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, March 26, 2015

The Long Nights

          Have you ever gone sleepless through the night caring for a sick child or sick spouse?  You just can't sleep.  You wait to hear them moan, or whimper, or even move.  And you pray.  You might sit with them while their body is racked with fever.  You pray and pray some more.   And you think that the morning will never come.  And for some reason those night hours just pass so slowly. And you pray. You just long for the daylight and any signs of improvement.
          Many were the nights that this was our experience with our boys when they were growing up.  Before they even went to school they would suddenly break out with high fevers.  And you felt so helpless and alone, especially at night.
          But those experiences happen as well when a spouse becomes ill.  And recently I have had a number of those nights once again.  And it is scary and stressful.  However, unlike when our kids were small, we now have Christian radio and sometimes that is a help during those times.  I've heard all the programs recently.
          Now I know that the Lord is with me in those times. I know He has promised to never leave me or forsake me.  And He never has. At times I have wished that He were there with me physically during those hours. And I know that I am to cast all my cares upon Him.  I know that He is the great Physician and nothing is too hard for Him.  And yet, even knowing all of this, I must admit that at times I wonder if He does hear me.  But He does.  And I wonder why He doesn't answer my urgent prayers quickly.  But, in His time, He does.  I know He promises peace and that He never gives us more than we can bear.  But at times like this, sometimes I admit that I have trouble experiencing that head knowledge.  And I must remember to look back and remember how He has taken care of me in those similar situations in the past.  And eventually the morning does come.
           Am I alone with these feelings in such times?  I think not.  Even David experienced these feelings in difficult situations and you can see that in his Psalms.  Often He wondered if the Lord has abandoned Him.  He wondered why God appeared to allow His enemies to prosper and not be punished.  But He always returned to the truth that God had not left Him and that God had a plan for Him.  And so, if you, like me, do have those feelings at times, realize that even a man like David had the same experiences.  But despite our feelings, God is faithful.  He is always there.  And He knows all of our ways - in the night as well as in the day.
           We never know what a day may bring.  And I love the way that Brian Doerksen expressed these feelings for me in his song, "Your Faithfulness".

I don't know what this day will bring
Will it be disappointing, filled with longed for things?
I don't know what tomorrow holds
Still I know I can trust Your faithfulness

I don't know if these clouds mean rain
If they do, will they pour down blessing or pain?
I don't know what the future holds
Still I know I can trust Your faithfulness

Certain as the rivers reach the sea
Certain as the sunrise in the east
I can rest in your faithfulness
Surer than a mother's tender love
Surer than the stars still shine above
I can rest in your faithfulness

I don't know how or when I'll die
Will it be a thief, or will I have a chance to say goodbye?
No, I don't know how much time is left
But in the end, I will know your faithfulness

When darkness overwhelms my soul
When thoughts and storms of doubt
Still I trust You are always faithful, always faithful

Certain as the rivers reach the sea
Certain as the sunrise in the east
I can rest in your faithfulness
Surer than a mother's tender love
Surer than the stars still shine above
I can rest in your faithfulness

I don't know what this day will bring
Will it be disappointing, filled with longed for things?
I don't know what tomorrow holds
Still I know I can trust Your faithfulness

I'm sure that I will face more sleepless nights, but I will be reminded of His faithfulness and that morning does come.  My prayer is that I will experience His presence and faithfulness during those times and that you will too.

In case you aren't familiar with this hymn you can listen to it here.  LISTEN

If you don't know why it was written, you can hear Brian explain that here.  TESTIMONY

