Friday, May 31, 2013

“Music speaks what cannot be expressed, soothes the mind and gives it rest, heals the heart and makes it whole, flows from heaven to the soul.” (Unknown Author)

Here we are again. I've got Celtic Thunder singing some classic Irish tunes in the background and that's always a good way to get my day started. But, may I ask, just how in the world are you doing on this Friday, May 31, 2013? Music does help when we are feeling down. I'm not a Kelly Clarkson fan. But a year or so ago I found a YouTube video where these kids on a cancer ward in a Seattle hospital were lip syncing her hit, "Whatever Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger." I've maybe watched that three and one half minute video at least twenty or more times and I'm still waiting for me not to be emotional in response to these kids. It's not just finding someone worse off than ourselves so that we feel better. It's dealing with the reality of knowing that often the things that weigh us down are not really that heavy, after all. Those dozen or so cancer patients demonstrate through that song their fighting spirit and their hope as they continue the struggle. I think I've shared the link before but you may not have taken the time to watch it. I can tell you this, it will do a body good:

I mention often about being amused by myself. In fact, to be honest, it's getting more so as the days go by. In fact, I pretty much stay amused by the self inflicted running funnies that tend to dog my steps each day. One would think I would have used up just about any and all material by now, but, let me assure you, they just keep on coming. Throw in the age related happenings and some days are like a cartoon strip reality show on steroids. Not really, but I thought of describing it that way, just to get your attention. What's that you say? Why not share more of those funnies with us, you know, the blog reading audience? I must tell you that I am very careful about what I share and I have paraded a few from time to time, but, my oh my, if you only knew. It sometimes makes me wonder how someone with a respectable IQ can produce these kinds of things. The challenge part is because of the fact that I am, at heart, an intensely private person, therefore, I have to think long and hard before sharing funny stuff on myself. The bottom line reminds us all that humor is a vibrant part of life and God arranged where we all can get ourselves a smile and we only need look to ourselves as the source. Can't find it within yourself to laugh at yourself? What a waste! Now just the other day.... But, I had better let that one age a bit.

Let's just say that I at times know all too well what the dude meant when he said, "My head went out on me." Okay. Let me end the week with a little tidbit for you to chew on. This will be echo number one from my little rant that graced these pages the other day. Subject: IRS. It is now reported based on the sign in logs at the White House that the former IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman visited 157 times during his tenure from March of 2008 to November of 2012. (It was during his tenure that all these shenanigans were going on.) Yes, he was appointed by President Bush before he left office even though he had previously contributed to Democrats in the previous election. Now here's headline number one: His predecessor, the previous Commissioner, visited the Bush White House only 1 time during the entirety of Bush's 2nd term. Headline number two: Based on the same logs, each of the other high ranking officials including the President's Cabinet would have had to have made 60 more individual visits during that same time frame just to tie Mr. Shulman. When asked about his visits he said he remembered discussing policy issues and attending the annual Easter Egg Roll the White House does for children each year. Really? If that passes the smell test for you, then you need a new smeller. Finally, here's how Shakespeare penned it as spoken by Marcellus in Hamlet: "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark." I'm sure we will all hear more about this as we proceed. Until then, have a great Saturday and Lord's Day Sunday, and I'll see what I can pull together by next Monday. May God bless. Amen.  .....More later.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

"My grandchildren's kisses are like tatoos on my heart!" (copied)

We made it to Thursday and while it has been a short work week thus far, there's always that out of sync stuff to overcome along with making up for lost time. I noticed on Tuesday morning how that some of our guys here were not exactly bright eyed and bushy tailed, if you know what it mean. (Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed comes direct and intact from the classic Fox Hunt. A fox with dull or cloudy eyes or a limp, listless un-groomed tail is one in poor health and will not provide a good active challenging chase over a long course.) I always thought it was a squirrel. But, it's good to welcome one and all on this May 30, 2013. The wife and I were able to make Brady's second round playoff game on Tuesday evening. Brady is a little fireball at whatever he happens to be involved in. At 7, he is still learning as a baseball player along with most of the other kids on the field. Most. The team they played had really worked on hitting and they had four or five boys that could slap the ball around pretty good. Our team lost but we enjoyed being there. Immensely. You have to love the way the game is played today. All these little kids with their own personal bats and batting gloves. I told my wife that I played for at least five years and I never even had a batting glove on. But, that's progress. When it was all said and done, I asked our son what the final score was. He simply said it was a whole lot to a little. They even keep score differently. Very enjoyable. Go Brady go!

Brady's sister Lexie was busy at her awards program at her school while we were at the game. She is a superb student and has been since the get go. Our twins, Alesha and Amanda, were in a play at their school on the same night. We started to split up and try and make more than one but we had not been able to see the Bradester play this year so we opted to do the baseball game. I'm just thankful that all of these events were within striking distance for us. And, who wouldn't want to get out there on the Houston Metro thoroughfares and play bumper car roulette? Fortunately for us, we were headed towards the big city and I think most everyone else were trying to escape north. And, when we think about the talents and abilities of our offspring and their progeny, we feel so blessed with the potential we see in our 11 grands and our one little great grand. Of course most grandparents feel that way. We met a lady at the ball game who appeared to be a little younger than us. She has 17 grandkids with 2 more on the way. A good number of them were at the game. The parents of the kids, both the moms and the dads, did like the ink. It was climbing out of their clothes, on their arms, legs, and even their feet. Must run in the family. To each his or her own I suppose, but I think I will pass, thank you.

