Monday, August 31, 2009

Family Matters!

Welcome to a brand new work week on this last day of August, on this Monday, the 31st, 2009. I was off for a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday long weekend and am so thankful for all we were able to experience. Friday was one of those days that became an instant memory that we will always treasure. My wife and I traveled over to Louisiana to visit our folks there. We were there specifically to be with our dear brother Milton who continues to recover from a devastating heart failure and disabling stroke. For my wife's family it was a mini-reunion of sorts since once again her and her siblings were able to be together. I was able to drop her off and drive on for another twenty minutes to visit my mom and dad. It's always a special occasion when I can be with them. Thank You, Lord, for allowing them to be here and to have the health and ability to be up and about, typically always busy, and often engaged in serving others. I stayed with them for a couple of hours and we had a great time of laughing and loving and doing our best to settle all the great issues of the day, in and out of our family, in our country, and we probably touched on some international stuff as well. It was brief but when I left I had this feeling of overwhelming blessing for these special people in our lives.

When I returned out to my brother-in-law's place everyone had arrived. We enjoyed a wonderful meal together and then retired to the living room to visit. As I sat there next to Brother Milton and looked around the room I could not help but think about this family and how all those in that room had been a part of each other's lives for so many years. My wife's older brother Cleon is like a one-of-a-kind model of stability and faithfulness in all things pertaining to family. He was there the night we were married and actually signed as a witness on our marriage certificate. Brother Milton surrendered to preach in the summer of 1964 and he performed our marriage ceremony in December of that same year. He was one nervous preacher and we all had a good laugh as we recalled that night. His dear wife Glenda has stood by him all these years and God has blessed their ministry for Him in remarkable ways. My wife's sister Dorothy was her maid of honor at our wedding. Her husband Charles, currently recovering from having two heart stints installed, was involved with, if not responsible for, much of the mess they made of our car on our wedding night. I think he may have denied putting the Limburger cheese in the heater system of our car that night, but given the fact it was a very frosty night, we have never been certain just who to blame for that very unpleasant start to our honeymoon adventure.

There we all sat. Family. Family matters! Lots of gray hair, lots of no hair, and lots of memories in that semi-circle where we all sensed how very special it was that God had allowed us to be together one more time. Seeing the progress Brother Milton has made was enough to have brought about a shout of praise to our Great God. He still has memory trouble and eyesight difficulties but he now glows from the inside out with something God has given to him, peace. Brother Milton, a great communicator of God's Word, struggled with how his sudden illness could ever be useful or make sense, but now he is at peace and God has returned him in so many ways to the old Brother Milton. He can now laugh at many of the things that have happened to him. Family. Family matters! It was a long day and we were very tired when we arrived home but the weariness was infused with our thankfulness for a God given memory that we will always cherish. Okay, folks, there is a lesson in this little walk down memory lane. Don't let the busyness of life keep you from having this type of experience with those who have meant so much in your life. Yes, it does take effort and yes it may not be convenient, but my how wonderful it is to be able to share one more time, because family, yes, family matters! Have a great week and may God bless. Amen. More later.........

Friday, August 28, 2009

I promise I will be brief, no, it is not a joke!

I have good news for you on this Friday, August 28, 2009. I will be very brief since I am off on a day of vacation to accompany my wife over for a one-day turn around trip to Louisiana. Your huge sigh of relief could be heard when I used the word brief, but keep in mind, I will be listening and taking names. Our dear Brother Milton who now resides in Florida will be visiting in my wife’s sister’s home and she wants to be there to greet him, along with her older brother Cleon who is driving in for the occasion, and we are also looking forward to seeing Charles, our brother-in-law for nearly fifty years who is recovering from heart surgery this week! I am so looking forward to seeing Brother Milton. It will be my first time to give him a hug since he was hospitalized here after working on the restoration of our home. His progress has been slow but good and we know that God is at work in all that has happened before, during, and after his sudden illness.

Knowing this does not mean we can make sense out of it. Life at times spits out more questions than answers and we end up with only our belief in God to provide us with the energy to carry on. Brother Milton and his dear wife Glenda never thought they would be dealing each day with the many challenges he faces in his long-term recovery. Some folks live by a motto that says seeing is believing. The Bible would have us to know that God’s approach involves something quite different where it is a 'believing is seeing' proposition. He tells us that we can only please Him by believing that He exists and by living out the knowledge that He will reward those who diligently seek Him. (see Hebrews 11)

If I go much further I will totally destroy the ‘brief’ pledge, therefore, let me wish each of you a wonderful Friday, Saturday, and Lord’s Day Sunday. I look forward to coming at you with something new, perhaps by this time, next Monday. Until then, may our Great God smile upon you and yours! Amen. …..More later.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Raining cats and dogs?

It’s one of those blah kinds of days where I find myself betwixt and between in trying to remember the differences between momentum and inertia. Once I do I then need to figure out which one best describes my current mode, okay, you guessed it, without checking I already know mine equals BLAH. Maybe the economic engine is not the only thing stuck in neutral. A funny thing happened to me on my way to writing this blog. I was trying to come up with something to write about and the idiom ‘raining cats and dogs’ came to my mind. This led me to trying to find out its origin which most likely reflects back in time when cats and dogs used to hang out on the top of thatched roofs and when it rained they would either slip or jump off, hence, raining cats and dogs. There are a few other possibilities that involve a play on certain words in certain languages but to go much further would have caused me to do a U-turn back to the momentum versus inertia dilemma. It is Thursday, August 27, 2009, and today’s episode will remind us all that not every one I write is a keeper.

