Welcome to my blog, or should I say to the ramblings of an old man. I doubt that my ramblings are of much value, but at least I have an opportunity to share them.  So, please be kind and humor me. If nothing else of value stands out in these thoughts, I hope that you at least sense the value I place on a daily walk with the Lord.  That walk is what has provided me with motivation and a sense of purpose throughout my lifetime.  My prayer is that you, too, are experiencing this direction and joy in daily living which is available to everyone who puts his trust in Christ.  So, thanks again for joining me.  Please don't go without leaving some comments here so I can get to know you better as our paths intersect today in this blog.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Round And Round And Round

        Growing up as a teenager one of my favorite secular songs was "Round and Round", sung by Perry Como.  That was back when love songs were sensible, clean, and easy to sing, unlike today's music.  Now I will admit that like many things from years ago, I had forgotten most of the words until I did a search for them. But what I did remember were phrases like "find a wheel and it goes round, round, round" and "your head goes spinning round, round, round 'cause you've found what you've been dreamin' of."
          Now it is strange how these words have come back to me in recent weeks as I've suffered from a severe case of Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV, which landed me in the hospital for four days and complicated my life.  My head had been "spinning round, round, round" but not because I've found what I've been dreaming of.  Such a dream would be more like a nightmare.
          On our 55th wedding anniversary, Friday, June 2, we led a hymn sing at Pinebrook.  To cut down on travel we stayed two nights at a motel in Bethlehem.  The Lord answered prayer and the sing went very well. Friday was a great day.
          But on Saturday morning, when I woke up, I found the room exploding.  When I tried to get up everything was rocking like a tornado.  I was worried that I was going to end up in a hospital in that area, maybe with a stroke.  But I was able to get stable and I told Dianne that we had to get home as quickly as possible.  In about five minutes we packed, loaded the car, and she drove us home.  When we got home I called our family practice only to find that they were closing for the day.  However, when they heard my problem, one of the doctors agreed to wait and see me.  She diagnosed my problem as vertigo, prescribed a med and sent me home with the warning that if it happened again I should go to the ER for a full evaluation.
         The remainder of the day I was relatively fine.  But when I tried to go to bed that night my life exploded again - worse than before.  I knew I had to go to the ER but didn't think I could get there in the car, so we called an ambulance.  In the ER they put me through a series of tests, including a CT scan which was horrible because of my "tornado" problem, tried unsuccessfully to get me to walk, and then, about 3 am, decided to admit me to the hospital.  That was actually fine with me because I really was too scared to go home.
         During the next four days I had a variety of tests, including an MRI of my brain - yes they could fine one. I also had a heart monitor, an IV and blood tests.  I saw about five different doctors from the Internal Medicine Specialists, but only found out what I didn't have.  I was checked by a physical therapist who didn't think I was a candidate for vestibular therapy as they had expected.  As the days went on my serious problem came only whenever I tried to get up or when I tried to lay down. The elevated bed helped me with that.  Apparently BPPV isn't the same as "normal" vertigo that many suffer with.  Then finally, after two successful walks in the hall, they decided they couldn't help me anymore and sent me home.
          One of the "bummers" of the hospital stay was the fact that the first two nights I was in a nice, quiet single room on the observation floor.  But then when my time there expired,  they officially admitted me to the hospital and moved me to a semiprivate room. Fortunately, my fellow patient was fine to live with, although I missed the privacy.
          My stay at home was mixed - some good days and some bad ones. I went to the doctor twice and still have more visits scheduled. I did start vestibular therapy which at times was very painful and disruptive.  I learned that there are "stones" in your ear which control balance.  At times they can spill into your ear canals and create vertigo. (More about this in next week's blog.) The procedure to get them back where they belong usually brings temporary severe vertigo.  My sessions were not fun but appear to be the only way to get things back to somewhat normal.  Shots and medicine given to me did little but make me sleepy.  
          I am amazed how as soon as people learn that I have vertigo, they tell me that they have also suffered with it.  They give all sorts of advice and horror stories.  Now I must admit, that like many, I never felt that those who had vertigo really suffered more than a few days.  Most were helped with medicine.  However, I now know that there are different types of vertigo.  For some it is moderate dizziness and nausea, like being on a merry go round.  For others, like me, it is like being in a tornado where you need to quickly find something to hold on to while the world explodes around you.  And for those who have experienced this form, I apologize for not having been more sympathetic. I didn't know how you were really suffering. The attacks can be worse than kidney stone pain because you lose complete control. But, fortunately, they don't last nearly as long as kidney stone pain does.
          So that is my new physical problem of the month and I will appreciate your prayers for me. Maybe I need to write a book about all that has happened to my body in the last two years.  But who would read it?   The Lord is still good and continues to teach me many lessons which I guess I still need to learn.  I feel His presence in my life and have spent many moments talking to Him.  I am reminded often that I am His workmanship and that He knows all my ways.
          When we had our family ministry we often taught Bible verses by singing them to tunes which I had written.  One of my favorites was Psalm 139:3 (KJV). "Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways."  Being a math teacher I often think of the compass that we use to make circles.  So this verse reminds me that God encircles my life with His love and care.  My path represents my daily activities.  The lying down are the times that I can't be active, especially times of illness or injury as I have been experiencing.  And all my ways means what it says - ALL MY WAYS - the good and the challenging.  And,PTL, I have found that true.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Father's Day

           Father's Day is a celebration honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood and the influence of fathers in society. In Catholic Europe, it has been celebrated on March 19 (St. Joseph's Day) since the Middle Ages. This celebration was brought by the Spanish and Portuguese to Latin America, where March 19 is often still used for it. Many countries in Europe and the Americas have adopted the U.S. date, which is the third Sunday of June.              

