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.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Good Public Relations?

          Police have really been in the headlines recently.   A few have made some very bad decisions.  Others have been the victim of shootings and attacks by criminals.  Their job is a very dangerous job with many difficult, often life and death, decisions which must be made very quickly.  I admire and respect those who serve in these jobs to protect and help us.  It takes real dedication to put your life on the line each day.  And to them I say "thank you"!
          Now I don't know what type of training they actually receive but hopefully there are lessons in how to react properly with the public.   Maybe it would help if the public would have a chance to rate their contacts with the police, much like hospitals and doctors often do.  This feedback might help improve public relations. 
         I've only ever received one ticket for my driving. Many years ago I turned left at 5:55 pm at an intersection that I had used for many years.  There were no cars approaching in any direction at that time.  But what I missed was a very small sign which said no left turns allowed between 4 and 6 pm. Unfortunately I was 5 minutes too early. However, an officer didn't miss what I did and I was quickly pulled over.  The young officer reminded me of some of the obnoxious students that I had taught over the years.  He quickly told me that I had better learn how to read.  I admitted that I was wrong but he continued to read the riot act to me.  Thankfully he didn't cuff me but he did berate me and then gave me a ticket costing over $150.  I was wrong and was thoroughly humiliated by the way I was treated as a "first-time criminal". Could this stop have been handled betterm maybe even with a little respect?   I certainly think so.
          On Sunday our granddaughter said that she would meet us at Wendy's for lunch after church since her family was away.  We always appreciate having her join us and we looked forward to it.  She left church a few minutes before us since we stopped to talk to someone.
          As we traveled down Columbia Ave. we saw flashing lights and realized that some poor driver had been pulled over by a policeman.  I said to my wife that I certainly hoped that it wasn't our granddaughter.  But as we passed, my heart sank as I realized that it was her. I felt so bad for her. We pulled off the road several hundred yards down the road and waited for her.  I couldn't imagine what she could have done.  She is a safe driver and there really wasn't even a long enough stretch of road for her to have been speeding.  We sat there for a long time - maybe 15 minutes or more - until she was "released".  I couldn't understand why this took so long.
          We then followed her to Wendys and were so relieved to find out that she was stopped because her one brake light was out, not because she had done something wrong or broken a law.  Such things can happen to all of us and she calmly handled the situation very well.
          But as we talked I was very disappointed to learn how she was actually treated.  When the policeman checked her license he questioned if that was really her.  He wanted her to show additional ID.  She then showed him her Lebanon Valley College ID.  She reminded him that the picture on her license was three years old.  Her teeth had been fixed, her hair style changed, and she had lost considerable weight.   But the officer wasn't satisfied with her explanations and wanted to be sure it was really her.  He had to go back to his car and computer and check out her background. That's what took so long.  Finally, convinced that she wasn't a criminal or terrorist, he told her that he would let her go this time with only a warning.  I would have thought that a warning was normal procedure for a faulty brake light and not really a favor on his part.

           Now I guess that I understand that police must be thorough, especially in this day and age.  But I can't help but wonder what he really thought she was - maybe a Christian terrorist?  She was in a Subaru Outback - not your normal criminal car.   She had her Bible on the passenger seat - maybe that was a diversion.   And she was dressed in her Sunday best - much nicer than most troubled girls would be wearing at noon on a Sunday.  A profiler's delight.  Could this whole situation have been handled differently, maybe with a little respect?  I think so.
          Now once again I remind you, I support our police force and would never want their job.  But sometimes some common sense and respect in dealing with "we criminals" would go a long way.
          But we have both learned our lessons. We are both quick learners. I will never ever again turn left at that intersection between 4 and 6 pm.  And she has gotten her brake light fixed.  Cases closed.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A "Golden" Crop

