Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I’m so busy...I don’t know if I found a rope or lost my horse.

Hello and welcome once again to that place where keystrokes go to be cast into oblivion, or a facsimile there of, so to speak, if you know what I mean, on this Tuesday, January 31, 2012. It seems like just thirty days ago we were ushering in a new year. That's because it was a new year. Good. Thanks for reminding me. I would say I've not been myself lately but then you would want to know who I think I am and then that would get rather complicated, therefore, I will try to soldier on and work my way through these challenges. I'm only joking. I know exactly who I am and that's enough to keep anyone awake at night. But, how in the world are you doing these days? Are you mostly like the rest of us in that you find yourself so busy that you feel like you are constantly meeting yourself coming back? Or maybe you are so frazzled by it all that you feel like you have been pulled through a rat hole backwards. That's our so-called modern, busy life. I received a note from a dear brother in our Church on his way back from a mission trip to the Philippines. He said the people there in the remote areas have no concept of time and he believed that may be one of the reasons they seem to be so happy. Wait a minute. How could they be happy if they are not running around all day like a chicken with their head cut off? How dare them? They need some of our modern conveniences and our know how to make their lives easier, and better. Right? It just makes you wonder why we think we are so smart and everyone else is so dumb. Now, I know you know what I mean.

I suppose I will begin acting my age, someday. I was telling my wife the other day about how that I still show respect, courtesy, and deference towards the older people I meet. I do it without thinking. The other day at the store it happened several times. When I got out to my car it suddenly hit me. I'm as old or maybe even older than some of those folks I was trying to assist. My wife said I do this because I don't think old and I can't see myself that way. I don't want to end up one day like the little cub scout who got into trouble for helping the little old lady cross the street. Why did he get into trouble? Because the little old lady did not want to cross the street. Maybe I've read one too many articles about how that 70 is the new 60 in today's senior citizen world. That scale ratio would place me back in my late 50's, therefore, I suppose I should be showing respect for my elders. That's what I was taught to do when I was a child. I guess mom can be proud that something stuck with me. It does make me wonder if one day I will wake up and begin walking across the room like one of those Tim Conway bits where he is playing the old man. You know. Those stutter steps always cracked me up but they might not be so funny when that's all I can do. Joking only. I am thankful that I am as well as I am. Maybe the diabetes was a blessing. It made me change my way of living. Literally. And, that may be a contributing factor to why I'm not able to act my age. What's that? You think it is mostly mental? Well, I will tell you, I've often wondered about that myself.

I downloaded my updated tax software and I have begun working to see where we stand. By now most of us are aware of the secretary who works for the billionaire Warren Buffet. She has become a national figure because of the income tax rate she pays. She pays 35% and her boss pays less than half that rate. No one asked for them to make such a big deal over all of this but our President who is intent on creating a class war based on any and all things that make us different, he and his minions thought it would be good for his campaign. That's all well and good and she, the lowly secretary, did get to sit up in the First Lady's box during the State of the Union speech. But as with all things, here's the rub: Experts have attempted to understand how she could be paying that rate. Their conclusion is that she would have to be making between $300,000 to $500,000 per year. How many secretaries do you know that make that kind of money? Warren Buffet's money is taxed differently because his is mostly based on investment income. What is missed in all of this is to look at the entire chain where his money is made from the companies he has invested in. Often, there has been many taxes paid based on state, local, and federal rates. I'm not saying the tax code we have is anything other than insane but at the same time, you, I, and everyone should know all the facts before we knee jerk a response. Would I love to see the tax code simplified? You betcha! Until then, I am thankful for those who have made it a whole lot easier by writing software to assist in fulfilling my duty as a tax paying citizen. I'm in this better mood about it since my early look says that we might break even or get a little back this year. That hasn't happened in a while so I had better check it closely because it could be a mistake but until then I will enjoy this feeling that the proverbial sword of Damocles has been kicked up a notch, for now. Have a great day and may God bless each one. Amen.          .....More later.

Monday, January 30, 2012

This year's politics is serving up a buffet with lots to offer but most of it is stale, inedible, or ruined.

Welcome back to our program which is already in progress. What program? The program of life, my friend, and I bid you a hearty hello here where it plays itself out on the only day we can do much about, this one, Monday, January 30, 2012. Speaking of programs, I have tried to watch some of the Republican debates but for the most part, they have been in rerun mode for some time now. After about 30 minutes you get the most of what is likely to come out of that particular program. My take is that they are having far too many of them, (19 thus far with many more to come.), and according to the latest polling, the mud fest going on is mostly helping the President. They most likely believe that when the smoke clears they will have time to repair some of this national damage but I'm not encouraged by any of them, therefore, I am praying that God will intervene in some fashion. I did hear someone say the other day that God is intervening by allowing us to have what we are living through at the moment. Maybe God is waiting on our nation to return to the values that we were founded upon. I know that many of my friends and neighbors have resigned themselves to a vote for anyone who is nominated to run against President Obama. I very much understand that sentiment, however, I will, if I feel led, write in a person's name that I feel is a better choice. That's my leaning at the moment and I am thankful that in this country we have that right, even to be wrong. It is still something we all should be praying about. Amen.

I suppose some of you think I must be a pessimist but that would not be true. Realist perhaps, but obviously one who knows that we are in trouble and the further we travel down this road it is the more that we need our God to work on our behalf. That said, we also are confident that all things do work together for good to all who love the Lord their God and are the called according to His purpose. (My rendition of the thoughts expressed in Romans 8:28.) Yesterday our class read from Matthew Chapter 11 where we have that remarkable account noting how that John the Baptist had sent some of his followers to ask Jesus if He was really the Coming One or should they be expecting another. The great man John known for his baptism denoting repentance was shut up in prison and his questions indicated that he was perhaps confused and maybe even a little depressed as he viewed how things were going. How could that be? This great man of God? Yes, it can happen to any believer. John was the last of the Old Testament Prophets and his vision of Messiah most likely included an immediate change from the evil rule of Rome to the claiming of the throne of David by Jesus the Christ. Jesus had a word for John. He sent back his followers and told them to remind John of all the miracles that were being performed and how the Gospel was being preached to the poor. He then added this: "Blessed is he who is not offended in Me." Faith. That was the answer Jesus sent to John and that is the answer He sends to us today: Keep on keeping on in your belief in your God and be thankful for the privilege of knowing Him through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

My wife and I visited a dear older lady in the hospital yesterday. This wonderful sister in Christ had been admitted due to stroke like symptoms. And, no wonder. She has been for a long time now busy 24x7 taking care of her ailing husband. But she is a champion of faith and it was our distinct privilege to pray with her as we called out to God together. At a time when many would throw in the towel she expressed her faith in God, that He would somehow work it all out. I know the world in general looks at people of faith and thinks we operate this way just so we can cope with life's challenges. We would be the first to admit there are challenges for us all but our faith life is not based on some form of psychology, no, it is founded in the Person of our Great God: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Our faith is real because our God is real. And, we are aware that faithfulness does not always mean a successful outcome as the world counts success. Our great hero, John the Baptist, received this word back from Jesus, and I believe that he was refreshed and encouraged. I know. That's not written in the text but I'm giving you my thoughts. Why do I think this? Because Jesus knows how to send us the encouragement we need. I suppose then that everything turned out okay for John? Not as the world would assess it. Those who read and study know that not too long after this event John was executed by the King. The world would say John didn't succeed, yet, Jesus said he was one of the greatest men ever to walk on the face of the earth. He also lived his life focused on doing the will of God and in fulfilling the calling God had placed on his life. Therefore, John is forever in the presence of his God. That is the success of a faith filled life and it is one that should encourage us all today. Amen.    ....More later.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Since I never got the hang of marching, I'm now meandering to the beat of a different drummer.

