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.

Friday, November 27, 2015

In Everything ...

          I try not to be a complainer.  God has been so good to me and I have so much to thank Him for, so why would I complain?  But, if I am honest, during the past ten months I have found myself more than once complaining about people and things.  And I have probably at times been short with folks.  It's not a good excuse, but I have been in pain and not feeling well since the first week in January. Because of this I've not wanted to be with people or talk to them. I've tried to hide it and not draw attention to myself, but at times I guess my problems still have affected my reactions to things. And it shouldn't be that way because there are so many others with worse problems than I have been dealing with.  And I sincerely apologize if I have shown a negative spirit in any manner to you during this time.
         However, the Lord has been reminding me in so many ways that I need to be more thankful, more positive, more friendly, and more considerate.  And He is right.  Numerous times I have thought of the many scriptures that tell us to always be thankful, in the good times and in the bad.  And I have also been reminded of this lately through the song "Count Your Many Blessings" where the writer encourages us to see what God has done and actually try and count our blessings one by one.
          I have recently been trying to do this.  It is really easy to think of the big and important things for which I am thankful - the Lord Himself, salvation, the Bible, and my church.  And of course high on the list is my wife, my children and their spouses, my grandchildren, our home and my very special heritage of relatives who have loved and served the Lord.  And a list of the large things would certainly include my country and the freedoms which we have enjoyed here over the years.
          But recently I have been thinking of the many, many "small" or every day things which are so meaningful and enrich our lives today - things we often take for granted.   Such as ... central air conditioning that works ... fresh vegetables like corn and tomatoes ... beautiful mums ... spectacular colors of the leaves in the fall ... the exciting green of Spring ...  fresh, clean water to drink ... indoor plumbing ... hot showers ... refrigerators and freezers ...  beautiful lakes ... clean grocery stores ... good doctors and specialists ... Christmas ... eggs and home fries ... caring nurses ... soaring eagles ... a sump pump that works when needed ... turkey and filling ... safety on the highway ... a good church ...rainbows ... lawn mowers and snow blowers that work ... parades ... sun flowers ... apples and peaches ... Christian radio stations ... freshly fallen snow ... computers ... shoes and sneakers ... books to read ... football ... Chick fil A ... a good mattress ... full moons ... Pinebrook ... the ocean waves ... good hymns ... roses ... warm fires in fireplaces on cold nights ... eye glasses and hearing aids ... iced tea and meadow tea ... pianos and talented pianists ... our Rav4 ... reunions ... swimming pools ... freezers ... Thanksgiving ... polite children ... comfortable recliners ... good friends ... peanut butter ... cardinals ... jigsaw puzzles ... the beautiful farms of Lancaster County ... apricots ... beautiful mountains ... crisp, clear mornings ... sunrises and sunsets
          And my list could go on and on and on.  How about yours?  As they say,"take some time to smell the roses" and develop a thankful spirit.  What amazing things God has done and provided for us.

When upon life's billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings, see what God has done.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey's end.
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings, see what God has done.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

To Facebook?