My wife has one of those really super smartphones. It might even be called a smart alec phone. She took that photo of Brady and I, slapped some text on it, and shot it up to Facebook. However, she's still learning how to fully operate her newest edition of the computerized cellphone. At one time during the game she accidentally got it going on video and it took a little while to figure out how to stop that thing. (It was one of those I've fallen and I can't get up moments.) Just kidding. They say that some technology can be dangerous in the wrong hands. But, I'm sure she will get there, sooner, if not later. After all, she did get that photo uploaded. A woman who attended our local fellowship as a child some thirty plus years ago commented on that photo of Brady and I. She was telling our Rodney that she thought I still looked the same as she remembered me except maybe my beard was more bushy. The same? The same? I sure would be happy if the only change I knew about was my bushy beard. I do think that child needs to have her eyes examined. But, that's one of the positive things from the so called social networking society we live in today. We can connect with friends, past, present, and even make some new ones as we go along. Are there negatives? You betcha! Those need to be guarded against diligently. Okay. That will have to do for today. Take care and Lord willing I'll catch up with you tomorrow. May God bless. Amen.        ....More later.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

“For love of country they accepted death...” -- James A. Garfield, President of the United States

Okay. Things seem a little more settled, now that Wednesday is lined up with it's proper day and I do bid you a hearty hello on this particular Wednesday, May 29, 2013. Every now and then a story comes along that pretty much describes where we are as a culture. A small city up in Massachusetts had a big welcoming parade for their local singing star after she made it into the final three on American Idol. The parade route was packed and the city went all out, spending $32,000 on the event. That was in early May. In contrast, that same city cancelled their Memorial Day parade this year. The Memorial Day parade had been a regular annual observance since the end of the Civil War. Why would they do this? The mayor said the promotional opportunity for the city was just too great to pass up when it came to the American Idol contestant parade. He also said that interest in the Memorial Day parade had waned and it was not cost effective to keep it on the calendar. Some veterans expressed sadness over the decision to cancel the parade. I'm not against that city choosing whatever options they decide. But, I think it does give us all an opportunity to pause and think about the values this example puts forth. And, just so you know, popular or not, I would have gone with the parade to honor the fallen, and the veterans, and those serving in harm's way. In a heartbeat!

That story has hit the national press, therefore, I'm sure the mayor and the city council will be hearing about it from all quarters. My feeling is that if they are big enough to make that decision and then explain it the way they did, then folks have a right to let them know how they feel about it. I don't have a problem with local recognition for someone like the young lady who was in the running for winning the whole competition up to the very end. That's well and good. But, celebrity tryouts and singing accomplishments can never be compared to the sacrifices made by our military men and women. It's like a NASCAR announcer who ended up apologizing for comparing race car drivers to military heroes. He caught it from all sides almost immediately after uttering those errant words. It didn't take long for him to sincerely apologize. Why? Each week a local station in our area pays tribute to those who were killed in action during the prior week. Just solemn music along with their photo, name, rank, age, and hometown. And, we all have seen way too many images of so many of our warriors without legs, arms, or carrying a great disfigurement. That's why! This past weekend I heard a local news person interviewing a veteran who was paying special remembrance to a soldier buddy of his who had given his life in battle. The newsman said that he understood the man's friend had won the Medal of Honor. The man bristled, "He didn't win it sir, he earned it!" Amen

As if we didn't have enough scandalous activities in progress, we now hear that the Chinese have both stolen plans for some of our newest advanced weapons as well as hacked into and disrupted their development. This is infuriating. But here's the rub. We don't know if the story was found out or strategically leaked. Why would they strategically leak something like this? In case you didn't know, the public has an extremely short attention span. If they can get as many balls up in the air at the same time, people will become weary in trying to keep up with all of them, and basically move on. That's exactly what the administration has been saying they wished everyone would do, move on. I do know this. It would not be business as usual for those charged with protecting our most valuable secrets like weapons development. It begins with it being totally unacceptable, it stays with it being totally unacceptable, and it ends with it being totally unacceptable. I actually hope it has been hyped because that would be less serious, but, I do know that our enemies are working 24x7 to infiltrate our defenses. This should of concern to us all. Have a great Wednesday and we will see what falls out for tomorrow. May God bless each one. Amen.    ...More later.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

"The morning cup is an integral part of the life of a Creole household. The Creoles hold as a physiological fact that this custom contributes to longevity, and point, day after day, to examples of old men and women of fourscore, and over, who attest to the powerful aid they have received through life from a good, fragrant cup of coffee in the early morning." The Picayune Creole Cook Book (1901)

Now it's official. I can welcome you to another back-to-work Monday that happens to fall on this Tuesday, May 28, 2013. That, of course, is because of the holiday. I'm not sure I am making good progress on my coffee moderation program. It's not for a lack of trying. I cut my cup size down to half. However, I didn't reduce the amount of coffee in each cup. Now I am used to the really bold taste. In addition, the idea was to consume less in that way but since I cut the fluid down by half, I now drink twice as many of the half cups but they are stronger than they were before, therefore, without consulting a mathematician, I think I can safely say I need to rethink my approach. I also prepare the coffee to be made for the ladies Bible study that meets in our home each week. The one request my wife makes each week is that I please not make it too strong. That presupposes that some of the coffee I've prepared in the past may have been interpreted by those attending as being a smidgen or two on the strong side. I try. I really do. I want them to enjoy but I also have an obligation to the brand integrity of the Community Coffee Company. (You may be seated.) Thus, I will continue to do my best to balance these conflicting priorities. And, there you were, thinking all along that I really have it pretty easy.

