Wednesday, February 29, 2012

You might be a NASCAR fan if you think the last four words to the national anthem are: Drivers start your engines!

Hello and welcome back where we find ourselves anticipating Leap Day and all the good things that usually happen on that odd looking day in February.  Not really. I just threw that in because it doesn't come up very often. It's a regular day for us to be up and going, in fact, it is Wednesday, February 29, 2012 and I thank you for tuning in to today's program. I know some of you may have thought we obsessed a little over the big drought last year but you would only need to look at our yard to see the impact since it is still trying to recover. I did read where the forestry folks here in our state have a final tally of the trees lost. Just under 6 million! That's a whole lot of shade my friend and the longer term effects will no doubt continue, like all those limbs flying around in the recent high winds we had. Speaking of stuff flying around, I suppose its time for me to own up to being a NASCAR fan. I watched the truck race last Friday evening. I watched the Nationwide race on Saturday. I fully expected to watch the Daytona 500 on Sunday afternoon but it was rained out. That's a tough start when you have a sport that begins its season with the biggest race of the year. Some call it NASCAR's Superbowl. I know it is of huge importance, so that's why I watched it when they finally got it started Monday evening. My driver, Jeff Gordon, blew his engine up early in the race. Bummer! Then they had a bizarre accident where a car crashed into one of the jet dryer trucks being used to blow debris off the track. The collision ignited the jet fuel. Crazy stuff. The clean up of this mess was still going on at 10 p.m., therefore, since it was past my bedtime, I left the scene of the action. It reminded me that I always had in mind to mostly be an interested observer as opposed to being a true fan. But, given the fact I often listen to the NASCAR interviews on satellite radio, and I read several articles a week, and I have Jeff Gordon posting on my Facebook page, shucks, I reckon I am a fan, but not one that was willing to lose sleep over it on Monday night. I almost forgot. I do sleep in Jeff Gordon pajamas and I am sipping coffee from my Jeff Gordon coffee maker. Maybe I am a fan.

I may be a diabetic, in fact, they keep confirming that I am one. I suppose you have to be one to know one. However, that doesn't mean that I can't go off the reservation now and then, that is, when it comes to enjoying a wonderful meal. Last week I came home one evening and my wife had cooked up one of those throw back meals. Field peas, fried okra, mustard greens, kernel corn, and a big pone of skillet homemade cornbread. It was just like walking in the back door to Granny Mac's or to my mom's house, or to my mother-in-law's house. I put some of all of the above on my rather large plate and generously splashed it real good with some homemade pepper sauce, you know the peppers that have been pickled in vinegar. A large glass of iced tea sat before me and as I observed all of this it was like a feast to behold. None of it disappointed. Talk about good! No. I didn't fall off the wagon. I enjoyed that meal and then returned to the 100 calorie packs of this, that, and the other that typically fills in my daily diet. Thanks honey, you did good. Then on this past Sunday evening we met up with Rodney and his clan for a birthday celebration at a pretty decent restaurant. Okay. It was his birthday, therefore, I wanted him to feel good that I was feeling good. That does make sense. Right? I ordered me up some shrimp stuffed with crab cakes. It came with one of those little bowls of drawn butter. I ordered up some lemon wedges. I doused those little mounds of succulent savory delights with some of that butter and then squeezed a little lemon over them. As they connected to my taste buds I could hear an angelic chorus along with bells, whistles, and I saw lights that were flashing. It was nothing short of extraordinary terrific and I enjoyed it so much. You couldn't tell? Now I don't do that very often and I know there are purists out there warning me of danger ahead. You've heard it before. "Danger! Will Robinson!" Now that's what I call some good eating: Down home and downtown!

Next time I am really hungry for something better than one of those rice cake thingies I will be just call up today's blog, read that paragraph again, and drool all over the place. Just joking. I'm not on rice cakes yet. I think when I get there I will just skip it and go directly to Styrofoam. With my wife's busy schedule she doesn't get to do those throw back meals very often but she has to feel good that she's still got it. She can still cook up a storm. And, she still loves to see her family enjoy her handiwork. That's kind of outdated in our world today but I can easily bring up a picture of my Granny Mac standing by me while I was eating some of her wonderful cooking. She was watching me eat. She was being blessed. (I was very glad to be both the blessee and the blessor. Those may not be words but shouldn't they be?) Today's world is quite different. I saw a cartoon where the husband told his wife that she did good but he didn't think anyone could microwave as good as his mother. Yes, the times, they are a-changin. (That might make a song.) Now let me just say this about that. You may like KFC or Wendys or whatever. That's okay. We all are different and if you do like those places and consider them to be real good. That's okay. I'll pray for you. But, in reality, we are a blessed people. I am, for sure. Just to be able to write about stuff like a wonderful table spread with memory laden delicacies and to be able to enjoy such a wonderful time of feasting and fellowship with our children, these are blessings. I embellish intentionally to enhance the writing, but, in the end, we thank God for all that He provides. I hope you do the same. Amen.   ...More later.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

President Obama: "Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific values."

It is Tuesday, February 28, 2012. I have been relatively quiet for some time now. But there are times when the radiator of my heart and mind has passed the boiling point and an overflow is imminent. Today is that day. I have no problem with steps being taken to assure the Muslim people that the improper burning of the book they hold to be sacred will not happen again. In my opinion, I think the endless array of apologies are way over the top. Here's my problem: In stark contrast to this super sensitivity to those who follow Islam, it literally blows my mind how this current administration and its minions have pursued an ongoing, relentless assault on any and all things held as sacred by those of us who embrace the Christian faith. They do so without reservation or restraint. They do so without respect for people who do, after all, represent the majority in this country. At the same time they are bent on recognizing and showing deference to any and all cults, pagan beliefs, and other forms of radical anti-Christian groups. I wake up some days and wonder how this can go on in our nation, one nation, under God. I have done my best to stay away from impugning the motives of our President but when this battle against the tenants of our faith continues unabated day after day, legislation after legislation, agency order after agency order, it becomes very difficult to think anything other than this to be an intentional war. It appears to be a coordinated effort, in our schools, in our jobs, and everywhere we have to transact our affairs. Honestly, it makes me sick to my stomach and we had all better wake up if we are to retain the religious freedoms upon which the blood of our forefathers was shed. Seeing this at work makes for a sad day that we are living in my friend, a sad day indeed.

One Republican candidate is under attack for a speech he made to a Christian organization back in 2008. In that speech he declared that America is under attack by Satan. They want to somehow associate his remarks with some type of mystical madness. In reality, based on what we are seeing, any Bible believing person could easily conclude that our enemy, the devil, Satan himself, is always on the prowl seeking to destroy any and all things that reflect or represent God and His truth. Therefore, I think it perfectly reasonable to look at this atheistic assault being waged under the banner of secularism to be aided and abetted by the enemy of all that is holy, righteous, and good. Don't get me wrong. Often, we in the community of faith are our own worst enemy in how we present the truths we hold dear. We have to always remember that speaking is one thing but speaking the truth in love is what we are called to do. However, we are not to stand idly by and see the very foundations of all that is good washed away in an avalanche of social engineering. It is true that we have God on our side. It is true that He will never leave us and He will never forsake us. It is also true that He will allow us to experience the crops that we have planted over the years. Harvest time in America has an ominous feature to it and all who love the Lord their God need to cry out to Him for His help and intervention. I'm reminded of the Prophet Malachi's probing and indicting questions to God's people. On behalf of God, he asked why they had turned their back on Him, why they had profaned His worship, and why they no longer walked in His ways. Their response: You talking to us? Us? How have we done these things? They were in denial and we can be too as we end up sleepwalking our way through history. Read about it the short book of Malachi, in the Old Testament, and may God help us all is my prayer.

