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.

Friday, June 27, 2014


          Who do you think is old?  I admit that at one time in my life I thought that a person who was 60 was really old.  Now that is young.  And apparently I'm not alone in that type of thinking.  Recently I read the results of a survey done by AARP in which they asked 1,800 Americans what getting older has been like for them so far.
          The first part of the survey asked "how old is old".  85% of those responding, between the ages of 40 and 90, said that they weren't old.  One 90-year-old women said that a woman isn't old until she hits 95.  People in their 40's said that you were old at 63.  Those in their 50's said at 68.  Those in their 60's said 73 and those in their 70's said 75.  Both men and women in general said that a man is old when he is 70.  So I guess I qualify.  Concerning women, men said that she is old at 68 and women said at 75.  Interesting difference in opinion.
          It also appears to many that aging actually gets easier.  58% of those in their 40's said that their physical health did not hold them back from doing what they wanted to do but surprisingly 69% of those in their 70's said the same thing.  39% of those in their 40's said that growing older has been easier than they thought, while 55% of those in their 70's agreed with that statement.  Only 24% of those in their 40's said that they have more energy now than they expected at their age, while 64% of those in their 70's said the same thing.
          Respondents were asked to to agree or disagree with these three statements.  (1)  As people age they deserve more respect from others.  60% of those in their 40's agreed while only 46% of those in their 60's agreed.  (2)  It's OK to make jokes about people who are old.  28% of those in their 40's agreed and 43% of those in their 70's agreed.  I guess I need to be a little more careful about doing this.  (3)  I feel respected when a younger person offers help.  21% of those in their 40's agreed while 61% of those in their 70's agreed.  Unfortunately, that doesn't happen too often today.
          And then there was a final statement to evaluate.  I know I'll enjoy sex no matter how old I am.  66% of those in their 40's agreed, 61% of those in their 50"s agreed, 56% of those in their 60's agreed and 59% of those in their 70's agreed.  71% of the men agreed but only 51% of the women agreed.  I will pass on commenting about this question.
          Let me share two quotes with you.  Dave Barry has said, "almost half of the people over 40 believe they look younger than they are.  This says something important about older Americans: We have terrible eyesight."  And Whoopi Goldberg has said, "There's only one alternative to getting older.  So suck it up!"
          Fortunately the Bible has much to share about growing old.  In Isaiah 46:4 we read, "Even to your old age, I shall be the same, even to your graying years I shall bear you! I have done it and I shall carry you: And I shall bear you, and I shall deliver you."  In Psalm 37:25 we read "I have been young and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread."  And finally, Psalm 92:14, " They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green."

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Teaching English

Recently I attended a language awards program for the Hempfield School District to watch my granddaughter receive a Spanish award.  One of the presenters was head of their English as a Second Language program.  I was surprised to hear her report on the number of students from all of the world who come to their school not being able to speak any English.  It was amazing to hear how many different countries and languages were involved.  I couldn't help but think of the difficult task for both the teachers and the students since English is such a very difficult language to learn.

A few days later somebody sent me a list of tips for learning and teaching English. With apologies to the late Miss Enck and my father who both taught me all that I know about English,  I thought the list might be of interest to you.

1. Verbs HAS to agree with their subjects.
2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
5. Avoid cliches like the plague. (They're old hat)
6. Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
7. Be more or less specific.
8. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually)unnecessary.
9. Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
10. No sentence fragments.
11. Contractions aren't necessary and shouldn't be used.
12. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
13. Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary; it's highly superfluous.
14. One should NEVER generalize.
15. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
16. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
17. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
18. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
19. The passive voice is to be ignored.
20. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parenthetical words however should be enclosed in commas.
21. Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
22. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
23. Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth earth-shaking ideas.
24. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
25. If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times: Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it correctly.
26. Puns are for children, not groan readers.
27. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
28. Even IF a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
29. Who needs rhetorical questions?
30. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
31. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Lessons Learned Recently

