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.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

"Thank You"

          If you spend much time on the internet or with e-mail, you have surely experienced the many "hot tips" which are sent by - saying it carefully -  "well intentioned friends".  After all, as Abe Lincoln once said, "If you read it on the internet, it must be true."
          As a reaction to these many messages and tips, what follows is one peron's reaction.  Oh yes, I received this from a "friend" ... in an e-mail!  Here is what he had to say.
          As we start 2015, I want to thank each one of you for your educational emails  last year. I am totally messed up now and have little chance of recovery.

I can no longer open a bathroom door without using a paper towel, nor let the waitress put lemon slices in my ice water without worrying about the bacteria on the lemon peel.

I have trouble shaking hands with someone who has been driving because the number one pastime while driving alone is picking one's nose.

Eating a little snack sends me on a guilt trip because I can only imagine how many gallons of trans fats I have consumed over the years.

I must send my special thanks for the email about rat poo in the glue on envelopes because I now have to use a wet sponge with every envelope that needs sealing.

Also, now I have to scrub the top of every can I open for the same reason.

I can't eat at KFC because their chickens are actually horrible mutant freaks with no eyes, feet or feathers.

I can't use cancer-causing deodorants even though I smell like a water buffaloon a hot day.

Thanks to you I have learned that my prayers only get answered if I forward an email to seventeen of my friends and make a wish within five minutes.

Because of your concern, I no longer drink Coca Cola because it can remove toilet stains.

I no longer buy fuel without taking someone along to watch the car, so a serial killer doesn't crawl in my back seat when I'm filling up.

I no longer use Cling Wrap in the microwave because it causes seven different types of cancer.

And thanks for letting me know I can't boil a cup of water in the microwave anymore because it will blow up in my face, disfiguring me for life.

I no longer go to the movies because I could be pricked with a needle infected with AIDS when I sit down.

I no longer go to shopping centers because someone will drug me with a perfume sample and rob me.

And I no longer answer the phone because someone will ask me to dial a number for which I will get a huge phone bill with calls to Jamaica, Uganda, Singapore and Uzbekistan.

I can't do any gardening because I'm afraid I'll get bitten by the Violin Spider and my hand will fall off.

If you don't send this e-mail to at least 144,000 people in the next 70 minutes, a large dove with diarrhea will land on your head at 5:00 p.m. tomorrow afternoon, and the fleas from 120 camels will infest your back, causing you to grow a hairy hump. I know this will occur because it actually happened to a friend of my next door neighbor's ex mother-in-law's second husband's cousin's best friend's beautician!

So there you are!  Thanks for all of your concern, but, in order to protect my mental health, if it continues throughout 2015 I may just have to expand my spam file or begin defriending on Facebook.  Have a good day - after you forward this to 144,000.  You better get on it now!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Sunday Plans