Okay. I know you are thinking that I've been rather subtle in my thoughts and it is hard for you to know exactly what I think about all of this. That's not what you are thinking? Good. Now, it is my responsibility to echo the words of our Savior, who at 12 years of age, told his worried parents, "I must be about my Father's business." That's what I need to be about and that's what all of God's children need to be about, His work, His will, and His purpose. I am the first to realize how easy it is to say 'they' and to point my finger. Yet, the old song is still true: "It's me, it's me, it's me oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer." It's not when everyone else gets their act together, it's each of us, coming to realize that we must act, we must live, and we must reflect the truths that we say are near and dear to us. I've got plenty of work and it is right where I live, think, work, and operate my life. There's power in a collective testimony of not only standing up for what we believe in, but caring enough about our beliefs, that we actually do our best, with God's help, to make them the story of our life. That's a tall order. It's not for the fainthearted. We can only do it with the power of the living Lord of the universe living in and through us. Okay. Now that I've emptied both barrels, it's time to wish you a wonderful Tuesday and say farewell for now, that is, until we meet again. May God bless each one! Amen.    ....More later

Monday, February 27, 2012

Forty-One: The cardinal number immediately following forty and preceding forty-two. It's also the birth age of our baby boy, Rodney. Happy Birthday Son!

Rodney and his Mommy
Welcome. It is Monday, February 27, 2012. This is a very special day for us. It's our baby boy's birthday. I suppose that doesn't sound exactly right when our Rodney is turning 41, but he will always be our baby boy, no matter what his age. I had mentioned this birthday to my class last Wednesday and one of our men said he didn't think he had ever met our Rodney. One thing is sure. If he had, he would not have forgotten him. That's our Rodney. He has an infectious personality and a way of endearing himself to people. That I suppose is not a bad trait when you spend a lot of your time doing outside sales. We thank God for Rodney. We thank God that he is a family man. I suppose there is something to that introvert, extrovert moniker that we all find out about ourselves. Rodney would be in many ways the classic extrovert, in his own way, of course. Back in the day when we had our own little family Gospel singing group, Rodney was our lead singer. We used to stand him up on the piano bench beside his mom so that everyone could see and hear him sing. I think many people would identify Rodney by saying he is 'a character'. And, he has some character to go along with that and we thank God for him, his family, and his testimony of faith in Christ. We had a wonderful dinner and time of fellowship last night to celebrate your birthday, son, and today we ask God to bless you, on this, your special day. Love, Mom and Dad.

Our Governor here in the state of Texas is back from his run for the Republican nomination to be the next President of the United States. He has been back for several weeks now. According to published reports, he is required to make his official schedule of activities available for citizens to see. He must be really tired because his schedule only accounts for 10 hours of work since he came off the campaign trail. One of his spokespeople came up with a really good one. "The Governor was engaged in many other state related activities that didn't make it onto the schedule." Remind me to remember that one. I think I read somewhere that he said he hopes that one day he could be back on the national scene again. One would think his experience from his foray into the 'major league campaign school of hard knocks' would indicate otherwise, but I think he still has quite a bit of cash on hand and we do know that cash is the mother's milk of politics. A book that was popular back when I was involved in management stuff was The Peter Principle by Lawrence J. Peter. His theory says that in most hierarchical structures people typically rise or they are promoted to their level of incompetence. I think we were all required to read that book. As I recall, most of us tried to figure out the other fellows who had achieved that distinction, as opposed to focusing on ourselves. Maybe that's where Governor Perry finds himself today. We have met the enemy and he looks a whole lot like.........

Our Rodney was born in 1971. Gasoline was 40 cents per gallon. Average monthly rent was $150. You could mail a letter for 8 cents or go to a movie for $1.50. I suppose tissue sales must have gone up since it was the year the movie 'Love Story' came out. We may have listened to Tony Orlando and Dawn singing "Knock Three Times" on our car radio. The Patridge Family was a popular TV program along with McCloud, where Dennis Weaver played a cowboy detective assigned to the New York PD. The first soft contact lenses were introduced. Apollo 14 landed on the moon that year. President Richard Nixon implemented a 90 day freeze on all wages and prices in an attempt to control inflation. I well remember that one. I was told that while the Company was very pleased with my work, I couldn't get an increase in pay because of the Presidential freeze. I think I was not too happy about that. I'm almost certain I wasn't. Rodney shares his birth year with Lance Armstrong and Mariah Carey. Everyone was excited about the great innovation that came that year, the first pocket calculator. Wow! All those things were no doubt of importance in different ways to different people but we will always remember that year as being of great consequence because of our Rodney. I know he looks at the birth years of his children the same way. Have a great Monday and I'll do what I can the next time we meet. May God bless. Amen.          .....More later.

Friday, February 24, 2012

I finally figured out why bagpipers always walk when they are playing. They are trying to get away from the noise!

Is it Friday already? I knew it was getting close and then I woke up and it was here. Hello and welcome. We are off and running on this fine February 24, 2012. Today's title was used because I thought it was cute, not because I agree that bagpipes make sounds that cause folks to walk away. I actually love to hear the pipes. Occasionally I have to order me up some of those penetrating tunes from the music website to help get my day going. But, to each, his or her own preferences. Sometimes it helps to fall into things that work out. It's like the fellow who became a detective because he gained a reputation for solving crimes just by chance. His name? Sheer Luck Holmes. No. I didn't get the memo about bad joke Friday being cancelled. But, it is true that we often experience things that do work out and we end up thinking ourselves to be lucky. When we have our head and our heart in the right place we recognize the reality that we are blessed, in fact, we are blessed even when things don't fall into place like we think they should. When we consider ourselves just to be lucky, we miss out on an opportunity to thank God for helping us along our way. When we find ourselves all tied in knots because everything seems to be going badly and we think we are having a run of bad luck, we miss out on the opportunity to call upon God for help in our time of need, and to thank Him that no matter what happens, all His promises are still in effect, period, end of story. Amen.

At least I didn't use the one about the dog who ate nothing but garlic. His bark was definitely worse than his bite. We all can be glad I didn't go down that road. I caught a little of the Republican debate after getting home from our Wednesday evening prayer and Bible study. Based on the exchanges I heard, I've chosen to describe my take in this way: Uninspiring. Dull. Boring. Stale. Lackluster. Bleak. Dismal. Dreary. Blah. Let's hope I'm the only one who feels this way or come November we are going to be dealing with an outcome we have dreaded for the past four years. But, God is in control, and there is still time, and we seek His intervention in the affairs of our nation, according to His will and purpose. With that in mind I'll throw out a few funnies that have to do with politics and maybe it will turn that frown upside down. ~ Campaign rhetoric: Baloney disguised as food for thought. ~   Congress: Where a person gets up to speak, has nothing to say, nobody listens, then everyone disagrees. ~ Defeated candidate: A person who is lucky because he doesn't have to explain why he didn't keep campaign promises. ~ And a couple of Will Rogers for good measure: "This would be a great time for a man to come along that knew something." "There is no credit in being a comedian, not when you have the entire government working for you. All I have to do is report the facts. I don't even have to exaggerate."

