Friday, May 26, 2017

A cool breeze blew in a blessing for me.

Good morning and welcome. Today, Friday, May 26, 2017, is special to many because at the end of the day it will usher in the Memorial Holiday Weekend. Me? Not so much, but, it is good to see folks excited about something. Last Wednesday morning was pretty special. I drove in with my window about half way down sipping on my hot black Community coffee. It was somewhere around 58 degrees. You know me. It didn't take long for me to conjure up visions of a fall morning. I can't deny it. That's what it felt like to me. I wasn't ready to break out the snow chains, but, I did have visions of frost dancing around in my noggin. Yes, I am fully aware that we have sizzling days ever so near, but, for it to be nearly the end of May and we have ourselves a fall morning to enjoy, well, all I can say is I do hope you took the time to enjoy it. I did thank the Lord God above for His provision. It reminded me of that famous passage from the Book of Ruth where the land owner showed favor to the widow, "When she rose to glean, Boaz commanded his servants, saying, 'Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not insult her. Also, you shall purposely pull out for her some grain from the bundles and leave it that she may glean, and do not rebuke her.' " (Ruth  2:15-16), New American Standard Bible, NASB) Wednesday morning God purposely gave me some fall-like weather to brighten my spirits and I thanked Him for it, and for the Community Coffee. I couldn't leave that one out. Amen.

It's okay if you prefer the warmer stuff. We are all different. I've worked with people who wished the temperature would never get below 80 even at night. Maybe they could live in a sauna. Just joking. I've confessed many times that I no longer can embrace the cold like I used to. Maybe global warming came along just in time to save me from the embarrassment of shivering in front of my peers. Another joke. Please don't send me any Al Gore jokes. I'm just trying to finish out the week here at the ole blogger ranch. I started reading a list of ways to know if you talk too much. I was actually looking for some self-deprecating humor to end today's edition. That list got way too personal, way too soon. The results? I didn't stick around long enough to see how many of those listed might apply to me. Why? It just wasn't funny material. Try to remember that I am essentially working without a net here. The best I could come up with on short notice was a sign I saw in a flower bed with this inscription: "I'm trying hard to grow, so, please don't walk on me. Thank You."

There are countless lists of that type rolling around out on the super duper web information highway. I saw one with the title saying ten ways to know if you have a really good husband. That's all I need. If I delve too deeply into that abyss known as my psyche, next thing you know I will be on the couch with a funny looking fellow with a goatee taking notes. I have no idea where that came from, however, it is a good reminder for me to find the exit door. Thanks so much for riding along with me. I do enjoy the company. Now it is time to say so long for this week. I do hope you enjoy your Saturday and your Lord's Day Sunday along with Memorial Day Monday. Remember to remember what that day was set aside for. See you next time and may God bless each one. Amen. ....More later.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Here's a refreshing thought: I am the only version of me!

We continue to keep at it. You too? Good. That should get us up and running on this Thursday, May 25, 2017. I thought about starting off today with a really good one on my number one comedic subject, that being, me, myself, and I. As it turns out, just operating the life God has given to me can be like being a part of a comedy writing troupe. Believe me, not intentionally. I recently inherited my wife's old smartphone. I think she had an offer from a museum before it was handed down to me. (I can't be sure, but I think they called it an Apple Seed.) At any rate, I've learned how to use it somewhat effectively to carry on my telecommunications activities. The other day when I drove over to Louisiana for mom's service, my eldest grandson rode along with me. He is 20 and we had a great time of visiting and he worked over my new old phone to get it all organized and more useful. It was a form of a tutorial ride along as he gave me some instructions on how I could get the most out of it. I greatly appreciated his help. Oh yeah. Back to the really good one on myself. Without divulging too many details, let me just put this out there. I've learned that one should not check messages on their semi-intelligent hand-me-down phone while walking down a very awkward set of stairs. Visualize Charlie Chaplin or maybe the Three Stooges minus two. I'll let your imagination fill in the blanks. Always remember, the exacting details have been suppressed in order to preserve any smidgen of respect that may still be available to the subject being discussed. Thanks for your cooperation.

That same grandson worked some on finding me an upgraded refurbed phone. Kids today. Based on the questions he asked me, he could probably start work immediately at a cell phone store. He found several that will be a good fit for my particular use. It's good to know someone who can help. Right? It was likely hard for him to process the fact that I have no need whatsoever for any gaming features on my phone. None. Period. Hey. That's why they call it a personal cell phone. He did try to delete the ones on my current phone but some of them are embedded in the operating system and can't be removed. That's okay. At any rate, for a reasonable fee, I should be able to get a much larger screen, a whole lot more functionality, storage, and most importantly, improved connect speed. Think about it. Here he is, speeding down the highway with me at 75 mph, using his cell phone to instantaneously find all these options. Seeing him do all that made me want to go home and unplug my old flip phone. What? You don't keep yours charged up as a backup? Just in case? I heard the late Justin Wilson, the cajun humorist, explain why he wore suspenders and a belt. He believed in being prepared. Just in case. Who knows? I may, one day soon, be doing this very blog from my new and improved refurbed cell phone device. He did say I could get one with a slide out keyboard. I'll keep you posted.