        We were looking forward to Sunday.  As usual we had expected to spend time in worship and fellowship at church.  Then we were going to have the family at our house for Sunday dinner (homemade chicken pot pie!) to celebrate our grandson's 21st birthday.  Sundays are always special days, but this one was to be extra special.
          And, according to the weather guys, while some snow was coming Saturday, it was just to be a coating to an inch or two here in Millersville and the temperatures were to climb into the 40's by Sunday morning.  This certainly would not disrupt our plans.  But since when are the weather guys right?  Their predictions are almost as bad as baseball players who get millions for failing three times our of four when they bat.  But at least I guess the weather guys don't get millions for their guesses.
          Anyway, the first setback came on Saturday when the predictions became worse.  Our grandson had planned to go to college after work on Saturday to complete a five hour chem lab with his lab partner.  The snow and the dangerous driving conditions made that too risky.  So we suggested moving his special dinner to next Sunday so that he could complete the lab Sunday afternoon.  All agreed to this and while it was a minor setback, it wasn't serious because we were able to reschedule it without a problem. Our only problem is that we also host our small group that evening.  But we will handle both.  Incidentally, the weather guys are now hinting about more snow next weekend.
           But we still had church to look forward to.  On Sundays I just need to be in church.  I always have been and as long as I am able, I always will be there.  Now I admit that I don't enjoy the music  - I prefer the hymns and the drums sometimes give me headaches.  But I have accepted the changes knowing that the music does honor the Lord and many do enjoy it.  Our special music is exceptional and professionally done, but again, at times I miss hearing "average" musicians who share from their hearts and experiences as they minister.  Our preaching is excellent and helpful and a major reason to attend.  Strangely I miss the fellowship.  I say that because, beside my family members, I really don't have close friends there anymore. If I don't greet folks, seldom would anyone greet me. If they do greet me it is usually the passing "How are you" and as they move on I know they really don't want to know.  I would not be missed if I wasn't there, but I still miss being a part of the many who attend.  This is my church home and has been for 65 years.  I need this opportunity to worship and the week just isn't right when I can't be there.
           Well, my plans were to get up at 6 am and clear the driveway and the walks so that we could leave for church by 8:15.  But at 6 am I was shocked to hear that our services were canceled.  I had anticipated that the first service might be called off, but not all of them. We had made it to church last week when the weather was actually worse  So I decided to just stay in bed a little longer and worship by listening to the beautiful hymns on WDAC.  One of my favorite things each weekend is to listen to this station because on Friday and Saturday nights they play my kind of music throughout the entire night.  So for over two hours I was able to worship in bed by listening and praying.
          Then it was up to do one of my least favorite things - clear the snow.  Both my wife and I are presently in physical therapy so I refused to allow my wife to help me this time.  One of my sons called and offered to come and help, but I refused.  He has a bad cold and shouldn't be doing it either. I went solo.  So for the next hour I cleared the driveway and front walk.  Later in the day I went back out to clear the side drive, our one car and some of the remaining walks.  Thank the Lord for a snow blower that starts.  Unfortunately my back and muscles don't respond quite as well anymore.  But the blower and I made it.
         The remainder of the day I did a variety of things including spending considerable time writing a few new blogs for my weekly hymn blog.  This is not a substitute for being in church but it did give me a chance to worship by meditating on and writing about the many great themes and words penned by believers over the years.  I love and miss the great hymns of the faith.  Many share great truths and doctrine.  Many share personal experiences that the authors have had in their Christian walk.  Many are ingrained in my memory and so often the Lord allows me to recall these just when I need them.
          But I am reminded that this is the day which the Lord hath made.  It might not have been what I had anticipated and I have greatly missed the weekly assembling together of the saints. God had other plans for me this Sunday.  And God has been with me - even when I was laboring to shovel the snow!   God is good, all the time.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ode To My Spell Checker

       Those of us who use our word processors have learned to depend upon our spell checkers.  And so I share with you this poem which was recently shared with me.

I have a spelling checker
I disk covered four my PC.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss steaks aye can knot see.

Eye ran this poem threw it,
Your sure real glad two no.
Its very polished in its weigh,
My checker tolled me sew.

A checker is a blessing,
It freeze yew lodes of thyme.
It helps me right awl stiles two reed,
And aides me when aye rime.

Each frays comes posed up on my screen,
Eye trussed too bee a joule.
The checker pours o'er every word
To cheque sum spelling rule.

Bee fore wee rote with checkers,
Hour spelling was inn deck line.
Butt not when wee dew have a laps,
Wee are not maid too wine.

And now bee cause my spelling
Is checked with such grate flare,
There are know faults in awl this peace,
Of nun eye am a wear.

To rite with care is quite a feet
Of witch won should be proud.
And wee mussed dew the best wee can,
Sew flaws are knot aloud.

That's why eye brake in two averse
Cuz Eye dew want too please.
Sow glad eye yam that aye did bye
This soft wear four pea seas.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Celebrating Valentine's Day