Friday, March 20, 2015

Three Years

        Medical insurance and coverage is a major topic right now.  Obama Care has created many changes and requirements for individuals and doctors alike.  Costs have risen, rather than dropped as promised.  Folks are now being fined for not having insurance.  Some politicians are trying to get rid of it.  It is a mess.
          Doctors are now required to invest in complex computer systems and must enter all the data into expensive software during each patient contact.  Our physical therapists now carry their computers with them and add notes after each exercise.  While this might be a good thing, it sure does take up much of the time that they would spend talking to patients in the past.  It would also make some sense if all the doctors were tied into the same portal.  But they aren't, so sharing data isn't happening. I presently have four different portals that I must consult to get my information and this information isn't shared with doctors not in the same system.  For example, our family doctor's portal does not  even indicate that Dianne now has a pacemaker or the results of her recent blood tests.  These are in a different portal with a different doctor.
         And medicare rules have changed as well.  Now at every visit the doctors and nurses have a series of questions that they must ask medicare patients.  Your answers must also be typed into their computer.  Oh yes, one more interesting requirement.  If at least 20% of medicare patients don't send a computer update to the doctor after a visit, the doctor or his group are penalized financially.
          So what happens as the government takes control of medical practices?  Probably more regulations, greater expense and more chance of governmental errors, waste and incompetence. On the other hand, I have been on medicare now for a number of years and actually have had little trouble and many good experiences.   That is, except for one situation.
          Back in 2011 my gastroenterologist recommended that I have a dexascan done because research was showing that one of the side effects of a med I was taking was bone loss.  My family doctor agreed and I had the test.  Fortunately the results were fine.  Ironically, Dianne had the same test about the same time just because, as a woman, there was a chance of bone loss.
         Then a few weeks later we received notice from medicare that her scan was covered but mine wasn't.  I owed $280.  My doctor was surprised by this notice and resent the information with a personal letter of explanation.  Again it was rejected without any reason.  So the doctor changed the diagnosis code and sent it in a third time.  Again it was rejected, just saying that I wasn't eligible.  Gender discrimination?  I can't help but wonder.
         So I sent in the $280 and also decided to begin the appeal process.  I gathered all the information and data required for an appeal.  I went to the medicare website to find where it was to be sent.  And in February of 2012 I submitted the appeal. I was within the required time limit to submit an appeal and felt that I had a good case.  Months went by without any reply.  And as time went by I just assumed that my appeal was rejected and I finally just gave up and reluctantly accepted the fact that I had reached the end of the road with this issue.
          Then in February of 2015 - three years later - I receive a letter from medicare informing me that my appeal was sent to the wrong medicare address and that they couldn't process it.  They returned my appeal data which they even stamped, "received February 2012".  So where was my appeal for three years?  Why wasn't  it returned to me promptly when I was still within the time limits?  Why wasn't it forwarded for me to the right building?  Why?  Why?  The only answer I can give is ... incompetence.
           Now I have written to the correct address and resubmitted my appeal with a cover letter stating what had happened.  I have again heard nothing and I don't expect that I ever will get an answer.  If my letter is even ever read, I assume that they will just say that I've missed the deadline and there is nothing they can or will do about it.  And what more can one expect from our dysfunctional government.
          So I guess I am convinced that if Obama Care doesn't ruin our health system, then incompetent government workers will.
          UPDATE - First, a few days ago I received another letter from Medicare telling me that my appeal has now been sent to another agency, even though I had sent my second attempt to the one Medicare lists on their current appeal process.  In addition, I sent copies of my recent appeal letter to Senator Toomey and Representative Pitts.  I have heard back from Toomy's office and they are following my appeal.  Pitts office has done nothing.  Stay tuned - who knows what will happen next, if anything.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Flying High