Another week has come and gone. I again offer my sincere thanks to all who have expressed concern and prayers for my wife. We are humbled and blessed. We are not lucky to have folks who care, we are blessed to a part of a family of believers, and that makes us just that, family, brothers and sisters in Christ. Our little congregation began a pot luck Wednesday evening time of fellowship. It is growing each week. People bring some food, bring their children, and we all get to sit down and enjoy a sweet time of fellowship. Fellowship is a very important word in our Bible. The Greek word used has the meaning of commonality, community, and sharing. One old preacher said his best way to describe fellowship was to think about two fellows in the same ship, as in we're in this boat together. Walking down the long corridor this past Wednesday evening I heard the sounds of people chattering, laughing, and having a great time. To me, it was the sound of joy. Who would have thought a pot luck supper could be so instrumental in helping folks take a time out and just enjoy each other? Something I dare say that is greatly needed in this runaway train world we live in. You may not have access to this type of event but the idea works, friends, family, and we all need to find time to 'just do it'. I've seen it at work and I can tell one and all, it does a body good, including yours truly. Now I wish you a wonderful Saturday and a great Lord's Day Sunday. May God bless one and all, and, I'll try to show up, Lord willing, next time, here at the old keyboard where I will be clinking out some more clunkers, poorly disguised as prose. Amen.         ....More later.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

"I've got a great ambition to die of exhaustion rather than boredom." Thomas Carlyle, Scottish Writer, 1795-1881

Good Thursday morning, wake up and smell the coffee, it's going to be February 23, 2012, so let's all make the very best of it! I did a lot of feet watching while I spent all those hours in the ER with my wife. They had the curtain that came down but about 6 to 8 inches was visible at the bottom, therefore, everyone who walked down the hall, I could see, but only the bottom of their legs and their feet. We were watching the qualifying for the Daytona 500 because I knew SHE would want to see that, but, I was also fascinated by those feet walking past our room. It didn't take long for me to connect the type and color of shoe with the folks that were most important to our situation. Meanwhile, people walk funny. Have you ever noticed that? I mean some walk with difficulty, maybe from an injured or sore foot problem. Others just walk funny. I might walk funny as well but they were the ones parading forth and back, then back and forth. They do a lot of walking in that place. One huge fellow, and I mean huge, maybe 300 pounds, had kind of small ankles and feet, and I will tell you, when he came down that hall, it was like watching Charlie Chaplin. Some of the ladies walk with an air of importance. Others take these little bitty steps, real fast. Some wear tennis shoes and many of them wear those Crocs shoes. I don't have any of those but it seems to me they would be real easy to walk out of, that is, if you were not paying attention. Was I that bored? Hey, you go do seven hours at that joint and then come back and tell me what you ended up observing. You might just be surprised.

Have you noticed how that often the ones who talk about burn out or needing a break tend to be folks you never really see that busy or overworked? I remember back at the big company when everyone started being concerned about burn out. My managers caught on to that and it became a topic that was discussed quite often. I will tell you that I was not so inclined to be sympathetic to their concerns about how much midnight oil they might have been burning. I'm also not saying I was 100% correct in my approach but I always thought that burn out was somewhat of an overblown excuse, but that is just me. Believe me, I've known some people who were over the top when it came to their commitment to the job. Maybe they were trying to escape what awaited them on the outside but they tended to be the exception, not the rule. My approach was similar to the title of today's little dialogue. In fact, I used to tease my guys by telling them I had no interest in burning out, I wanted to burn up instead. Okay. I didn't say you had to agree with me because I too have heard all those sayings about how that all work and no play makes things out of sync. I think the original punch line was how that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. I worked with a particular Jack for many years and he was a very interesting fellow. He was an older guy and he held the keys to some of the ancient programming that had yet to be converted. He didn't like to be called out at night when those old programs failed. Deadlines were for us to worry about, not him. In fact, he often had his wonderful sweet wife tell the job coordinator at midnight that she had no idea where Jack was. She would be so nervous she hardly could say the words. That didn't make him a dull boy but it did make our work more complicated and it gave us some legendary stories to tell and tell again.

I suppose in many ways I, for the most part, aggregate this, that, or the other for use in my daily blogs. If there is a skill, it might be in knowing where to look for the rocks that might have something under them. What's that you say? I agree. It would be good to find some new rocks, now and then. One of the amazing things about Facebook other than the originators all being billionaires is how it actually does bring people together. I now routinely talk with people I haven't seen or heard from in thirty years. One fellow in particular was like a protege of mine back in the mid 1970's. We don't exchange stuff that often but when we do it's like we are sitting once again across the table from one another. How crazy is that? He was just a young dude back then and now he is a grandfather and I am a great grandfather. Who would have ever thought? He has built a very successful insurance business out in West Texas. I can remember how he used to be good at finding a place where we could get a pretty good meal at a really good price, meaning cheap. We would walk over to a cafeteria he found and get a big bowl of soup. The crackers were free and we drank water. We could actually enjoy a meal that way for under a dollar. Those were the days. I was always proud of him back then, and I still am today. Those connections do go beyond just working at the same place, I reckon they do. Thanks Facebook, for the good things you bring to us all. Now we all need to go right out and do our best to have a really good day. Amen. See you next time.      .....More later.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Speaking of the man, President George Washington upon his death: "The virutes of our departed friend were crowned by piety. He is known to have been habitually devout. To Christian institutions he gave the countenance of his example; and no one could express, more fully, his sense of the Providence of God, and the dependence of man." - Rev. J.T. Kirkland, December 29, 1799

Well. I know. That's a deep subject for such a shallow mind. I've heard that one all my life, or at least as long as I can remember. But, how in the world are you doing on this Wednesday, February 22, 2012, the real birthday of our founding father, George Washington? Of course I use that 'founding father' as a way of designating this great man's influence and impact on our nation, but always and forever let us never forget that it was our FATHER in heaven who worked through men like Washington and others to give us the nation we love. While some feel a calling to try and discredit as many of our founders as they can by doing their best to dig up dirt, the public and private record is clear, the folks involved in our founding were flawed but they were people of faith. Washington certainly was. It's one thing to study about the Sovereignty of God. It's also a good thing to speak of your belief in God's control over all things. However, George Washington, put his belief in God's control into action, (He called it Divine Providence), on the battlefields, as he led, not from the rear, but from the front of his troops. He believed those bullet holes in his coats, the horses shot down underneath him, and other near misses, were as a result of God's provision, intervention, and protection for him, and he acknowledged it as such. I thank God for those who served and suffered to hand down to us the great privilege we have in being an American. May God bless their memory and may God help us to follow their example. Amen.

The other day our little Alexander Benjamin came in bubbling over with facts about Abraham Lincoln. I was a little surprised, because, to be honest, I wasn't sure these kinds of facts were still being taught in our schools. One thing is sure folks, we didn't get here by ourselves. Many of the folks who paved the way for us lived their lives with purpose in mind. I heard a little bit of a sermon Sunday evening on the car radio where the preacher was trying to get his people to see how that God had positioned them to become active in the ministry. He said they needed to know they had been made on purpose, and that God had also made them for a purpose. That I suppose defines what many believe to be the pursuit of life itself. Why am I here? What is it that I should be doing? What is my purpose? For those of us who have come to know God through our being washed in the shed blood of His Son, Jesus the Christ, it comes down to not what we think our purpose might be, but having been saved, what does God have to say about it? Short summary of what The Scriptures teach: We are to love God as the first priority of our being, with every fiber of our being; And, having done this, we are to love others the way that God would have us to love them. (One example, Matthew 22:36-40) That first order of business about putting God first in all things is huge, folks, and we can only do that as we yield ourselves to Him and His Spirit working in us. When we have that in place we then can begin to see others as God sees them, causing us to love them in a sacrificial and tangible manner. Want to find some purpose for why you are still hanging around? I would suggest that dealing with these two will pretty much occupy a good portion of your time. About 100% as I see it. Amen.

I suppose I should have told my wife that we would have to stop meeting like this as we talked in the ER. We did have some alone time together. Not something we've had much of lately. I suppose one of the things that has been special in all the years we've been together is the fact that we can still laugh together. I didn't want to dwell on any of the negatives but we both are aware that we are not youngsters any more. The law of gravity and the gravity of life itself has made its impact on our lives. This is the way of life and no one could be more thankful than I, to have it played out with this wonderful lady in my life. Would we have done things differently? Where would you want us to start would be our most likely response to that question. However, I'm thinking of another of the Gospel songs we used to listen to. This one by the 'Happy Goodmans', "I wouldn't take nothing for my journey now." I wouldn't trade. We are blessed. We have our struggles. We have our times of difficulties. We have our days. But, through it all, we are blessed. I told the doctor that I should have known nearly 48 years ago I was getting damaged goods. My wife said, "Look whose talking, Mr. Diabetic." To that I said, "Look whose cooking I ate that brought on my diabetes." She commented that might be a factor in her laying there, and we all had a good laugh. Because we can laugh is based on the fact that we also can cry together as well. Just sayin..... I wouldn't take nothing for my journey and I thank God for the companion He gave to me to travel with me. Amen.          ....More later.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Happy Birthday to our Brittany Cherrie!