I heard some stuff flying around here and there about how some people had cold weather for the holiday designated to unofficially usher in summertime. I pulled up the trusty low temperature map and it did turn out to be unusually nippy in many areas of the fruited plains. Just look at all those beautiful 30's on that map. That would make a perfect holiday weekend. Right? In upstate New York they punctuated the holiday with more than 30 inches of snow on Whiteface Mountain. The way they reported it was to call it a confused weather pattern. Please send a little of that confusion my way! I did spot a 28 up in Alaska but we can understand that one. There were also some complaints registered out on of the west or left coast. It seems that beach activities were not anywhere like they were supposed to be for this time of year. Too cold. If you like warm and humid with hot getting ever closer with each tick of the clock, well, I think we have it going on in our part of the map. We can dream. Waking up to a good frost on Memorial Day, now that would be something folks. Something indeed!

For those who have noticed my bushy beard, yes, I am letting it grow out much earlier than in the past. No. I have not auditioned and been accepted into the ZZ Top Rock Band. But based on some interested observers, it has been recommended that having it be a little more full at Christmas time would be better. And since the recommending committee includes my mom and my wife, well, just say hello to the bearded wonder. That's what they called me over forty years ago when I grew my first full set of facial hair. It was very brown in those days. Not anymore. I read about the cause of white hair. It seems that hair follicles are each pre-charged by their own special stem cell. That preset enables pigmentation for a specific period of time. After that, it quits, and the hair goes from color to white. I must have killed off a whole bunch of those stem cell thingies is all I can say. But, then again, it does make my Santa job a little easier. Meanwhile, I will have to deal with folks who don't know whether they should offer me a handout or a handshake. Have a great back-to-work Monday on this Tuesday and may God bless each one. Amen.  ...More later.

Monday, May 27, 2013

"Something else helped the men of D-day: their rockhard belief that Providence would have a great hand in the events that would unfold here; that God was an ally in this great cause. And so, the night before the invasion, when Colonel Wolverton asked his parachute troops to kneel with him in prayer he told them: Do not bow your heads, but look up so you can see God and ask His blessing in what we're about to do. Also that night, General Matthew Ridgway on his cot, listening in the darkness for the promise God made to Joshua: 'I will not fail thee nor forsake thee.'" President Ronald Reagan on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of D-Day

Welcome to the designated Memorial Day observance here on this Monday, May 27, 2013. The official day originally set up was May 30th. But, we do like our long weekends, therefore, Congress changed a number of the national holidays so that they would accommodate the three day respite. Over the last couple of weeks I've been catching chapters here and there on my satellite radio audio book station about the D-Day invasion during WWII. The book is entitled 'D-Day, The Battle for Normandy' written by Antony Beevor. Mr. Beevor is known for his detailed and in-depth reporting of great historical events. There have been many books written on this subject, however, Mr. Beevor's account includes vivid descriptions from the actual boots on the ground, the military forces from both sides, those who were eye witness participants in this game changing invasion. To hear it read is gripping. One swells up with pride as the allied forces engage in this epic battle. At the same time it is a gut wrenching and horrific detailed account of the carnage that ensued, on both sides. Those readings were sad reminders of the ultimate price paid by so many, and since that is the meaning behind Memorial Day, to honor all those who have died in military service, I bow my head in thanking God for them all, and their sacrifices for the cause of freedom. Amen.

In the midst of our enjoyment of the good times that these freedom fighters died to give to us, it's only right that we would to pause and give God thanks for them and all others who have worn the uniform and shed their blood for us all. Have a great Monday and Lord willing we will see what comes up for our next visit for tomorrow. See you then.      ....More later.

Friday, May 24, 2013

"We'll try to cooperate fully with the IRS, because, as citizens, we feel a strong patriotic duty not to go to jail." Dave Barry

It's Friday, May 24, 2013 and I am thinking about how that we all are entitled to a rant now and then. Right? What's that you say? You think I might already be over my limit? Good observation but since I'm the one maintaining the count, I will choose to proceed. Buried in the Internal Revenue Service story of how they abused their power, it has been revealed just how difficult it is to fire someone within the service for just about any reason. Except for those appointed executive staff, the majority of IRS employees are a part of a union. No administration in history has been closer to the unions than the current one. They are joined at the hip, so to speak. But, back to my rant. The people who actually did the targeting of conservative groups in order to stall and delay their applications for tax exempt status may never be held accountable for their actions. In fact, their rights are so strongly protected, these individuals cannot even be named publicly. Here's the deal: 1) They do not deny the charge that they used political identification to harass American citizens/groups. 2) They do not deny this to be a gross violation of the ethical standards where all citizens are to be treated in a fair and equal manner. 3) It is also a fact that after all the huffing and puffing subsides, not much in the way of penalty will be felt by those directly involved. Another sad note: No one knows how this got started. No one knows who told who to do it. No one knows. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. People who are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars have no idea how this happened in their organization. Is it any wonder people lack faith in government, period, end of story?

I say that knowing full well that collecting taxes has always been and continues to be a thankless job. And, for the more than 100,000 employees employed by the IRS, I'm very sure the majority do their work as best they know how with dedication and integrity. The fact that the service is not well liked can never be an excuse for wrongful behavior. If the ordinary citizen begins to doubt that an all powerful governmental agency like the IRS is operating in an unfair manner, well, this has a huge slop over effect on all areas of government operations. This wouldn't be the first time this agency has been used improperly but it does come at a time when there's a lot of anger percolating throughout the land of the free and the home of the brave. Many times abuses are swept under the rug because of the need for revenue. That's right: Revenue typically always wins. Ordinary citizens may not. It's not only at the federal level, it works that way at the state and local level as well. But it does give us something to talk about on a Friday morning and I've done my best to throw up my thoughts, therefore, you can do with them as you please. In fact, don't let the IRS know you read my blog because for all I know I may be on their hit list. Just kidding. They wouldn't be caring about little ole me. Would they?