          I have had eight surgeries in my lifetime.  Two of them I would term major.  The first was my knee surgery in 2000 when they had to repair a torn patella and my quads.  There was concern about how I would recover and if I might walk with a limp the rest of my life.  The second was my recent cervical spine surgery where, because of the problems, there was a chance that I could be paralyzed or even worse.
        A few blogs ago I talked about the challenge of recovery. But at the risk of boring my readers, I feel I should share some lessons that I have learned this past month.  My knee surgery recovery took much longer.  I was not even allowed to bend my knee for six weeks.  But I think it was easier than my present recovery.  Following that surgery I spent months in physical therapy so I was busy with things to do each day.  In addition, since I was teaching advanced math classes for which there was no capable sub available, I prepared daily lesson plans, corrected papers, prepared and scored tests and assigned grades for the marking period and for the semester.  So I was busy every day.
          This time I have been limited - no driving or lifting more than 5 pounds - for the past month.  I don't have physical therapy sessions yet nor do I have school work to do this time.  So the days have been long.  But there are some lessons that I have learned.
          (1)   It is very hard to rely on a caregiver when you are feeling well enough to do things.  My wife has done so much, not only for me, but around the house and especially the yard.  She claims she enjoys cutting grass, but it is hard for me to see her take her valuable time to do things like this.  But you need to accept it and be glad that you have the help.
          (2) There are many things that just won't get done.  My wife has done a valiant job in trying to do the outside work without me.  But the mulching won't get done this year, some trimming will need to wait, and the weeds might be worse than normal this year.  But in the scheme of things, this really isn't major.
          (3)  Television is terrible.  It only took me a couple of days to realize how bad it really is.  And the repeated ads drive you nuts.  There should be a law that says once an ad is shown ten times, it can never be used again.  And the ad that baffles me is by Infinity where they promote their service that allows you to tape and watch 15 shows at one time.  Tell me, where are there even 3 shows worth taping or viewing.
          (4)   Get well cards are appreciated.  I know they are expensive today, but when you are confined they are something to look forward to, especially if personal messages of encouragement are included.  Sorry, but they are more meaningful that electronic cards.  I am so appreciative of the two dozen or so that I have received.
         (5)  After the worst of the pain is over, brief visits by friends are also appreciated.  By brief I mean 30 minutes or less.  When I had my knee surgery we had a few folks who came and stayed well over an hour.  I couldn't wait until they left.  After all, I was still recovering from major surgery.
         (6)   Meals are appreciated.  Even though Dianne could cook, the donated meals gave her a break from all that she had to do to care for me.
          (7)   Everybody seems to have a surgery story they want to share with you.  But sharing the stories of your surgeries doesn't really help the recovering person unless it was the exact same type of surgery.  I have had numerous folks relate to me stories of their lower back surgeries.  And I have tried to be kind and not say that my surgeon told me that when they see a cervical problem they take that patient right away because of its potential seriousness.  When they have a patient with lower back problems, it will often take two or three months before they even see them because while the person may be in pain, it usually isn't a critical situation.  I did hear from a few folks who did have similar surgeries and I was glad to compare notes with them.  I can't say that the others really helped me at all. But I polltely listened. However, I guess one definition of major surgery is any surgery when it is done to you.
          (8)    Follow the advice of your surgeon.  I have done that faithfully with my knee and spine surgeries.  However, others don't and some live to regret it.  I feel that the surgeons have the experience and I don't.  So even though it takes discipline, I obey.  From what I have been told, my recovery from the knee surgery was exceptional and I am hoping that the same will be said eventually about my spine surgery.
         (9)   Many folks are rude to those with handicaps.  While walking with my cane and my neck brace I have had people cut in front of me, bump me, race me to the doors and be just plain rude. Few have held doors for me or let me go ahead of them. However, I am thinking of inventing a new game to play with my cane.  I think I may call it "Whack a Rude".  It could be fun!
          (10)   The Lord is good.  This is not a new lesson.  I have learned this over 73 years.  But this recovery period has reinforced it.  God knew this would happen.  He put the events into gear so that my problem would be discovered.  He gave me the very best surgeon immediately.  He guided the surgeon beyond even his expectations.  He has given me a good recovery.  He has given me more time to pray and meditate and spend with Him and that is a bonus.  And he has given me much unexpected valuable time with my wife.  I have enjoyed the hours with her at home and in the car as she drives me around. We enjoy being together.  And that has been a special blessing.
          Hopefully this is the last time I will address the subject of recovery in my blog.  I return on Wednesday for my first checkup since my surgery and I am hopeful that many of my restrictions will then be lessened or eliminated.  If not, life goes on.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Lessons From Dad