Good Tuesday morning. It is February 21, 2012, and we pause today to wish our Brittany a wonderful day, on this, her 21st birthday. Brittany is in her second year of community college and she is a very thoughtful and caring young woman. We call her our 'cleaning lady' but it is a joke. She does come over every other week to help clean and we enjoy her visits. She has a spirit about her that exudes caring. That's a wonderful thing to have but it is also one that, at times, will leave you hurting as people take advantage. It's still worth having a heart as opposed to any other alternative. She loves children. She gets to keep her niece, our great grand, Madelyn Joy, on a fairly frequent basis. She works with the children at her Church. Hearing her talk excitedly about 'her kids' makes us aware that this is an area where God has called her to serve. She also loves to hang out with her MiMi and she pretty much tolerates her Poppy too. Today we offer a prayer of thanksgiving for this child, our granddaughter, and ask God to continue to mold and shape her life for His honor and glory. Happy Birthday Brittany, we love you. MiMi and Poppy.

You know how we all say we never know what a day might bring. Last Sunday morning I got up my usual very early and was down at our local fellowship meeting place early, just like normal. We had our greetings, laughing, and coffee together, and then I was privileged to open God's Book and share God's Word with God's People. I know people can find a whole lot to occupy themselves with but I am so thankful that we can enjoy the joy we share in being able to come together as a local body. At the end of my teaching, my wife told me she was not feeling well and that she felt so poorly she thought she needed to go to the emergency room. This was not on our schedule for Sunday but we arrived at the ER at about 10:30 a.m. How blessed we were to see that very few people were there. She explained her symptoms regarding discomfort and a severe pounding of her heart. They did an EKG, blood work, and x-rays, cat-scans, and we did our work, waiting. Waiting. Then we waited some more. The people there were all very nice. The examination room was okay. But the waiting. It went on and on. That old Ernest Tubb song was resonating in my noggin. "I'm walking the floor over you." I will have to say that a sign on the wall challenged every fiber of my being. It was printed with large letters, "On a scale of one to ten, if you cannot rate your service a ten, at any time, please contact the ER supervisor immediately." Hello? Finally, around 5:30 p.m., they told us that all the tests looked within range but they could not 100% rule out a heart problem, therefore, they recommended she be admitted for observation and a full heart work up on Monday. And, that's what we did.

"Waitin on a Woman"
We got her settled in and I ran to the house to get her some things. It had been a long day of waiting and we still didn't have a resolution. She was worried and when she worries it causes me to be concerned. Her mom in particular dealt with heart related issues for years so that is always in the back of her mind. They carried her to the heart lab about 6:45 a.m. Monday morning and I returned to the waiting game. I couldn't go to the lab. I couldn't get any information from the lab. I could only wait. I then had a different song in my head, "Waitin on a woman' by Brad Paisley and Andy Griffith. I caught that one on YouTube a few years ago and it is a real neat little song about how much time you spend in life waiting on your woman. It sums it up in saying that in the grand scheme of things, for the love of a good woman, every second of 'waitin' is worth it. Finally, she got back to her room. It was 11:30 a.m. She was exhausted. The tests had been difficult with a number of issues. But, we were now on our way to getting a resolution. The nursing staff were very nice. We finally saw a real doctor who said they had done some additional imaging and needed the cardiologist report before they could decide what to do. Meanwhile, she was not to eat anything. She had already been fasting since midnight. About 3:30 p.m. they told us that everything was within normal ranges but that she should do a follow-up with her primary care. Relief! Thankfulness! Thankful to God. Thankful for the many who called, wrote messages on Facebook, and those who came and visited her. I have always been impressed with how many folks love and appreciate my wife. I wonder how she made that happen? Something to ponder, but I do thank one and all for their prayers and support. The good news is that she did have a heart and it was okay. Her joke, not mine. Also, I'm almost certain I have a few stories yet to share that came out of all that 'waitin'. May God bless one and all. Amen.    .....More later.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Did you hear what Obi-wan Kenobi said to young Luke Skywalker when he observed him having so much trouble using his chopsticks: "Use the FORK Luke, Use the FORK."

We spent nearly all day Sunday in the emergency room with my sweet wife. She was experiencing some chest discomfort and heart palpitations, therefore, they admitted her overnight for observation. They have done numerous tests and do not think it to be her heart but have not ruled it out 100% and that's why they want to do a stress test today. I ask that you say a prayer for her in this situation, and for me, and for the staff since they will be dealing with yours truly. Just joking. They have all been wonderful thus far.
Hello my fellow Americans and any others who might happen to be trolling for blogs on this Monday, February 20, 2012, the official day set aside to honor President's Day. It is good to be able to send a cheery hello out to one and all. My wife can be really funny at times. She said all that stuff about me getting lost just gave her one more thing to worry about. She must be hurting for material. In addition, she remarked how odd it was that she had to learn these things while reading my blog. I can't do the voice inflections here in print but she was doing her best to indicate a small amount of agitation. In a good humored way, I suppose. After she said all of that I tried to make her feel a little better. I told her that if she thought that was a little scary she should have seen me trying to make a u-turn on that busy thoroughfare, which was complicated by those who didn't enjoy me having to back up a couple of times, but it did make for an exciting morning, and my little cheeks were glowing like lights on a Christmas tree, and I did finally make it to the place I was looking for, therefore, what's to worry about? She indicated how that addition to my story did not make her feel better about it all. Man, trying to please some people is hard. You do know what I mean. I know you do. I suppose I will be able to subtitle my memoirs, "A funny thing happened on my way to becoming a funny old man."

The Triple By-Pass Burger, A Taste 
Worth Dying For!
I guess it would have had to have happened, sooner or later. I read a blurb and then checked it out and according to Time Magazine it appears to be a legitimate story. A man in his forties collapsed and later died after eating a burger called the Triple Bypass at a restaurant appropriately named The Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas, Nevada. The slogan for the eatery: "A Taste Worth Dying For." You may have seen some of the promotional ads from this joint that have the wait staff dressed as nurses and medical technicians. They also have a standing offer to provide free meals to anyone who weighs at least 350 or more pounds. Wait until the food police get hold of this one! (I feel a big old lawsuit coming to a courtroom soon.) Speaking of the food police, I suppose you heard or read about the little kid whose lunch was taken away from them because it was not deemed to be healthy. It has been all over the news sources on the internet. It seems that a 4 year old in a preschool in North Carolina brought her lunch from home consisting of a turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips and apple juice. Her lunch box was inspected and rejected as not meeting the nutrition standards set by the center. They gave her their idea of a good lunch instead and sent a bill home to her parents. What did they serve? Four chicken nuggets! Many have expressed alarm over this seemingly isolated incident and it calls attention to what is believed to be some of the provisions that we all will be dealing with as a part of Obamacare when it is fully implemented. The result in this case meant the four year old had only the chicken nuggets and nothing else all day because she refused to eat the so-called nutritional goodies they included on her tray. Her mom said she fixed what she knew her child would eat. Folks, is this kind of thing going to become a nightmare for us all, or what?