Good morning and welcome to this work week bookend, Friday, January 27, 2012. Very early yesterday morning just after I had sent my blog out, the electrical power also went out. I was the only human person on the property. One of my co-workers had a scented candle on his desk and I finally figured out how to get it lighted. I also had my flashlights. It was just me and those infernal feral cats. You know those wild cats that roam the property like they own it, and choose as a hobby, staring me down. Oh, there's no doubt they are aware that I am not real fond of them. Therefore, I can see them channeling up some inner lioness along with that stare. And, that stare is sending a message that says this: "One of these days dude, yes, one of these days." You think I might be a little paranoid? Maybe I am. But I just have to tell you those cats give me a case of the old fashioned heebie-jeebies. I always try to get a head start on the next day's blog. No power. Sitting alone in the dark. I do have some of those flexible lights you can wear around your neck. You know, the ones, As Seen On TV, where if you buy one set you get another for no additional charge. (My guess is they could have set four sets and still made a profit.) I turned those little lights on and grabbed me some paper and began writing many of the very words you are now reading. Longhand. Old school. What's that you say? Long-winded too? Hey, that's not nice, especially for a fellow using primitive writing tools.

Quiet. Dead silence. Not a creature was stirring. That's something we all long for, right? I could see my computer just sitting there. It looked as if it was still fully dressed but with nowhere to go. Without electrical power it wouldn't even make a very good door stop. That reminded me of how the old preachers used to describe our need of God's power in our lives. Without His power at work in us, we cannot achieve the purpose of our life as a believer. Having been saved by His power, we need a daily source of enabling ability from the Spirit of the Living God. Without His enabling power we may look good on the outside, like my computer, but with nothing to show in terms of results. Without His power we can end up producing very little and could be called what my grandfather used to say, someone who looks deader than a door nail. We do well to recognize Him as our Source. Only when we are connected can we be enabled to live in a way that brings honor and glory to His Name. Now that is a good thought for the day especially for those three fellows sitting here in the dark, me, myself, and I. This would mean I need to get plugged in every day so that I can achieve all that He would have me to do! Amen.

Across our state many thousands lost power on Wednesday during the storms that passed through. We didn't even bobble here. Yesterday it was clear, crisp, cool, and then, BAM, without any warning whatsoever, someone flipped off the switch and I was in the dark. I remember watching those PBS series where they took ordinary people from our modern times and carried them back into a time when everything had to be done differently. One series saw about fifty people who had to live off the land with only the same provisions that our Pilgrim ancestors had. Sounds like fun? Not even a little bit. It was actually painful to watch these people try to make it each day. We do take our modern conveniences for granted. The people who tried to go back 300 years learned to work with their hands, in the sultry heat and the very bitter cold. They had to deal with mosquitoes and other pests. They had to find and kill game to feed themselves. And, they had to deal with new hardships each and every day. This was a harsh reality brought to this approach of intense make believe. They shed tears, wrapped their bloody hands, and fought exhaustion each of their weary days. As I watched these programs I had a renewed sense of admiration and respect for those who came before us in search of a land where they could enjoy religious freedom. I thanked God for them and I also thank God for the advances and the advantages He has allowed us to develop and use. May we all find ourselves using them for His honor and glory. Okay. The power was only off for a little less than 2 hours and I soon returned back on to the computer and he and I both were smiling again. May God bless each one until we meet again. Amen.         ....More later.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Weather Tip: Never cut a hole in your umbrella to see if it has stopped raining.

Hello folks, it's Thursday, January 26, 2012, and this last couple of days of weather gives me the opportunity to discuss once again one of my all time favorite subjects, news media weather forecasters. I said the last couple of days but let's face it, we have pretty much had weather every day since I've been on the planet. I've heard it was that way even before. I'm one of those who can be thankful that Texas weather is often very unpredictable and that goes both ways, sometimes with better than expected, and also at times, a worst case scenario. On Sunday and Monday the local channels did a good job preparing us for a major rain event coming our way. Some of the coverage seemed to be a little over the top but we did get a huge rain yesterday. Thankfully, it was not as bad as it could have been. Some areas in the state were harder hit but for us we got the rain without the major flooding. Thank God for the 2-1/2 inches of rain that fell at my house because we need it, and we still need more. In fact, I think most of us who carry fresh memories from last year's drought would love a few rainy months. The potential for bad weather does drive folks to watch local news and they, like the good capitalists they are, use it for full effect. This recent rain along with some very stiff winds did uncover another wrinkle from the drought. While many of the dead trees have been taken down, there are dead limbs and branches still lodged in the trees that did survive. Many of these rained down over the last couple of days and driving in was a little eerie with all the debris scattered on the roadways. It comes down to this: If it's not one thing, it's typically something else.

I tell you I know I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer at times, but some of these abbreviations just knock me down. The other evening we had the POTUS giving the SOTU address to Congress. And those two are some of the easier ones, President of the United States, POTUS, and State of the Union address, SOTU. Many times I am reading a news article and suddenly one of these acronyms show up and typically you can figure it out by the story, but man, it seems less than informative to me. They have a database out on the web with the government abbreviations listed. I am fully aware that all businesses have their own dialogue and jargon. But our government typically knows how to make everything out there to pale by comparison to their approach. That database is filled with thousands of these unique designations. There has to be some confusion because in many instances the same abbreviation is used for different functions. You could say the CFR to refer to the Council on Foreign Relations, or it could be a different CFR, the Committee on Foreign Relations. These should not be confused with the CFR that stands for the Code of Federal Regulations. No. I am not making this up. On the very first page you will find nine different designations that use AA. I thought about making a sentence using only the abbreviations and then leaving it to you to go and decode it but I actually have a slight headache just writing about this wacky stuff. And, that's not even thinking about the trillions of tax payer dollars that support their use of FSA. FSA? Yeah, you got it right the first time, that's the Flexible Spending Account!

Time for a little exciting news. Mitt Romney has released his federal tax returns for 2010 and 2011. Five hundred pages worth. I am not a Mitt Romney supporter but it was somewhat humorous to watch the media frenzy that went after those returns. It was like watching one of those nature films of piranha devouring a carcass. I heard one prime time commentator who said they had killed a lot of trees in printing and distributing these reports to their distinguished panel of experts. She also commended these folks for working around the clock to dissect, analyze, and form an opinion about the taxes paid by Mr. Romney. This was an illustrious group of people. A professor of business from a recognized high profile college. A former director of enforcement for the IRS. A tax expert that helps high income people manage their financial portfolios. A business writer for a major newspaper and of course, the commentator herself, who has been at times called a news babe. Not by me. They laid Mr. Romney's taxes out there for all to see. Their conclusion: He paid every single tax he owed as far as they could tell. BUT, alas, their consensus was that for the huge amount of money he made, he should have paid much more in taxes. That was how they saw it but they would give the disclaimer every few minutes about how that everything he did was perfectly legal even though their slant was that it was also perfectly horrible. One thing that did stick out was the Romneys' giving to their religious affiliations and other charities. They are very generous people. Compared to our President, according to his tax returns, the Obamas' are not so inclined, (It stood at 1% when he took office but since then it has been increased to 5%. You do have to give him credit for being a quick learner.), and the Bidens' even less so. I believe the Bidens' showed less than $400 to charity for the entire year of 2010. But, the panel did not play that up, but I did, only because while I may not have my own panel, I too can look at the numbers and form my own opinion. And you can do the same. It's part of the American dream. You know, it's that freedom of speech thingy. My assessment of their coverage: "We distort, you decide." Have a great Thursday and always remember these blogs can be printed out and I've heard they make really good birdcage liners. May God bless us all. Amen.    ....More later.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Dear people of the world, please try to do things that make my life a little easier. Thank you very much.

