Friday, July 30, 2010

Happy Birthday to a very remarkable man.

No politics today. I promise. No moaning and groaning about my blood glucose monitoring. I promise. No tantalizing tidbits to tickle your thinking. I promise. I came up with that last one because I do love the sound of it but I'm not planning to entertain you with word play today. I promise. It is Friday, July 30, 2010 and today I am rehearsing my trip over to Louisiana for tomorrow, Lord willing, where I will be greeting my step-dad on behalf of his 80th year of sojourn here. His birthday is actually August 1st but I am so looking forward to being able to express in person my love and appreciation to him on this special occasion. Dad is a little guy. Short and skinny. But dad is huge in being an example to us all. He is devoted to our mom. He is active in serving family, friends, the community, and through his local Church. He is a decorated retired career US Army man, a retired US civil servant, and if elected for another 2 year term, will complete 20 years of serving as an Alderman in his local town. When mom told me he decided to run another time, I told her that if that little town ever fails to elect dad, it will be an act of stupidity beyond imagination. Why would I say that? Because he watches over that little town's considerable budget and many activities like a hawk and has its best interest at heart at all times. He has no other agenda, period, end of story, and while that doesn't always sell today, it should, because those like him or few and far between!

He is not now nor ever has he been one for the limelight but his word is his bond and when it's time to show up and get the job done, he will be there doing his part. He refuses to act his age and is about as active as anyone I know, spending all day out in the yard mowing, working on repair projects, or a variety of other activities. He believes in exercise and in keeping fit. He stays on top of his weight and will immediately, and I mean immediately, respond if he sees it moving in the wrong direction. He is fun to be around. He is encouraging. He is well read. He loves sports. He is quite a character and my how we are blessed for these many years to have him in our family. He's faced dangers while in the military. He's faced many crises in our family. He's had to deal with medical challenges for himself and today he is facing and doing what he can to minister to his daughter Miriam as she struggles with a horrific, terminal illness. His way of facing challenges is head on with determination and a consistent commitment. It's called being faithful. We all can learn from his example.

I've done what I can over the years to let him know how proud we are to have him as our dad. He sometimes tells me that I do too much, that I go overboard. Good! Given all that he does for mom and so many others, what little I do is next to nothing, but I am glad he feels honored because that is my intention, and better yet, he deserves it. That's right. He deserves recognition because he is a wonderful example of a full life lived in doing for others through support and service. He is the real deal my friend and it just shows how God can pack together a giant of a man in a small package. Happy Birthday number 80, dad. I am looking forward to seeing you tomorrow and may God bless and keep you is my prayer. Another reason to count as a blessing folks and we all need to take note of them and to recognize and thank God for them. Well, this ends another week of my batting it back and forth out in the blogosphere, and Lord willing, I will see you next time at a blog near you. Or something like that. May God bless. Amen. .....More later.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

No that smell is not coming from Baytown or Pasadena!

I believe this is Thursday, July 29, 2010, and it is almost time for 'the event' to take place. I know there are so many sitting on the edge of their seat to see President Obama in his special appearance on the TV program, The View. I have never watched this program. I have seen clips from it. I have read excerpts from it. And, all I can say is that if he thinks he will help his collapsing poll numbers by showing up at this outrageous far left wing hen session, especially in trying to improve his image with ordinary hard working Americans, well have at it, Mr. President. Perhaps he's trying to get his word out to the 18 million un and under employed and he thinks they might be home watching this excuse for anything meaningful. He's supposedly going to be on for the full hour and it's a first for a sitting president to show up on a day time program like this, and to me it lowers the statue of the office and it belittles the presumed prestige that comes from being the most powerful man in the free world. We now have learned this program was chosen over going and speaking to 45,000 Boy Scouts. Of course the Scouts are more or less out of vogue because they honor God and dare to tread on political correctness that rules in this administration. This appearance by the President shows there is panic at the Whitehouse and the folks over there are grasping for anything that might give them some boost, somewhere. The President is coming to our area soon but Bill White, democratic nominee for Texas governor will not be able to attend this democratic fun raiser because of a scheduling conflict. He's the head of your party dude, the democratic party, and you have a scheduling conflict? Is he really that toxic in Texas? More so than an acid spill into the ship channel the way I see it. Scheduling conflict, my foot! Can we all stand up together and respond: Come on now you politicians out there, do you really think we are that stupid?

It had to happen. You know that grossly overweight people now have to buy two tickets and occupy two seats on commercial airliners. Two tickets versus one ticket? Now we have the spectacle of Southwest Airlines having to admit they bumped a skinny passenger so they could sell two seats to a fatty. As Abe Vigoda's character Tessio said in the first Godfather movie, "Nothing personal, it was just business." I also read this week that the unemployment rate being near 10% was accurately predicted by 49 economists polled a year ago. If I were them I wouldn't want to show up anywhere in public to accept my award for this dubious distinction. And, I am also certain their prediction ability is little comfort to the multitude of millions struggling to put food on their tables. A bee keeper was called to a home in Miami after several neighbors reported bee stings. He discovered and removed a hive containing 3 million bees. The folks who lived in the home said they had noticed the bees being around for about a year. And, you thought I didn't pay enough attention, didn't you?