The other evening I saw an ad on television for an internet service company. They were lampooning one of their competitors because of the limitations expressed in the fine print. The fellow goes on to say that very few, if any, read that fine print which would change their perceptions of the service being offered.  Pretty effective, except for one thing. At the end of his presentation of the company he represents, guess what? Yep. His ad also had several lines of fine print that would require you to burn your nose on the TV screen to read. Sorry. I notice things like that. I am not unhappy that Facebook has again decided that I live in a different city and state than where I actually reside. That's good news. I actually enjoy getting the weather reports from Ventura, California. Let me tell you. According to them, I have been enjoying some wonderful days of cool mornings and moderate afternoons. You might begin to worry if you start hearing me say, "Surf's up." Yes. I have heard it before. A thousand times. I know. You don't have to be but it helps. Take care. See you again soon, Lord willing. May He be thanked for all that He has done on our behalf. Amen. ....More later.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

“What separates us from the animals, what separates us from the chaos, is our ability to mourn people we’ve never met.” ― David Levithan, Author

Good morning. I do encourage everyone to be thankful for the blessings we enjoy as children of the living God. It's Wednesday, May 24, 2017, and I send out a hearty hello to all those gaining access to today's edition. The indiscriminate, intentional killing and maiming of those attending a music concert in Manchester, England, is sad beyond belief. We join others across the globe who are seeking God at this time. At the same time, there is a sense of indignation and anger against whatever it is that motivates someone to perpetrate such an evil act. While everyone awaits the outcome of the full investigation going forward, it is a matter of ongoing debate for a number of years concerning the laxity afforded those known as hate mongers in the UK. I read in a UK Newspaper just yesterday that there are 3,500 known terror suspects residing in the UK but policing authorities have few tools available to monitor and track their whereabouts and movements. This attack already appears to be connected to one of the major terrorist threads. Parents and others directly impacted by this attack must wonder about the wisdom behind a system that tends to look the other way when dealing with potential threats. I know the price of life in a free society comes with attendant risks. However, reading some of the accounts over the years of how terror suspects in the United Kingdom have used the courts to dodge responsibility for their activities, well, it does make one wonder. And, it is a cautionary tale for ourselves here in the United States of America. Here's some haunting words from one of the great leaders of the past 100 years, Lady Thatcher following 9/11: "We have harboured those who hated us, tolerated those who threatened us and indulged those who weakened us."

Is there any part of the human condition untouched by corruption? Nope. I saw this week the report that pointed out the amount of corruption involved in delivering aid of all kinds to the world. The organization that oversees this 'charitable' activity spent $200 million on travel to places far and wide, mostly in luxury, as they wined and dined themselves, discussing the plight of the world's poorest. This is not new. There are those who profit greatly from the businesses involved in the delivery of aid to the needy all over the globe. In addition to what some have called these 'lords of poverty', there is the rip off by the local authorities who take for themselves whatever they want. These profiteers and greedy politicians do these deeds with no sympathy or concern for those images we see of the helpless child with a bloated belly or the one where the vulture stands nearby waiting. For those who think that we are born basically good, think again. The Creator has something to say about that. He told us how that sin originated and how that every person born into this world is possessed by it. It's called the fallen nature. It is in need of change. The Creator provided for that as well. He sent His one and only Son to die for us all that we might be saved and changed by His power. Look it up. It's in the Book! (Jeremiah 17:9 "The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?")

Think about it.
Here's a funny thing I saw when I was back home. The roads coming into my little Louisiana hometown from some access points are really bad. Really bad. They make you think you might have a toothache. That's how bad they are. But, not to worry, they did something to improve the experience. They recently added white striping on both sides of the edges and new yellow dividing stripes in the middle. No roadwork. Nothing to fill in the holes. No dental insurance. Just striping. New striping. It reminded me of something that happened to the company I worked for many years ago. A team studied, researched, and subsequently recommended the purchase of a related business. That business proved to be a disaster. It was finally sold off after five years at a huge loss. I asked an influential manager how that could have happened. He said the company we bought put a fresh coat of paint on all their manufacturing facilities and the fellows who recommended the purchase must have thought they were new. They were not new. Those stripes may look good from a helicopter. Maybe. But they do little to alleviate the jaw pain. Just say'in. Take care. Enjoy. Be thankful. Give God the glory. Amen. ....More later.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Older lady: "What do they mean they are tracking my cookies? They will never get my recipe!"

