Friday, December 31, 2010

I bid you one last greeting, wishing you God's speed in 2010, and a wonderful new year in 2011!

Our three sons and two of our three grandsons.
Okay, here we are. One year after the last time we all wished each other a happy new year. Oh, that's right. It works that way essentially the same once a year. Got it. Welcome to the final edition of the year on this Friday, December 31, 2010. Yesterday was a very intense day of trying to determine a way forward for my brother in terms of follow on treatment and a host of related issues. We know we are not alone. Many families deal with these very same issues every single day. However, it doesn't make it easy, especially for my mom, who is so burdened about Donald's condition. We are seeking God's providence and provision and trust that He will make a way. This was my prayer last night when I poured my tired bones into my bed. The good news is that we are a family who recognizes that we need God's help and we have confidence in Him to help us in our time of need. That is a heritage that I am very thankful for because I have seen it at work throughout my 64 plus years here on the planet. It's not a bail out strategy, it is a way of life strategy. I know there are those who scoff at the idea of folks who live each day in dependence upon God but I believe the longer I am hanging around, it is the more that the truth of this approach to life makes sense. May we all finish the year of 2010 by acknowledging God as our Father, and embracing His Son as our Savior, while seeking His Spirit to lead and guide us into the coming new year. I will see you next year, Lord willing! Amen.         .....More later.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

No 'do overs' but we can, with God's help, work on our doing!

Grandsons, Alexander Benjamin and Brady Darrell.
Hello and welcome to Thursday, December 30, 2010. Time is getting away from us as we get ready to get ready to say goodbye to another year. One of the favorite quotes from the Disney cartoon, 'Phineas and Ferb' heard around here a lot is this one: "Whatcha doin?" I am a slow learner and only put that together after having the 1,000th episode playing in the background. But when you think about it, it's not such a bad question as it relates to where we are and where we have been over the past nearly 12 months. God lives outside of time but He gave us time and a finite existence, therefore, we have to take seriously whenever He reminds us to number our days and to live in a way pleasing to Him because the days are getting away from us, and they are evil. (See Psalm 90:12 and Ephesians 5:16) I elect myself as president of the Should've, Could've, Would've Club. Yeah. It would be great to get some of those opportunities back where we were presented with the potential to make a difference in someone's life. However, that's like what Solomon wrote an entire book about, Ecclesiastes, where he was honestly addressing the emptiness of pursuing the so called good life without recognition of God, and he likened it to chasing the wind. No. We can't get a do over but we can commit ourselves to a 'do' as we find ourselves in that same situation in 2011. To do that we need some outside help. Obviously, if we could do it all on our own we wouldn't ever have regrets but we do have some, therefore, we need God and His Spirit infusing us with a sensitivity to His appointments and then a good dose of His power to help us to get up and do what He would have us to do. That will give us all something to work on in the upcoming year! Agreed? I hear a few of those amens out there and add one hearty one myself: Amen.          ......More later.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

We are thankful for the rain even on a day off.

Our Grand Lexie with our 
Great Grand Maddy on Christmas Day!
It's Wednesday, December 29, 2010 and we are supposed to have a wash out rain today. That's a good thing because we are way under the needed rainfall for the year. I know all the children at home for the holidays would prefer to be outside, and so would their moms, however, we need the rain when it comes, and we need to thank God for it. Even though the United Nations experts on climate control wrote a technical paper that predicted the opposite of the frozen tundra being experienced this year, those same experts who didn't even get close are now saying they were really right all along and the cold proves their point. Hello? It was predicted to be 2 degrees warmer each year and yet, it is much colder, but no matter what happens they still say it confirms their prediction. This is why some people believe that the global warming crowd have made it a religion because the science is just not there to support their position. Here's what I conclude. Humanity has no doubt made a mess out of life here on the planet and we should be good stewards of God's creation. At the same time, we must follow the revealed truth as given in God's Word to help guide our lives each day. If we live by the truth, we will follow God's plan and we will trust in His promises that have ultimate control over all things. We can be sure of this because it is based on "thus says the word of the Lord." Some trust in everything other than God hoping for man's answers to get us to a perfect world. How's that working over the past 6,000 years? Looking at where we are as a world pretty much reflects all that man has to offer. That's why we need to recommit ourselves to doing life God's way and that is all that we can do to help change our world, each and everyday. Amen.            ........More later.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It won't be long now, 2010 is getting away from us.

It is now Tuesday, December 28, 2010 and the days are slipping away for this year. While I am not that big on making resolutions, I do believe in looking at where we are, where we have been, and in finding areas that we can do better. I am working on my lesson for this coming Sunday and it is entitled Closer to Heaven in 2011. I chose this topic to help myself and our entire class to appreciate our identity in Christ and our citizenship in His kingdom. Having that as a focus for the upcoming year will help us to live based on the reality of who we really are as opposed to just trying to cope with our everyday existence here in this world. Some folks think you have to live based on the here and now more than anything else. While that is our plight each day, the truth about who we are in Christ and how that we are actually His ambassadors as we pass through on our way home actually informs our daily ability to deal with all that comes to us in this life. All of us have this attraction that connects us to this world and if we are not careful, that connection clouds our appreciation for the true life we have in Christ. Our enemy would like nothing more than for us all to be totally preoccupied with the ups and downs that come to each one in this life. I'm not talking about a life lived up in the clouds because living a life closer to heaven in 2011 should help us to prioritize our time, the use of our talents, and the way we handle our treasures. I'm still not settled on the best passages that teach this heavenly mindset but there are many to choose from that tell us while we are in this world we are not to be of this world. That will not happen automatically. It requires that we immerse ourselves in God's Word because that's the reality for us as believers. Have a great Tuesday and if there's something you really wanted to get done this year, perhaps a contact with someone, or an act of kindness you intended, now would be the time to go for it because as we all can see, it won't be long before we will be looking back on this year! May God bless one and all! Amen.                   .......More later.

Monday, December 27, 2010

All good things must come to an end, at least until next time.

This was Saturday, December 25, 2010
Here we are on a Monday, December 27, 2010 and as I promised, there are changes in the mix for today. I am running late on my blog because I've been out and about getting my haircut or my ears lowered as they say back home. We had a most wonderful time with our children, grandchildren, and our sweet little great grand, our bundle of Madelyn Joy on Saturday. It was a good one. It was a really good one. No. It was one of the best ever. My mom says that I say that every year but this year I really mean it. The kiddos were wonderful, the atmosphere was warm, the laughter was hearty, the steaks and all the trimmings were yummy, and MiMi did a wonderful job reading Luke's account of that singular event that changed the world when a Child was born and placed in a manger. What a day! Now, we must get on with our rat killing and that included my assignment for today: Transform yourself from that jolly old elf back into that hum drum ordinary fellow. It will be this way until June, Lord willing, when we begin again to regrow the beard and prepare ourselves for a new season. Next year we will have a new addition, the one and only, MiMi Claus, who will do her best to keep Santa in line. While she has plenty of experience, she already knows she will have her work cut out for her.

