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 31, 2016

A "Key" Lesson in Life

          When we are young it is common to misplace important things like your glasses or your orthodontic equipment or your homework or your shoes or your cell phone. These situations can drive parents crazy. Sometimes, at any age, we are all a little too careless with our items. Then when we get older and approach dementia we continue to misplace or lose things and sometimes don't even realize that the things are gone.  Sometimes these misplaced things are minor, other times they are expensive to misplace and a real problem to go without them.
        Now I don't know if it is dementia setting in or just plain careless, but I recently lost my keys.  We searched everywhere - two, three and often four times - without any success.  We checked with places that we had visited, again without any success.  What made the situation even more frustrating is that I had seldom even carried my keys in the past few months because of my two surgeries.  I hardly ever left the house and when I did, my wife did all the driving and I had no use for the keys.  
         When I finally gave up any hope of finding them, I went about the process of replacing them.  My house key was simple to have made.  My church key was replaced by the church office.  But then there was the problem of replacing my two car key fobs. That was not easy.
        I first contacted the car dealer.  I was told that it might cost me over $700 to replace the two of them.  I knew it would be expensive but I was stunned by that response.  I wasn't sure what to do and decided to wait a little longer, hoping that they might still show up.  But they didn't.
         One day at cardiac rehab I shared the problem with one of the nurses.  That afternoon she surprised me by calling me at home and telling me that her boy friend had a person that I should contact.  While at that time I still wasn't yet ready to purchase, I though to be courteous to her I should at least call this person.  I did and I was pleased to find that this contact could replace my 2009 fob for about $75 less than the dealer.  Unfortunately he didn't have the software needed for my 2015 fob.  So I ordered the 2009 one from him and picked it up the next day.  One down, one to go.
         When I went to the locksmith to get my house key I was pleased to learn that he could replace my 2015 fob for about $100 less than the dealer's price.  But he first had to order it and we had to pay in advance.  I told him to go ahead.  I figured this would be the best deal I would get and I knew it would be done right because of the reputation of the locksmith.  All I had to do now was wait for him to receive the order.
         Then the big surprise happened.  My wife decided to wash some of the clothing that I had seldom worn during my long recovery.  In fact I had really only worn my gray sweat pants and another pair of pants for the past few months.  But I also had an old pair of blue sweats that I really didn't like to wear.  But I probably wore those sweats once or twice while the others were bring washed.  And guess what?   When my wife went to empty the pockets she found the keys!  Unbelievable but true.
          I quickly called the locksmith and tried to cancel my order for the 2015 fob which they had already charged to our credit card.  They said that I would still need to pay the postage and a restocking fee.  At this point I readily agreed.  So the key which I didn't get, ended up costing me $44.52.  I thought that was a little high, but it was certainly better than what I was expecting to pay to have it replaced.
         Now maybe I should look for an ap that would find my keys when they are misplaced. I know there are aps to find some other items when they are lost.  But then I'd probably need to buy a smart phone to use the ap.  And I would also probably then misplace the smart phone.  
           However, there is at least one good thing I can conclude from this frustrating and expensive experience. Since at least I knew that my keys were misplaced, it might not be the beginning of dementia.

Friday, March 25, 2016

To Eat Or Not To Eat

            Recovery from my two recent major surgeries has been a challenge, especially dealing with several side effects.  However, one of the biggest challenges has come from trying to find something permissible to eat, especially as a result of my open heart surgery.  And in this battle with frustration I am being forced to learn more about what I eat then I ever wanted to know.