        I certainly am not a farmer.  My mother-in-law who grew up on a farm warned my wife not to marry a farmer.  And she listened.  I would not even call myself a gardener although I've tried it and having a vegetable garden has in some way been a part of most of my life.
          As long as I can remember, my Pappy Wise had a large garden in the back of his house in Sunbury.  Coming through the depression and the scarcity of food during World War II, and with a large family, this was a necessity for them.  And Mammy Wise spent many hours canning vegetables.
         My parents also had gardens whenever they were able to.  In New Cumberland one of my dad's coaching friends let them use a plot of ground on his property.  But, as I recall, it was many blocks from our house and I don't know how dad cared for it since we didn't have a car in those days.  When we moved to Lancaster and dad worked for RCA, he had a plot of ground there where they had a garden.  I can recall often going there to help take care if it.
         After our move to Lititz, dad spent several years cleaning out the many stones in the back of our property and preparing the soil for a garden.  He eventually had a very nice garden there and mother also canned and later froze many vegetables.  When we bought our house in Millersville we had loads of room to garden and mother and dad would plant another garden there, especially for corn.
           Our first home in Silver Springs had a place for a small garden and we began our gardening experiences there.  When we then moved to Millersville we had a much smaller area but we did grow a few things such as tomatoes.  Then we moved to our present location which included loads of room to "farm" and when we were younger we did have a very large garden.  We tried to grow almost everything and it was fun, but almost too much work for us.  And while the boys helped us weed, they really didn't enjoy it. 
          So over the years our garden decreased in size and eventually about all we planted were things like lettuce, spring onions, beets, carrots, beans, and tomato plants.  I love fresh tomatoes, especially on sandwiches with onions, lettuce and sometimes cheese.  Then the land behind us was sold and developed with homes.  Our garden area disappeared.  But I didn't give up.  I found a spot in the backyard which I could dig up and plant 6 to 8 tomato plants each year.  But the ground wasn't good and there wasn't much sun and our crops were generally very small.
          This year I realized that I could no longer physically dig up that area once again so I considered finally giving up completely. But I really wanted to still have some tomato plants. Then I saw an advertisement for boxes that you could purchase which would keep your plants watered and fertilized with just a little bit of effort on the grower's part. No digging required. That seemed almost too good to be true, so I fell for it.
          First I had to buy the boxes - three of them.  Then I found out that I needed to buy potting soil - the regular dirt which I had would not work.  Then I had to buy the tomato plants.  I actually bought four.  While doing the planting and prep work I tore and ruined a new pair of pants which I stupidly was wearing for the first time.  They were ruined before I even paid for them.  Then as the plants grew I found out that my wire containers wouldn't be sufficient so I had to purchase equipment to stake up the plants.  My first tomato showed blossom rot so I had to purchase some sprays for that.
          Now I don't know how many tomatoes I will finally get, but my estimate is that each one could cost me about $4.00 or more!   Suddenly I find myself asking how many tomatoes could I buy at one of the local stands for $4.00.  And I know the answer is many more than one.  So if you'd like to try a real expensive "golden" red tomato, stop by sometime later in the summer and help us enjoy the expensive results of my modern gardening experience. Hopefully I will at least have some to eat and share. 
          This approach to raising some tomatoes really does not now appear to be a great investment.  But hopefully it does give me another interesting memory and something more to blog about.  Notice I didn't say "brag" about, I said "blog" about!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Try To Schedule

          We who live in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, are blessed with excellent health facilities and doctors.  And we also are not too far away from outstanding medical facilities at Hershey, Philadelphia and John Hopkins in Baltimore.  They say that many areas of the country are suffering from a growing shortage of family doctors and specialists.  But is that beginning to affect us here as well?  And are new regulations also making it more difficult to get available service here?  Well, consider the following.
         In January I needed to see a neurosurgeon.  Just ten months earlier I had surgery done by an excellent local surgeon.  But even though I had just been his patient, I was told that since my problem was with a different part of my spine, I couldn't be seen by him for four months.  And I guess I was fortunate to even get an appointment at all.
          Following up on a call from my eye doctor telling me that I was overdue for my annual diabetic eye exam, I called back to set up the appointment.  Wait time for an appointment?  Two months.
          Several days ago my wife called to get a refill on a blood pressure medicine.  We were surprised when the doctor's office called back and said that she was required now to have a six-month med checkup before they could authorize more refills.  When she replied that she had been to see her family doctor just a week earlier, she was told that this visit didn't count because it was for a different problem.  They could give her the newly required  med appointment in three weeks.
          My wife had also been told that on June 1 she was to call and schedule a dexa scan.  On June 1 she made the call and the first appointment she could be given was the middle of July.  The same day she also followed up on a message from her pacemaker doctor that in June she was to call to set up an August appointment.  When she followed through, also on June 1, she was told that the doctor had no available appointments left for August and that she should call back the end of the month to see if she could get one for September.
          Next on the list that day was a follow-up to a message that in June she was to call to set up her annual colonoscopy for August.  When she called she was told that because she would be 75, she had to first have an appointment with her doctor.  Even though she had just seen him two months previously when her told her to set it up in June, they now said that she had to meet with him again before it could be scheduled.  An appointment was made for August.  And, they couldn't yet give her a date for her 12th annual test. (Note - since this blog was written she now has a date - the end of September.)
          Now in all fairness, we are generally able to get an appointment the same day that we call at our family medical practice, if we make it sound like we really need to be seen that day.  But it won't always be with our doctor.  But if we don't need to be seen that day, it could be two or three weeks until our family doctor has an "available slot".
          And, with today's modern technology and portals, we are finding that doctors who we see regularly have become more willing to respond to messages which we leave for them on their portal.   This is a great new feature, but I assume the time is coming soon when there will be a charge for this convenient service.
          But what "blows my mind" is the fact that if there really is a growing shortage of physicians, which will get worse since so many are reaching retirement age, how can health organizations such as Lancaster General Health keep merging, expanding and opening up new offices.  Obviously there is much money to be made in this business, but will these new facilities be able to be staffed properly in the future?  Will our access to needed medical care really be improved?  Let's hope so ... but I guess time will tell.
          In the meantime, don't delay in making necessary appointments.  If you want to see the best doctors, the process could be frustrating.  Of course, then they could also treat you for anxiety.