Self portrait, today, about 30 minutes ago.
 On Sunday we observed a very special service at our local fellowship where we once again focused on the Savior who just prior to going to the Cross, had these words to encourage His followers: "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful." (John 14:27, NASB) Our pastor then illustrated how that the peace that Jesus gives is different than any other that can be found in this world. A Christmas with family that we will not soon forget and then a Christmas celebration with our Church family that brought us all together in the common bond we have with our Savior. The Santa deal has come and gone and I will treasure so many memories from the children I have been privileged to work with. Those that stay with you the most are the special needs kids that love without reservation and have an excitement that is endearing. There was another little guy from the Christian academy that won the prize for his over the top reception of Santa. He was beside himself and everything you ever thought about a kid being ready for Santa, he embodied to the fullest. I mentioned it to his grandmother and she said one of the things he is known for is his exhuberance. That's what he is known for? That caused me to wonder what I am known for and maybe we all should stop and think about how others see us, our attitude, and our way of dealing with people. Exhuberance would not be a bad thing to be known for and thanks young fellow for reminding us all that we are known for something. Amen.                    ......More later.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

It's Saturday, December 25th, 2010 and I am thankful to be able to send greetings to one and all for a most blessed and merry Christmas. I can do this because He lives today. Here's how our dear Brother Luke was inspired to record this great event as found in the second Chapter of his Gospel:

4 Since Joseph belonged to David’s house and family line, he went up from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to David’s city, called Bethlehem, in Judea. 5 He went to be enrolled together with Mary, who was promised to him in marriage and who was pregnant. 6 While they were there, the time came for Mary to have her baby. 7 She gave birth to her firstborn child, a son, wrapped him snugly, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guestroom.  8 Nearby shepherds were living in the fields, guarding their sheep at night. 9 The Lord’s angel stood before them, the Lord’s glory shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people. 11 Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord. 12 This is a sign for you: you will find a newborn baby wrapped snugly and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great assembly of the heavenly forces was with the angel praising God. They said, 14Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.” 15 When the angels returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go right now to Bethlehem and see what’s happened. Let’s confirm what the Lord has revealed to us.” 16 They went quickly and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they reported what they had been told about this child. 18 Everyone who heard it was amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 Mary committed these things to memory and considered them carefully. 20 The shepherds returned home, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. Everything happened just as they had been told. (New Testament in Everyday English)

Have a great day and celebrate by remembering the Real Reason for the Season. Amen.      .....More later.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Eve!

December 24th 2010. One of everyone's favorite things during this time of year is Christmas music. I have tried to listen to as much of it as possible, here at work, at home, in the car, and even have led a few Christmas carols in our Wednesday evening Bible study class. The Christmas hymns and carols are fixtures in helping to define the season for those of us who have been blessed to be raised in a Christian home. Then we have our own definition of songs that were a part of our memory box. Seasonal renditions by the likes of Bing Crosby, Gene Autry, Perry Como, Andy Williams, Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis, Brenda Lee, Elvis Presley, Eddy Arnold, Burl Ives, the 1940's big bands, the Andrews Sisters, the Mills Brothers, and so many, many more. Several years ago I stumbled onto the obscure song called Christmas Wrapping by the Waitresses from 1981. For some reason I like it. I also enjoy the brothers band, Hanson,in their song,  (No. I haven't reverted to some rocked out flash back, I just happen to like those songs.) It's Christmas. If you have a computer and if it is connected to the internet as most people are, even my 86 year old mother has one, and while she may not call it a personal computer and instead has deemed it to be a doohickey, she can send and receive email and stay in touch with friends and family far and wide, and being connected means you can find almost any song ever recorded by going to YouTube and searching for it by title, by artist, by genre, by year, by just about anything else. (Run on sentences are my specialty!) You haven't had the urge to listen to some Tex Ritter lately? He has some memorable songs including a few Christmas tunes as well. Music.What a gift. And, how wonderful it is to wrap up our memories in those tunes that speak to our hearts.

I am writing this blog more or less on the go because of all that I need to be able to get done today. I have to stay on the go because of all the 'to do' that I have on my 'to do' list. I plan to be well into making that list by the time you break open and read this enlightening piece of homespun musings. While I am not a big fan of 24 hour stay open all the time stores, it does pay off now and then, so I will be like the fellow who typically rails against it, except for when it fits his own schedule. The other day I had to go real early to pick up something for my wife and found out that others had the exact same idea. What's up with that? Doesn't anyone value sleep anymore? I thought I would have gotten the first or second parking spot. People. You just can't manage them. Know what I mean? It is the day before and since my wife is working I will try to finish up the shopping for our big day. My plan is to get it done by noon and after that I will begin to begin to get the house in order for our family celebration. That's the plan. But we all know that plans are typically not ironclad, therefore, I am sure by the time I am standing in line for umpteenth time, it will appear not to be going as well as I expected. Then, from a magical source somewhere in the store, I will hear the refrain 'O Come Let Us Adore Him', and perhaps that will help me to regroup and re-frame my thinking about this special time of the year. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa, (and I should know), but more importantly, there is a Savior who was born and laid in a manger, so many years ago. Have a great Christmas eve and say a little prayer for those retail folks that have to deal with customers like me. Just joking. I will be on my best behavior or at least that too is a part of the plan. May God bless each one. Amen.          ......More later.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas can't be far away!

It won't be long now. Christmas can't be far away. Today is Thursday, December 23, 2010. This is a special day here for us at the company. We have our annual Christmas luncheon and then we enter our Christmas time off. While we have a skeleton crew working on some big projects next week, most of us will leave today and not be expected back until January 3, 2011. One more time: Is this a great country, or what? I suppose I will be deciding soon that major question that comes up each time I am away for a few days, "To blog or not to blog, that is the question." I probably will some, if not most days, but if you happen to wake up one morning and my blog is not laying on the front porch of your email house, then you will know that I am either running late, or I may not be blogging that day. Okay. You might as well know the truth. I am usually up pretty early even when I am on vacation. It's not an old age deal because I've been doing that since I was fairly young. Oh yeah, I forgot. My wife says that I've been older much longer than most other people. Maybe my song should be: 'I was old before old was cool' Please don't notify Barbara Mandrell that I am parodying her song. At any rate, it will be a work in progress.

I did get to see mom and dad for a brief visit yesterday along with my sister Frances when they came to see my brother in the rehab center. I am always blessed to be able to be with them. I still plan a trip over to their place one day while I am off. It's always great to sit on their back porch and watch the birds in their yard, while sipping some brewed up Community. She told our grandson Jimmy Jr. the other day about how some of those birds were very distressed to find the bird bath frozen up one morning. That didn't keep them from pecking away on the ice and she said it looked so funny. It was like watching a cartoon. Those are some of the sights I always look forward to seeing when I go back to our home place. Christmas to me does have a huge remembrance component. Just writing about it now conjures up many gatherings where we enjoyed to the fullest the essence of family and fellowship. I won't name names because that would only bring on the tears, but suffice it to say, Christmas holds a special place in all our hearts. I can't tell you how that might work if I didn't know the Jesus of First Christmas fame. I know folks in general can enjoy special memories too. But, infused in my memory is a sense of hope that comes from knowing Him, as well as knowing that one day we'll all be together again. That's pretty neat no matter how you look at it. Know what I mean, Vern?

Lord willing we will have something new this Christmas at our family gathering. Our little bundle of Madelyn Joy is eleven months and just on the verge of being totally engaged in this, her first Christmas. That always makes it special, not only for her, but for the rest of us as well. I can remember like it was yesterday that special Christmas when we all showed up at my wife's folks with Maddy's mommy along for her very first Christmas. She was only about eight months old but she was also the first girl born into their family since my wife. That's right. Eight grandsons and no granddaughters! It turned out to be quite a funny day. We had not had to deal with girl stuff for over twenty years and then there she was sitting in the middle of a sea of pent up desire, surrounded by dolls, tea sets, and girlie stuff of every kind. That was then and now is now. We look forward to seeing her excited about all the hoopla along with the rest of her family, including Alex, and Bray Bray, Lexie, Amanda, Alesha, Jimmy Jr., Kyleigh, Stefani, Brittany, her parents Tiffany and J.C., her grandparents Chris and Sherrie, Uncle Rodney and Aunt Mitzi, and Uncle Jimmy Sr., and lastly, Great Grand Poppy and Great Grand MiMi. Lord willing. That's exactly how we must look at it because we can plan and prepare but we never know what might happen as we greet each day. It will be another chapter and hopefully later on in life, our offspring will, like their Poppy, stand and look out the window and enjoy thinking about family Christmases past. Making memories is a good work but there's much to be done both Friday and Saturday, but we can hardly wait. May God bless one and all! Amen.                           .....More later.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

God knows how to teach each of us exactly where we are, and with exactly what we need to hear.

