Friday, August 29, 2008

Don't forget to leave a wake-up call at the front desk!

Get those gray cells warmed up and going because it is Friday already, August 29, 2008. Maybe this song will help get you started: “When the red, red robin comes bob-bob bobbin' along - There'll be no more sobbin' when he starts throbbin' his old sweet song - Wake up, wake up you sleepy head - Get up, get out of your bed - Cheer up, cheer up the sun is red - Live, love, laugh and be happy.” If the tune didn’t jump out at you when you read the words it’s probably because you are under the age of 30. This song was actually written back in the 1920’s and has been recorded by most of the musical legends beginning with Al Jolson. I hate to burst your bubble but Al is not the lead singer for a punk rock group, he actually died in 1950.

I’ve known many people over the years whose greatest challenge on a daily basis is in being able to wake up, get up, and get going. Managing a group with over 150 people gave me plenty of feedback on the variety of problems different folks have in this area. The experts say the number one success factor is having a great reason to get up in the first place. I suppose this has something to do with being thankful for having a job or classroom to go to and in having an expectant desire to embrace the opportunity. It almost goes without saying that going to bed on time would be important. Some use the thought of consequences to help stir their motivation. Others say while a powerful alarm clock will help, they warn that you should stay away from one with a snooze button since the temptation to keep hitting it will always be there.

Just because I don’t use an alarm and rarely have any issues in getting up doesn’t mean that I’ve never overslept. It may sound strange but on those occasions when I have overslept my target I typically still can be early at my job station. That’s because my typical schedule puts me very early at work, therefore, being late for me is to be barely early. People like me who are morning people squared can’t really identify with those who are on the opposite end of the scale. I know this first hand since I live with one of those of the opposite persuasion. The difference, no pun intended, is like daylight versus dark. She loves sleeping in and looks forward to doing so every opportunity she gets. I don’t see it as something to be desired to begin with, therefore, I find myself waiting up to four or more hours on some Saturdays just to share breakfast with my bride!

The motivation part we all can work on. Being excited about each day and thankful that God has provided you with reasons to get up is something that can be developed. If you have physical limitations or if you are hardwired one way or the other, then no doubt it’s more challenging to adjust. I have to deal with this issue myself. Some folks are just getting their second wind at 7 p.m., while I am definitely in the wind down mode. However, if I am needed I have to find the necessary energy to set aside my preferences to accomplish the task at hand. Discipline, respect, and being willing to be flexible in doing whatever is needed will make the most difference over time. ‘My way only’ is always a non-starter. See you very early on Monday morning and may God give us all the things we need to pursue and accomplish His best! Amen. ….More later (earlier!)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Elucidation In Progress for Thursday!

Thursday has arrived and it just happens to be in living color on this August 28, 2008. My wife didn’t like my blog from yesterday so much. She thought I was being way too hard on myself. That was not my intention but part of knowing who you are is in having a really good idea about who you are not. I will say God was with me yesterday in my early meeting with the quality team folks. Outstanding workmanship will go a long way in pulling your bacon out of the fire, (whatever that means), and that’s exactly what happened. They looked at a number of the panels we are currently building for them, went over them with a fine tooth comb, and came back to my office and poured on the praise for the quality of our work.

Hello? And I was afraid they were going to ask about that airflow formula for calculating cross flow ventilation in an enclosed space. (Just kidding.) Their visit had not started out that way because one of them led off with a stirring lecture on the benefits of doing things right the first time. One of the fellows was an African American that I knew from a prior meeting and he is a Bible quoting machine. He literally glows in his reflection of what Christ means to him. The other fellow who did the speech seemed puzzled by the brotherly connection his comrade and I portrayed. God is good and in the end I’ll take that unexpected compliment, pass it on to our owner and the guys building their boxes, and move on to the next opportunity for me to bring defeat where certain victory is in view. (Another just kidding, but I threw it in for my wife.)

