Monday, December 31, 2012

"A new year is unfolding—like a blossom with petals curled tightly concealing the beauty within. Lord, let this year be filled with the things that are truly good—with the comfort of warmth in our relationships, with the strength to help those who need our help and the humility and openness to accept help from others. As we make our resolutions for the year ahead, let us go forward with great hope that all things can be possible—with Your help and guidance." Anonymous

Last day to do anything about 2012. It is Monday, December 31, 2012 and we are prone to think back on another twelve months that God granted to us. I keep a daily calendar and this past year had more folks moving on up to their final reward than any in recent memory. In our family we lost my step sister Miriam, and our brother in law, Charles. We attended several memorial services for long term brothers in Christ from our local fellowship. We also said farewell to two more of our neighbors and several other friends and acquaintances. In my daily log I also noticed a number of ER visits, some hospital stays, and other noteworthy incidents. Then there were the regular doctor's appointments, diabetic numbers to report, birthdays, special occasions, anniversaries, and the day by day details of this that and the other, the so called nitty-gritty that reflects life lived in our fast paced society.

I'm thankful that my calendar included ministry opportunities that attempted to honor God by serving others. Thankful that He enabled me to do what I could. Thankful that He gave me the desire to do what I did. And, thankful for any and all honor that went to Him as a result of the small amount I may have contributed in His service. In fact, He was our constant in the year 2012 and we can only trust that He will be there, as He has promised, in the coming year of 2013. Yes. There was plenty of sadness to go around in 2012 but we attempted to lean on Him and we will seek to do the same as we anticipate a brand new year, up ahead. May God bless the memory of those we still remember and may He help us to live in a way that would be pleasing to Him in 2013. Happy New Year folks.  Amen.        .....More later.

Friday, December 28, 2012

"Remember: Y'all is singular. All y'all is plural. All y'all's is plural possessive." Kinky Friedman

Love birds, 1963.
Hello friends and neighbors. It is Friday, January 28, 2012 and we are counting down the last days of this year as we anticipate 2013 which will be coming to a calendar sooner than we might think. I have so enjoyed my time off. Much of it was spent in preparation of our family Christmas gathering. We were busy on the 18th so we were only able to eat out in celebration of our 48th years of marriage. Today we leave for a short trip to do what might be called nothing more than a get away, change of routine. We are going to the coast and even though it's not beach weather, we are looking forward to spending some time away from the daily to do list, so to speak. We are not complaining. We are blessed to lead fairly busy lives and we are even more blessed to be able to get up and go each day. We thank God for that. I want to send out a shout out to my sister JoAnn who will be celebrating a birthday tomorrow. I really don't know of a more caring person on the face of the earth. She is always thinking how that she might encourage or help another human being. She has a world of medical issues on her plate but she doesn't let that keep her from impacting others for good. Happy birthday sis, and may God add His blessings to your special day. Okay. All ya'll take care now. You hear? And, may God bless each one until we meet again. Amen.      .....More later.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

"There's three stages in a person's life. First, he believes in Santa. Secondly, he doesn't believe in Santa. Lastly, he is Santa." --Donald Guthrie

Hello out there in the post Christmas world where shoppers are busy taking stuff back or grabbing for those clearance sales where they pay a fraction of what they previously paid just a few days ago. It is Thursday, December 27, 2012, and I do bid you welcome once again. The photo is of yours truly with our great granddaughter Madelyn Joy. She will soon be three. We thank God for the opportunity to share our traditions and beliefs with those who will both carry our name and our convictions into the future. I've heard of people who immediately do their shopping for next year during the post Christmas sales. I've also heard of some who did that but misplaced the gifts, or some of them went bad, or they forgot what gift was for which person. I know of one lady at the mall who will be glad the season is over. I saw her a couple of times this past week. She was wearing one of those Santa looking hats but it had the little wiggly wires on it that moved forth and back. She worked at a place that sold cookies. They obviously were under the gun. Her hat was continuously happy but she just couldn't catch up with it. She had this grimace permanently affixed to her face. Maybe she was shorthanded. Maybe she was a little old to be under so much pressure. Can't be sure but I am happy she will no longer be having to wear a happy hat.

Our family celebration was great but I kind of know how she felt. We had put so much into the planning and preparation. When it came time for me to cook the steaks there was a gale force wind blowing. This required a lot of care and attention to the charcoal and I'm sure I had a grimace here and there, but, somehow and in some way they all actually turned out okay. I was ready to wear my happy hat again. Let's all try to wear one.....TODAY! See you next time and may God bless. Amen.   More later.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The day after Christmas the pastor noticed that Baby Jesus was missing from the nativity scene. Then he saw a little boy pulling a red wagon with the Baby Jesus in it. The Pastor inquired, "What are you doing with Jesus in your wagon?" The little boy proudly answered, "I asked Jesus to help me get a wagon for Christmas and I promised Him if He did, I would give Him a ride." (copied)

Enjoy your loud toy!
It's Wednesday, December 26, 2012. The day after. We're still basking in the wonderful blessings of Christmas. The Reason for the Season, family, friends, and a time for feasting and fellowship. There's always some sadness as we along with so many others missed some faces too. Now, it's like they do every morning over on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, time to sweep up, move on, and get ready for what's up ahead. While it was widely predicted and feared, the world did not end last Friday. I saw a very funny cartoon where the scientists are shown reexamining the Mayan calendar and they finally discover what it really says: The extinction of the Twinkie. Pretty funny. Now folks will be engaged in trying to figure out how to work their new phone, tablet, game, or toy. The battery folks stand ready to sell you as many as you might require. The more the merrier. For all the grandparents that gave the grand kids loud and noisy toys, your children are currently thinking less than wonderful thoughts about you, however, there has to be some poetic justice in there somewhere.

Bottom line: We are blessed. No. That doesn't mean everything always works out for us. It also doesn't mean we don't have challenges to face and painful experiences to endure. It simply means that we get it. God provided for us, we responded, and now we are His very own. That's the hope of Christmas. That's the plan that brought Jesus into the world. Having received Him as Savior, we begin, stay with, and end with the truth: We are blessed. Have yourself a great day and may God bless each one. Amen.    ....More later.