Lord willing we will be attending the High School graduation for our Stefani tomorrow evening. It will be held at the huge professional football complex in Houston, beginning at 8 p.m. These graduations help define our journey and we are so thankful for Stef and the life that God has given to her and the plan He has for her life going forward. She will be attending college beginning with a local community college. I well remember the day her dad was born. That was back in 1965. I well remember the day she was born in 1994. This is the third daughter to graduate for our Chris and his wife, Sherrie. Like I say, these transitions speak to the sojourn we have been privileged to travel here. I kept her quite often when she was a toddler. I was in and out of town doing consulting work and when I was in town she stayed with me. She doesn't remember it at all. I do. I tell her that me being her caretaker probably contributed greatly to her development. She doesn't remember it at all. And, so it goes. Our prayer is that she will always look to God first in all her ways. Congratulations and may God bless you, Stef. Amen. Our love, MiMi and Poppy     ...More later.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

"Freedom is lost gradually from an uninterested, uninformed, and uninvolved people ..." Thomas Jefferson

Hello there friends, neighbors, and those who thought they were getting to a website that was important but landed on my blog instead. I think it good on this Thursday, May 23, 2013 to clear the air a little. Or maybe me slowing down in my blowing of so much smoke would be an improvement. Freedom. When I went on my tirade against that politician for trying to score points when the bodies of the fallen in Oklahoma weren't even cold yet, I did not intend in any way whatsoever to imply that he didn't have the right to speak his mind, make his points, or do whatever he thinks is his right to do. While I continue to think his actions to be reprehensible, his right to do exactly what he did is a protected right in this country. I wouldn't want that to change. And, this freedom of speech that allows people to speak their mind is to a certain extent under attack today. We will know more later, but these reported intrusions by our Department of Justice into the realm where news media reporters operate is something we all should take very seriously. Maybe they do have really good reasons for what they did but based on what we know today, it will be something we are yet to understand. Undue pressure from government on any of our rights as a free people must not be tolerated under any circumstances. Our founders understood this well. They knew that government could, if left to itself, without checks and balances, become dominant in ruling over people's lives. Some of these issues playing out via investigations at least have the symptoms that say this could be the case. But, facts are important and hopefully we will find out and then we will know. Hopefully.

I moved to the Houston area in 1969. The wife and boys joined me in January 1970. That's quite a spell, nearing 44 years. I recently read a little ditty that might be somewhat of a case of insider info, but, I thought it was funny, therefore, I want to share some of it today. Those who are unfamiliar with this area may not get it, but that's okay. You probably have your own special connections. The list starts out by saying, "You might be from Houston if..." ~ You're on your way to work one February morning and suddenly you're trapped in a traffic jam caused by a chuck wagon and fifty horses --with riders-- and you look around to see that everybody in the cars around you are wearing cowboy hats. ~ We may have the only farm-to-market roads with 7 lanes. ~ You have to turn on the air conditioning in January, two days after a low of 29 degrees. ~ Your roach story goes like this... One day you open your flatware drawer to find a roach the size of the Taco Bell Chihuahua. The roach stood up and looked you straight in the eye. You closed the drawer, bought new flatware --and from then on you've stored it in the oven. ~ When you see your neighbor dancing around the front yard but you don't think he's won the Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes; you know he just stepped in a fire ant bed. ~

And, it continues. ~ You come to work in short-sleeves and walk out at noon to find a "blue-tailed norther" has blown through, and the temperature has dropped 40 degrees in a matter of minutes. ~ Your neighbor's Christmas yard decorations look like a re-creation of the gunfight at the OK Corral, complete with a ten-foot tree decorated with boots and cowboy hats, and a Santa Claus who looks like Wyatt Earp. ~ You are immediately familiar with the phrases, 'Luv ya blue', 'The Dream', 'Killer Bees', 'Save you money!', 'Sliiiime in the ice machine', and you learned a long time ago that 'Dad gummit' has nothing to do with your father or his lack of dental hygiene. Okay. That will do for today. There were several more and I could very much identify with each and everyone of them. This doesn't mean that I am attached here forever. I still love Louisiana and I even love more that home that awaits me in heaven. You know that home the Apostle Paul talked about, " be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord." I hope that we all can see each other up there, someday. Have a great day and may God bless each one. Amen.    ...More later.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Praying for our fellow citizens in Oklahoma.

Good morning. It's Wednesday, May 22, 2013, where it's impossible for me to get those images out of my mind of the devastating tornado in Oklahoma. Those schools reduced to rubble. While the counts are still being validated, we know that several children died in that apocalyptic few minutes. I hear people say, "Well, they chose to live there and after all, it's called tornado alley for a reason." Sorry. My heart won't allow me to think things like that. I see those parents waiting out on the perimeter. I see it getting dark. I hear them say that the hallway where they would have been hunkered down no longer exists. We are human and our hearts cry out: Why? Our faith then informs our emotional response and we begin to pray for those injured, for those who are mourning, for those who put themselves in harm's way to do what they could to help. I see the little ones sitting out on that curb wrapped in towels and blankets and I pray. Mommy and daddy are likely in that six mile traffic jam trying to get there as soon as they can. I pray. Devastation and ruin but as they talk with people you hear what faith sounds like. "God will get us through this. He has done it in the past and He will do it again." The governor spoke and she expressed their greatest need at this time: "Your prayers." May we all seek God on behalf of these men, women, boys, and girls, as they go through this most difficult time. Amen.

