Thursday, December 31, 2009

Year in Review: Anticipating turning the page to 2010!

This is it. The final day of 2009, and I am thankful to be able to send out a greeting on this Thursday, the 31st, and to also send a prayer for a blessed upcoming new year. I have been keeping a calendar logbook each year since the early 1970’s. In it I record daily activities along with special comments about particular events and happenings. Reading these from years past can be a real kick. What do they contain? The fabric of life lived out one day at a time along with the issues and circumstances that have shaped and grown us as we have aged. If you read my calendar books you would see that family and family related entries dominate. Next would be work related stuff since this is how I keep up with my schedule. A very prominent part reflects the variety of lessons I have worked on for my Bible Study class. My work on this logging is not exhaustive. It’s a listing of highlights more than anything else.

In looking back at 2009 I can pick up on some themes. Helping to see after the needs of my wife’s brother and his family during his health crisis was a big deal. Bro. Milton went down in early December of 2008 and was hospitalized here until he was able to fly to his home in Florida in early March. There were many twists and turns, tears and praise, but in the end we give God thanks for His remarkable work in this situation. His son Byron stayed with us to finish the restoration of our home through mid-May. Getting everything back up and going was also a major activity. We faced other family crises during the year as we saw my mom do battle with pneumonia on two different occasions. Again, we give God thanks that she is doing well as I write this blog today. We also rubbed up against the good times and the bad relating to issues involving our children, grandchildren, extended family, Church family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and others. Yeah, the challenges are a part of each day too!

I started a verse-by-verse examination of Genesis in January. We have made it through Chapter 31 at this time. I continued my work in the inner city Bible club ministry. I purchased a very nice Santa Suit. I grew a beautiful bushy beard and became the real Santa. I cut back my beard and have once again become a John Doe. We enjoyed great family times of being together to celebrate birthdays, graduations, weddings, baby showers, and sadly, some funerals too. Oh yeah, we did get a new president and we did have our taxes to pay proving up the reality of our experiencing the old adage, death and taxes. The economic situation has been tough but I finished my 3rd year with my company and I love working here. My wife and I began our 46th year together and she will be closing the book on a year where her plate was full to overflowing, almost every single day. Here’s a wow for you: We also are expecting our first great granddaughter to come on the scene shortly. What am I anticipating in the upcoming year? It will likely be more of the same. There will be highs, lows, and much of the in-between. There will be a time for laughter and a time for tears. There will also be the one constant that will carry us through as He did in 2009: God and His presence in our day-by-day living. You have your stuff, we have ours, all God’s children have stuff, but with His help we will keep on keeping on! Amen. Happy New Year! …..More later.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

If not now, when? How about 2010?

Hello friends and neighbors and welcome to my view from here on this Wednesday, December 30, 2009. Today I am thinking about the process of making New Year's resolutions. Generally speaking, we all pretty much could name what ends up on most people's list each year: 1. Lose weight. 2. Quit smoking. 3. Spend more time with family and friends. 4. Help others. 5. Learn something new. 6. Enjoy life more. 7. Get out of debt. 8. Get organized. 9. Reduce stress. There's probably more but we get the idea here. These are the things that haunt most people because while we may have great intentions and we may even get started on some of these, often before we even remember to write 2010 instead of 2009 they have already gone by the wayside. How many folks purchase exercise equipment or a health club membership and begin their regimen with great excitement early in the year only to see it become a very underutilized feature of their life by the end of February? Sure, there are some who do make a list and muster the grit and determination needed to make progress, but obviously that number is fairly small.

Essentially, we all have a condition that looms large in all of this, it's called the human condition. I've been working on a lesson for this next Sunday that will focus attention on the new year and the working title is: If not now, when? How about 2010? In this lesson I hope to focus my attention on the area where I need the greatest help, that being the area of spiritual development and growth as a child of God. This doesn't mean the items listed as resolutions are not important but for those of us who are believers, getting our spiritual life in order should not only be our number one priority, but based on what I see in The Scriptures, this is most likely the key to all the other areas in our life that need attention. The class I teach is not a young adult class. Most of us have been around the block many times and if we are not careful we might think we should coast the rest of our way home or allow the younger ones to carry the load. NOT!!! I am reminded of Moses who lived 120 years with the last 40 being the most prolific in his life. His first 40 was spent in Egypt. His next 40 was spent getting Egypt out of him. His final 40 was in leading God's people out of bondage. The Bible tells us that when it came time for him to die he was still a dynamic and robust person. (Deuteronomy 34:7) What a testimony and what a challenge for us today!

How can we make progress towards being all God would have us to be in 2010? That's not a trick question because God has given us everything we need for life and godliness, according to the Apostle Peter's testimony as preserved in his second letter (2 Peter 1:3). It begins with getting our heart right and our motivations in tune with the calling God has on our life. You didn't know that God has a calling on your life? If you belong to Him, He does! That calling involves the use of everything He provides into your life for His honor and glory. This includes but is not limited to serving within your family, among your friends, and especially in the ministry to fellow members within a local fellowship of believers. Where do we start? We first get serious as we seek God and His power through prayer and through Bible study and faithfulness to those areas where we know we should be faithful. Just do it! This can be a scary process as we begin to know and appreciate His will for us and how this might challenge and confront many of our deepest thoughts and ideas. Obstacles? Yes, there will be many from within and without because our adversary wants to defeat any and all progress in the life of a believer. But with God's help we can see Him honored and many lives touched as we yield ourselves to Him. I need this and most likely many others do as well. May God help us to grow and prosper in this, our first priority as His child! Amen. .....More later.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Warning: Incoming stuff from who knows where!