What? You thought maybe after that much stuff splattered here, there, and everywhere, that I would give up and throw in the towel? I can only say this about that: Not Yet! It is Wednesday, January 25, 2012, and I am trying to get ready for another day here in my neighborhood, you know, the one where I hang out each day. I just wanted to say a couple of things to you folks who use the Bluetooth connection for hands free talking while you are driving. If you are going to also use your hands when making a point, don't be surprised if some idiot, like me, tries to respond by waving back at you. We can't be sure whether we know you are not and we have been taught to always be courteous and one of the things we do is to return a wave. However, when we do, just trying to be nice and through no fault of our own, would you please after having returned this look of horror because someone waved back at your waving, refrain from giving that 'I'll call 911 on you for messing with me' look. Some people. What good is it to free up your hands for holding on to the steering wheel if you are going to drive around waving them in the air? It reminds me of when I used to ride elevators every day. You get on the elevator and it is crowded. Someone in the back says hello. They appear to be looking at you, so, again, courtesy and all of that, you return with a cheery hello, only to find out they were shooting a hello to someone behind you. That's what you call messing with people's minds. Come on folks, clean up your act! What's that? According to my wife I could also improve on some things? That's news to me, but, hey, thanks for passing it on.

Pet peeves. We all have them. I bet as you read these that I collected from the web you will be either agreeing or thinking about some that belong to you. "My greatest pet peeve is....." ~ People who share their every thought throughout their day on Facebook. We don't need to know everything! ~ When people cough or sneeze without any thought of covering it up! ~ People obsessed with their cell phones and they use them to intrude on any and all who happen to be within shouting distance. ~ Mosquito's making that incessant buzzing sound in your ear. ~ Seeing a cop give someone a pass because they are good looking. ~ The way people drive and that drives me crazy. ~ To see a garage that is full of junk and clutter. ~ When I see people using food stamps to buy junk stuff. ~ Seeing the referee call a roughing the passer penalty when they hardly even touch the quarterback. ~ People who do not wash their hands after going to the bathroom. ~ When someone tries to do a guilt trip on me and make me feel bad for doing the right thing. ~ The way kids dress today. Pull up those britches, you look like a bunch of idiots. ~ When I hear words mispronounced. ~ People who use the word 'chemistry' when they talk about their love life. Give me a break. ~ People who whine all the time. ~ Those who refuse to listen when you are trying to talk to them. ~ Anyone who happens to be in front of me at any particular moment. ~ There are many more but I think we get the idea that it doesn't take much. Right? I guess it would be a good exercise for us all to think about ourselves in terms of what behaviors we engage in that become other people's pet peeves. Meanwhile, wipe that look off your face, I hate it when people give me that look! That's right, I'm talking to you, and you, and you also!

Have you ever been pretty much put in your place? I have many times and it is good to be reminded that we do sometimes come off like we are trying to fulfill that old saying, "Who died and left you in charge?". I've told this one before but it did ring my bell one day. I could at times when I was in charge of a large department feel pretty full of myself. One day I called one of the senior managers in accounting and the young lady who answered said he wasn't taking any calls right now. That didn't sit well with me, therefore, I let her know exactly who it was that she was talking to. She chuckled and said, "So what?" The nerve. Didn't she know I could get her in hot water? What was she thinking? I hung up the phone and later when I talked to the accounting manager I asked about her. He told me that she was acting a little feisty since that was her last day on the job. I've often been reminded of that "So what?". That's right. Who am I to be lording over anyone? And, yes, it does help us to know that we have not been placed in charge of any and all people we meet. I've said all of this to help you and I think about what things that set us off. Are they really that big of a deal? Most likely many of them are not and because they are not and we are just as prone to be the source of a peeve for someone else, well, maybe we could use an attitude adjustment from time to time. What's that? Sounds like it would be a full time job in my situation? That would be exactly correct and that's why I need the Lord and His Spirit working in me and on me, 24 by 7. Amen.           .....More later.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Always remember: The road to getting somewhere in life is always under construction.

Greetings on this auspicious occasion. No. It's not something you would have known about. Today is special because it marks the 1200th episode of my daily visits with you, my wonderful audience. It is special to me because I have enjoyed sharing so much about my life and my views. Special because I know from some specific responses that God has used some of the verses and applications I've shared to minister to folks in their time of need. I gave up some time ago in trying to avoid repetitive stories. Why? Because my stories are on a mental Lazy Susan and they whirl around and stop without giving a lot of forewarning or notice. If on any particular day, a story shows up and it seems to fit the subject at hand, then I try to wear it. But it is Tuesday, January 24, 2012, and I am glad to be with you again. I will be the first to confess there's no way to estimate just how many mangled sentences, dangled participles, and other word atrocities I've committed since that first blog was written and published on May 9, 2007. For any of the words that did make sense I can thank my teachers including my high school English teacher, Mrs. Reba Jones. She was a huge encouragement to me in my writing. Also another teacher, Miss Mollie Self was instrumental in my life long love of reading. These folks have gone on to their reward but their influence is still a part of my life and the lives of many others who have gone on to put into practice their instruction. I've used this one many times but it does seem to be a reasonable assessment of my work thus far. It's what my grandfather used to say about me talking so much: "When is that boy going to stop long enough to come up for some air?" I'm still at it Paw Paw, and I know in many ways, you would be proud.

People are paid to come up with memorable slogans or tag lines. If they are really good they become a part of the culture. The hamburger chain Wendy's brought back one recently that took the nation by storm. "Where's the beef?" That ad campaign from the mid 1980's became so ingrained into the dialogue of our nation, the slogan began to be used in conversations from politics to visiting the neighbor at the mailbox. That would be the greatest dream for those who conjure up such ideas. Writing memorable promotional tags is big business. One I see often mentioned is the "Don't Mess with Texas!" logo. I also saw a list of state slogans the other day and they had been ranked and saluted based on their memorable message. I couldn't get into some of them but here's how they ranked the top ten. Number 1 was Montana with this slogan: "The Last Best Place".  2. Idaho —"Great Potatoes. Tasty Destinations." 3. Michigan—"Say Yes to Michigan" 4. District of Columbia—"Taxation Without Representation" 5. North Dakota—"Legendary" 6. Indiana—"Restart Your Engines" 7. Wyoming—"Like No Place on Earth" 8. Ohio—"So Much to Discover" 9. New Mexico—"Land of Enchantment" 10. Nebraska—"The Good Life" Those more near and dear to most of us were scored like this: Number 28. Texas—"It's like a whole other country." Number 30. Louisiana—"Pick Your Passion". This ranking was like most rankings, in the eyes of those doing the ranking. But, it is good to know there are actually people gainfully employed and engaged in spending their days working on stuff like this in hopes of coming up with another, "Lego my eggo!" winner.

We had a visiting speaker Sunday evening in our Bible study class. Brother Gus Moore is originally from Liberia and he fled that war ravaged country many years ago. He and his family have become American citizens but now that his homeland is somewhat stable he hopes to return soon to carry the Gospel to his fellow countrymen. Brother Gus has a passion for truth. On Sunday evening he gave tremendous insights from The Scriptures into why a candidate's recognition of the True God is essential to secure a believer's vote. Not what might be personally good in terms of policy or lower taxes. Not just because of the sentiment of anybody but the present incumbent. Those may be benefits but that, according to Brother Gus, should not drive the believer's decision. We must choose someone who recognizes the One and Only True God as given to us in the Word of God. He went on to deal directly with some of the known views regarding this issue on the part of those currently seeking the presidency. I was impressed and also convicted once again to seek God's direction in this matter. It reminded me that I cannot disconnect my faith from my duties as a citizen. My belief in God defines who I am, therefore, I need to operate my life, including the conduct of my civil affairs, in accordance with His Word. That was a sobering challenge and one that I will be praying about as we move towards this momentous time in our nation's history. May God bless each of us as we seek to please Him, yes, even in how we approach an election! Amen.     .....More later.