          Each morning when I get up one of the first things I see is the plaque in my bathroom that displays  Isaiah 40:31,  "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."  The plaque was one that we gave to my parents many years ago.  The verse has often been an inspiration and an encouragement to me.
         Now I've never been real interested in eagles until just recently.  I knew that the bald eagle has been part of our national emblem since 1782.  I knew that eagles were big powerful and beautiful birds, but I didn't know much more.  Then we found the Berry College eagle cam and we have watched daily, with growing interest, the eagle nest at Berry College.
          When we first began to watch we saw the nest and "mother to be" eagle.  Then we watched as she produced two eggs on January 6 and 9.  About a month later we saw the eggs hatch on February 10 and 15.  Since then we've watched the parents care for their two children.  Daily we see them bring food - squirrels, birds and maybe fish - to the nest to feed them.  It has been interesting to watch the babies grow and even fight.  One is definitely more aggressive than the other.  And mom and dad faithfully feed and protect them, even when snow covered their nest.  And the babies are growing quickly.  It is fascinating to see the parents take turns caring for them and watching them soar off of their nest to go hunting or watch for predators.
          I've learned that it takes four to five years for an eagle to reach full maturity.  They will grow to 35 to 37 inches and weigh 10 to 14 pounds.  Their wingspan will be 72 to 90 inches and they will fly at heights up to 10,000 feet at speeds of 30 to 35 mph.  And they will live about 30 years being faithful to the same mate. Incredibly their nests will be about five feet wide at first but over the years will often be expanded up to about nine feet.  Nests can weigh up to two tons.  A female will lay one to three eggs each year and they will hatch in about 35 days.  The babies grow quickly and can be as large as their parents after six weeks.
          The part that I am waiting to see is their learning to fly.  This comes ten to thirteen weeks after hatching.  That would be about the end of April for the 2015 Berry Eagles.  But sadly 40% of the babies do not survive their flight lessons.
         Now as I've watch the eagles, I've been struck once again with the wonder of God's creation.  Not only did he create these beautiful birds, but he gave them the instincts to survive, to reproduce and to care for their offspring.  It is amazing and humbling.  And I can't help but think that many parents and spouses could learn some practical lessons from the eagles in terms of caring, providing, working together and faithfulness.
          How can one believe that all of this just happened by chance or that it is the result of evolution.  Watching the eagles must make you know that there has to be a Creator.
Now if you want to join the eagle watch, you can watch the young ones grow at  BERRY CAM or you can wait to see the eggs hatch at the HANOVER CAM.  But let me warn you, once you visit you will get hooked!
          In the meantime may we soar like the eagles as we trust the Lord daily to renew our strength.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

My Carelessness

          I guess we all do some dumb, careless things at times.  I know I have often been guilty of this.  One of those events happened to me a few days ago. Should I be upset at myself and what the carelessness cost me or should I be thanking the Lord for bailing me out once again?  The scripture does tell us to give thanks for all things.  So I guess I need to be thankful.
          We were getting ready to go to breakfast with some friends.  I had just flushed the toilet and picked up my electric razor when the head of the razor suddenly flipped off and flew ... right into the toilet.  Since I had just flushed the toilet, the head of the razor quickly disappeared before I could attempt to grab it.  I tried unsuccessfully to find it, but it was gone.  It was about 3 inches wide and I hoped that it might just pass through the four inch sewer line without causing a problem, but I wasn't sure  When I realized I could not retrieve it I tried a few flushes to see if it had caused a blockage.  I thought the flushes were a little slower than normal, but the flushes seemed to still be working.
         We went to breakfast and then off to a two hour session of physical therapy.  When we returned home I tried to flush once again.  And guess what?  It was blocked and draining very slowly.  I checked our drain in the basement to see if it was backing up there and PTL it wasn't.   Needless to say, I was very concerned.  I've cleared blockages before, but not when a piece of metal was causing the problem. I was concerned and perplexed. After doing some worrying, I decided to do what I should have done first ... pray.
          I couldn't help but remember an incident that happened to us a number of years ago when they built the street next to us.  They had to relocate part of our sewer line which had been placed deep in rock in order to drain our basement.  Suddenly we found sewage backing up in our basement.  I called the contractor and even though they were done for the weekend he had a man come and bring a backhoe.  They dug up the line expecting to find that the new line had broken somewhere.  But instead they found that somebody had dropped an empty soda can down the sewer vent.  This was removed and our problem was fixed.  It didn't cost us anything because it was part of the construction.  But if we had had to pay for this it would have been a major expense.  This certainly was in my mind as I contemplated what might happen this time.
         Getting back to my new problem, I finally decided to make a call to a company which deals in blockages.  They told me it would cost $175 to come and that would include up to an hour of service.  Then it would be $35 for every additional 15 minutes.  They also said that they could arrive sometime between 1 and 3 pm.  I said please come.
         The man who came thought the blockage could be somewhere in the toilet because he felt the piece should eventually pass safely through the four inch sewer pipe.  So he used a tool to try to move it or break it up.  After about 15 minutes of "drilling" he felt that it was finally opened.  Time will tell if he is right.  So far, so good.
         But I still had about 30 minutes left in my one hour charge so I put him to work.  In the basement we had a very slow drain that often backed up when there was a heavy flow.  I had thought once about having this company in to try to clear it, but  had decided that I could live with it a little longer because of the cost.  So he worked on that and cleaned it out.  PTL, it now seems to be working properly once again.
          Now what was the total time?   Believe it or not, exactly one hour.   My bill?  $175.  So not only did I get full hour of work for my money, but I actually had two problems solved.  He told me that if I had not had him do both, I would probably have had to pay $350 for two 30 minute service calls.  PTL!
         Of course that wasn't my final bill for this even.  I also needed a new electric razor.  But I had received a special 20% off coupon for CVS that worked perfectly for a new razor.  Final total bill for the day and my carelessness?  $225.   It could have been much worse, especially for an unplanned careless error.
         I admit that because I am not skilled in doing home repairs, I can quickly panic and get upset when something goes wrong.  I wish that I were more handy and more daring.  But, PTL, I have a heavenly Father who provides guidance and wisdom when needed.  And I think I need more of that to survive than many people need.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Winter Comes Quickly