Good Tuesday morning as we all seek to live out the life God has given to us on this December 29, 2009. I came through the holidays fairly good in my plus or minus target for my weight but I can't say the same for the kinds of foods I've been eating and their impact to my blood sugar control. I go back to my doctor in about three weeks so this is how I think about it. What can I do over the next three weeks to make him think I have been a good little boy? How ridiculous is that? When they draw my blood and do the detailed analysis they will have a definitive fix on whether I have been naughty or nice. But I have very much enjoyed the wonderful tastes of the season and the risk is always in not being able to transition back into a routine that makes more sense for my diabetic condition. I am currently working on that transition and I will be the first to admit that it is not easy to go back, but I do have to remind myself that it was too much of this good old southern cooking and my over indulgence that got me into this situation to begin with. Knowing this does not make it any easier!

Okay, let me see if I have this correct? The head of Homeland Security first said that she was proud of our security system because it worked perfectly well. The fellow with the bomb had a problem detonating it and passengers wrestled him down and this somehow means the system designed to keep something like this from happening worked well? News flash: Now she says the system didn't work well. It actually failed miserably. Her comments about how well it worked were taken out of context. This might make for a funny Keystone Cops episode if it were not for the fact that hundreds and thousands of lives are at stake. One of the interesting observations here has been the lack of accountability of this administration. The billions lost in the bailouts. The H1N1 fiasco. The Chicago style of political manipulation. The handling of the killing of our soldiers by one of their own. And, now this major catastrophic event. No accountability. No hounding by the press corp. No finger pointing, because why? My assessment says they love President Obama and they will do any and all they can to help him out. Look at how they pounced on every minute detail of every insignificant item during President George W. Bush's time in office. Is anyone paying attention?

I have been reviewing some of the top ten stories from 2009 as categorized by different organizations. The election of President Obama and his inauguration tops nearly all lists. The economy. Health care. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran. Social issues. Fort Hood shootings. Michael Jackson's death. And, the list goes on and on, and it changes depending upon the viewpoint of the one making the list. However, we all have our own top ten list. The top ten things that impacted us in 2009. Your list or my list might include the loss of a loved one, a change in health status, a job situation, a family crisis, and so many others. It might also include some truly wonderful happenings like a promotion, the resolution of a family issue, or a spiritual breakthrough. Stuff happens to everyone, every single day. How can we make sense out of what at times seems to be senselessness? Only by trusting God and living each day in the knowledge that He is with us, and that He will never leave us, and He will never forsake us! (Romans 8 and Hebrews 13) Amen. ....More later.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Ain't it good to be back home again!

I am so very happy to send out a greeting to one and all from my desk here at the company where I work on this very cool Monday morning, December 28, 2009. I have greatly enjoyed the nine days I have been away but it's really great to be back in my place this morning. Those nine days went by like the blur of a bullet train in many ways but they left behind memories that we will treasure for years. We tried to emphasize faith and family in our holidays and I thank God for the wonderful expressions these two areas brought to us. Now it is back to the daily routine and since I am a glutton for routine, it is great to be as Gene Autry sang: Back in the saddle again. We received cards from folks we only hear from at Christmas and its always good to get caught up on families and friends. My wife is over in Louisiana attending the memorial service for her Aunt Lucille and we were also saddened to receive news from our former neighbor Ruth who is suffering some health issues at this time. She signed her card with a statement that she didn't know what 2010 would hold for 'this 91 year old lady'. Great celebrations, wonderful times with family, and grief, sadness, and concern; these also are the fabric of life. How blessed we are to be able to take all our concerns before our Lord in prayer.

I suppose we all are aware by now of the fellow who tried to blow up a huge passenger plane on its way from the Netherlands to Detroit. One of the grave concerns I've had with this new administration since the outset is how they have been so bent on un-Bushing every iota of every detail that they have in many areas made us weaker as a nation. This is no idle thought. Someone, preferably beginning with our President, needs to wake up and smell the coffee. The Bible says that if the homeowner had known what time of night the thief was coming he would have been prepared to protect himself and his family. We first have to recognize there are those who would give their all to bring harm to us and they are plotting our demise every single second of every minute. Now that this incident has occurred, what is our response? We have immediately implemented draconian measures targeting the flying public in an almost too little too late approach, but this is what our government always does. Let's just hope and pray that its not an attempt to close the gate after all the cows have left.

Of course we who know the Lord are aware that He is our only hope. We are admonished to pray for those who are in authority over us and we should, daily. Let's also pray that God would protect us from ourselves. President Obama said in his inauguration speech that he was ready to get busy remaking America. How about returning America back to when she was a God fearing and God honoring nation? How about recognizing and acknowledging God's providence in all our ways like most of our founders did? Sure, those are great thoughts and ideas but what can you and I as individuals do? We can do our best to honor God in the way we operate our lives. We can participate by being the kind of citizen we are called to be. We can seek God on behalf of our nation, our families, and our future. It's not always about what they can do for us but it's more about what God would have each of us to do. Some things to think about as we make our way towards 2010. Amen. .....More later.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Joy to the world, the Lord has come!