         I have been diabetic for years and have learned what I can and cannot eat.  And I think I have adjusted well to that and check my blood sugars about four times a day.  Adding a heart healthy diet to that has made things more complicated.  But then I had to go on coumadin and that has added all sorts of additional restrictions including limiting green vegetables and especially salads.
        But one of the biggest challenges has come from sodium restrictions.  We should all limit our sodium intake to less than 2,305 mg a day.  But with a heart problem it should be less than 1,500 mg a day.  Incidentally, a teaspoon of salt alone is about 2,300 mg!  Now I have seldom added salt to my food so I assumed that this wouldn't be a big challenge.  Wrong.  Start examining packages and you will see what has surprised me. Almost everything we normally eat is loaded with sodium.  Seriously, check it out.
          The Cleveland Clinic has said you should avoid garlic salt, onion salt, MSG, meat tenderizers, broth mixes, Chinese food, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, barbecue sauce, sauerkraut, pickle relish, bacon bits, croutons, canned soups, pasta, rice mixes, frozen dinners, instant cereals, puddings, gravy and sauce mixes.   Wow!  So, is there anything left to eat?
         The American Heart Association advises you to avoid their "Salty Six". (1) Bread, rolls, bagels; (2) Cold cuts and cured meat; (3) Pizza; (4) Poultry; (5) Soup; (6) Sandwiches.  Poultry shocked me but they claim some chicken is actually injected with sodium.
          Now we don't generally visit fancy restaurants.  If you do, go online and look at their nutritional facts.  If you are like me, you will be stunned by the amount of sodium involved.  Now our favorite place to go is Chick fil a.  The basic meal that we have purchased there of the chicken sandwich and fries has 1,570 mg. of sodium.  If I replace it with the more expensive grilled chicken it is 980 mg. Using barbecue sauce inflates these numbers. And I may not have mayo because of the coumadin.  Of course, I could eliminate the fries or not eat anything more the remainder of the day.  But then that wouldn't be good for my diabetes.
         Our second favorite place is Olive Garden.  Our favorite item is the soup and salad combo, with the chicken gnocchi soup.  Total?  2,110 mg without using any dressing on the salad.  Of course one could order their chicken ptarmigan and salad.  That would be  3670 mg without salad dressing - enough for two days.
          We have gone to Ruby Tuesdays frequently for their salad and minis combination.  That's 4,308 mg,  not counting the salad bar.   How about MacDonalds?  Quarter pounder with cheese, no fries - 1,100 mg.  Add nuggets without sauce, 900 mg.  Arbys?  Roast Beef sandwich, Arby Sauce, Fries - 2,090 mg.  They do have a good turkey salad, only 870 mg, but their low fat Italian dressing adds 720 mg.  Wendy's?  Their 4 for $4 deal - 1,560 mg without any sauce for nuggets.  And their good small chili - 780 mg.  Burger King?  Whopper without mayo, onion rings without dipping sauce - 1,630.  Your meal for the day. And they've now added grilled hot dogs - 960 mg without anything else.  Oh I love and miss hot dogs but I guess they are gone forever,
         Now I could go on and on and talk about foods from the grocery store, such as soups.  Amazing and very disheartening.  Maybe "disheartening" in many ways.  This is a major challenge for my wife.  It is just hard to find a really healthy diet.   And sodium is just one item.  I  haven't discussed calories or fat or sugar or any of the other items that one should consider.
         So I may be frustrated, but I am learning and adjusting, I guess.   One solution - just give up eating.  Another - forget it and speed up your trip to heaven where meals will no longer be a problem.  Hopefully there is a middle ground. Take care and watch what you eat!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