Monday, January 23, 2012

George Washington never told a lie. He also never had to file a Form 1040.

Welcome to Monday where we are celebrating the fact that we are up and able to go on this January 23, 2011. It was my privilege to officiate the funeral service of our neighbor Roscoe last Saturday afternoon. These are always sad occasions but my desire was to point everyone there to the reality of God being the source of true comfort and peace. Roscoe leaves behind a lasting testimony of being a good neighbor. Plain spoken and direct, you never had to wonder where he stood on any particular issue. He will be missed. We also received word of the passing of another dear friend, Troy Bailey. Troy was 89 years young and about as genuinely sweet as they come. He was a WW2 veteran and we are so very proud to call him and his wife Dorothy true friends for many, many years. Brother Troy came to the know the Lord later in life but he was one faithful man and he and I loved to exchange stories about that good old fashioned home cooking. We could talk the talk regarding peas, butter beans, fried okra, homegrown tomatoes, and some of that skillet cornbread. Throw a little of that home canned pepper sauce into the mix and both of us would soon be wiping the drool off our smiling faces. I attended his home going service Saturday morning and left immediately to do the service for our neighbor Saturday afternoon. May God bless the memory of this fine gentleman and brother in Christ and may God bring comfort to his mourning family. Amen.

You may have heard by now that Paula Dean the celebrity cook on the food channel has announced that she is diabetic. I've never been a fan of Paula Dean but I know enough about her cooking style to say that she may be directly responsible for at least a good share of the Type 2's who became diabetics while using her recipes. She has signed up with a diabetes drug company and I can almost guarantee you that pretty soon she will be hawking all kinds of diabetic cookbooks. Her world for years has revolved around the concept that you could never add too much butter or granulated sugar. I read where a number of the diabetic associations are welcoming her as a spokesperson for dealing with this disease. I have my own thoughts about that: No thank you. Maybe she will have one of these huge events where everyone can bring her old cookbooks and burn them. They say most folks have trouble tolerating those who become preachy about their conversion from fatty foods to healthy eating. At that book burning event they will no doubt provide the opportunity to stop by the merchandise booth for any number of her brand new personal nutrition guides, healthy cookbooks, and maybe even some autographed diabetic cooking utensils. If she actually ends up helping some folks in the process of selling the antidote to her previous cooking style, well, I suppose that will be progress. As for me, I will stick with my Dora the Explorer gummy snacks and dream about opening a package where all of them will be lime flavored. Now that would be sweet, if you know what I mean.

Sometimes your kids know how to encourage you. When I told our youngest, Rodney, that I would be doing the service for Roscoe, he volunteered this information. He said, "Dad, if you do 5% as good as you did for Uncle Donald's service, it will be great, because that was one of the best I've ever heard." He went on to describe why he thought it was such a tremendous service. That left me both encouraged and puzzled as I tried to remember exactly what I said at Donald's service. At any rate, I told him how much I appreciated him saying that, and it was good of him to encourage me. That got me to thinking. Wonder how much of what you or I say to others each day that fits the category of it being uplifting, complimentary, and encouraging? I wonder how much falls into the negative category or even in the neutral column? The Apostle Paul followed the example of our Savior in promoting the use of wholesome words. We are called to build each other up. That is exactly what the word edification means. (There are many different passages on this subject but a good quick summary can be found in 1st Thessalonians, Chapter 5, Verse 11.) I will admit that I felt a little more confident after Rodney said that to me. I know. With me, it doesn't take much. But it is a good object lesson for us all. And, I will add my own Amen to that! Have a great Monday and may God bless each one. Amen.         .....More later.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Mary had a little lamb, its fleas were white as snow!

I think everyone is aware by now that I am a word person. Using words is one of my passions. Overusing them is perhaps one of my faults and misusing them one of my habits. I love word play and was a fan of Archie Bunker primarily because of the malapropisms he came up with each week. "I got bigger fish to fly." The technical definition of a malapropism is where someone chooses a similar sounding word instead of the correct word and what comes out is usually quite humorous. Yogi Berra is known for this very thing. He once commented on the power of larger states in electing a president. He said that states like Texas sure did have a lot of electrical votes. Of course he meant electoral votes but it is certainly funnier the way he said it. It was Yogi, after all, that gave us this wise advice: "Always go to other people's funerals or they won't come to yours." It is Friday, January 20, 2012, and this is what I have on my mind for today's edition. Children have a natural ability to play in the word game. Ark Linkletter shared many wonderful insights into how children view the world. He shared this one from a little girl: "A census taker is a man who goes from house to house increasing the population." One student shared this jewel on their test: "The US Constitution was adopted to secure domestic hostility." There's plenty of hostility that has been secured but not so much tranquility. Maybe they were on to something!

Here's some word definitions I found for women. I have observed that the ladies do look at things just a wee bit different than us guys. Argument:  A discussion that occurs when you're right, and continues until he realizes it. Airhead: An act you put on when pulled over for speeding. Blonde jokes: Jokes short enough for men to understand. Clothes dryer: An appliance designed to eat socks. Diet soda: A drink you buy at a convenience store to go with a half pound bag of peanut M&Ms. Diamond: Something you think should be on your finger but he can only see in a baseball park. Eternity: The last two minutes of a football game. Exercise: Walking up and down a mall, occasionally resting to make a purchase. Grocery list: What you spend half an hour writing, then forget to take with you to the store. Hair dresser: A magician who creates a hair style you can never duplicate. Hardware store: Similar to a black hole in space: once he goes in, he isn't coming out any time soon. Housework: Work around the house including moping and washing dishes. Childbirth: You go through 36 hours of excruciating contractions. He is content to hold your hand and say, "focus ... breathe... push...." Patience: The most important ingredient for dating, marriage and children. See also the entry under "tranquilizers." Waterproof mascara: Mascara that comes off if you cry, shower, or swim, but not when you try to remove it. Valentine's Day: A day when you dream of a candle light dinner, diamonds, and romance, but consider yourself lucky to get a card. ~ I found these on a language joke website. They were unattributed as to their authors. We laugh but we do know that God made us differently and that was His intention. I know we would have a better world if we all embraced His plan and purpose for His created human family. Amen.

It's no wonder we end up at times being confused. We are bombarded with contradictions day in and day out. Silence is golden but we are told it is the squeaky wheel that gets the oil. You are never too old to learn although it is well known that you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Clothes make the man but never judge a book by its cover. Great starts make great finishes but always remember it ain't over til it's over. Birds of a feather flock together but opposites attract. Good things come to those who wait but he who hesitates is lost. Okay. I'm getting weary from all of this and I know you are too. It has been a very challenging week but most of them are and that's something we all have in common. One thing I can remind us of is that God is always faithful. As the song puts it: "My Redeemer is faithful and true. Everything He has said He will do, And every morning His mercies are new. My Redeemer is faithful and true." I remember a preacher once who was so excited about a particular verse he found. It is from Psalm 139 where the writer declares in verse 12: "Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You." He was excited because this tells us that God sees all the time the same. In our darkest hour, He sees it all just like He does in the brightest sunlight. The night and day, the light and the dark, they are all the same to Him. That preacher found great comfort in knowing that our God sees in the dark and perhaps we can also. Now it's time to say so long for now but I pray that you will have a good Saturday and Lord's Day Sunday, and we will see you, Lord willing, next Monday, bright and early. Amen.         .....More later.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

If you don't like the weather at the moment, hang on for a few minutes and it will change, sort of like Mitt Romney on any number of issues!

