Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 - Transitions

Rest in peace brother.
It is Friday, December 30, 2011, and it is the last time this year I will be greeting you via this blogging utility. It has been a remarkable year with many transitions here, there, and seemingly everywhere. We did our best to serve and support our brother, Donald, as he ended his sojourn here on the planet. It was a difficult time for many but mostly our mom who had to say farewell to another of her kiddos. Donald had his own set of issues in life but he was a hero to our family for his years of service to our country as a United States Marine. Any time we lose a loved one it tends to overshadow the rest of our year. It also makes us aware that none of us are immune from the fall and that someday we all will take our final breath and then go on to our reward. That is, unless the Lord shall descend from on high and catch us up to be with Him in the air. That would be perfectly fine with me but according to the Apostle Peter, He hasn't done that yet because His desire is for men, women, boys, and girls to come to know His One and Only Son. Yes, our hope is in our future eternal home but we know that He knows best as to when that Day will come. Amen.

I suppose the other notable transition was my joining the Medicare Movement. You might recall how I thought I was really a little young to be getting all of that in place. Well, guess what? Some days it seems that I feel like I'm very much in that age group. Way too much, if you ask me. But, I am now a card carrying elder medical care consumer and news items that I never cared for before now catch my attention. We also had our fair share of family challenges with our large entourage but we thank God that as we come to the end of 2011 we are still, for the most part, up and going. That's how I used to hear it. If you can put both feet on the floor each morning and get up and go, well, you are blessed, period, end of story. As a dear old brother used to say, "If I kicked, I ought to be!" Yes, my friend, we are blessed. Blessed to know the Lord. Blessed to be able to have His calling upon our lives. Blessed to be a part of His family and to share with others in our local fellowship. Oh yeah, I could bend your ear with a long list of things I wished would have gone better, but, in the end, we give God the glory for His provisions in 2011, and we seek Him and His help in the coming New Year. May God bless each of you and thanks so much for tuning in each day. Amen.           .....More later.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

"If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that."

Hard to believe that I have been off since last Friday and if I have calculated it correctly, I find myself already at Thursday, December 29, 2011. Time flies when you are obsessed over time flying. I have enjoyed every day and even though I have been busy it has been a blessing to be off. My routine has been changed and that's always a good thing to force some adjustments and see each day from a little different perspective. I am thinking about the new year of 2012 that is just around the bend. We have some plans in the making that will have a huge impact on our lives. I will share more about these in the future. The main thing I wanted to mention is how that while it is okay to make plans, they must always be bathed in prayer with a recognition that all outcomes are in the hands of Almighty God. Being presumptuous about what we will or will not do, well, that flies in the face of truth. James, likely the earthly half brother of Jesus the Christ, wrote his letter and in it he addressed this very point. Chapter 4: Verses 13-16,  "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit'; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.  Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.' But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.'"

This reminds us that while making plans is a good thing, we must always include the basis or foundation of all that we do or think as being provided to us as God wills. That's not a cop out, that's an opt in to the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Amen.             ....More later.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Yes, Virginia, I am still here.

Good Wednesday morning. I bring you greetings on this beautiful December 28th day in the year of our Lord, 2010. We made our little trek over to Hornbeck, Louisiana yesterday and spent the day with mom and dad. What a day it was. We had a most wonderful time. I had made them a barbecue meal and had it in the trunk of the car, as a surprise. I had told mom not to worry about lunch because I had it covered. She had trouble sleeping Monday night trying to think through all the possibilities. I tried to think of everything. Potato salad, lettuce and tomato salad, hot rolls, beans, and of course, the barbecue, along with a coconut pie and some Mississippi Mud Cake. They were very surprised and it was, thankfully, very edible or as my sweet, sweet mother in law used to say, eatable. The photos show dad doing his regular thing, making us a wonderful breakfast, then we have my beautiful wife visiting with mom, next my beautiful mom, (notice the little card behind her left shoulder, it's her son, the Santa), and then finally, dad and I getting ready for our barbecue luncheon.

We got back home around 6:30 p.m., and yes, it was a tiring trip but one we will not soon forget. We had ourselves one great time and thank God for our mom and dad. Have yourself a wonderful Wednesday and may our Great God add His blessings to it. Amen.     .....More later.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I'm channeling the country singer: "Louisiana, how I wish I could go back home again."

Good Tuesday morning. It's a good day to be on the road over to Louisiana. Come to think about it, any day is a good day to be headed home. Welcome to the 24 hour period designated December 27, 2011. By the time you read this we should be well on our way. Sometimes we need to stop and clean the lenses through which we view things. Our preconceived notions can catch up with us. Yesterday I saw a headline on the ABC News website. It read: Bidens Visit Wounded Troops on Christmas. What was my response? Sorry outfits. I wouldn't doubt that a visit from that turkey lurkey would wound one of fine service man or woman. Then it struck me. They didn't wound anyone, they just visited the wounded. Wow! Silly me. See what I mean? I almost got all stirred up and that's how things get started, emails, and stories, and pretty soon they are flooding people's inboxes all over the place. I have a wonderful friend who sends out some pretty inflammatory stuff from time to time. Some of it is exactly like that headline misinterpreted. When I point that out to him it makes him angry and he declares that it is still a good story anyway even if the facts are not accurate. We all need to clean those lenses from time to time.

As you can see by the profile photo change, I have put away Jolly Old Saint Nicolas until next time, Lord willing. Last Saturday I was doing some final shopping, mostly groceries for our big day, and decided to have the hair and beard trimmed. I'm not all that particular but the big box store hair place is likely not the right venue for a post Santa trim. I figured that out when the lady gave me the standard deer in the headlights look. Or, that may be how they do their thing, every day. At any rate, she proved that butchery may have been a better choice as a vocation but because it was Christmas and because she seemed well intentioned and because I had a soft spot for those who stand all day and work on trying to please bearded white haired old men, I gave her a huge tip anyway, and told her that she had made a start of what would be a work in progress. Bottom line, I am now back to my regular slightly off kilter self. What's that you say? The jolly part was mostly an act, right? Yes and no, at times maybe, but now we will just have to wait and see. Now you folks go right out and have yourself a wonderful Tuesday and I will see what we can do with the one God has given to us. Amen.   ....More later.

Monday, December 26, 2011

"Twas the night after Christmas and all through the house, every creature felt stuffed including the mouse. The toys lay broken and all the batteries were dead, while Santa lay sleeping all snuggled in his bed."

Twenty four million. Wow! That's how many packages UPS reportedly was to deliver last Thursday, its busiest delivery day of the year. Welcome back. It is the Monday after, here on the 26th day of December, 2011. I mention the 24 million because I will tell you something that is true, I wasn't interested in nary a one of them or in receiving any gifts whatsoever. I'm blessed to still have my two front teeth so I will have to wait to even look forward to singing that silly song. But, really, I just don't have a pronounced desire for stuff anymore. Now don't get me wrong. I greatly appreciate my family giving me gifts to show their love and appreciation but I certainly was not seeking them. I well remember one little girl sitting in my lap and she had this to say: "I just want everyone in my family to have a wonderful time at Christmas!" And, she echoed my sentiment, exactly, 100%, right on the money! And, thank God we were once again blessed to have our bunch all together on Sunday afternoon. We prayed as a family, we laughed, we played, we ate, we enjoyed enjoying each other, and that to me was the gift I sought for Christmas. We don't have to read about how that Christmas joy is for those aged 1 to 99 because we have our own model in progress from those barely walking up to those of us wearing the white hair. What a time we had. Another one for the memory vault. And, I pause to thank the Lord God Almighty for His wonderful blessings. Amen.