You did find me again. Good work and welcome to Wednesday, December 22, 2010, where one of the things I am thinking about today is a spirit of gratefulness. While it is the season to be jolly, it is also a time to consider our thankfulness quotient. On Sunday when we were at the apartments for a fun day and folks were having their photos made with Santa, a man came in pushing his son in a wheelchair. The young man, maybe in his early teens, was profoundly disabled but you would have never known it from his expression and that of his dad. They rolled him over next to me and he was elated. He couldn't speak but he was so excited. I leaned over into his area and they took several shots. His dad coaxed him to tell me what he wanted for Christmas. The young man grunted and strained but I couldn't make out what he was trying to say. The dad finally said he wants movies. He likes to watch movies. As they prepared to leave I wished them a most wonderful Christmas. As dad grabbed the handles of the wheel chair he simply said, "We are much too blessed to have anything other than a wonderful Christmas." I had already been fighting tears but I now nearly lost it. However, Santa has to be jolly for the children's sake so I held it in. The dad's words rang in my ears. "Much too blessed to have anything other than a wonderful Christmas." That just knocked me down. As you can see, it's still on my mind today. I felt this powerful surge of conviction for being so petty about things that don't go my way, while at the same time I felt overwhelmed by a sense of how truly special this young man is, this young man with so many special needs, who has a dad devoted to him. Don't know what else to say other than to be thankful for them coming by to remind me of a need to recognize that we are much too blessed to have anything other than a wonderful Christmas.

I believe in boycotts. I persist in my boycott of  not subscribing to the AARP, (Association for the Advancement of Retired Persons), because they were one of those first in line to drink the Kool Aid of the Obama health care debacle. I saw in the news where they recently notified customers of a huge increase in the health care plan they sell. That's right. The one they sell. Does that sound a little fishy to you? They are all tied up in the bowels of the health care law, and meanwhile, back at the ranch they have hundreds of millions tied up in health insurance sales. I hear that chuckle out there where everyone is thinking about how silly it is for me to do something like this when it will not ever in a million years make any difference whatsoever. They know about it because I sent them an email. How funny is that? One little voice out there in the heartland sending his little email to the mega company who masquerades as the champion of the elderly while profiting left and right on, you guessed it, the elderly. I have others on my boycott list that I could write about but when you start listing them people will begin to wonder whether some of your wiring has gone bad. I don't lack any respect for anyone who is a member and enjoys the benefits to their fullest. It's my view. It's my way of looking at it. It's my way of saying something, if not to them, to me, and to you, at least now that you have seen it on my blog. I never said that you should expect too much when you tune in to my station, it is what you see, and obviously, somewhat off the beaten path. I'm not certain about the beaten path as a word picture but I've always liked it and thought I might throw it in for good measure.

They obviously do not harbor any hard feelings given the amount of their mailouts that continues to be stuffed in our mail box. Some folks tell me about all the money they save by using their membership card. That's okay with me and technically I'm not retired anyway. I could be like the fellow who used to tell me he always gave up broccoli for lent. I reminded him that he never ate broccoli and he told me that was just a technicality. Hey, I know swimming against the current can be a daunting task but in the end we all do what we believe to be the right thing, or I hope that's what we do. We still have that privilege and I am thankful for it. Enough about that stuff, it is Christmas, and surely we have something else to jaw about. I do patronize the bell ringers because while they are paid to ring, the funds collected go to many of those in need, and we don't have to be a genius to know that's a huge number this year. It's no shame to be one of those in need. The man and woman chosen to be the earthly parents of our Lord and Savior were poor. How do we know they were poor? Because they could not afford a lamb whenever they went to the Temple to dedicate Jesus. They had to opt for the offering of the poor, two turtle doves. Let me tell you this, they being devout followers of Jehovah God, had they been able they would have purchased the most unblemished lamb they could find for the dedication of the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world. But they couldn't and so they did the best they could. While they did not have much in terms of worldly goods they obviously had plenty in terms of their devotion to God and in their godly character. (Read all about it in the first three chapters of the Gospel according to Luke.) Something to ponder as we continue our journey towards Christmas. Amen.                        ......More later.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Maybe tomorrow I'll have something better, but this will have to do for now!

Maybe I should share with you a conundrum on this Tuesday, December 21, 2010. It was a note written in my high school yearbook. "They both stood at the gate. She wanted to ask him but she didn't know how. For he was the farmer and she was the cow." I told my old buddy Ike that riddle one day and several weeks later in the wee hours of the early morning he looked at me and then he blurted out as he sipped his super strong cup of Community,. "But what does it mean? It's driving me crazy." He was joking, of course, and I am too. That was actually written in my book and it has been a source of a joke from time to time. Sadly, I've been told many things over the years that were not so subtle. Too easy to understand. "No, you not only don't to to pass go and don't get to collect $200 but you don't get to go at all!" Maybe not in those exact words but we all know what it means to receive negative feedback and it can be really hard on us, especially when it is not expected. Even after all these years my wife often misunderstands my highly nuanced quips. She at times takes them literally and that usually does not make for a good conversation. It's almost always too late to say that I was only joking but I say it anyway, because most of the time that's what I was doing, joking only. But it does remind us all of the power of words. Words can build up and encourage or they can tear down and discourage. And, like the old comedian said many years ago, "Show me a home where the buffalo roam and I'll show you a dirty house." If I told my wife that joke she would then say, "What are you saying, that I don't keep a clean house?" See what I mean? I am aware that at this very moment the delete key is furiously being pressed, but then again, I can't write a winner every day. Right? In my case, I've never let the fact that I really have little to say stand in the way of saying a lot.

Keeping up with the hypocrisy on all sides of the political spectrum should require that airsickness bags be issued for every citizen. Many of our so called solid conservative brothers and sisters stuffed their earmarks of pork into a massive spending bill and then came out against the bill calling it outlandish. Many of these same so called solid conservatives want to freeze and in many cases reduce the pay of federal workers since studies show them to be paid much higher than the going rate for the same job in the private sector. But here's the rub: It turns out that these same folks have lavished their own private staffs with huge pay increases over the past year. Back where I come from someone would perhaps say something about how this kind of thing would almost gag a maggot. But, I'm way too dignified to go there. However, I continue to pronounce a pox on all their houses because at the root there seems to be quite a lot of rot. (I actually thought lot of rot was a fair assessment.) That pox on all their houses phrase originated in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet where the dying Mercutio actually said, "A plague on both their houses.", condemning the warring factions that led ultimately to his death. This phrase was later restated as a pox and it is typically applied to warring factions whose rivalry brings ruin to others. And just so you know, the ruin to others in this case is you and I, the average American taxpayer who has to live with all these daily reports of outrageous shenanigans from most of our politicians.

The so called Bush tax cuts presents a somewhat humorous amount of flame flowing from a variety of people. Those who favored allowing the taxes to be reimposed on people with higher incomes claim that not doing so is a give away to the rich. Often this is stated as if the monies all belonged to the government to begin with. In other words, they own it all and we get only to keep what they decide we should have. You may think this to be somewhat of an absurd analysis, but I assure you that just that premise itself makes for a huge difference in one's point of view. Does the government own all the money or does the individual own his own money and we are taxed in order to provide for government services? The latter is very different from the viewpoint that government gets to decide how much we get to keep. But here again, there are plenty who claim they know the difference but in reality they sure don't show it in their behavior. The more Americans get to keep of their own money, the more they make their own choices in terms of spending, investments, and in coming up with solutions that people want and will pay for. Unleashing the power of American ingenuity is one of the primary missing elements in many of the proposed solutions today. But as our President has previously said, elections do have consequences, and perhaps he too can read the handwriting on the wall. (That handwriting on the wall metaphor comes directly from The Bible, Book of Daniel, Chapter 5.) Perhaps he can. Or perhaps not. We will have to wait and see. Meanwhile, stay vigilant my friend, because we do, with God's help, want to hand down our best to our children and grandchildren. Amen.                         ......More later.

Monday, December 20, 2010

I have come back to work to catch my breath!

It's December 20, 2010 and I bid you good Monday morning where I am trying to get ready to get ready to be ready to get back to work . I pretty much have finished up all my scheduled Santa appearances for this season. It has been quite an adventure. On Friday we were at a Christian Academy where they have 108 students enrolled. We had a most wonderful time. On my way out I passed through the lunch room where most of the children were eating, for a final goodbye. Hello? Suddenly I was being rushed by all these little ones. I almost lost my balance. It was wonderful. Everyone wanted to give Santa a hug. From there we visited the daycare where our Alex goes each day. My wife was good enough to tag along with me for as long as she could before going to work. Our son Jimmy took care of the rest of the elf duties after she left us. Then on Sunday our local fellowship all joined together and put on a fun day program for an apartment complex near our Church facility. Talk about fun! It was wonderful and I was able to have photos made with children of all ages including some physically challenged folks as well as some elderly. Our pastor wanted us to do nothing more than to show that we care and we want to be good neighbors. Given the turnout and the noise of folks just having a good time, I am so thankful we were able to participate. May God take this seed and cause it to grow into something that will make a difference in someone's life for time and eternity. Amen.

On Saturday I was able to spend some time with my brother across town in the rehab hospital. We laughed and talked and laughed some more. I was able to assist him in eating his lunch. Don't get the idea that we made any sense out of what we were saying because he just isn't connecting at this point, however, that didn't interfere with us being able to enjoy the visit. I also was able to spread a little Santa joy to some of the folks there, take a photo with one lady, and generally, just to be there to represent our family. I can't help but think about how humbling it is to have a major medical issue like the one Donald suffered. Laying in that bed about as helpless as one could be is a man who once was known for his toughness as a Marine drill sergeant. At one time he instilled self confidence and personal strength but today he is totally dependent on others. What lesson do I draw from this? It reminds me of how fragile this life is and how temporary the things we sometimes believe to be so important. Like our independence, our self reliance, and even our pride. That could be me and that could be you. We never know what a day will bring but it's never too late to recognize that we are already totally dependent upon God and His grace to make it, even in being able to take the next breath. I thank God for Donald's continued progress, especially in his physical recovery, and I look forward to when he will be able to show the same progress in his mental abilities. Thanks to all of you who remember him and our family as we continue this battle.

We had our birthday party for our brand new fourteen year old Jimmy Jr. Saturday evening. He was excited and so were we. As you can tell we are not lacking for entries on our 'To Do' list. Because of this I issued a formal I.O.U. to my wife for a future time when we will celebrate our anniversary. Busy? Yes we are! Good busy? Mostly, and for that I am so very thankful to God that He gives us the strength to get up and do the things we are able to do. I know everyone is busy this week as well as we all prepare for our Christmas Day celebration. Many will be traveling to visit family and friends. We are going to have another one of those weird warm ups for the first few days of this week but according to the Weather Channel, we should get a cool down for Christmas Day, just like I like it. I don't mind grilling steaks out in the cold. I've done it many times before. Maybe it's all psychological, but it does seem more like Christmas when it is cold. At any rate, let's not become so busy that we forget the plight of those in need because it is at this time of year that we celebrate God's provision for meeting the greatest need of all humanity. That is the need to know God and His salvation through that Baby who was laid in a manger, He who grew up, lived a sinless life, died on a cross for the sins of all humanity, and then was resurrected, hallelujah, praise the Lord! Knowing Him makes Christmas what it should be. Amen.           ......More later.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Tomorrow, a very special day for us!

I am off on a day of vacation to take care of a couple of Santa appearances. I will be visiting a Christian Academy later this morning and then do a stop over at the daycare where our grandson Alex goes each day. It is Friday, December 17, 2010 and I bid you a warm welcome to today's edition. Tomorrow is Saturday, the 18th, and it is a significant day in our family. Our daughter-in-law Mitzi, married to our youngest son, Rodney, celebrates her birthday on Saturday. She is a working mom. That word working is used intentionally because while she may only work an abbreviated schedule outside their home, she is always engaged in what seems like an endless array of activities, projects, and family matters. You have to get up early and be prepared to stay late if you are to keep up with Mitzi, and we are so thankful for her being such a wonderful wife to our son, and such a loving and involved mother to our grandchildren, Kyleigh, Lexie, and Brady. She and Rodney are currently on a short cruise to Mexico and we send her birthday greetings along with our prayer that God will continue to bless and keep her. Amen. Happy Birthday Mitzi.

Our Jimmy Jr. also shares this day as his birthday. He is our Jimmy's eldest and we are so very proud of him on this, his 14th birthday. He's our first boy grandchild and he has always been close to his MiMi and Poppy. He had a bad day recently and when I asked him about it he said something about hormones and then asked me didn't I ever go through some changes. What? What was that again? I'm the one asking the questions here. We had a good laugh but dealing with him becoming a 14 year old really makes it hard to believe. I can see myself rocking him to sleep as an infant in that glider just like it was yesterday. He was one that required much rocking and we turned that glider into a high mileage vehicle to accommodate him. Sure, he has his own quirks but all in all he's been not only a good kid, but one that we have always enjoyed spending time with. We still enjoy him hanging out with us and count being his grandparents as one of our greatest blessings. He does like spending time on the computer where he can play those video games for hours. He has so much potential and we pray that God will continue to nourish him and to guide his steps. Happy Birthday Jimmy Jr., and may God bless. Amen.

Least but not last, in fact, first, last, and always I recognize the crowning achievement of this day, the 18th of December. That's our wedding day and I pause to recognize the 46th anniversary of our becoming husband and wife. It would be so wonderful to say that it's been just one episode after another of nothing but good times but that would not be true. I'll let you in on a secret, it's not a bed of roses for any couple but on balance it reflects one of the greatest blessings in my life. Just the other day I was talking with a young man who is seeking that special someone for his life. I retold the story about how Marilyn and I got together. For me it was one of those unforgettable knee knocking, breath taking experiences similar to the vault falling out of the building and landing on the head of the cartoon character. I can't say it was love at first sight but it certainly was something very close to that. I say that because you only really love someone the right way when you love them the way God has instructed. That didn't come on the first day and it is still a work in progress. But, it is one that I continue to work on. Forty six years. That's no small amount of time, my friend. Lord willing, I desire to still be loving her until the cows come home, metaphorically speaking, meaning, until I take my final journey to my heavenly home. Happy Anniversary Darling, because here's the truth of the matter: .....Baby, you are still the greatest! May God bless one and all and to all a good night, a good Saturday, and a good Lord's Day Sunday!. Amen.          .....More later.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

My first one car parking lot parade!

It is Thursday, December 16, 2010 and I am reminded of the eldest in our family, our brother Jimmy Don who was born on this day in 1942. He left us for his heavenly home in March of 1962. It's hard to say he missed out on much here on the planet when you think about the wonders of the heavenly abode, but we do remember him here with a tear and a hope that we will one day see him again. He along with a huge assembly of those who have gone on before us, and, most especially, we will get to be in the very presence of the One whose birthday we celebrate at this time of year. *****  Being a celebrity has its moments. You are wondering how I would know? Last Monday evening I was paraded around the parking lot to make my entrance at a fast food restaurant. Playing fast food restaurants doesn't sound much like celebrity stuff to you? It is when you are welcomed by a rowdy and ready crowd of boys and girls who were literally jumping up and down when I arrived. Talk about a busy buzz! It was a wonderful night filled with laughter from so many beautiful little ones, it was enough to take your breath away. Chaotic at times with folks waiting in line for their photo cards but it was a blast. I want to publicly acknowledge a young man in our Church who works at Chick-fil-A, Bro. Neil Erickson, for his promoting the idea of me being involved with their business. It opened the door to other opportunities and has set the stage for a wider audience next year, Lord willing.

Neil is the younger brother of our just returned soldier, SSGT Ryan Erickson, USAF, and we were able to be with them for this special event as well. The photo is of Bro. Ryan and his beautiful family. He and Steffani have two beautiful children. Maddy is their daughter who early on developed autism and has many special needs. But, lacking love and attention is not one of them. She is beloved by her immediate and extended family and adopted as a very special child by our Church family. Because of Maddy and children who do have special needs, our local fellowship has developed a special Sunday program to help meet those needs. One thing that made our night special was how much Maddy loved Santa. She hugged and hugged and then hugged some more. Now, little brother John Ryan, he was in no mood to be smooching up on Santa. Bro. Ryan is the real deal and he represents the best our country has to offer and we thank God for him and the many other men and women who even as I bang out these keystrokes are standing tall for the American way of life, for freedom, standing tall in places where folks want to destroy us and the things we hold dear. We are also welcoming the arrival home of another of our service men this week, Nathan Becker, US Navy, as he gets to spend a few days with friends and family. What special gifts these are to these families at Christmas time! Amen.

Here's Maddy loving on Santa! Cousin Toby was smiling too.
Family. That was obviously a huge part of God's design and purpose in bringing human life to His created world. Family. Moms and dads and children. Extended family. Grandparents, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, and cousins. And, I need to throw this one in, great grand children, like our bundle of Madelyn Joy. Sorry. Stuff like that just slips out now and then. The family of man. We are connected by common ancestry and by common need, the need to know the Creator through the saving work of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Let me just emphasize also the local family of believers where folks connect, share, love, and find a belonging to both the Lord and to each other that is hard to describe, but wonderful to experience. Nearly every day I see emails or hear about how this family is reaching out to each other during times of need. God had a plan and that plan involves family. You already know I'm thankful for my family connections including all of the above. It is always when we do life God's way that we are able to enjoy the blessings He wants us to have. After an eleven hour day I wasn't too perky when I first arrived over at the restaurant Monday evening. However, some might think I must have grabbed hold of an adrenalin laced energy drink because I got very excited when wave after wave of love and affection was directed towards me by my adoring fans. That's right. I do have some and that's a fact, Jack. Isn't that a great example of what we can do for each other? Encourage and infuse each other with a sense of belonging and joy! That's good stuff and I am thankful for it! Amen.        .....More later.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Prioritizing the source of all truth in our day by day living!

Hello again out there in blog land. Welcome back. Good to see you and I do pray that today, December 15, 2010 will be a blessed day for you and yours. I thought I would give you a little relief from all the focus on shopping and planning for your big Christmas bash. As you know, I do, from time to time, try to share information reflecting a much more serious theme. Therefore, I wanted you to know some not so well known facts that may stimulate your thinking and bring meaning to your day. Did you know that researchers have discovered in Canada that three tenths of one percent of all automobile accidents involve a moose? How about this one: In a study commissioned by a tooth paste company it was determined that the average person laughs 15 times per day. It's also been reported that on average 75% of females make their bed every day. I hesitate on this one because it sounds a little high to me, but the same study indicated that 45% of males do the same. I typically make my bed 100% of the time on the day she is to come home from her trip. See what I mean? My 100% kind of stands out. Don't you agree? This one is rather sad because it reports that some 13 people per year are killed by vending machines falling on them. And, finally, for you weather buffs, I bet you didn't know that on our globe there are some 44,000 active storms at any given time, and there are 100 lightning strikes per second happening here on the planet, along with an average of 35 earthquakes experienced each and every day.

I did not say those factoids were news you could use except maybe to drone on about things that very few people have any interest in. Some people love trivia and I can take it or leave it but I do enjoy looking at these kinds of somewhat meaningless nuggets of information as a distraction from all the bombardment of the stuff that does mean something to us. I suppose some day you might need to know how many miles per hour the average watch hand moves, but it's not likely something you will be fretting over anytime soon. I have landed before on a channel that occasionally has these sports fanatics testing their knowledge of arcane facts about different sports. I'm talking details that no one in their right mind, as I see it, would ever want to waste a gray cell on. The late Dr. Adrian Rogers, one of the greatest Bible communicators I've ever heard, told about a man he met that was filled up with sports trivia. After their service one day, a man in his Church brought a fellow down to meet Dr. Rogers. He introduced him by saying this former college buddy was a walking encyclopedia regarding sports information all the way back from the early 1900's. He invited Dr. Rogers to challenge him on any question he could think of. Dr. Rogers said he was very polite and cordial but deep down inside he burned with concern for someone who would have used such a brilliant mind to catalog sports trivia. He said he couldn't help but wonder how many verses this smart fellow had cataloged over the years, and how many people could this man have influenced with facts that can change a person's eternal destiny.

In our Bible study class on Sunday morning we have been looking at the facts surrounding God's plan and purpose accomplished in Him sending His Son into the world. It has been a Genesis to The Revelation of Jesus Christ survey and we certainly have only briefly touched on this measureless body of magnificent information that God Himself has provided and preserved for us. When considering the love of God, I am reminded what the song writer had to say: "Could we with ink the ocean fill, And were the skies of parchment made,Were every stalk on earth a quill, And every man a scribe by trade; To write the love of God above Would drain the ocean dry; Nor could the scroll contain the whole, Though stretched from sky to sky." It's hard to improve on this author's thoughts regarding the depth of the truths God has given to us in His word. If Einstein was said to never try to remember anything that he could easily locate because he wanted to free up that spot in his memory for something more meaningful, then it stands that you and I should recognize the life changing power found in seeking to know, learning as much as we can, and using that which God gives to us from His word to help us become all that He desires for us to be. And, if you have any room left up there in that noggin of yours, you can then be the first to report that a McDonald's Big Mac bun has on average 178 poppy seeds. It is a good day to give thanks unto the Lord. Amen.             .....More later.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dad to slow driver: "What you doing, waiting for Christmas?" Finally got it right!

Trust me, it is Tuesday, December 14, 2010, and there's only eleven shopping days left before Christmas. It must do the merchant hearts good to know that people are counting down those days. I looked it up because I typically don't let my procrastination get tripped up by a looming deadline. I put that statement in for the record since my wife is one of those who hates to delay things. I hear people even waiting in the grocery store line talking about how they finished their Christmas shopping the first week in December. That is really good for them but we all are put together differently, therefore, some are proactive and then there's folks like me. I do believe in planning and that's why I have the last couple of days penciled in to finish my shopping. I am a fan of online shopping and I've already done some for this year. I particularly like the free shipping and the discounts that you can get from purchasing in this way. But to each is granted his or her own preference and I will likely also be out there for some last minute items in what will likely be a melee of sorts. Knowing this in advance will at least help me to prepare for the shopper two step required to get it all done.It seems like one of the kids may have left some knee pads and a helmet at the house. That's an idea. They may come in handy.

I've heard folks trying to answer the question about what they remember to be their most memorable Christmas.This is a really tough question for me. Not because I don't have any as candidates but because there are just too many to evaluate. We had some pretty rough times growing up but I can't remember these ever interfering with us having an enjoyable Christmas. My wife and I rolled into our new family all the traditions from both mine and hers to establish 'our' own identity. We have been blessed throughout our times of celebrating Christmas of always being together as a family, always sharing love and our mutual care, and enjoying our own style of feasting and fellowship. I hear folks talking about their plans for a big traditional feast similar to Thanksgiving. For some twenty five years or longer we have had a steak dinner as our meal at Christmas and it has become our tradition. The food police may well outlaw this in the future but we do have that menu as our plan for this upcoming celebration. My wife is a Christmas lights fan from the inside out and all over as well. She loves the lights. I like a good tree with many lights and decorations but the huge outdoor lighting display is not my cup of tea. I don't dislike them as much as being neutral to having them for our home, and I will admit I do think about the electricity from time to time. However, she gets such joy from them and that makes it okay with me, period, end of story. I would like to think that without regard to all the fun and festivities, we have attempted to ground our celebration in the facts of our faith, and that includes recognition of our Savior coming into the world as a baby born to a young virgin. If anything, it is that foundation that has somehow made itself obvious throughout the many years of our celebrations, and perhaps it more than anything else has given us the wonderful memories we enjoy today.

While I was out on a Santa project this past Sunday afternoon our eldest son and his daughter, son-in-law, along with our little bundle of Madelyn Joy came by to pick up an unused Christmas tree. We couldn't be there but we understand that little Madelyn was fascinated by many of the Christmas items we have out. She fell in love with one plump stuffed Christmas bear and now that she is walking she carried it around for quite some time. I told my son if we had been there she most likely would have left with one Christmas bear added to their family. I would have had no trouble seeing her take home that bear. My wife might feel differently about it but I know her well enough to say the bear would have changed addresses. Isn't it interesting how free we are in sharing things with those we love? Spontaneously. We don't have to think very long at all. That's an example of how ready and willing we should be in sharing with others regardless of their situation or standing. Ouch! Me too! Ever notice how judicious we typically become whenever we are considering helping or giving something to someone else? Are they really in need? Will they do the right thing with what we give them? We can easily become so judicious that we lose the joy of giving in the process of getting ready to give. "Lord, help me to be the kind of giver that gives freely even as You have given to me." That's a pretty good prayer for me here at Christmas time and it probably is one we all could use. Amen.         .....More later.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Welcome to my un-reality show!

Hello out there in the Shoppers Gone Wild War Zone. How in the world are you doing anyway on this Monday December 13, 2010? The former governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, went hunting recently for caribou and her hunting excursion was filmed and shown on her reality TV show. I didn't see it but it sounds like she had to take multiple shots and required quite a bit of assistance along with the patience of the target animal before she finally killed a big one. Doesn't sound like much of a big deal to me, except perhaps her widely reported hunting skills may not be all that great. However, the animal rights folks are going berserk as well as all of her legions of liberal haters. They are calling her every name in the book from hateful killer to a blood thirsty masochist. Most of them may also be vegetarians but for most folks, animal protein does constitute a part of our daily diet and typically there's only one way to turn the animal into an edible meal. Get my drift? One famous Hollywood producer likened her killing show to be the same as watching a real murder on the screen. Time out already. Give me a break! These same folks have no reservations about snuffing out the life of an unborn child, the crowning achievement of God's creation, but they will go to the mat every time for something as ridiculous as this. I learned early on as a kid that while I might not enjoy all that happens at the slaughter house, I sure do enjoy those sausage links, bacon, and ham. No. I don't intend to go online and watch the show. I checked out one of the early ones and found that while the Alaska landscapes take your breath away, so does the mediocrity of the Palin family escapades. Just wanted to let you know that I am still paying attention  because according to Yogi you can really observe a lot when you are watching.

While I am enjoying immensely the Santa game, I really am looking forward to a complete make over, Lord willing, as early as December 27. The low maintenance hair style and beard will be traded in for a more traditional look. My wife now has her own personal Mrs. Claus outfit. She has gone forth and back on whether to do it but the other evening some folks asked for a photo of their children with her as Mrs. Claus and I suppose that sealed the deal. That was even before she had her outfit. Who knows? This might be something we can come out of hibernation for each year, after we retire, if retirement continues to be an option in Obamaland. I just threw that in so you red state people will stay tuned. While I've never really ever figured out what I want to be when I grow up, I can tell you that Santa was for the most part, not even in the running. I have received many wonderful compliments in my representation of Santa. Many have been about how I look like the real deal. I'm glad they see it that way and not because I love the accolades. Here's my way of seeing it. If you set out to do something and you give it your best, it's always fulfilling when the feedback matches your goals and ambitions. I work very hard to be the best Santa that I can be and I am thankful and pleased that others notice. This is how I have tried to pursue other challenges in my life. My role as a teacher of God's Word. My work as an employee. Sadly, I didn't devote that same attention to being the best dad when my boys were younger but I've done what I can to make up for that. Now my wife would tell you that she would like to see a little more passion in my approach to helping out around the house, but, that my friend, is a story that will have to keep for another day.

I was thinking the other day how blessed I am to have my mom and dad still here to help keep me straight. I should say still here to try to help keep me straight. Mom, at 86, is still mothering her wayward son. She tells me all the time to slow down, get some rest, take better care of myself, relax, and quit trying to do so many different things. I love her caring like she does.  Dad, he has been keeping me stocked up on sugar free energy drinks. Once he learned I drink them occasionally to help keep me alert, he has been bringing me some from time to time. They care and I love them for it. Last week when I was ailing just a hair she suggested I consider staying home if I didn't feel better. I told her that was not likely to happen and she said, "Well, Mr. Tough Guy just go ahead and show up then." It's always good for a laugh and since I talk to her every day I am glad to let everyone know that she and dad are God's favor on us children. We don't deserve it anymore than anyone else but we are so very thankful for them and their continuing contributions to us all. I have that once every six months interview coming up on Wednesday with my doctor. That's usually also always good for a few laughs although being diabetic is nothing to joke about. I used to be a Christmas candy aficionado and could hardly wait for my grandmother's, my mom's, my mother-in-law's, and my wife's wonderful confectioneries that thrill the taste buds and make the season special. I will most likely still nibble a sample here and there but please don't send me any recipes for sugar free alternatives. I'll just go along with the late Ray Charles and be confined to "live in memory of the lonesome times." (The song: I Can't Stop Loving You) See you next time and try to go out there and have a very rewarding day! Amen.            ......More later.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Remembering to remember those who are dealing with sadness during this time of the year.