Hello and welcome to Thursday's edition, not hot off the press, but calm, cool, and calculated off the information super highway, aka 'the internet', or the www (world wide web), I'll let you choose on this January 19, 2012. You have to love our weather. This past Saturday and Sunday I was literally dealing with a sheet of hard ice on my windshield. On Monday we were up to 75 and balmy. Yesterday morning back into the high thirties and I believe they are predicting nearly 80 by Friday. Welcome to the weather yo yo round up where we will provide all the different flavors that anyone could enjoy, enough even to make Baskin Robbins happy. Now many people believe these roller coaster ups and downs cause people to be sick. The science is rather muddled on the subject. The weather itself as an entity typically is thought not to make one sick. However, if it is cold you are indoors more and subject to picking up an ailment in a contaminated space. If it is warm you might be outside more and that could trigger allergies. If the weather makes a drastic change and you get wet, you might already have cold like symptoms and then you could have chills. The bottom line, the jury is out, and no one seems to be able to know for sure whether we have a serious threat or an old wives' tale. Meanwhile, my advice is for you to stay warm when it is cold and dress appropriately when it is warm. How's that for a meaningless piece of advice?

I hate to tell folks that I told them so but like so many constituents here in the state of Texas, we had a gut feel that our governor was not ready for prime time. If you were to go back and read my blogs written when he first announced, I predicted that he would prove himself to be an empty suit. Call it intuition or just an old fashioned reading of the tea leaves here in and around the Texas political landscape, but if anything, he has exceeded my expectations, meaning in the wrong way, by leaps and bounds. Today I hear that he is barely holding on to 2nd spot in the polls here in his home state. Ouch! Before he showed up for his first debate I believe nearly 50% of the Republican voters anticipated him to be a real alternative to Mr. Romney. That didn't work out so well, did it? I actually hear people who are surprised that he turned out to be such an embarrassment. I wasn't. Now you might think I have some kind of vendetta against Mr. Perry. Not any at all, period. I've never been a big supporter of his and I believe the record will show that even when I voted for him I made it clear that I had to hold my nose. These last few debates has made him mostly a whiner and sadly, his arguments seem to be more like those from a Harry Reid, Nancy Pelolsi, or maybe President Obama himself. As a conservative that is about as sad as it gets. But the side show continues, at least for now, and we can all hope when the smoke clears that he will be satisfied to live on his huge pension that he is already drawing. He said it was not his idea, his financial adviser told him to go ahead and take advantage of a quirk in the law and that he should start drawing, even though he is still in office. To most people that sounds like double dipping but I'm sure us mere mortals wouldn't be aware of all the precedents, procedures, and policies that caused him to have to take these funds now. Based on polling data, most Texans are not the least bit proud of him doing this.

Here's some quotes that may make you scratch your head. If they do cause you to scratch your head, well, you might not need to worry about the weather. "Always remember you are a one of a kind, just like every other person in the world." ~ "Choosing the lesser of all evils is still choosing evil." ~ "Worst excuse for not turning in your homework: I couldn't find anyone to copy it from." ~"He who laughs last just didn't get it' ~ "Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult for them." ~ "Remember: Don't Insult the Alligator till after you cross the river." ~ "What if everything is an illusion and nothing exists? In that case, I definitely overpaid for my carpet." ~ "Money doesn't make you happy. I now have $50 million but I was just as happy when I had $48 million." ~ "What do you get when you cross the Godfather with a lawyer? An offer you can't understand." ~ "The only reason people get lost in thought is because it's unfamiliar territory." ~ Okay, enough already. Please don't send me any inquiries about any of these because they will have to stand on their own. The one about choosing the lesser of evils might be very much in play this election year. I will admit that I go forth and back on that issue quite often. Being unhappy with all candidates but voting for the one you think will be less terrible, well, that does present us with a dilemma. I know what those inclined towards rational thought would say. A write in for someone you believe to be more qualified is a vote for the worst of the evils. However, at some point and time we have to be able to square the privilege of our vote with our conscience. Have a great Thursday and may we all continue to seek God's direction as we make these important decisions. Amen.    .....More later.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I've saved this one for a long time: What did Adam say on the day before Christmas? It's Christmas, Eve!

Good morning and welcome to Wednesday, January 18, 2012. The other day I had to be on the other side of Houston for the company. I met a fellow there that had an interesting comment when he first saw me. Him and his cohort were chuckling and he told me that with just a little bit of adjustment he thought I could be Santa Claus. We laughed. After we had concluded our business I handed him one of my Santa business cards and I thought he was going to fall out on the ground. I love it when things like that happen. He could hardly wait to get that card back into the office to show it to his co-workers. Maybe I don't have to wait to enjoy the Christmas season. Our pastor and one of our faithful men are on their way to the Philippines to visit the missionaries that we are privileged to support. They will be there to dedicate a new worship facility and to meet and greet all our brothers and sisters there in the Southern islands. I often read about Churches taking groups literally all over the world on short term mission endeavors. I can't help but wonder how many frequent flyer miles the Apostle Paul would have accumulated had he been able to fly to far flung places in order to introduce the Gospel to men, women, boys, and girls. He would have likely had one of those platinum cards with five stars. Of course he labored with the tools he had available to him in his day. And, we should use those that God has made available to us! Amen.

We all have our challenges. A fellow told me the other day that things were so tough for him right now he could fully appreciate the words of the Apostle John writing in The Revelation when he responded to our Lord's promise, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! (The Revelation, Chapter 22, Verse 20.) What was that fellow saying? Come and get me Lord and get me out of this mess of troubles I'm having to deal with. I know exactly how he was feeling. We all do. But I reminded him of the reason why God has not yet sent His Son to catch us up into His very presence. It is because there are still men, women, boys, and girls that need to become His very own by trusting in His Son. How do we know this? It's exactly what the Apostle Peter said in his 2nd letter, "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance." (2nd Peter 3:9) But I well can appreciate this desire to be rid of the troubles and trials that at times seem to dog our steps. The good news? God knows all about it and He will never leave us nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5) There is a song that says His grace is enough. Let me say this about that. I stand in need of a whole bunch of it every single day! Thankfully, He has plenty to share. Amen.

My wife got a kick out of the little cartoon showing the two monks. One was instructing the other how that fasting had nothing to do with fast foods. She said she thought she would vote with the one holding the bag from the burger joint. My mom really laughed out loud over the fellow who had the hospital gown on that didn't quite fit in the back. That was the one where he said he now understood why they called it the I.C. U. She said she showed it to dad who typically isn't known to laugh easily and he laughed too. That's good. I enjoy hearing that something I've shared brings a smile. Given the daily stresses that come pretty much to everyone, well, Lord knows we can use a laugh now and then. The technician who drew my blood was a very nice fellow. He did an excellent job and I told him I appreciated it. He then told me that he appreciated me. It looked like we might get into one of those appreciation dueling matches. The lady that checked me in was just bubbling over with friendliness. I began to think I might be stuck in one of those Twilight Zone episodes where everyone acts strange. These people actually seemed to enjoy being at their workstations and in serving the folks who came in. What in the world was wrong with them? You will have to admit, you don't bump into that type of upbeat and friendly environments very often. I really wanted to play along and my distorted thinking almost tired to keep the merry go round going. I thought about saying that I appreciated him appreciating me, but, he might have thought I was making fun, so I restrained myself, at least for this one visit. Next time. Who knows? I do appreciate all of you who read my daily dialogue and even if you leave the page shaking your head, well, that is something. Right? Right. Have a great Wednesday and Lord willing we will do our best to keep the home fires burning. Amen.        .....More later.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"A doctor gave a man six months to live. The man couldn't pay his bill, so he gave him another six months." Henny Youngman

It is Tuesday, January 17, 2012, and I am on my second day of fasting for my blood work. I had begun Sunday evening but abandoned the process Monday morning after remembering it was a national holiday. I couldn't find out whether the lab would be open or not, therefore, I made an executive decision, boiled up some Community, ate a few low calorie snacks, and postponed my meeting with the needle. I plan on being there this morning when the doors open to get this matter settled. The fasting stuff is not that big of a deal when you talk about it being mostly sleep. The only major hurdle for me is the holding off of the coffee, not because I am addicted to it, no way, just that it is a part of my routine. That's it. And I think everyone knows that I don't like to mess with my routine. The fasting thing does work on your mind. You can't ingest anything but H2O. You talking to me? You telling me what I can and cannot do? See what I mean? That's how it works. The idea that you can't do what you want to do. That's a pretty good description of that old man nature. Like the little kid who refused to sit down on the pew even though his mom scolded him several times. Finally she sat him down and popped him one. He looked up at her and thought to himself, you may have me sitting down but in my mind I'm still standing up. Yep. That would be just about how it works.