          To facebook or not to facebook?  That is the question.  Or maybe I should revise that and ask "to continue to facebook or to quit facebook", that is really the question for me.
         I have been on Facebook for at least two years, and maybe more.  There are times that I enjoy it and there are times I almost despise it.  I've come close to pulling the plug several times but have not yet done so because there are pros as well as cons.
          Here are some reasons that I still like Facebook.  (1)  Facebook does give me the opportunity to keep up with family, friends and former students who live outside of the area and that is often interesting.  Unfortunately, many of my relatives aren't on facebook.
          (2)  Awana has many interesting posts, especially blogs and suggestions for parents and leaders.  These I try to share on fbfawana, a page that I operate for interested parents and leaders.  Much worthwhile information is shared in this way.  I also have a chance to learn what is happening with Awana in many foreign countries as well as in the United States.  This I would miss if I pulled the plug.
          (3)   Sometimes there are clever cartoons and even jokes which just brighten the day.  A few times there are funny real life experiences that happened to my friends.  A few good laughs are good for what ails you.
          Now while there are some positives, there are also things which bother me and turn me off.  (1)   Some of my friends are always sharing photos, stories and comments that they have received from all of their friends.  Not only do I not know many of these people, but I also am not interested in what they have to say.  And yet they fill my page and take up my time to sort through them.  That is really a waste of my time.
          (2)  Closely related to that are those that I know, as well as those who are friends of my friends, who share photos of their children and grandchildren ... not just one, but 10, 15, 20 at a time ... and not just once a month ... but in some cases almost daily.  I'm sorry, I could care less about them ... I have my own children and grandchildren ... and they are better looking and probably more talented than yours.  Get a life and brag elsewhere, not on my page.  Just show me one picture of important things - no more than once a month.  That's plenty.
         (3)   Then there are those who try to make a business by selling products through Facebook postings.  Now I admire your spirit and your desire to make money.  But I am not interested in your finger nails or beauty aids or health products or cookware or anything that you are selling.  If you want me to buy, then come to my home to make your pitch.  But don't be surprised if I don't open the door for you.  I can control that entrance while I can't control your entrance via Facebook.  I'm not interested, understand?
         (4)   I think that those who play games on Facebook or share recipes that you haven't even tried, need to find something more productive to do with your time.  And I don't need to see your scores or your pictures of things I couldn't eat anyway.  Try making them first and then if they are successful, share them along with you personal evaluation.
         (5)    I get tired of all those shares that one is to pass on if you love your sister, if you are proud of your grandchildren, if you love your cat or dog, if you feel sorry for a kid with cancer (I may feel sorry, but better to pray for the child - assuming there is such a real person) .... or even if you love almost anything.
          (6)   I also tire of all the comments that share how bad our elected leaders are and how our country is in such bad shape.  This is generally all true but what good does it do to vent about it on Facebook? Are they going to read your postings and change?  I don't think so. If you want to feel negative today just watch Fox news rather than read about it on Facebook.
          (7)   Talking about sharing negative thoughts,  I agree that there is merit in pointing out the negatives of evangelists, teachers and pastors.  The scriptures do warn us that we need to be discerning and that in the last times there will be those who deceive.  And we have plenty of that happening today. Many are being deceived. But there are some who do nothing but share this information, over and over, many times a day.  But, unfortunately, even if that is their calling, sometimes the number and tone of these messages makes you just move on and not even pay attention to them.  Now I commend these folks for their serious and needed mission, but don't overwhelm your readers if you want them to connect with your message.  And maybe a few positive thoughts would provide a needed balance.
           (8)   I do get fed up with all the ads that pop up on my page.  But I guess that is the way that Facebook survives.  I wish there was a way to block them like there is for spam.
         (9)   I really don't need to see pictures of everything my friends eat or drink.  What you want to fill up on is your choice and I really don't care - no matter how "pretty" it might look.
         (9)   And one final negative response - many of my "friends" never post anything or reply to anything.  I have 82 "friends" on facebook but only 36 of them have ever posted a message or responded to mine.  What good is a friend who never communicates with you.  If we are just in a race to see who can rack up the most friends, then count me out - you win!
           So what should I do?   I guess time will tell.   In the meantime I will probably continue to scan the postings and read a few while ignoring the rest.
          Oh yes, before I leave, one positive thought.  Thank the Lord for Facebook. Otherwise I'd have to call 82 people this morning to tell them I had cereal for breakfast.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Psalm 77

         During the recent days of my long recuperation from back surgery I came upon Psalm 77 during my Bible reading and it has been a real help to me  This passage caught my eye because the writer's experiences seemed to mirror some of mine during recent weeks.  Now I do realize that his problems were much more serious than mine.  He feared for his life since his enemies were looking to wipe him out.
           But here is what he said in the first four verses.  "I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me.  When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;  at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted.  I remembered you, God, and I groaned;  I meditated, and my spirit grew faint. You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak."
           Now I don't  think that there is a worse time than at night to be in fear or in pain.  You feel so alone and helpless and can't wait until sunrise.  I have often been there with sick and fevered children or with my sick spouse.  The night hours can be so long.   I have been there recently, not just because of my own post surgery pain, but because my wife has been dealing with the severe nerve pain from shingles.  She needs healing and relief.
          The Psalmist continued his lament when it seemed like God wasn't listening or answering his pleas.  In verses 7-9 he says, "Will the Lord reject forever?  Will he never show his favor again?  Has his unfailing love vanished forever?  Has his promise failed for all time?  Has God forgotten to be merciful?  Has he in anger withheld his compassion?"  
          Have you ever reached this point?  I admit that I have.  During these recent days and nights I have pleaded with the Lord to give my wife relief, especially since she has to care for my needs.  And yet it has seemed like He has been silent.  Why doesn't He answer quickly?  Is He really there?  Does He really care?  
          But then the Psalmist appears to remember God's miraculous dealings with him and his people.  In verses 10-14 he says, "Then I thought, to this I will appeal:  the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand. I will remember the deeds of the Lord;  yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.  I will consider all your works  and meditate on all your mighty deeds." Your ways, God, are holy.  What god is as great as our God?  You are the God who performs miracles;  you display your power among the peoples."  And then in the final five verses he relates many of the amazing ways that God had worked in the past.  And it appears that this trip down memory lane renews his faith and trust in God to take care of the things in his troubled life.
          And, like the Psalmist, I have gone back in my memory and recounted the amazing ways that God has answered my prayers and intervened in my life over many decades.  As He has promised, He has never left me alone.  He has always worked things out for His good.  He has never left me hopeless, and I know that He will never do so.
          Now I don't know how or when He will answer my specific prayers, but I know that He will.  I need the patience to wait for His timing, the strength to meet today's challenges and the faith to know that my days and hours (even the night hours) are in His hands.