Many of you have probably not been keeping up with something called the 'Journolist' scandal. This is the uncovered emails and content stored on a computer server by a sizable number of super liberal newspaper writers, TV people, and other left leaning commentators. What does this huge amount of information tell us? In 2008 these media types banded together to do anything and everything to see that Barak Obama was elected as President. They agreed to use their platforms of influence to kill or discredit anything negative about Senator Obama and to trash any and all who opposed him. In other words, what we see is something pretty remarkable indeed. Instead of it being the vast right wing conspiracy as first voiced by Hillary Clinton, it turns out to be a vast left wing collusion who used their vocation as those who report news factually to distort, defame, and destroy any and all that stood in the way of their chosen leader becoming president. One issue in particular stands out. This liberal group saw the deadly potential from Senator Obama's Pastor for twenty years, Jeremiah Wright. Therefore, they conspired to call anyone a racist that even mentioned this connection. Meanwhile, Senator Obama was able to use the unbelievable lame excuse that he never heard any of those hate filled sermons that are now all over the internet. He actually acted as if he was not that close to the man he patterned the title of his best selling book after, "The Audacity of Hope." Now we know the rest of the story in exactly how this explosive matter got trashed and was unable to gain traction. I am not a Sarah Palin supporter but when you read how they agreed, before they even knew that much about her, to do all they could through planted falsehoods to destroy her and her family as a way of hurting McCain's chances, it will turn your stomach. Now you know why conservatives call it State Controlled Media. They even considered and talked forth and back about going after her afflicted child. Let me be clear. There are excesses on all sides and we all know it. But, it is more than appalling to read the gutter stuff these people trafficked in, and then to think it came from those who proclaimed a love and calling to the work of journalism in telling the truth. Are you sure about all of this? They have not denied any of it because it has their names, dates, and their words recorded. Don't believe me. Read it for yourself Bucko!

I was beginning to get a little heated up just thinking about it. But I may still have time to catch that episode of The View. NOT!!! Now you just go out and have a good day because they, we, them, us, you, and I, can plan and plot all we want to, but, God is still Sovereign and He has the first and last say about it all, forever and ever. Amen. ......More later.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I'm thinking of a number. Please don't let it be above 105!

You thought it would be someone important didn't you? Sorry to disappoint but this particular space is occupied and it typically has some pretty squirrelly things to convey. It is Wednesday, July 28, 2010. This week marks the third anniversary of my own version of "D" Day. That's how long ago I first heard the doctor say, "Sorry to tell you this but you are a full blown diabetic." Me? You got the wrong patient dude. Someone has mixed up the blood tests or the charts or something. But, alas, that was not to be the case and I am here to tell you that this piece of news brought about a type of warfare that I never dreamed I would be waging. By the way, the answer to the image with the chicken question was: He kicked the bucket. I know I am a member of a very large club that is growing by leaps and bounds and is now even reaching into elementary school for Type 2 candidates. I wish I knew who to blame. I don't think it is inherited because we have no huge presence in our family history. Gene pool pollution or southern fried chicken? At this time I would say it is the chicken that crossed the road to mess up my time in the 60's. Not those 60's. I'm talking about my age. I used to think only crackers when someone used the term grams. Now I immediately think about nutrition labels. They even have some pictorial nutritional aids out on the web. Imagine how I felt the day I saw a picture of the 1.5 oz. box of raisins along side 8 lumps, count them, 8 lumps of sugar! The box proclaims them to be all natural but they obviously are loaded up with fructose, 8 lumps, who ever heard tell? Where's the 'don't ask, don't tell' program when you need it? Maybe I should limit my label reading to the 'best if used by date'.

My theory is that I would still be at war if I relegated myself to a steady intake of those styrofoam lookalikes and taste-a-likes called rice cakes. I think my DNA sees something like that in my system and he is not only embarrassed but he also becomes incensed that I would stoop that low. He then calls up the blood glucose dude and tells him to shoot me a bad number just for the heck of it. It can be quite exasperating. Some days I work really hard and I carefully choose each item but the next morning my fasting blood number is much higher than I would have expected. The next time I am hesitant to look after downing a plate full of cheese covered chicken fajita nachos but am knocked down when the reading is barely above the top end of normal. Go figure. That's why they call it a war. It's pretty sad when you have to compromise one of the top skills you have worked so hard to develop throughout your lifetime. Eating. That's right bucko! Eating. My grandmother used to set it down in front of me and then sit down to watch me dig in. She would then brag on me because of what a good 'eater' I was becoming. My mom too. My mother-in-law too. My wife too. The folks who operate the buffets too. I had a following folks and three years ago it got trashed. All that hard work traded in for pin pricks, diets, and trying to battle the forces of food arrayed against my will power each day.