Monday, December 24, 2012

"Christmas Eve was a night of song that wrapped itself about you like a shawl. But it warmed more than your body. It warmed your heart... filled it, too, with a melody that would last forever." -- Bess Streeter Aldrich

Dad and Victor, yours truly and Maria, Marilyn and Mom.
Happy Christmas eve to one and all, on this Monday, December 24, 2012. We enjoyed a wonderful visit yesterday with mom and dad along with my step brother Victor and his sweet wife Maria. The four of them set up the visit which meets approximately half way in Beaumont at the Cracker Barrel. I found out about it so Marilyn and I more or less crashed the party and surprised them. Did we ever! What a time of fellowship we had. Now it is on to putting the final touches on the program here. Getting ready to get ready. I've got my list and I'm checking it twice. Based on the forecast, we will have a backup plan since it is supposed to rain. That becomes important since our tradition is to have steaks for our Christmas celebration. It wouldn't be the first time we've smoked up the garage. I'm thankful that we still get filled with excitement and anticipation. And, we are aware that many will not be with family, therefore, we treasure our times of being together as blessings.

We do wish everyone a blessed and happy Christmas as we enjoy the festivities while we rejoice in He who was born to die that we might live. Amen.   .....More later.

Friday, December 21, 2012

It won't be long now.

It is Friday, December 21, 2012, and I can almost hear the late Eddy Arnold crooning out this great tune, "Christmas can't be far away." I feel so privileged to work for a Company that tries to provide some extended time off during the holiday season. Today we will enjoy our Christmas fellowship here at the workplace and after finishing our day, we will be off until January 3, 2013. I went ahead and included the year so I can get some practice using it and you can get some practice reading it. After all, I am here to serve. But, I now rejoin the previously started thought process where I am so looking forward to these next eleven days off. My wife has done some preparation, but, beginning tomorrow I hope to be as focused as a bird dog pointing out a covey of quail. (In case you have trouble getting that visual image, go to YouTube and search for bird dog hunting quail.) The object of what likely will be a multiple page to do list is our Christmas family time coming up next Tuesday. Just reading the entries on Facebook tells me there is a whole lot of flu out and about. We are praying that everyone will be able to show up. This was a huge concern to me during my Santa visits with all the coughing and snotty nosed kids. I had this fear of having to call in sick but I thank God that while I did get a sniffle here and there, I was able to complete my entire schedule.

I dreaded that it would happen one day. It finally did. The Hallmark channel has come to our house. Oh, it's been on the menu for years but only recently did it become a mainstay for certain individuals who occupy and share the same domicile with me. I knew she knew it was there but I think it was when she spent time with her sister that they watched so much of it. I know my mom is also a huge fan. The other day I came in and She was watching along with our granddaughter Amanda. I sized up the situation and decided that a preemptive intervention was necessary. I began to explain to Amanda the dangers of this channel. It can turn your mind into mush. I asked if she remembered those brain eating worms from the Star Trek movie. She didn't. At that, She told Amanda to disregard all that was being said. Disregard? Here I was trying to help this child map out a path to mental wellness. I persevered. I explained to her that they only had maybe 2 or 3 story ideas and they used them over and over again but with different characters. I quoted Solomon from the Bible about how there's nothing new under the sun. What did all of this accomplish? Some knowing looks between the two of them along with an invitation for me to use the set in my office upstairs if that would be more suitable to me. I tried folks. The good Lord knows, I tried.

I will be playing it by ear regarding my daily visits but since I do have a pretty good set of ears, I will likely be coming to an email or internet connection on any given day. Don't worry about the ear deal. They say our President has brought new scrutiny to big eared people. That's what I really need. More scrutiny. Growing up I actually didn't realize I was in that category. No one bothered to tell me. I'm not sure when I became aware of it. It may have happened when I got a crew cut, checked it out in the mirror, and saw what looked like handles on a root beer mug. Yes, I am aware of the little red riding hood story. Like, "What big ears you have." Thanks for reminding me of that one. I was going to share some of the statistics about all the positive things that big eared people have going for them. I decided not to. You might get the idea that I am in the least bit concerned about them. You can tell I'm not. Right? Therefore, I suppose this would be a good time for me to say bye bye for now and if you should need to get in touch with me, remember, I'm all ears, or something like that. May God bless each one. Amen.    ....More later.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thanks kiddos for looking out for me.

Hello one and all, I'm thankful that I woke up this morning, was able to get up, get out of bed and make my thirty to forty minute journey here, at the temporary location of old blogger ranch, where I can share with you on this Thursday, December 20, 2012. I said temporary because the old blogger ranch ends up being located wheverer I happen to be when I write my daily episode. That was kind of a long howdy do but it is good to be with you again. I know the first key in the AA program tells participants they must recognize and admit their situation. While it took me a while to get there, I do feel more comfortable in admitting that I am a diabetic. One would think that someone who takes medication twice a day and continues to poke little holes in their fingers wouldn't be so conflicted about this. I am thankful that it is controlled as well as it is, although, I am well aware that I could do better. I'm also thankful for those who are concerned about my diabetic condition. The other day we were at a restuarant celebrating the 16th birthday of Jimmy Jr. This eating place had a free ice cream dispenser. Alexander Benjamin wanted a cone. I went with him to fetch one. I got me one at the same time. A small one. A sample, if you will. When we returned to our table, everyone, including all the grand kids had a fixed look of being stunned. My wife said they had been discussing the situation and the grandchildren were worried about whether or not I was supposed to be eating that ice cream cone. The Lord knows that I do need all the help I can get. Thank you Lord for those who are concerned, even for their Poppy. Amen.

We do appreciate all the well wishes regarding our anniversary. So many couched their comments in saying how unusual it is for it to be so long, 48 years. Here's my response to that sentiment: Only by the grace of God. We also feel humbled by so many wonderful things said about us. I will tell you this about that. And you can write this one down. It is always better to be known as a blessing in people's lives than something negative. There is, however, a huge caveat. We know ourselves. We understand that we have plenty of flaws. We thank God for His allowing us to influence others but we are well aware of what happens when people forget who they really are. Marilyn and I both have always identified with a quartet song that says "I'm just a sinner saved by grace." I remember a preacher once saying how terrible that song is. He said we are not just a sinner. We are somebody. We are children of the King. We are saved eternally. Therefore, we should live above it all. While I understand where he was coming from, I would just tell you about my sojourn thus far. It tells me that we all struggle with that old man nature and I think God would have us to live in the real world where each and every person ends up having to deal with their number one challenge. That is clearly what I have often called the unholy trinity of me, myself, and I. Thanks again for your support along with the many kind words. Please know that we will do our best, with God's help, to keep on keeping on.