We, like every family, have our challenges. Best I can tell, no one is immune. But it is wonderful to be able to put all of the troubles-in-progress aside for one day in order to love on each other. Seeing our boys together again always fills us up with memories from days gone by. Observing the excitement of our little ones, well, that's better than the commercial that tries to conjure up a meaning for the word priceless. We have our tradition. We always read the account of our Lord's birth. For well over twenty years we have featured a steak cook out for our Christmas meal. This is the way we roll. I've been looking for a place to use that because I hear it a lot and I thought it sounded kind of cool. Ha Ha. Your celebration doesn't look anything like ours? Good! That's why yours is yours and ours is ours. And, oh by the way, that's what makes it special for those who are collecting memories that will be used as a platform for their own unique application in their families. My blogs this week, if there is one, every day, will be somewhat abbreviated. Maybe me cutting them back a little will become a habit. But, don't count on it because Paw Paw used to see me talking and he would always wonder out loud, "Is that boy ever coming up for air?" Have a great Monday and Lord willing I'll see you again soon.     ......More later.

Friday, December 23, 2011

What is the favorite carol of prison gaurds? Guard arrest these merry Gentlemen!

It is Friday, December 23, 2011, and best I could tell, about the only things stirring on my way in was a varmint here or there. Since we will be shutting down next week until after the first of the year, my personal coffee maker here at work is very much looking forward to a well deserved rest. The one I use at home, it's not so much looking forward to working overtime over the next several days. It has been on its last legs for sometime now but it still makes great coffee, therefore, I believe it should be allowed to live out the rest of its days allowing the wonderful nectar of Community to flow through its veins, so to speak, of course. If I'm not mistaken it may have been trying to send out some distress signals to the EPA, but that's probably just my imagination. I do know that just as it finishes brewing it goes into overdrive doing what sounds almost like a rap, spitting, sputtering and generally making its own style of music. I hope it didn't catch any of E. T. when the kids were watching it because it just might think about trying to go home. But enough of that silliness and I do recognize it for what it is. Maybe the Christmas Eggnog was a little too strong this year. Joking only. I've not had any Eggnog or any other intoxicants, that is unless one can become intoxicated by the anticipation of having all the kiddos home for Christmas this coming Sunday. (Lord willing, of course.) That is something we are so looking forward to.

Some of you, and you do know who you are, have been with me for the duration of this blogging adventure. It has covered four and one half years and, Lord willing, after the first of the year, it will soon number 1200 days worth. This makes the 5th time I have been able to send out a Christmas prayer to one and all using this electronic connection.These blogs do reflect at least the cracking of a window revealing some insight into where I live, work, and a view of my world, through my eyes, The View From Here, and it, at times, has been excruciatingly personal, while at others it has been frivolous and lighthearted.  One thing I will readily admit is that for the most part is has been always consistently inconsistent. But, it has been wonderful to share with you all and to bring forth those things that swirl around in the recesses of my mind. And, all of you must know by now that I was a great fan of recess. Joking only. Christmas. It is, as the song says, the most wonderful time of the year, and we are privileged to know the truth about the Savior whose coming into the world is celebrated as the Reason for the Season.

I do pray that you and yours will keep Him in mind as you enjoy time with loved ones. Many people like to use His coming into the world to promote their own ideas. World peace. Universal love. Charitable causes. These are all well and good but let us never forget that God brought forth His Son to redeem fallen humanity. Therefore, we can be sure that the greatest gift is not found in pursuing causes but in finding the Christ. At this time of year the most well known verse in the New Testament says it all, John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life". The chorus from a song comes to mind: "Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You - There is no greater thing. You're my all, You're the best, You're my joy, my righteousness, And I love You Lord." My prayer is that we all can embrace that Bible verse as the reality of our life and sing that song in response to the Gift that God has given to us. Have a wonderful Christmas and may God bless each and everyone! Amen.       ....More later.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

"What is the favorite Christmas song aboard a ship?" Deck the Halls.

I used to be one of the biggest Eddy Arnold fans around. I had nearly everything he ever recorded on vinyl. That's right. Yes, Virginia, there not only is a Santa but we, back in the day,  did listen to music recorded on something called an LP, the long play record. Perhaps my most favorite Christmas song that he recorded is this one, "Christmas Can't Be Far Away". You can search for it on YouTube. I just did. It still sounds great. Now that's what I'm talking about! It is Thursday, December 22, 2011, and the song is right on target. Here are the lyrics:

A neighbor tipped his hat to me this mornin'
The landlord even smiled and said good-day
And I want you to know a stranger said hello
Christmas can't be far away

Old tight wad down the street is buying candy
To pass out to the neighbor kids at play
The town is on the go
The weather man said snow
Christmas can't be far away

The small fry on our block have all been saving
And now they're hiding things and looking sly
Mom will get that doodad she's been craving
And Dad'll get his usual Christmas tie

Both young and old are planning sweet surprises
They'll soon be tied with ribbons bright and gay
Good will is in the air
You feel it everywhere

Christmas can't be far away
Christmas can't be far away 

As I read those words I can hear Eddy's golden voice, and it is true that folks, at least most folks, are in a better mood at this time of the year. We that know the Lord are aware that true joy is found only in Him. Last Sunday morning I finished my short series on the Senior Saints God chose to be a part of His bringing His Son into the world. I wrote a few days ago about Zechariah and Elizabeth, an elderly couple chosen by God to be the parents of John the Baptist. This week we looked at two more individuals advanced in years, Simeon and Anna, who were close to God because they had devoted their lives to walking with Him. According to the inspired historian Luke, writer of the Gospel bearing his name and the Book of Acts, Simeon was a man who constantly looked for the coming of Messiah, (the Consolation of Israel). The Holy Spirit was upon this man and had informed him that he would actually see the long awaited redeemer before he closed his eyes in death. When Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to the Temple to dedicate Him to the Lord as prescribed in the Old Testament Law, Simeon was there and when he saw them with the Child the Holy Spirit informed him that it was the very one he longed to see. Here's Simeon's response: ".... he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: “ Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,  A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.” (Luke 2: 28-32) Next we meet Anna, an elderly widow, who had devoted her life to fasting and prayer in the Temple, day and night. She too was moved by the sight of this Child. "And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem." (Luke 2:38)

I encourage everyone to read about all of these people and how God used them, even in their old age, to accomplish great things in bringing His Son into the world. It might just surprise you what you will find. Speaking of surprises, I have been concerned for some time now about our bathroom scale. It is one of those that operates manually but there has always been a discrepancy with it compared to my doctor. I figured my doctor's might be off but when I changed to the new medical team under Medicare, well, the same thing came up again. I figured it was time to do something. I ordered a new one. One that guaranteed accuracy. It came in yesterday. We went through the set up procedure and then we checked the results. It is accurate. We have a five pound bag of flour to prove it. The good news: It is accurate. The bad news: We've been using a very bad measuring device. How bad? About nine pounds. Uh oh! Now we know. That explains a lot. And, it will be up to each of us to take action accordingly. I thought about this in the context of our Savior coming into the world. Most in the world at that time were using a wrong measure in their longing for Messiah to come. They had the same Old Testament used by Mary, Joseph, Zechariah, Elizabeth, Simeon and Anna. But they had allowed it to become distorted by tradition and the interpretations of men. The result? They looked for a material Savior only, one that would conquer their enemies and restore them to prominence. Those using the right measure, they looked for a spiritual Savior, One that would save His people from their sins. Now those are some important thoughts for us all to ponder as we seek to use the rightly divided Word of God as the final measure for everything that pertains to life and Godliness. Amen.            ......More later.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What is a time-travelers favorite season? Christmas, of course. Because of all the present that is there.