Monday, November 9, 2015


          Frustration!   Yes, I am frustrated dealing with several companies and their customer service representatives.  Why can't companies hire folks who tell the truth or actually solve problems?  
          My first recent problem came with one of my most disliked monopolies - Comcast, now known as Xfinity.  Every Fall I order their sports package so that I can see all the football games that are televised.  I especially enjoy the NFL Redzone channel where I can watch all the exciting action and scores of all the NFL games as they are happening.  Well, on a Sunday afternoon I was watching this action when all of a sudden I lost all of the stations in my sports package.
          I went to the phone, and, as usual, had to wait an excessive amount of time to talk to a customer service rep who said he would restore it.  He required all sorts of serial numbers that I had a difficult time finding.  But, finally after getting all of these numbers for him, he said that he couldn't restore it because according to his records I hadn't purchased this package - even though I had been watching it.  When I finally convinced him that I had, he said that I would now need to talk to a purchasing agent.  After another lengthy delay I was finally connected and this agent told me that Xfinity was in the process of changing billing companies and I was in one of the groups that they had to disconnect until things were changed over.  She told me that there was nothing she could do but that the service would be restored - the next morning.  That meant I couldn't continue watching what I had purchased.  The next morning it still wasn't restored and I was told that it would be done later that day - which it was.  I asked for a credit for my 24 hours without the package.  
         Several days later I received an e-mail thanking me for purchasing a $34 video package on demand.  I called and complained and they said they would take it off my bill.  Two days later I received another such e-mail.  I contacted them again and was told that this was sent by mistake.  But when my bill was sent to me it still included this package.  Another call to billing and I was told that the bill was sent out before the corrections were made but that I should still pay the amount billed and I would get a credit on next month's bill.  No way am I going to let them have about $40 of my money for a month until the next bill comes.  If I end up being charged an extra fee for paying just what I owe, I will consider quitting them.
          Oh yes, last Saturday my sports package was cut off once again.  Fortunately, this time it took fewer calls to get through and get it restored.  Maybe I should change my password to Ihatecomcast!
          Next problem - when I was having my pre-op appointment I mentioned that last January I had had an back x-ray at LOG.  The surgeon's assistant suggested that it might be helpful, but not necessary, for them to have a copy of this and the report.  However, LOG would not provide it for them.  I had to go there and request it since LOG is not part of the large LGH network.  When I went to LOG they said I could have it but that I would have to hand deliver it to my surgeon because they do not send them out.  Of course, I would also have to pay $10 for the x-ray and report.  I was shocked about the lack of sharing between medical practices but I guess that is the way it is today, despite or because of Obamacare.  So I decided to just let them keep their x-ray and report which actually won't do them any good since I don't ever plan to go back to them.
          But my biggest frustrations came with Optimum Rx, the company which handles our claims for medicine.  Beginning October 1, I found that we were suddenly being overcharged by them for our medicines.  Both of us are now in the catastrophic phase of our medicare insurance but suddenly we were no longer getting charged accordingly.
          In my first call to them the person I talked to claimed that the charges were correct.  She said that two of the increases were because my pharmacist changed companies - he did not.  My one bill was to be 5% of the retail price.  I tried to explain that if the bill was right that the retail price would be $1,300 a month and that was a ridiculous price for an inhaler.  But she insisted that it was correct.   Completely false information - incidentally in call number 4 I found the retail price was actually $329 not $1,300.  She probably flunked math or maybe even reading or had an IQ below freezing.
          In my second through fourth calls the reps admitted that the computer program was incorrect and I was to have my pharmacist resubmit all the bills.  The pharmacist reluctantly did each time and the charges were still wrong.  In my calls five through nine the company admitted that they had mistakes in their computer system and they would be fixed.  Each time they promised to call me back, but they never did.  Incidentally, during these calls I talked to ten different customer service reps and three different supervisors, probably in multiple locations.  On the ninth call they agreed to talk to my pharmacist directly, but when I heard back from him, the problem still wasn't solved.
           So, because we were going to Pinebrook for a week, I waited another week to make call number ten - and a tenth customer service rep.  She proceeded to tell me that everything was fine and that my pharmacist would need to resubmit the claims - I think for about the sixth time.  When I realized that I was once again getting no help, I again asked to speak to a supervisor.  This time she switched me to somebody at HOP which is the company that actually has our entire insurance plan - both medical and medicine.  Finally, I think I found somebody who might help.  She said they would give the problem to one of their investigators and would get back to me.  I think she will do that since she is based in Lancaster, not all over the country like the many folks I talked to at Optimum Rx.
          Finally things were corrected but not until after some exchanges with my pharmacist who says they were to most rude folks he's ever worked with.  But I did get a refund of over $70.  This is why I keep detailed records and know the details of my medical plan.  Many others would just pay the bill and not even realize they are overpaying.  I wonder how many others were overcharged and will not get a refund.
         When things were settled I composed a letter to the President of the company based in California.  His representative called me while I was in the hospital.  Dianne told her that I had just had lumbar surgery.  The rep repled, "thank you Mrs. Lumbar.  I'll call back when he gets home."  She never has called back and if she did I don't know if she would ask for Mr. Kauffman or Mr. Lumbar!
         Oh the joys ... or should I say, frustrations ... of working with some customer service agents.  At least the ones I dealt with could speak English and that in itself is remarkable.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