          A friend recently sent me a copy of a blog,"And Then It Is Winter", that I thought was so good that I would share it in my blog.  I wanted to give proper credit to the author so I searched the web to find the author's name.  What I found were numerous versions of this from all sorts of people.  So I really don't know who to give credit to and I apologize for that.  For those of us who are getting older, this should hit home.   Enjoy:

           You know, time has a way of moving quickly and catching you unaware of the passing years.
           It seems just yesterday that I was young, just married and embarking on my new life with my mate.  Yet in a way, it seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all the years went.  I know that I lived them all.  I have glimpses of how it was back then and of all my hopes and dreams.
          But, here it is - the ' back nine' of my life and it catches me by surprise.  How did I get here so fast?  Where did the years go and where did my youth go?  I remember vividly seeing older people through the years and thinking that those older people were years away from me and that 'I was only on the first hole' and the 'back nine' was so far off that I could not fathom it or imagine fully what it would be like.
           But, here it is  ... my friends are retired and getting gray.  They move slower and I see an older person now.  Some are in better and some worse shape than me, but I see the great change.
          Not like the ones that I remember who were young and vibrant ... but like me, their age is beginning to show and we are now those older folks that we used to see and never thought we'd become.  Each day now, I find that just getting a shower is a real target for the day!
          And taking a nap is not a treat anymore  ... it's mandatory!  Cause if I don't on my own free will, I just fall asleep where I sit!
          And so, now I enter into this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability to go and do things that I wish I had done but never did!
          But, at least I know, that though I'm on the ' back nine' and I'm not sure how long it will last, this I know for sure, that when it's over on this earth ...  it's over.  A new adventure will begin!
         Yes, I have regrets.  There are things I wish I hadn't done ... things I should have done, but indeed, there are many things I'm happy to have done.  It's all in a lifetime.
           So, if you're not on the ' back nine' yet ... let me remind you, that it will be here faster than you think.  So, whatever you would like to accomplish in your life please do it quickly!  Don't put things off too long!  Life goes by quickly.  So, do what you can today, as you can never be sure whether you're on the 'back nine' or not!  You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your life ... so, live for today and say all the things that you want your loved ones to remember, and hope that they appreciate and love you for all the things that you have done for them in all the years past!
         "Life" is a gift to you.  The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after.  Make it a fantastic one.  Live It well!   Enjoy today!  Do something fun!   Be Happy!   Have a great day!  Remember, "It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver."
          Finally, consider the following:

~ Your kids are becoming you ... but your grandchildren are perfect.

~ Going out is good  ... Coming home is better!

~ You forget names ... But it's OK because other people forgot they even knew you!

~ The things you used to care to do, you no longer care to do, but you really do care that you don't care to do them anymore!
~ You sleep better on a lounge chair with the TV blaring than in bed.  It's called "pre-sleep".
~ You miss the days when everything worked with just an "ON" and "OFF" switch.
~ You tend to use more 4 letter words ... "what?" ... "when?"..." ???
~ What used to be freckles are now liver spots.
~ Everybody whispers.
~ You have 3 sizes of clothes in your closet ...2 of which you will never wear.
~ But Old is good in some things ... Old Songs, Old Movies, and best of all, OLD FRIENDS.


          And let me add the following to this author's blog.  If you know the Lord you know that your real home is getting closer.  Soon we will exchange this increasingly challenging life for the perfect home being prepared for us in our eternal location, heaven. No more aches and pains or tears or canes or hearing aids or walkers. And that is the fact that allows us to face each new day and each new challenge with hope.