Okay. I've heard about those who finished their shopping very early. I applaud their forethought. Other than that, their good planning has not seemed to slow the traffic at the mall. Not even a little bit. And, what about the 15% increase in on-line purchasing? That alone should show up, somewhere. Not in our area. After getting as close as I could, it took me 15 minutes last Saturday afternoon to get to the pick up point for my wife. That was about maybe 5 or 6 blocks. I stayed in front of Sears so long people began to think I was an ornament. That traffic melee was disastrous and not a police person in sight, not one of them was stirring, but the horns were a honking, and the road rage was raging, and it all happened right dab in the middle of the season of perpetual joy. That will do for now. I've caught my breath and it's time to move on to something less frustrating. It is good to have this time together, here on a Wednesday, this one happens to be on December 21, 2011. Some of my readers do live in remote or rural areas, therefore, this preoccupation with traffic delays must make them laugh, although they do occasionally have to be held up by some cows crossing the road. As I recall, even that type of delay will get on a person's nerves. Ever wonder why most of us are in such a hurry? But we are. "A woman darted into the dentist office along with her husband. She frantically blurted out, 'I'm in a hurry, I need a tooth pulled and I need it pulled quickly, no Novocaine, no nothing, just need it done quickly.' The dentist was very impressed with the courage of this lady but then she added, 'Okay honey, show him your tooth.'"

Here's a few more of web surfed Christmas memories served up for your reading pleasure: "Best: When my entire family was all together. Worst: When she said, "I want a divorce" (at Christmas)." ~ "My most memorable best was my first bike. I was about 8 and my older sister had a bike and wouldn't let me ride hers. When I woke up on Christmas morning and saw it at the end of my bed I could hardly breathe. It had no brakes so I had to learn to ride it pretty fast so I didn't fall off." ~ "My most memorable Christmas was about six years ago when my entire family and their children all gathered in the country town we were raised in ... took over half a motel and showed the children all the places we had told them stories about for so many years." ~ "Well, my most memorable Christmas was in July when I was like 8, 40 years ago. My dad was a roofer so we lived like kings in the summer and paupers in the winter (he didn't know how to save). Anyway, he had a very hard winter and couldn't even afford a tree that year so one day in the next July we came home and dad had the tree up and it was all decorated and there were presents galore under it for all 4 of us , I think that was the year we all got bikes and to this day it is one of the only Christmases I remember like it was yesterday ...he was a fantastic dad .. I love you dad and miss you every day ..." ~ "My most memorable Christmas was when I was about 4 or 5. Had the flu and was up all night sick & throwing up. I remember being super upset because I thought Santa wouldn't come because I wasn't asleep." ~

Admittedly, some of those are a little on the different side of life but I would imagine that others might think the same about some of our recollections. In doing these searches, I've seen some that were pretty sad. People remembering, seemingly with glee, a Christmas party where everyone was so drunk, no one even remembered being there. I'll pass on that one, if you please. I also read many who were recollecting the loss of a loved one who died during the Christmas season. That's always going to be a part of life that does leave its mark. However, in my walks down memory lane, I remember just about as many folks who have passed on to the other side as those who are still counted among the living. Sure, it brings a tear here and there, but thinking about those days when we were all together, enjoying the festivities, and the feasting, remembering the laughter and joy, well, I just happen to think those are blessed memories because God gave us the ability to capture and keep them. The even better news is that for so many of those we can no longer touch or hold, well, we will see them again because they are in heaven and that's where we are headed too. We sing about the great reunion day but I rather doubt we can even imagine what it will be like when we see our Savior and our loved ones over in the Gloryland. I wouldn't miss that for the world and I pray that we all will make being there the first priority of our lives. Okay. I've almost reminisced myself into a tizzy, therefore, I had better say goodbye for now and wish each one a blessed day. Amen.       ....More later.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

How do Santa and Mrs. Claus get around? Surely you know this one: On an icicle built for two.

Hello Tuesday and also welcome to my regular readers here on this December 20th, in the year of 2011. I started to use the phrase 'my retinue' but my understanding is that designation is reserved for groups that follow noble or elevated personages. I wouldn't want to pass myself off as that even if I were to be standing on the top of a step ladder. DQMOT, BICBW, BTA, HHOK, BFN, :). That's my attempt at using the abbreviations that folks use when texting or facebooking. Translation: "Don't quote me on this, but I could be wrong, but then again, ha ha only kidding, bye for now, smiling." That smiling is indicated by the :). I sure hope they won't be selling those teaching dvds on how to learn this language. Here's a good one. They even have a symbol for Santa, "I'm Santa Claus", as indicated by: *<:-)(. I sure hope that helps clear up some misunderstandings out there. What's that you say? I have to be kidding? Nope. There are several hundred of these commonly used abbreviations and I can't tell you how good I feel about not knowing 99.9% of them. I love that picture of *<:-)( as he tries to use that computer by candlelight. Something about that candle just seems so right and in general there's something about that image that speaks volumes to me. One thing I see is the truth about how that no Santa would be complete without his mug of Community or Kona Sunrise which I happen to be sipping at the moment thanks to a wonderful friend's Christmas gift. Don't worry. The two pound bag of Community is standing proudly next to the 24 oz. bag of Sunrise. So far, they are getting along quite well. Hawaii is a state after all so I guess that one being born there makes them a citizen. Just kidding. I had no intention of the getting into the birth certificate controversy. That reminds me. In page after page of those nonsensical abbreviations, I did not see a symbol for Community. Where do I send my complaint? There ought to be a law. Don't you agree?

Here's a few more folks recalling their most memorable Christmas: "I forget how old I was maybe around 1st grade. My sister had gotten me an album of a singer I really liked though she signed it from ☺. So I thought someone named smiley face had gotten me the present. My parents kept telling me to thank my sister which confused me because I thought it was from someone named Smiley Face."~ "Mine was probably 2nd grade. We got to go to Disney World!" ~ "I was out at my grandparents for vacation with cousins and aunts, and uncles, you know, just a lot of family and the power went out. I remember my Grandma following me around trying to get me to put my hair up (it was super-duper long, like halfway down my back then) and she was concerned because she thought I was going to get it in a candle and set my own hair on fire by accident. Ha ha, gotta love my crazy family!" ~ "My most memorable Christmas was when my father opened up a gift my daughter (4years old at the time) got him. It was a pair of cufflinks with the initial L on them. He asked what the L stood for and she told him LOVE." ~ " I had been in Vietnam for 11 months and wasn't sure if I would ever see my family again. My mom sent me a small metal Christmas tree that folded out to about a foot high. With no ornaments to be found, we made some out of beer cans! Of course everyone had their "goody boxes" from home to share that Christmas. One of the guys played guitar, so we did our best with some Christmas carols and passed around the goodies from home. It turned out to be a very special Christmas." ~ 