          Valentines Day is an interesting time.  For children it often is a time of sharing valentines with friends.  I remember in the "good old days" when we would have a decorated valentine mailbox in our classroom.  We kids would address our cards and deposit them there. Then a chosen student would serve as a postman and distribute them to everyone in the class.  I can recall buying either a box of small cards or else purchasing a book with punch out cards.  But I guess those traditions are now all gone.
          For those who are dating or married the day can be an expensive event.  Often it means expensive gifts of jewelry or candy and a fancy and expensive meal.  Even nice cards are very expensive.  It is easy to spend several hundred dollars very quickly in an attempt to express your love for your friend or spouse. In 2014 the average person spent $133.91 for gifts.  Men spent $168.74 on the average and women $85.76.
          Now I guess we are very frugal, or if you want, cheap.  We have never gone into big displays or expenditures for one day.  Hopefully we express our love to each other in many other meaningful ways daily.  About all that we do is prepare homemade cards for our grandchildren and include some money.  It used to be candy but now they appreciate money much more.
           And, as you get older, there are so many other less expensive things to do to celebrate.  So, in case you are interested, here is my list of ideas.  Incidentally, maybe you aren't ready yet for these ideas, but let me assure you, your day is coming, probably sooner than you think.

Spend the day together shoveling and clearing the snow and ice off your drive and sidewalks.  Then spend the evening together with tylenol and his and her heating pads.

Accompany your spouse to his/her doctor appointment.  Don't trip over each other's canes.

Spend the day together reading all those medicare/health insurance offers that you've received in the mail.

Take out your hearing aids and enjoy the quiet together.

Listen to your eight-track tapes or your 45 rpm records.

Enjoy "happy hour" together by taking a nap.

Call your friends at 9 pm and ask them if they are still awake.

Share a special tasty treat such as a valentine made out of prunes.

Talk about all the senior discounts you could get - movies, meals, hotels, flights - if you weren't too tired to use them.

Give your wife something very special, covered with diamonds - like a deck of cards.

Snuggle and nibble on your wife's ear.  But remember to get your dentures first.

Go and together get your free ear tests at one of those hearing aid stores.  Some even give out gift cards or other gifts just for doing this.

Go out for a special meal.  Try something that doesn't cost much or require reservations, such as Burger King or MacDonalds.   Snuggle up in a booth and share a diet coke and fries.  Add a 99 cent sandwich and share it if you are so inclined.

Get down on your knees and tell your wife that you love her and would marry her again.  On second thought, you better not do that.  You might not be able to get up again afterwards.

Well, no matter how you celebrate, have a happy Valentine's Day and share your love.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Into The Tunnel Once Again

        It started with my chiropractor who said that he didn't want to do any additional work on me until I had an MRI of my back.   Next it was the orthopedic specialist who said I probably needed an MRI and I should also see a neurosurgeon for his opinion.  So I called the neurosurgeon who did my cervical spine surgery just seven months ago and was told that the earliest open appointment that he had was April 23, three months away.  And before he would even see me then I needed to see my family doctor and have him schedule me for an MRI.