Merry Christmas to one and all on this cold Friday morning, December 25, 2009. We don't have snow but it is hovering around freezing here this morning, with a windchill down into the mid-twenties. Perfect for Christmas, don't you think? It's much better than the 40 to 50 mph wind gusts we experienced yesterday but I would say it's a wonderful way to welcome our Christmas Day. Watching the early news this morning reminds me that pain, hurt, crime, and calamities of all kinds never take a day off. That's why we should be thankful if we are able to be up and going, to have family around us, and to be able to enjoy this special day. More than this, we who are believers can join in with the angelic realm in offering our praise to the Savior who came to be our Savior. It's a personal salvation. It's a gift that cannot be earned or it wouldn't be a gift, right? But He is the essence of the Christmas spirit and I thank God that I know Him. I send out a prayer to all those who read my blog that you and yours will pause at some point in this day to recognize this Savior and that you will enjoy the most blessed Christmas ever. Amen. .......More later.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Christmas Eve

Happy Christmas eve to one and all on this Thursday, December 24, 2009. I was up at the crack of dawn this morning and out for a final run for a few miscellaneous items as well as doing the grocery store run for our planned Christmas feast. I am so glad I went early but I was not the only one with this idea. By the time I checked out the lines were beginning to grow. I made it back home in time to take my wife to the mall for her last shift before our big day. I parked and went into the mall, got me a cup of strong Colombian brew, and watched the folks as they scurried here and there. Yesterday I was surprised when I received the first Christmas card with my photo on it! Wow! A couple in our Church had their photo made with me a couple of weeks ago and used the photo on their card. How neat is that? My wife has been busy taking care of the wrapping of gifts. She loves wrapping gifts. She takes a lot of pains in wrapping gifts. Me? All I am thinking about is how they are torn into when they are handed to someone. But if that makes her feel good and in the spirit, then go all out is what I say. Our traditional meal at Christmas is a grilled steak cookout with baked potato and all the trimmings. We are so looking forward to having our entire gang over tomorrow. I am aware that many will be spending Christmas away from family and for some it will be a day marked by loneliness. My heart goes out to any and all that are in this situation. My wife's Aunt Lucille passed away this week. This was one of the three remaining sisters of her mom and Aunt Lucille was a woman with grace, grit, and a wonderful testimony for her Savior. Our prayers go out to this family. One of my granddaughter's told me that today was for her the longest day of the year. Waiting on Christmas. Waiting to see what gifts will be there. That is part of the fun for ages one to 99. Okay, back to the getting ready to get ready activities and I do wish you and yours a most wonderful evening as we anticipate this special day! Amen. .........More later.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Attention Shoppers: Please calm down!

I can't believe it is Wednesday already on this December 23, 2009. Yesterday was my day set aside to go shopping. I am a very organized, focused, and efficient shopper. I go where the items are most likely to be found. I locate them and then go through the procedures necessary to purchase them. HOWEVER, the million of other folks driving shopping carts without a license, grabbing stuff almost out of your hand, arguing, elbowing, and generally driving you up the wall, did not get the memo about me being the quiet, hunter gatherer, that likes to get in and get out! The parking lots were full, the store personnel looked like they were in a daze. Check out lines were endless and the one thing that highly efficient shoppers who do not go very often have trouble doing is to pick the right cashier and the right line. I always get the one where the cashier talks. They talk to the person checking out about every item. They may be in the season but don't they realize it is actually changing while they are checking folks out? To make things worse, I had to go to more than one store. I hate it when that happens. I ended up going to three different stores and that is very depressing. They may retrieve my good shopper's certificate.

But I did finish, or at least I think I am finished. I have not gone through the gifts with 'who know who' that will have the final call on whether I am finished are not. She is off today and I hope to get that done early so we can breathe a huge sigh of relief. I will admit that I have had that occasional response of : What were you thinking? Just so you know, I am very much exaggerating and mostly joking about all of this because let me tell you how I prepared for my shopping excursion yesterday. First of all I went without any concern whatsoever, therefore, I could enjoy the entire experience. Secondly, I determined before hand to find and help anyone I could as I was out doing my thing. It may have been only letting them go ahead of me, or helping them reach something, or other small courtesy. But it made my day so much better. Lastly, I thought about those we were buying gifts for and how much we love them and how thankful we are that God has allowed us the resources to enjoy giving gifts.

Now you might call that kind of mind game cheating but I can tell you it worked for me. I'm not saying I wasn't disappointed in not finding exactly what I had in mind but overall I went with no expectation other than those mentioned above and it worked out great in the end. Mission accomplished, I brought a few smiles, children in the checkout lines noticed my resemblance to the jolly old dude, I contributed a few bucks to this cause or that, I helped a few people, and actually can say with all sincerity: It wasn't that bad! Sadly, it was obviously not so good for many of the other people I saw yesterday. The stress and strain was noticeable. And, no wonder, given the state of the economy and the pressures that surround us all. Many that I saw were moms with their lists in one hand and their eye on the price tags as well. In the end, Christmas is about caring because that's why we have a Christmas Day. He cared enough to fulfill His promise in sending His gift of salvation wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger. It's okay if you want to try the shopping techniques I mentioned to help make it a more pleasant experience. Have a great Wednesday and may God bless one and all. Amen. .....More later.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Off and running...and loving it all!