Last night ended our Santa run for this year. We did a dozen events. It was great. It was tiring. It was wonderful. It was exhausting. Hey. We actually enjoyed it very much. I am not unhappy to see it end because now I can get myself ready to be focused on our Christmas celebration with our family. During this season we held in our hands and on our laps well over 1000 children. While that may not sound like that many to the mall guy who works all day and where some days the line goes up, down and all around, but, for me, still working a regular schedule each week, that is, if anything I'm involved in can be called regular, it was in many ways above and beyond. Children. My oh my. What blessings they were. The smiles, the eyes lighting up, the hugs, the wishes, and yes, even the crying and kicking. Christmas surely is for kids from one to 99. I know how easy it is to obscure the real reason for the season and we do our best not to let that happen. Children living in this old world can use a little escape now and then. That's where I come in. I'm in the memory making business. We've seen a number of Christmas cards with my image on them. And, that's only from people we know. There are no doubt hundreds more with my version of the jolly old dude on the front cover. I want to thank my wife for being with me in all of these events. She brought a wonderful touch, literally to the children, and in so many of the photographs. Now it is on with the next thing on our list, you know, the Paul Harvey version, 'The Rest of the Story.' Have a wonderful day and don't forget to remember to thank God for it. Amen.    ....More later.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Seeking God on behalf of all those who are hurting.

"Hear the bells, hear them ring. It's Christmas time in the city." While that is true for most of us, different bells are also ringing. The bells of mourning are ringing up in Newtown, Connecticut. It is Wednesday, December 19, 2012, and while many would rather not hear or see anymore of this unspeakable horror, it is, nonetheless, a reality that is being lived out by the families involved, and, it's also our shared reality as a nation. Making sense out of something like this, to me, is very difficult. At the same time, we do fully realize that we live in a world permeated with evil, one where every individual needs God, and that's about all that I can come up with, and while I know it's not an explanation, it is the generalization that I see. And, I do think it is one that can be seen in God's Word, therefore, while folks wait on the experts to tell them exactly what happened and why, I believe we can find answers, we can find help, we can find comfort, and yes, we can find peace, as we seek the Prince of Peace. Meanwhile, those of us who know the Lord God of heaven can seek His intervention and help for all those touched by this most tragic of tragedies. We need Him. The Apostle Paul writing in his second letter to the local fellowship meeting in Corinth, Greece, greeted them in this way: "Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort." (Chapter 1, verse 3) And, may we all remember that we, as recipients of His grace and comfort, we, are His instruments to do what we can, with His help, to extend love and comfort to the hurting. Amen.

I wish the advocates for pro and con regarding different types of gun control would allow their issues to be discussed at a later time. Filling up page after page of rhetoric proposing or defending their positions, does not, in my opinion, give the full measure of respect to those who are suffering at this time. I'm not saying there are not matters to discuss and debate, however, I just think they should be postponed until after an appropriate time is given to those dealing with this most sad event. My opinion. Freedom is a messy business and there will be the right time to deal with these matters. Through this vale of tears, we have all been inspired by the reported courageous acts of the teachers who did what they could to protect their students. Their testimonies should be recognized and remembered. Some of them made the decision to face death itself in order to shield the little ones they were responsible for. May God bless their memory and may their stories become a source of inspiration to our nation. God bless their families and may He bless all our teachers who give of themselves on behalf of our children. Amen.

I too have felt the tug to turn the channel. I also thought about not writing anything about it. But, it was on my heart and mind, therefore, I felt like I should share my thoughts. I asked our grandson, Jimmy Don, if they had heard about it at school on Friday. He seemed incredulous. "Poppy, we have so many smart phones on campus, nearly all the students knew about it as soon as it was reported." That too is the world we live in. Breaking news in real time available to anyone who has a cell phone, including our children. Jimmy's belief is that most of the students knew about it way before the school staff and administration. I report this in order to help us all to understand why we have to do our best, with God's help, to share with our kids, who already know a lot about things like this great tragedy. We pretty much have said goodbye to a world where we can protect our children from the sordid details that saturate our news feeds. The unbelieving world asks where God was when all this mayhem was happening. Why didn't He stop it? If He is a good God, why does He allow things like this to continue? Those are all excellent and may I add, reasonable, questions. The response is to share the truth about the hearts of sinful people and how that plays itself out. We share truth in a loving way, knowing that we stand first in line in need of salvation, a Savior, and the grace to live out a life that is pleasing to almighty God. That's my take on a situation that is filled with such sadness. And, that's why the only Source of help is to seek the Lord God of heaven for He is the God of all comfort. Amen.     .....More later.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Today. Yes. Today. A very important day.

We have happened upon a very important day on our calendar each year. That would be correct. It is Tuesday, December 18, 2012, and I am paying tribute to some very special people in my life. Our daughter in law, Mitzi, married to our youngest, Rodney, is celebrating her birthday today. Mitzi is a talented woman who can juggle work, home, and somehow twenty different outside functions, without missing a beat. She is a wonderful mother to our wonderful grandchildren, Kyleigh, Lexie, and Brady. She is a people person and she enjoys time with her abundance of friends. She and Rodney have made a good team and we thank God for her and for her being a part of our family. Time does get away from us. We flew out to Vegas for their wedding and these years seem to have zipped by as we think about Kyleigh, now 18, Lexie, now 12, and Brady boy, soon to be 7. Thanks Mitzi for being a giver. Happy birthday and may God continue to bless you as you continue your busy life. Love, mom and dad.

Today is also the birthday of our Jimmy Jr. Sixteen years ago today we welcomed our first grandson into the family. Jimmy and his siblings, younger twin sisters, Alesha and Amanda, and little brother Alexander Benjamin are blessings from God and we feel honored to be their grandparents, your know, MiMi and Poppy. Jimmy Jr. is finishing up his driving instruction. No. Not playing golf. Driving. As in a motorcar, as they say in the old country. I think he has to wait until March to get his actual license but he does have his permit and he's already been out on the interstate. This is our Lil Jim and he's driving a car. It seems like only yesterday that I held this little bundle of a boy in my arms and rocked him to sleep. Nowadays it's hard to pull him away from his computer games and carrying on a conversation is like, well, you can pretty much forget it. One thing has never changed. Our love for him and his knowing that he is loved. This boy has been such a source of joy in our lives and we do thank God and we ask Him to guide and direct him in the way he should go. Amen. Happy birthday Jimmy Don Jr., love, mimi and poppy.

Last, but never least, I pause to mention the very beginning of our family experience as Marilyn and I celebrate our 48th year as husband and wife. We've come a long way since that below freezing evening back in 1964 when we met in her mom and dad's parsonage where the wood burning heater was glowing almost as red as the cheeks on my face. I was shaking a little. Our dear Brother Milton, conducting his very first wedding ceremony, was shaking a little. I suppose we could have used the Elvis song, "Whole lot of shakin going on." But we didn't. Instead, one of Marilyn's best friends sang what was then a popular wedding song, "Whither thou goest." It's taken from the Bible book of Ruth. You know, whither thou goest I will go and whither thou stayest, I will stay. That kind of stuff. And, that is pretty much our story. We feel blessed to have had these years together. Not all of them have been easy. We've had plenty of challenges along the way, and, just so you know, we still experience them today. It comes with the territory of one year or 48 years. Let me be clear. I declare my thankfulness for this most wonderful woman that God, yes God, provided to me. She is a one of a kind and I know exactly how that famous sentiment feels, "Today I feel myself to be the luckiest man on the face of the earth." Thanks sweetheart for these many years and always remember forever and ever, "Baby, you're the greatest." My love, al.