Friday, June 12, 2015

A Very Special Day

          Today is a very special day in my life.  It is an anniversary of mine that almost nobody even knows about.  It is a special day that is never celebrated, even though it was a day that changed my life. And I don't expect any cards or parties or even congratulations.  But today is my 70th birthday.
         Now those of you who know me say that this just isn't so. Have you really lost it? Your birthday is April 6, not June 12.  And we didn't see it listed in the church bulletin or even projected on the screen at church.  And I am sure that you are older than 70 - at least you look like you are.  And you are right.
         For you see, today is my 70th spiritual birthday.  It was June 12, 1945 that I accepted the Lord as my Savior.  It was my Aunt Ellen who prayed with me when I made that decision in what was then the church parsonage in Sunbury.  I don't know too much about all that happened, but I knew I was a sinner and that Jesus had died to forgive my sins.  And I knew that I wanted to go to heaven.  That all was very clear to me at that time.
          Now I will admit, that I knew very, very little about doctrine ...  redemption, justification, grace, mercy, election, free will, crowns, Holy Spirit were not part of my vocabulary then and I certainly couldn't have even begun to explain them then ... and maybe I still don't fully comprehend them.  But, even as a child, I knew and understood the basics of the Gospel and what Jesus had done for me.  I didn't know it then, but the Holy Spirit had prepared my heart and in childlike faith I believed and responded and I was saved for eternity.
          And I guess the power of that experience has made me really believe that children can become part of the family of God.  And while there is always the danger that we press a child into making a decision before he understands it or having a child respond to us because he likes us, I believe that the Holy Spirit can prepare the hearts of children as He did in my life.  Research has shown that 85% of Christians accepted Christ between 4 and 14 years of age.  What a major mission field.
           Now over the years I grew in the Lord and learned more about Him and His Word.  And I am still learning today.  Thankfully the Lord put many strong believers and examples in my life over the years - my parents, my grandparents, my uncles and aunts, caring pastors and missionaries and a number of close friends.  I am so thankful for my legacy both before and since my birth.  God has been so good and faithful to me.  Great is His faithfulness.
          And the Lord provided me opportunities to serve and grow with my "drug" problem.  You see I was "drug" to church from the day I was born.  Whenever the church had a service, we were there, day and night.  We entertained missionaries in our home.  We ran CEF classes in our home.  I worked at our church camp, Mizpah Grove, several summers while in junior and senior high school.  As a high school student I taught Sunday School and even led the church choir.  And since then the Lord has multiplied opportunities to serve Him ... a family ministry for 25 years, Sunday School teacher and superintendent, church elder for 30 + years, on boards of several Christian organizations, financial secretary for 15 years, Awana for 33 years, Pinebrook for 40+ years, etc.  
          It has been a blessing to have walked with the Lord for 70 years.  I don't know how many more years I will have, but there is no retirement in Christian service, just new and different opportunities.  And my desire is to keep walking with Him daily as long as my life here shall last and then to spend eternity serving and worshipping Him in Heaven.  God has been so good!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Wisconsin Challenges