Good Tuesday morning on this December 22, 2009. Children everywhere are keeping tabs as the clock counts down to Christmas day. Last Friday it was early to work and then I was able to leave just after lunch. We were able to have a wonderful early afternoon late lunch to celebrate our 45th anniversary. We then had a party for our brand new 13 year old, Jimmy Jr. After the smoke cleared from the birthday celebration I went into my phone booth and transformed myself into that Jolly Old Elf for a visit to our Church teenage Christmas party. We arrived there before 10 p.m. and while some of them had to be shamed a little, we ended up taking Santa photos with 42 teenagers, the sponsors, those who just happened to be there, as well as a partridge and a pear tree. We had a blast. I can't wait to see some of those snapshots. It will likely be the very last kid's Santa photo for most of these older teens.

Saturday was a day to do Christmas cards and get stuff somewhat back in order. Sunday we had a great Bible Study time examining the facts of our faith relating to God's preserved texts that give us the details about our Savior coming to dwell among men. Later we had a great worship time, celebrated communion, and then had a time of candlelight carol singing together. It was a wonderful way to celebrate the real meaning of Christmas. It's little wonder how this can be a really great time of the year. Our local fellowship joined together to help one of our families that have small children but are struggling this year. They are dealing with unemployment and having even the basics to take care of their family. What a blessing to see folks open their hearts and their wallets as the heart of our Savior was shown in our sharing.

Yesterday, it was my distinct privilege to go over and spend the day with my mom and dad. I enjoyed the trip over where for three hours I was able to listen to some great music, do some teaching to myself, and even pray for those near and dear to me. I am thankful for mom and dad. They continue to be such great examples to us all. I was able to help mom a little with her internet device and we also spent quality time just catching up and walking down memory lane. Christmas time to me is about love. The love of God demonstrated in the sending of His Son into our world to eventually die on our behalf. The love we have for family and the treasure God has given to us in those that mean so much to us. It's also about the little ones and how they do get excited about all that's going on around them. Thanks, mom and dad for being such blessings to us. We wish you a merry Christmas. That's it for today. Odds and ends and in-betweens but we are still tracking towards our family day on the 25th and I am so-o-o-o excited!!! Amen. ....more later.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Envelope Please.......

Good Christmas work week Monday, on this December 21, 2009. Okay. Get ready for this one. Drum roll please. The number one state in the United States rated for its people being happy is: LOUISIANA! Let me read that back to you one more time. LOUISIANA! That is correct my friend from a comprehensive study of over one million people surveyed between 2005 and 2008. All states and the District of Columbia were included in personal evaluations based on a disposition regarding these issues: Relationships and social interaction, parenthood, marital status, religious involvement, age, income (but mainly up to the point where survival needs are met), and proximity to other happy people. The experts also believe that one major correlative factor coming out of the surveys has to do with the amount of sunshine available in each year. I was born in Louisiana. I grew up in Louisiana. I was happy in Louisiana but no one would have guessed it to be the homeland of the happiest people in America.

We have lived in Texas since 1969. According to this study Texas ranks 16th in happiness. It was pointed out that the study began a few months before Hurricane Katrina hit so it may be skewed a little. However, those conducting the study contend that Louisiana still comes out the happiest and certainly not because of prosperity. Lower income states are well represented in the top ten where Mississippi and Alabama join Louisiana. One might expect to find Hawaii (2) and Florida (3), but the other big tourist states are way down the list. Nevada is 39th and California weighs in at 46th. The so-called mega center of 'our' universe, New York State, finished dead last at 51st, (The District of Columbia was also included, ranked 37th). I suppose those who live in DC are so busy making the rest of us unhappy they have little time to make themselves happy. A joke, I think, I hope.

The two university professors who led the study do have their critics. Anytime you say the word happiness the psychologists will come out of the woodwork. The bottom line here it to remind us of what God has to say about true happiness as recorded in His Word, The Bible. The theme found there has to do with how that life does not consist of what one owns, the power they gain and wield, or the things they are able to accumulate. Interestingly enough, Louisiana is a very religious state along with several others in the top ranking. Some of the critics said perhaps Louisiana scored high because of their low expectations. Could be a factor but where people find their sense of well being from God and are thankful for His provisions, they will always report being blessed as a result. These comments now give you a little something to think about as you sip your morning java, (preferably Community from Louisiana). Have a great week and may God bless! Amen. ...........More later.

More info on the rankings:

Friday, December 18, 2009

My day to reflect and be thankful as I consider these special blessings!

Okay, it’s another Friday but an extremely special one for me on this December 18, 2009. It’s our first grandson’s birthday and he is 13 and officially a teenager …. today! Jimmy Jr. is a special young man and his MiMi and Poppy love him with all of our heart. He is a video game nut, a computer tech type with a thoughtful spirit that speaks volumes for his potential in life. We are so very thankful that God gave us our Jimmy Jr. Happy Birthday grandson!