PS: Please don't send a note asking the identity of the fellow sitting next to her. And, yes, while it is true that I was involved in a head on collision many years ago, I can assure you it did not change my appearance that much! At least I didn't think it did!

Monday, December 17, 2012

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, With every Christmas card I write. May your days be merry and bright, And may all your Christmases be white.

Hello and welcome to my tiny little corner of the vast internet universe, here at where the road ends for me, at my blogger ranch. Good to see you as we brace ourselves for another day, this day, Monday, December 17, 2012. We all love the songs about snow at Christmas time, winter wonderland, and Frosty the Snowman. Here in these parts that scenario, on average, is just about as scarce as hen's teeth. (A chicken actually uses their gizzard to grind up their food but that's a story for a different day.) That does not mean we have never had really cold weather at Christmas time. In 1983 we hit 11 degrees. As I recall, that was the year that many people returned home to find all their pipes busted and their ceilings collapsed. In 1989 we recorded 1.7 inches of snow on December 22. Close. That same year we hit 20 degrees on Christmas day. We have had some warm Christmases as well. In 1987 it hit 78 degrees and there was one 82 degree Christmas recorded back in 1964. We didn't come into this area until 1969, therefore, I've pretty well stuck to the history since our arrival. There are a variety of interesting extremes from back in the 1920's and beyond, so feel free to check them out if you are interested. On average, Christmas day over these many years has been pretty good. Low around 40 and a high around 62. And, yes, while not often, there have been some rainy days here and there as well. Here's my take: Regardless of the weather, we plan to, Lord willing, enjoy a day of feasting and fellowship with family.

By now you should be fully aware that I am a committed people watcher in the Yogi Bera tradition, "You can observe a lot just by watching." The other day I saw a fellow who came out of one of those convenience stores holding an adult beverage with the little brown bag on it. He was hardly taller and than he was wide. His friend was waiting for him in his truck. One big problem. This truck was one of those jacked up models barely under the size of those monster vehicles you see on TV. The rider was pretty short, and pretty wide. He first tried to hold his drink in one hand and sling his leg up on to the step required to climb into the truck. After a couple of tries at this, he then looked for a place to put his drink so he could use both hands to help mount this too tall ride. Finally he figured out a way and I could tell he was out of breath, and so was I, just from watching. I was stopped at a traffic signal and this late model Volvo pulled up beside me. Inside were two ladies, maybe in their early fifties, identical twins. I mean clone looking. Even dressed mostly alike. The driver was on her Bluetooth chattering away and the look-alike passenger had her Daytimer out making notes as she also talked on her cell phone. Maybe they were in real estate or something, but visually it just seemed a little odd to me. To me. Not you. Me. That, I am afraid is something I have to live with.

The old saying puts forth the idea that we all have a look-alike or double out there in the world, somewhere. I've had quite a number of sightings myself, especially when dressed as Santa. I do remember one time when I approached a fellow, called his name, and made the comment that I did not know he was back in the states. He wasn't the person I knew. He wasn't altogether pleased that I had thought that he was the person I knew. He was standing with a group of other folks. Awkward. Embarrassing. Talk about a dead ringer! But, we live and learn, as they say. I actually started to say it has been an interesting week but then I remembered that today is Monday. No wonder Paw Paw Mac always said that I woke up in a new world every day. Come to think about it, that might explain a lot of things. I read this joke: A woman comes up behind her husband who was reading the newspaper and bops him on the noggin with a frying pan. He declares, "What was that for?" She told him it was for the note she found in his pants pocket with the woman's name Sue Ellen on it. He protested, "That's not a woman's name, it's the name of the horse I bet on the other day." A few days later, same scene, only this time the wife sneaks up and hits him again with an even larger frying pan. Reeling from the blow, he demanded an explanation, "What was that for?" She calmly said, "Just so you know, your horse called today." Okay. That's it for today. Mercifully so. Now, here's the deal. Go out there and have yourself a really good day and be sure and thank God for His provisons. Amen.    ...More later.

Friday, December 14, 2012

You didn't really think I had run out of anything to say, did you?

I'm always a little late with pertinent news. Last Wednesday would have been an appropriate day to remind us all that it was 12-12-12. I did see a shooting star Wednesday morning. You put those two together and you might just have the makings of some kind of sign. But, since I didn't catch up with it until today, the sign remains the same, I'm still about a day late, and a dollar short. It is Friday, December 14, 2012, and I commit to trying to do better as we continue this long running version of keeping on keeping on. Oh yeah. In case you haven't heard, the world is supposed to end next Friday, December 21. This has something to do with an ancient Mayan calendar. I have not paid enough attention to it to even give an informed opinion, but, I have heard bits and pieces that pretty much debunk the prediction from the get go. That doesn't mean that the world as we know it could not end on that day, or that it could not end even on this very day. According to the Word of the Living God, the timing of when He will bring a conclusion to the age in which we live is in His hands and 100% under His authority and control. I believe that. The question could be: How much? If we do believe He could bring about the events depicted in His Word at anytime, we might well look at what the Apostle Peter said about God's people knowing these things. "Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!" (2 Peter 3:11-12) Some food for thought for a Friday morning.

Us older folks being out of sync with the modern world is not an isolated malady. The other evening the wife and I did a Santa experience for a large apartment complex. Some of the ladies who were working with us had been managing at that location for as much as twenty years. However, they had recently been taken over by a new management company and everything had changed. In fact, they were in the process of nervously learning how to operate the new I-Pads they had been given by Corporate. One lady remarked that nearly all the new people who they were now reporting to were only old enough to be her children. I gave them the famous catch all for situations like this: Welcome to the NFL. They said everything had to be done now, period. They were also preparing to go to a management Christmas gathering where each person was to bring a gag gift. One of the older ladies said she had found a wonderful piece of candy that looked like a lump of coal, and she intended to place it in a nice container and then wrap it appropriately. I asked them the pregnant question: How many of the younger folks would catch the meaning of a lump of coal? I know there was a cartoon movie by that name a few years ago but the actual meaning goes back to the 1800's. In those days a tradition came into fashion where good children got candy and cookies and kids that had been bad received a lump of coal in their stocking. Just in case the senior manager were to get that gag gift, it might be good if they don't get the meaning, that is, if you know what I mean, or something to that effect.