As we might expect, memories that people have are all over the page. I've known a few people who had no recollection of good times at Christmas. These bad thoughts typically reflected family issues, excessive drinking, or other types of abusive situations. That to me is tragic and it makes me all the more thankful to God for the great ones I hold dear in my heart. Last Sunday afternoon our local fellowship of believers put on a small Christmas carnival for a nearby apartment complex. The wife and I did pictures for everyone as Santa and Mrs. Claus. And just so you know. I prefer it said that way. Santa and Mrs. Claus. People on Sunday were calling us Mr. and Mrs. Claus. While that may be technically accurate, Santa and Mrs. Claus seems so much more appropriate. I know you know what I mean. One lady won a $25 gift card in a drawing. She was so excited and said with those funds she would be able to get her daughter the special gift she wanted. The Gospel of Jesus Christ was all over that property. No. We didn't have a preacher standing out on a podium in the parking lot. What we did have was people loving on other people and reaching out to them. We also featured an illusionist where every trick ended up showing forth truths about our Lord. We had an older lady come for a photo and that was fun. A few minutes later the older lady's mother came for a photo. It was a joy to see so many smiling faces. We even had a couple of kids that preferred Mrs. Claus but I checked the official bylaws and at this time I've decided, against my better judgment, not to move their names to the Naughty List. But, as they continue their journey they might want to think seriously about their behavior as it relates to Santa. Enough said. Have a great Tuesday and may God bless one and all. Amen.       ....More later.

Monday, December 19, 2011

What do you call a Christmas letter that is sent up the chimney? Black Mail!

Good morning and welcome to Monday, December 19, 2011. Today's blog is a reprint from one I wrote four years ago back in December of 2007. It was one that garnered a number of positive comments, therefore, I wanted to share it with you again. You will notice that me being Santa again was not on my radar screen at that time. It was entitled: "Confessions of a Miffed Myth!" Here it is in its entirety:

"I've had quite a few jobs in my lifetime. They have ranged from being physically labor intensive up to executive management. However, none were quite as interesting as the December back in 1973 when I worked in the evenings and on weekends as a department store Santa. Yes, that is the Christmas stamp from 1973, and yes, it did cost 8 cents! I was actually hired by a temporary agency that supplied Santas to a variety of stores. They conducted one mass training session where we were told about the outfits and how to do the make up, and then we were encouraged to read the poem, “Twas the Night Before Christmas”, by Clement C. Moore, to give us the idea behind the kind of Santa they wanted. I was assigned to a Sears store located in one of the area malls.

The store had set up a Santa Shop area next to their furniture department, and it was decorated with a large chair for Santa, all types of props, and it had a Polaroid camera to make instant photos for those wishing to buy a picture of their child with Santa. There were several of us who played Santa and a number of young ladies who dressed up like elves. They worked the camera and operated the register. The Santa uniform, while uncomfortable and sweaty, was very nice and the beard very realistic. It was quite an ordeal to rush in and undergo the transformation from an office worker to the Jolly Old Saint, and I did have to use a pillow for my tummy back in those days. There have been a few times over the years when I wouldn’t have needed one because I could have supplied my own, but that’s another story. Just so you know, I would have to use one today!

Typically, I would work from 6 p.m. to store closing on the weeknights I was scheduled, and on Saturdays I could work as many as 12 hours. This job might look like loads of fun but I will tell you from actual experience, it can be very, very difficult. The children, of course, were wonderful. And, you can put up with those that cry, and those who spit up on you, or the occasional accident that soils your suit. But, when you are dealing with THE PARENTS, and especially, THE MOMS, there’s little to no hope for any kind of enjoyment.

I want to mention a word about the music. The Jackson Five came out with a Christmas album in 1970 with many standards recorded in their memorable style. The songs were: 1. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas 2. Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town 3. The Christmas Song 4. Up On The House Top 5. Frosty The Snowman 6. The Little Drummer Boy 7. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer 8. Christmas Won't Be The Same This Year 9. Give Love On Christmas Day 10. Someday At Christmas 11. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus. But there was only one huge problem: This was the only cassette our Santa Workshop had to play. I challenge anyone to listen to this music evening after evening and for 12 hours on Saturday without going postal! I guess the only thing worse I can think of is if it had been Alvin and the Chipmunks!

People showed up in droves and they were paying $2.50 for a special card with an instant photo of their child with Santa. Okay, we were not a portrait studio. It was a Polaroid camera! Hello? This was something that was obviously lost on many of the mommies who brought their children. They wanted the picture to be perfect which led to retakes, and log jams, and anger on the part of those waiting in line, and stress, and confusion, and chaos. There were times when I thought some of the moms were going to come to blows as they argued about their photos or their position in line. Believe it or not, some showed up to have twenty-five pictures made so they could send them out as Christmas cards. Now I ask you, who would think you might be able to keep a squirming kid posed for even one photo? It’s called insanity!

There were times whenever it got so completely out of hand I had no choice but to announce a time out for Santa to go and feed his reindeer. (That’s what the sign said when I was on break.) If the children cried which many did, it was Santa’s fault. If the picture was bad, it was Santa’s fault. If the line was too long, it was Santa’s fault, and the list could go on and on and on. The last week before Christmas the store was open until 11 p.m. each night and I often pulled the entire Saturday shift by myself. Yes, we needed the extra money and we even have a photo of our boys taken with me, after we explained how I was only a helper because the real Santa was busy getting all the toys ready for them.

Despite these challenges, there were some moments that still stand out in my mind nearly 35 years later. I think about the little guy who wobbled up to me, trembling, as he brought all his old pacifiers in a bag to show Santa that he was kicking the habit. I remember the sad young ladies who came to make a photo for their boy friend or husband stationed overseas. Then, there was that look in the eyes of children with disabilities as they had their moment with Santa. One night an entire high school Christmas party crew showed up for photos. Having a football player and his date sit on your lap was not exactly what I had in mind when I signed up for this work. And, THE CHILDREN. Santa is about children. Their innocence and their exuberant joy helped make an otherwise miserable experience one that still causes a warm glow in my heart and brings a smile to my face. Here’s a final word straight from the old dude himself: "He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, And away they all flew like the down of a thistle. But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight, "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!" ……More later."

Friday, December 16, 2011

Lots of important stuff to think about my friend.

Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house, the Community was brewing making jealous even the mouse. That will be enough of that. Thanks for that vote of confidence. We have awakened ourselves and found out this fact: It is Friday, December 16, 2011. Today is the anniversary of the birth of my eldest brother, Jimmy Don. Today, it's hard to imagine, but had he lived, he would be celebrating his 69th birthday. He left this life back in 1962 before completing his 20th year. I remember how he tried to comfort and help mom after we lost dad in 1954. Jimmy was an eleven year old and he carried a huge burden as he tried to help shepherd our little pitiful flock. He grew into a most handsome young man and had started college but then we suddenly lost him and today we pause to thank God for the life He gave to him and we also just want to add our birthday wishes to our big brother.

This is an important next few days for us. Our daughter-in-law Mitzi celebrates her birthday, the 18th, this coming Sunday. Mitzi is married to our youngest son Rodney. They are the proud parents of Kyleigh, Lexie, and Brady. I used the word devoted in my blog yesterday. Mitzi wears that word well. She epitomizes the devoted wife and mom. She is also a very devoted neighbor and friend to her large network of comrades. Her and her friends go way back. How about all the way back to grade school? I would say that is unique. One of the special things she and her long term friends are doing is to try and instill this same sense of connection in their children. I think that's pretty neat. We are so blessed to have her in our family and we thank God for her and wish her a wonderful birthday celebration.