Today is also our daughter-in-law Mitzi’s birthday and we pause to thank God for her. She is the tireless mom and wife who can be seen on any given day blurring here and there to take care of business for her three kiddos, Kyleigh, Lexie, and Brady, and also our son Rodney. What an addition to our family! May God continue to bless our Mitzi!

And, last but certainly not least, today I pause to recognize the God arranged ‘chance’ meeting I had in 1962 with the woman that became my bride on this day, December 18, 1964. Forty-five years and counting, what a remarkable woman and what a wonderful life we have enjoyed together. Sure, we have had our times of tears, troubles, and trials but on balance she has completed my life by completing me. That’s exactly what God said: The two shall become one. I am thankful for the memory of her parents who are now in the presence of God. They were tremendous people in my life and contributed so much over the years. I am thankful that her preacher boy brother, Brother Milton, performed our wedding ceremony, our first, and his first. Many of you know about Bro. Milton’s recent great health challenges and you are also aware of how dear he is to us.

Blessed. Blessed. Blessed. That’s about all I can think of to say about these birthdays and this special anniversary. Three sons, eleven grandchildren, and any day now, our first great granddaughter, memories galore too hard to even comprehend as I think about all that’s happened since I first laid eyes on the ONE. You likely grow tired of hearing me say that it is not easy being me BUT what about putting up with that same ‘me’ for forty-five years? She’s no diamond in the rough because her inner and outer beauty brilliantly shines every day, just like the sun. Thanks sweetheart for being just that, my sweetheart, for all these years. As I have signed every card for at least thirty of these years…..Baby, you’re still the greatest! Amen. ……More later.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

December 16

Today on this Thursday, December 17, 2009 I am thinking about yesterday, the 16th, because at different times during that day I thought about my older brother Jimmy. It would have been his 67th birthday. He was the first sibling of six to be born in our family and the first to leave us suddenly on March 3, 1962. Looking at a variety of events from the day he was born, WW2 with all its twists and turns dominated that day in terms of news. The wife of the President, Eleanor Roosevelt, scribbled in her diary some thoughts about how she hoped that our country along with Britain would respond after the war with a proper attitude and not become like those we were fighting. It was a world at war that greeted our brother when he made his appearance.

March 3, 1962, the day he died, the number one song in the nation was one sung by Gene Chandler, “Duke of Earl”. President Kennedy issued an executive order dealing with a railroad strike on this date. It was an ordinary Saturday in our sleepy little rural community. I was hanging out up at the Evans house with my buddies Lynn and Carlton when the phone rang. They said it was for me. That was unusual. I grabbed the phone and was told to come home immediately because something horrible had happened to Jimmy. I ran all the way home as fast I as could, my heart pounding in my throat. Jimmy was already gone. Just like that. We all went into shock and our family once again was plunged into grief.

Jimmy wasn’t that much older than me, just shy of four years but he had weathered the storm of us losing our dad, he had done his best to try and do his part to hold us together as mom and the six of us attempted to rebuild our lives, therefore, in so many ways, he was older. He was the handsome one of the family. Many thought he could have given Elvis a run for his money. My mind’s eye sees glimpses here and there of our growing up years. I am reminded of how he and our cousin Milton talked me into shooting off a firecracker in my official toy Royal Canadian Mounted Police pistol. They said it would be realistic but it destroyed the barrel and they laughed and I cried. I remember us living with my grandparents after dad passed away and how we would all huddle together in the bedroom next to the kitchen. Jimmy was only 12 or 13 but he tried to be the little man of the house in helping us all make it, one day at a time. At Christmas time when he was older he acted as mom’s helper in dealing with the gifts for us younger ones. Memories. Yes, memories of a life that was way too short. Happy Birthday brother. We thank God for the memories. A long time ago, but we have not forgotten. May God bless. Amen. ……More later.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

WACK is on the air!

Happy Wednesday and welcome to my regular broadcast emanating from the short-wave radio that operates on an unknown frequency inside my head between my ears. Last time I checked it was still December 16, 2009 and we have a cool cloudy morning here. We are blessed to be working towards a Company shut down next week and that makes this week move like a run away merry go round. I have many places to go and people to see before we close the door on Friday but working towards a long holiday has its own built in motivation. Everyone around here has a bit of a spring in their step as we try to get things wrapped up. Speaking of wrapped up, it appears our President is about to get his big present called health care reform delivered to him by the Congress. He said this week that he would give himself a B+ thus far and if he gets the health care bill, perhaps an A or A-. He recently scored the lowest popularity rating of any American President for a December in a first term administration and he thinks he deserves a B+ at the low end? I thought the American people got to do the report card but obviously not in this administration.

Sorry but I couldn’t help myself, must have been some splatter effect into my frequency zone. Whatever. It’s just amazing no matter how you look at it. I think we all know there has to be some ego in folks who aspire to high office but this particular ego is in a class by itself, inflated with super helium and it’s about to burst. I said enough already and this time I mean it. I’m not talking about the man because I happen to think that he and his family are beautiful people. They represent the American story and show to the world what is possible in this great country of ours. While others talk about dealing with factions and tensions of all types and varieties, we in America can see a man of African American heritage become our leader. When I criticize our President it has to do only with his policies, his agenda, and his philosophy about issues. How could anyone not love the sight of those girls in the White House, lighting the Christmas tree, and generally having a great time? God bless them but also God help our President to be guided by that which has made us great.