This morning we plan to do Santa and Mrs. Claus photos at a private Christian academy. This will be my third year to provide this service to this wonderful group of kids. I would guess they may have as many as 100 students who will be participating. Many of these kids are from low income families. Last year, a local professional photographer also donated his time and talent. They bring the classes in one at a time and then the fun begins. It will take a couple of hours and one of the exciting things about doing this work, you just never know what might happen. Our granddaughter Amanda helped out in the Jasper appearance we did. She ran the little printer to give out the souvenir photos. She was so excited because she got to be the first one to see the pictures, plus she got to see firsthand all the antics of the kids. She babbled for two hours during our trip back home and sounded like a recorded message being played in fast mode. Excited. The coordinator lady from the Junior League program sent us a wonderful thank you note expressing appreciation for us preserving for the children the magic of Christmas. I'll try to remember these nice things as I pour the sweat out of my boots. Okay. I can hear my wife now. "Why did you have to say something like that?" Good question. I'll think about it and you do the same. Maybe by next Monday I'll have something to report or we will compare notes, or something. Until then, may God bless each one is my prayer. Amen.     ....More later.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

"Elections should be held on April 16th - the day after we pay our income taxes. That is one of the few things that might discourage politicians from being big spenders." Thomas Sowell

Where are those who will lead?
Good Thursday morning. It's December 13, 2012, and we are getting closer and closer. This time I'm not talking about Christmas. I'm talking about the cliff. The one they call the fiscal cliff. That's the cliff where we get flung into the taxation abyss. The federal government does not have enough money. There's only two ways to deal with this problem. Reduce spending so you don't need as much. Or, increase the amount coming in. Back when Congress was making waves about doing something about all of this, it came up with a scenario that would automatically trigger spending cuts and tax increases. That's the cliff. It will be reached January 1, 2013. Those who claim to be experts say that if these automatic measures become activated the results will be cataclysmic. Mayhem will ensue. The fragile economy will be decimated. They put this trigger mechanism in place to give incentive that would force the Executive Branch working with the Congress to come up with a comprehensive set of provisions to deal with our nation's massive deficits. Incentive. Force. So far, the more things change, it is the more they stay the same. Political posturing, finger pointing, grandstanding, and all other kinds of shenanigans rule the day. And, most people are sick of this program because they have seen it so many times and the reruns typically offer nothing new. My guess is that they will do something in the end, and, they will all claim victory while you and I and every other individual who pays taxes will be left holding the bag. As Joe Friday used to say: "Just the facts ma'am, just the facts". That is, as I see it, of course.

We did get a little taste of frost on the pumpkin the other day, especially Tuesday morning. Am I saying that I was actually cold? I wouldn't quite go that far but I will tell you that at 28 degrees, it didn't take me long to get all the buildings unlocked and ready for the day. It was slightly penetrating.  But, my oh my, what a beautiful morning it was. Cold and crisp. At 4:30 a.m., the sky was illuminated and you could have checked out all the constellations and more without a telescope. I suppose I am preprogrammed but when it is so clear and it looks like you could almost reach up and touch the Big Dipper, I always remember Abraham in the Bible. God told Abraham: "I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky..." Back in those days, Abraham would not have had all the pollution to cloud his vision of the night sky. The vastness of the starlit night would have been breathtaking. And, that's kind of how I felt when I looked up and saw the beautiful handiwork of our Great God. The 28 degrees helped me to be a smidgen quicker in my observation time but I will tell you this: It's not a bad way to start a day. Not bad at all my friend. Not bad at all.

My granddad used to tell me that being cold was mostly in my mind, well, the other morning, I do believe it had made the journey from my head into my hands.William Shakespeare said, "“What’s in a name? A rose is a rose by any other name.” Obviously he had not run into some of these Church names. Here's one: Accident Baptist Church located in Accident, Maryland. And, there's Half Way Baptist located in Missouri. There is a Little Hope Baptist and believe it or not, a No Hope Methodist Church. I kind of like this one: Original Church of God, Number Two. We could attend the Lover's Lane Episcopal service or if you've had your Wheaties we might try, Hell for Certain Baptist Church. Supposedly, there's a Harmony Baptist located in East Texas and that really sounds good and all but just 1/2 mile down the road there's a Harmony Baptist Number Two. Uh oh. Maybe disharmony would have been a better choice. Okay, I'll end with this one. In Boring, Oregon there's a Boring 7th Day Adventist Church. I've been in some pretty boring services myself. The kicker, if it's true, indicates that particular Church is led by a fellow named Elder Dull. Boring and Dull or Dull and Boring. You report I report and we will all just remain undecided. I sat beside my little bride to be for many services at New Hope Baptist. My buddies who didn't think I had much of a chance used to say I was going out to No Hope Baptist. Fifty years later I need to remind them that I won, or something like that. Have a good one and may God bless. Amen.     ....More later.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

"My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?" -- Bob Hope

It is Wednesday, December 12, 2012, and I begin today's episode with a public service announcement: Only 13 left. That would be 312 hours for those who might cruise the internet looking for deals. That's right. Only 13 shopping days left until December 25th, Christmas Day. I heard a news report stating that one third of those who plan to buy gifts have not done so yet. And, while Black Friday was a good day for retailers and Cyber Monday was also good for the internet shopping day, they still need the rest of us to make it a good year. I'm still thinking. Part of my thinking has to do with thinking about when I might start thinking seriously about finishing the shopping I need to do. The fourteen Santa events we scheduled this season has made it just a tad more difficult to get focused on these other duties but as far as we now know, the 19th will be our last appearance and after that I can trim my beard, get a haircut, and get serious about our Christmas Day plans. I did have one little fellow who told me a joke he liked. He asked why the dog crossed the road, twice. I told him that Santa did not have a clue. He said the dog was chasing a boomerang. Not bad for a little guy.

Last Sunday, after morning services at our local fellowship, the wife and I went to lunch and then stopped by the big retail outlet. I was dressed in my typical Christmas civilian clothes. Red checkered shirt, a tie adorned with Christmas balls, along with a bright red vest. I was getting quite a bit of attention. I asked my wife if she had any idea why so many kids were staring at me. She said that I was getting the very attention I wanted and that's why I had dressed that way. She does have a way of cutting to the chase and there may have been a shred of the semblance of truth in her response. On our way into the store a young African American boy, maybe six or seven, shouted out, "Hey, Santa Claus!" I waved. His mom smiled. But, his older brother came up behind him and muzzled his mouth with his hands. I guess he didn't share his brother's excitement. Just for the record. I didn't request a trip to the retail store but since I was there I might as well have spread a little Christmas cheer, and based on some of the kids' response, I do believe I can report: mission accomplished.