Good Friday morning on this December 10, 2010, and welcome once again. Last Wednesday evening in our Bible study and prayer time one of our dear ladies mentioned that she has been burdened to pray for all those who are struggling with the loss of loved ones during this holiday season. That just jumped out there and we all were moved by our understanding about how difficult it is to fully get into the joy of the occasion when one is still grieving the loss of a loved one. Since emotions are very elevated during this time of year and much about the Christmas season involves memories, it's only natural for us all to think about those who will be missing at the table this year. I thank God for placing matters like this on the hearts of people. And I thank God for how that we can join together in praying for each other and especially for those suffering losses dear to them. I know I can remember our baby sister's last Christmas with us in 1978 like it was yesterday. She had some things to say to us all. She had written them down. Images like that are indelibly etched in our memory banks but I also remember her testimony of faith and fortitude in the midst of her prolonged battle against the ravages of Leukemia. I remember her pain and sorrow about leaving her family so early in her sojourn, however, she would have a twinkle in her eye and a smile on her lips when she contemplated meeting her Savior face to face. Yesterday as I was browsing through the obituaries I landed on this one and it illustrates better than I can the depth of sorrow and grief that many struggle with at this time of year.

MY CHRISTMAS WISH - CHARLES D. TOVAR  Feb. 14, 1988 - Dec. 9, 2007   Hi Charlie! On that cold night of December 8, 2007, I saw you smile as you put on your jacket to leave. I saw you laugh as you hugged Chloe before you walked out of the house. We had a great day Charles! We had Christmas dinner and you helped put up the Christmas tree. You always helped us son. Your mother and I and Chloe were always proud of you! Little did we know that when you left that night, you would never return home and you would be forever 19. Your young life was cut short by a drunk driver, and on December 9, you left all of us to be with God. You couldn't stay another day, another hour, another minute? You just couldn't stay. In a little over a year after you were brutally taken away from us, your mother lost her battle with cancer and was called by God to be with you. I knew you were waiting for her, waiting to give her that big hug she longed for and cherished so much. December is cold Charlie. If I could just hold you one more time, a peace and warmth would be given to me that only the angels in Heaven would know. But for the moment, that just isn't meant to be so my Christmas Wish is that you will watch over your little sister Chloe and me. Guide us, protect us, and pray for us Charles. Watch over your friends and watch and protect all others who would be harmed and have been harmed by the senseless acts of drunk drivers. That's my Christmas Wish Charles. You're in my heart and soul Charlie and though my heart grieves, I know that you are always with me and Chloe. I miss you dearly and I will always love you. Merry Christmas my Son - Love, your Dad.              Published in Houston Chronicle on December 9, 2010

I know that this is not a happy go lucky subject but the reality does reach out and grab us as we can literally feel this dad's suffering. We might not share his views or ideas about many different things but we can appreciate the extent to which he grieves over the loss of his dearly beloved son. What can you and I do about things like this? We can recognize it to be a reality and we can do what we can to help those near and dear to us as well as others who have a particularly rough time during this season. Last Saturday as I greeted what looked like an endless line of little ones, a young girl about 8 or 9 sat on my knee and when I asked what she wanted for Christmas, this is what she said, "Santa, all I want is for my family to be back together again." I looked down at those big eyes and Santa nearly had to take a break to go feed his reindeer. Folks, there's all kinds of pain and even the least among us deal with it in their own way. The good news is that we can always share the One who provides what the Apostle called a peace that goes beyond understanding. (Philippians 4:7) The Prince of Peace is our only hope and their only hope as well. Don't forget to remember those who may be needing a special touch. Who knows? You may be the one God has appointed to bring that touch to them. Until next time, may God bless you all. Amen.         .....More later.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Giving us all something to think about on a Thursday!

I may have exchanged air with one too many children who were sniffing and coughing because I've actually been a little bit on the puny side the last couple of days. I suppose that handling over 500 children might set you up for something like that. Scratchy throat and coughing here and there, but still able to get up and go, therefore, as a dear old brother in Christ used to say, "If I kicked I ought to be." I'll let you figure that one out on this brand new Thursday, December 9, 2010. You may have heard about the fellow in New York City that jumped onto the tracks to save the life of another guy who had fallen. They came within a fraction of a second of being hit. The rescuer is being heralded as a superman but in an interview he had a completely different take on why he jumped to save his fellow commuter. He said the supermarket where he worked was considering eliminating his shift on the weekends and it being Christmas he needed to do all he could to keep his job. If the fellow on the tracks wasn't moved, the train would have hit him, the train would have been delayed, and he would have not been to work on time, and that may have contributed to him losing his job. Now that's the kind of dedication to one's job that we all admire. It was still an heroic act of courage for him to risk his life to save another but you also have to give him a huge amount of credit for his honesty in explaining his motivation. If I were that supermarket I would certainly do all things possible to take care of this guy because he is a keeper!

I read where a man named Smith changed his name to Awesome. How funny is that? He actually exchanged one of the most common sir names to one of the most commonly used, misused, and over used descriptive words. But, while it may do some good for his self esteem, I'm not too inclined to enjoy how the Awesome word as slang is thrown about all the time. It is a word connected to awe which originally was defined as being something that was so stunning it caused a response of reverence and dread. The Bible use of the Hebrew word for awe involves a response where one trembles or quakes. The Psalmist said this in the 33rd Division, Verse 8: "Let all the earth fear the LORD; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him." To me you lose the connection of the sacredness, holiness, and profound majesty of our Great God whenever we use terms that were once limited to expressing His person, but we now connect it to anything and everything. Okay. Now you know why folks consider me to be an honorary member of the fuddy duddy society. I plead guilty but at the same time will continue to stand up for what I believe to be the enemy's attack on all things that turn our thoughts to our Great God. I have been called an awesome teacher but I have yet to see folks on their faces or their knees knocking together whenever my words come forth. That's why I believe certain words should be reserved for their sacred use. One more time, before you send a note telling me I need to get a life, remember that's why it's called The View From Here.

On Sunday when I made a Santa appearance at our local fellowship of believers at the birthday party for Jesus, each child was given a prayer card and a gospel card using an attached candy cane as an object lesson. The story of the candy cane is used to explain the salvation plan that God brought forth when Jesus came to dwell among men. The Santa prayer card was one that shared his desire to not take away from the Reason for the Season. This is very much like what we did when I was a kid. My mom tried to allow us to enjoy the festivities but always with a clear focus on the coming of our Lord into the world. I greatly respect those who have chosen to forgo any recognition of any other truth except the account about the birth of Jesus. There's plenty of good reasons to follow that path especially with the commercialization of the entire holiday. However, I consider it to be a matter of personal conviction and for our family we have continued the tradition of having Santa as a fun time while giving full reverence to our Savior and how that God brought Him into the world. Some would say it is impossible to find the proper balance here. That's a reasonable view as well. The little prayer card I gave to each child had the image of Santa kneeling at the manger. That may seem out of place to many but to me it does portray the balance many of us attempt to accomplish as we experience the joy of Lord at this time of year along side the fun of gift giving and Santa. Real joy, of course only comes from knowing Jesus, and growth comes when we get hold of the impact of true J-O-Y. J is for Jesus first. O is for others next. And, Y is for yourself last. See there. We all can learn something each day. Amen.             ........More later.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

This much stuff? And it's only Wednesday!

