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.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Moved To Her Home In Heaven


          On Saturday my dear Aunt Ellen Derck stepped on the shores heaven where she was greeted by her loving Lord whom she had served most of her nearly 96 years here on earth.  While she didn't want to leave her dear husband of 73 years and her family, she had looked forward to sharing the joys of eternity in heaven.
         I imagine that she was also soon reunited with many friends and family members, including her two sisters and her brother (my dad), their spouses, her mother, her stepfather, and for the first time ever, her father, H.A. Kauffman.  My aunt's real father, my grandfather, died before she was born, so she never knew him.  She must be having an exciting reunion with him - one that I look forward to having someday.
          Several times over the past several years the doctors were sure that she was about to make this journey from earth to heaven.  They even went as far as to summon the family.  But each previous time the Lord still had work for her to do and He extended her days.   But not this time.  She had a marvelous way of making friends and sharing the Gospel with those she met, especially doctors and nurses.  Many lives were touched by her outreach to them in the final years of her life.   We believe that the Lord prolonged her life for that reason.
           My memories of Aunt Ellen are many, going back to when I was just a child.  While her husband, Uncle John, was serving in France during World War II, she often helped care for me.  But probably my greatest memory was when she led me to the Lord at the age of four on June 12, 1945.  I will be eternally thankful for that.
          When I was in third grade our families shared a row house in Lancaster.  They lived on the main floor and we had the apartment on the second floor.  About a year later they rented another home and moved.  But we were close enough that we still spent much time together, visiting with them most weekends.
         Uncle John was a manager for Penneys and so they moved quite frequently.  He started in Sunbury and then was assigned to Lancaster.  I'm not sure of all the locations where he served, but I do remember visits with them in Fredericksburg Virginia, Derby Connecticut, and Pottstown PA.  I remember visiting with them in Derby and traveling with them to New York City to see the Billy Graham Crusade in Times Square.  What a good memory.  Dianne and I also visited them in Derby on our first vacation after we were married.  After Uncle John retired at Pottstown, they decided to move to Wisconsin to be near their daughter and her husband who were in charge of a year round camp run by Wheaton College.  They enjoyed Wisconsin but still rooted for the Penn State football teams.
          My uncle and aunt were very supportive of us when we had our family ministry.  When we would have the Saturday programs at the Old Mill Bible Conference they were always there with us.  When we had programs in their church at Spring City they always entertained us for dinner.  They loved us and loved our boys.
           And despite the amount of travel involved, when my grandparents were alive they were always with them for Christmas.  My father's family all loved and served the Lord and we were all very close. I will never forget the times we all joined in singing "We Thank Thee Lord For This Our Food" as our prayer for our Christmas dinner.  This is a tradition that we have continued with our family.  Then there were annual family gatherings at Mizpah Grove and Mt. Gretna. The memories of times together will never be forgotten.  What an amazing legacy the Lord has given me.  And my Aunt Ellen is a major part of that legacy.
           Several years ago she had a stroke which took away her ability to walk.  At times her speech was slurred, but PTL  her mind was sharp right up to the end.  She continued to organize and attend a Bible study for the folks in the retirement home where they lived. We had the joy of visiting them in Rhinelander several times and they were precious times.  On our last visit she enjoyed listening to my wife play hymns on the piano.  My Uncle John calls us about once a week and several times I had the chance to talk to Aunt Ellen.  While sometimes I had some difficulty understanding all that she said, those conversations were special and something I will never forget.
          Aunt Ellen's son, my cousin Jerry, will conducted her funeral service on Sunday.  He expects to speak on Proverbs 31 and use an acronym, SPECIAL, to describe his mother. SCRIPTURE because that was central for her.  PRAYER WARRIOR for that was what she was. EVANGELISTIC- she shared the Gospel with everyone she met. CHILDREN - she loved them, especially her grandchildren and great grandchildren.  INTENSE INTEREST in others - definitely and people loved her.  ALWAYS DETERMINED and among other things that helped her live with her stroke effects.  LOVED HER LORD - without a doubt and that was obvious to all who knew her.  A fitting description.
           Now I will miss her deeply but do not wish her back. I feel for the great loss that my uncle now faces and I pray for comfort for him.  She lived a long and godly life and deserves a new body and the rewards of heaven which she has earned.  But I will especially miss her because she was a real prayer warrior who faithfully remembered me and my family.  I have had a few such people over the years, but one by one they have graduated to heaven and that is leaving a major hole in my life.
          And with her passing, I am now the oldest living member in the Kauffman line and that is another reality which is hard to accept.  Where have all the years gone?
        Thank you Lord for my heritage and for the impact of Aunt Ellen on my life and the lives of my family.  I have been blessed.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Power Saver