There are those in Washington D.C. who are already attempting to make political gains from this tragedy. One Senator took to the floor and blamed the Republicans for not wanting big government except when they are needing assistance like that in Oklahoma. He went on to say it was the Republicans who refused to go along with the many proposed global warming schemes, therefore, they are also responsible for this devastating storm. If I were the people of Rhode Island I would be so ashamed that their Senator Sheldon Whitehouse would seek to make his points while fellow citizens, including children, lay dead and injured. I would tell this politician that we are a United States of America. I would tell him that the people who live in Oklahoma pay their taxes, live under the same national laws as the people in Rhode Island, or as in any other state. It is not the government's provision, the money made available for disaster relief comes from all Americans. And, these people are not looking for a handout as he called it, but rather, they, like his constituents hit by Super Storm Sandy, are entitled to the same treatment under the law, whether they are Republican, Democrat, Independent, or whether they believe in or they do not believe in that politician's view of global warming, or any other of his views. There was a time when someone doing something so hatefully egregious would have been ridden out on a rail. Too bad they don't do that anymore.

Sorry folks, but stuff like that just infuriates me. I know. That's why many people tune it all out so that they don't have to get stirred up about things like this. The last figures I can find show that Oklahoma is 25th on the list of federal tax revenues sent to Washington. Rhode Island is 37th on that same list. Oklahoma is 28th in population and his state is 43rd. Maybe this senator should only get a vote based on the amount of revenue and the number of people he represents, or, based on his state's overall contributions to the welfare of us all. That's nonsense and that's not the way our system was designed. He is from a tiny state but he as one of two senators from his state has the full measure of senatorial voting privileges. Maybe he should think about that before he rubs salt into the open wounds of his fellow citizens. Okay. I'll leave him to the response of the people because I can assure you he will be getting some attention over the next few days. I would hope the people he represents would lead the charge in having him apologize for his appalling behavior. But, that's just me, and that's just my view from here. Remember to pray for all those impacted by this great devastation and also pray for our nation. Amen.   ....More later.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

“In India, "cold weather" is merely a conventional phrase and has come into use through the necessity of having some way to distinguish between weather which will melt a brass door-knob and weather which will only make it mushy.” Mark Twain

Life is about transitions. It is at times pretty difficult to say farewell, but, there are seasons of life when that's about all one can do. It seems only a few days ago we were having such a wonderful time together. Alas, so long my friend, I suppose I will see you again, hopefully in a few months. That's right folks. The cooler weather has evaporated and now I'm left with only a memory of how enjoyable our times together were. There's always next season. Right? And, Lord willing, that would be correct. It is good to see you on this Tuesday, May 21, 2013. The good news is how the Community Coffee holds up, regardless. And, you do know that I am only joking about my little lamentation over the loss of a cool morning. Okay then. I am joking a little. I mean it was just a few days back when I sat here with a light jacket on, banging on my keyboard, with the shop office door wide open. A wonderful cool breeze enveloped the room. Oh yeah. Now I remember. That worked really good until some varmint or some thing knocked over a trashcan and caused me to nearly spew my Community all over my computer screen. I never said living in the wild was easy folks, but, the breeze was nice.

I'm thinking about whether I really like those Alaskan survival documentary type shows. Here's these fellows out in the backwoods of the tundra trying to start a fire with everything wet and cold. The suspense is palpable as they struggle against the elements. About that time it hits me. Someone is there with the camera. Maybe they could borrow a cigarette lighter from the film crew. I know. They have rules that each team must observe but it does help to remember they are not actually alone. While the survival teams are not allowed to have any communications devices, it would be hard to believe the folks there filming these survival videos would go without a cell phone or some form of radio communications. The one I watched was done in the summer but the temperature would go down into the 30's at night. They weren't worried about a stray raccoon knocking over a trashcan, they were more concerned about a bear coming upon them in the middle of the night. Or, at least that's the way it was portrayed. And, what about that music? Where did it come from? Bottom line, it was that or a rerun of Hee Haw. Need I say more?

I am very much aware that entertainment includes the viewer suspending some of the rules that would normally apply to everyday life. We all are aware that sound effects from huge orchestras and slow motion video techniques do not typically reflect scenes from our everyday life. Although, while I do know that many folks do have vivid imaginations, typically, we watch movies and TV as an escape, therefore, it does require our cooperation in order for it to work. Some of the music videos where there are all kinds of interactive scenery and the singer is lip-syncing the song, well, it really looks bad when their lips are a millisecond or two ahead or behind. What do we think when we see that? Fake. Pretty much that's what most of it is about. Fake. However, we can play along when we want to, or, we can change the channel and even watch a rerun of Hee Haw. I'm not sure if watching Hee Haw was one of the factors the IRS was using to single people out for additional review. You might want to check into that before you tune in for some pickin and grinnin. Have a great day and enjoy those bright spots even if you don't hear the kettle drums giving you a build up. Take care now, and may God bless each one. Amen.   ....More later.