Of course charity begins at home and I have plenty of stuff right close to me that can be worked on in terms of my attitude and my approach to life. Criticizing is much easier than getting up and doing something about the things that each of us can do something about. Ouch! We do have to be careful that we don’t become so focused on the other fellow’s missteps that we miss ours entirely. I’ve also noticed that some people who really do stand up for right can become very negative over time, so much so that even when they make a good point it comes across with a bitter spirit. I guess that’s why God admonished us to always speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). It’s the love part that we tend to leave off whenever we are trying to express truths. I often hear people preach who make the right truth from a wrong passage. This is a mishandling of the text. I suppose in the same way we can make a right point in our politics and in our standing up for truth but can package it within the wrong context, that would be one without love. That’s at least one tidbit for us to munch on this morning. May God bless. Amen. …..More later.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Framers to our current generation: "We gave the right to the pursuit, never a guarantee of results!"

Good Tuesday morning Americans, where we all wake up with life and liberty and the potential to engage ourselves on this December 15, 2009 in the pursuit of happiness. It has been pointed out many times that our Declaration of Independence whose principles became codified in our Constitution, seeks this ‘pursuit’ as a basic right to every citizen of our country. The pursuit is the basic right; certainly not the guarantee that any or all will be attained. This is not a mere quibbling over words; it is the essence of freedom that allows each individual the right of pursuit. The framers had in mind that the state should not hinder or encumber the right of pursuit. Whether or not the state today both hinders and encumbers upon this basic right is much at the heart of many heated and ongoing debates. There can be no doubt there is a punitive impact when the weight of government intrudes upon the individual to the extent they find this pursuit very difficult to mount. We should be concerned about this for our children, their offspring, and ourselves.

Our history in providing this compelling right to every citizen is spotty at best. The treatment of the American Indian, slavery, and a myriad of discriminatory practices certainly disenfranchised many who were not equally provided for in their personal pursuit. However, we as a nation, imperfect, always seeking to constantly learn, and to develop and change in our attempts to do better in seeing that all Americans achieve the right to the pursuit. Many folks today have forgotten the great achievements of the past as they underestimate the power of this right unleashed when people are free to take risks to build upon their ideas, their innovation, and in the application of their God given talents and abilities. Too often in trying to address the problems of the past or in trying to turn the right of pursuit into the right to attain, we run the risk of killing off freedom’s greatest power source, the spirit of the individual. Will there always be those who will manipulate and abuse this right in seeking ill gotten gain? Absolutely. But we must remind ourselves daily that it is this right of pursuit that built our unequalled engine of ingenuity, and we would do well to draw a line in the sand as we see it more and more being eroded!

A common sense look at the world around us clearly shows that the right of pursuit does not always equal success. As for as life is concerned, some leave this life at an early age. Others have little or no liberty because of bad choices or other factors they have experienced. As for as happiness is concerned, you would have as many definitions as to what it means as you have folks in its pursuit. I have learned that true happiness is found in recognizing God and His love for each of us as individuals and in discovering that we can know Him personally through His Son, Jesus Christ. Those in power today see government as the means of providing guaranteed positive outcomes for all its citizens. Ironically, the more the government seeks to guarantee hapiness for everyone, it is the more illusive it will become in the lives of freedom loving men, women, boys, and girls. Something for us all to ponder as we busy ourselves in our own unique personalized pursuit! Amen. ….More later.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Go. On your mark. Get ready. (It's Monday)

Welcome back to Monday. I do hope you had a productive Saturday and Sunday and are now ready for the work week on this December 14, 2009. I had another great Saturday playing Santa at another Chick-fil-A. It was a very busy and active two hour program punctuated by blasts of sheer madness. The autistic, mentally challenged, and other special needs children wrote their signature on my heart of memories and I will never forget their surprised looks, smiles, and their loving response to this jolly old elf. We also had a high school girls basketball team and they had their photos made in a variety of poses and groupings. These girls were transported back to their silly giggle days but we had so much fun as they were a handful both figuratively and literally. I also enjoyed photos with a very elderly couple who were filled with a sense of warmth and joy that could even be seen in their photo. Very tiring work especially the setup we used where photos could be taken every 10 seconds. Talk about squeezing a couple of hours until it squealed!

After finishing up with my Santa duty I hurried home, changed into my street clothes and left to attend the memorial service for our dear sister in Christ from my Sunday Bible Study, Crystal. It was a sweet service with music she wanted played and a couple of poems selected by her only granddaughter. Some of her family members stood up and talked about their loved one. She was known for her gift of gab, (they said it was a genetically inherited trait), her quirky way of acting, her sense of humor, but more than this she was best known for her simple and unashamed love for her Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. The preacher used that profound text from Psalm 116 where it says that the death of His saints is precious in the sight of the Lord. WOW! What a thought! I had also shared this same thought with some of the family at Friday evening's viewing. To think that God's purpose is so connected to His beloved children that to have them come home in death is a very precious occasion for Him takes your breath away! That is a huge deal and I cannot even begin to get my arms around it but I am so thankful that He sees us in that way. Amen? Yes, AMEN!