***My heart goes out to all those families who lost loved ones, and those injured, mainly children, in the bombing in Manchester England, last night. Our world is broken and we call out to God in this time of need.***

Hello and welcome. It's Tuesday, May 23, 2017, and I have a few things swirling around this morning. We received a good amount of rain Saturday evening. It came compliments of a pretty rough thunderstorm and when we have one of those we can typically predict some of the results. We almost always lose the satellite signal for our TV. I was smack dab in the middle of watching the NASCAR All-Star race. We needed the rain, but, I was very aggravated about my program being interrupted. I first tried to find it live streamed on the internet but that didn't work out. So, I called the wife over in Louisiana where she was helping care for our dad and asked her to find it on the TV there and give me the play by play. We Facetimed for the first time. I could see her and she could see me. She was doing her best to keep up with the running order on the track but the TV there wasn't that clear and she was having trouble reading the names. While she was doing that she was allowing her phone to do its own thing. That meant I was looking at a huge eye from time to time. She finally turned it so I could watch the cars going round and round. However, that didn't do much since it was a little on the fuzzy side. She did well. And, service was restored just before the ten lap shoot-out at the end of the race. Technology. It can be of value, even in the hands of a couple of novices.

Our medical provider now offers electronic appointments where you can Skype, Facetime, or use a few other video chat utilities to meet with a doctor, live, and in person. They call it a telemedicine video chat and they list 50 ailments that can be responded to by utilizing the service. They have access to all your records and can issue recommendations and prescriptions based on their findings. The fee is $35 and you don't have to leave your home. They are promoting this service big time. You can access their system to schedule an appointment and then activate it from your cell phone or computer. Oh yeah. They have real doctors who staff this service. I suppose that would be important. I wonder if they could order me up some go-juice to get these old bones cranked up and going. They have been suffering of late from a case of weariness. (That was my own diagnosis. I suppose I could go to the doctor and get a second opinion.) The telemedicine folks didn't state the cost of a second opinion but I could probably get one of those from the wife as she watches the video chat with me and the doctor. Instantaneous feedback. Now that would be something. Don't you think?

I taught my class Sunday morning and then headed for Louisiana to fetch my bride. Dad's situation continues to be very concerning but we are praying that help will be forthcoming as he continues to get treatment for his different ailments. On our way back we made a small detour to allow MiMi to hold her newest great grand. (We now have a grand total of two great grands! Madi and Gabi.) MiMi was exhilarated. I patiently sat on the sidelines. Finally, MiMi said that maybe Great Grand Poppy would like to hold her for a minute. She can be, at times, the master at understating the obvious. She took that photo of me holding our little Gabriella Grace. I was talking to her. She was paying attention. We had a good two minutes. I think we had an understanding. We thank God for this child and the fact that she and mom are doing well. These little ones remind me that I'm moving on up on the family tree chart. Age. Here's one for you: Last Tuesday evening I am at mom's viewing and a lady came up to me who is the sister of a buddy of mine that I ran around with as a teenager. I likely haven't seen her in over 50 years. She said you might remember my brother Charles. I told her, "Are you kidding, I was riding in Charles' old flathead Ford pickup the night we chased down that truckload of girls and I came face to face with my destiny because she was sitting on the passenger side by the door." She rolled that window down and the rest, as they say, is history. My buddy Charles had a rough life that ended tragically many years ago. His sister and I had a good visit. Good memories. It reminded me to be thankful for them. Amen. .....More later.

Monday, May 22, 2017

"For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?" ~ Mark 8:36

It's Monday, May 22, 2017, and my wife is back at home, and things are better. Things are always better when she is around. I've got nearly 53 years of experience to prove it. Staying at the home where I spent many years as a kid growing up always puts the memory recall process into overdrive. Mom was lingering but not suffering and I stepped outside to take a break. I could hear the kids up on the playground at the school having a great time. The exact same playground where I played. I had a couple of fights on that playground as well. The Kansas City Southern train blared its horn and several dozens of cars rambled by. I was in the backyard where I couldn't see the train but the sound and vibrations were enough to shake the ground a little, and, I could see it. In my mind's eye. Just like I've done a few thousand times before. A major facet of the life God had given to us was about to take her heavenly flight. Meanwhile, the world seemed oblivious to our plight. It reminded me of how I felt as a kid when some of our family died. On our way out to the cemetery, I looked out the car window and noticed that people were going about their regular affairs. Wait a minute. Don't they know? Haven't they heard? Not really. Life goes on. That's how God designed it. Ecclesiastes Chapter Three:

1) To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:

2) A time to be born,
    And a time to die;
A time to plant,
    And a time to pluck what is planted;

3) A time to kill,
    And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
    And a time to build up;

4) A time to weep,
    And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
    And a time to dance;

5) A time to cast away stones,
    And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
    And a time to refrain from embracing;

6) A time to gain,
    And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
    And a time to throw away;

7) A time to tear,
    And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
    And a time to speak;

8) A time to love,
    And a time to hate;
A time of war,
    And a time of peace.