Not finished yet. We also have our very first grandson's birthday this Sunday, the 18th. Jimmy Don Jr. will be 15. Jimmy Don Jr. will be 15? This young man has been a special treasure to our family since he made his appearance 15 years ago. As I sit here typing away it's hard to even describe his impact on our lives. We were with him from the beginning from when MiMi and I used to do the tag team on rocking him at night. It's not always been an easy journey and he's had plenty of challenges along the way. We see him as a remarkable young man with so much potential. He is thoughtful and at times can be a little on the quiet side. He is a gamer. I know most kids his age are gamers but some more than others. I think maybe he would tilt on the 'more' side. He is close to his brother and sisters. We are so very thankful for him and consider him to be a tremendous blessing. Happy Birthday to our Jimmy Jr and may God continue guide you and bless your life. Love, MiMi and Poppy.

I'm certainly not finished yet. This Sunday, the 18th, will also mark the 47th year of our sojourn together as husband and wife. And what a sojourn it has been! I started to say it seems like yesterday that I met her for the first time but that would not be correct. It wasn't yesterday. It was nearly 50 years ago and she was out at a nearby Church participating in an old fashioned singing school. I had tagged along for no good reason but God had a different plan in mind. All I can tell you is that when I saw her the lights in the Church dimmed. And, I saw a bright light. No. No. That's what happens when people are dying. Excuse me. I was captivated and and even more than that, I was captured. I didn't go there for that reason. She didn't go there for that reason. But all these years later our lives have been intertwined as we have faced the good times and those others too. We've been blessed. Her family. My family. We are blessed. Our offspring. Their offspring. Their offspring's offspring. We are blessed. More than anything else, we share a common faith in the God who brought us together and I pause to celebrate the wonderful woman He provided to me. May God bless the recognition of our 47th anniversary and may God be praised for His blessings on us. Okay. I know today's blog has been deeply personal. But, it is a reflection of what happened to be on my heart and mind, therefore, I leave you with a prayer that God will help us all to treasure those He has placed in our lives. Amen. See you next week, Lord willing.     ....More later.

PS: I almost forgot the most important thing. Here's my message to my wife: Baby you're the greatest!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A dog breeder crossed a setter and a pointer at Christmas time and got a pointsetter.

I can hear those groans out there. The Christmas puns I've been using are so bad but you will have to admit some of them do bring a flicker of a smile. That flicker is at least better than the alternative. Right? Good to see you here at the old Bloggerville coffee shop. I've already had a couple of cups and according to the indicator on my pot, I have 8 more cups of Community to help keep me on track this morning. It is Thursday, December 15, 2011 and while many are up to their knees in snow, the mud just keeps on being slung by the Republican candidates. I'll be glad when they finally thin the herd because watching these debates becomes somewhat embarrassing to me. I know the process is designed to produce the strongest candidate but when you start off with the crew we have running, well, the sooner we get to a place where we can begin to build a strategy for defeating the current incumbent, the better. I'm not one of those who say Amen to any and everything that comes from these people. Like when one of them says that anyone of those on the stage would be imminently more qualified to be president than Mr. Obama, and I look at all those people, and I wonder if that could be true, and I also wonder why they say idiotic things like that. But, that's just me. I know there has to be some people who are building all those TV stages and helping do the production of the debates, therefore, I suppose if it can't do much for the voters, then maybe someone will receive some wages from the activity. Last Tuesday evening at our Crosstrainers Club meeting, the teacher asked the class if anyone knew the meaning of the word devote. One little girl raised her hand and asked if he meant like in an election. Maybe she was on to something. (She did get a really good laugh.) While it is not hard to be devoted to defeating the current administration, I will tell you, at least for me, it's very hard for me to be devoted to any of these folks, at least at this time in the process.

But, at this time of year, we are reminded about a Ruler who came into this world to establish His kingdom which will last for eternity. I read this poem written in the 1500's by a Jesuit Priest, Robert Southwell. Some of the word meanings are obscure to us today but the impact is precious to all who have found the Savior of such lowly birth:

Behold a silly tender Babe, in freezing winter night;
In homely manger trembling lies, alas a piteous sight:
The inns are full, no man will yield this little Pilgrim bed,
But forced He is with silly beasts, in crib to shroud His head.
Despise Him not for lying there, first what He is enquire:
An orient pearl is often found, in depth of dirty mire;
Weigh not His crib, His wooden dish, nor beasts that by Him feed:
Weigh not His mother's poor attire, nor Joseph's simple weed.
This stable is a Prince's court, the crib His chair of state:
The beasts are parcel of His pomp, the wooden dish His plate.
The persons in that poor attire, His royal liveries wear,
The Prince Himself is come from heaven, this pomp is prized there.
With joy approach, O Christian wight, do homage to thy King,
And highly prize this humble pomp, which He from heaven doth bring. 

I looked up some of the words for you. Joseph's simple weed refers to his garment. 'O Christian wight' refers to a living being as in person. The bottom line in the 1500's is still the same for us today. God moved to bring forth His one and only Son that we might have life in Him. The Apostle John wrote about the life Jesus gives to those who come to Him. He quoted our Lord when He said: "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." (John 10:10) That thief is Satan and his evil influence in the world. The abundant life mentioned in this verse is something featured prominently in many sermons today. I can tell you unequivocally that this word is not a promise of worldly fame or financial prosperity. It does not imply a happy go lucky existence. What it does promise is the presence of the Living Lord of the universe abiding in His own. Those who teach this materialistic emphasis from this verse insult the very memory of those who have suffered for the cause of Christ. Think about it. Many of those who actually heard our Savior say these very words would have their lives taken from them as martyrs as they expressed the fulfillment of the abundant life He had given to them. Now that is something for us all to contemplate as we continue to think about His coming at this time of year. Amen.         ....More later.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Santa's sleigh rings too loudly with all the little bells for him to qualify for the No Bell Prize!

Welcome to Wednesday and we are still in the Christmas countdown mode on this mild 14th day of December in the year of 2011 (as we calculate days). I've thought about thinking about what my favorite Christmas memory is but I'm not sure I can come up with one that stands out so as to be my all time favorite. I do have many to choose from and I'm not bragging because good memories are a blessing and we know that any and all good things come from God, therefore, we thank Him for allowing us to have so many good recollections of our Christmas celebrations. But when in doubt, Google it. You do know what I mean. Right? Here's a sampling: My favorite Christmas was .....When I got my Atari. I almost cried. ~ My favorite Christmas was the year I got a BB gun from my dad. It was awesome! And, contrary to my mom’s fears, I didn’t shoot my eye out—or anyone else’s. ~ It was in 1943. My sister was a new baby. My family had been into the nearby town of Kennett, Missouri and were returning after dark. As my mom lit the old kerosene lamp, my dad built a fire in our wood cook stove. As we stood there in our kitchen around the stove, my mom and dad looked at each other, smiled and started singing, Silent Night. Our smiling, singing parents did more than the cook stove to warm us and to this day, tears come to my eyes when I hear Silent Night. ~