Here’s a few more to go along with raining cats and dogs; Go ape; Barking up the wrong tree; Blind as a bat; Loaded for bear; Wolf in sheep’s clothing; Burr under your saddle; Tail wagging the dog; Busy as a bee; Full as a tick; Cat’s meow; Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched; Strong as an ox; That dog won’t hunt; When pigs fly; Bull in a china shop; Black sheep of the family; Thrown to the wolves; Knee high to a giraffe; Naked as a jaybird; Ugly as a toad; Snug as bug in a rug; Puppy love; Curiosity killed the cat; Kill the fatted calf; The early bird catches the worm; Fox guarding the chicken house; Rat race; Sick as a dog; Crazy as a bessie-bug; Doesn’t have the sense God gave a goose; Straw that broke the camel’s back; A scaredy cat; Drunk as a skunk; Stop cold turkey; Pull the wool over one’s eyes; Swan song; and finally: Go hog wild, go whole hog, and be a hog about it!

With my mind’s eye I see those white flags waving in surrender where you not only give up, you are hoping I will soon give out. I wanted to share these with you before the animal rights people pass a law that will have anyone using them incarcerated. But, I believe it is them who lack the sense God gave a goose because while they might call me crazy as a bessie bug, they are the ones who show up to protest naked as a jaybird, therefore, trying to do something about me using these idioms and expressions is a dog that will not hunt. In fact, they can check back with me when pigs fly but they should expect if they mess with me I’ll be loaded for bear and ready to throw them to the wolves. They would obviously be barking up the wrong tree because if they hang around long enough until it rains, yeah, you guessed it, they could be hit by raining cats and dogs. Fortunately the silly gene rarely ever makes it to the front burner when I’m cooking stuff up but for today, that’s all I could manage to squeeze out. Have a great one and may God bless. Amen. ….More later.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Reality show each day called LIFE!

Good morning and welcome to Wednesday, August 26, 2009. The owner of our small company had to let four of our guys go yesterday because of the continuing slowness in our segment of the economy. Our owner had postponed this for months. He is a man of God and he has done all that he can to help the team here in view of this very tight market. In that process the people here have grown in their respect for him and also have learned by his Christ honoring example. I had been out making a delivery for the company and when I returned I found a note from one of the fellows who had been laid off. He is a man that has known his fair share of troubles in his life and he would be the very first to own up to his responsibility in most of what has happened to him. His recent battle with Hepatitis C along with other issues had caused him to seek God and he and I have talked many different times about his situation and I have tried to encourage him in the Lord. His note was short but very sweet and I treasure knowing that he, with all of his many troubles, can now wish God's speed as he moves on to his next job.

We never know what a day will bring. Many other companies in our same industry have been doing major layoffs since late last year. We have been blessed with enough work to keep everything going but now even those jobs have begun to dry up. Another one of the fellows let go, a Hispanic gentleman, has asked me about our prospects many times over the past several weeks. The last conversation we had was one where we shared a belief that God would take care of us, if not here, somewhere, because He will! He said, "Amen", and I said "Amen" and that's how we live our time here, in God's provision and providence. I feel a special connection to the four men who will now be seeking a way to continue to support their families. They would all be considered to be worker bees but each one has their story and their family and their interesting way of looking at life. We have many promises that our fourth quarter is going to be busy. Perhaps some of these guys will be back. There are no guarantees in this upside down world except for the faithfulness of our God.

I don't know exactly how much blame former President George W. Bush deserves for the economic disaster that continues to poison the business climate. In many ways he may have been asleep at the wheel before all this came to fruition. However, the things that have been done since he left office do not seem to be making things better and there are many who believe the worsening conditions have been caused by the actions of this new administration. When I look around, when I read about all that is happening, and when I try to make sense out of where we are, there seems to be one thing that jumps out at me. The people I deal with and the people they say they deal with are frozen because of their uncertainty about where all this is going and the lack of confidence the nation has in those in power who are charged with trying to make things better. Businesses do not like uncertainty and it is hard for them to plan for the future when they lack confidence. Eventually, even the biggest and best will see this mentality erode their production and this is where I believe our economic engine finds itself today, stuck in neutral. Meanwhile, we don't know about tomorrow but how blessed we are to know the One who does! I pray for these men and their families. I pray for the millions of others who are daily dealing with this downturn with very little prospects for relief, anytime soon. And that is all we can do, folks, is to cry out to God and ask Him to intervene because He is our only hope! Amen. ......More later.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tis the season, it's Ho Ho Ho and away we go!