I love it when someone has such a sweet testimony that everyone appreciates. Working on mine would be a great improvement and Crystal's life does set forth how that a person's light can make a difference as it shines for the Lord. I have already been given some tentative invitations to be Santa next season. One involves a forty family block party with a snow machine and Santa photos. Who knows? This could turn into something more substantial as it goes forward. I feel gratified that I set out to be the very best Santa I could be and have had many testimonials that my goal was reached. I was really struck by the number of adults and their comments about how genuine I looked and how many of them wanted their very own photo with Santa. I am anticipating a very busy week ahead as we look forward to the Christmas holiday period. The fellow I work for will be leaving Wednesday and taking his entire family, kids, spouses, and grandchildren, to Hawaii for nine days. This means he will be leaving me and the other inmates behind to be in charge of the asylum. What a scary thought, in fact, I'm beginning to be a little nervous about it myself. Have a great week and may God bless! Amen. .....More later.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A hit now and then, along with a whole mess of misses!

Okay. It is Friday, December 11, 2009 and it is time for us all to wake up and smell the coffee, hot chocolate, or other suitable beverage. How in the world are you doing, anyway? Back in the day when I worked with folks who actually wore suits and ties every day, anyone who looked good but really couldn’t bring much to the table was referred to as an empty suit. It appears to me that our President is more and more looking like an empty suit, at least at this particular time in his administration. Ironic. Here is a fellow who is very intelligent we are told, in fact we know it to be true because we are told over and over again about how extremely smart he is. One historian said he is the brightest man ever to hold the office. He also put forth that he has the highest IQ of any president in history. When asked what that IQ level would be, the historian said he didn’t know but it had to be the highest in history. Is this bizzaro world, or what? President Obama is currently basking in the glow from his receipt of the world’s most prestigious peace prize within days of sending 30,000 more US troops into battle. You cannot make this stuff up folks. The only book that I know of that may offer some insight is the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ because we have never seen what we are seeing unfold each day.

But enough wailing and gnashing about all of that for a Friday. Hand wringing as a sport really does little to change things. I have been working out in the public for going on fifty years but I enjoy the people I work with today about as much as any I have ever worked with. I actually look forward to getting up every day and coming to the office. I get a huge kick out of the bantering forth and back and how special many of these people are to me. We do have some tension from time to time and because we are people, there can be some misunderstandings and even an angry exchange here and there. But for the most part we have an environment where serious work is done but there’s also room for a smile. We are so blessed to have an owner who has a God centered view of life including the conduct of our business. Just this week I’ve heard folks talk about how much they hate their job or how they hate the people they work with, or the pay, or the work environment. Therefore, even though I’ve made many times more what I make today and even though I’ve held higher profile jobs, you can be sure how thankful I am to God that I enjoy what I do so much. Believe me, it is a blessing.

Because of my age I do think from time to time about retirement but not in terms of being glad that I will no longer be coming to the office. I think about it mostly because it is a coming attraction in my life and when that time comes I will want to be engaged in productive activities of some kind. As a retiree, even if I were to expand my professional Santa career that would only occupy a couple of months. I do not envision myself spending entire days practicing my rocking chair skills. I would hope that with God’s help I will be focused on ministry opportunities beyond what I can do today. But, all of that will come in its own time. For now, it is a one-day-at-a-time perspective where I give God praise for allowing me to keep on keeping on. Life lived in recognition of all that God does for us, small, medium, and large is the best way to accomplish that level of thanks-living which honors Him, and treats others with love and respect. That one sentence kind of jumped out but I think my entire blog was worth it, in fact, I couldn’t have said it better myself, but that is what I said. Oh well, I’ve told you before and I’ll tell you again, it is not easy being me! Have a blessed Saturday and Lord’s Day Sunday, and I plan to be with you again on this same station on Monday. Amen. …..More later.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A time to laugh and a time to cry. (Ecclesiastes 3:4)

Here we are again and it’s already Thursday and I bring you a hearty greeting on this December 10, 2009. Okay, let me see if I have this information correct? Tuesday evening I drove into the metroplex for the inner city Bible club meeting and had to switch on the A/C because of the uncomfortable warmth and humidity. Yesterday it was wind chills and feel like in the 40’s all day and this morning we are near freezing. I didn’t even mention the two days of rain and pea soup fog but I can tell you that weather in these parts is nothing short of wacky and weird most of the time. This means you think I should cut the local weather prognosticators some slack, don’t you? Don’t even think about it. They are the ones that talk all the time about their gazillion watt mega Doppler radar and how nothing can be out of its reach. I fully expect the lights to dim all over the entire area when they turn that dude on but other than making for some good backgrounds for them to stand in front of, I’m not really impressed with how it helps us to know whether an umbrella or an overcoat will be needed for the day.

As the season progresses I am getting more ‘Santa’ comments from strangers. Their previous looks said I might have just come in from sleeping under a bridge. The clubbers on Tuesday evening had a field day talking about my beard. Many asked if I was the real Santa. I asked them back what they thought. I showed one little fellow my Santa picture business card and he went and told the rest of the gang that I had a Santa driver’s license. It was all in fun and I can assure you our club meeting was mostly about Jesus and His provision for all the little children of the world. My wife thinks I should go next week for the club Christmas party dressed as Santa but I will have to think about that one.