           A bill to accord national recognition of the holiday in the United States was introduced in Congress in 1913 but it didn't get anywhere. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson went to Spokane to speak at a Father's Day celebration and he wanted to make it an officially recognized federal holiday, but Congress resisted, fearing that it would become commercialized.  Now how would that ever happen in the U.S. Commercialized, never, at least not until Hallmark would see a way to exploit it.
          In 1957, Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith wrote a Father's Day proposal accusing Congress of ignoring fathers for 40 years while honoring mothers, thus "[singling] out just one of our two parents". In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father's Day. Six years later, the day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972.
          And that brings us to this year when we celebrate this special day on June 18.  Now I must admit that our family never made a big thing out of this day as some folks do.  We usually sent a card, wished them a happy father's day and sometimes visited with them.  However, now that both my father and father-in-law are gone, I wish that I had done more for them.  We miss them both but have the comfort of knowing where they are.  But there are many days when I wish I could call my dad, share with him events in my life and seek his wise advice.
          We have decided to do one special thing for them this year.  On Sunday Dianne is playing the offertory and she has put together a simple medley of their two favorite hymns.  I have prepared a visual presentation to accompany her playing.  This is our way of remembering both of them this year.
         Music was an important part of both of our homes growing up.  Dianne and her sister sang solos.  They and their mother played the piano.  Her father played the guitar.  And hymns were important to them.  My family sang several times in church as a family.  My sister sang in the Kauffman Trio with my wife and sister-in-law. Dad played the harmonica. I played the trombone and sang with many groups.  Every time my family traveled together we sang hymns in the car.
          My father-in law's favorite hymn was "There's Room At The Cross For You".  He had the gift of evangelism and wanted to share with everyone the life changing experience he had in his adult years.

(1)    The cross upon which Jesus died
Is a shelter in which we can hide
And its grace so free is sufficient for me
And deep is its fountain as wide as the sea.
There's room at the cross for you
There's room at the cross for you
Though millions have come, there's still room for one
Yes there's room at the cross for you.

(2)   Though millions have found him a friend
And have turned from the sins they have sinned
The Savior still waits to open the gates
And welcome a sinner before it's too late. Chorus: 

(3)   The hand of my Savior is strong
And the love of my Savior is long
Through sunshine or rain, through loss or in gain,
The blood flows from Calvary to cleanse every stain. Chorus:

     My father grew up in a pastor's home and came to know the Lord as a child.  He, too, had a burden for the lost and looked forward to the time when he and his family would be reunited around God's throne in heaven.  His favorite was "Oh That Will Be, Glory For Me".

1.     When all my labors and trials are over,
And I am safe on that beautiful shore,
Just to be near the dear Lord I adore,
Will through the ages be glory for me.
O that will be glory for me,
Glory for me, glory for me,
When by His grace I shall look on His face,
That will be glory, be glory for me.

2.     When, by the gift of His infinite grace,
I am accorded in heaven a place,
Just to be there and to look on His face,
Will through the ages be glory for me. Refrain

3.     Friends will be there I have loved long ago;
Joy like a river around me will flow;
Yet just a smile from my Savior, I know,
Will through the ages be glory for me.  Refrain

          I thank the Lord for a godly father, father-in-law and even grandfathers who loved the Lord and set wonderful examples to me.  I have really been blest.
          Now if your father is still alive, don't you dare miss this special opportunity to spend time with him on Father's Day.  If you don't, someday you may regret it, after he is no longer here.
          If you don't know these two hymns, here are links that will allow you to hear them.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Senior Alphabet

        Do you remember the new math or the modern math that you might have experienced as a student?   Our approaches to many things have changed over the years as we've looked for ways to make things more meaningful and easier to remember.
        Well our alphabet hasn't changed, but maybe the ways we use it have.  It appears that cursive writing is now out but keyboarding has now become essential for students today.  And in some cases the alphabet's meaning and representations have changed.  So, in case you've never seen it before, here is  "The New Alphabet for Older People".