It's Tuesday, August 25, 2009 and I am thankful to be here clacking away on the old keyboard. Last Friday evening while enjoying a supper snack at the mall food court with my youngest son, my wife, (on her lunch break), and our sweet Lexie and Brady, they asked about the Santa in training program. I told them I was much closer than they might think. They shrugged and feigned some skepticism; therefore, I decided to show my progress. I pulled off my cap and fluffed out my hair and beard. I did get their attention and they smiled their approval. Suddenly, without any warning, a very young Hispanic girl, eyes popping out, pulled her mom down to her and said, “Look Mommy, it’s Santa Claus!” I went over to their table and told them she was very accurate because I was in fact preparing to portray the jolly old elf this coming season. The moms all laughed and the children just stared. Our son said, “Well, Pop, looks like the magic has already begun!” As we were walking away I saw that little girl again and she was still spellbound as she waved her little hand of goodbye to Santa. Pumped? You better believe it! Today’s Santa photos of yours truly were taken by my wife, this past Sunday afternoon, and they will give you an idea of where we are headed.

My wife still carries some concern about this character calamity but as I told her, we are going to crawl before we walk. This season is going to be a ‘get acquainted’ tour of sorts so that I can see how it might go if and when I decide to pursue a more aggressive schedule. I still have the ultimate goal of doing hospital volunteer work but that may be a feature of season number two. It is about the children and we had a wonderful sleep over with our little Brady. His sister Lexie decided at the last moment to go home with her dad but Brady came and stayed with us and we had a ball. They tell a lot of stuff on this boy but isn’t it strange that these things never seem to materialize when they are at MiMi’s and Poppy’s house? He was nothing but a joy; very courteous, very calm, and like his daddy, very FUNNY! Some of the stuff he says just knocks you down but that most likely is the grandpa mentality kicking in. Some of you know how it goes, truth is, it doesn’t take much!

On Saturday afternoon we met up with the parents over at a volleyball tournament where our Kyleigh’s high school team were playing. They had been undefeated until we walked in the door. We saw Kyleigh fire off a killer serve but to no avail as the other team whipped up on them pretty good. It was a very short exhibition for us but we were glad to be able to see her play. Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday were filled up with enjoying grandchildren, trying out my Santa training wheels, teaching my Bible class, and enjoying spending time with MiMi. All our bunch were back in school on Monday and we had a special prayer for each one early Monday morning. I talked to Lil Jimmy Sunday night and encouraged him to make this year a great one in terms of applying himself. I also told him he could be sure that his Poppy would be praying for him, his sisters, and all the rest of our grand kids, each and every day. He mumbled something and then we said goodnight. The life of a Poppy is a special gift from God and I thank Him for it! Have a great day and may God bless! Amen. …..More later.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Bridge to Never-Never Land!

It is Monday, August 24, 2009. That would be correct although I’ve known some pretty happy people over the years who never seemed to have a clue about the date itself or what day of the week they were operating on. There may be a message somewhere in that approach to life. But not for me! My wife doesn’t understand why I need to be able to see clocks on either side of the bed throughout the night. I always check the time every so many minutes or hours and if I can only see the clock on one side then I have to sleep on that side only. Pretty simple, don’t you think? But in her way of looking at it she thinks perhaps I was wound backwards whenever they put me together. My response is this: Different strokes for different sleepers. (This could be connected to my fear of being late called Allegrophobia and I am sure this was caused by someone way back in my past and I will deal with them if I ever find out who it was!) Here’s some sad news to report today: The cash for clunkers ends today. Since only 145 million of the 3 billion has been paid out to dealers so far, my guess is that Hallmark will have a card to mark the occasion available in stores before our government can figure out how to administer this program. This is another great example of exactly why we should be happy to turn over healthcare to the feds, right?

Some dealers are owed as much as 1 million dollars and have had to take out a loan, I assume from a bailed out financial institution, at an unbelievably high rate to cover the cost of high bonuses and the paybacks to our government. The environmentalists are livid over this so-called environmental friendly promotion. The facts are that once you take into consideration the carbon footprint of the manufacturing process along with its workers to produce one of the new more fuel efficient cars, it will take five to seven years to recover that in the cost. This means that before real costs can be realized from the savings on fuel with better mileage, it will be time to tune in to the next clunkers promotion for it will be time to get rid of the new one you just bought. Our President said that having the system all mucked up because of demand shows that it is wildly successful and this is good news for a three billion dollar program, which should give us a real cause of concern when it comes to the trillions involved in healthcare. Recent statistics show that small companies with five or less employees have taken the hardest hit during this recession. Let me see if I have this right? Taking the clunkers off the road will destroy many of the small neighborhood garages where a mechanic or two hangs around to repair them, that makes really good sense, don’t you think?