Okay, you can tell that I am in exaggerated overkill mode today. I am blessed to have found out early that I have this disorder. I am blessed that while it is serious I have been able, thus far, to manage it successfully, even if I have often zigged when I should have zagged. I am blessed to be able to laugh about it even though I would love to go back. But here I am, nearly 50 pounds lighter, facing each day with at least some sense of discipline, weebly wobbly at times, but typically out there on the battlefield. Eight lumps. Do you suppose it's because they come from California? You know things are pretty weird out there. I've become a fan of drug development. How about one that will allow me to eat what gained me both the great reputation and the weight but it totally nullifies any and all negative side effects? That would sell folks, that would sell! Don't forget, you heard it here first. I may be diabetic but that doesn't mean I can't dream. But until that day I will just have to be satisfied with my meds and my warfare while I lay myself down to sleep with visions of sugar plums dancing in my head. I love parodies and never think because of my joking around that I am not eternally grateful for the blessings God has given to me, including His help through medicine and motivation to keep on keeping on in this struggle. Have a great day and may God bless us all! Amen. ......More later.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Many of the good old days are remembered because, duh, they really were the good old days!

Hello and welcome. It's Tuesday, July 27, 2010. What's that you say? You don't have very much time to visit. That's the story of our lives as we live out each day. Right? Last Wednesday evening we had many of our folks either on vacation or out for one reason or another, therefore, it was only myself and two other widow women who showed up for prayer meeting. I decided to hold my lesson until this week and we just sat and chatted, shared sweet fellowship, and talked about those needing prayer in our personal families and in our Church family. It reminded me of way back when folks would drop by, sit on the porch and visit for a spell. Before 'Must See' TV. Before meeting ourselves coming back from so many outside activities that we need a schedule just for managing all the schedules we have to meet. It was a throw back to when folks enjoyed good conversation, good stories, and a hearty laugh among friends. We talked about those days gone by. They shared how it was in their growing up days when people did seem to have more time for getting together. I told them how we used to all gather at someone's house after Church service and sing songs around the piano, visit, make peanut brittle or homemade ice cream, or both, and enjoy a variety of discussions going on at the same time. They wondered out loud what it would take to see those times again. Good question. Yes, a very good question but a good answer we could not find. But, we did have a great visit and a time of prayer at the end, therefore, it too becomes another one of those sweet memories. The way I see it, we all could use a few more of those along life's way.

While the storm Bonnie didn't end up doing too much over where it was supposed to have an impact, it did scare up an unexpected but mega thunder storm for us Saturday evening. One minute everything was fine, the next it was like the opening scenes from the Wizard of Oz. Thunder and lightning and wind. What wind! It was borderline scary there for a while but then we heard a very mournful noise that has become all too familiar to us over the years. A loud boom followed by another loud boom. That's right, not one electrical transformer on our street, but two! Now we were in the dark. It was hot. We knew it would be hours. I was very tired from a long day of activities so I went to bed. We have a generator but decided not to use it. My wife was concerned that someone might steal it if it were outside running. While I thought that to be a somewhat unlikely scenario, I recalled the copper thievery. It was hot. We used to be able to open our windows but since Hurricane Ike we have not yet replaced all the screens. It was hot. I lay there in bed thinking about growing up without air conditioning. It was hot. I tried to use all the techniques I had learned over the years. I dreamed about camping out in the frozen tundra. I dreamed about the times I used to be out hunting and my teeth were chattering from the cold. It was still hot. At 3:30 a.m. I was awakened to the clock flashing by my head. I jumped up and got the A/C going and the fans humming again. I was sweaty and had that tired feeling I well remember where you sleep but it's not restful. I know we are all wimps today but my how thankful I am for those who climb the poles in the middle of the night to get the cool going again!

One of the ladies at the prayer meeting was telling us about her and her recently departed husband hosting an older missionary couple from the Philippines in their home a few years ago. This native Filipino missionary has been supported by our Church for over twenty years. She said the one thing consistent as they guided them around our area was how they believed everyone living here to be super rich compared to their country. Everyone rich. They could see the excess that even the least of those have in our country compared to the poverty in their world. I well remember this couple. I have always been an outspoken supporter because this dear brother is a tireless evangelist to his people on behalf of the Lord and His Kingdom. When we met face to face, I was surprised that he knew of me, and we had this sweet connection that I will always cherish. We shouldn't need folks to come all the way from the Philippines to remind us how God has blessed us here in this land. But, given all the upside down stuff going on, it may take that to get us to see how, that even in these trying times, God has blessed and continues to bless us. The unseen riches are even greater still. When this dear brother and I parted I will never forget that we bid farewell by saying if we don't see each other again in this life, we will meet again up there! It was like us saying, "See you at the house." Different cultures, different languages, different in just about every way possible, but abundantly rich in the commonality of our shared union in Christ. Thanks be to God for He has given us so great a salvation. We are rich! Amen. ......More later.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Hank Williams: "Hear that lomesome Whippoorwill, he sounds too blue to fly."

Yes! We made it back and it's time to start a brand new work week on this Monday, July 26. 2010. We've already had the first day of the week, Sunday, to prepare ourselves for the 'rest of the story' as Paul Harvey used to say on his radio program. Speaking of stories, we had a local tragic automobile accident where an elderly couple were involved in a head on crash. The 84 year old man driving his car had a problem with his pace maker and he passed out, causing him to lose control. His car careened across the median and ended up in a five car crash and his passenger, his 82 year old girlfriend, died two days later from her injuries. He survived and no other injuries were listed in the news report. This was no doubt a most frightening experience for all those in the cars involved in this crash, and a sad day for this man and the family of this lady. However, something about this story spoke to me. Think about it. God bless this couple. He is 84 years young and still dating. Sure, it's not a happy ending but it does tell us that life is not over at 65 when Medicare comes calling. It tells us that love and romance lives on. Boyfriend and girlfriend out for a ride. We can say a prayer for those involved in this accident and for this lady's family but at the same time be encouraged by their testimony which will likely go mostly unnoticed in a short news blurb.

She did it again. She left me. Her and her sister are teamed up over in Louisiana to teach a music school (Singing School) in a small rural Church. She will be away all week. I may need one of those ankle bracelet tracking devices like they put on prisoners and probationers. You remember my wife's sister. They are identical twins, born 18 months apart. They are very close and their sister-sister relationship in our family is legendary. When they are together they tend to be a little on the smirky side. It most likely comes from their joy. I can always see it coming on before she even leaves the house. It must be the anticipation. It's like she's warming up already. They will have a ball teaching others how to use their musical talents for the Lord. They will have a ball just being together. I will have whatever week I will have and that will be the way it works out. But don't feel sorry for me. I love the fact that she will be enjoying her time away and the Lord knows she does need a break. Perhaps even a break from me. I know you are wondering how in the world that could even be possible. Thanks. This, however, doesn't solve the problem with you-know-who and he has never bought into that adage about how that absence makes the heart grow fonder. I like routine. I am routine. This time of isolated reflection granted to me by these changed circumstances reminds me of that well known Serenity Prayer. Yes, it is the prayer adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous but it was actually penned in 1934 for a sermon by the famous theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr. While the short form is the one we hear most often, his longer prayer is pretty neat: "God, grant us the Serenity to accept things we cannot change, Courage to change the things we can, and the Wisdom to know the difference, Patience for the things that take time, Appreciation for all that we have, and Tolerance for those with different struggles, Freedom to live beyond the limitations of our past ways, the Ability to feel your love for us and our love for each other and the Strength to get up and try again even when we feel it is hopeless."

I was not joking. I did think about that prayer in relationship with her leaving me again, but until I did a little research I was not aware of its history or the actual longer prayer itself. But I will tell you, it is an amazingly simple but profound expression that could well speak to us all as we deal with the ordinary as well as the extraordinary that fills our days. Meanwhile, I will do my best to keep on keeping on until that lady returns. You know the one I'm talking about. She's the one that used to go riding with me when everyone called us boyfriend and girlfriend. Have a blessed week and, no, I do not want to borrow your electronic ankle bracelet. Until next time may God bless us all as we seek to honor Him in our day by day living. Amen. ......More later.

Friday, July 23, 2010

We all are sinners but there are some really sorry folks living among us today!

Seems like only last Friday I was talking about it being Friday. Time does get away, doesn't it? But, it is Friday on my calendar and I do bid you a good day on behalf of your beleaguered blogger on this July 23, 2010. I use the word beleaguered advisedly because I like the sound of it. It reminds me of the football player they used to call Big Bad Bubba from Beaumont. How in the world are you doing, anyway? You will be glad to know that they caught the guy. The fellow here in our area who has been charged with a third degree felony for livestock theft. It involves 250 goats and sheep worth an estimated $14,700 but he's in jail now so we all can rest tonight. Just so you know, this arrest came at the hands of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) Special Rangers. The Special Rangers specialize in livestock as full time law enforcement experts, 29 commissioned officers authorized by the Texas Department of Safety and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. I read this blurb about something that happened a few miles north in our county and felt like I was living right smack in the middle of an episode of the TV Series, Rawhide, starring Eric Flemming as Trail Boss, Gil Favor, and a very young Clint Eastwood as Rowdy Yates. Do we live in a great country or what? Those of you who remember this series can no doubt hear in your mind's ear that wonderful theme song sung in the unique crooning style that only Frankie Lane could produce. I am so glad they caught this guy and locked him up.

What makes me even more incensed? It's the wave of copper thieving going on today. This is totally out of control. The people and places they target makes me even angrier. Churches and the elderly are their favorites. I don't know about you, but I would love to get my hands on some of these guys that rip off the A/C system of a shut-in elderly lady. Talk about bang zoom to the moon! Perhaps we need a special copper thief squad to go after and get these thugs. With the price hovering around $3 per pound, the discounted amount the robbers get is likely much less but it's easy money and I would also think the folks buying this stuff may be implicated as well. The results? One black Church recently was having to decide whether to continue having services at all since they had no insurance and no funds to replace the stolen units. The elderly folks who already live frugal lives may have to do without any air conditioning which has proven itself to be a potential health hazard, even bringing premature death to many. God has a special reservation of judgment for those who prey upon the helpless and my how I would hate to face Him with this on my record. Our Company recently built a cage for an older couple who still do evangelistic work to places where campers and RV'ers go. While they were out on the road preaching the Gospel some low down scoundrels totally demolished their A/C system for the copper. We made them a first class cage and donated it along with a prayer, but I'm still upset how this new wave of thievery is impacting so many people.

I know we are all fallen. I know we all are sinners. I'm not looking down on these crooks because I'm better than they are but folks this is a sad commentary on where we are today. Some say it's the hard economic times, but taking from the poorest of the poor, hurting a place of worship, and generally having no regard for the helplessness of the elderly, it is very troubling, and I pray that God will intervene. I heard last evening that despite the billions being spent by law enforcement, there are more illegal drugs flowing into our country than ever before. How could this be possible? They have an estimated seven million American customers who cannot live without their product. Simply stated, it is at its roots a matter of supply and demand. I'm not knocking those who are addicted because they reflect a true definition of what it means to be a captive audience. I know they need help. Those buying the stolen copper are in a different class altogether. I believe when they buy from thugs they join in the crime against those who originally owned the copper and I wouldn't want to have that on my bill either. I know their consciences are seared but surely they are not completely unaware of the consequences of what they do. It's on our local stations nearly every evening. How sad but it reflects the times we are living in and we all need to do what we can to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. Okay. I've vented enough on this subject and it's time to move on. Have a wonderful Saturday and Lord's Day Sunday and until we meet again I leave you with this Irish blessing, "May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back, and in the palm of His hand, May God hold you!" Not bad. Amen? Yes, Amen. ..........More later.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thanking God for His causing us to stop and think!

Consider this to be your wake up call from the front desk on this Thursday, July 22, 2010. This past Sunday one of our lay ministers filled in for our vacationing pastor. His subject dealt with answering two questions about himself. What is it that I have too much of in my life that I need to eliminate? What is it that I have too little of in my life that I need to add? His chosen answers were human pride for the first question and a genuine passion for Christ as the identified need in the second question. He then used the Scriptures and illustrations to deal very directly with these two issues, and I, like most there, certainly felt the conviction of God as these very critical needs were presented. But this approach got me to thinking. Yes, I am aware, that with me, this can be a somewhat dangerous activity but at times I indulge myself and do a little thinking anyway. I know in my life how I divide or spend my time is very much a critical part of how I stay close to being on track. When my priorities get blurry and I find myself spending my time on things that may be okay but not the best, or certainly not the best for me, given my particular needs this can lead me to being even more weebly wobbly than normal. When I was listening to the sermon I recognized that knowing what I need to do is typically not the problem but doing something about it is where I, and most likely many others, struggle.

This always leads us to the pregnant question: What is it I can do to make progress in these areas that are so evasive in my life? Our Wednesday evening Bible Study has been focused on reading through Ezra and Nehemiah. Ezra records the Jewish people returning from captivity to the land of Israel with a mandate from God through the then ruling Persian King to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. This call went out to all of the Israeli captives throughout the Persian Empire. While no doubt countless numbers were aware of this call and the freedom granted to pursue it, less than 50,000 responded and made preparations to return. The text tells us those who had been moved by the Spirit were the ones who determined to honor this call from God. Many who did not return helped fund the huge effort required to relocate and then rebuild the focal point of worship of Jehovah God. They got back into the land, got settled in, and then they had this remarkable dedication service when they relaid the foundation for the Temple. What a celebration! What a time of great excitement! And, they rose up to build. They knew what their calling was, they knew God was with them, they had their priorities straight. However, we read about some adversaries that rose up to interfere with their work. They first stood their ground but eventually we read these sad words, "Thus the work on the house of God in Jerusalem ceased." How could this be? What happened?

I think what happened to them is exactly what happens to us all. They knew what they should have been doing, therefore, it was not a lack of knowledge, but obviously, they lacked courage, commitment, and faith that God would help them achieve the work He had given them to do. Now here's the interesting thing about all of this. What did they do when they quit the work God had called them to do? They actually turned to themselves and began building up their houses, their businesses, and spent their time pursuing their own personal interests. This went on for twenty years and God sent a Prophet by the name of Haggai to confront His people. When he stood and asked why they were no longer pursuing the work, they responded by saying it's not the right time. He then asked was it the right time for them to be building their own houses while the House of God lay in ruins. Through a series of messages God's conviction came upon them but a secret is revealed in all of this about finding the motivation to stay on track with God. That secret is revealed in their finally doing something. What did they do? The Bible says they got up and began to gather the materials to do the work God had called them to do. When they were obedient to the specific word of the Lord we read that God then stirred up their hearts and we see their work become effective despite the obstacles and adversaries that still existed. What does this tell me? When I fail to stay focused on the priorities God has for me I must return to being faithful in the little things, and He will help me to overcome the challenges that stand in my way of fulfilling the calling He has on my life. Sounds simple but obviously it wasn't for them and it took twenty years before they got it, and we are mostly just like them but this doesn't mean we can't do something about it, today. That's right. Today is the day you have, I have, we all have to get back up, dust ourselves off, and begin again to do the things that God would have us to do. I told you that it can be dangerous when I get to thinking too much but hopefully this outcome will do someone some good, beginning with your very own faithful blogger guy. May God help us is my prayer, and by the way, that's the only way they made it, and it's the only way we will too! Amen. .....More later.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ticketed for passing slow moving walkers at the big mall!

Hello again, it's Wednesday, July 21, 2010 and today I'm thinking about how I always get a big kick out of mall walking. Any time I take my wife to work on a Saturday, I always try to get in 45 minutes of brisk walking in the air conditioned splendor of the mega mall where she works. Just because I'm walking at a pretty fast clip does not mean I'm not paying attention to my surroundings. I am well aware how the world is made up of morning people and un-morning people and this truth is in full bloom when you walk the mall before the opening bell sounds. Many of the younger folks are stumbling in from wherever and they literally appear to be sleep walking their way to their designated duty stations. They typically are not too excited to run into an old dude who has been up since dark-thirty zipping past them as they trudge along to their work stations. I read the other day that we who are called baby boomers are perhaps the last generation of really hard workers. This supposedly came from surveys of the follow on generations but the studies did have some hope especially in the most current generation that for some odd reason shows a little more commitment to work than their parents and grandparents. Why should this matter? For starters, it has something to do with the number of baby boomers joining the retirement ranks which will make a huge claim on the social security funds as well as drawing from investments that depend on these younger workers to keep the companies healthy that provide retirement stipends. I sure hope some of those I saw Saturday morning are not the ones I'm counting on but then again I'm sure many my age way back when may have had similar thoughts about me. On second thought, I doubt seriously anyone who observed my work habits would have ever gone there but at the same time I'm not sure I had the right balance either.

Another thing I noticed was how the huge banners and posters outside the stores had pictures of folks looking stunningly beautiful but the people inside those stores looked nothing like the ads. What's up with that? Some of the ads showed ladies thin as a pencil. They are most likely those who literally starve themselves and have all types of eating disorders. Yet, we must be attracted to these incomprehensible displays or they wouldn't be using them as drawing cards. Looking at the folks who ring at the register in some of these stores demonstrates a better view of reality. Chubby and squatty just like most Americans but it really even shows up more if they happen to be standing underneath one of those huge banners. What a contrast! Most of the walkers are older and many are much older. I did see some younger ladies being coached through some exercises down in one of the large open spaces on the ground level. They all were on mats and they all had their babies with them in strollers. They were doing leg lifts and the leader was shouting out encouragement. I saw one lady doing only one leg at a time while the others were doing both legs. Now, there's someone I can identify with. I'm almost certain I would be a one leg at a time or perhaps even a no leg at a time if I were a part of the group. None of them seemed to be having a good time and a few of the babies weren't too happy either.

Those ads that are plastered everywhere reminded me how easy it is to buy into something that very quickly ends up not measuring up to what we might have imagined it to be. Just in the past few weeks I have observed some of this in action where people have jumped into things thinking one thing but learning all too soon that the ugly old head of reality does have a way of making itself known. I'm not pointing fingers because I can stand up and be counted when it comes to this very same thing. We all can! I had a friend tell me the other day he has no conscious memory of dreaming while sleeping. I have plenty to report both while sleeping or awake. I think this dream view of things is sometimes how we get into buying something or becoming involved in what turns out to be very much unlike what we envisioned it to be. How can we avoid this? First and foremost we have to realize that nothing this world has to offer will ever fully satisfy the needs of our heart. That comes from God and God alone. Secondly, we must be aware of these human tendencies that can capture our imagination but leave us empty and disillusioned. Lastly, we can evaluate, think about it, pray about it, investigate, seek counsel from others, and study and study before we look and leap. That way when we buy that special suit or dress we will be fully aware that it will not make us happy or fulfilled and we certainly will not end up looking like the person on the banner. And, that's the word from the mall, and I know you will be glad to have tuned in. That would also be a huge leap of a guess on my part, but God bless us all anyway! Amen. .....More later.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I choose what's behind door number 13!

Good Tuesday morning, wake up and smell the bacon because we have a brand new day and it's July 20, 2010. It had to happen. Our house is forty years old and we've lived in it for twenty five years. The air conditioning system failed last week. It happened on a day when it was 96 degrees with a feel like of 108. Hey, wait a minute! I just replaced that entire A/C system. Sure you did. But, my friend, that was in 1994 and while spending the money may seem like yesterday, time does get away from us all. Thankfully, and I find it hard to believe we can say this, it was only the fan motor on the outside unit, and a capacitor, and some freon, therefore, we got off for less than $600. $600? We paid less than that for our first two boys when they were born. Yes, as Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz, "Toto I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." It's enough sometimes to also throw in the quote from the Star Trek series, "Beam me up Scotty!" However, this is still the day that the Lord has made and we are privileged to rejoice and be glad in it. Or as they used to say back home, this is the only one we have at the moment, so let's make the best of it. Talking about the high cost of living I saw a glossy post card laying on the cabinet top the other day that had a large inscription proclaiming "Free cremation included!" I didn't read it but that just kind of jumps out at you, know what mean, Vern?

Okay, you will notice that at this time I am placing a cap on the top of my noggin that reads "Mr. Cynical." Did you know that we are living at a time when the only real growth that is occurring is in our federal government? Experts tell us that government employee unemployment is somewhere around 4.4% while the folks who pay the salaries of all government employees, when all counted, go far beyond the 9.6% reported, perhaps as many as 18 million willing workers? But the government continues to grow. Health care reform added when fully implemented 16,000 new IRS employees. Health care and the IRS? What a combination. The new financial overhaul regulation will hurt job creation in the private sector but it sets up an entire new agency within the federal government to oversee consumer financial matters. Did you know the average pay for federal employees now greatly exceeds the average pay of the folks who labor each day to pay the taxes that pay these higher paid folks? Did you know that 49% of Americans still oppose the new health care legislation? Did you know there are literally hundreds of regulatory rules yet to be written that will not require additional congressional approval that reflect huge gray areas in all of these legislated laws, that will, based on what we have already seen from this administration, continue this unprecedented take over of individual rights, while giving rise to unfettered government intrusion and control? And, the way I read it at this time, like a runaway freight train, there appears to be no end in sight, even in November, where I fear those opposing this unbelievable power grab will end up shooting themselves in the foot. I say this because of the track record from the past but using one of the supposedly most overused and unliked phrases, "at the end of the day", we still have hope, not because of conservatives, not because of Republicans, and especially not because of Republicans, but because our trust is in the Lord our God.

But our faith propels us to speak truth to power and it should never keep us from dealing with the facts as they are. The pending energy overhaul could make things like my $600 repair history. It might well be doubled or I might well be told that I must install a newer more efficient system or do without. That may sound like an alarmist overkill, but I submit to you, that this, my friend, is the mindset of the people we have put in charge of our country. On a lighter note, depending on how you see it, Senate Majority Leader Reid has gone on the record to assure the entire nation that there are zero illegals working in his state of Nevada's construction business. None, not one, or in the popular vernacular, nada! Those within the construction business in Nevada have a slightly different view. They claim that Nevada most likely has the highest number of illegals working in the construction business compared to all other states. Here's the rub. If this dude is the leader of the senate and if he is one of the key people crafting immigration reform legislation but does not have a clue regarding the facts on the ground in his own state, then how, in heaven's name can you and I trust anything that comes out of this so called comprehensive overhaul? For me, we've had one too many comprehensive overhauls that have been productive but only in the sense of growing the government. One democratic insider spoke on condition of anonymity said that someone needed to whisper these words into the President's ear, "It's still the economy, stupid!" And so it is and this ends another session of "That's the way I see it.", from yours truly. Do remember that God is not surprised by any of the things I have spoken about and He is still ruling and reigning, therefore, we can trust in Him! Amen. .....More later.

Monday, July 19, 2010

I don't know about 1,000 words, but they all spoke volumes to me!

Good Monday morning and welcome to something a little different for July 19, 2010. I have been accumulating some photos from a variety of places over the past several months and I wanted to share some of them with you. I love photos that tell a story. The blogger utility has its own issues handling photos but I think you will get most of what I am trying to portray. Many of them I like for no apparent reason but I hope you enjoy them as much as I have. Have a great day and please don't send me any deep analysis regarding why you think I chose some of these particular photos. We all are, by birth, damaged goods, dysfunctional, and lost and undone, BUT thankfully we are loved anyway by our Great God with a love so great He sent His one and only Son to die for us that we might be saved! Amen. See you next time! .......More later.

Friday, July 16, 2010

So easy to forget to take notice and give God the glory!

Hello all you Friday people, it's that day you've been waiting for all week, and I bid you greetings on this July 16, 2010. It's so easy to forget. One day this week I was working on a project with a gentleman from outside our company. As we were walking out towards our shop he stopped. He looked around and he said this to me, "How wonderful it must be to work in such a beautiful setting." I mumbled an agreement of sorts but later I thought about how easy it is to miss the blessings that surround us each day. We noticed this when we were in Scotland. The folks that live in the highlands region live in a veritable paradise of pristine beauty but if you mention it to them they shrug. I was visiting an office in Denver and talking to a fellow at his desk. I looked over his shoulder out the large window and saw a snow capped mountain with the sun glistening all around it. I exclaimed how wonderful it must be to live in the midst of a calendar photo. His response, "Oh yeah, sure, nice, isn't it?" Yesterday my dear older buddy here at work, Bro. Jim, was sipping coffee with me out on the porch to our office and he was telling me about the five different deer he had seen on his way in. He said he saw a beautiful doe with her fawn and he pulled over just to watch them. He commented how beautiful God's creation is. My last thoughts about the deer had something to do with hoping none of those suckers would cross in front of me. We do get immune to God's gifts that surround us, don't we?

I knew why the folks in Scotland didn't pause to notice their untouched surroundings. They had chores to do. They had sheep to tend to. They had stuff to get done. The fellow in Denver had our meeting in front of him and we had business to accomplish. We are busy busy people and many times the oppressive weight of the nitty gritty details mar our vision and cause us to have to be reminded by an outsider who can see the beauty of the landscape that we live and work in. I commuted for over twenty years into the concrete jungles of the mega metroplex, therefore, me, more than anyone else should be aware of my country style work place. And I am. I have written about how neat it is to work in a place like this. I have written about how much I enjoy coming here each day. I have written about how different it is to the loud, hurried, hustle and bustle of the downtown environment. Yes, I said all those things but we all can get sloppy in our perception of all that God has given to us including the beauty around us. My wife and I visited a wonderful scenic part of Colorado once and we were driving through these magnificent scenes and I wondered to myself, does anyone else see what we are seeing? But alas, the gas pump didn't work, the plumbing has a problem, and I am all covered up with projects and plans.