Monday, May 20, 2013

"Come on Down!" Bob Barker, TV Host of The Price is Right

It's welcome back Monday, May 20, 2013. While I was not able to find those photos of my baby sister Kayla, my younger brother Donald, and myself, it did not mean they did not exist. My sister up in the Dallas area read my blog and found these in her collection. She had found some old negatives and had them developed. The images in the collage were taken with her phone of the prints laying on a table. Technology. Now is that something, or is that something? I heard a Professor who teaches computers at Harvard say the other day that folks carrying the latest smart phone technology have in their pocket more computing power than a super computer from the late 1970's. That super computer would have required space the size of an auditorium to house it along with the specialized electrical and cooling support. In your pocket. Untold millions of them. I don't know about you, but that wows me a little. And, that along with the fact that my sister read my blog, saw that blurb, and was able in a few minutes to shoot me an email with those images. I then took the images into a photo program, cropped them, and then loaded them into a collage utility and now you have proof that while my mind is slipping some, I did remember those photos, therefore, the old fetch routine can still reach back and grab hold of something from that musty memory library, at least occasionally. Thanks Sis, these are great and so are the memories.

I know we are soon to be in the midst of hot and steamy but I did see a statistic about mostly fall and winter TV viewing habits, that, while it was not so surprising, it still seems pretty impressive. The 25 most watched television programs in the Houston Metro area in 2012 included 23 NFL games, one episode of The Voice, and the Academy Awards. Are you telling me there was not even one NASCAR race, no NCIS, and not even an honorable mention for Duck Dynasty? No wonder football is called King in Texas but even more so, I think this statistic shows just how much of a King of all sports the NFL is. It is somewhere around a 10 billion dollar business. I know what it means to be a fan. Most fans identify with their team or in my case their driver and there's an element of living vicariously through the performance rendered. When it comes down to it, what we are fans of is the abilities of mostly billionaires to buy talent from the front office to the playing field down to the concession stands with an effectiveness that produces a championship season. Very few, if any, of the actual participants come from where we come from and their only identity is the jersey they wear. It works. People pay. And, as they used to say back home, that's what makes the world go round including winning 23 out of 25 of the most viewed programs on TV in 2012.

Yes. You guessed right. I was likely along for the ride on a number of those 23 televised sporting events. It's graduation time and we have a number in our family who are finishing their high school studies. Two granddaughters here in our area and two nephews over in Louisiana are completing this major step in their pursuit of God's plan for their lives. In addition, we have several in our local fellowship, along with some children of friends who are finishing their college studies. The high school classes in our area are huge and they typically have to hold the graduation ceremonies in big stadiums where they schedule them back to back. That invites all kinds of traffic congestion and it really is quite different from the less than 30 who graduated with me back in that small rural town. We plan to be right smack in the middle of it all as we honor our Stefani and Kyleigh. I did notice that Sarah Palin will be doing the commencement speech at a high school in Washington state where they will have 23 graduating seniors. Those kids had been on a year long campaign to get her to come. I'm trying to remember the commencement speaker at my graduation. I do know that I did some speaking because of being class president but I'll have to get back to you on that other one. I'm sure those 23 kids will never have any trouble remembering their special speaker. Have a great Monday and may God bless us all. Amen.     ....More later.

Friday, May 17, 2013

"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." Ephesians 4:29

What a welcome sight for sore eyes! I'm talking about Friday, of course, here on this May 18, 2013. That little A to Z menu of age related ailments that I shared a couple of days ago had to be updated some before I could include it in my daily visit. There were three examples that I thought were inappropriate for sharing. They were mostly borderline but if you have to wonder whether they are or not, better to change them. That presented me with a little bit of a challenge since their replacements had to rhyme. I'm not saying I did a great job of it but I liked that list enough to make the attempt. Many would say we are all adults, so what's the problem? I can tell you this. We are living in a society that is becoming more and more coarse every single day. No. That's not just an old fogey talking. Listen to me. I see stuff posted on Facebook every day that can't be passed off as anything other than vulgar, period. Many of these photos, captions, or comments are put up by children and teens. The abbreviations used by some are enough to make a sailor blush. Well, we were taught different than that and I believe we should do our best to maintain the higher plain even if it is considered to be something out of the dark ages. And, I will Amen myself on that one!

While I am stirring with a stick, I want to remind us all that our arguments at times can fail to include a primary context: compassion. Folks get so wrapped up in their passionate rhetoric, they might just fail to appreciate how someone who is destitute or disabled might feel about the same issue. I believe in personal responsibility as much as the next fellow but I also know that saying that as a mantra does not apply to every person, many of whom would love to be able to do more to take care of themselves. I have been blessed to have missed very little work during my 50 year run. I came to learn that to be a blessing not some symbol that permits me the right to beat up on a sickly individual. Sure, attitude is important and I have no patience whatsoever with those who abuse the system. I was counseling someone the other day on this very matter. He was complaining about another individual calling in sick and I mentioned to him that he should be thankful he was well and didn't need to do the same. There's a very old saying that helps us to be reminded of where our heart should be. Back in the mid 1500's a preacher confined to prison for his faith used to watch the prisoners being led by his cell on their way to be executed and it was recorded that he said these words, "There, but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford." Some good advice for you and I. And, again, I will Amen myself on that one too!