        In my last blog I shared some details about our recent trip to Wisconsin.  As I said, it was a great trip that we really enjoyed.  However, it wasn't without its challenges.  You've heard the good, now let me share the "not so good".
          Our first challenge came on our arrival in Milwaukee.  I had made arrangements weeks previously to rent a car from Enterprise.  Now I had never dealt with them before but they had the best rates and they offered Toyotas which is what we drive.  Well their rates must have been great because I think half the people on our flight were lined up at Enterprise for a rental.  Hardly anyone was at the other rental booths.
         So after a very long wait we got signed in and I asked if the Corolla which I had requested was available.  The agent didn't know but said he was certain that they could fix me up with a Toyota that would satisfy me.  Then I was told to go to their garage where I would be met by another agent who would find us up a car.  So we waited in another line.  Dianne asked me what we were getting and at that point I was frustrated and said "maybe a horse".  Well when our turn finally came I was told that they only had two cars left in our class - not my Corolla - and I didn't like either of the two.  He said they did have one Camry but that it would cost us more.  When we went to look at it the agent found that somebody else had just rented it.
           Then he offered us a Rav4 at the same price as the Camry.  Since that is what we drive at home, I agreed.  It was an ugly burnt orange and did not include any of the nice features that we have on our Rav4.  But you could easily spot it in a parking lot.  So we took it - at least it was better than a horse.
           Several hours later, while booking along at 70 mph, a truck in front of us threw a stone that put a crack in our windshield right at my face level.  We just thank the Lord that it did not actually pass through the windshield or it would have hit me in the face.  The truck did not stop but we were able to gather license numbers and the address from his truck.  However, we later found out that by Wisconsin state law the driver could not be held responsible.  Since the stone did not actually pierce the windshield we drove on to Rhinelander.
          There we had it checked out by a glass company and by Enterprise.  They both said it was safe to drive so we continued our trip with it.  We did contact our insurance company.  Thankfully, for some reason, the Lord had led me to take my insurance card along this time - I've never done that before on a trip.  But He knew that I would need it.  As it turns out, we have $50 deductible on our comprehensive, so that is all it will cost us - unless our insurance is raised.
          The next challenges came at our hotel, the COMFORT INN in Rhinelander.  One afternoon while we were trying to take a nap somebody with a child checked in above us.  The child must have thought it was a gymnasium.  For about 30 minutes he ran and jumped so much that our room shook and the pictures and hangers in the closet rattled.  I finally went to the main desk and reported it.  They said they would take care of it - 30 minutes later it finally stopped ... that is until 6 am the day that we were to check-out.  In the meantime, folks with small children checked in next to us and their kids enjoyed running between rooms and yelling and laughing.  The father warned them to be quiet or they might get kicked out of the motel.  They didn't listen and they didn't get kicked out.  Except for us and these folks with kids, the motel was practically empty and they could have easily been placed away from us where they wouldn't bother us.  But they weren't and yes, they bothered us.
          But the big problem came the night before we left.  I had warned Dianne that the shower was slippery and not very safe.  It only had one handrail - outside the shower area.  There were no towel racks except for a very small one near the front to hand a wash rag.  The wall was plastic and built out so there wasn't any ledge around the tub making the shower area more narrow than usual. And the shower head was so high that you had to stand on your tip toes to try and adjust it.  And, it was slippery.
          Unfortunately, while taking her shower, Dianne slipped.  Since there was nothing to grab hold of, she fell out of the shower and over the toilet.  Thank the Lord she did not hit her head and did not break anything.  But she was in terrible pain.  We did not report it or go to the hospital that night since we were leaving a few hours later.  But each day huge black and blue marks began to appear - actually they are almost black.  And she aches - the trip back home was not very comfortable.  She has been checked out by her family doctor who doesn't believe anything is broken, just very badly bruised.
          A few days later we received a survey form from Quality Inn and I told them exactly what I thought.  Placing kids above and next to us was a very inconsiderate choice.  And their shower/bath combination was a safety hazard and not safe.  Unfortunately, I chose not to complete the part that would have gone on their internet ratings for others to read.  I wanted to be kind to them hoping that they would appreciate that.  I realize now that was a mistake on my part. 
          The first reply from them was a generic thank you for calling this to their attention - no we're sorry or how are you.  That upset me so I replied and outlined everything once again.  Their reply to that was that it was our fault and if we had reported it to them, they might have been able to help us out. How ????  They said they had passed safety inspections so the accident must have been our fault.  I replied that maybe they and their safety inspectors should actually take a shower there and that all the handrails which they say were there aren't.   I am so disappointed that they couldn't even show any compassion or concern about Dianne's physical situation.  I know that it will be the last time that I stay at the Rhinelander Quality Inn.
           And I won't bother telling you all about the hour of driving rain that we had to drive through to get to the airport or the major accident that tied up all three lanes outside of Milwaukee or the nearly five hours we had to spend in the airport until they could replace our plane.  These are now just memories.  Thank the Lord that we arrived home safely and had a wonderful time.  We know that soon Dianne will be back to normal and her body will return to its normal color.  God is good - all the time - even when there are unexpected challenges to face.  What a comfort to know that He knows all about them, even before they happen.
         And we still love Wisconsin.