In two weeks we will begin the fourteenth year of our inner city Bible club ministry. It will be my eleventh year and I am excited about the potential for touching the lives of these precious children. We had our little planning meeting last Tuesday evening and it was so good to see Brother Kim and his folks again. When I hit a few snags and become distracted and discouraged in doing my thing for the Lord, I try to remember Brother Kim and his very difficult mission field. I continue to describe it the best way I know how. He essentially works in an environment that unfolds like an ongoing episode of Cops. Only eternity will reveal the full impact of his labors there. Pray for us in this new club year as we seek to do our best, with God’s help, to make a difference.

I kept my commitment to not watch any of the Beijing Olympics but I did keep up with what was going on through news and online sources. I have only caught a few minutes here and there of the Democratic National Convention but I have read quite a bit about the speeches thus far, all the shenanigans going on behind the scenes, and the spin coming from both democratic and republican sources. I understand the ratings are up considerably compared to the 2004 affair; therefore, interest in this election is heating up. I know the stakes are high. I did watch the two presumed nominees in the presidential forum hosted by Saddleback Church on August 16 out in California. I was super impressed with the format where both candidates were separately asked exactly the same questions. For anyone who really wants to know where these guys stand on a variety of issues that matter to us all, this forum is still available out on the web for viewing. (I did a quick search and the video is available on YouTube and transcripts are out there on different sites as well.) I highly recommend it as a critical information source for every concerned voter. In the end, we must all come to our decision, hopefully prayerfully considered, and vote as we believe God would have us to. Fortunately, He will still be ultimately in charge of all things regardless of who wins in November. Have a great day and may God bless America. Amen. …..More later.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Land Shark in a Fish Tank!

Wednesday is here and it's August 27, 2008. Fatigue. Most of us are aware of what fatigue is all about. There can be physical tiredness that in many ways is fairly easy to deal with. Can you spell r-e-s-t? Then there's the mental tiredness that can be more difficult to handle. In every business there are common processes that are somewhat familiar. I can deal with planning, management, and operational challenges. However, most businesses also include areas of expertise that really do require specialized knowledge and understanding. This is where I am very lacking in the environment I work in today. No one has ever accused me of being mechanical. Even as a kid I used to go with my grandfather to help him on carpenter projects. He would often become very agitated because I didn't know the difference between one tool or the other or couldn't remember how to turn a board half over. It just wasn't my cup of tea. That's not to say I didn't know how to help unload lumber or do other types of manual labor. Often in the work I do today I'm right smack in the middle of some very specialized technical fabrication details that make it really tough for a guy who would rather be setting up a new organization, writing some procedures, or coordinating and managing projects.

My most recent challenge has been dealing with the design specifications for some louvers that are required in some enclosures we are building. One of the worst possible scenarios is to be dealing with folks who are supposed to know what they are talking about but you can't really be sure if they do or do not because you certainly don't have a clue. One thing you learn is that just because people call themselves engineers or experts don't necessarily make them one. However, if you are more or less clueless on the details yourself, the process for finding these things out can be challenging, taxing, and in a deadline oriented world, very trying. I often joke about how fortunate I've been in being able to tip toe through the minefields that make up much of what we do. Most of the time I've been able to somehow squeeze out the right answers and help keep the business humming. And, I do have enough of the stuff I do know how to do to contribute in those areas as well.

Yet, it can be quite a daunting experience to be more and more thrust into these situations where I'm the only person involved who has little to no idea about what is being talked about. I am blessed because God has given me a quick mind and I can pick up enough to stay in the game and even advance the ball down the field. But how long can this go on? I love challenges but the mental stress can chip away at one's capacity over time. Many of the people I deal with assume I know much more than I do. That's actually a good thing. They often talk themselves into the solution and all I have to do is be there to facilitate the conversation. Facilitating conversations is something I can do! It would be funny if it wasn't so scary sometimes. The other day I had an important question posed to me about a very technical issue at hand. It so happened that I had recently overheard some bits and pieces that sounded like it was on the same subject so I jumped in there with some of those comments. Was I ever shocked when the fellow thanked me for helping him to find the right answer. The problem I now have is this guy thinks I do know something and you know what that could lead to!