I'm not too fond of people abusing themselves through a variety of means and then becoming a burden for the rest of the nation to handle and support. However, when weighed against personal FREEDOM, that which makes us who we are, well, we have to keep that in mind, in all our laws, in all our rules, and in how we function as a people. I am also very aware of the slippery slope where some today loudly decry government overreach but tomorrow they might just find themselves standing in line for government sponsored support. I've seen it more than once up close and personal. Those who have preached personal responsibility and the elimination of all government handouts have had to swallow their pride and their words due to a collapse of their ability to make a living, or destruction at the hands of a weather event, or whatever. This makes us aware that we should always attempt to be balanced as we support our strongly held opinions. I'm thinking of one fellow who used to claim that everyone on unemployment should be kicked off the rolls and told to go and find a job. However, he himself ended up in a situation where he received the maximum payout of these same funds and to tell you the truth, I don't think I've heard him mention one more word about that subject. However, he has moved on to other things that easily could put him into the same situation. Yes. Stand up for what you believe in. Yes. We should promote personal responsibility from the cradle. Yes. It's okay to strongly defend our views. But, at the same time, our humility and realization that we too are not immune from the ups and downs of life will help us all to better frame our arguments. It's part of that loving God and loving others deal that we are commanded to do as believers. Okay. That should be enough for any Monday, therefore, I will say so long for now and Lord willing I'll catch up with you tomorrow. May God bless. Amen.    ....More later.

Friday, February 17, 2012

You have to love word pictures: He was so tall he could hunt geese with a rake.

Charles Dickens, Word Picture Master, 1812 - 1870
That great sucking sound you hear is not what Ross Perot talked about when he was saying it was the sound of all the jobs going to Mexico after NAFTA was implemented. No. It is the noisy sound of a collective sigh of relief coming up from the masses as we embrace Friday, February 17, 2012. Overly dramatic? Probably. But, it is good to be able to greet you once again and see what falls out of the cupboard when it is opened this morning. Word pictures. You just have to love them. They make our communicating interesting and they also cause us to conjure up mental pictures. It's similar to Old Time Radio. It's called the 'theater of the mind' for a reason. You listen but you have to visualize in your mind the characters and the action as it unfolds. I know what it means to open the cupboard and have something bonk me on the top of my head. Word pictures have been around a long time. Think about all the illustrations Jesus used that caused His hearers to see images that proved up His point. Like when He told about the Good Shepherd. (Gospel of John, Chapter 10) I listen to some audio books being read on my satellite radio receiver. This is nothing more than a moderator reading from a book. However, if that original author is able to describe things in a way that grabs your attention, soon you find yourself in the story and forget that it is even being read. Not every one I've listened to has this impact. Charles Dickens was known for being able to develop his characters and stories that essentially caused them to jump off the page and become alive for the reader. How could we not appreciate and enjoy this mental ability that God has given to us? That's the question of the day where we find ourselves thinking it over as we make our way down an abandoned overgrown pathway shadowed by mystery and intrigue.

I will admit I grew up immersed in this type of jargonizing. When you tump something over. You hear about someone who is older than dirt or how they had been beaten with an ugly stick. You enjoy your cornbread covered with pot liquor.You find out someone is going down the wrong road because they are running wild as a hog. You are told to quit sittin like a bump on a log and to get on the stick. Then you have the idea of it being like stink on a polecat, or running like a scalded dog, or madder than a wet hen, or you are told to hold your horses, and that you can't get blood from a turnip. See what I mean? And, those are just a handful of the country slang stuff being slung around when I was growing up. No doubt variations by region of the country are so plentiful it would make a preacher cuss. I told you it was an ancient way of saying things. You remember when Jacob was on his way to meet Esau his brother. You know the brother he had tricked out of his inheritance? The one who had become a famous warrior chief and had many armed men in his clan? When they finally met face to face, Jacob was literally shaking in his sandals, he offered Esau many gifts and this is how it went down: "Jacob said, "No, please, if now I have found favor in your sight, then take my present from my hand, for I see your face as one sees the face of God, and you have received me favorably." Now that is what I call a word picture of blessed relief! You can read about it in the Book of Genesis Chapter 33.

At the same time we are called to let our yes be yes and our no be no. (Jesus speaking, Matthew 5:37) In other words, regardless of the figures of speech we use we have to make sure that honesty and integrity prevails. That's a tall order when one is prone to as much embellishment as I use. But, it's worth the tension because quaint sayings do spice up our ability to communicate and it can be a source of enjoyment. Now, that brings me to another closing episode as we say farewell to the week that was, and we anticipate our Saturday, and Lord's Day Sunday. We have been busy this week. How busy were you? Busier than a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs and busier than a one eyed cat watching nine rat holes. The good news is how that I have been able to accomplish some productive output. This always helps when you are busy. Efforts are good but results are what we all shoot for. I do hope and pray that you will have a wonderful Saturday and Sunday, (first Day of the Week), therefore, Lord willing, and we don't shut the gate after the cows are gone, I'll see you next Monday here on this same station. Amen.          .....More later.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

From time to time, the tree of liberty must be watered with the blood of tyrants and patriots. - Thomas Jefferson

Corporal Joseph D. Logan, USMC, killed in action.
Okay it is Thursday, February 16, 2012, and to tell you the truth, this minute by minute coverage of Whitney Houston is very much too much, at least that's the way I see it. I'm not taking anything away from this being a tragic outcome and a sad time for her family and friends. But, whether it is Michael Jackson, some big rapper who has been shot down in the street, or other so called famous people, do we have to wallow in every tiny detail? Sorry. We didn't watch one second of the Grammy Awards. We likely would not have recognized most of those who were honored. Many have pointed out that while we seem so preoccupied with the deaths of people like Whitney Houston, often those who wear the uniform of our nation who pay the ultimate price are not given the same respect and recognition. I'm glad to report there are still some that see the difference. Recently, a young Marine Corporal was returned for burial to his hometown of Willis, Texas. The day his remains arrived there was an outpouring of patriotic respect that would take anyone's breath away. From the airport to his final destination, nearly an hour away, there was an unbroken line of salutes, flags, banners, and people cheering for this man who volunteered to go and represent us all in a deadly conflict in a far away place. I saw the video, nearly a hour's worth and it renewed my sense that, at least in this area, people do still recognize honor and sacrifice. May God bless the memory of Corporal Joseph Logan, USMC, and may God bless those who are the true heroes of our day. Amen.

How has everything been going with you? I hear you. It has been a rough patch for the last couple of years here in our nation. We still have many people who are unemployed and even more that have jobs who consider themselves to be under-employed, and certainly struggling as they try to make it each day. My wife and I have been blessed to have jobs and I thank God daily for His provision. I don't take this for granted, rather, I pray for those in spheres of authority that they might make decisions that would help alleviate this burdensome load that so many are carrying. I've talked to so many who thought they were secure. They had worked hard. They had been loyal. They had focused on seeing the enterprise succeed. But, due to circumstances they could not see coming, they suddenly found themselves out looking for a job. This is tough regardless of your age, but, I can tell you, when you get to that AARP age of 50, it can seem almost insurmountable. You find yourself out there competing with those who are young and computer savvy, so young in fact, they could be your children or for some, even your grandchildren. I've seen that look in the eyes of someone who has accomplished so much in life, but saw it all go up in smoke, and now they are left to try and pick up the pieces. What can you say to help someone in this position? The only one I've found that makes any sense at all is to keep on keeping on in doing all you can to provide for yourself and your family while seeking God every step of the way. Some say, well, that's your answer for everything. Sorry. But, in my life, in all that I have experienced and observed, it's the only truth that has made sense: "Jesus is right for whatever is wrong in your life." Period. Amen.