My favorite Christmas was ..... I was living with my folks in a beautiful log cabin in Montana, miles from town and we got a snowstorm. It was picturesque in so many ways. Mom was baking up a storm, dad and I worked on puzzles and kept the wood stove blazing and we were as cozy as could be. I don't even remember one gift I received, but I will never forget that Christmas. ~ All of the ones when my parents were alive, missing them like crazy during the holidays. ~ I woke up around 4 a.m. and found a "Suzy Smart" under the tree. She had a desk, blonde hair tied in a pony tail, and a cute little school-girl skirt and blouse. I took her and sat down to look at her and suddenly she started talking! It startled me, since the house was asleep and quiet...but once I knew how she worked, she talked to me until her battery ran out later in the day. ~ Always getting to open 1 present early on Christmas Eve day, simply because we nagged my parents so much they would give in. Then that night we would go over to my grandparents and my grandfather would do a scavenger hunt for one of our presents. ~ I was in my first year of college in a small town in Missouri. I was 7 hours away from home and missing the Christmas preparations with my family when some of my suitemates and I decided to volunteer and help take kids shopping at Walmart for their families. We each got a child and we had a money limit of what we could spend on each family member. It was the most amazing moment of my life. I will never forget that Christmas. Instead of thinking about what presents I wanted for Christmas I got to help a family have an amazing Christmas.~

Maybe I will share some more from the web with you before we end our time of remembering the birth of our Lord and the blessings that He brought to us. I know some of the ones I shared were sentimental. That's such an integral part of how our memories are made. I remember our baby sister's last Christmas before she made her journey to her heavenly home. She had written out what she wanted to say to every person there. I can tell you, the tears flowed freely on that special gathering. Our Kayla was such an inspiration to us all as she bravely dealt with Leukemia, one hand held by those who loved her, the other held by her Savior. That conjures up one special Christmas memory to me. I also remember when Marilyn and I were young parents and she was pregnant with our youngest. We were struggling to make ends meet but I had slipped around and bought her a new watch. She had not expected it and we traveled over to Louisiana where I slipped it into the pile of gifts at her family's gift giving party. She was handed the present and she didn't have a clue. None of us could have expected what would happen next. When she saw it she burst into tears and all the lady folks joined in with her. It wasn't a very expensive watch but she knew that it involved some sacrifice. That little gift exchange set the tone for one of the most memorable of our Christmas gatherings. Now don't get me started. And, you do know that old grandpa's tend to be emotional so I had better end this for now and wish you a wonderful and blessed day. See you next time where we might all be surprised at what finds its way onto the page.    ....More later.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What goes "Oh, Oh, Oh?" Silly, it's Santa walking backwards!

Hello folks out there in the wonderful world of blogdom. Welcome once again to a little slice of my world on this Tuesday, December 13, 2011. Last Saturday afternoon when I delivered my wife to the big mall for her work the congestion was unbelievable. Just getting her to the front door was like playing dodge ball with all those cars darting in and out trying to grab a spot, leave a spot, or wait for a spot. When I finally let her out I then embarked on the next challenge. How do I get out of here? I decided to cut through the JC Penny parking lot because there was no way I could merge into the main lane without creating even more havoc. That was another huge mistake. The parking lot was filled up with folks doing that grab a spot, leave a spot, wait for a spot, and a few who acted like they were not sure exactly what they were doing. One particular driver was blocking up everything pretty good. I looked over and saw that white hair. Immediately I thought, "old people", they need to stay home. But as I repositioned myself to take another run at getting out of the gridlock I happened to catch a glimpse of someone in my mirror. That someone had white hair. That someone was me! It suddenly dawned on me that the fellow behind me watching me do my thing through the maze was no doubt telling his wife, "Look at that honey, old people, why don't they just stay at home?" It just goes to show you that if the walking cane fits, then use it!

Speaking of old folks, in our Sunday morning Bible study we are studying some older people from the birth narrative of our Savior. That's right. Old folks. The inspired historian Luke preserved for us the account from what we call Chapters 1-2 of his Gospel. In Chapter 1 we meet some senior citizens, Zechariah and Elizabeth, who, even though they were advanced in years, became major participants in the fulfillment of God's promise to send Messiah. This couple is described as being righteous and blameless in the eyes of God. He was a priest. She was also descended from the priestly tribe. They had no children. This was a huge burden for them because at that time it was thought to be a curse and shame. Obviously, they remained faithful despite having to bear this burden. They lived in the hill country north of Jerusalem. Twice a year Zechariah would go to Jerusalem to serve at the Temple along with others within his order. On the particular visit recorded by Luke the lot fell on Zechariah to burn incense before the altar of God. This was a huge honor and a priest could only do it once in his lifetime. Zechariah went in to perform his duty. That burned incense represented the praise of Jehovah God along with the prayers of His people. While he was there doing his duty, Gabriel, an angel of the Lord appeared and told him his prayer had been answered and that he and Elizabeth was to have a child. Hello? A child? This child was destined to be the 'Elijah of his day' for he would herald the coming of Messiah. Zechariah had some questions, asked for a sign, and was struck mute because of his lack of faith. He finished his duties, returned home and Elizabeth conceived and they brought forth their son. This baby grew into the great man of God, John the Baptist, and yes, God still has work for His own, regardless of their station in life, or their age. Go read about it. It is a marvelous account of God's choosing of people to bring honor and glory to His name. Amen.

That should be encouraging to those of us who hold up folks in the parking lot and who proudly wear the white hair. It shows that God is not through with us and we are His servants as long as we are here in this life. The Bible tells us that there will come a time in our lives when work will cease and we will go on to our reward, therefore, we are to position ourselves to be used of God. Far too many of our seniors have bought into the world's template that wants to limit our potential and contribution. I've even heard some older saints express the opinion that they had served when they were younger and now it is time for the younger ones to do their part. But, what if there is no retirement plan for being a servant of the Living God? What if the final plan is for God's very own to be promoted into their heavenly home? I think that is an absolute fact for both of these questions. Yes. Many of us have ailments and even limitations that we may not have had when we were younger. But that doesn't mean we are out of the running to do what we can, if we would but make ourselves available and be sensitive when He calls us to an opportunity. We are blessed in our local fellowship to have a number of senior saints that contribute greatly to the welfare of the body. My mom who is 87 still prepares meals for shut ins and we know of many others who do what they can do for the cause of Christ. Zechariah and Elizabeth had chosen God and dedicated themselves to serving Him before He called them to be the parents of John the Baptist. Yes, I know I am the man I saw in that mirror. Yes, I know the hair that is left is white. However, I also know that God can give me, you, or anyone the strength needed to get up and do His bidding. That's my sermonette for today and it may just end up doing me some good. Have a great day and may God add His blessings to it. Amen.          .....More later.

Monday, December 12, 2011

What does a reindeer do when he has an upset stomach? That's easy. Of course they take an elk-a-seltzer!

