Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Showers of Blessings!

After my six hour marathon trek from doctor to doctor and having been shot full of radioactive material for photos, to the extent the North Koreans have sent word they want to talk to me, and after a full and complete physical examination, plus having been given a chemical that caused my heart to mimic Lance Armstrong at full speed on his bicycle, I finally limped back to the office and tried to catch my breath. Now it’s all up to the networking sign off’s of the variety of co-conspirators who will determine whether I qualify to have holes drilled into my knee or not. Therefore, I am in a wait and see mode at this time.

Meanwhile, I cannot help but think about this important day for me and for my family. It was back in 1968 on this very day that our middle son was born. He was a tiny, little spindly fellow who had the olive complexion previously worn by my wife’s folks who carried some American Indian in their bloodline. When he was still a very small baby he had some serious challenges and as an infant we had to put him in the hospital due to dehydration. There he was in the middle of a regular hospital bed with an IV connected to his thigh. Granny Mac was there with us and she kept her walking cane nearby just in case anyone stepped out of line. She always had a way of letting her presence be known.

That was how it all started. Since that time, his life has been anything but easy with many health challenges and the emotional stresses that try men’s souls. Today, he has committed himself to seeing his life count as a husband, dad, and child of God. We, as his parents, have never stopped praying for all of our children, literally, day and night. We can only thank God for Jimmy’s progress and his desire to see God work in his life. This is what parents live for and this is what we believe our calling is, to hand down our faith, our example, and even the lessons we have learned through our own difficulties, that God might be honored in the family He has blessed us with. Happy 40th Birthday and may God bless our Jimmy Don Sr.

Today also marks the 15th anniversary of my last day working with the Big Company. That was a life changing experience for us all. Many have commented over the years that perhaps this was a huge mistake on my part. And, they may be right but it really is too late to change it and given the situation as I saw it then, I know that God has brought us to where we are today and I thank Him that I am not the person I was then. Does that mean I’ve done everything better since leaving that environment? Hardly. But it does mean that He has helped me see things through the lens of truth and because of that I can see how much I’ve changed as a result. I look back on that 24-year period of my life with great fondness, especially as I recall the remarkable people who helped me to succeed beyond my wildest dreams. Thank God for His provisions infused into our lives! Amen.

I should hear sometime this morning about what I will be doing tomorrow, surgery or not. Thus far, the only calls I have been getting lately have been from the various specialties regarding my part of the payment process. This reminds me of when our youngest was born in the large metro hospital. Our other two had been born in rural hospitals in Louisiana. The small hospital approach was very different. When I went to fetch my wife and newborn son I was instructed to go to the cashier’s office. There they presented me with a bill for the amount they estimated between what my insurance would pay versus what I would owe. Hello? I didn’t know this was how it was going to work. I told them I didn’t even have my checkbook. They asked me what bank, I told them, and they immediately produced a counter check from my bank. Welcome to a brand new world and even more so today! But thank God He has provided the means for me to take care of this current need but it’s still interesting as I work my way through the process. Thanks to all who read my blog. The other day I received a note from someone who accidentally landed on my blog who had been blessed in a positive way from whatever it was I was ranting and raving about that day. Here's the way I see it: You can never go wrong if you include God’s truth and that’s one of the things I do try to do each day! ….More later.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Happy Trails to You!

Okay, here we go again! The cardiologist said he couldn’t really see anything wrong BUT since I am a diabetic he wants me to undergo a chemical induced nuclear stress test, (can’t do the treadmill because of the knee), before he signs off on my surgery clearance. He said diabetics don’t always show symptoms like other people, especially in the area of blood flow, therefore, he thinks it a practical step. Practical, smactical! This means today I go to see my primary care, then rush to get the retakes of my school pictures, no I mean the x-rays they messed up, then from there I dash to the lab for the up to 3 hour stress test to see if I can be cleared for knee surgery. After the hectic weekend I had, and holding my little grandsons, (which I will never complain about), but my knee is being very noisy so I guess I need to get all this done to see if I can somehow qualify myself for this needed procedure.