A is for arthritis
B is for bad back
C is for the chest pains. Corned beef? Cardiac?
D is for dental decay and decline
E is for eyesight--can't read that top line
F is for fissures and fluid retention
G is for gas (which I'd rather not mention) and other gastrointestinal glitches
H is high blood pressure
I is for itches
J is for joints that are failing to flex
L  for libido--what happened to sex?
Wait!  I forgot about K for bad knees.  (I've got a few gaps in my M-memory)
N is for nerve (pinched) and neck (stiff) and neurosis
O is for osteo-  P is for porosis
Q is for queasiness. Fatal?  Just flu?
R is for reflux--one meal becomes two
S is for sleepless nights counting my fears
T is for tinnitus - bells in my ears
U is for difficulties urinary
V is for vertigo
W is worry  about what the X--as in X-ray - will find.  But though the word "terminal" rushes to mind,
I'm proud, as each   Y - year - goes by, to reveal  A reservoir of undiminished  Z - zeal - for checking the symptoms my body's deployed, and keeping my twenty-six doctors employed.

Maybe somebody could put this alphabet to music.   But I guess that would be a waste of time for we seniors would soon forget it anyway.

So there you are.  What, you say you don't understand this.  Well, hold on sonny.  Your day is coming, sooner than you would expect!

Saturday, June 3, 2017


          It's so hard to believe that it is now 15 years since I retired after 39 years in the Penn Manor School District.  The years have flown by so very quickly.  Most folks can't wait until they can retire.  Often they have visions of traveling, or playing golf everyday, or sleeping late, or spending time with their family, or all sorts of "exciting" things.  And sometimes for some people those dreams do come true. But retirement often ends up being something different for others.
          Now, as usually happens when you get older, nobody really cares about your experience or opinions.  But even so, I have seen enough of what happens in retirement to think that my advice could be useful to some who haven't yet retired.  But, then again, it probably isn't.  But because it is my blog, I'm going to share it anyway.
          First, consider the cost of medical care.  You may have been healthy all of your life but then suddenly it hits you.  All sorts of physical problems develop as you age and care is very expensive.  You may see more doctors than you ever knew existed.  So make sure that you have good medical insurance and the funds to afford it.  In the first five months of 2017, 21% of our income has gone to medical insurance, doctor visits, tests and medicine.  Now I realize that this might be somewhat excessive, but it happens.  Medicare is good but it only pays 80% and doesn't include dental or vision coverage.  You will probably need to purchase a supplement plan to cover the remaining 20% as well as your medicine.  Make sure that you plan for this before you retire.  Maybe you'll be lucky enough to be covered by a company plan after you retire, but that now is unusual and something that we don't have.
          Second, make sure your finances are in shapeMake sure you pay off all of your debts before you quit work.  Prepare a retirement budget and try living on it a few months to see if it is realistic.  Hire a good financial advisor to handle your investments - not one who profits on selling and investing your money, but one who charges a set fee.  Now as long as you remain healthy, you can always get another job to provide income, but that might not be your vision for retirement.  And remember, taxes, gas, food, repairs and all those necessary things will continue to rise in price after you retire.  If your money is invested, remember investments can rise ... and fall.  If you are on a fixed pension, as I am, prepare to live the remainder of your life without a raise. I will never get one. And if you depend on social security, remember that the few dollars it might increase annually is usually lost in the increase costs of medicare coverages.
          Third, make sure you have hobbies and other interests to fill your days.  As much as you may want to quit working, life can become very boring and depressing if you don't have other things to do. Too many people go into depression or even die right after retiring because they have nothing fulfilling to do.  Some love to travel, and that is great if you can afford it.  Many of our close friends are constantly on the go and I am glad for them.  But our budget doesn't permit that, so instead we stay at home and involve ourselves as volunteers in ministry. There are so many things you can volunteer for and help others as you now have the time.  Our service at church and at Pinebrook are things that we enjoy and look forward to.  
         Fourth, make sure that you are emotionally ready to retire.  We all think we are ready to do so, but sometimes our identity is tied to our work and it becomes very hard to separate ourselves from it.  My boss once told me that you will know when you are really ready to retire and he was right.  But it was still very hard for me after being there for 39 years and often going in to work on weekends and during vacations. I loved the classroom and my students, but I didn't enjoy the increased requirements being imposed by the state and the district.  I did struggle for several months after I left, until the Lord provided me with two classes to teach at Millersville for a semester.  That was the interlude I needed.  Then those 39 years really became "another lifetime" for me.
          Fifth and most important, trust the Lord with your decision.  Proverbs 3:5,6 is vital for any believer in Christ.  Trust Him to lead you and guide you.  A year before I finally retired, I was being offered another job in ministry that I really felt I wanted.  But at what I thought was my final interview, I was shocked to find that the job was no longer being offered to me.  It was an adjustment, but I accepted it as the Lord's Will.  And what I didn't know at that time was that in order to get themselves a big pay raise, the PA House and Senate were approving a bill to not only raise their salaries but also the pensions of future retiring teachers.  By staying instead for my 39th year in teaching, I received a major and very unexpected increase in my pension.  God knew all about that when I didn't.  Looking back I can see how he was guiding all that was happening in my decision.  And He will do that for you, too, as you trust Him.
          I have enjoyed retirement despite numerous physical challenges.  We have not been able to travel as we expected, but we have  had many ministry opportunities to continue to serve the Lord and that has been very special and rewarding.  Yesterday we again led a hymn sing at Pinebrook.  And the Lord has provided all that we need and we know that He will continue to do so.  Psalm 37:25, " I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread."