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.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Hobbies, Part Two

          In my last blog I shared how writing has become a hobby of mine even though I never really thought of it as a hobby.  But over the years I have had plenty of experiences to write, mostly for newspapers.  I always felt that I would like to write a book.  But I never had a good theme or the actual motivation to begin that process.  However, I did begin to write life stories as a legacy for my grandchildren and over the past decade I have probably written about 150 pages including photographs.  For those who might be interested, much of this can be found on my website, fbfawana.com.

         Besides this, the closest I have come to being a real author was the experience of being a consultant for Addison Wesley's Geometry textbook published in 1990.  Unfortunately they spelled the name of my school incorrectly in the text.  I have also written many test questions for standardized test companies.
          But then came the internet.  About 2000 I began building and editing a website for our Awana program.  As it expanded I began to include numerous other features including a personal blog.  It was fun to write on various topics but the blog was hard to access and was only available to those who found my Awana site.  Then, in 2008, I came upon a free blog site and I started this personal blog on that site (barrysbasicblog.blogspot.com).  And while I have added something about every five days since then, it has never taken off.  I only have about 30 - 40 visits each week and I am really having difficulty finding interesting topics to blog about.  The temptation to end this is getting stronger and few will miss it if I do.
          However, shortly after setting up this personal blog I began to think that it might be fun to start a weekly hymn blog (barryshymns.blogspot.com) - as a hobby.  And so, on October of 2008, I began the new blog.  Now I am not a musician. I have limited English skills and vocabulary.  I am not good at research or history.  I don't have a deep knowledge of theology.  But I do love the hymns.  Each week I choose a hymn, try to find out some information about its writing, try to make some application, and then include a video of it being sung and my comments.  I have done this for over 320 hymns at this point.
          And guess what?  Over the years it has taken off, far, far above my expectations. It has become a real ministry. Now I regularly have 750 - 800 visitors each week.  And they come from all over the world.  I specifically have had comments from England, Australia, Africa, South America and many states in the U.S.  Let me leave you with just a sampling of the comments which I have received in recent years.

*    "We sing hymns at the retirement home where I minister. The stories behind the hymns are sermon enough, and lead to teaching and resulting prayer. The Holy Spirit is using your hymn stories to minister to the elderly residents, that they may finish their race STRONG! Thank you!"  On O THAT WILL BE GLORY FOR ME.

*    "Another one of my favorites - when I sing it it helps put me back in my place & encourages me to keep Jesus FIRST in my heart. On ALL THAT THRILLS MY SOUL IS JESUS.

*    "This is my favorite hymn. Brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it. Our church doesn't sing hymns anymore ... but I'm teaching my toddler. thank you for the background - amazing story." On VICTORY IN JESUS.

*    "Thanks for your blog. It's a blessing to me. I was looking for the lyric of the song which our women's group will be singing for Mother's day. I'm excited about it because it means a lot to me. Growing up in Africa with my grandmother, we live in a slum like area and it would rain for days we wouldn't be able to leave our bed because our home was filled with water. My grandmother, a devoted Methodist, would sing this song in Kru, a Liberian dialect. And since then when I hear or sing it, it reminds me of faith in Christ in the midst of any storm. Be blessed and continue the good work. On MASTER THE TEMPEST IS RAGING.

*    "I remember as a three year old sitting in my aunt's kitchen on the floor singing Heartaches take them all to Jesus and all of the adults were laughing at me. Now as a senior the words mean so much and are a daily prayer need! On HEARTACHES.

*    "Even though I've been in full time Christian work since 1969, the tough times I am in now with 8 wks hospitalization, 12 surgeries, loss of my two incomes, and reduction as a very active person who is always helping others to an invalid has brought waves of loneliness and despair. When I heard Dr. Lutzer share the story of this hymn I cried realizing 1) I had no idea what hardship was relatively speaking 2) and in retrospect He HAS ALWAYS provided what as the hymn (based on Scripture) says. Thanks for the reminder and confirmation of the background. On HE GIVETH MORE GRACE

*    愛情不是慈善事業,不能隨便施捨。......................... On I SHALL KNOW HIM.   (I think the translation might be something close to -"Love is not a charity, not a free handout.")

But the hymn with the most comments has been IT WILL BE WORTH IT ALL.    *  "Thank you so much for sharing this blog and song. I was pouring my heart out to God this morning in prayer and the words to this old hymn came into my mind. What a delight to find the lyrics and also your blog. God bless you as you bless others."      * "Thank you for this site! Woke up this am ... with an early morning "mental battle." The Holy Spirit brought the title of this hymn to mind but I couldn't remember the words so I'm thankful you have it posted. God is Good! As an aside, I feel badly for kids today who are not learning the old hymns of the faith. They are missing out on a rich heritage  ... not to mention an arsenal of spiritual weapons! "     *  "I thought of this Hymn today. I am going thru a major life event that it shaking me down yet I am getting comfort from the family of God and this song."     *  "Thank you so much, I have had much loss and a very wicked past that Jesus delivered me from. It Will Be Worth It All is one of my favorites and no matter how things are going, when we sing it in church (which is often) I always tear up. I was singing it and kept messing the chorus and I was leaving out the part "Our trials will seem so small" so of course no matter how I tried to adjust the melody it was not fitting, thank you for your site because helped me to recall the correct words and I've been singing all night. Bless you and your family as you heed to the call of Jesus in your lives."     *  "This song came to mind today so I decided to "google" it because I wanted to know all the words. I'm dealing with some tough situations that are so daily. The problems I deal with will be here for the remainder of my earthly life unless God blesses me with a miracle. Anyway, I remember this song from my childhood. My dad was part of a men's quartet and "It Will Be Worth It All" was one of their favorites songs to sing. I can still hear them singing this song in my mind. I'm glad I found the words to each verse on your blog. They are very encouraging. Thank you."

          So there is a quick sampling.  Please pray for me and for this hymn blog as I try to continue it each week.  I feel so inadequate for this ministry but I also understand that the Lord has unexpectedly used my writing experience to touch the lives of many around the world.  And that is humbling and a heavy responsibility during my retirement years.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hobbies, Part One

        Do you have a hobby?  When people ask me that I've always had a problem answering.  I might have said "reading", but I'm not sure that is a good answer.  Now I do enjoy reading, especially when I have time to waste such as when I am waiting for a doctor  appointment.  I enjoy reading novels to pass the time, but I can't name a favorite author and I generally can't even give you the titles of what I've recently read.  So I'm not sure that this qualifies as a true hobby.

          Once I might have said "going to Penn State football games", for during the past two decades we have enjoyed going several times each season.  But we really don't do that anymore.  As we've gotten older we have become much more selective about where we sit and good tickets, which have become much more expensive, are much harder to buy.  And they've changed the parking areas several times making it much more inconvenient for old guys, even with a handicapped permit.  But I still do follow Penn State football daily on the internet.
         I guess I could also answer "church work", but I do that more to serve the Lord and to use the gifts he has given me.  I am still heavily involved in Awana and spend many hours each week as financial secretary of our church.  Does that qualify as a hobby?
         But recently I have begun to realize that "writing" probably qualifies as a hobby.  Although I have never had any training, I have had numerous opportunities through working for newspapers, writing blogs, and preparing materials for my grandchildren.  That probably is a little unusual considering that I've only ever had one English teacher who I feel actually taught me practical things.  In seventh and eighth grade, Marjorie Enck was a superb teacher.  We often were "scared" of her classes but we were prepared, she taught, we learned, and we remember.  Recently, on Facebook, well over 60 former students testified to this.
          It was during those junior high years that I really began to write.  I was serving as scorekeeper for the local little league baseball league and I was asked to write a summary of the results each week for the weekly Lititz Record Express.  That developed into covering high school sports events for the local paper.  And by the time I reached high school I was writing two columns each week - Spotlight On Sports, covering area sports, and High School Highlights, covering other high school activities.  For two years I also wrote scripts for 15 minute radio programs for a program that I led on a local radio station every three weeks.
          These experiences led me to good summer jobs.   For three summers I worked on the editorial staff of the Record Express, writing local news, doing layouts, and even selling ads.  In fact, one summer while I was in college, the editor turned all his duties over to me and I actually ran and produced the entire paper that summer.  For two summers I worked for the Lancaster and York Sunday News staffs.  In addition to doing things like rewrites and preparing the weekly television guide, I was given some major writing duties which really stretched me and even provided some bylines.  When I worked in the York office I also did some photography while covering stories.  And then, after my junior year in college, I secured a summer job with the Sunbury Daily Item where I did strictly editorial work.
          While working for the Sunday News I made some excellent contacts, especially sports editors George Crudden and Bill Fisher.  They encouraged me and trusted me with major projects and then, after beginning my job at Penn Manor, they annually hired me for 25 years to cover sports events for the paper, especially football games.  And so most Falls during those years I spent my Saturdays writing about area football games.  What a great experience that was.  It not only was fun but it provided some extra income, especially in the days when teacher pay was not too great.
         Also, for several years I had an extra assignment at Penn Manor doing public relations work which essentially meant writing news releases for district events.  I also helped produce newsletters for district employees.
          My interest in sports and writing almost took me a different direction early in my teaching career.  A gentleman who I had worked for in public relations while I was a student at Susquehanna University contacted me and offered me a job to serve as assistant director of public directions, with an emphasis in sports, at Wagner College on Staten Island.  If it had been a different location, I would have been tempted to say yes to the offer.  But thankfully the Lord kept me where I was, at Penn Manor.
         Then, later in my life, along came the internet and blogs and more opportunities to write.  And that is a topic for my next blog.  
         So what is my hobby?  Maybe I now have an answer.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Good Old Days