No More Night

        There are those moments in life when you are stunned by news that is both surprising and shocking. Sometimes it is news of a death or an accident or a loss of a job or a serious physical problem.  One of those moments came for me years ago when my son told me that my parents were in an auto accident and the Lord had taken mother home.
         The most recent stunning moment for me came following my heart cath when I was told that I would need to see a surgeon to schedule open heart surgery.  They were going to send me home until I could set up a time for surgery but we suggested that it would be better to be admitted and stay in the hospital until surgery could be scheduled.  Why would I want to go home with the possibility of having a heart attack?   They agreed and admitted me that morning.
         Later that afternoon they informed me that a surgeon was available and I would have by-pass surgery the next morning.  I was overwhelmed by what was happening and it was a very long night.  We all know that someday death will come for each of us, but seldom do we need to face the issue that it could happen in a few hours.
         That night I wrestled with two thoughts.  First, I really didn't want to die now.  It wouldn't be fair to my family.  How would my wife adjust?  I wanted to see my grandchildren grow up.  I had things that I still wanted to do.  Why now?  But then why not?  Death is going to happen someday and the Lord will provide the peace, wisdom and strength that those left behind need.
         On the other hand I thought about how marvelous it would be to be with Jesus for eternity.   There would no longer be pain or crying or evil.  The problems of this life would be over and I would be at peace.  And there were relatives and friends I longed to see - my parents, my grandparents, my uncles and aunts and special friends such as Jim, Norm, Gary, Ralph, and, of course, my brother Terry.  What a great reunion that would be.
          So early the next morning I went to surgery with peace knowing that the Lord was in control and my life and future, whatever that would be, were in His hands.  I have always believed that but for the first time in my life this was reality. My life really was in God's hands.
          And obviously it turned out that this was not the time that the Lord would take me home with Him.  He brought me through hours of surgery and five by-passes.  There apparently are still things for me to do here on earth for Him.   And I gained a new appreciation for health and life and for each new day, days that the Lord has made.
          A few days after surgery I heard a special song that I had forgotten about, "No More Night".  Dianne and I used to sing it as a duet and the words always ministered to me.  They did again this time.  In case you've never heard it, here are the words.

The timeless theme, Earth and Heaven will pass away
Its not a dream, God will make all things new that day
Gone is the curse from which I stumbled and fell
Evil is banished to eternal hell
No more night, no more pain
No more tears, never crying again
And praises to the great, "I AM"
We will live in the light of the risen Lamb

See all around, now the nations bow down to sing
The only sound is the praises to Christ, our King
Slowly the names from the book are read
I know the King, so there's no need to dread
No more night, no more pain
No more tears, never crying again
And praises to the great, "I AM"
We will live in the light of the risen Lamb

See over there, there's a mansion
Oh, that's prepared just for me
Where I will live with my Savior eternally
No more night, no more pain
No more tears, never crying again
And praises to the great, "I AM"
We will live in the light of the risen Lamb
All praises to the great, "I AM"
Were gonna live in the light of the risen Lamb

Here ia a great version of this song sung by David Phelps.  LISTEN.   May the truth and power of these words minister to you as they have done to me.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Great Memories

          The end of February and beginning of March bring back many great memories of things that were an exciting part of my life during these months in my earlier years - and I'm not talking about things like shoveling snow.
          The special memories all started during a late afternoon administrative meeting at school.  At the close of the meeting I was with the Assistant Superintendent who was also the Chief Administrator of the PIAA District 3.  He was sharing with some of the other men that he had just learned that he needed a time keeper to run the scoreboard and clock at a basketball playoff doubleheader that night at the Farm Show in Harrisburg.  He turned to me and asked me if I would be able to help him out.  Now I had never done that before but I quickly volunteered.  It wasn't long until a team of five of us from the administrative unit were on our way to the Farm Show to run the doubleheader - a scorer, a timer, an announcer, a ticket taker and the game director.