Many people struggle with Ecclesiastes because they think it's so dark and down. Read all of it. The only way to make something out of the life that God gave to us is to find out what the writer of Ecclesiastes found out, (most likely written by Solomon, son of David). The summation at the end of the story, "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil." (Chapter 12, Verses 13-14) I'm so glad my mom understood this truth. We talked about it many times. She was ready. I mentioned to those assembled at her home-going service about her heart 's concern for her family. She wanted each of them to know Jesus. We talked about it many times. She had learned something. That's it. The single most important issue of life. Knowing Jesus. Preparing for that day when we will no longer be here, but, we will arrive at our eternal destination. We talked about it many times. Take care and may God bless us all is my prayer. Amen. ....More later.

Friday, May 19, 2017

I am back, or, better stated, I am here.

I bring you greetings on this return to work Friday, May 19, 2017. Thanks to every single person wherever they happen to be who prayed for our family during the illness and final home-going of our precious mother. She leaves behind a testimony and a legacy. It will probably take me a few days to get things all lined up and headed in the right direction, but, I will do my best to get back into the groove as soon as possible. The wife is still in Louisiana and she and others are doing God's work in trying to transition dad to a situation where he can function and be cared for. Lord willing, I plan to fetch her this coming Sunday so she can be back home again. I'm looking forward to things getting back into some facsimile of normal. For us, that might be hard, since normal has always been more or less a moving target. However, God is to be praised for being with us during these days, weeks, and months. My brother Victor and I were privileged to speak alongside the preachers at mom's service. To me, that was a singular honor to stand and recognize this great woman and to offer thanks to God and to so many who have helped out during this time. Fitting. It was all so fitting.

What? You didn't know I could feed and burp a baby?
I do have a new great grand born to our Chris' daughter Brittany and her Ryan. Her name is Gabriella Grace and for the first time in our history, Poppy got his hands on the baby before MiMi. Not to worry, she will be here soon enough. They counted 89 descended directly from mom and dad. Well, add two more just since mom's home-going. That is the way of life and we thank God for His provisions. Have a great Saturday and Lord's Day Sunday and maybe, just maybe, after 'you-know-who' gets back, I will be a tad less discombobulated, or something like that. Amen. .....More later.      

Monday, May 15, 2017

The life and times of a woman of distinction.

Lena Chavez

Lena McMillan Abbott Chavez was born on May 3, 1924, in Rattan, Louisiana, to Gertrude Curtis and Andrew Rancher McMillan. She drew her last breath in the room of the house that she loved on Saturday, May 13, 2017, at 2:30 p.m. Viewing is planned for Tuesday evening, May 16, First Baptist of Hornbeck, Louisiana, from 6 to 9 p.m. The service will be Wednesday, May 17, at 10 a.m. at First Baptist. Internment will follow in the Central Louisiana Veterans Cemetery, Fort Polk, Louisiana. Her last days were spent surrounded by a loving and grateful gathering of family and friends. She was predeceased by her parents, husband, Cecil Abbott; her siblings, infant Seawillow, Asa, twins Jack and Jean, Helen, and Curtis. Her children, Jimmy Don, Kayla, Donald, and Miriam. She leaves to treasure her memory her devoted husband Jose Chavez, and her brother Waymon. Her children, daughters Francis and JoAnn, son Al and wife Marilyn, son Victor and wife Maria, son-in-law Tommy, son Richard and wife Stephanie. God granted her 93 years and her faithfulness to Him has been passed on to her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren. That count is at least 89 in number and over 100 when spouses are included. In addition to these, there is a huge number of cousins, nieces, nephews, and others connected to the family. That is a legacy. Grandsons will be honored to serve as pallbearers. As for her and dad Jose, their love story was known far and wide. We as her family have been blessed by their loving commitment to one another for these nearly 40 years. The great news is how that we are not saying goodbye, just this: See you soon, just over in the Gloryland.
In lieu of flowers please consider a gift in her name to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. A special link has been established:
 (Arrangements under the direction of Labby Funeral Home, Leesville, La.)