And we all have seen that boomerang effect where bombastic attitudes change dramatically when catastrophe strikes. Suddenly, the lens through which all things are seen undergoes a reality upgrade. What a difference there can be! But, enough of that. I've run out of tirades and Amens for today, therefore, I am ready to send us all off to a good Saturday and a time of worship and reflection on Lord's Day Sunday. It's been a pretty heady week for stuff to comment on. Washington DC alone has kept us all weary with the stuff flying here, there, and everywhere. I think that's the way it has been pretty much since there has been a Washington. But, let me leave you with a little of a cooler thought to end our week. A friend made a phone call from London to his friend in Alaska:"How are you, I heard on the news that the temperature there is -40?" The response, "You must be kidding, it's not true, it's only -10." The friend persisted, "But I know that's exactly what was said in the news on TV, it's really -40." Finally he got it,"Oh, I see, I think they must have meant the temperature outdoors..." Okay. Y'all take care now, you hear? Lord willing I'll meet back up with you next Monday, somewhere around the same time and on the same station.    ......More later.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

"Power is always dangerous. Power attracts the worst and corrupts the best." Edward Abbey, American Author, (1927-1989)

Here we are. It's Thursday, May 16, 2013, and my head is still hung up moving from one side to the other. It's stuck. I have played ping pong before. I actually was pretty good at one time, but that was a long time ago. Watching these forth and back news conferences on the latest political hot potato scandals reminds me of that game. One side slams a serve and then the administration spins it and puts all kinds of  wicked English on it and sends it back. The only difference in this game are the stakes because they are much higher than crowning a ping pong champion. These claims and counter claims speak to the very essence of the duty of government and its proper use. I know some people who are just happy to see the President and his team squirm regardless of the reason. I don't feel that way at all. However, if there is abuse of any kind, and if there are unlawful actions on the part of those in the IRS or any other federal agency, then it needs to be dealt with, period. I do find it interesting to see how the seizing by the Justice Department of the reporters phone call logs has finally broken up the love fest between the mainstream media and the current occupant of the Oval Office. You can do whatever you want when it comes to conservative groups or just about anyone else but when you step on the toes of the press, danger Will Robinson! Trouble ahead! The views expressed in this paragraph are not intended for any other purpose than that which was in the mind of the individual who wrote it and he might even be hard pressed to explain it if asked to do so.

I guess the best advice is to stay tuned because the way it goes in the political arena, it typically is not over even when it's over. But, meanwhile back on the ranch, that would be the ole blogger ranch, life in the trenches, so to speak, goes on. I don't know of anyone who is immune to the winds and waves that come with the life we've been given. I've been around long enough to know that anyone of us are just a phone call away from having to deal with an unexpected challenge or tragedy. However, we can be sure that regardless of what happens, the truth is still the truth, and our God is still with us each step we take. He is with us when it appears the political realm is turned upside down. He is with us when the hurricane puts a big old tree right smack dab in the middle of your house. He is with us when we have to say farewell to someone near and dear to our hearts. And, He will be there when it's time for us to go home. Sure, some folks really get excited and nervous about all the upheaval that tends to define our times but as the old song says, 'that's when you need the Lord'. Amen.

That first paragraph zapped a lot of my energy and I find myself needing to pause and make me another cup of Community to get myself going again. Hold on just for minute. I will be right back. Okay. That is so much better! Now where were we? How do I know I might be a little too plugged in? Confession time. I was actually listening to a replay of the U.S. Attorney General's testimony before the Judiciary Committee on my way in this morning. There are good things about having satellite radio and then there are the other things as well. Sorry, but I find stuff like that very compelling. And, I'm sure you do as well. Just kidding. But, now it's time to get on with the day that the Lord has made and given to us. Surely there will be someone we can encourage or help today, if we are looking. That will most likely be a whole lot more productive than my listening activity. You do know what I mean. Right Vern? Have a great day and may God bless each one. Amen.    ....More later.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Some memories fill us up to the brim.

It's always something. Or does it just seem that way? That's the way the fictional character played by the late Gilda Radner saw it. You know. Roseanne Roseannadanna would always say this: "Well, Jane, it just goes to show you, it's always something--if it ain't one thing, it's another." And, so it goes, on this Wednesday morning here on this May 15, 2013. One thing I do have that brings both a smile and a tear is this special day where we remember our baby sister, Kayla, on her birthday. She left us back in 1979 for her journey to see her Savior face to face. She had celebrated her 27th birthday and some 45 days later she finished her valiant battle against the ravages of acute leukemia. I've not known anyone more ready to go than Kayla in terms of her total confidence in her destination. At the same time she dreaded leaving her family, her husband and three small girls, along with the rest of us. Her girls have grown up and become accomplished in their different areas of acquired skills and expertise. She would be proud. It took me a while to find that photo. It was one of those searches through the big boxes filled with snapshots. I believe it was taken on their first trip home from California after her terminal diagnosis. They were able to have her transferred to San Antonio for treatment and that made her much more accessible for our family. Robert, at that time a Captain in the USMC is holding Kelly, Kayla is holding Mary Beth, and Stacy is sitting beside her mommy. Happy Birthday Sweetie. We still love you, and we still remember.

I actually was looking for a different photo that I had in my mind's eye. It was one of Kayla, my brother Donald, and me when we were all still in our single digits. Kayla had a cowboy hat on and was holding a toy pistol and I suppose Donald and I were the ones she was rounding up. I had that one in my mind. But, as we searched through the boxes my wife informed me that while she had seen that photo she didn't believe we ever had it. So there you go.You get something fixed in your mind and you think you know where to go find it, only to find out you never had it to begin with. I never tried to make anyone believe I'm not slipping a little. The other day I bumped into, (not literally), a lady I used to work with. She was very pleasant and nice and we stood in the auto parts store and visited for a couple of minutes. It was all upbeat and howdy howdy howdy. Maybe that could be my slogan instead of Duck Dynasty's happy happy happy. When we parted I stood there a moment and thought to myself: Wouldn't it be nice if I had a clue as to what that lady's name is? Slipping. A little folks...just a little.