         It was 20 years ago that we remodeled our kitchen.  At that time we had a new microwave built in above our stove.  For two decades it met all of our needs and we often took that for granted.  Then last winter it just died!
So we headed to out favorite appliance dealer, L. H. Brubaker.  Fortunately we found that over two decades the measurements stayed practically the same, except that they were just a little deeper.  No problem.  But there were so many options now available and dozens to choose from and this made purchasing difficult  We chose a basic model with all the features that we felt we needed.  They installed it for us and remarked that now microwaves only last seven to ten years.  They must cut down the quality to produce extra sales over the years.
For ten months the new one worked perfectly.  We were pleased. Then suddenly one day we found that the clock would suddenly shut off.  When you opened the door the clock would come on and stay on ...  for about a minute.  Then it would shut off.
So we stopped by the store and asked if there was something that we were doing wrong with the settings.  They didn't know but referred us to an employee who they said knew everything about microwaves.  When we talked to him he concluded that we needed a new panel and a new clock.  Since it was still under the guarantee we asked him to order the needed part.
Well a week later the repairman showed up with the needed parts.  Like us, he was perplexed by the problem.  He asked to read our manual just as I had done when it first went bad.  He almost gave up when he found a little information at the end of the book about a power saver button.  As he experimented he found out that the only indication that this function is in use is ... the clock display shuts off when the microwave is not being used.  Everything else, including the lights and fans, still works ... but not the clock display.  So since the power saver had accidentally been activated, the clock was shutting off.  No repair needed.
After he left I did some investigation online and found that if activated, this feature saves up to 20% of the power use when the microwave is not being used.  And the clock still maintains the correct time even though it is not displayed. This is unique to GE microwaves.  Not a bad feature, if it actually works.  And 20% savings is nice.  However, why don't they explain this in the manual.  There is no explanation there telling what it actually does.  And the microwave guru and the repairman didn't even know about this.
So now we are saving energy. We've activated the button. We just can't read the clock display.  But 20% is 20%!
Now I've been thinking, wouldn't it be nice if our bodies had a "power saver" button.  We could just push it when we had no work to do and we could save and build up our energy.  That would be a great feature for those of us who are growing older and have less energy than we used to.  But wait a minute, I think the Creator did take care of that.  Instead of a button, he used something called ... a "nap".  And the older I get, the more I appreciate and need that function.
Guess I'll sit down now and activate my "power saver".  I love it!