Do you ever long for the "old days"?  Maybe the "old days" weren't quite as good as we think.  Now none of us were alive 110 years ago, but if we were, here are some of the things we would have faced at that time.

~ The average life expectancy in the United States was forty-seven. 
~ Only 14 percent of the homes in the United States had a bathtub. 
~ Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone. A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost eleven dollars. 
~ There were only 8,000 cars in the US and only 144 miles of paved roads. 
~ The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph. 
~ Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa, and Tennessee were each more heavily populated than California. With a mere 1.4 million residents, California was only the twenty-first most populous state in the Union. 
~ The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower. 
~ The average wage in the U.S. was twenty-two cents an hour. The average U.S. worker made between $200 and $400 per year.  A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year, a dentist $2500 per year, a veterinarian between $1500 and $4000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5000 per year. 
~ More than 95 percent of all births in the United States took place at home. 
~ Ninety percent of all U.S. physicians had no college education. Instead, they attended medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press and by the government as "substandard." 
~ Sugar cost four cents a pound. Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen. Coffee cost fifteen cents a pound. 
~ Most women only washed their hair once a month and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo. 
~ The five leading causes of death in the U.S. were:
      1. Pneumonia and influenza
      2. Tuberculosis
      3. Diarrhea
      4. Heart disease
      5. Stroke 
~ The American flag had 45 stars. Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii and Alaska hadn't been admitted to the Union yet. 
~ Drive-by-shootings - in which teenage boys galloped down the street on horses and started randomly shooting at houses, carriages, or anything else that caught their fancy - were an ongoing problem in Denver and other cities in the West. 
~ The population of Las Vegas, Nevada was thirty. The remote desert community was inhabited by only a handful of ranchers and their families. 
~ Plutonium, insulin, and antibiotics hadn't been discovered yet. Scotch tape, crossword puzzles, canned beer, and iced tea hadn't been invented. 
~ There was no Mother's Day or Father's Day. 
~ One in ten U.S. adults couldn't read or write. Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school. 
~ Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at corner drugstores. According to one pharmacist, "Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and the bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health." 
~ Coca-Cola contained cocaine instead of caffeine. 
~ Punch card data processing had recently been developed, and early predecessors of the modern computer were used for the first time by the government to help compile the 1900 census. 
~ Eighteen percent of households in the United States had at least one full-time servant or domestic. 
~ There were about 230 reported murders in the U.S. annually. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Great Response

          I admit that I am not  very tolerant when it comes to rude and careless cell phone use by others.  It bothers me when I see drivers talking on their cell phones, especially when they are turning at corners or tailgating me.  It is worse when they are holding a cigarette or coffee in their other hand.  I am surprised that there aren't even more accidents than there are.

          But I also get upset with folks who are talking on their phones when you are forced to listen to their full conversations.  This has happened quite often to me in waiting rooms of doctor offices.  To me it is both annoying and rude when people do this.  Often they are even ignoring posted signs which say no cell phone use permitted.  I guess they either can't read or think that the warnings don't apply to them.
          When this happens I am always attempted to do something in response to their rudeness.  But, so far it has never gotten beyond the thinking stage.  Recently I read about someone who did make a clever response to a rude user.  I hope you'll enjoy this as much as I have.
          After a very busy day, a commuter settled down in her seat and closed her eyes as the train departed Montreal for Hudson.
           As the train rolled out of the station, the guy sitting next to her pulled out his cell phone and started talking in a loud voice: "Hi sweetheart it's Eric, I'm on the train - yes, I know it's the six thirty and not the four thirty but I had a long meeting. No, honey, not with that floozy from the accounts office - with the boss. No sweetheart, you're the only one in my life. Yes, I'm sure, cross my heart!" etc., etc.
         Fifteen minutes later at St. Anne de Bellevue, he was still talking loudly, when the young woman sitting next to him, who was obviously angered by his continuous diatribe, yelled at the top of her voice: "Hey, Eric, turn off that stupid phone and come back to bed!"
         My guess is that Eric no longer uses his cell phone in public.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Remembering Some "God Things"