While it may be tis the season to be jolly, we all know each day brings sorrow to someone, somewhere. Crystal, a lady in my Bible Study class passed away Tuesday evening. She suffered some strokes and aneurysms about three weeks ago and had multiple surgeries but never woke up. This series of events and her passing came as a complete surprise to her family. She was 58 and no one in her circle would have imagined that this could be what they would be facing today. She was a one-of-a-kind individual, quirky, and in some ways eccentric but hugely in love with the Lord and His willing servant. She often told me that while she couldn’t be a speaker or a singer she did know how to clean and how to help in other areas. AND what she knew how to do became her ministry, because she sought out and found those opportunities and pursued them weekly. Several months ago my wife and I sang a song that Crystal really liked. The message can be summed up by the chorus: “The longer I serve Him the sweeter He grows; The more that I love Him, more love He bestows; Each day is like heaven, my heart overflows; The longer I serve Him the sweeter He grows.” She will be missed but her testimony will continue as we remember her faithful service to the Lord she so dearly loved. Please say a prayer for her family as they deal with this loss at this time. Amen. …..More later.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Remembering my greatest Christmas.

Good Wednesday morning and welcome to the continuing countdown to Christmas on this December 9, 2009. I know folks who can pinpoint and describe in glowing terms their most memorable Christmas experience. I don’t have a specific one that I can point out, but I can surely say there are no bad ones that stick out in my mind. (What a blessing!) Christmas time has always been a big deal in our family. Maybe it was not a big deal in terms of it always being outlandishly overboard with gifts, but always a big deal in terms of how special it was. We have consistently emphasized the birth of our Lord and Savior in our observance, period, end-of-story. At the same time, we have also enjoyed the gifts, the festive atmosphere, and Santa. Some see a disconnect in this approach and while I can’t decide this issue for anyone else, we have in the past and continue to this very day to observe all of the above.

Sure, there’s always the first Christmas without a beloved family member that makes it tough but its also special to remember them in the context of the Christmases spent together and the memories made. My dad left us for his journey to heaven during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday of 1953-54. That unforeseen event forever changed our lives, especially that of my mom. Remarkably, my mom carried on and she did Christmas in a way that shaped it for us as we went on to make our families. I can remember when our Chris was just a little guy and how overboard I went in providing stuff that he couldn’t use or even recognize but I did so because of a desire to replicate the kind of Christmases I had so enjoyed.

We have always worked hard to have a beautiful Christmas tree. We are particular about it being just right. This was how my mom always did her tree. It’s funny to hear the grand kids talk about how that every ornament must dangle just so or it cannot be put on Poppy’s tree. I know folks that throw their tree together. Some even stand back and throw on the ice sickles. Never!!! It’s part of our tradition to do things in a certain way. Tradition, our family tradition, is a huge part of our celebration time. Over these forty-five years of being together, my wife and I have taken from both families and melded them into our very own tradition. It may not be your tradition and it may not even make sense to how you go about your Christmas, but it works for us, and we hope the way we do it portrays a sincere recognition of the real reason for the season as well as a time for family, fun, and fellowship. Do it your own way or don’t do anything if that is your way but always give God the glory because He alone is worthy. Amen. …..More later.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Jesus: “Let not your hearts be troubled.”

Today is Tuesday, December 8, 2009 and this year acts like it is so anxious to get out of here. Maybe it's the down economy or the incessant bad news drumbeat that 2009 has had to endure. They are predicting better times ahead, therefore, maybe 2009 is thinking for the good of one and all he will just move on down the road. When it is all said and done this is our time, our life, and these are the conditions that are ours to deal with, 24 hours a day. We think we really have it tough but if we check a little in the history books we find that our life today is not bad, comparatively speaking. A fellow was telling me yesterday about a loved one of his being able to be successfully treated with medications that were not even known about twenty years ago. These tough financial times have taken a toll on families but when you think about 40% unemployment during the Great Depression and you see photos of those breadlines, we realize that we still have much to be thankful for. Finally, while this year may have been a downer for many, it has remained a year of continued faithfulness on the part of our Great God.

I say this realizing that I'm not one of those currently in the unemployment line but I have been and I know how it feels, and how that God was there and is there for us all. He is no respecter of persons, therefore, He cares about the hurting of each one. Historically, it has been in times of great trial that people tend to look up and that is one of the ways God has revealed Himself during times of need. On any given day there's plenty of things that go awry, enough so that each of us at times feel helpless and would just as soon cry ourselves to sleep. Stress and strain, relationships, family and friends, and the 24 hour cycle of dealing with stuff can be formidable for any of us on any given day. However, my wife and I used to sing a song many years ago that said this: "Jesus is right for whatever is wrong in your life."

I'll just tell you straight up, happy thoughts and the power of a positive outlook will not get the job done. There is a giant void in every heart or as one commentator put it, we all have a God sized hole in our heart that only He can fill. Sadly, too many of us tend to try and do it on our own and in our own way. I did it my way might make a successful song but God and His way is the only choice that makes sense out of the life He has given to His created human family. Some look at those of us who are believers and think we live in a dream world existence. NOT!! We have pretty much the same challenges as everyone else and sometimes even more. However, our faith in God and His faithfulness to us is what allows us to live for Him even during difficult days. Tears may define many days here but we who know God can rest assured that we will see Him and live with Him in a place where all tears will be wiped away, forever and ever, Amen. Have a blessed day! .....More later.