I’m still impressed that President Obama uses the US Postal System as an example of how the government does things well. Our office manager told me Friday that a company we have done business with for years mailed a payment to us in June that we had just received. One could easily see this type of delivery to be an issue in an emergency room situation. Joking aside, what person with a modicum of mental mechanics would ever, under any circumstances, suggest our government as the source for a well run anything? I can remember back in the late 1960’s working at a military installation where we were urged to spend every penny in our budget on whatever we could find to spend it on so that we would at least get the same appropriation the next year. But I would no doubt be told that procedure only exists in very isolated cases. Call me paranoid but I did observe the exact same behavior while working for the US Air Force, the Veteran’s Administration, and the US Army. And, I was at the very bottom of the food chain, so just think what might be happening way up in that rarefied air where they do their budget planning while flying an executive jet provided by that favorite name we are all called by, TAXPAYER. I was somewhat dubious about the 10-year agreement between the Administration and the drug companies. This concession amounting to a reduction of 80 to 90 billion over the 10-year period by the drug companies was heralded by the media as an indication of our new President’s negotiating prowess. Next, I became even more curious why the drug companies are so strongly supporting this government run healthcare takeover. Now we know. The total amount that will be spent on drugs during the ten years in question is well over three trillion dollars. That great multi billion-dollar concession is slightly over 2%. Very interesting. Here’s how it goes: I will promise you three trillion dollars if you give me a 2% discount. Drug company response: Okay, Mr. President, but it sure will be tough. I will call a penalty on myself at this point because I have greatly exceeded my un-imposed time limit for one day, therefore, I leave you with the truth that we should always remember that ultimately it is all within God’s control and provision. Amen. Have a great workweek and may God bless. …..More later.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Open mind Friday.

Hello Americans, it is Friday, August 21, 2009, and this is not Paul Harvey but never fear, it is your faithful blogger dealing with the overflow of thoughts and ideas that elbow their way in competing for my time and attention. A friend recently told me it was not necessary for him to keep up with what is going on in the world because he only needs to talk with me every few days. I’m not sure that’s a compliment because it may indicate that my time could be put to better use. Do I always have to have a connection to nearly every story? Take for instance the one about former U. S. Representative Tom DeLay, also known as “The Hammer”, becoming a contestant on the upcoming “Dancing with the Stars” television series. Several years ago I did a planning meeting for a Church where Tom DeLay had begun attending their services. The pastor there was elated. He told me that Mr. DeLay could whip out his checkbook and write a big one without any hesitation. Okay, so I am a cynic. I was not in the least bit impressed with him being impressed. Why? Tom DeLay is a politician known for cracking heads and I wondered if any of my tax dollars were represented in those checks he wrote. One of the other things this pastor said caused me to chuckle. He said Mr. DeLay could not believe that more people were not hearing the conservative message being preached there in that small Church. Hello? At any rate, as the election (that he ended up losing) loomed closer Mr. DeLay joined up with a mega Church 100 times the size of the Church where I conducted the planning seminar. I don’t know that there is a moral to this story other than to illustrate how that in one way or another we often find ourselves connected into current events.

These types of situations typically lead to a dreaded promise where I tell people to remind me when I have time to tell them my Tom DeLay story. The other day when the President was in Montana trying to sell his version of healthcare reform our nephew who is a secret service agent was there as part of the security detail. Remind me to tell you my secret service connection story when I have more time. I will plead guilty to what I was accused of years ago, that was the fact that I mostly revealed my ‘Reader’s Digest’ mentality. The criticism was that I knew a little about a whole lot of subjects but not very much about anything in particular. Truth is, there was no way then or now for me to argue that assessment. I might have to quibble some over my understanding of biblical matters but even there, after forty years of study and teaching along with two bouts of seminary training, I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface. Folks, there’s no way I would wish my overwrought but underdeveloped mind on anyone! Yesterday I heard a fellow attribute a popular phrase to Boss Hogg from the Dukes of Hazzard television series. The phrase was “Handle it…Handle it…Handle it”, and it actually was the one spoken by the mayor in the sitcom Carter Country. But you should be proud because even though I knew Boss Hogg was not the one who made that phrase famous, I did not say a word. (I could see the fellow's face but I did end up having to look up the phrase to find the name of the program.) However, remind me to tell you about….. Oh, just forget it!

My wife sometimes asks me how that I know something especially if it seems to be obscure. That, my friend, is not only a good question, but it's also a telling summation of how I have filled up my memory banks with way too much information that has little or no relevance to anything important in life. It's somewhat like the Scottish proverb which is often attributed to the Bible that says: “Open confession is good for the soul.” While this generally reflects on a biblical theme, it is not an actual verse, but there I go again. This leads me to a recommendation for others who may have this preoccupation with information overload. First of all, be aware that what little bit I know is just that, very little. Secondly, what we spend time consuming into the mental facility God has given to us, matters. Lastly, only that which allows us to fully function in a way that pleases God is what we should be focusing on. This is true in our spiritual life, our family life, our working life, and in our day-by- day contact with others. Where’s the balance? That’s obviously one I have not learned to master as of yet but remind me to tell you about how I am going to try and change, that is, when we have more time. Have a great Saturday and don’t forget there is a reason it is called Lord’s Day Sunday! Amen. …..More later.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

That's right. Jesus still loves all the children of the world!