A funny thing happened to me on my way to writing my blog this morning. Not really. I was just trying out an opening sentence if I get stuck in the future. That's a pretty standard fill in the blank joke line but you just never know when it might come in handy. If you are able to read this, not only thank a teacher, but also be aware that we did make it to Wednesday, December 8, 2010, therefore, we have something to praise God for. I did a short series for my Bible study class on being thankful coincidental to the Thanksgiving Holiday. I actually pulled all the verses in the Old and New Testaments that use the words thank, thanks, thankful, thanksgiving, thankfulness, etc., you get the idea. I was very impressed in how much God said through the writers of Holy writ regarding this important attribute. One of the interesting lessons dealt with the subject of how thankfulness and giving are inextricably linked. Folks who are truly thankful are most likely to demonstrate their thankful hearts by giving to others. We also learned that God pays little attention to how much people give in terms of the dollar amounts but He always looks at the heart of the giver. The Apostle Paul was knocked down by the giving spirit of the impoverished Macedonian believers. He implied that he wasn't even going to ask because he knew they had so very little. However, they insisted in being a part of sending relief to those Judean believers who were suffering. Somehow and some way they gave a generous gift and Paul used their spirit to encourage others to join in the relief effort. Why did they insist when they had so very little? Because God had brought new life to them and from a changed heart and a thankful spirit they sought to give as much as they could. It's a magnificent account and you can read it as found in 2 Corinthians, Chapters 8 and 9. What better time to get in touch with an attitude of gratitude than right here and now in the midst of the season where we celebrate the greatest gift ever given, (John 3:16). Amen.

I know you all will likely become weary in hearing my Santa stories but feel free to use the page down key or the escape key at any time. At the Chick-fil-A on Monday evening we so much enjoyed our time there. The atmosphere is always kicked up a notch in most of these fast food restaurants. The food is okay but I believe it is their people who make this feeling of warmth and pleasantness a reality. Talk about smiles. Talk about making you feel as if they really do want to take your order. I pointed out to my wife that one thing you do not see at other places is the number of off duty workers who hang out at their place of work. They actually enjoy being there. I read the founder's first book a number of years ago and I can tell you their basic principles are not only good for business but they are also based on Biblical truth. I am paid to appear as Santa there but I am not engaged in promoting their business but when you look at how they do what they do, it's pretty doggone impressive. Now to the real reason I did this little flash back. We had some lovely children doing photos Monday night. One of the favorite things for my wife is to see a little one come through the door and their expression literally lights up when they recognize Santa. Many of them run as fast as they can to get to the jolly old elf. Not a bad way to spend an evening. Right? I've still not gotten to the real reason yet but it is now time to see what was behind door number three because it was the Big Deal of the day. It was none other than our precious little bundle of Madelyn Joy who came many miles to be there with Santa, aka, her Great Grand Poppy!

I actually wore out my first set of training wheels as a brand new Poppy on Madelyn Joy's mommy, our Tiffany. When we see Madelyn Joy we cannot mistake how much of a carbon copy she is of her mom at this same age. It's really hard to describe because it's like having a flood of memories played out before our very eyes. It's one of those been there and done that but we never get tired of experiencing God's blessing, that is, until they get to be teenagers. It's a joke. We love them all, all the time, no matter what! Okay. I think I have well fulfilled my gushing quotient for the day. I do know there is a fine line between being excited about family versus an attitude of boasting that really does go too far. Life itself with all of its ups and downs has a way of helping to frame the context of the things God allows us to enjoy. We, like every other family, know what it means to deal with adversity and trouble. We also know what it means to cling to God's unchanging hand. That's the difference maker for us all, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We cannot always keep the storm away but we can ride it out with the One who said, "Do not be afraid, it is I." Have a great day and know that as a believer our identity is fixed and nothing, no matter what, can change who we are in Christ! Amen.           ......More later.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Some of the good old days were not just made up, they really were good old days!

Hello friends and neighbors, it is Tuesday, December 7, 2010 and I'm glad you stopped by today. Draw up a chair, sit a spell, and we'll have a good time of shooting the breeze and enjoying each others company. You can't believe that people used to do that sort of thing? Just drop by? When my wife and I first started out we lived in a rural community and we had a number of friends who would do that very thing. They never thought anything about it and neither did we. Make another pot of coffee. See if you can find a snack. Put down whatever it is that seems so important to you and just visit for a while. That kind of stuff today would melt down people's Daytimers! Might not be such a bad idea. How was it possible to accommodate folks that did this? You adjusted on the fly and enjoyed them being there or if it wasn't possible you just told them and they understood and we postponed it until the next time. By the way, just for the record, I know many of you are very astute and you do notice when I have a misplaced or missing keystroke here and there. I had a few in yesterday's edition but they have been corrected on the official copy. Just so you know, they bother me more than they do anyone else. When I worked for the big company all those years I was somewhat obsessive about the correctness of all the reports and memos we produced. I could be pretty tough on someone who sent something out with an error in it. Hello? That made me a target and I had to be really careful with my own stuff, and it still aggravates me today. To err is human but it still causes me grief.

At the hospital Sunday I talked some to the receptionist about her college studies. She was busy reading and studying and told me she was dreading a government studies final coming up this week. I asked her why that particular subject bothered her so much. She said because it isn't something she is interested in and she doesn't see it as being all that relevant to her life. She is not alone. Most younger adults pretty much have decided that politics is mostly in a category like drive by shootings, bad news, and they would rather not hear about it at all. I told her the reality of the situation ends up impacting her life in many different ways from taxes to all kinds of laws that she will have to deal with. She gave me a look that said: I know what you are saying older dude but talking to you isn't going to help me pass this test. This type of apathy has become the norm and many actually go out of their way to make sure they never hear about anything that is happening within the government. You can see this if you look at some of the demographics of those who regularly pay attention to shows that offer coverage of our government at work, political matters, and other related programming. Folks paying attention are typically in their mid fifties and above. That leaves a huge segment who are out of the loop as it relates to life changing decisions being made by elected officials. I know there are exceptions. All three of my boys stay pretty much tuned into what is going on and let's hope and pray that others will not wait until they get to be much older before they become involved. Now is the time for everyone to become informed!

Yesterday was the 2nd anniversary of the day that my wife's brother, our dear Bro. Milton, was struck down by a severe heart attack.  He was working with his son to rebuild our home after Hurricane Ike and many of you will recall the long period of hospitalization and recovery he endured. I've never mentioned much about how all of this impacted my wife. She was the one who transported him to the hospital and he suffered the major attack in route. She essentially made a road where there had not been one previously. She was devastated by this event and throughout his recovery she did double and triple duty in working at her job, and in trying to see after him and his family, while also trying to keep a partially restored place livable for us all. It was quite a challenge and we can only thank God for His provisions. Bro. Milton has never recovered 100% of his mental faculties in terms of memory but he is able to be up and about, and recently has been on an extended trip visiting different family members. As for my wife, I obviously was able to grab hold of a good one back in this very month in 1964. Our story is not one for a fairy tale book and we've had our fair share of troubles, but if I knew back when I was trying to ask her dad for her hand in marriage what I know now, I wouldn't have stumbled around, I would have grabbed hold of him and demanded that he let me marry this girl! That refining stuff where the metal gains its strength and beauty through the fire, well, it can be quite stressful but the end result is a crown jewel and I'm thankful that God gave her to me. She is a one of a kind and if you want to know more about her, there is a passage in the Bible found in the Proverbs where her character is described: Chapter 31, Verses 10-31. Is this a great country or what? Am I blessed or what? Uh oh, she's caught the Mrs. Claus bug again and can't wait to get her outfit for next season. I saw her on Saturday and she glowed as she saw those little ones sitting in my lap. It's contagious. My advice: Go get some of that Christmas spirit and wear yourself a big smile because He really is the Reason for the Season. Amen.         .....More later.