          To bore - make (someone) feel weary and uninterested by tedious talk or dullness.
          I must admit that it used to upset me when our boys were growing up and they would complain that they were bored or that something they had to do was boring.  I used to tell them that boring was a state of mind and that they should get over it and get on with the excitement of life.
          Now I know that at times we have all faced things that were boring.  We can probably recall teachers that we had or lectures that we had to sit through that were very boring.  And we learned to adjust and take them in stride and try to make the best of the situation.
          I can't say that I have ever really been bored for any period of time.  At least, not until now.  Now I really am not complaining, just getting it off my chest, but I am bored.  I am recovering from extensive back surgery and have numerous limitations and am dependent on the help of others.  I must wear a brace - helpful but limiting.  I can't lift more than five pounds - it seems almost everything weighs more than five pounds.  I can't bend, twist or lift - what more is there to do when you must move?  I must use a walker for the most part.  I can't drive which limits where I can be and makes me dependent upon my wife.  And I can't even take care of many of my personal hygiene needs.  But I know many folks who are in worse shape, and, Lord willing, my restrictions will be off in a few months.
          In the meantime my days are generally limited to my recliner, my bed, the kitchen table and the bathroom.  There is no convenient place with walks near our house so if I want to walk or get any exercise, my wife must drive me somewhere. And too much movement results in pain.  At least I can get to some areas of my house, but I do feel like I have cabin fever already.
          I am learning that television is almost worthless unless there are interesting football games on.  Of course, twice good old Xfinity (Comcast) has suddenly cut off my sports package in the middle of my weekend viewing.  You have choices of reruns, soap operas, news shows, female talk shows, crazy judges or several dozen other worthless things.  At night you have the crime and action shows with violence and sex and of course you have the biased news reports.  Thankfully, my one son brought me a stack of movies that might be worth watching in the weeks ahead.
          Now normally I would love the free time to get caught up on reading and I have done some of that.  I have a huge stack of books to get caught up with, but being confined to the recliner I can only read so long until my eyes tire and I must quit.  I'm also not into computer games and we haven't been able to start any jigsaw puzzles because the table would block my path from my recliner to the rest of the house.I can't do any of the work around the house - such as check the water softener, change light bulbs, pick up leaves and too soon clear the snow. I do not like to talk on the telephone, I don't text and few correspond with me via e-mail. And I can't say that I really want visitors because even the best intentioned ones often stay too long.  10 - 15 minutes is fine.  60 is not!   So while my boys would cringe to hear me admit it, I must say that I am generally bored.
          But not all is lost.  I have found one valuable thing that I can do no matter how I feel.  I can pray.  And I have enjoyed having the extra time to pray in detail for family, friends, missionaries, Christian organizations, our country, and many needy situations.  As I said, there are so many who are in a much worse situation than I am and the Lord has given me this down time to be an intercessor for them. And I am also reminded, in everything give thanks, despite the current circumstances. I have already seen the Lord answer some of my recent prayers.  As I've said so often, God is good ... all the time.