        What I didn't realize then was that this would be the start of about a 30 year experience.  During those early years we had games at the "Barn", as we called it, almost every night - sometimes even triple headers and often four on Saturdays.  It was fun to watch the games, although some, especially girls games in those days, were very boring and at times it was even hard to keep awake especially after a long day of teaching.  And that was dangerous especially since I was responsible for running the game clock - I may have even missed a few seconds here and there.  I especially enjoyed watching Carlisle and York Catholic teams play during their great years when they both won several district and state championships.  Jeff Lebo and Billy Owens were two of my favorite players.
          One night I had to fill in as scorekeeper for a regional elimination game.  Actually I preferred that job.  Before the game the officials came to me and asked me if I knew that with two technicals a player would be eliminated from the game.  I never knew that and thought it was strange that they would tell me that.  In those years hanging on the rim was an automatic technical foul.  Would you believe that twice Lebanon's seven foot future NBA player Sam Bowie hung on the rim and was charged with a technical.  I had to summon the officials that he had to leave the game.  We got booed and had things, including soda, thrown at us.  Not a fun experience that night.
         But my worst experience came during a District 3 elimination game between Red Lion and Steelton-Highspire.  At the close of the game Steel-High was leading by one point when a Red Lion player went to shoot and was fouled just as the time ran out and the horn sounded.  Good officials quickly make the call at the end of the game, but these officials didn't.  Instead they came to the table and asked me if the foul was before or after time ran out.  That never should have been my call.  I finally said I thought the foul was before the horn sounded and that was the call they then made.  It was actually a one and one foul situation and the Red Lion player went to the foul line and calmly sank both free throws to win the game and eliminate Steel High from the play-offs.  The Steel- High crowd behind me was angry and things were thrown at us and on the floor.  We were escorted out for our safety.  Then the next day in the Harrisburg Patriot News the sports writer said the decision was made by Barry Kauffman of Millersville and not the officials.  I expected the worst was yet to come from those fans who now knew my name and where I lived, but thankfully nothing more ever did happen.
          However, one good thing did come out of that experience.  The Executive Director of the PIAA was there that night.  Later he came to me and said that I made the correct call.  He was impressed with my work and asked if I would consider being the official statistician for the state basketball championships at Hershey.  I was thrilled to do that and readily accepted.  And so for 25 years I filled that position at both the Hershey Arena and the Giant Center for eight state finals each March.  I was also allowed to hire an assistant whose main job was to work with the press.  So for most of those years one of my sons worked with me and these are memories that will never be forgotten.  Often my wife and others saw us on television. We saw great games, famous college coaches who were there to scout, and great players.  We saw future NBA players such as Kobe Bryant.  And we were treated royally by the PIAA and Hershey.  It was a first class operation.  
         Unfortunately this ended when Penn State decided to donate its facilities and staff at State College and the PIAA saw a way to cut expenses.  And so for me that was the end after 25 years.  But the timing may have been good because it was getting harder for me to do all the stats and the stress was increasing.  It is interesting that the move to State College only lasted a few years until the PIAA realized that Hershey was actually a better location and moved back.  But by that time the PIAA leadership had also changed and I was not invited back.
          But I do miss the excitement.  I also miss the friendships that I had with the team of men who traveled and worked many games together.  Actually I lasted longer doing games than any of the others.  Two of them have now passed away, one has dementia and the third moved away.  Even though it has now been at least 16 years since being involved, each February and March the memories stir and my mind goes back to those fun times.


Monday, March 7, 2016


         Anxiety - a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome,  a nervous disorder characterized by a state of excessive uneasiness and apprehension.
          Anxiety is something that we all experience at one time or another.  Sometimes it is actually a good thing, often it is not.  But some of us experience it more often than others and it can wear on us and even affect things like our attitude and our health.  Sometimes it is hard for some of us to control.
         I will admit, as many of you already know, it is something that I battle with regularly in my life, even though I know it is wrong.  And it has been an extra tough battle for me the last several months as I've gone through surgeries and faced some very serious health problems.  It is my problem and I won't blame my mother, but maybe we shared the same worry gene, if that even exists.
          Besides talking to my doctors about it, the best help that I receive is talking to the Lord and spending time in his Word.  In case you experience the same problem, here are some scripture reminders that can be a great help in times of anxiety.
        *  "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."   Philippians 4:6-7.
          * "O my people, trust in him at all times.  Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge."   Psalm 62:8.
         *  "Look at the birds.  They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them.  And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are?  Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?"  Matthew 6:26-27.
         * "Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you."  1 Peter 5:7.
         * "Then Jesus said, 'Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.   Take my yoke upon you.  Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.'"  Matthew 11:28-30.
         Many years ago our Pastor, Rudy Gehman, died suddenly.  At his funeral the Pastor's Quartet sang a song that I had never heard before and have seldom heard since.  But it has become one of my personal favorites.
(1)   Is there a heart o'erbound by sorrow?
Is there a life weighed down by care?
Come to the cross, each burden bearing—
All your anxiety, leave it there.
All your anxiety, all your care,
Bring to the mercy seat, leave it there;
Never a burden He cannot bear,
Never a friend like Jesus!