Here we are. It’s Thursday, August 20, 2009 and I am sharing some today about a ministry that is very dear to my heart. This past Tuesday evening we had our annual planning meeting for our upcoming inner city Bible club program called Crosstrainers. This is the 14th year for this program and we had a total of 75 different children attend last term with an average of 30 each week. This is my 12th year to be involved and I am looking forward to working with these little ones in our efforts to share the truth of the Gospel with them, to see them come to know Jesus as their Savior, and then to help them grow in their faith. This is always our goal each year. This year we will have four leaders who actually grew up in this program. What a blessing to see how God works in the lives of those who respond to Him! I am the designated cheerleader and special song guy. I am working on a new theme, verse, and song for this coming session. I know, you are probably stumbling over the idea of me being a cheerleader, and you would be pretty much on target because that’s more or less how I do it, I stumble through it! Brother Kim opened our meeting with that famous verse where Jesus lovingly reprimanded His followers in telling them not to hold back the little ones but to allow the children to come to Him, for such is the Kingdom of God. (Matthew 19:14)

They asked me if we were going to have a new song this year and I told them I was working on one but couldn’t be sure if it wasn’t one I had done before. When you get older you learn how the verse that says His blessings are new every morning works. (Lamentations 3:23) This year’s song may be a rerun because I can’t remember all of them I have done over the years and even if it is similar, most if not all the children wouldn’t have ever heard it anyway. I do know that is not what that verse really means. It has to do with our Great God’s vast array of blessings to the extent that we never exhaust the finding of new ones to thank Him for and give praise to His Name. This failing memory thing also is a benefit when it comes to watching old TV programs. Even though you may have seen them many times in the past you can’t be sure of all the details so it’s still entertaining, and, given the junk that’s being run 24x7, any of the older programs are better, or at least that is the case as best I can recollect.

Bottom line, we are praying that God will send many new children our way this year. We are praying that He will use us to be His hands in touching their lives for time and eternity. While these children are very needy in almost every way that it can be described, they, like us all, need to come to terms with where they will spend eternity. I have written before about the culture that surrounds their existence each day and how they often come with almost a sigh of relief in being able to escape that world for ninety minutes where people love and care for them. The planning meeting was a great time of reunion for our team. Those that labor in this ministry all have many other things on their schedule but I thank God for each one who comes and cares. Now I ask that you, my blog readers, take a moment to ask God’s blessings on the upcoming season. We do pray that He will receive all honor and praise as we seek to pursue this work. Amen. ……More later.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Can you believe it? My doctor actually called me!

Today is Wednesday, August 19, 2009. Tonight my lesson will begin with these words from Psalm 119:89 “Forever, Oh Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.” Now, that my friend, is a powerful truth to dwell on as we live at a time when we need something to hang onto. The eternal God, with no beginning and no end, whose word can be counted on, for it, like Himself, is eternal! Okay, as I recently wrote, I had been fretting over not hearing from my doctor’s visit and most recent lab tests. Last Thursday evening as I sat in my glider/rocking chair watching the news my cell phone rang. It was my doctor. Hello? It was actually my doctor. He wanted to go over my reports and we had a brief but beneficial visit. The numbers were all very good and I took the opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to him for his good work on my behalf. There was a very long pause and then he mumbled something about how I had cooperated with his approach and this is what happens whenever we work together and blah, blah, blah. Then he continued. He then told me that it is now time for us to go to the next level. Huh? Next level? He then proceeded into another of his dietary lectures about getting me off of all flour and eventually seeing me on an “all grain” diet, whatever that means.

I’ve told you before that he is 7th Day Adventist and they practice the Old Testament Jewish dietary system. He is a recognized expert within his religion on the so-called lost tribes of Israel. Okay. Let me be clear. I am so thankful to my doctor for getting me to where I am but this next level deal, I’m not so sure that will end up being my cup of tea. I wished I had thought of a joke to tell him while I had him on the phone because I thought of it after I hung up. I should have told him that while I don’t know which lost tribe I am from, I’m almost certain my mom was not descended from the ‘all grain’ tribe. He would have not thought that to be so funny but I hope I can remember it for my next visit. I am interested in getting off some of the medications I am taking but moving towards another radical dietary change, having already undergone some fairly cataclysmic adjustments, is quite a daunting prospect.

I told my wife if she comes home one day and sees me out in the yard grazing she will know that I have officially joined the lost tribes dietary system. I would hate to know the neighbors might call the police because they had seen me going behind the squirrels to dig up their acorns. This new wrinkle that he wants to discuss more fully with me in thirty days promises to be very challenging. I can tolerate his desire to engage me in theological discussions, and I can listen to his views on why we all are being poisoned by the processed foods we eat. But I am very much certain that we as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are no longer under the rituals associated with the Law. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t follow sound guidelines in our diet but to him it is a part of his religion and that will be a very difficult matter for me. But, we will wait and see. I still count it a privilege to work with a doctor who called me on my cell phone and chatted with me like I was almost a regular person. Fancy that! Me, a regular person? NOT!!!! Put all those thoughts of nibbling on nectarines out of your mind and go ahead and have a wonderful day. Amen. …..More later.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

It's a very funny world we live in, don't you think so?

Good morning and welcome to my field trip report from the medical facility visit with my wife last week. I had other pressing stuff that came up, therefore, I apologize for any delay in my reporting since I told you I would try to bring back some tidbits and that’s what I have for you today, on this Tuesday, August 18, 2009. My wife had the very earliest appointment for her stress test. That’s a good thing because everyone waits at the same speed but being first means you will be the least late compared to others. Being first has little to do with timeliness but it is a procedural win that counts for something. When we arrived there were no people in the waiting area which seats about 50. There was an interesting video running on the TV screen about health related matters. Dr. Sanjay Gupta from CNN was hosting the program. It was highly informative the first time I saw it. Not as much the second through the fourth running, and pretty annoying by the time we left, as it had looped back around for the 5th or 6th time. Even though I moved around I could still hear it and because those images were burned into my memory I could still see every frame without seeing it. If I wasn’t so perturbed by it all I would share some the data with you but that will have to wait for another time.