The other thing I would advise is for everyone to try to keep a sense of humor because life, in so many ways,  is a funny thing. I suppose we all have to try and figure out whether we are the joke itself or just the punch line. The older I get, I find myself working overtime just to catalog all the funny stuff I end up being involved in. I was a Boy Scout as a kid, at least through the Tenderfoot rank. But I must have failed the map reading test because I sure can get lost pretty easily in the huge metroplex, even when I have printed off a map from the computer. This week I was having trouble finding a particular location and typically when that happens I go into recovery mode. That involves placing a call to my eldest son if he is available and at his computer. As it turned out I was on the right street. See, I surprised you, didn't I? But, as he pointed out, I was certainly headed in the wrong direction and wasn't even close to where I needed to go. His final words, "Dad, we have got to get you a GPS navigation device or there's no telling where you will end up one day." I've always been into exploration. Hey. As they used to say back home, "You might as well laugh as to cry." It was probably that mapping program. It must have printed the map upside down. Yeah. That's probably what happened. What's that you say? Maybe I was looking at it upside down? I'll stick with option A and hope he is sitting at his desk the next time I get lost, I mean, that is, the next time the computer map program sends me in the wrong direction. It would have been more funny had it not been raining hard and all those other people were going the wrong way too. Do your best to do what you can and leave the rest in God's hands. Amen.      ....More later.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I always wanted to be somebody, but I suppose I should have been more specific.

Hello and welcome to Wednesday, February 15, 2012. The last sentence in yesterday's blog was bungled up pretty badly. It was supposed to have said that our day would be crowned by us all experiencing the love of God. Not a bad thought but somehow when you fling in the word crowed instead of crowned, well, it just doesn't communicate exactly what I had in mind. When I was in a huge conference meeting room once, out in San Diego, we experienced a medium sized earthquake. Pretty scary stuff. The speaker tried to gain control over the panicked crowd by saying, "I bet you think I didn't plan this to happen." And, I suppose I could have said I rewrote that sentence hurriedly, which I did, but didn't do a final proof reading of it like I usually do before I send it out, because that would have been exactly the truth. I certainly never plan on the mistakes that end up in my stuff and I also know that I take it more seriously than most people. Why? Now, that my friend is a good question. I suppose I take myself a little too seriously when it comes to the stuff I write. But, I know there are miscues along the way and while I hate to admit it I am capable of messing things up. Okay. I said it. Now I feel ever so slightly better. I'm glad I didn't accidentally use the word 'bitter' or you would think I have even greater problems than those you already know about.

I read where the financial losses at the US Postal Service continue to escalate with more than 3 billion dollars in red ink for the last quarter of last year. Wow! That included Christmas. Sounds like they are copying the habits of our government! The other day I saw on someone's list of their most satisfying simple pleasures in life a mention of them actually receiving a real personal letter from a real person in the mail. Outside of Christmas cards I'm trying to think when the last real personal letter I received. Remember all that stuff I wrote about how we are doing nearly everything online? That pretty much tells the tale when it comes to the post office. As a young teenager, away from home in Florida for the summer, I can remember asking my uncle each day if I had received a letter from the one I loved. That became a joke around the shop and pretty soon all the guys were asking if I had received my love letter. Nowadays, it's a handful of keystrokes, grab an image or two, and it will be in their inbox within seconds. I suppose that saves all the smelling the guys in the shop used to do of the letters I did get. Or better yet, just get them on their video interface and visit with them in real time, person to person, regardless of where you are. I know we've all had those unpleasant experiences of fighting long lines in trying to get stuff done at a local post office. It can be frustrating and that's why they have become the symbol of government inefficiency. Kind of like those fellows I grew up watching work on the roads in our rural area. They very much lived up to the sign they carried with them: Slow Men Working. But, in the end, it is still sad in some ways to see an institution like the Postal Service being phased out. We found some very old letters the other day and my wife asked me why I had mailed them to her airmail when they likely never got onto an airplane. Because I wanted her to know just how urgent my love for her was, or something like that. Or, maybe that was the only stamps they had that day. Who knows? It was a very long time ago!

Maybe you and I need to prepare a list of our most satisfying simple pleasures. How about sleeping in on a Saturday morning with a steady rain falling outside your window? For my wife it would be driving up to the mega mart just in time to get a parking space close to the front door. Maybe it would be coming home from work, walking into the kitchen and being knocked down by the aromas of a home cooked meal, one that reminds you of those you grew up eating. I do love that one. You knew I would have to include this one: That first taste of Community early in the morning. I may have moved from simple pleasures to outright blessings. For us older folks we can think about time spent with our children, grandchildren, and great grands. Some like to mention the pleasure of finding cash in some old jeans or a jacket but since I can't remember doing that, I'll have to pass on that one. Big one for me: Remembering old times, people, places, and those who have greatly influenced and impacted my life. Dreaming. Yep. Still do quite a bit of that. It's a rather old habit. I used to get into all kinds of trouble in grade school where I was accused of being a serial day dreamer. (I'm pretty sure they never used the word 'serial' but I thought it fit the context so I threw it into the mix.) Guilty as charged. Day, night, and everything in between. You would be surprised at the places I've been, the people I have seen, and the events I have been able to experience. A lifetime pursuit. But, this isn't an episode of True Confessions, it's a reminder that we all can take the time to recognize and relish the simple things in life that God has allowed us to enjoy. Have a great Wednesday and Lord willing I'll see you next time. Amen.    ....More later.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Did you hear about the romance in the tropical fish tank? It was a case of guppy love.

I suppose this is that day where love is in the air. That's right. It is Valentine's Day, February 14, 2012. Let's hope that we are people who show love year round, but it is not a bad idea to be reminded of the blessings that God has given to us, especially in our mate. That photo is of my darling wife and myself and I suppose it could be called the before and after. Here's my official caption: "Happy Valentine's to my one and only. She is a remarkable woman and I thank God for her every day and for Him putting us together. This is our 50th year of exchanging cards, 48 of them as a married couple. Please don't send any remarks about how beautiful she still is along with your questions about what happened to me. One fellow the other day saw the photo on my computer background and said something like that and then added how that I obviously have had a pretty tough life. Thank you very much for the vote of confidence!" That's okay and if I stopped to think about it, at my age, I might forget to get started again. Don't get me wrong. We would be the first to say that had God not held us together, there's no telling what kind of story we would have to tell. Therefore, we actually honor Him on this day devoted to love because He has worked in our hearts and allowed us these many years of being together. Happy Valentine's Sweetheart, because no matter how I look at it, Baby you are still the greatest!

I actually sent that same photo of us to our hometown newspaper over in Louisiana and they actually published it. I was talking to my mom Sunday evening and she told me it was in the Leesville Leader. They had asked for readers to submit Valentine's photos and since I do read their online edition, I sent it along with a caption to them. My wife overheard the conversation and wanted to know exactly what photo I had sent. I told her it was more or less a before and after shot. She said she hoped it wasn't that one of us when we were just kids taken at the fair, right after we had started going together. Bingo! How is it that those kinds of loaded questions seem always to be exactly on target. My mom will save that paper for us. I am very thankful for the wife I have. It's okay with me if people know that. I know in Genesis Chapter 2, it says that a man will leave his parents and in so doing he will cleave or cling to his wife. I suppose it was somewhat of a surprise that we embraced that verse when I was so young. I joke about how that I had to finish raising her but since I was only a year older, I suppose that begs the question of who finished raising me. Through it all, over these many years, she has been a woman of integrity and grace. As far as what happened to me, you should remember that I was in a head on collision once and went through the windshield. See there. There is an explanation! But as you can tell, it doesn't bother me at all, not in the least, it doesn't, that is, it doesn't bother me, bother me, bother me.

Today's love talk has completely changed. I now say things like, "If you were to get rid of me, who would take care of all of your online activities like Medicare, retirement, taxes, and other assorted stuff?" Think about it. That is a statement we could have never conjured up, not that many years ago. And, you don't have to be young to take advantage of the benefits provided in this so called electronic age. My mother, who will be 88 in May, uses her computer every day. Since we installed her new laptop she now can check out Facebook which has proven to be both good and bad. Her children, her grandchildren, her great grandchildren, and maybe even one or two of her great great grands use Facebook. She reads what they post. Sometimes the lingo used and the inferences made cause her to be concerned and she does fret over their situations. Some of this is caused by the language gap in how young people say their stuff today. On the plus side, she gets to see photos daily and hear about accomplishments being achieved within her large extended brood. I think the blessings greatly outweigh the downside, however, these kiddos might well take to heart when she sends them some grandmotherly advice. And, when she feels compelled, that's exactly what she does. Just like any other concerned mom. Have a great Valentine's Day and may be crowed by God's love being experienced by us all. Amen.       ....More later.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The evening news is where they begin with 'Good evening', and then proceed to tell you why it isn't.