(2)   No other friend so keen to help you,
No other friend so quick to hear;
No other place to leave your burden,
No other one to hear your prayer.    Refrain

(3)    Come then at once, delay no longer!
Heed His entreaty kind and sweet;
You need not fear a disappointment,
You shall find peace at the mercy seat.   Refrain

If you don't know it, you can listen to it here.   LISTEN
        I'm not sure why I wrote this particular blog, but if you, too, have a problem with anxiety, maybe these verses and this hymn will be a help and encouragement to you as well.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Cards of Encouragement

        Sending greeting cards by snail mail is a lost art.  It can be expensive.  But it is a ministry that my wife has maintained over the years.  She sends dozens of birthday, get well, sympathy and encouragement cards on a regular basis throughout the year.  And people are so appreciative of this personal attention and they often go out of their way to thank us.          
          Now I've never really looked for cards for myself, but after my recent surgery and ten day stay in the hospital, I have really enjoyed receiving them, especially those which have included personal messages.  Actually I received over 50 of them and some of the messages were really encouraging.  Here are some of the card messages that stood out to me.          
         "A quiet heart, a little rest, a lot of getting well.  It's just what the Father ordered!  Praying you'll soon be well.         
          "Relax, Nap, Recharge, Sleep, Let God renew you today."  I have been doing that.  "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak"  Isaiah 40:29 (NIV).          "There's no safer place than the palm of God's hand; with peace as our shelter, we rest in His plan.  Though trials may try us we've learned what is true - with wisdom and grace He will carry us through."         
          "Is there a prayer my heart can say for someone who's in need today?  I'll ask for grace before His throne, for this is how God keeps His own."  "Let us come boldly to the very throne of God and stay there to receive His mercy and to find grace in our times of need."  Hebrews 4:16.          
          "May the hands that formed the earth touch your body and heal it.  May the breath that moved over the waters fill your soul with life.  May the heart that sacrificed to save you surround your heart with comfort.  May knowing that you are in the hands of an all-powerful, all-loving God bring you peace."  "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak."  Isaiah 40:29  (NIV)
          "The One who created you, knit you together, who knows you and all of your ways '... will surely be near with His healing and love as you go through these difficult days.  May God heal your body and lift your spirit as only He can."          
          Now while most of my cards had serious messages like these, there were a few which made me smile - and I needed that.  Here is one.  "I told your doctor you'd recover faster in Maui.  I'm pretty sure he's considering it.  Get well soon."  Now that would be a great idea.
          Then I really appreciated five cards that I received from our five Awana clubs.  Most had messages of clubbers praying for me and missing me. But there were two that made me chuckle.  One Chum wrote "Don't give up, I'll pray for you!  God is with you."   At times it is easy to think about giving up, but I'm not.  The other cute one came from one of the Guards.  "My friend had a hole in his heart, He got better and I know you will get better too!"   Now that is encouraging.  I guess a hole in your heart is much worse than what I have experienced.          
          Now I appreciated all the cards but the one that I loved the most was the first one which I received from my granddaughter, Lexie.  She loves to make cards and she delivered one to me in the hospital.    On the outside it says "Get Well Soon".  On the inside it says "Dear Pop Pop, I'm praying for you.  Get well soon.  Love, Lexie"  And that card I will keep and treasure.          
           Now I don't know about others, but I have learned to appreciate the prepared messages and especially the personal comments.  For two weeks I looked forward to getting mail each day and opening my cards.  But then, alas,  they've stopped coming.  I just hope the prayers didn't stop as well.