I know all of us have some folks who have passed on to their reward and we can't help but miss them during the holiday season. There's a young woman who is a part of our local fellowship. Her name is Lyndzie. She is a college student. She lost her dad suddenly eight years ago. She misses him much but she also knows that she will see him again. Recently she posted on her Facebook page some lyrics along with a photo of when she was a little girl with her dad. They were excerpted from a song written by Granger Smith: "I wish I had 5 more minutes..One more time with him...To share a cup of coffee with him, and hear his voice again. I'd tell him that I loved him, And he would know how much I meant it. Cause you can love a lifetime, In 5 more minutes..." Smith wrote that song about his grandfather. Many of us can identify with his song and Lyndzie's thoughts about her dad. When I read her posting it caused me to think about my own dad. After a brief illness, he left us for his reward in January 1954. I was seven years old. My dad was known for his love of children. Pretty obvious. There were six of us to love on. The other day my sister JoAnn told me that my work as Santa was likely an inherited trait from a man known for his love of rocking babies. While I can't be certain about that, it does seem to make some sense. I know way too many folks, this year in particular, who are facing their first Christmas without someone that was such a huge part of their lives. Tough. I pray for them because I know where they are coming from. And, yes, I would love to spend 5 minutes with my dad. Someday I will. May we all pause a moment to remember those who are missing someone special this Christmas. May God comfort each heart. Amen.    .....More later.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Bringing to you such exciting topics as 'Who left the door open?', along with other mysteries in life.

Now that we have that done, we can move on to the next thing up on our agenda, and that happens to be, Tuesday, December 11, 2012. Do you ever wonder about the things I would never write anything about? Me too. I will tell you this one. The other coolish morning I am sitting here at my computer clicking and clacking away. The door was wide open. I always do that on cool mornings. My back was to the door. Suddenly, something huge comes loping by and I hear this extremely loud but hoarse bark, almost like a growl. I never saw my unexpected visitor. But I did have the hair on the back of my neck standing straight up for at least a minute or two. How big was it? I'm not sure but at the moment it all went down I could have sworn I felt its breath on the back of my head. As soon as I was able, I collected myself and went and did what any responsible person would do. I shut the door. It may have been one of those wild Austrailian dogs. You know. The ones that have been known to kill and eat people. Maybe it weighed 200 pounds or more. Or, it might have been a rabid Pit Bull, or maybe it wasn't even a dog. A huge bobcat or maybe a runaway lion. And, there you were, thinking I have a pretty easy time of it here at the old blogger ranch. Well, you might just want to rethink that one Bucko!

The wife and I have really enjoyed our work as the Claus duo. You have to hand it to five year olds who ask the hard questions. One little guy wanted to know if the speed of the sleigh exceeded the speed of light on Christmas eve. Maybe they should change the name of it to: "Are You Smarter than a Kindergartner?" We entertain many questions about the reindeer. Where are they? What do they eat? Why aren't they with you? Then we have the whole gamut of issues that pertain to the elves. It seems the majority of folks where we appear do have a designated elf in their home, with a name, and that elf is responsible for reporting back to Santa, the good, the bad, and the ugly, as it relates to conduct and behavior on the part of the children. It's part of a tradition where the elf on the shelf helps Santa to develop the naughty and nice list. Many of the children are very serious about their particular elf, what has been seen and not seen, and typically they fret over the elf's health and wellbeing. I know. It's in the book. I suppose I do need to read it so that I can get a clue. I guess we grew up with the 'he sees you when you're sleeping' and as far as I can recall we never had the threat of a tattletale elf hanging around to rat us out. We do receive many compliments on our outfits, if you will. In fact, one lady the other evening seemingly couldn't get over how lifelike we looked. I don't even want to think about what the alternative to that one might be.

I filled in last Sunday evening in the Pastor's Bible Study. Since we have been doing a verse by verse study of the birth narratives from Luke's Gospel on Sunday mornings, and from Matthew's Gospel on Wednesday evenings, I decided to do a very cursory look at the Big Picture as revealed in God's Holy Word. We read from The Revelation of Jesus Christ in Chapter 13 where it refers to the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. That slain from the foundation of the world is God's plan to redeem His fallen created human family. We read in that same Book from Chapter 5 about this Lamb being the Lion of the tribe of Judah and the Root of David. We then traced back how He was associated by lineage with Israel's Tribe of Judah (Matthew 1, Genesis 49). After that we looked at Hebrews Chapters 7 and 8 where we saw the inspired explanation of why a New Covenant was required and why Jesus came to establish it as a way for people to be made right with God. I know we mostly like the Away in a Manger concept of the Christmas story, however, there's so much more to why He came and how that in coming He can change my life, your life, and the lives of every person willing to hear, respond, repent, and call out and be saved by that very Lamb that stood slain before the foundation of the world. To me, putting that lesson together was a source of worship and joy. I told the class that it would be okay if someone reported they heard us actually shouting hallelujah as we connected into God's glorious provision in bringing our Savior into our world to rescue us. Amen. Hallelujah. May He and He alone receive any and all praise.   ......More later.

Monday, December 10, 2012

You have landed on a blog where an Oldie is being played. Hopefully, you will agree that it's also a Goodie.

Good morning and welcome to Monday, December 10, 2012. Today's episode is a reprint from one I first published in my blog written in December of 2007. It was one that garnered a number of positive comments, therefore, I wanted to share it with you again. It reflects my recollection of a short story I wrote back in the mid 1970's. You will notice that me ever playing Santa again was not even a blip on my radar screen at that time. The short story was entitled: "Confessions of a Miffed Myth!" These are some excerpts as best I remembered them. (The actual typed story is in a box somewhere.)


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 Christmas season of 1973. During that season 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. These ladies 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 from my regular job 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!" Have a great Monday and may God add His blessings to it. Amen.    ……More later."

Friday, December 7, 2012

"Jolly old Saint Nicholas, Lean your ear this way! Don't you tell a single soul What I'm going to say: Christmas Eve is coming soon; Now, you dear old man Whisper what you'll bring to me; Tell me if you can."

Hello, take a deep breath, and enjoy the fact that it is Friday, December 7, 2012. It's important to note that we are picking up the pace as we hurry our way towards Christmas Day. That turning over of the calendar for December makes all the difference in the world. Folks now get the connection of the white beard almost immediately. They like to get my attention and tell me they have been really good this year. They remind me of their address and often share their most wanted item like a car, a diamond, or a boat, or for the Texans to win it all. Just a few weeks ago they looked at me and wondered where my sign was. The one asking for a hand out. Of course with all the Santa's out there it can get confusing. It keeps the parents really on their toes. "Hello Santa, we just saw you over at the mall, do you remember us? And, guess what? We will be seeing you again when we visit Santa Land next week." No wonder the kids stay confused. I did attract the attention of another Santa one day when I was standing in the hall still dressed out. He came over to me and remarked how that we were twins. He put his arm around me and called on somebody, anybody, to take our photo together. Now wait just a cotton picking minute! Everything about this fellow was fake. Fake eyebrows. Fake hair. Fake beard. How dare he call me his twin. Where do we report this unfounded charge of mistaken identity? Us twins. In his dreams maybe.....