Thank you Lord for sending a stranger to remind me of some handfuls on purpose that you have given to me that I have neglected to notice and acknowledge. Thank you for the job I have and the place I work and being able to enjoy the people I work with, like Bro. Jim sitting out on the porch swapping stories and laughing together. Thank you for the little things that really do count for something like the birds that swarm the feeders behind my mom and dad's place and the sounds of children excited and laughing on their way to our neighborhood pool. These are not insignificant because we know that all good things come from above. (James 1:17) The song is absolutely correct: "Count your many blessings, Name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord has done!" That's a good way to end the work week and prepare for our Saturday and Lord's Day Sunday. Maybe you can take a moment or two and look around. Sure, there's always issues and troubles and trials, but they too are a part of the "all things that work together for good for those who love the Lord and are the called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28) I'll see what comes up between now and Monday and meanwhile I'll say a prayer of thanks for Bambi while trying to swerve to miss her on the road! May God bless. Amen. ....More later.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I had so many pimples as a young man that one day I fell asleep in the library and when I woke up a blind man was reading my face!

I'm off and running, how about you? I do hope the day gets better. I stopped at my regular place to get gas this morning. The store is closed but the pumps are on 24 hrs per day. Well, I first had trouble getting one of the pumps started so I moved to another one. It did start but I was only able to put in 23 cents before it shut down. Here I am at 4:20 a.m. and the gas pumps are refusing to cooperate. Man, I hate it when that happens. Sorry. I was supposed to stop saying that because of how it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy and then before you know it I will be saying it again. This means I will have to stop on my way out from work. But I always like to get my gas in the mornings. It is part of my routine. Good grief Charlie Brown, just chill out. Okay? I don't think 23 cents is enough to even make a smell and it will look funny on my bank card but that's the way the cookie crumbles on this Thursday, July 15, 2010. I don't want to get off on one of those Rodney Dangerfield days if you know what I mean. He once said that as a kid all he ever knew was rejection and even his yo-yo refused to return. He also said that it's no wonder he turned out like he did because his dad carried around the picture of the kid that came with his wallet. It's always fun to poke fun at yourself but it's also important to remember who the real you that your are. If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and have made Him your Savior, according to God's pronouncement, not mine, you and I are His very own children, and we are heirs to all His promises as found in His word, and we are also joint-heirs with Jesus. These are not words just to build us up, they are the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I am not one of those who believes in empty catch phrases like going around saying, "I am somebody!" but I do believe it is the truth that sets us free and if Creator God declared these things about us, then nothing my friend can change who we really are in Christ, except you and I can live without fully realizing them because of our failing to embrace them and make them a part of every day! (Read Romans 8:17 and 2nd Corinthians 5:17 and there's plenty more found in the Good Book, God's Holy Word!)

Thanks. I needed that. Speaking of being blessed, we have a very small group who meet on Wednesday evenings to share a time of fellowship and teaching from God's Word. Last night was such a wonderful time of laughing, loving, praying, and hearing from God as He spoke to us as His Word was read. We share our burdens. We share our love. We share our connection that makes us brothers and sisters in Christ. Growing up it was the standing practice of our small local fellowship to have a Wednesday evening service to be observed faithfully just like the Sunday services. Today most folks see it as an optional service and in our case, mostly for our older members. That's always been interesting to me. The ones less mobile and perhaps less able to get out at night are the ones who cherish a time of fellowship and feasting on God's Word. I remember hearing Dr. David Jeremiah defending his decision not to dismiss evening services at his mega Church out in California. While all the other area Churches had made this change he said he came to his decision after asking himself a simple question: Do my folks need more or less of what happens when we come together to pray, study, and to build each other up in the faith? I know how busy we are today and I know how difficult it is for families because of their whacked out schedules but my how we all need, and that means all, young, old, and everyone in-between, we need what God provides when we come together as His people. And, as one who is not easily entertained, I will tell you that we have a ball together and I consider this also to be a gift from God.

Okay. Enough preaching for a Thursday. Even as I am writing these wonderful encouraging words that 23 cent gasoline incident is still lurking and ready to mess with my thinking. But with God's help I will eventually come to realize that no matter how irritating, stuff like that shouldn't even make a blip on my radar screen. It's like that scene from the movie Home Alone where the mother is on an airplane headed for France distraught and in a panic having discovered that they have left little Kevin home, all alone. The uncle tries to cheer her up by telling her that if it makes her feel any better, he had left his reading glasses behind as well. See what I mean? Mountains. Mole hills. Big picture. I do enjoy seeing what jumps out of my head to land somewhere on the electronic page each day. I receive feedback from time to time and one recently said that it was a good blog but difficult to follow my train of thought. Bingo! The story in a nutshell. You should have to deal with the fellow writing this stuff every day like I do? Difficult to follow is a cake walk compared to some of the challenges he gets me into! But I do appreciate being able to work out some of these crisis moments as I share my struggles with you, including things like the 23 cent gasoline debacle. I hate it when I continue to bring up what I said I wouldn't bring up again but I do pray that you will have a wonderful day and that all your gas pumps will work and you and yours will live in recognition of the truths God has given to us! Amen. ......More later.