   Fortunate is the man who has a godly Father who shows him how to live.  I was very fortunate to have a father who did just that, not always with his words but certainly with his actions and example.  This had a profound impact on my life.  As we approach Father's Day I wish that I could thank him again for all he meant to me and all he taught me about living.  In addition, on June 21, dad would have been 97 if the Lord wouldn't have graciously taken him home over five years ago.
     So as I approach these two dates my mind has been going back to some of the lessons that I learned from him.  This list certainly isn't complete but it does include several things that quickly come to my mind.
     (1)   There is no question that the most important lesson he taught me was that there is nothing in life more important than knowing the Lord and serving Him.  He demonstrated this daily in the way he led our family and how he served the Lord.
     (2)   All that we have belongs to the Lord and should be used for Him.  Our home was always open for hospitality and ministry.  Our car was used weekly to take others to church.  As I learned later in life, dad sacrificed financially to keep our young church afloat when church bills couldn't be met.  He realized that anything he had came from the Lord and really belonged to the Lord.
     (3)    He showed us that it is vital to exercise the spiritual gifts that we have been given.  It didn't matter how old you were physically, there was no retirement option in serving the Lord.  He showed this by working to the very last hours of his life completing conference finances and reports.
     (4)    He demonstrated that it is critical to provide for your family even if it meant having to work several parttime jobs to do this.  He worked hard so that mother could be a mother and a housewife and care at home for us.  He knew how to work very hard and how to work to represent and serve the Lord.
     (5)    He showed us how to trust the Lord when disappointments came along.  He grew up in the depression and then had to scrape for jobs following World War II.  And then, later in life he suddenly and unexpectedly lost his job to downsizing.  But he never complained and the Lord continued to provide jobs each day for him until he finally retired.  He knew God would provide.
      (6)  He taught us to live and work with integrity, to be reliable, responsible and honest.  He taught us how to be organized, a lesson that I saw in practice when I served as executor of his estate.  He taught us how to live on a budget and keep detailed records of our expenses, a lesson that has helped us survive adequately in years when teaching salaries were minimal and my wife served as a stay at home mother and housewife as my mother did.
     (7)   He showed us how to take time to help and encourage others who were in need.  Both of my parents gave up many of their things and time to help those who were in need.
     (8)   From him we learned by example that one needs to be faithful in your church attendance, your ministry, your work and your responsibilities as a father and head of the home.
     (9)  He taught me how to speak correct English.  I admit that at times I didn't appreciate being corrected, but he knew how important proper English would be throughout life.
     (10)   He taught us to honor, respect and encourage our pastors.  Maybe it was because he saw how some members treated his stepfather who raised him as a pastor's son.  It was always wrong to criticize and undermine the pastor.  As an elder he worked very hard to see that the pastor was taken care of, especially financially.
      (11)  And a lesson that I've tried to pass on to my sons, treat your wife/mother with full respect.  Don't allow your children to raise their voices, criticize or disobey their mother. Doing so was a major offense. He would never, never allow that and neither have I.  
     (12)   Family is important.  No matter how busy dad was with work and church responsibilities, he always had time for family.  And most importantly, he was a true prayer warrior for everyone, but especially for his family.  He maintained a prayer list and family members were always at the top of the list.  That is a great gift.
     Now some of you may say, Barry that is great, but God didn't give me a godly father.  That may be true, but that gives you even a greater responsibility today to start to be a godly man or a godly woman.  Put Christ first in all of your life and begin a Christian heritage for those who follow you.  Dianne and I have complied a list of things we've wanted to pass on to our family and we've posted that list on our living room wall where we are reminded regularly of our responsibility to them.  There is nothing more important that you can do than modeling godliness to your family.  If you haven't, get started today.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

An Unexpected Meeting

          I don't even remember being in the recovery room but I guess I was.  The first thing that I remember, following my recent surgery, was trying to get awake in my hospital room.  My wife says that I told her that I was sleepy and that she told me that everything went fine and that she would be back shortly.  I vaguely remember that discussion.

          As I began to wake up I discovered something that really disappointed me.  I did not have a private room as I did during my last hospital stay.  I would need to share my couple of days there with another person who I didn't know.  The curtain was drawn around my bed so I didn't know anything about him, but I could hear that somebody was there.  He did have a few visitors but they actually didn't bother me.
          The curtain remained around my bed all day and all night so we didn't get to see or meet each other that first day.  I didn't sleep much the first night but I could tell that he did.  He apparently had something that he could use to control his pain medicine and so he slept.  With doctors and nurses in and out all night I heard that he had lower back surgery with another surgeon.  He was fitted with a back brace to wear when he would finally be left out of bed.
          When morning came, the curtain was still drawn. Even though I am generally very reserved, I felt that I should at least try to introduce myself and so, I finally shared my name with my new roommate, Paul.  When the curtain was finally pushed back I found that Paul was an afro-american, probably in his late 50's.  He was a tank truck driver who had hurt his back in an accident.  He was very concerned about being able to drive truck once again.  And as we talked it soon became evident that we were brothers in the Lord and that was a special blessing.  He didn't have any more visitors during our stay except for his niece who was an employee of the hospital and would drop in once in awhile.  His wife was unable to drive.
          Paul had been in the military for years and had lived all over the country.  But when he retired from the service, about 12 years previously, he and his wife moved to New York.  Then his wife's sister died leaving their mother to raise three children here in Lancaster.  When her mother also died, the children had no where to go, so Paul and his wife moved to Lancaster and adopted the three children. They never had any children of their own. During that time he and his wife were saved through the ministry of an area church and now his desire was to raise these three children to serve the Lord.  Ironically, the youngest actually had once attended our Awana program for a year when they lived at Woods Edge.   He had nothing but good things to say about Awana and I wouldn't be completely surprised to see his youngest nephew return next Fall.  I shared with him the special blessing that God has given him by giving him this special mission field in his own home.  He said he had never thought of it this way before and appreciated that view point.  Two of the three seem to be serving the Lord, but the middle one, who works at the hospital, appears to not have much time for the Lord.
          It has been hard for Paul to find regular work in this area but he does have an offer to drive tankers out of North Dakota.  That would mean four weeks away from home and then two weeks home.  He realizes that this would be hard on his family and his wife is opposed to it.  But he sees it as an opportunity to make some big money for a year or two.  We discussed the pros and cons of this and the need to keep the employment issue before the Lord.  I had a chance to share some of the Lord's leadings and opened and closed doors in my life.  Paul appeared to really appreciate these discussions and later thanked me for them.  He said that I had been a real help and encouragement to him.  Maybe that was one of the reasons that the Lord allowed me to go through this unexpected surgery at this time.
            Paul also had a chance to meet two of my sons and he really enjoyed talking to them, especially my youngest.  They had much in common, especially with their interest in athletics.  They, too, were an encouragement to him.
         On our final day we both were waiting to get discharged and while he was released by physical therapy before me, my official discharge actually came before him.  Before they wheeled me out to the car, I went back to Paul and prayed for him.  He indeed was a brother in the Lord and while we may never meet again here on earth, I am sure that we will meet again in heaven some day.  So, as he often does, the Lord provided me with a special blessing in a difficult time.  Certainly He knows our every step.