While all of this has been written to a certain extent, tongue in cheek, it does carry with it the ring of truth. I may have gone so far as to have even convinced the folks here that I know more than I do. No wonder I leave this place mentally spent at times! But, to be honest, I enjoy much of what I do. I love the people I work with. I look forward to being here each day. I guess we all should be thankful I'm not doing what I'm doing in a munitions plant. As my wife will tell you, whatever I'm doing each day, it doesn't take long each evening for me to answer the lights out call. I'm not sure if I am a fish out of water or a little fish in a big pond or a big fish in a little pond but it is what it is and I thank God each day for giving me the opportunity to apply myself to the task at hand. Oh yeah, I just remembered, I have some important people from one of our main customers coming in this morning to discuss quality concepts in metal fabrication environments. This should be good! Say a prayer for them, and me too! Have a great day and may God bless one and all. Amen. .......More later.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

This and That for Tuesday!

Here we are again and it's Tuesday, August 26, 2008. Okay, my wife should finally be pleased that I took the time to change the photo on my blog. To put it succinctly, she hated the other one. I figured once you change your appearance so dramatically, continuing the shock value would be more or less normal. I will admit it wasn't a great photo but it was one that I took myself holding the camera at arm's length, so what would you expect? She went to lunch last week with some ladies and it was only then she found out the extent of concern many had regarding my health. One of her very good friends told her she had received numerous calls about my well being because they thought maybe my wife may have confided in her. I continue to have to endure some running jokes where I’m called Yoda or one that said my picture reminded them of the fellow who led his entire group (Heaven’s Gate) into suicide as they waited on the comet to take them to their eternal bliss.

It really is good to know that people care and that they do pay attention. I did try the explanation of me being in a witness protection plan but that essentially went nowhere. The great news is how my little ones have shown that Poppy is Poppy and they don’t mind his appearance one bit. What kind of testimony do you want to leave behind? This past Sunday I had a young mother that we have known since she was very young tell me something that I will always treasure. She said as they came onto the Church grounds she saw me at the first entrance bending down to greet some little ones. She said she told her husband, “You see him doing that? He used to do that very same thing every Sunday when I was a little girl. We would all stand in line and he would kiss each of us on the forehead.” That's a remembrance I’ll take any day of the week!

School is back in session with some excited and others more or less resigned to their fate. We have another high school senior in our family this year and that is hard to fathom. Where did the time go? We have been blessed to have our kids always near us for their entire lives. This makes seeing them age and our grandchildren go through these transitions in life very real to us. What ever happened to that girl who loved figuring out any and every way possible to get to stay with MiMi and Poppy? I heard her talking yesterday, or was it bubbling? She has so many plans as she anticipates this last year of high school. May God bless her as she reaches for all He has planned for her life.

We had a missionary couple visiting our Church services this past Sunday. Their testimony of how God has worked in their lives is amazing. They are not young. About ten years ago God moved in their hearts to start a Christian literature translation ministry. In addition to preaching, he ran a large Christian publications business for over 20 years. His work provided curriculum for thousands of Churches. She was a schoolteacher. God moved and they moved out of their comfort zone to begin this new ministry by faith. Ten years later they have produced literally hundreds of thousands of pages of Christian materials in native languages for the Philippines, Thailand, Burma, Africa, and now in Romania. So many lives touched with truth! God is not finished with us yet! He still speaks and I thank God for those who respond. They encourage us all to keep on keeping on and to be thankful for the privilege of serving! May we be found always listening when He calls. Have a blessed day! Amen. ……More later.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Hailstones, Gallstones, Kidney Stones, & Milestones!

If I have to come up and get you, it’s not going to be pleasant. Get up sleepyhead, it’s Monday, August 25, 2008. That’s how I used to call up the stairs to the boys whenever their mom was away and I was responsible for getting them off to school. We all need a wake up call now and then. My mom says that I always got up immediately while she had to literally drag some down the hall. The DNA blueprint handed to me must have had the get up early box checked. Yesterday many of our entire clan came together to officially celebrate my recent arrival to the ripe new age of 62. What a day it was and one I will not soon forget. A HUGE thank you to my wife for putting together the HUGE homemade lunch. If it had been completely dark I do believe you would have been able to see the sparks flying off the spoons and forks. In the end it was a special day because most of our family were able to be there, together, one more time.