I was not feeling hopeful when I first got there but then I spotted it. It was like an oasis being spotted out in the middle of the desert. A coffee service and it had a huge banner with this wonderful slogan: COMMUNITY. You better believe it. Community coffee! At least these folks know their coffee. I do believe I was the very first to tap into that morning nectar and as it hit the cup the smell alone was enough to make being there seem almost a pleasure. After that, staff began to roll in. People who came to have a variety of procedures flowed in and they reflected men, women, boys, and girls. A couple of African American boys came with their grandmother and their mom. The grandmother came for an appointment and I seized the opportunity to try out my Santa skills on the two boys. They were a little hesitant at first but I persisted and they warmed up to me. I talked some to their mom about the ministries I am involved in and we had a good visit. I later tried to make contact with a cotton haired boy and he snarled and growled at me. You can’t win them all.

We were there for nearly four hours. The place continued to be busier and busier. There were lots of staff coming and going. Patients were coming to wait, and they waited, waited, and then they waited some more. I know we are in the middle of a debate about health care in this country. I know there are many serious issues that do need attention. However, I do not think that one of them is the lack of food available to the folks who work at this particular medical facility. I am not being critical, just telling the truth. I don’t believe I have ever seen that many jumbo-sized medical smocks anywhere I have ever been! It seemed to be almost a requirement. Every once in a while a slender technician would come by and it made me want to jump up, grab them, and warn them about what would soon be happening to them. President Obama said we have to do something as a nation about eating more healthy and in trying to work on the obesity problem that is epidemic throughout our land. Hello? I’m not picking on these folks because I have spent a fair amount of time in my life carrying my own extra baggage. However, it did stand out as one considers their access to medical advice every day they come to work. We finally got everything wrapped up and she was a little woozy from her fasting therefore we did what all good folks our age do when it's close to lunch time, we headed to Luby’s to join the old timers in line for the Lu Ann Platter. My wife will be getting her results today and we are thankful for the medical services we have available to us. I do pray that you and yours will have a blessed day. Amen. ...........More later.

Monday, August 17, 2009

You must be kidding. A Santa suit in a size small?

It's Monday, August 17, 2009 and since I have only the life I have to write about, that's what you have before you today! It may take me a week to get over the birthday binge of food, family, and fellowship that began last Friday and ended when we shut down Sunday night. Our eldest grandson, Jimmy Jr., came and spent Friday night with us and he and I spent Saturday running here and there. We made our journey to the professional costume place and checked out the Royal Deluxe Santa suit. Supposedly this outfit is the one you see in the movies when someone plays Santa. In fact, the fellow at the store said that John Goodman had ordered that same suit for a movie where he played a Santa. The retailer also told me that if I waited to purchase this same outfit into September or October the price could easily double. Sounded to me like he was trying too hard! At any rate, it was very odd trying the suit on. First of all I told him I needed the smallest one they had. He made a joke about being Santa isn't typically about being small. He told me they came in large, extra large, and extra, extra large. Therefore, large it was. I put on the tummy stuffer which ties in three places in the back, then the coat and the hat. Suddenly, without warning I was transported back to that year that I was a department store Santa. The weight is surprisingly very heavy and the sweat was immediate but it was THE LOOK I was seeking, therefore, I purchased it, against the advice of my wife and mom who think I am already over scheduled. I'm in no big hurry about it all. My beard may have grown a couple of inches since I came home with the suit. Coincidence, or is the magic of Christmas already at work? Little Jim and I had a blast and I will always treasure our time together.

On Sunday morning I started my day by hearing a sweet birthday greeting from my mom and dad. Our Truth Seeker's Class had a fellowship breakfast and they honored me with many cards and kind words. I will never get over how humbling it is to have a gift given to me from God so that I might be able to teach the unsearchable riches from His Holy Word. I give God the praise for His working in me through this bestowed gift. I heard a preacher say one time that if you have been given a gift from God there should be someone who can confirm it. In my situation the words expressed on those cards are not only appreciated but they do give reason for us all to thank God. Yes, I do study and spend time preparing. Yes, it does require time, effort, and discipline. But I will take God's gift which shows itself when it comes time to read and present the truth any day over any type of concentrated lesson preparation. In the end, I thank them for their recognition of my role in our sojourn together but I also point myself and them to the God who has brought us together and enabled us to hear from Him. He desires us to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Savior and He has orchestrated teaching to be one of the ways in which this is to be pursued and accomplished.