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Half Century

          I continually find it so very difficult to understand that I am now actually in my seventh decade of life.  So much has changed over those years, especially in the last half century.  Unless you have lived that long you probably have no appreciation of the many breakthroughs that have happened during that period of time.  Here are a few of the  changes just in scientific and technological advances during those years that have transformed the world.
         How about the tv remote control - now even with voice recognition.  How would we survive without the remote - we'd have to actually get out of our comfortable seat to change the cable station.  Incidentally, cable service didn't even exist 50 years ago.? Then of course there is the microwave oven.  How did previous generations get along without that kitchen fixture?  There is the commercial jet airliner.  The first one made its debut in 1958 and carried 181 passengers at 600 mph for up to 5280 miles on a full tank.  The first one took off from New york and landed in Paris.
         Then there was the introduction of cordless tools - what handyman or carpenter could survive without these handy devices today?   Along with that was the development of an industrial robot first installed on a General Motors assembly line in New Jersey.  And what about the development of communications satellites?  Certainly they have revolutionized communications around the world.  Then there was the development of LED's which provided a simple and inexpensive way for computers to convey information.  And unmanned aerial vehicles soon followed ... and now we have drones.
        Now the first general-purpose computer, the nearly 30-ton ENIAC was actually introduced more than 50 years ago in 1947 (that's still in my lifetime).  It had 18,000 vacuum tubes, 70,000 resistors and 10,000 capacitors.  But in 1977 the Apple II, Commodore Pet and Radio Shack's TRS-80 were introduced, four years before the "PC", or the Personal Computer, was introduced by IBM.  In 1989 the "hypertext markup language" (HTML) was developed and this was the foundation of today's World Wife Web.  And oh how all of these computer developments have changed all of our lives.
      We could mention things like digital music, video games, waffle-sole running shoes, and the ATM, all products of these years.  And then, in 1973 the first cellphone was introduced followed six years later by the Sony Walkman.  And life changed radically and today folks can't be separated from their cell phones and Smart phones and their family plans.  And how about things like the electric ignition, the MRI, the GPS, MP3, Pacemakers, Super Glue, Laser Beams, texting, hybrid cars, air conditioning, graphing calculators, Hi-def, ipads and DNA.  Fifty years ago these terms meant nothing to any of us.
        Now I have been thinking primarily about scientific and technological changes, but there is so much more that has changed during these years.  We could talk about politics, entertainment, laws, culture, religion, education, geography, morality, transportation, terrorism and so much more.  This world is obviously much different than it was 50 years ago.
         Personally there are many things that have really changed about me over those years. I've had a 39 year career in education and many years in ministry.  Of course I am now retired. I have a wonderful family of three boys, three daughter-in-laws and seven grandchildren.  Those are wonderful changes that I would not change for anything.  And June 2 is our 52nd wedding anniversary and my love for my wife has grown continually over these years.  She is my best friend and confidant and there is nobody I'd rather be with.
         During these years my love for the Lord has also changed - it has grown deeper and our relationship has grown closer.  I realize more than ever how dependent I am on Him.  Each day is a gift from Him and His grace is sufficient.  But one thing that hasn't changed is His faithfulness - morning by morning new mercies I see.  All I have needed His hand hath provided.  And while life will continue to change, I depend upon His promise that He will never leave me nor forsake me and that He is now preparing a home for me in heaven.  And on that my hope and life is built as I face tomorrow.  Jesus, the same yesterday, today and forever.