I’ve written about the 62 issue more than once. It is what it is and there is some comfort in realizing that the look ahead planning as it relates to various options are now tangible in the present tense. That in and of itself is a threshold change. It’s not that I have become bullet proof in terms of my status but it does mean I can seriously consider new alternatives as I move forward. I was recently scanning through an extensive government study on aging and retirement completed in 2005 and it had some very interesting data. On average most people close to or in their early retirement years significantly underestimate their life expectancy. It seems that if you are in your early 60’s, then 80 is the most likely target people use for planning, but the facts show that huge numbers are living well past that mark. I must admit that’s the number I’ve had in mind since beginning to look at options, but as with all things related to life and death, the final result is in God’s hands.

This means that many people do live to be able to legitimately echo Mark Twain’s famous quote, “If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.” Those of us who are believers have to try to balance common sense planning so that it fits into our ‘one day at a time’ walk with God. This can be challenging as we seek to honor God’s providential care while also being a good steward over the life and resources He has given to us. Days like yesterday demand a response of gratefulness and thankfulness to God for the blessings He does allow in my life. And, I do give Him the thanks for it all.

Walking through the door marked 62 is now a closed chapter but it remains to be seen what the script will be moving forward. I almost pulled the trigger on that AARP membership one day last week but I wasn’t quite ready to click that confirm button. My wife tells everyone that I am a committed procrastinator but I rather like to think I engage in thoughtful deliberations. She would likely say, “It’s only $12.50 a year, how long does your thoughtful study take?” She’s been for us joining since we received that first notice many years ago. In time my dear, everything in its own time. The other day while at the doctor they made me wait over 30 minutes in the examination room. I finished going over some notes for Sunday’s Bible lesson and then began to peruse all the different displays, charts, and models sitting around the room. Hidden in the back on the window ledge was a plastic object and it had a tear off questionnaire on the front. Those questions dealt with symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease and I quickly ran through them. Hey, I know folks in their 40’s who would hit on some of these and I hit on a few of them myself. Lesson learned. Next time I won’t be so nosy as I patiently wait my turn because we all know that ignorance is bliss or something like that. (Maybe it’s fat, dumb, and happy, I will have to spend some time thinking about it.) At any rate, all of this is more than enough for one day and one blog, especially on a Monday. (The short and sweet box was not checked on my DNA blueprint!) Have a great rest of the week and may God bless. Amen. ....More later.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Not Too Fast On A Fasting Friday!

Welcome to fast Friday, August 22, 2008. I will be leaving later this morning for my blood draw. Now I’ve known about fasting most of my life and I’ve done a little of it but not regularly. I do know it is a serious topic so do not take my blog as in any way demeaning this practice as taught in the Scriptures. I really never thought about how it came to be translated into the word fast or fasting. The Hebrew and Greek words used in the original languages have the connotation of it being associated with the negative of ‘not’, as abstaining or not eating. A source I read, (, had this to say about how it became the English word we use: “Fast is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word, faest, which means "firm" or "fixed." The practice of going without food at certain times was called fasting, from the Anglo-Saxon, faesten, to hold oneself from food. Like most English words, the word fasting has more than one meaning. Thus, the dictionary defines fasting as "abstinence from food, partial or total, or from proscribed kinds of foods." In most religious fasts abstinence from proscribed foods is all that is meant. We may define it thus: Fasting--is abstention, entirely or in part, and for longer or shorter periods of time, from food and drink or from food alone.”