The breakfast was tremendous and it began my total disregard for being as careful as I should be regarding what to eat. One lady was kind enough to bake a low sugar cake and there was plenty of fruit and other reasonable choices. However, there was also other choices. Pigs in a blanket, a variety of egg souffles, quiches, and sweets galore. I didn't throw caution completely to the wind but I also sampled more than I would have otherwise. It was great! Then it was home and an afternoon of NASCAR and the PGA Golf Championship while my dear wife of nearly forty-five years literally stood over a hot stove for five or six hours. When talking about my birthday I will just put it like this: How about southern fried chicken that would have made the Colonel resign before he even thought about some special recipe? Add to this, mashed potatoes and gravy, purple hull peas, fried okra, mustard greens, corn on the cob, and Granny Mac's cornbread. And the best part of all: Twenty of my most favorite people in the world serenading me with their happy birthday song and their hugs and kisses. Can it get better than this? The only way it could is to think about that old song: Just Over in the Glory land! Today, it is back to looking at a very big number on my finger prick this morning. It will probably be Wednesday before I have everything back on track but I will always be thankful for and never forget the great 63rd provided to me through the grace of God! Have a blessed week! Amen. .....More later.

Friday, August 14, 2009

I'm still dealing with the aftershock of a 6.0!

It is Friday, August 14, 2009, and last time I checked, my beard was still growing. This weekend, yours truly will be celebrating my 63rd year (plus 9 months) here on the planet as provided by the grace of God. Blessed beyond measure is about the only way to explain what has been a bumpy ride throughout these years, most of which have been spent with a remarkable woman at my side. Yesterday, weary from not having heard anything from my last doctor’s visit, I called and asked about my lab report. While the detail statistics along with my doctor’s notes are coming in the mail soon, I did ask about the big number. That number comes from the Glycosylated Hemoglobin Test (H1AC) as it is the tell all for a diabetic over the past sixty to ninety days. You would likely have to be a diabetic to understand its significance. The young admin assistant to my doctor quietly read the number. It was 6.0. What did you say? It was 6.0! It was what? 6.0!!!!!!!! That, my friend, is the top end of normal for people being checked for diabetes and while I have managed to get it down to 6.2 once, I never dreamed I would ever see a 6.0. In fact, I was expecting a 6.4 or 6.5 but all I can do is thank God for helping achieve this number after a two-year battle. Again, only a diabetic could understand how a number like this would make one giddy. When I hung up the phone I knew how an Olympian must feel when they get a perfect score. After calming down I then returned to doing what I can to maintain something close to that number. I looked up several charts on the internet. One said: Our goal: 6.0 or less! Happy Birthday to me, and thank you, Lord!

I will try to maintain my excitement about this number because when I get the rest of the notes, who knows what other news there may be? Sixty-three years of taking three steps forward and two backwards but even a snail eventually arrives somewhere. My testimony is that of a man unashamedly grateful for God having reached down in love through His Son to save ‘a wretch like me’. I am grateful for the wife I have. I am grateful to still have my mom and my stepfather around to visit with. I am grateful for my boys, their wives, my grandchildren, and my unborn great grandchild. I won’t go down a list of things I wish I would have done differently or could do over because it would be a very long list indeed. However, I am glad to be able to do what I can today to influence my loved ones and others with the message of God and His love.

Since old people tend to wax on and on, and since I am an even more well trained wax on and on guy than the next, I wanted to share some of what I will call special presents in my life in view of it being my birthday this coming Sunday. My mom and dad, Jose and Lena Chavez; my wife Marilyn and her family who have stood by me and up for me for over forty-five years; my sisters Frances and JoAnn and my brother Donald; the memory of my baby sister Kayla and older brother Jimmy; the contributions to my life made by my grandparents, Andrew Rancher and Gertrude McMillan; my boys, Chris, Jimmy, Rodney; their wives, Sherrie, Mindi, and Mitzi; my grandchildren Tiffany and her husband J. C. along with their unborn child, Brittany and Stefani; Jimmy Jr., Alesha, Amanda, and Alexander Benjamin; Kyleigh, Lexie, and Brady; a very special child, Danielle, and her parents Connie and Weldon; my uncles and aunts; my loving brothers and sisters in our local fellowship of believers; my blog readers and so many others throughout my life who have helped me along my journey. Thank you all. Thank God. And may He bless me with the motivation to serve Him in an even greater way than I have during the past 63 years. Amen. One more time: What about that 6.0? Is that something, or what? Have a great one and may God bless! ….More later.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Back to Genesis!

Today is Thursday, August 13, 2009, and I, like President Obama, feel a teachable moment coming on.

In January, our class, the Truth Seekers, started a verse-by-verse study through the book of Genesis. As teacher of these classes, this has been an amazing journey thus far, one that I count myself to be both humbled by and privileged to lead. Last week we finished Chapter 15 and I believe my class members would agree that the depth, breadth, and awesomeness of God and His revelation of Himself throughout these weeks and months have moved us all. Some might immediately conclude: Duh, it is God’s Word, after all, right? That is so true but when you slow down, take your time, and read it again, for the first time, God’s Sovereign power in providing these insights take our collective breath away. We know that Genesis is the foundation book of all of God’s revelation. We know that if it is in any way inaccurate then we have no basis for the rest of the Scriptures, therefore, it is thrilling to see how God’s plan and purpose was established in Creation as recorded in Genesis and interwoven into His working within His created human family as recorded in the rest of the Scriptures, and as experienced in the lives of those who believe.