If nothing else it gives me something to talk about each day. It would be a wonderful time to comment on this most beautiful day with a most refreshing rush of cool air. Thank You Lord for the unexpected adjustment to the thermostat! It's 46 degrees here at our workplace out in the country right at 5 a.m. This alone would ordinarily be enough to put a little spring into my step but to tell the truth it doesn’t really do much for the knee. I believe the doctor did say earlier something about how the knee would begin to declare its own priority the longer I wait. They do have a way with words, don’t they? Of course I made the comment to the cardiologist and his assistant that I wasn’t really that concerned about trying to keep my surgeon’s slot for Thursday. They didn’t see any humor in my assessment so I reckon they all conspire together to make these schedules work. Meanwhile, I can always hurry up to wait.

My mom’s birthday is coming up this weekend and she and dad are planning to go on a trip! Just week before last she was in the hospital. Now they are going on a mini-vacation! Do we serve a great God or what? I know by her own testimony that she always gives God the thanks, the honor, and the praise, for everyday He provides to her. I told her I had planned on driving over to see her on Saturday and she said "NOT AFTER HAVING SURGERY!" Hey, she doesn’t know how much I’m counting on that 80% category where folks jump up from the operating table and head to the jogging track. But I am so thankful she’s up and going and able to plan this time of relaxation and travel.

I always heard growing up that an idle mind or maybe idle hands was the devil’s workshop. Just so you know, there’s not too much idleness happening on my agenda at the present time. Now as to the mind part, well, that’s a different story, because I’m not sure how well the one I have works anymore. I’ve heard about how the mind is often talked about in terms of tracks, one track, off track, but in my case I often wonder if there was a derailment that I failed to notice. Joking, I think, but that would bring me right back to the mind thing. At any rate, all and all, I have so very little to complain about, just fun stuff that I see as I make my way through the life God has given to me, and things like this noisy knee that we are trying to do something about as soon as we can. Remember the key to having JOY in your life. Jesus first. Others second. And, Yourself last! Have a blessed day and we will see what happens next! ….More later.

Monday, April 28, 2008

God Is Good, All the Time! All the Time, God is Good!

Good Monday morning. We hosted all of our children and grandchildren yesterday to celebrate my wife's birthday from last Wednesday and our middle son's 40th coming up this next Wednesday. What a day! I had put together a barbecue Saturday evening and that's what we enjoyed for lunch. Since it was my wife's birthday I typically try to do all the cooking. I was up in the wee hours of Sunday morning peeling nearly 10 pounds of potatoes for the potato salad. It was not the best of mornings. I couldn't find this or that and I certainly wasn't going to wake her up to find out where anything was located. The potatoes boiled over on the stove and it seemed like everything I got hold of tended to do the opposite of what I was wanting it to do. I was talking with our eldest while cooking Saturday evening and told him it had been so long since I had done that much meat on the grill, I thought I had forgotten how. I also mentioned that I had confidence in Granny Mac's homemade barbecue sauce to cover up any flaws. It's really Granny Mac's plus my wife's brother's secret ingredient, cola! At any rate, it's a barbecue sauce you can't buy anywhere and our family loves it.

This morning I was up around 3:30 a.m., and as I looked around all I could see was stuff turned upside down with toy cars and trucks here and there. Most of the toys our grandsons play with at our house belonged to their dads when they were kids. Instead of being peeved by the disorder of things, all I could do was enjoy a sense of blessing from God as I could see in my mind's eye Brady, Alex, Lexie, Amanda, Alesha, Lil Jim, Kyleigh, Stefani, Brittany, Tiffany, and her friend J. C. I can also see our children and their wives, Rodney and Mitzi, Jimmy and Mindi, and Chris and Sherrie, and of course the lady of the house, wife Marilyn. I also remembered the mountains of food piled up on the boys' plates and how our eldest said he knew he was going to most likely be ill but it was so-o-o-o good, he had to have one more plate. For us, these are our treasured days. Chaotic, loud, laughing, and sometimes crying when one of the little ones fall, but what a day to be thanking God for the birthdays and the blessings!

Today it's back to the real world where I will be very busy getting ready to get ready for my surgery later this week. I have the cardiologist this morning and will need his blessing before they can put me under for the knee scope. Tomorrow I have my primary care guy who has to also sign off a sheet with about 100 boxes that need to be checked. The surgeon told me that 80% of the people who have this surgery have little or no side effects and can return to their normal activities immediately. The other 20% end up with some minor complications, swelling, slow healing, and other stuff. In this case I have built my schedule around the 80% rule, therefore, I intend, with God's help, to have the surgery on Thursday and be back at 100% bright and early Friday morning.

It was a busy last week and a hugely busy last Saturday. Sunday was a great day. We enjoyed meeting with our brothers and sisters in Christ in our Bible study time, our morning worship, and all the other activities of the day. The old saying about not having to be rocked to sleep certainly fit me last night. There is tired, there is weary, and there is total fatigue, but all of these can have the word good in front of them whenever you are humbled by God's goodness, His grace, and His blessings. Yesterday morning as I was rehearsing with my mom all the things that had gone wrong in getting ready for our day, she told me she felt like it was going to be a wonderful day for us and our family. She was right! That's why it is always best to listen to your mother! May God help us all to have a great work week and to find ways to honor Him by helping others! Amen. ....More later.

Friday, April 25, 2008

You Can't Make This Stuff Up!

Yesterday I wrote about all the vigorous activities involved in me trying to run as hard as I can (on a bad knee) to get everything done so I can be cleared for surgery next week. My wife said she thought the blog I wrote about it was very funny. I asked her if she saw anything there that was not true. She said as far as she knew it was all true and that’s what makes it funny. Life is funny. The things we have to do at times are funny. Everywhere you go there’s funny stuff going on.

I carried my wife out to eat on Wednesday evening for dinner to celebrate her birthday. If you read my blog that day you will remember it had a funny story about how older people begin to forget things. Hello? We used to patronize this restaurant fairly often. But, after being served our meal we both immediately remembered that last time we were there we promised never to come there again. But we had not remembered that when I suggested we go to that particular place. Guess what? She had the same place in mind! Is this a great life or what?

So the food wasn’t great. The service wasn’t great. But the entertainment was wonderful. No, they didn’t have a floorshow; I’m talking about the people who were sitting on both sides of us. One table had four folks about our age but they were all drinking martinis and we did hear some funny stories from that quartet. They giggled and laughed as they told about a variety of medical issues, treatments, and failed prescriptions. We also heard the details of having to endure a wedding out in Vegas of a daughter who married a long-haired, tattooed ‘all over’ young man. You would have had to been there but it was lively, some of it interesting, and to us, much of it funny.

On the other side there was a couple perhaps a little older than us but the man had a voice that you could hear out on the freeway. When the waitress (if that’s what they call them these days) asked him about his steak he gave her a lecture on the meat you can purchase at the local Kroger. He groused about most everything going on in and around him but he didn’t have to wonder if the manager out near the front door could hear him. Everyone could hear him! My wife wondered out loud how his wife could be anything other than horribly embarrassed. I told her that most likely it was one of those things that came with the package. At any rate, we actually had a wonderful time together, enjoying our conversations, punctuated by some real life funnies going on around us.

Once again we made a solemn pledge to remember to remember never to return to that particular place again. It used to be really great and we did enjoy talking about the memories from all the good times we had there with our kids growing up, and groups who had met there, along with it being a favorite of some of our friends. I suppose it was the good memories that caused us to set aside what we had previously concluded. In the end, we didn’t enjoy our meal but we will not soon forget the atmosphere because you really can’t make this stuff up, and that’s what makes it great! God bless you and yours. Enjoy your Saturday. Do your best to start the new week off by showing up at the gathering place to meet with God and other believers on Sunday. Then on Monday I’ll try to come up with something to share. In doing so I will do my best to be brief by remembering the question my grandfather often asked me, “Son, are you coming up for air anytime soon?” ……More later.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sweating With the Oldies!

It's a busy world after all. I am just about meeting myself coming back in my pursuit of getting ready for knee surgery next week. I'm not that sensitive about my age but if I hear how they need one more test because of being over 60, well, I might just explode. I've been under a doctor's care now for nearly a year with all the blood checking and medications but he has to do a pre-surgery physical which requires additional blood work and an office visit. In addition, they want a cardiac clearance which requires me to go to a heart doctor on Monday because I haven't had a heart work up in many years. For some reason I'm doing all this like there's no tomorrow because of my slot on next Thursday's surgery schedule. Is that the last time my doctor will ever do surgery again? At any rate, it has been somewhat frustrating because of all the running around I've been doing.