          During the past few months we have experienced many "God Things" in our lives.  While there is always  a danger of living too much in the past, once in awhile it is good to reflect upon the many "God Things", or God sightings, that we have experienced during our lifetime.  And, for us there have been many.  This month is the 51st anniversary of one of those - actually maybe several of those - that we often recall and thank the Lord for.

          Nearing graduation I began to search for my first permanent teaching job.  We had married while I was still in college and several months after our wedding we found that my wife was pregnant.  So we unexpectedly lost her income, for in those days pregnant wives were not permitted to work once they started wearing maternity clothing.  As a result, we were forced to abandon our apartment and move in with my in-laws.  Several weeks before my graduation our first son was born.  And so there was some pressure to find a good job and a home for our family.
          I scheduled four interviews - Hershey High, Donegal High. Elizabethtown High and Penn Manor High - and all four offered me a job.  I had really wanted to teach at Elizabethtown since both my wife and I had lived there at one time and my father had taught at Elizabethtown College.  But the teaching schedule they offered me was not competitive with the others.  So eventually I chose Penn Manor.  And that was a "God Thing" because at that time I didn't know that this would be the beginning of 39 great years there.  At Penn Manor I experienced many special and unique opportunities.
          Then came the problem of finding a house in the Penn Manor area.  For several months we were unsuccessful and it was becoming very discouraging.  During the summer I was working near Millersville and traveling to be with my family in Sunbury most weekends.  A few weeks they were able to join me in Lititz and help search for a house.  Then one day we received a call concerning an apartment in an old farm house in Silver Springs.  We really didn't want to live there.  It wasn't close to work and was really in the country.  We almost passed it up but because of our need we did check it out.  That also was a "God Thing" and we spent our first few years there and still have many good memories.
          Then in August, a few days after we moved, I came home to our new location after a hard day of working at Cherry Hill Orchards.  I found our four-month old son was very ill and we needed to see a doctor.  We didn't yet have time to find a doctor but someone recommended a Dr. Bryson in nearby Landisville.  So we called and after telling him the symptoms, he agreed to see us immediately.  It only took him minutes after checking our son to call a surgeon and send us to the hospital.  About two hours later our son was on the operating table.  The surgeon later told us that they were able to catch the intestinal problem just in time, preventing the need to cut his intestine and possibly even saving his life.
          One of the special things that I remember about that night was going to bed, emotionally exhausted, and thinking about how close I came to losing my only son.  Then it hit me that God sent His only Son to this earth and allowed Him to die as the sacrifice for my sins.  The reality of this really impacted me like never before.
          We were told that our son's problem was intussusception, or the telescoping of the intestine.  Most doctors never see a case of this in their practice and would not recognize the symptoms immediately.  Dr. Bryson had only ever seen one such case in his years of practice ... his own daughter.  Wow!  I still marvel at this "God Thing" whenever I think about it. 
          Now since it was just August, my medical insurance at Penn Manor had not yet started, so we had absolutely no insurance to cover the costs of the emergency surgery.  But even though I was just a first year teacher, God provided extra income through coaching and tutoring jobs and we were quickly able to pay off all of those bills.
          From a new job in the right area, to a house in an unexpected location, to a doctor we didn't know but who had had the same experience, to surgery just in time, to jobs to pay the bills.  "God Things"?  Without a doubt.
          Reviewing the "God Things" that one has experienced over a lifetime can be a good thing.  It can remind us of our God who cares about us, especially during the times of challenge that are part of our life.  It reminds us of a faithful God who even knows our every breath.  Great is His faithfulness - in the past, in the present, and in the future.  Watch for those "God Things" in your life.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