This study has been provocative in many ways. It speaks to me a message that says we must promote the study of God’s Word. We are very much living in that day the Apostle Paul warned his young protégé to be watching for. It would be a time when people would no longer endure sound teaching but instead they would find teachers who would give them a steady diet of soothing nonsense that would please their senses while damning their souls to hell. (See 2 Timothy, Chapter 4) I am aware that many today have as their desired goal to rescue modern Christianity from the Bible thumpers. Those who alienate and challenge people by preaching the truth in love, but always the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, are no longer welcome within the community that is supposedly attune to what people want to hear today. In the pursuit of trying to excuse and apologize for God’s clear teachings they have rescued the lost, sadly, away from the Only Source by which they can be saved. I ask you: How smart is that?

Genesis tells us that Abram (later to be called Abraham) believed in the Lord and his faith/belief was accounted unto him by the Lord as righteousness. How do we know what it means to have saving faith? We go back to Genesis and we study the life and times of Abraham, that’s how. Because Abraham’s faith becomes the model for all believers at all times according to the New Testament as found in the inspired books penned by the Apostle Paul to the Romans, the Galatians, the anonymously written book of Hebrews and the Epistles of the Apostle Peter. That’s right. One man who lived all the way back to Genesis is the model of what it means to have believing faith. His life also proves that we can do nothing except to respond to God’s revelation of Himself and then He is the one who records us once and for all as being righteous. We can’t earn it. We can’t buy it. We can’t get it through out parents. It is an exercise of believing faith in God’s revealed truth that causes us to be made right with Him. Abraham never was perfect, even after God declared him to be righteous. Hello? What can we say to these things found in Genesis? What a mighty God we serve! Amen and Amen. I implore us all to find a place to worship and fellowship with other believers where they do not dumb down the truth or change it in any way whatsoever. Why? Because truth is what should change us, not the other way round! …..More later.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

One Million Mile Check Up

Good morning and welcome to this edition of my blog for this Wednesday, August 12, 2009. Today's thoughts are brought to you by the love fest town hall meeting that was conducted by President Obama yesterday in New Hampshire. I will not be doing my regular thing today because I am off this morning to accompany my wife for her stress test and related procedures. She is currently being given a complete 1,000,000 mile checkup and I am tagging along to give her encouragement and comfort. This test is more or less routine for her and knowing her I'm sure she has been studying for it all week. Just joking. I will be going into work later this morning and I am almost certain I will bump into some subjects at the medical facility that may end up appearing as a coming attraction in one of my blogs. We are blessed. We are blessed. I thank God for His provision and I do pray that you will operate in His blessings today. Amen. Have a great one and I will try to have something cooked up for you in the morning. ......More later.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Family, fellowship, and food = FANTASTIC!

Okay. We have made it all the way to Tuesday, August 11, 2009. Yeah, I know it’s the day after Monday and also the one before Wednesday but it is the day we have - - - TODAY! We had our big family gathering last Sunday evening to celebrate our twins’ 11th birthday. The last time we had all been together was back on Mother’s Day. My mom always says that I always say that it was the best time ever. Okay mom, just so you know: This was one of the best times ever! My wife ended up having to work at the store so much of the getting ready stuff fell into my lap. Coming out of all that it took to make it a memorable event, I couldn’t write about it yesterday because I was still trying to catch my breath. Since I already had much of the background information written on yesterday's political ‘stupid’ story, therefore, I finished editing it and went with it. My mom told me that she thought that ‘stupid’ story had touched most of the bases but she figured I could have gone on and on and on. Moms know quite a bit about their kiddos, have you noticed that?

I have also received some input from my article about me potentially playing Santa in the upcoming season. My wife wondered out loud how I could even imagine keeping my current long daily routine and think about adding evening and Saturday Santa stuff. My mom basically said the same thing. There you have it. Moms and wives, they have similar insights and concerns, have you noticed that? They are, of course, very accurate in predicting the difficulties this new project could impose. However, I fully intend to make whatever adjustments I need to make if, in fact, the Santa story becomes a reality. I also received a very positive response from a professional photographer who owns her own shop and she wants to explore how we might be able to work together in this new adventure.

My hairdresser daughter-in-law said I had some conditioning work to do on nurturing my beard if I was to continue growing it out. My youngest son made some reference when he first saw me that I must be trying to look like some offbeat character he named that I had never heard of. Probably best that I don’t know who he had in mind. Another daughter-in-law said if I do work this out she and her family wants to be on the list for a family photo shoot with me at the studio. It was all in fun and all positive and it really is good to know that my family takes an interest in my plans. Speaking of Santa, the twins had a Christmas like night with gifts flying all over the place. When it came time to pray before dinner our Alex said he would pray and Brady said he would also pray. Typically at any gathering there is always one special moment that not only defines the mood but makes a memory that will last a very long time. We didn’t capture it on video but those prayers from the youngest tykes in our clan, prayed back to back, was enough to bring tears to Poppy’s eyes and made all the preparation seem very small indeed. When I prayed with my wife early Monday morning before leaving for work, all I could do was thank God for another time of us all being able to be together. Thank you Lord. Thank you Lord. Yes, thank you Lord. Amen. ….More later.