I well remember that tune, Monday Monday, by the Mamas and the Papas, but I recently read the lyrics from this 1966 hit and it actually surprised me. It tells of a woeful story about someone leaving someone and how that every Monday finds them crying about it. Man, I thought Monday was already rough enough just doing what it does. But, here's hoping that this Monday, February 13, 2012, will be one where we do a lot of smiling as opposed to dwelling on sad stuff. I still hear that tune in my head and for the life of me never knew that is what that song was all about. Well, I suppose the old saying is true, you do actually learn something new every day. I am a diabetic, type 2. This means any and everything coming out about this disease usually gets my attention. One of the drugs that has been developed in recent years is called Byetta. It was developed based on the saliva of the Gila Monster. No. I have not lost what little bit of my mind that I have left. It is 100% true. That drug is a synthetic version of a protein, exendin-4, derived from the Gila monster's saliva. There's probably a really good story behind how they decided to pursue that type of research. Can you imagine a chemist coming home one evening and being asked what he had done that day? "I was real busy analyzing and studying the spit from one of those Gila Monster lizards." I don't take that drug but you just have to love a story like that!

A lady signed off the telephone call by saying, "Okey dokey artichokey." I will admit I've not heard that one before. Someone said it must be country slang but I'm not sure what country they would be talking about. Where I came from I'm not sure anyone had heard of an artichoke, much less to use it in a piece of slang. When in doubt, Google it. I found out it is a favorite way of ending a conversation as used by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. That's good enough for me. I will now eliminate that one from any future use, even though I thought it was kind of cute when I first heard it. If the Mrs. Clinton uses it quite often, I'm more than willing to leave her and it alone. One of the sites advised that it should be used very infrequently for fear of looking like a big idiot. Did I say it was one of Mrs. Clinton's favorite slang expressions? Enough said on that subject. On that same urban dictionary site they had several variations that could be used and since maybe you have not yet learned something new for today, I thought I would share some of these with you: ~ okey dokey dickery do ~ okey dokey diet cokey ~ okey dokey pig in a pokey ~ okey smokey McSkiddly do. Wait just a minute. Don't get all riled up. I never promised this daily dialogue would be a competitor to Masterpiece Theater. That by the way is a PBS show imported from Britain and the BBC and it has nothing to do with barbecue sauce.

When you get older you can't help but think about how you might have done things differently. While we know there are very few do overs, it does help us to think about change in the here and now, since we can never go back. These are some comments from Erma Bombeck about her views on her life, made after she found out she had a fatal disease. "If I had my life to live over, I would have talked less and listened more. I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded. I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace. I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth. I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed. I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage. I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains. I would have cried and laughed less while watching television - and more while watching life. I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband. I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day. I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime. Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle. When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, "Later. Now go get washed up for dinner." There would have been more "I love you's".. More "I'm sorrys" ... But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute... look at it and really see it ... live it...and never give it back." Not bad thoughts at all and very relevant for those of us who are still breathing air on the planet. For me, I would probably include much more of my time trying to live in a way that was pleasing to my Lord and Savior. Some good stuff for us all to ponder, here on this brand new Monday. May God bless. Amen.      ....More later.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Without my morning coffee I'm just like a dried up piece of roast goat. ~Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) The Coffee Cantata

That would be correct my friend. It is Friday, February 10, 2012, and that whirring sound we are hearing is the sound of time getting away from us. You never know what might happen to your stuff when it gets sent all over the world wide web. The little ditty I did the other day on one of my favorite subjects, coffee, garnered this response in the comments section from a reader, out there somewhere: "Dear Sir, I stumbled on your Blog by accident and could not stop reading. I should be studying but I thought to myself that I will go to bed a hour later tonight to catch up, as your blog is good reading material. I must admit that I do enjoy your blog very much. I just want to let you know that you are not alone and that I share your sentiment on that rich aromatic, full bodied beverage which we so fondly refer to as coffee. I am "slightly" addicted to it. Maybe the word "slightly" is an understatement, but I always believe to be modest than to brag about my addiction. After all, an addiction is not something that we are suppose to brag about. I even take my own coffee to university as I became very "touchy" about the quality of my coffee. Trust me, if I say that not even a military cook can manage to make worse coffee than our cafeteria at university, and then they expect one to actually pay money for it. Ha, you only trick me once. I have to go as the last bit of coffee just ran down my throat and I need to refill my mug before I start again revising for tomorrow. God Bless and may God's hand protect you and your family that you may share thousands mugs of coffee together. February 7, 2012 2:18 AM." Pretty neat, don't you think? I also received a another note from one of my coffee loving buddies and he said he had sent that particular blog to a number of his associates that seriously enjoy their cup of Joe. Here's a quote for you carry with you as you go your way today: "The morning cup of coffee has an exhilaration about it which the cheering influence of the afternoon or evening cup of tea cannot be expected to reproduce.~Oliver Wendall Holmes."

That concept of "I stumbled upon" is one that helps define how life is actually lived. Or maybe the "I just happened to be" is another one of those that make each day interesting. This week I just happened to be in a confined space with two interesting fellows. One was from France and the other was a young man originally from Mexico. I was actually transporting them to a customer site to oversee them doing some follow up work. The fellow from France brought up the subject of religion. As my wife would say, "He obviously had no idea who he was riding with." He had been raised Catholic but while in the French Foreign Legion he converted to Islam. I listened to his story intently and asked a few probing questions here and there. He was passionate about his reason for embracing the Koran. Then it was my turn. I was able to share with him why I believe The Bible, why I believe in Jesus as not only the Son of God, but as God the Son. I shared with him the words of our Savior when he announced that He and He alone is the way, the truth, and the life, making it clear that no one can come to the Father except through Him, the Son. (John Chapter 14) The young Hispanic fellow was mesmerized as the ping pong comments went forth and back. It was cordial but clear and it was quite a ride, I must say. Now I ask that you join me in praying that God will use the seeds planted to work in this man's life. That's right folks. I know that he was taking it in and I know he appreciated me taking the time to share my thoughts on The Truth. It was one of those "I just happened to be" moments and I thank God for the opportunity. Amen.

We just never know what a day might bring but it helps us if we follow this admonition: "...always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;..", 1st Peter, Chapter 3, Verse 15. Sometimes we neglect the meekness and fear part. That's where we show respect and humility as opposed to breathing out fire and brimstone or beating someone over the head with our Bible. This doesn't mean we soft peddle the truth, but it does mean we share truth with love and compassion. One of the things that everyone detests, including us all, is to try and deal with someone who looks down on us indicating a superior or arrogant spirit. I just threw that in because to tell you the truth, it took quite a bit of patience for me to hear that fellow out as he went on and on. But, since I was willing to listen to him, he, in turn, was willing to listen to me. That was my first time to deal directly with someone who had embraced Islam and it was pretty exciting to have that dialogue and to be able to share Christ. Now, it is on to today's agenda where we will all have our "I stumbled upon" or "I just happened to be" moments. Have a wonderful Saturday and then go and enjoy gathering with other believers down at the meeting place on Lord's Day Sunday. Why do I say that each Friday? Because based on my experience it really will 'do a body good'. Y'all take care now. You hear? May God bless each one. Amen.       .....More later.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Think about it: We are blessed beyond measure!