It may have all begun to go downhill whenever I visited the doctor last Tuesday. It was what they call a pre-op visit before the surgery. They started off with having me read a document that gave all the outcomes that might happen as a result of the surgery. Now I realize they have to cover themselves for liability reasons but what a way to start your day off! You might just die. Your knee may be worse than it is now. You could have a dozen or more complications. If someone accidentally sticks you with a bad needle you might have a good knee but leave the hospital with HIV/Aids. Here again, I know this is the legal stuff and the doctor made it clear these were not the outcomes they were expecting, but it does cause one to pause and think about the process itself.

They had me do a chest x-ray. Later in the day the nurse called me and asked me if I was a tobacco user. Okay, let me see if I've got this? I had a chest x-ray and they are calling about my smoking habits? So, I nervously asked if it had anything to do with the x-ray. She said yes, but not for what I might have been thinking. She went on to say the people who were to read the x-ray somehow messed up the film but since I had not smoked in over 40 years, they were not going to ask me to come back in and redo the x-ray. This is 2008 and they can still mess up the film of a chest x-ray? I thought they used computers to do all this these days. Oh well, go figure.

I had no idea when I flipped off that platform back in February that trying to put Humpty back together again would end up being so draining. Phone calls are flying forth and back. Schedules are being checked and rechecked. Reminders are coming in from places I've never been before. Why? I'm not on the roster for a sport's team at the moment but they are treating me like a prized athlete or so it seems. My wife wants me to get all this done because she knows the pain I'm in plus she's already scheduled to be off that day. My surgeon wants me to do it because I'm probably number 12 on his quota list for that day and he has his heart set on getting that new Ferrari this year. I'm just joking. I'm thankful for all that others are doing to help deal with my torn lateral and medial meniscus. I thought I would throw that in just to show you I am paying attention. Have a great Thursday and always remember that God is in control of all things including the small stuff, therefore, I would be much better off not sweating it! ......More later.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Happy Birthday To A Woman of Distinction

Today is my wife’s birthday. King Solomon who had a lot of experience with wives was inspired to collect and publish wise sayings. Here is one from Proverbs 18:22 “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favor from the LORD.” As we near our 44th year together this proverb has become a living reality. She is the real deal, period, end of story. This is not to say we have not had our ups and downs, challenges, and daunting threats, but all in all, it has been just what this verse says, our life together has reflected favor from the LORD.

I thank God for the huge difference she has made and continues to make in my life. This doesn’t mean we never have a spat or misunderstanding but as we have grown older together they have become less and less. Some might say maybe we are just too old to fight anymore but I believe it has something to do with spiritual maturity that comes only from above.

When younger guys ask me what it takes to have a healthy marriage, I hit them with the best advice I know. It comes, of course, from the Bible, and it just happens to be the verse that turned my life around as it relates to my responsibility towards this wonderful gift God has given to me. Here it is: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for her…..” (Ephesians 5:25) Sadly, many hear this verse and think it impossible and reject it out of hand. They are partially right because it is impossible without God’s help, but very possible with His help. Why? Because it is His will.

While I often miss the mark, this is how I try to treat my wife, with God’s help. Because of her and what she means to me and so many others, I can, without any hesitation, rise up to call her blessed as well as a great blessing. (see Proverbs 31) As we continue our journey together I thought this funny story might reflect what we have to look forward to. And, we have already begun to see a preview of this now and then.

An older couple were having problems remembering things so they went to their doctor to get checked out. After examining them, the doctor told them they were physically okay but might want to start writing things down and make notes to help them remember. The couple thanked the doctor and left. Later that night while watching TV, the man got up from his chair and his wife asked, "Where are you going?" He replied, "To the kitchen." She asked, "Will you get me a bowl of ice cream?" He responded, "Sure." She then asked him, "Don't you think you should write it down so you can remember it?" He laughed, "No, I can remember that." She then added, "Well, I also would like some strawberries on top. You had better write that down cause I know you'll forget that." He responded, "I can remember that, you want a bowl of ice cream with strawberries." She then added, "Well, I also would like whip cream on top so I strongly suggest you write it all down." With irritation in his voice, he barked, "I don't need to write that down, I can remember it." He then fumed into the kitchen. After about 20 minutes he returned and handed her a plate of bacon and eggs. She stared at the plate for a moment and said, "I knew it, I knew it, you forgot my toast."