My blood work requires that I fast for fourteen hours before the draw. Therefore, I had my last bit of food before 7 p.m. last evening. Since water is all that I am supposed to have, I’ve had a fair amount already and I know I will survive without food until 10 a.m. BUT IT’S THE ECONOMY, STUPID! Sorry, that was the slogan Bill Clinton used to unseat the first President Bush, the fasting has caused me to be a little off this morning. Correct that to read: BUT IT’S THE COFFEE, STUPID! No coffee until 10 a.m., what’s next, bamboo under the fingernails? I vividly recall those early mornings when I was a kid watching my grandfather pour up the prior day’s left over coffee into a cup. It oozed out slowly and looked like black syrup and he would down it cold and I would shudder just thinking about it. Today I would be most happy to be able to take a big swig of that cold brew!

Coffee is good for you or coffee is not good for you, and if you will just wait for the next study, it will say that we can’t be sure one way or the other. We do know it contains a stimulant named caffeine and we can’t deny its properties in waking up our system. I’m one of those who can do with or without it, that’s why I’m so calm and collected at the moment. NOT!!!! I believe it was Senator Hillary Clinton who drew a lot of criticism when she said it takes a village to raise a child. In pleading my case, I’m inclined to say it takes a Community to take care of me. That refers, of course, to Community Coffee, or a cup of Java, or a cup of Joe. I will have to update you one day on how those terms came to reflect that wonderful black nectar. All of this is written in jest because to tell you the truth I’ve hardly noticed that I’ve not had any coffee, ….any coffee, ….any coffee, ….any coffee!!!!!!! Have a great Saturday and Sunday and Lord willing and the coffee holds out I’ll see you Monday with some more of this stuff that passes itself off as being of interest. May God bless and keep you all. Amen. …..More later.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Wars and Rumors of Wars!

Here are some thought provoking tidbits for Thursday, August 21, 2008. I had my regular medical checkup yesterday and it went very well. I will still do blood work to confirm that everything is on track but at this time I am very thankful for the way in which the diabetes is being controlled. We got the medical stuff out of the way rather quickly because my doctor who doubles as a theologian wanted to discuss how the invasion by Russia of Georgia fits into the biblical prophetic timeline. He had plenty to say about his view that this act of aggression was in keeping with the Prophet Daniel’s vision from Chapter 8. I tried to be polite but to tell the truth I was actually more focused on my medical condition than trying to evaluate all the stuff he was throwing out to me. At one point he said, “Come on Mr. Bible Scholar, think with me!” I appreciate this doctor and how he has helped me thus far, and I always enjoy talking about the Bible, but I’m not sure I want these types of discussions to become the main event when I go for my checkups!

At the same time, I am very aware of the seriousness of Russia’s sledgehammer approach in Georgia whenever a fly swatter would have been a more appropriate response. They did exactly what they wanted to do as a way of signaling to everyone in the world their intentions. While I continue to support our president, I will tell you that I was shocked several years ago whenever he said he had looked into Vladimir Putin’s eyes and saw the soul of a good man. That must have made for much bewilderment back in the Kremlin as they know him for what he is, a KGB leader who still carries cold war sentiments in his psyche. The word ruthless comes to mind as I think about how he has moved to tighten or take away the democratic freedoms of the Russian people. Meanwhile many Americans are still wondering why Russia would care about Georgia, since Jimmy Carter is no longer president. (While it sounds like a joke it really does reflect on far too many in their understanding of what is going on.)

The stakes, I’m afraid, are very high. If the western world allows Russia to invade its neighbors without consequence, then we have not seen the last of this type of incursion. Essentially, the Russians are betting on the US being stretched too thin to do anything while the UN, EU, and NATO have proven themselves over time to mostly make noise as opposed to flexing any real muscle. Control of the oil resources in that part of the world could rearrange the board as it relates to Russia’s influence and power. That’s certainly enough for the power brokers there to play the risk-reward game.

Bottom line, we wake up everyday to a dangerous world. However, when it comes to those who believe they have the power, they are fooling themselves because only God has ultimate authority and power over all things including what goes on in far away places. His plan is proceeding. His purpose is at hand. He will deal with all those who oppose His righteous rule. Some do trust in their armaments and military prowess but we who are called by the name of our Savior, we trust in the Lord our God. We pray for peace for the people of Georgia and we pray that freedom will be restored in their land. At the same time we rely on the Prince of Peace to be our hope both now and forever! Amen. ….More later.