          So reluctantly I talked to my family doctor who agreed that I needed an MRI of my thoracic spine.  Over the years I have had nine MRI's and all but one was tolerable.  The one that I vowed I would never do again was of the thoracic spine.  In that one they wrapped me up like I was in a cocoon and I spent an hour tightly wrapped in the tunnel.  And I had no idea how much longer I would be in the machine.  It was not fun.
          The good news was that my doctor said that I would not need contrast this time and that would cut the time in half.  I agreed and the MRI was scheduled.  But an hour later I received a call telling me that I had to return for a blood test and that they discovered, because of some other conditions that I have, that they would need to give me the contrast.  I was not a happy camper, but what else could I do.  I've learned never to say never.
          Because I am a veteran of MRI's I have often given advice to others who are having it done for the first time and are worried about it.  There are several things that I have learned to do to pass the time, such as quoting scripture and praying for others.  For a 30 minute MRI those tips are fine, but for an hour ... well that can be much more difficult.  And I've known folks who just couldn't take it.  Some have had to push the panic button to get out.  Some have taken pills to calm their nerves.  And one that I know had to be put to sleep to have it done.  It's not for the feint of heart.
           Now the one that I was having this time was one that they say is an open MRI.  Now that might sound great, but the fact is that when you are put in it you are unable to move and you see the top of the tube just inches from your eyes. You have no idea if it is open or closed.  Now the last closed one that I was in at LGH actually had a mirror that at least allowed me to see the blank wall outside behind the unit.  In a setup like that it's too bad that they didn't also project changing relaxing pictures on the wall which you could see in the mirror.  But probably those who design these machines never get to experience them their selves.
          The other problem is that the machines are terribly loud while the magnets are working.  They give you ear plugs and they also offer to pipe in music for you to listen to through ear phones.  They even allow you to pick out what kind of music you want to hear.  But what a joke that is.  While the machine is running you can't hear anything but the pounding of the machine.  And then, of course, you may also get feelings like you might need to cough, or your throat is too dry to swallow, or your nose itches.  You can count on those things happening.  Live with it!
           So anyway, they prepared me and strapped me in.  The case that they put over my chest almost prevented me from taking full deep breaths.  Then when they finally had me in so tight that I couldn't move, I was sent into the "deep dark pit", earphones on, and panic button in my hand. As the noise started I began, with my eyes closed, to pray for everyone that I could think of.  And that was a good and worthwhile activity.   After 30 minutes they pulled me out of the machine to put the contrast in my arm.  Then back in I went for another 30 minutes.  This time I decided to sing and I began to recall hymns, singing them in alphabetical order.  If you know all the verses, most hymns take about 3 or 4 minutes.  I think I actually only got to about "N" before it was all over.
           Finally it was over and I was released from my confinement. I felt like a prisoner set free. Actually it wasn't as bad as I had feared.  Fortunately I didn't get wrapped up this time.  And the operator kept telling me what was happening and how long the next pictures would take and how many were left to be done.  That did help.  Of course, the big reason that it went better than I expected was because many people were praying for me.  They knew I had an unspoken request but didn't know the specifics.  But God did and He answered.  He always does.  In fact I felt like He was there, right with me, deep in the machine.
           Now I wonder if there are any honors or awards for a person who completes ten MRI's?  I don't want a shirt saying "I survived ten MRI's"..  Maybe they could put my name on a plaque somewhere or give me a 10% discount on the next one or name the MRI room after me.  I wonder what the world record might be.  Maybe there is a Hall of Fame somewhere.  Just kidding, I survived and  I just hope that I will never need a number eleven.
          Next came the EMG, but that is another story for another day.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Just Be There

       I guess it was the thoughts of the recent home going of my Aunt Ellen Derck that helped bring back to my mind a powerful but unusual song that I had heard several years ago.  The song, sung by Karen Wheaton, has a powerful message that one might want to share with one's children or loved ones - "Just Be There".
          I don't think that as a father that I have any greater desire in life than to see all my family members know the Lord and have a passion for serving Him.  What a joy to know that one day all of them would be reunited with you in heaven.  But, sadly, many families don't have the assurance that this will happen and only God knows for sure.
         The song almost sounds like a demand.  But demands don't work. It is a personal decision that each must make, we can't force it as much as we would like to.  Instead I think it is a plea - accept the Lord, serve Him in the sunshine and rain, and make heaven your destination.  Join me someday on the shores of heaven where we can live together eternally.  Be there!
         I shared the words of this song with my family at my father's funeral service.  For I know it was also his desire.  And I must admit that it often brings tears when I hear it because of its profound message and desire.

Cradled in my arms I held you 
And I loved you more with each day passing by 
Sharing joy, sharing pain 
Through the sunshine and the rain 
I can't believe it's time to say good bye 

I don't know what the future brings you 
But I hope that you'll keep Heaven as your goal 
For we've taught you how to pray 
We made sure you knew the way 
So remember my request before you go 

Just be there 
When I finally make it home 
And I stand before the throne 
Just be there 
When I look around to see 
If you are standing next to me 
Just be there 

It's not an easy road you're travelin' 
But every place you go Jesus has been 
And when you find you've made a turn 
Forgetting what you've learned 
You may have to start all over again 

It's not an easy load you're bearin' 
But the trials of your faith will make you strong 
Facing dangers unaware 
He won't allow what you can't bear 
So my prayer is that your faith will bring you home 

Just be there 
When I finally make it home 
And I stand before the throne 
Just be there 
When I look around to see 
If you are standing next to me 

Just be there

You can listen to Karen Wheaton singing it here.   LISTEN