I did see a sports headline Sunday morning announcing that the Tebow madness has now ended. He is a rookie. He can get better. Our local team came close. The Texans defense played about as well as any I've seen but here again, a rookie quarterback, along with some muffed plays, turnovers via interceptions, and the Ravens win and advance. If you watched that game there's no way one can say the best team on the field won. But, as they used to say back in the day, that's the way the cookie crumbles. The Saints game against the Forty-Niners was perhaps one of the best games I've seen in a long time. That game had just about everything. Drama, clutch plays, and a last second score to win the game for San Francisco. There you have it. All my favorites out on the same weekend. The Texans, the Saints, the Broncos, and I didn't really care one way or the other about the Giants versus the Packers. But, guess what? These games are history and we still have work to do. We get up and get our stuff together and as my grandfather used to say, "Son, you have the same clothes to get glad in." On a priority scale, football games one way or the other don't really amount to much especially when you think about them in terms of spiritual matters where eternity is at stake. On the other hand, I would just as soon my teams had won. Know what I mean, Vern?

In so many ways, every day we have is one where God allows us to fill in the blank. I am aware there are all kinds of constraints but often we fail to appreciate the opportunities we have to make a difference with the day He has given to us. One thing I have noticed is how that you have a much better opportunity to make a difference if you are looking for an opportunity to make a difference. Duh? Sure, it does sound rather silly to state the obvious but maybe we all can be reminded to remind ourselves how those opportunities are more than we might think, if we just take the time to see them, and to respond to them. We often find ourselves way too impressed with our own schedules, our own business, and our own pursuits. When we become that preoccupied we just might miss out on a God ordained opportunity. Even as I write this today I can well remember times I can look back on where I could have done something that I know God would have had me to do, but I didn't because of being too busy. Thankfully, someone else usually will take up the slack but we miss out on the blessing. I know I need to be reminded of this each day and I wouldn't be surprised if we all could be more sensitive to the opportunities to serve that present themselves to us. Have a great Tuesday and may God add His blessings to it. Amen.          ......More later.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Taking time to appreciate those God has placed in your life.

Good to see you again and I do hope all is well as we reconnect here on Monday, January 16, 2012. We never know what a day will bring. Last Thursday I received a call informing me that our next door neighbor, Roscoe, had died in his sleep. Roscoe was seventy years young and by all accounts in excellent health. A Vietnam veteran, Roscoe was an icon in our neighborhood. He would help almost anyone to do almost anything. He loved working on bicycles for the children. He loved telling stories. He loved to laugh and carry on. On a number of occasions I asked him about his relationship with the Lord. He always told me he was sure of his faith in Christ. One thing is sure folks. That's a settled issue as of last Thursday morning. Roscoe wore his hair long and it was gleaming white. His beard was also white. You could spot him ten blocks away. He was a neighbor in word and in deed. We pray for his sister and others in his family as they deal with this loss. Often we talk about how wonderful it would be to go to sleep and wake up in heaven. We don't get to choose because God is in control. But we do know that we never know what a day might bring. Our son Jimmy was very close to Roscoe. He reported that in his last conversation on Wednesday evening, Roscoe said he was feeling better than he had in a long time. My point is this. We can all be reminded that as we get up each day, we are not guaranteed to see the sun set, or to embrace another morning, but we do have the moment that God has given to us. This should cause us all to think about how we will use the time He has provided to us. Amen.

On Friday morning I scanned my normal online newspapers and in particular looked at the obituaries. One of these is the Alexandria, Louisiana Towntalk. That's where I read of the passing of one John Langley, aged 80. John and his wife, Bernice, who died a number of years ago, were greatly influential in our young married days. We took a job in Alexandria back in the winter of 1965. We had an infant son. John was a Tech Sergeant in the United States Air Force. He was also my immediate supervisor. I have no idea why but he and Bernice took us in like we were a new addition to their family. We were just starting out at the bottom of the pay scale. They fed us. They carried us places. Looking back, it was uncanny. About seven years ago I called John to express my condolences over the loss of Bernice. It was a remarkable phone call. I carry my daddy's name, Cecil. No one calls me that but John used to. I had not seen or talked to John in maybe 25 years. When I told him who I was he responded, "Hey Ceeeeece!" It was like we had just been over for dinner. Here's why I am telling this story. God places people in our lives and perhaps we don't even recognize at the time what a tremendous blessing they are. I am thankful that I was able to personally thank John and I also had sent them a card once outlining how much we appreciate all they had done for us. They had a house full of kids folks. They had plenty to do. He was Cajun and Native American. She was a New York born and bred Yankee. We had almost nothing in common with them. But, for whatever reason, they took us in and I just can't help but give God praise for His provisions, even in some friends who contributed so much to our lives. Amen.

Thank You Street
John was a larger than life character. Stories. We have hundreds of them about our times together. People count. People matter. I heard an old timer a few years ago say that one of the things he hated most about growing old is in saying goodbye to so many friends and loved ones. Many would rather not give the subject of death even a thought or mention. However, it is as much a part of God's design in creation, after the fall, as anything else in this world. In fact, one only needs to do a very brief survey of The Scriptures to discover that God would have each and every person to think soberly about life here on the planet, about its temporary nature, and about the uncertainty of each day. In doing so we are presented with the truth about living forever in the presence of God. Jesus came to give witness to a message of hope. Hope based on acceptance of God's provision of salvation. Jesus said that when faith and trust in placed in Him, it is rewarded with a changed heart and life along with a guarantee for an eternity in the presence of God. (Read all about it in that famous interview between Nicodemus and Jesus the Christ, as recorded in the Gospel of John, Chapter 3.) Now here is my advice. If someone has made a difference in your life and they are still around and you have never expressed to them how you appreciate all they have done, you need to do something about it while you still have time, because as I said at the opening of today's blog, folks, we never know what each day will bring. May God bless each one. Amen.    ....More later.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Winter must be really cold for those who have no warm memories.

Okay. Here we go again. It is Friday, January 13, 2012 and I bid you a warm welcome on this rather cold morning. Since we are dealing with some below freezing temps here, it brings up the opportunity to share some cold weather related funnies. Here's the set up: It was so cold the .....politicians put their hands in their own pockets. (One of my favorites, by the way.) It was so cold the pet stores began selling penguins. ~ ...the police tell the robber to freeze and he does, he actually freezes. ~ ...the optician began giving out scrapers for people to scrape the ice off their eyes. ~ ...the silly putty became serious. ~ ...the smoke coming out of the chimney had to be broken off. ~ ...the snowman begged not to be left out at night. ~ ...the cows were rubbing up against the electric fence. ~ ...the neighbor had to chop up his piano for firewood but he was only able to get two chords. ~ ...the hot sauce was added to every meal hoping to get some heartburn. ~ ...the parents were praying that they and the children would get cabin fever. ~ ...the person writing this blog read through about 400 so cold jokes, so you wouldn't have to. ~ The End. You may have your own 'it was so cold' story. Most of us do. Mine include some stories from back when I would go hunting with my grandfather. We had very little in the way of winter clothing and being out on a deer stand before daylight after having broken ice on the puddles with your tennis shoes, walking in the dark, well, it was some of the most miserable fun I've ever had. I wouldn't trade it for anything. These were the times where my grandfather taught me to just say no to the cold, and those times became great memories that warm my heart, even on a cold day, even on a day like today.