It is Monday, December 12, 2011, and I bid you welcome. If you are not ready to hear a little venting, then you might want to skip this opening paragraph. Here goes. Last week the administration sucked up about as much gall as they could and began to pursue the matter involving the murders of innocent soldiers at Fort Hood. How did they refer to this heinous act? As an incident of workplace violence. Here we have a radicalized Islamist who essentially declared Jihad on our military but yet the political correct idiots in our own government refuse to call it what it is. How can murder in the name of Islam be referred to as workplace violence? The same thing happened last year when the two soldiers were mowed down in front of a recruiting office in Little Rock. The shooter readily admitted: "This was a jihadi attack." How did our government refer to this shooting? As a drive by shooting incident. The mainstream press not only supports this miscarriage but they even take it to new levels. The left bastion of reporting, The NY Times, reported that the shooter in Arkansas was upset over the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as if he was maybe a war protester or something. The shooter himself said his actions were justified under the rules of Jihad. Why do they do this type of shoddy and insulting presentation of what they know is not even close to the truth? Out of fear that they might offend the folks in the Islamic community. They certainly have no such fears about castigating people of faith or those who promote traditional family values. I once again remind us all of the Scripture: "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" (Isaiah 5:20)

Our first appearance together at the Cocoa and Cookies with
 the Clauses, in early November.
Thanks. I needed to get that off my chest. It's been bothering me for several days now. Just Maybe, Mr. Bloggerman, you are overreacting. Maybe I am, but I think it's time for us to wake up and smell the coffee, (Community actually smells better), so that we can begin to gauge the depth of this war against our values. But, enough about that. How in the world are you doing, anyway? The better half and I are beginning to get acclimated to working together in our professional acting roles of Santa and Mrs. Claus. I had a fellow call me last Friday to tell me how much he appreciated our visit to their local fast food restaurant. He paid us perhaps the highest compliment one could hear. He said, "You guys are as close to the real deal as I have ever seen and you both seem to love it." He also sent me a photo he had taken with his phone of the little boy he had brought. He said they didn't know how the kid would respond but he obviously loved me and the rest of the kids did also. I told him he didn't hang around long enough because I couldn't even get a decent shot of my great grand and myself because she wasn't feeling well and it just wasn't a good night for her to be asked to be all Santa loving. That can happen to anyone. I know I do get plenty of undeserved credit like when someone tells me that I am the first Santa when their child didn't cry. Okay. That's nice but I also know that it would be bound to happen to any Santa when it became the first time that they didn't cry. I appreciate their confidence but I also am a realist. At any rate, we are enjoying our little foray into the make believe world and we might just have something that we can do together going forward.

Looking at our schedules, this looks to be a very busy week and the days are getting away from us in terms of the Christmas countdown. I have done most of our shopping thus far online. What's that you say? I'm missing out on the mall experience. Oh yeah. You are talking about the one where you park and walk for a quarter of a mile, push and shove, settle for something you really didn't want, and then go home and collapse from all the fun you have had. That's the one? I actually don't mind the mall that much but this year we have to use our time wisely and time is proving to be a somewhat rare commodity for us. But, we are thankful to God for being busy. We are also thankful to God for being able to be busy. I may be able to write a report on childhood obesity and offer an expert opinion after I finish my season of setting the not so little ones on my knee. The 'back' speaks to me a little after a few hours of work in the big overstuffed chair but the children, they are so wonderful and that is what makes it all such a blessing. I read a lady's tirade about Santa on her Facebook page this morning and I can respect her opinion. I went to high school with her and I understand her concern about the monies spent on Santa gifts when so many throughout our land are in such great need. I'm not sure getting rid of Santa would solve that problem but I do agree with her that the primary focus should be on the coming into the world of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Knowing Him is the greatest gift that we could ever receive. Now, here is exactly what I want you to do. Go out there and have yourself a wonderful day and don't forget to thank God for all of His blessings. Amen.                 ......More later.

Friday, December 9, 2011

What would you get if you ate the Christmas decorations? Tinselitis.

The question of the day. If you could invite someone famous to share a holiday meal with you and your family, who would it be? That's what we have to get us up and going for this beautiful Friday, December 9, 2011. This comes from a recent survey that asked this question to over 1,000 people. I don't have a way to do a drum roll on my keyboard although you can likely find one on the web and play it here if you like. The results: Jennifer Anniston was the one who received the most mentions, followed by the new Duchess of Cambridge, Kate, wife of Prince William who didn't even make the list. Number three was the ex-husband of Jennifer Anniston, Brad Pitt followed by Charlie Sheen, Ashton Kutcher, and Kim Kardashian. When asked about who you would like to attend your Christmas party, Rachel Ray, the TV cook, was the run away winner. Paula Dean, the Food Network star was mentioned the most as the cook wanted to prepare your meal. I don't know about you but I can't really identify with these choices. Yes, I do know who these people are and yes they have occupied the headlines from time to time, often for very unsavory reasons. I do understand the mindless preoccupation with celebrity in our culture but it is still surprising when you see it dominating so much of what constitutes life in these so called modern times. I'm not going to name my choices because I think we already have some very special folks coming to our family gathering, Lord willing, of course. I suppose the argument could center on our definition of famous and what each of us consider to be important in terms of identity and accomplishment. God listed some of His favorites in Hebrews Chapter 11. We might start by understanding the character and attributes He saw in those in His 'heroes of faith' listing. That would be a good place to start.

Because of what I view as an almost insane attraction to these types of folks, all 200 channels on our dish is often filled up with shows that reflect this mindless blather. The other day I clicked through until I almost came down with click-itis but I finally landed on one of the religious channels and they were showing reruns of The Lone Ranger, starring Clayton Moore as the masked ranger and Jay Silverheels as his faithful sidekick, Tonto. The TV series was on between 1949 to 1957, and since we got our first TV in 1955 or 56, well, these kinds of programs were obviously in my zone of interest. We would watch those programs as kids and then immediately we would go out and play by reenacting them. Of course playing cowboys and Indians is way out of the political correct posture of the day. I noticed when I tried to write Indian with a lower case 'i', my spell checker didn't like it. But, we played the games all in lower case not with any malicious motives. Yes, I know. That was at a different time and in a different world. Some of the language used even in the cartoons today is pretty shocking to me. I know slang is slang but do we really want our children to do that kind of trash talking? They will grow up choosing some of those folks listed above as their role models if their only point of reference comes from Hollywood. But, I know, I'm just an old fuddy duddy poppy concerned for my grand kids and what will become of them and their offspring. Maybe they will build relationships where they will have trusted friends they can call Ke-mo-sah-bee, which is how Tonto addressed the Lone Ranger. Trusted scout or trusted friend was his meaning and we all should hope to have folks like that in our lives.

I never promised my readers a rose garden or a fair and balanced view of the world. Only, the View From Here, nothing more, nothing less. I could easily offer even a stronger disclaimer. Like, I report but please don't decide based on what I have to say. We all have the responsibility to seek out the facts and make up our own minds. And, if we are honest with ourselves, we have to know that we have the potential for being wrong. I suppose one of the great disconnects that people see in those who profess a love of traditional values is how that we seem at times to exempt ourselves. For instance, we say we ought to get rid of this program and that program because of principle. However, we might be the first in line when it becomes our problem or need. See what I mean? People smell hypocrisy a mile away and when I am guilty of it, they rightly question my views on other subjects as well. I think I will quit now since I get the uncomfortable feeling that I might just be talking about myself. We are a fallen people, and it shows. Right? Amen. But thanks be to our Great God who loved us anyway and sent His one and only Son to live a perfect life and to give Himself up on that Old Rugged Cross. That wonderful song by the late Dottie Rambo comes to mind, "He looked beyond my fault and saw my need." In response, we can all say Amen, Hallelujah, Praise Him, for His wonderful provision. Have a great Saturday and Lord's Day Sunday and I'll see you next time.   .....More later.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

My version: "Oh the weather outside may be frightful but the Community is hot and so delightful!"