Monday, January 19, 2015


          Three of my favorite years growing up were the years that we lived in downtown Lancaster - 48 N. Queen St.  Those years may have been hard for my father since parking was rather difficult, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time there.
We lived in a row home and for the first year there we shared our home with my aunt and uncle and cousin.  We lived upstairs and they lived downstairs.  When they moved out we had the entire house to ourselves and we enjoyed having loads of room.  We didn't have much of a yard, but that didn't matter since the large house and the whole town were our playground.
My brother and I walked several blocks to school at George Ross Elementary.  After school I would often walk downtown, by myself, and explore the stores and the city.  I learned to love the city.  I was only a youngster, but I felt entirely safe.  My parents and I never had any fears about my safety.  It was great.
           During the summer, when our new church held tent meetings, we often had Bible school students who were helping with the meetings stay in our house.  That was a great experience.  When our new church met in a hall downtown, our family often walked to church, Sunday mornings and evenings and Wednesday evenings.  We had friends in that area that we would go to visit.  No fears.  Great memories.
Now fast forward  60 years - times in Lancaster have changed drastically.  Today I would never consider walking in my old neighborhood at night.  Even during the day I would be careful and concerned.  I would not ever let my children walk to school unattended.  Crime, fights, shootings and drugs are now common.  It's so sad.
          In the last three months there were at least ten shootings in Lancaster.  Three of them were fatal.  And one elementary school teacher was brutally killed in her home in an attempted burglary.  The majority of these were in the northeast section of town, an area recently thought to be very "safe".  In 2012 there were 26 shootings.  In 2013 there were 29.  In the first eleven months of 2014 there were 34 shootings.  Not too comforting.  Some were drive by shootings.  Some shot were innocent bystanders.
          The mayor blames it on the state which he says "refuses to do everything it can to keep guns out of the hands of people who use them unlawfully."  He says that the shootings do not indicate that the general public is at high risk.  He says drunken drivers pose a bigger danger to law abiding citizens.   Really?
The police chief said that residents, visitors and downtown merchants should know that most such incidents arise from personal disputes - not drug or turf wars involving gangs.  Is that comforting?  Tell that to the 54 year old man who was fatally wounded and the 60 year old woman and 25 year old man who were all wounded in the same incident.  All three  were described as innocent bystanders.
           But no matter what they do, the cause of this is man's sin.  They can try stricter laws, tougher prosecution, more police, wars on drugs, or whatever, but until the hearts of men are changed, violence like this will just increase.  The cure for the world's ills is Jesus, but He has become politically incorrect in today's society.  Instead of depending upon Him, society has tried to remove Him from all aspects of today's life and what we are facing today is the sad and dangerous result.
           Unfortunately this problem is not just Lancaster's.  Almost every night the local news reports shootings in York or Harrisburg as well as Lancaster.  Now many residents say they don't fear the city.  Good for them.  Let them live, walk, and shop there.  As for me, I will still spend limited time there, but only when I have to.
I guess we've come a long way ... but change isn't always good.  In this case I'd rather have the "good old days".

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Lottery

Every morning that I walk at the Park City Mall I pass a tobacco shop where they sell lottery tickers.  Almost every day I see folks, most of them seniors, purchasing lottery tickets.  Many of them purchase the scratch off cards and then move to the mall where they sit and begin to scratch.  In  most cases when they are done, they get up and leave, having lost once again.  Others choose numbers for the daily drawings or the huge lotteries where millions are given away.  I assume that most of these purchasers also end up being disappointed.
Now I will probably never win since I don't play.  I have reservations about gambling so I stay away.  I also know myself enough to know that if I started playing I might have a tough time stopping and all I would do is lose more money.  And finally, as a math teacher, I know the tremendous odds against winning.  Your chances are almost zero.
         However, I do leave myself a little opening.  We had a friend who used to enjoy giving his friends a lottery ticket as a birthday gift.  Now I know folks who tore them up and threw them away without checking them out.  Maybe I'm in the minority, but I feel that if it is a gift and I've not invested anything of my own funds, I would be crazy not to see if it was worth anything.  I certainly would take cash as a gift if it were given to me as a present, so I don't see a big difference between cash and a ticket.  But that probably won't happen again because the gift giver recently passed away.
          Now while I don't play, I have often thought about what I would do if I were to win several million.  Obviously, the first thing I would do is hire a good accountant who could help me handle the money.  Then I would want to take care of all the tax obligations the money would bring.
          My first priority would be to help my church and my denomination's Bible and Retreat Center pay off their loans.  Being able to do that would give me real joy.  However, the question would be would they even accept the money since it came from the lottery.  I do know about a local school teacher whose wife bought a ticket and didn't tell him.  She won the grand prize and wanted to give the money to their church.  But the church refused to accept it.  While he had been very active in his church for many yers, he eventually left the church not only because of their rejection but also because of the way folks treated him as a "gambler".
          My next choice would be to set up scholarships for my seven grandchildren.  Three are now in college and some of them have hopes of going to graduate school.  The other four will probably also attend college when they graduate from high school.  I'd love to be able to help them reach their goals without running up huge debts for their education.
         Would I want anything for myself?  Well I'd like to take a trip to Alaska while contractors are fixing the many problems in our house so that it could be sold.  Then I'd like to sell it and move to a top notch retirement home where we could be cared for the rest of our lives.  I really wouldn't need or want much more for us since the Lord has been good to us and has provided all that we really need.
          While I don't play, I did have a very unusual thing happen once when I was teaching.  One day I was making up additional practice problems to work in front of the class on the overhead projector - anyone remember those things?  Three problems in a row unexpectedly ended up with solutions involving the three digits 7, 1, 6.  My students and I remarked about this unusual situation and I made the off hand remark that maybe I should break my rules and bet 7, 1, and 6 in the lottery that night.  We laughed about it. But the next morning a student brought the results of the lottery to class and showed that ... guess what ... 7, 1, 6 was actually the winner.  Wow!   And how much did I win?  Zero!
          So there are my thoughts.  They sound good but there is no chance that any of this could happen ... unless somebody else gives me tickets as a gift ... and that probably won't happen again.  Incidentally ... just in case you are interested ... my birthday is April 6 ... and of course there is always Christmas ... or Valentines Day ... or June 2, our anniversary!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Rain or Snow?