          It appears that our elected officials in Washington and Harrisburg have little or no respect for the people they represent.  They seem to do little but work to get reelected and pad their pensions while ripping off their constituents. They take advantage of many liberal benefits while as a state and country we get deeper and deeper in debt.  But just when you think it can't get any worse, it does.
          Senator Daylin Leach is a leading proponent of legalized marijuana in the Harrisburg Legislature.  He recently took a $5,000 taxpayer-funded trip to Colorado to observe that state's legal marijuana industry in action.  That is $5,000 of our taxes paid by hardworking Pennsylvania citizens.
          And if that wasn't enough, according to the Associated Press, he has said that he took two hits from a vape pen, similar to an e-cigarette, at his hotel.  Apparently this device vaporizes a form of marijuana and is smokeless.  I guess he not only wanted to see the industry in operation but he wanted to experience the highs of the drug.  The good news is that at least the drug wasn't purchased with our tax money.  It was a gift from the facility that he visited.
         But it does get worse.  According to the AP, "Leach, D-Montgomery, said that on the last night in Colorado he wanted to use the drug for the first time in about 25 years because people have told him potency is greater than it used to be."
          "I did two hits, which was less than I would have done when I was in high school.  I definitely felt the effects of it."
          "He said the legal weed caused him to giggle a bit through dinner, and afterward in his hotel room he did something uncharacteristic - he watched a romantic comedy on television."
          Now I imagine that we taxpayers also probably paid for the movie in his hotel and who knows what type of "romantic" movie he really viewed in the privacy of his room.
         Well at least for $5,000 we taxpayers now know that this legal weed can make you giggle and want to watch romantic comedies.  How wonderful!
          Too bad he didn't watch the evening news where they recently showed the problems all Colorado's neighboring states are having with people bringing the Colorado legal weed into or through their states where it is illegal.  The police are being kept extra busy making arrests as people break the law in their states.  Arrests have skyrocketed.
          But, as expected, the news of his trip has not made the front pages of newspapers nor has it appeared to have caused any controversy.  And he will probably not only be reelected but he will probably be successful in his attempts to make the weed legal in Pennsylvania.  It's just a matter of time and it's also just another example of the slippery slope that we as a nation are experiencing.

Friday, August 1, 2014


          Anxiety - a noun meaning a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.  I think we all know the meaning of this since it is something that we all experience at various times in our life.
          I've watched many folks experience this in many different ways.  For some it related to a job change or loss.  For some it related to dealing with a wayward child.  For some it related to a new beginning, such as starting college or a new job.  For some it related to a message from a doctor about a test result.  For some it related to a financial concern.  For some it related to a decision that needed to be made.  For some it related to a loss of a loved one.
          Personally, my greatest times of anxiety have usually related to the illness of a loved one.  Our oldest needed emergency surgery when he was only four months old.  That was a time of great anxiety.  All three of our boys used to break out in very high fevers, becoming almost delirious at times.  Usually this happened in the middle of night.  I recall many nights sitting with a sick child, praying and thinking that daylight would never arrive.  I recall the sleepless night I had before I found my father had passed away when I went for him the next morning.  All night I wrestled with anxiety wondering what we could do for him since he was so ill.
          But I think my biggest times of anxiety have related to illnesses or procedures involving my wife.  There have been times of waiting for the results of biopsies or for her to return from surgery.  The minutes pass so slowly during those times.  And sitting with her when she is ill at night creates even more anxiety than I had when our kids were ill.  At those times I had her to share the anxiety, but when she is ill I feel so alone, helpless and anxious.
           The scriptures do tell us to cast all of our cares on the Lord.  And He does give peace and comfort in those times.  And He is always with us even when we feel alone.  But I admit that even though I know it is wrong to be worried and anxious, I am a worrier and sometimes I guess I fight the peace that God is trying to give me.  It's times like this that our faith becomes very practical.
          Now as I've gone through numerous times of anxiety in the past three months, the Lord has continually brought back to my mind a little known hymn that we sang once in awhile many years ago.  The words have spoken to my heart continually during recent days.  If you are going through a time of personal anxiety, hopefully these words will comfort you as well.

(1)   Is there a heart o'erbound by sorrow?
Is there a life weighed down by care?
Come to the cross, each burden bearing—
All your anxiety, leave it there.  Refrain

(2)   No other friend so keen to help you,
No other friend so quick to hear;
No other place to leave your burden,
No other one to hear your prayer.    Refrain

(3)    Come then at once, delay no longer!
Heed His entreaty kind and sweet;
You need not fear a disappointment,
You shall find peace at the mercy seat.   Refrain

All your anxiety, all your care,
Bring to the mercy seat, leave it there;
Never a burden He cannot bear,
Never a friend like Jesus!