Thanks for being such a wonderful wife. Happy Birthday Sweetheart!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Serious Movie with A Serious Message

Let me preface today’s blog by saying that I will readily admit early and often that my faith in God gives me a huge bias when it comes to evaluating anything. For I do believe and embrace the truth expressed by the psalmist, David, in the 14th division, verse 1, where he said: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, They have done abominable works, There is none who does good.” However, this is America and folks who are believers have the right to express their opinions just like anyone else. A believing scientist who does research should be able to report the results of their work and not have it suppressed just because they are known to believe in God. Think about this being the real issue as you read what I have for you today.

This last Saturday I went to see the documentary styled movie with Ben Stein, entitled, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”. This movie deals with the pursuit of scientific evidence regarding the world we live in. The movie revolves around Ben Stein in his work as an investigative reporter in attempting to discover why well-qualified research scientists lose their jobs for even contemplating or mentioning the subject of Intelligent Design (ID). While the so-called intelligentsia have trashed the movie and decried it as being nothing but nonsense, I challenge anyone to go and see what Ben found out and then make up your own mind.

One of the themes that comes through in the responses of those in power within academia is how that anyone whose study, research, and conclusions do not line up with Darwinian evolution, their ideas are immediately suspect, and thought to be ignorant, stupid, and without merit. These people who are openly said to be idiots happen to be highly respected scholars recognized in their disciplines who hold the highest of academic credentials. While laughable based on the way in which these people are talked about, any prejudice against these scientists is hotly denied. One thing is clear, those in power will not tolerate under any circumstances even the mention of the words Intelligent Design.

We are talking about universities, many of which were originally founded by faith communities for the purpose of Biblical education, who now not only reject any arguments concerning any other facts than those that fit the Darwinian dogma, even where the evidence demands another explanation, but they go beyond even that to disallow even the mention of ID in any context whatsoever. Why? They say it is to keep religion completely out of science so that only facts will prevail instead of religious ideas. I will only mention in passing for your further study the historical record of scientific discoveries made by those whose faith in God guided their work and their lives. In other words, in today's world, evidence be damned, we will not have anything other than what we have determined to be the facts and we will not even allow a hand to be raised with a question.

The movie overlays its examination of this subject on top of what happened in Nazi Germany during Hitler’s reign of terror and how that official rhetoric was enforced through executions, sentences to concentration camps, and other tyrannical means. Ben Stein’s view is that this is not a matter of religion versus science. To him, it is a matter of the freedom of speech that has throughout our history as a nation, invited inquiry, even unpopular inquiry, and encouraged people to challenge accepted theories and ideas. While the elite smugly dismiss this movie as in anyway reflective of reality, the folks who have lost their jobs, lost their research grants, and are now on the outside looking in have a much different understanding.

I highly recommend that every person concerned for future generations to go and see this film. Whether you are a believer in God or not, surely we all believe that people should be able to express their research findings without fear of repression and ruin. In many ways this situation mirrors the growing number of trained professionals who have dared to question Al Gore’s version regarding the subject of global warming. The fact they would even proffer other thoughts and ideas is considered to show them for who they really are in heart, not true academicians, regardless of their scholastic credentials, but as the former vice president recently said, “Flat earth believers.”

I’m reminded of one interview from the Ben Stein movie where one of the friends of a dismissed colleague whom he said was brilliant, had advised his friend to just let it go, to just keep his mouth shut, but he wouldn’t listen. He couldn't because he truly believed the evidence pointed to something other than the official dogma being espoused by the science department. As a result, he failed to make tenure and eventually lost his position. I am not a movie person and rarely go to the movie theatre. I think you owe it to yourself, your family, and to your country to see the film, evaluate what is said and shown, and then decide for yourself. Now that’s the American way, or at least that used to be the American way! …….More later.