Now here is something for you to think about:
A Russian couple were walking down the street in Moscow one night when the man felt a drop hit his nose.  "I think it's raining", he said to his wife.
"No, that felt more like snow to me", she replied.
"No, I'm sure it was just rain" he replied.
Well, as these things go, they were about to have a major argument about whether it was raining or snowing.  Just then they saw a former official of the Communist Party walking toward them.
"Let's not fight about it", the man said.  "Let's ask Comrade Rudolph whether it's officially raining or snowing"
As the official approached, the man said, "Tell us, Comrade Rudolph, is it officially raining or snowing?"
"It's raining, of course", he replied and walked on.
But the woman insisted, "I know that felt like snow!".  To which the man quietly replied, "Rudolph the Red knows rain, dear!"

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Getting Ahead

        I've come to the conclusion that it isn't always just good hard work that leaves a good impression, but unfortunately it might also be the little things that you do that help create a good perception of you by others.  Recently I read these "Ten Commandments for Working Hard."

1. Never walk without a document in your hands
People with documents in their hands look like hardworking employees heading for important meetings. People with nothing in their hands look like they're heading for the cafeteria. People with a newspaper in their hand look like they're heading for the restroom. Above all, make sure you carry loads of stuff home with you at night, thus generating the false impression that you work longer hours than you do.
2. Use computers to look busy
Any time you use a computer, it looks like work to the casual observer. You can send and receive personal e-mail, chat and generally have a blast without doing anything remotely related to work. These aren't exactly the societal benefits that the proponents of the computer revolution would like to talk about but they're not bad either. When you get caught by your boss - and you will get caught  your best defense is to claim you're teaching yourself to use new software, thus saving valuable training dollars.
3. Messy desk
Top management can get away with a clean desk. For the rest of us, it looks like we're not working hard enough. Build huge piles of documents around your workspace. To the observer, last year's work looks the same as today's work; it's volume that counts. Pile them high and wide. If you know somebody is coming to your cubicle, bury the document you'll need halfway down in an existing stack and rummage for it when he/she arrives.
4. Voice Mail
Never answer your phone if you have voice mail. People don't call you just because they want to give you something for nothing - they call because they want YOU to do work for THEM. That's no way to live. Screen all your calls through voice mail. If somebody leaves a voice mail message for you and it sounds like impending work, respond during lunch hour when you know they're not there - it looks like you're hardworking and conscientious even though you're being a devious weasel.
5. Looking Impatient and Annoyed
According to Seinfeld's George Costanza, one should also always try to look impatient and annoyed to give your bosses the impression that you are always busy.
6. Leave the office late
Always leave the office late, especially when the boss is still around. You could read magazines and storybooks that you always wanted to read but have no time until late before leaving. Make sure you walk past the boss' office on your way out. Send important emails at unearthly hours (e.g. 9:35pm, 7:05am, etc.) and over the holidays.
7. Creative Sighing for Effect
Sigh loudly when there are many people around, giving the impression that you are under extreme pressure.
8. Stacking Strategy
It is not enough to pile lots of documents on the table. Put lots of books on the floor etc. (Thick computer manuals are the best).
9. Build Vocabulary
Read up on some computer magazines and pick out all the jargon and new products. Use the phrases freely when in conversation with bosses. Remember: They don't have to understand what you say, but you sure sound impressive.
DON'T forward this to your boss by mistake!!!