demanded a map of the proposed flood plain. I sent them a globe. Right now, I am trying to resolve a complaint filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that I am practicing discrimination by not taking atheists aboard."
          "The IRS has seized my assets, claiming that I'm building the Ark in preparation to flee the country to avoid paying the state some kind of user tax that I owe them and that I failed to register the Ark as a 'recreational water craft.' And finally, the ACLU got the courts to issue an injunction against further construction of the Ark, saying that since God is flooding the Earth, it's a religious event, and therefore unconstitutional. I really don't think I can finish the Ark for another five or six years." 
           Noah waited.The sky began to clear, the sun began to shine, and the seas began to calm. A rainbow arced across the sky.  Noah looked up hopefully. "You mean you're not going to destroy the earth, Lord?"
          "No," He said sadly. "I don't have to. The government already has."

Thursday, May 1, 2014


How much do you owe to your former teachers?  That is an interesting question because teachers have the opportunity to impact your life for good or for bad.  Today you hear so many folks talk about all the bad teachers and that bothers me because I really don't think there are really that many.  But the bad get all the headlines.  For over 30 years I was involved in hiring and evaluating math teachers and during the last 20 or so the folks we hired were very qualified and excellent teachers.  In all of those years I only dealt with three who I thought were poor and we were able to remove them.
         But having said that, as a student I only had a few teachers who were influential in my life.  I did have some poor ones and many average ones.  But in those days salaries were so poor and teaching conditions often so inadequate that good teachers had a difficult time staying in education.  I felt led by the Lord to go into teaching and I managed on a starting salary of $3,500 a year by working many extra jobs.  Others in my graduating class took jobs with much, much higher starting pay. I had four interviews resulting in four offers. When I was first involved in hiring I had to actually go out and recruit folks just to apply for our openings.  Times were much different then.
          Now, as a student, I did have a few good teachers.  When we moved to Lititz my fifth grade teacher, I think her name was Charlotte Mathers, made me feel so much involved and appreciated.  This was my fourth school in five years and I was an outsider, until she welcomed me.  The one thing I really remember learning that year were the names and spellings of the capitals of all the states.  But I know I must have learned much more than that.  it was definitely my best year of any of my elementary years.  She motivated me to do my best.
The best teacher I ever had K-12 was my seventh and eighth grade English teacher, Miss Marjorie Enck.  She was tough but fair.  We had to record her daily notes off the board and memorize them.  She would call on you to recite and if you failed you would get one of her "pills" which meant your name went on the blackboard, for all classes to see, and you would need to come in after school for make-up work.  I never received any of her pills.  I was always prepared.  And in those two years I learned all the grammar and writing skills I would ever learn from any teacher.  And these skills have carried me through my entire life.  I owe much to her.  Incidentally, later she married and became Mrs. Kauffman, but no relation to me.
I never had an outstanding math or science teacher until I entered Susquehanna University.  There I met Dr. Fred Grosse, a physics prof who came there the same year that I did.  As a physics major I had him for every physics course I took.  But what made him special was the interest he took in each of us individually, even going as far as inviting us to his home for dinner.  Incidentally, after over 50 years there, he just retired a few years ago.  In fact he showed up at our 50th Reunion last Fall and spent time with many of us.  A few years ago we decided to visit SU to see the new science building.  Dr. Grosse was there and he remembered me immediately.  I found that amazing.
Two college math profs had impacts on my life.  At SU, as a math major, I had Dr. Robison for most of my math classes.  He was very elderly and rumors were that he had worked with Einstein.  One day I was assigned to teach a lesson on Kepler's Laws in his Vector Analysis class.  After I was done he commended me and suggested that I should consider going into teaching.  That was very influential in me changing my career focus and path.
Then, in my graduate work at Bucknell, I encountered Dr. Emil Polack.  He was tough and made us stand and recite, usually in an 8 am class - sometimes even on Saturday mornings.  We all dreaded that we would be called upon and we prepared.  And if you couldn't answer correctly, he would take you back to some point in your math background and, through a series of questions, bring you back to a point where you could answer correctly.  He had an incredible ability to do this and while you "sweated this out", you learned.  He was also a stickler for precise definitions and every test began with "define".  Now I could never put students on the spot like he did, but I learned so much about teaching techniques which I tried to put in place in my 39 years in the classroom.
Unfortunately, the teachers who stood out to me come down to these five.  The rest were average and a few were poor (maybe I should blog about the poor ones). But I have a feeling that I may have learned much about what not to do from the dozens of others that I have had over the years.  And, as a student, I certainly learned how to deal with a variety of personalities and styles and this has helped me adjust to a variety of bosses over the years.  Sometimes these are the most valuable lessons that you can 
Now my one regret is that, with the exception of Dr. Grosse, I never took time to share my appreciation with them. I wish that I had. All except him are no longer alive.  As a former teacher you'd love to know if you've had an impact on lives.  Fortunately, I have kept numerous notes and letters that I have received and every once in awhile I hear, usually second or third hand, that somebody appreciated being in my math class.  Now if you've had a teacher who influenced you in a positive way and he/she is still alive, take time to share that with them.  Return the impact - old teachers will appreciate it.