You know I don't take it that seriously. My daughter in law was with a group of her lady friends out at the big holiday market shopping deal. They actually had their photo made with that fake Santa guy. It didn't really bother me that much. What's that you heard? Did I actually print out that photo, scan it back into my computer and use a image utility to overlay myself onto it and then republish it on Facebook? I may have done that but it was only because I wanted to preserve their keepsake and make it something they will always treasure. You've heard how that friends don't let friends drive drunk. Well, in that same spirit, I try to protect those who are special to me. And, how would you like it if someone came up to you and said that you were their twin? Think about that one for a while. Okay. You do know that this is all in fun. I have no issues whatsoever with that poor misguided Santa wannabe. I know I will likely get some cards and letters on this one but it really is intended to bring a smile. Maybe no smiles from his family but for the rest of us, go ahead and enjoy it because the season really doesn't last that long, so take advantage of a smile or two while you can.

It's been a busy week, both here at the workplace, and in my own busy version of Santa Land. I've also greatly enjoyed revisiting The Scriptures in preparation for sharing God's preserved word that give the details of how He brought His one and only Son into the world. When I was telling my wife about my inability to stay still long enough for my eye exam photo, she said they should see how still I am when I am all laid out in that recliner. She said other than the noise, there doesn't appear to be any motion at all. I questioned the accuracy of that account but she said maybe I should ask the grand kids because they have observed it first hand. Why do they always have to drag the children into it? I've said all of that to say there's a reason I may, on occasion, visit dreamland while watching TV. And, part of it has to do with being busy and the other part has to do with age. That's it. I think I may have found the answer. It's the age thing. No wonder I pass out. It's not that long before I will be leaving Route 66, headed straight for HWY 67. That explains a lot. Thanks for helping me get to the bottom of this conundrum. Now, go out there and enjoy your Saturday even if you happen to bump into a fake Santa or two. Then, do your best to join other believers at the meeting place on Lord's Day Sunday and that my friend will do anyone some good. Until next time, on behalf of myself and Tiny Tim from A Christmas Carol, "God bless us, every one!" Amen.          .....More later.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Giving Christmas gifts to your children when they are young is a lot like life in general. You work hard and provide the best you can and a fat guy in the suit gets all the credit.

Made it. That is, to Thursday, December 6, 2012. Sometimes you see things that just look rather odd. The other day I was in one of the big box versions of the world's largest retailer. On any day you can see strange things in that place. But, I did see this older and rather heavy lady driving one of those automated carts. The odd thing was she was towing another one beside her. Maybe she was taking it to a friend but it did capture my attention. Little kids don't always have a whole lot of pretense in the way they inquire about things. The other day, our grandson, Alexander Benjamin, seven, became interested in quizzing me about the gift finding, acquisition, and storage procedure that would be carried on within our household. He was particularly interested in where we stored the items in our house before putting them under the tree. Hello? I told him that was none of his business and he gave me that look of, 'well it didn't hurt to ask, did it?' I always think it funny when little kids try to tell Santa what they want for Christmas and they are pretty much just jabbering, but the parents, they look at me like I should be able to give them a hint. I might be Santa but if they can't understand what their own child is saying, well, I would recommend a surprise on Christmas morning.

A dear elderly lady that Marilyn and I have known for well over 50 years passed away the other day. She was 95. I was reading her obituary and I read something that caused me to catch my breath. It listed three preachers who would be officiating. The third name was that of our dear Brother Milton, Marilyn's brother. I called Marilyn over to the computer and we both had tears in our eyes. The man given up for dead more than once now helping to do the home going service of one of God's saints. Marilyn immediately called her sister and we learned that Milton was going to offer a prayer. Milton and his wife Glenda have relocated into what we call our home area community in Louisiana. The fellowship where they attend have hopes that Brother Milton will be able to fill in and to serve wherever he fills led. Marilyn's sister, Dorothy, later reported how that Milton had done an outstanding job at the funeral service and had even sang in the choir. She said she could hear him singing bass. That reminded me of the time when we were visiting Marilyn's dad in the rest home. His body was all twisted up from a stoke and he at times did not know even those closest to him. On a Sunday, Milton led a service and preached a short sermon. He then asked his dad if he would like to sing with him. Brother Rawles' eyes lit up and they commenced to sing an old favorite. He couldn't talk. His mind was pretty well shot. But, lo and behold, there he lay, singing the harmony on a song about going to the gloryland. Folks, with God nothing shall be impossible, and I say Amen and Amen to that.

I am glad to report that my eyes are stable with no change in the tiny little spot that potentially could be an instance of diabetic induced macro degeneration.The opthamologist I use is a young lady doctor and she is very kind, but also as serious as a heart attack when it comes to things like the one I'm talking about. The one thing I absolutely hate about this problem is the laser photography thing they have to do to compare last time to the current. It is one of those time slice deals that require you to be perfectly motionless as in no moving or blinking until it completes it cycle. The first time they did that to me last year I thought they were going to choke me because of how long it took to get these pictures made. I did better this time but it was still very tedious. I told my wife it seems that when they tell me that I must stay absolutely still and no blinking, that's when my sin reflux rebels. She questioned my use of the word reflux but folks I think that pretty much describes it. Maybe if they didn't tell me not to move I would do better and when they say no blinking it's like every nerve in my body joins forces to overcome their command. It's like they are screaming in my ear, "Who are they to tell you what you will and will not do?" But, we did get it done. The lady technician was relieved. I was relieved. The doctor was relieved. All God's children were relieved, or something like that. I think you get what I am talking about and again, that's reason number 43 of why I wouldn't wish being me on anyone else. Have a great day and may God bless each one. Amen.      .....More later.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I don't mind talking to myself but often find very little in common that warrants a discussion.