Just how thankful are we? No. I really mean it. Just how thankful are we on this Thursday, February 9, 2012? What prompted that question? I read a Church newsletter from a pastor friend up in West Virginia. His music pastor, Brother Greg, had an opening challenge and I thought I would get us going today by using it. Here's how he put it: "Praise God from whom all blessings flow!!! Did you wake up this morning? ( I guess you did if you are reading this.) Some people didn't wake up today. Did you get out of bed? Some people were not able to get out of bed. Did you have breakfast? Some people had nothing to eat. Did you make it to work? Some people have been laid off from their jobs, some have been unemployed so long their unemployment benefits have run out. Did you drive to work? Some people do not have a car. Did you accomplish something worthwhile at work? Some people are severely handicapped or have been severely injured and can't do any physical work at all. Did you make it home safely after work? Some people didn't. Did you have a home to go to? Some people have no place to live. Did you have someone at home to share your day with? Some people are all alone. Praise God for the blessings you have received. Thank Him most of all for the salvation of your soul." That was a little bit of conviction served up when I read it but I think it is something we all need to meditate upon. Thanksgiving is not always something that comes naturally to us. Amen? Yes. I hear those affirmations: Me too! Amen!

I more or less stumbled onto that one and since it spoke to me, I figured there might be someone else it could encourage. At the same time, I'm not one of those who thinks our thankfulness should be based solely on the woeful conditions of others. Our grateful response to all that God has done for us should prompt us to be proactive in having a thankful heart and a thankful lifestyle. We all know that typically there are others who are worse off than ourselves and the theme of that reprinted message more or less reminded folks of that. But we are actually instructed to give thanks in all things because us doing so is the express will of God for us. This is a specific admonition/instruction given by God through His Apostle Paul as recorded in the First Letter to the Thessalonians, Chapter 5, Verse 18. We recently witnessed the baptism of a teenager who had an incredible testimony to share. She is a leukemia patient currently in remission but she expressed how that her diagnosis played a role in her coming to know the Living Lord of the universe as her Savior. My baby sister, Kayla, had a similar testimony. As she came to the end of her journey with her life cut short by cancer at age 27, she said that she was so blessed to have had 18 months after her diagnosis to speak to the people she wanted to reach, and to share her story, and in becoming so close to her Lord. She felt so blessed to have had it work out this way. No. Leaving here was incredibly difficult because of family and friends but she embraced her promotion with a spirit of grace, humility, and thankfulness. Not because she had to conjure up an image of someone worse off than her, but only because of the nearness she experienced of God and His grace during the final days of her sojourn here. The Apostle Paul said that we should: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” Quoted from his letter written to the Philippians, Chapter 4, Verse 4. Amen.

I'm so glad that we who know the Lord can share with others our testimony of His working in the lives of His own. I was visiting with a dear brother at our inner city Bible club last Tuesday and he was telling me about a victory won in the life of an individual they had been praying for over a long period of time. I had also been praying about this matter and I can tell you that he and I shared a moment of joy as he rehearsed this moving of God to change the heart and direction of someone near and dear to him. Isn't it wonderful to have stories that are about real people where God has worked to accomplish great things? It's not just the folks in our Bible. They are great illustrations and many are great role models. But we have the promise of God's Spirit abiding in us and at work in and around us to accomplish His purpose in the lives of men, women, boys, and girls. As I read about it in The Scriptures, I can see myself in so many of the individuals there along with their challenges and situations. I've also lived it growing up where folks cried out to God in times of great need and He responded, not always by removing an obstacle, but by making Himself known resulting in our seeing faith and perseverance being worked out before our very eyes.  That's why when I read about those folks who are both mentioned by name, and some unnamed in the Heroes of Faith as found in Hebrews Chapter 11, I am aware other names have been added, and are still being added as God works in and through His very own. The world conditions us to seek all this life has to offer us with a focus on personal gratification. But, we are witness to those who chose a different route, to believe in God, to stay faithful to Him, even during trying times, and today we seek to be one that will be remembered  for the very same reasons. May God help us to live in such a way that we too will leave behind a legacy that bears testimony to the God we knew and served. Amen.     ....More later.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Forget health food. I need all the preservatives I can get!

Okey-dokey. Made it to that middle of the week, here on Wednesday and we discover it is February 8, 2012. Thanks for tuning in to today's episode where you find me once again working without a net, without a script, and mostly, without a clue. Don't you just love it when things are said mostly to be the way they are because of the aging process? The longer I hang around, it is the more I hear this kind of stuff. Like the old Hee Haw joke, "Doctor, it hurts when I do this." Doctor: "Well, stop doing that, and remember it is just part of the aging process." Give me a break. I've read there are some doctors who refuse to give this as an excuse to their patients. We all should be so lucky. How about this one? "That sounds just about right.....FOR A PERSON YOUR AGE." Makes me want to lay down on the floor and holler out, "I've fallen and I can't get up." Not really. I know what you are thinking. The fact that I am writing about this is only because the shoe fits, and it only proves that these remarks are consistent with the aging process. I Googled up some responses to this fill in the blank: "I'm not getting older, I'm......." Getting better at denial. ~ Getting more discounts. ~ Getting bitter. ~ Getting more forgetful. ~ Getting busier. ~ Getting poorer. ~ Just getting. ~ Becoming more complex. ~ Progressing through LIFE. ~ I've always tended to treat these kind of things in a blended approach, therefore, I'm most likely a little of 'all of the above'. But, does that mean we have to be reminded of it, every single day? I will tell you that some folks may worry about using up trees but the people who sell Medicare related insurance products, they don't. I probably received at least a three foot stack last year, and now my wife is up to bat and every single day the mailbox is leaning from the weight of new stacks of materials. The person who said they were not getting older just more complex may have been on to something. That's what I'm thinking. I'm getting one. That is, a complex.

Don't get me wrong. I am very thankful for the ability to have mobility, to be able to get up and go each day. Casey Stengel, the great baseball manager, was quoted as saying: "A lot of people my age are dead at the present moment." Another old joke says that any day above ground is a good day. This tells us that while we are still able to breathe air here on the planet, God is not finished with us yet. In my case, like the song that children sing, 'He's still working on me'. I remember that passage from Jeremiah Chapter 18 about the Potter and the pottery wheel. The Master Potter uses His hands and His instruments to shape, mold, and yes, at times, to remake that clay into what He envisions it to be. No wonder I'm still here. In Ephesians Chapter 2, we read these words: "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God before prepared that we should walk in them." Dr. Charles Stanley says this verse means that the Lord God of heaven is working to make us into an object of notable excellence. When it comes to me, I suppose I should be very happy that our God never sleeps or slumbers, because I've got a long way to go. You know. Diamond in the rough because of His grace alone, with a whole lot of chipping and polishing still needed to reflect back the glory and honor He deserves. And, those truths may be related to the aging process because wisdom, while not limited to age, certainly does often accompany it. Something for us all, regardless of our age, to think about. Amen.

I was looking at some of the newest bumper stickers that are intended to bring a smile. There's plenty out there that are crude and offensive but some are pretty funny. Like: ~ Adults are just Kids with money. ~ As long as there are tests, there will be prayer in schools. ~ Consciousness: That annoying time between naps. ~ Don't believe everything you think. ~ God must really love stupid people, He made so many of them. ~ Follow your dreams, except for the one where you are at school in your underwear. ~ News Flash: Humpty Dumpty was pushed! ~ I could use some happy right now. ~ I'd work from home but I would miss my daily dose of ROAD RAGE! ~ I'm an optimist but I don't think it helps much. ~ I'm not a complete idiot, some parts are missing. ~ Sing it, bad boy! But please roll up the windows. ~ I'll save some of the others for another day and at this time I will close out today's cornucopia of confusion. About the only thing I can be certain of would be The Scriptures I used earlier. Since they are breathed out by the Lord God Himself, we can always stake our everything on them because of Him. Have a great Wednesday and Lord willing I will be serving up some yet to be known or revealed stuff for our next session together. May God bless. Amen.   ....More later.