I suppose when you work without a net and in my situation the only fact checker you have is yourself, you are bound to get something wrong like putting Tuesday for Monday. I was most likely thinking about what I was going to write about the next day even while I was writing that day's blog. Yeah. I know it is a little weird but if the shoe fits I suppose it belongs to me. That brings me to a correction from yesterday. I accidentally used the injury count twice for the Pear Harbor attack. The number killed should have been 2402 or at least that's what I read on the Wiki site. Having gotten that out of the way, I welcome you to Thursday, December 8, 2011, and I bid you a warm welcome at that, on this, somewhat chilly day, for us at least. Anything below freezing justifies that it be called cold and we've had a few days of it and to be honest it's been pretty nice, for a change, if you get my drift, not snow drift, but some are buzzing about hearing of a flake here or there. I know where there are plenty of flakes but not of the snow variety. Just joking. Now don't go trying to guess who I was referring to because it was just a throw down attempt at a little humor. One of the younger workers here told me yesterday that he had put on five layers but he dutifully noted with some amount of satisfaction that I was at least wearing a jacket. My reputation does get around and to think it's mostly because I find myself asking them the same question Paw Paw Mac used to ask me as I would stand with my teeth chattering: "Son, just what are you going to do when it really gets cold?"

Christmas is a special time. Those high school girls who worked as elves with us in our Santa appearance the other evening reminded us of that. They were talking about how excited they were that one of the cable channels was showing all the old Christmas cartoons. They mentioned the Burl Ives Rudolph and said that it was their favorite back in the day. Back in the day? Wait just a cotton picking minute. Does a sixteen year old child have even freedom of speech rights to use that phrase. Back in the day? My wife and I laughed about this later because our kids as little boys watched those same shows. Christmas is a special time. That old cartoon would not stand up to the latest whiz bang computer generated animation. But it invokes a memory that is cherished by kids of all ages. Nothing in the 3-D world can substitute for the association a child makes with a Christmastime memory that takes them back. My sister and I were talking the other day about that wooden crate of raisins Paw Paw used to order for Christmas. He had the local grocery store get it for him. It was a treat for us. Inside that crate the raisins were still on the vine and they tasted so wonderful and we always looked forward to them. A Christmastime memory that still echoes today and brings both a smile and a tear as we think about how it was, ... back in the day. 

Last Sunday at our Church attending the Birthday Party for Jesus.
I can't begin to tell all the little tidbits I've heard from children as I have portrayed that jolly old elf. I do my best to listen and enjoy them enjoying the experience. I have had more than one of our ladies in our Church tell me that their little ones tell everyone that Santa goes to their Church. I am also well aware of that transition time when children move on. It can be awkward as they enjoy Santa but with a new sense of the fantasy involved. Last year I well remember a young man in our Church who sat on my lap and whispered in my ear that he knew exactly who I was. I told him that was good. I then whispered back to him, "What do you want for Christmas?" Suddenly his smugness was gone and he was transported to the year before and with glassy eyes he began to name some items he was dreaming about. I see my photos appearing here and there. I've seen them on Christmas cards. I know those made at the studio will be sent all over. Grandma and Grandpa will look at them and their hearts will melt. I know it's not because of me but being a part of that experience is not a bad way to spend a few hours here and there. Knowing there are service men and women in far flung places who will log in to Facebook and see a video of their kids and I waving and wishing them a Merry Christmas makes this work a privilege. I wouldn't want Christmas without the truth about Christ but I also am thankful for the memories in my own life and for the opportunity to help make some that will be cherished in the years to come. Okay. That is it for today but we still have stuff to do, so lets get out there and get it done. Five layers? That boy would have had trouble hunting with my Paw Paw Mac, not to mention working on one side of the crosscut saw. See you next time and may God bless. Amen.          .....More later.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

We remember Pearl Harbor and we also remember that it was ultimately our Great God who gave us victory!

A happy Wednesday to one and all as we get ready to work with the only day we have at this time, today, December 7, 2011. Yes, December 7 is a historical monument where we remember Pearl Harbor. Today marks the 70th anniversary of this fateful event. I don't know how many times I have watched the movie Tora! Tora! Tora! but it is, in my opinion, the best documentary on the calamitous attack against our nation. Tora! Tora! Tora! was the Japanese code words that translated means Tiger! Tiger! Tiger! indicating total surprise. Many of us who were not born or too young to remember might find it difficult to appreciate the sense of horror that accompanied the report of this murderous attack. Some 1282 Americans lost their lives as a result of the attack and another 1282 were injured. It was the 'shock' heard round the world. Today we can pinpoint where we were when we first learned about the assassination of JFK, or the 9-11 attack, as well as other calamities that impacted our lives. An entire nation had this same recollection seared into their collective memory on December 7, 1941. Our nation reeled in response but we also reacted. The Japanese Admiral who actually planned this attack had deep reservations about the longer term impact and implications of this action. He had studied in the US. He had a sense of what our people were made of. After the attack while all his officers were celebrating this monumental victory, Isoroku Yamamoto refused to party and seemed almost depressed. His famous prophetic words were recorded and if you've seen the movie, you no doubt remember them, "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve." May God bless the memory of all those who fell on that fateful day. And, may God bless our nation who fulfilled that prediction with the help of Almighty God. That's right folks. Our entire nation united as a driven people to Remember Pearl Harbor, but we also were a people driven to our knees. These are lessons for us all to contemplate as we think back on this crucial time in our nation's history.

Those were some tough times for our country. When the Pearl Harbor attack occurred my mom was just a little over a week away from giving birth to her first child. With dad in the Army, she was no doubt greatly concerned about what the future might hold. She along with millions of others persevered and came out on the other side stronger and with a sense of God's protection and provision during this most challenging time. This experience along with many others she has faced has made her a living testimony to our family and to others. Today our nation faces some pretty daunting challenges. To summarize it all, folks, we are in a mess. There's certainly enough blame to go around but America can recover and she can become that shining light on the hill again. But we cannot do it on our own. We need God's help. We needed His help to defeat the evil that threatened our way of life in WWII, we needed His help to get back on our feet after 9-11, and my way of seeing it tells me we need Him more than ever today. I fear, however, that far too many of us are looking to the political system to help get us by, or hoping for a charismatic leader who will help bring us prosperity and peace. Nothing of our own volition or ingenuity will fix what needs to be restored, we need to see our nation return to the God who birthed us and has been with us all the way, through the night, with the light, from above. Amen and Amen.

Last night I was able to be with our Crosstrainer kids again. It had been a few weeks for me and it was good to see all those smiling faces again. Little kids are so genuine. They have not fully acquired that skill of pretentiousness that we all learn as we go through life. They were glad to see me. And, it showed. They had missed me being with them. Many people tell me from time to time how blessed they are to have me come and work with them in this ministry. You must be kidding. Right? The blessings are there but I see them overwhelmingly in my favor. That's not to say it isn't challenging and after a long day, I do at times feel some reservations about making that drive into the inner city. However, when I go it is always a blessing and I thank God for Brother Kim Williams and all of his folks there who take the time to try and make a difference in the lives of these children, a difference that will last for all time and eternity. They do like the idea of Santa Claus being a part of their program there. A young woman from our local fellowship is currently a kindergarten teacher over in the middle east. She put a photo of herself and some of her little students up on Facebook. The children were all dressed in their native garb but their little faces just jumped out at me. I was reminded again of how much our Savior loved everyone including the little ones when He was here on the earth. Yes, they are precious and His sight and they should be in ours as well. Have a great day and may God bless each one. Amen.  ....More later.