It's somewhat discouraging to see what is happening in the development of the upcoming presidential contest. President Obama and his advisers have decided that only one approach will work for them. They must divide the people of our nation based on any and everything they can come up with. Race, creed, color, religion, income, status, you name it, they will be using it to create as much acrimony as they can. Why? Because that's what's best for the nation? No. It's a political calculation they believe will work to get him reelected. I'm not saying they don't believe that him being reelected is a good thing for the country. They do. I don't. But they do and this means they will do whatever they believe will make this a reality. This strategy based on class warfare may well see things happen that we haven't experienced in many years. While I certainly hope for the best I fear that things like rioting and perhaps even worse as people are stirred up to rise up against each other. The so called occupy movement is a down payment on this type of negative energy that causes havoc for those trying to go about their daily affairs. This is how I see their strategy playing out. How sad that in just four years they would jettison the hope and change positive message they claimed they believed in for one where they pit Americans against their fellow citizens. The power of this office is intoxicating and we are likely in for a very bumpy ride. In spite of this, I remain positive. Not because I feel strongly about any of the candidates who will likely run against the President. It's for one reason only. I believe God and His Word. He is in control. My trust is in Him and I know that regardless of what happens, good, bad, or indifferent, He is on the side of those who have put their faith and trust in Him. Of this I am sure! Amen.

The doctor's visit went as expected. I said to him, blah, blah, blah. And he replied, blah, blah, blah. He asked about my numbers. Those are the ones that come from sticking a sharp object into an otherwise perfectly good fingertip. That produces what is called a droplet of blood. You then chase that droplet with a little strip and when they come in contact the strip is read by a special device producing a blood glucose reading. I gave him a summary of my readings but he ordered up the full slate of blood tests to see for himself. It's like, yeah, I hear what you are saying but lets do the testing anyway. Just joking. They do the testing for a number of reasons and going into them will only prolong this boring story and extend the pain. Therefore, we end the week the same way we started the week. Seeking God and His help for ourselves, our families, folks in need, and our nation and our world. (Just for the record, it is only barely below freezing although it will likely knock off a degree or two before the sun comes up.) We had some very stout winds over the past couple of days and it is now dead calm. To me, that makes the cold a whole lot less of a problem but I know it doesn't work that way for everyone. Have yourself a wonderful Saturday and Lord's Day Sunday and may we all get our year kicked off by being faithful to assemble with other believers to learn more about our great God and to be prepared to serve Him. Amen.          ........More later.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I refuse to take a breathalyzer test to determine what coffee I have been drinking!

While I was away from the office I enjoyed that Hawaiian coffee given to me as a gift. When I returned to work there sat the two pound bag of Community staring at me like I had cheated on her or something. Ever since then it seems that I have had trouble getting the strength exactly where I want it to be. I try a little more coffee, or a little less water, a little less coffee and a little more water but I can't seem to get it exactly right. I've begun to think I may have a rebellion on my hands. I think she gets some satisfaction out of seeing me have to add a little water to my cup. But, I've tried to do my best to get along and maybe things will be better now that I've had a few days to reestablish my connection. Silly? It might be to you but I'll have you know that where I come from dealing with coffee is not a matter to take lightly. I actually know a person who says out loud that he doesn't really care what brand it is as long as it is on sale. That's all that matters to him. I nearly put my hands up to my ears when he talks that way. I may be forced to do that same thing someday but I will do my best to hang with the Community for as long as I can. I'm sure my little coffee story is somewhat tiresome to some of those who tune in, therefore, I will seek to move on as we all pursue that which God provides to us on this Thursday, January 12, 2012. This morning I go to see my medical doctor. I do have my notes and I am ready. I do hope he is also ready. Hey. Please don't ask for my doctor's address so you can send him a sympathy card. I'm not that bad of a patient. Well, I'm not too bad of a patient. I'll let you know after the visit whether he has decided to take a sabbatical or not. Just joking. Don't go around telling folks I have trouble with doctors. It's just not true. They might have some trouble with me but that is an entirely different matter.

I have worked hard the last few days to stay away from the political shenanigans that suck quite a bit of air out of our existence, but in reality they typically don't amount to much more than a hill of beans. Sunday afternoon when things were heating up in New Hampshire where the Republican candidates for the nomination for President were begging for votes, folks across the land were tuned in to the latest episode of the Tebow show. That game between the Broncos and Steelers drew 45 million viewers. That's the most for an opening weekend playoff game since 1988. They tell us the Republican race has turned very ugly with negative ads heating up the airwaves. Brother Tim did some heating up of the airwaves both on and off the field on Sunday. No, I am not obsessing over Tim Tebow. It's just too much irony to miss out on the fun of it all. Here you have the worst rated quarterback statistically but he is helping set records each week. Hello? What's not to love? Why do people care? Folks who are believers care because this man is under attack from all sides because of his faith. Others care because who doesn't enjoy seeing a classic underdog story being played out each week. His jersey is the number two in sales for 2011 just behind Aaron Rogers of the Green Bay Packers. His book, "Through My Eyes, a Quarterback's Journey", was the number one selling sports book of 2011. It is true that the rest of Tebow's team have been to a great extent overlooked in all of this. He would be the very first to lament this fact because he knows that football is a team sport, and in particular the Denver defense has been instrumental in much of their success. Meanwhile, here's a fellow who chooses to acknowledge his Creator and Savior and he has somehow captivated the attention of a nation. I pray that his testimony will stay strong and that he will be able to withstand all that is being hurled at him, because you can be sure that our enemy, Satan and all his emissaries, are working tirelessly to bring him down.

I will tell you that things in the medical world are changing. I fully expect my current doctor to walk into the examination room with his laptop ready. My records will be at his fingertips. He can reorder my medications with a keystroke or two. He can order new tests. He can record questions and update my status. And, since we are all only getting our 15 minutes of fame with our doctors since that is all they are allowed to spend, technology can be a way of making the most of that time. I still remember a complete physical examination I had done by my doctor in the mid 1980's. He was in many ways a throwback to old school ways. But, I must tell you that when he mailed me the results I was shocked to read the entire two page letter, written by hand, by my doctor. That was in some ways comforting but also puzzling since we all know the time constraints most doctors are dealing with. However, I feel very comfortable with a doctor using a laptop. But here's the rub. Use a lap top, a Big Chief Tablet, or some audio recording device, the proof is always in the results my friend, not in the tools used. If I can be more well informed and able to interactively participate in my own medical treatment, and in so doing we get results dealing with my diabetes and whatever else happens to be at work, then great. If all of the technology ends up being just that, some gee whiz exercise, then you haven't gained anything. And, thus far, I am mostly pleased but I do feel an obligation to learn how to make the most of this brave new world. This will be one of my major points with my doctor this morning. How can I better interact with the system electronically to achieve the best possible outcomes? When it's your health at stake that would not be the time to adopt a don't ask, don't tell policy. Just saying. I will likely have more to say about all of this at another time. No, it is not a warning. But until then, have a great day and may God bless each one. Amen.    .......More later.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What are you trying to say? Now that, my friend, is an excellent question!