Hello out there and while I really can't see you when you're sleeping, I do know that you can't fool me. I know you are, at least when no one is looking, humming a Christmas tune or two. It's okay. That's a huge part of the season to me. Last Wednesday evening in our singing portion of our Bible Study time we chose not so familiar Christmas hymns. Some of them are so wonderful in their depiction of the coming of our Savior into the world. Those hymn writers from yesteryear were gifted in telling the story of Jesus. Now we find ourselves here, and it is Wednesday, December 5, 2012, and I wish you a very good day. They did not call me to tell me that I had won the Powerball Lottery. I've since learned that you have to buy a ticket to be eligible. That left me out before I even had a chance to lose. I did overhear several people discussing what they would do if they won the money. One fellow said he would use much of it to contribute to good causes like Church. That gave me the opportunity to share with him a little story from my past. One day we all were lined up to go into the choir loft. Our local fellowship at that time was facing some serious financial challenges. The fellow behind me, an outstanding worker for the Lord, told me he sure hoped he would win the lottery so he could help the Church. My knee jerk response was to tell him that God didn't care about what he would do with what he didn't have, but He was interested in what he is doing with what he does have. I suppose my little story wasn't that interesting to the fellows talking about the Powerball frenzy since they all became noticeably quiet. I guess there always has to be at least one killjoy in the bunch and since no one else volunteered, it must have fallen to me by default. That was not my intention and I thought my little experience was one of value and still believe it was worth sharing.

I saw one kid on television who said that if he won he would immediately retire from working. He must have been all of twenty years old. I thought that was pretty funny. I don't know what employers are using to screen folks today but back when I was hiring professionals, the general consensus was young candidates that were fixated on retirement benefits may not be the most highly motivated workers. That was back then. Most of everything I have any knowledge of these days fit that 'back then' category. I read a list of symptoms the other day that indicates one might be living in the past. Based on what I saw I might ought to skip to the highest level professional help to try and deal with my condition. That's it. I have a condition. Maybe my grandfather was right. He said it could be that I am like a crawdad who always goes backwards because he is more interested in where he has been than where he is going. I used that 'has been' intentionally. Because in many ways I have experience in that particular area. I don't say that with any sour grapes at all because I believe that I am where I am on this very day as a response of the grace shown to me by our Almighty God. If this means I have to continue to reference 'Back in the day....', well, so be it and sorry, but, get used to it.

I don't do introspection that well. I'm not even 100% sure what it all entails but I think it does have something to do with looking inside yourself. Maybe I should do what the song says. Sit right down and write myself a letter. I've actually done things like that before. You know, it was one of those 'back then' experiences. I remember one exercise we did in a management class where each person wrote a tribute to themselves stating the things they would want to have said upon their retirement. I don't think I had to share mine but some did. I would have felt uncomfortable because most of what I wrote down had to do with things other than my work related accomplishments. Don't get me wrong. I believe in work. I believe in that being a huge part of my life. However, when it is was said and done, I think I wrote down things about my relationship with God, my family, and my influence for good on others. That would have really sounded great to a bunch of would be high achievers, wouldn't it? All of those factors I mentioned can and should impact our lives everywhere we find ourselves, including the huge portion of our life we expend at work. I likely would have had a hard time explaining that to those whose main goal in life was to find themselves at the top of the food chain, so to speak. Okay. That should be enough for today. I believe my analyst said I had been on the couch longer than my allotted time, therefore, I'll take my leave and make room for the next fellow. Have a great day and don't forget to give God the glory for it. Amen.    .....More later.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

“When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.” Winston Churchill

It's Tuesday, December 4, 2012, and yes, I am here, your ever vigilant eyewitness news reporter bringing you about as much unneeded information as the law allows. The Houston Chronicle had this blurb that caught my attention: "GQ magazine recently listed its 10 least influential public figures. They had this to say about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Was anyone inspired by Mitt Romney? Did anyone vote enthusiastically for Mitt Romney? Of course not. Voting for Romney is like hooking up with the last single person at the bar at 4 a.m. Ouch." I challenge you to go back and read my blogs over the past 12 months where I've made mention of the presidential campaign. While I would not have used their crude example, I can say unequivocally that this particular individual was not a candidate in the Reagan tradition. And, no, I am not attempting to achieve any sort of vindication for my interpretation, however, I think it important to remind us all that values we say we believe in must be stood up for, it's not enough to just stand against those that we repudiate. But, as we are wont to say, it is what it is. That little phrase is no longer welcome in most places. It's on the list of the most irritating and overused. It, along with using the words 'leverage', 'viral', 'reach out', 'game changer', 'disconnect', 'circle back', and 'cutting edge'. I like most of these words and phrases. At least they didn't hit 'at the end of the day' again.

Yes. I do read death notices or obituaries if that sounds a little less direct. I don't know this fellow. His showed up in the newspaper back home. He had a good long run for 82 years. Here's what his write up said about him: "Charles Moore quietly slipped into paradise on Wednesday November 27th after a brief illness. He will be sorely missed by his family and his many friends. Many words describe Charlie Moore: loving husband, model father, doting grandfather and loyal friend are just a small sampling of who this man was. He was a man who treated everyone he met fairly and with respect. He never turned down a request for help from his family and friends and even a stranger if the need presented itself. He and his wife Dumpy would have been married sixty-one years on this November 30th; a testament of his love and compassion for his bride. He was the best father a son could ever hope to have. He taught his boys compassion, humility and respect for their fellow man. In his eyes his grandchildren and his great grandchildren were the diamonds of his family jewels. There were no better loved grandchildren on this earth. As a friend, he was always there when called upon to help anyone of his hundreds of friends. No task too large, no request to small. If he was able to help you, you knew you could count on him. In addition to the above mentioned qualities he was also a police officer for the Louisiana Department of Transportation for 38 years; a job he dearly loved and excelled at. He was famous for his delicious fried catfish and Mexican cornbread. He entertained a whole host of friends and family for many, many years in his infamous outdoor kitchen; all those in attendance were treated like royalty when at Charlie’s house. To sum things up, Charlie Moore was a man you could not help but love once you met him! I bid you farewell my sweet loving Daddy, I wait for the day when we shall meet again."

The notice also mentioned his love for his Lord. Pretty inspiring stuff, if you ask me.That fellow had a pretty good answer to the question we used to sing about: "After I leave for world's beyond, what will I leave behind?" I suppose we can all see that this fellow intended to have influence during his sojourn here. C.S. Lewis said this: "The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is." The Apostle Paul encouraged the local assembly meeting in Ephesus, Greece that they should take note of how they used up this most precious commodity, "Redeeming the time, because the days are evil." (Letter to the Ephesians, Chapter 5, Verse 16) In other words, it takes action today if we are to have a positive influence on others that would serve them and honor our God. I had a fellow in my office the other day who said he had run into someone that knows me. I had no idea who he was talking about. He went on to say that the man spoke very highly of me and the way I have always conducted business with him over the years. I was glad to hear that. Not because it patted me on the back but because if we do try to operate based on honesty and integrity, it will always be right, whether we get a nice write up like Mr. Moore, or we live knowing we've tried to do, with God's help, our best. The challenge is in remembering that we are writing our testimony each and every moment of each and every day. And, I need God's help with every single step I take. Amen.    ......More later.