Hello out there and welcome to another edition on this Wednesday, January 11, 2012. We rarely write checks anymore, therefore, I suppose that is another one of those new year mistakes we've eliminated. You know the one where we end up writing the wrong year down. This past Monday we did get some rain. It actually started very early Monday morning and from that time until late afternoon it did do some raining. We most likely had two inches or more in our neighborhood at home and maybe three or more inches here at the company. Praise God for nourishing our land because we are still in need of it. I am aware of some who got the six to eight inches and experienced some flash flooding as a result. And, I am certainly not making light of their plight because some houses took on water and some schools were also impacted by the torrential downpours. (We've had a flooded house before and we've also had our home nearly destroyed by Ike.) One of our customers called me with a technical question and said he would be staying at the office because he couldn't get into his subdivision because of the flooding. He lives on the other side of Houston. These types of stormy days are typically a good news, bad news, type of story. I think there were one or two twisters that touched down but mostly just the rain and we all are aware of the devastating drought we have been in for the past year, therefore, I do give the Lord God of heaven praise for providing this much needed rain for our area. Amen.

Those still nursing their football wounds might be interested to know that taking sports too seriously can be hazardous to your health. There are actual studies that show heart attack incidents increase on the Monday following a big sporting event. One international study correlated the heart attack impact from when the World Cup Soccer matches are underway. They concluded there is a connection between heart attacks and the games. I don't want to scare anyone but a study by the Journal of the American Medical Association indicated that one has a substantially better chance of surviving a heart attack if they experience it during daytime working hours on a weekday as contrasted to the rate of survival after hours and on weekends. I think we all could have guessed that one. Right? They are fully staffed with all the specialists readily available versus skeleton staffing with folks on call. I worked at a fairly large VA Hospital in the mid 1960's and I do know the stories were legendary as to the things that went on in terms of diagnosis and treatment options, after hours. Essentially, after 5 p.m., the entire hospital administration was left in the hands of one civil service employee down in the admitting area. They were very good at what they did and they did have access by calling people but generally it was understood they were not to ever call out folks unless it was absolutely necessary. That led to some pretty funny stories about how folks got admitted to the hospital and who signed for this, that, or the other. I'm sure that in our day and time they have twenty two watchdog agencies now walking the halls on a 24 by 7 basis to make sure nothing like this could happen. But, it sure did make for some funny stories and I do love funny stories but I wouldn't have wanted them to be about me. Know what I mean, Vern?

This is an old funny but maybe we all could use at least a small grin to get our day started. "A hillbilly family took a vacation to New York City. One day, the father took his son into a large building. They were amazed by everything they saw, especially the elevator at one end of the lobby. The boy asked, "What's this, Paw?" The father responded, "Son, I have never seen anything like this in my life. I don't know what it is!" While the boy and his father were watching in wide-eyed astonishment, an old lady in a wheelchair rolled up to the moving walls and pressed a button. The walls opened and the lady rolled between them into a small room. The walls closed and the boy and his father watched small circles of lights above the walls light up. They continued to watch the circles light up in the reverse direction. The walls opened again, and a lovely twenty-four-year old woman stepped out. The father turned to his son and said, "Go get your maw!" I think I know what some of you are saying. He is just trying to be funny, bless his heart. That's the catch all I heard growing up. "She is dumber than a post, bless her heart." If they put his brain on the head of a pin, it'd roll around like a BB on a six-lane highway, bless his heart." I get it. But, I'm the one with the keyboard and while I am aware that you have the ultimate power called the delete key, why don't we all just take it for what it's worth, smile a little, and go out there have yourself a reasonably good Wednesday? And, may God bless us all as we go. Amen.   ....More later.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Are you ready for some football ........... to end?

Good Tuesday morning, here on January 10, 2012, where the buzz about the BCS has now been put to rest. The college football season has now officially ended with the crowning of the champion. I actually watched the first meeting of these two storied teams back in the regular season and I thought that game was one of the most bruising and hard hitting I had ever seen televised. Last night LSU did not show up for the championship game. Give Alabama credit. They did. And, they did in a big way, dominating on both sides of the ball. LSU had a great regular season but when it came down to that one and only final game, let's face it, they blew it, big time! I know folks take their football seriously no matter what area of the country you happen to live in. But, the folks over in Louisiana, well, I do believe they may have the corner on fanaticism when it comes to the Bengal Tigers. I can only imagine how crushed the folks over there felt. Embarrassed, disgusted, and angry could also be an apt description of how Tiger fans are feeling. But life does go on and they always have their beloved Saints that are still in the hunt to be champions of the world. Speaking of being overheated, I got home from Church Sunday evening just in time to see the overtime between the Denver Broncos and the Pittsburgh Steelers. I know folks have made much out of the Tebow saga but we who are believers cannot help but admire this young man's testimony and outspoken devotion to his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. That being said, I got home, my wife was sitting on the couch, and four of our grandchildren were there. When Tim threw that 80 yard pass in the opening seconds of the overtime period, I literally lost it. I was jumping up and down like a foolish person and my grand kids thought it was the funniest thing they had seen in a while. I even jumped up and down during the replays, therefore, I plead guilty as charged because even now I can't help but think it was rather silly, but, it was also exciting. My wife questioned whether I should have said "Praise the Lord" so loudly when I was jumping up and down. I suppose she had a theological point to make but as I told her, Tim was no doubt doing exactly the same thing, therefore, I was just agreeing with him. How many yards did Tim accumulate? How about 316 total yards? How did the media report his yardage? Total yards: 3:16 as in the Gospel of John. You just have to love it folks! Amen.

I think it was our pastor who announced that football season would soon be over. And, while there are many more ladies today who are plugged in to keeping up with both college and the pros, when he said that, there was a fairly loud chorus of amens called out from the females there. I do remember several years ago the pros in particular began to target ways to get more women to watch the games. I suppose that is wise since the ladies continue to outlive men and they are in most cases the main purchaser of products and services for the household. I believe I have observed quite an increase in the number of ladies that both follow and talk football. Our local professional team, the Texans, won their playoff game last Saturday. I am glad they did but I also thought the hype leading up to the game was way overdone by all the local news media outlets. We had wall to wall coverage of everything including play by play of the tailgate parties beginning in the wee hours of Saturday morning. I was at my eldest son's home when the game started. I listened to it as I drove back to our house. When I arrived I was shocked to find some of our grand kids watching Sponge Bob. While I am not that much of a fan, due to the magnitude of that game I was alarmed and immediately announced that the program in progress would have to be interrupted due to an emergency switch to the channel carrying the playoff game. They all gave me that 'whatever' look and we finished out the game and then continued to watch the Saints trounce the Lions. It does not get easier from this point forward for our Texans and certainly not for Brother Tebow. But as far as football goes, it was a pretty decent weekend.

I've written before about some of the responses to Tim Tebow's public displays of his faith. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I understand the argument made by some who are genuinely offended. However, there have been some who have been way over the top, perhaps even dangerously so. One player on the Ravens made some bold predictions about what they would do in the playoffs and then added that they would do so without God on their sidelines. He went on to say they did not need God on their sidelines. I would not want to be the person who mocks Almighty God even if it was for the purpose of making fun of Tim Tebow. According to The Scriptures, without the providential mercy of God we wouldn't have the next heartbeat or the next breath in our bodies, therefore, this fellow's comments were ignorant of the truth at best, or, if he knew better, they were blasphemy against the Creator God. But, that's the way I see it. I admire some sports commentators that while they do not align themselves with Tebow's faith, they support his right to be who he is. If he is genuinely committed to his belief in Jesus the Christ as the Savior, then they recommend that people leave it at that. Many have pointed out that no one would be criticizing a player for an outward display of devotion to their Muslim faith. The point many of these commentators make is to let Tim be Tim, cover his football performance, and quit obsessing over his faith. Good advice, at least as I see it. Have a wonderful Tuesday and may God bless each one. Amen.   .....More later.