This is why on most days I have enough to say grace over just dealing with me, myself, and I. Without going into any more details, suffice it to say that you don't know the half of it. But, it does come with the package and I suppose it's good that one can laugh about it. I didn't say I was laughing. I said it is good if someone could laugh about those little glitches that seem to grow in number as the years sail by. Here's a little A to Z menu of what some of us must deal with daily: "A’s for arthritis; B’s the bad back, C’s the chest pains, perhaps car-d-iac? D is for dental decay and decline, E is for eyesight, can’t read that top line! F is for fractures and fluid retention, G is for gas which I’d rather not mention. H is high blood pressure – I’d rather it low; I is for incisions with scars you can show. J is for joints, out of socket, won’t mend, K is for knees that crack when they bend. L is for lactose sensitivity, the tolerant context, M is for memory, I forget what comes next. N is neuralgia, in nerves way down low; O is for osteo, the bones that don’t grow! P is for prescriptions, I have quite a few, just give me a pill and I’ll be good as new! Q is for queasy, is it fatal or flu? R is for reflux, one meal turns to two. S is for sleepless nights, counting my fears, T is for Tinnitus; there’s bells in my ears! U is for urgent care, can't be too slow; V is for vertigo, that’s “dizzy,” you know. W is for worry, like what could be that sound? X is for X ray, and what might be found. Y is another year I’m left here behind,  Z is for zest that I still have– in my mind." The person who posted this on a joke website ended with this refrain: "I’ve survived all the symptoms, my body’s deployed, And I am now keeping twenty-six doctors fully employed!" Okay. Have a good one and I'll see you next time, Lord willing. Amen.    ....More later.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Each day we look in the mirror on the wall and straighten our hair. How much better would it be if we would look into the mirror of His word and straighten our heart?

Hello and welcome once again. I do appreciate all of you who tune in on a regular basis. I consider myself to be blessed to have an opportunity to visit with you folks through this medium of communication. It's early here at the old keyboard, on this Tuesday, May 14, 2013, and there's a slight nip in the air, the Community Coffee is hot, black, and wonderful, as usual, and I along with many of you are busy as we prepare ourselves for another adventure in this continuing series called Life. Last Sunday morning those in my Bible study class shared their recollections of their moms during a testimony time. I had asked that they think about a specific example of their mom relating to how she sacrificed on behalf of her children. This brought forth a number of teary recollections but it was sweet as we all considered the heart, example, and caring that our moms had poured into our lives. One common theme dealt with food. I had talked about how there were six of us and when the food was put on the table, the prayer said, we got with it, so to speak. Mom waited until we all had our fill and often that didn't leave much for her. I grew to learn that she was not always just not hungry, she was willing to wait on our behalf. Others joined in talking about their times at the table and how their moms also often went without. I told our class how that we were ferocious eaters and had the lights gone out while we were at the table, no telling how many of us would have been sporting fork marks in our hands when they came back on. Such precious memories of moms. Precious indeed!

While I don't know the lyrics, I am aware of Bob Dylan's song, "The Times They Are a-Changin." I think we can all agree with that sentiment. We have a professional athlete that wants to talk publicly about his sexual orientation. He does the out of the closet routine and the media go wild with enthusiastic support. You then have an athlete who has a committed relationship with His Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, and he publicly and unashamedly acknowledges this reality in his life. The media spews hateful condemnation and essentially tells this young man to shut his mouth. Recently he was cut from the team he was on and the media finally could be excited about this fellow. They rejoiced openly in his misfortune and wished him even more failure in the future. Why? You may have your own opinion but the way I see it, most of it is concerning his faith. He may not be good enough to be an elite player at the highest level but I just don't get the amount of venom reserved for him. Yes, Mr. Dylan, they are, they are really changing. Sadly, I don't think they are changing for good. But, that's just me. What do you think?

Some have said that I have the gift of gab. While I suppose that could mean something positive, typically it commonly reflects upon too much incessant and idle chatter about trivial matters. To each his own I suppose. I would not say I am never at a loss for words, but I must confess that I typically have something to say even when I don't have anything to say. A friend recently shared a true account about a fellow who had drawn a partner randomly for a golf match. They were riding the cart together between holes. After about 12 holes one of the partners walked off the course. No one knew why. Later it was found out that the other fellow had talked so much that it put his partner into such a state of frenzied distress that he felt he had no other option but to leave. I suppose that was a better response than seeing a report of cart path rage on our local news. Therefore, if, when, or ever you feel that my daily discourse has crossed the line, feel free to hit the escape key so that you can move on down the road. That's most likely what I would do if I felt that way. But, be that as it may, it is now time to wish you a good day and that God will bless us all as we continue to make our journey onward. Amen. ....More later.

Monday, May 13, 2013

"It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood." James Madison, 4th President of the United States, 1751-1836

Welcome back to that place where I'm doing my best to put some keystrokes out of their misery this morning. If you hang around for a while you might hear a few of them making some noise, like a shovel being dragged on the concrete driveway. At any rate, it is Monday, May 13, 2013, and I bid you a hearty hello and welcome. All the news stories flying around often not only get our attention, but they also cause us to gasp. Example: Three ladies were kidnapped, chained and abused by a school bus driver for ten years in a rather ordinary looking working class neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio. Ten years? It reminds me of what I heard growing up when my folks were trying to make sense out of this messed up world. "What's this old world coming to?" As it relates to a fallen human race, I believe this has long been and will continue to be the question moving forward, probably even more so. However, we do have the Creator's Life Manual that describes how this world came to be, how we should live each day, and what we can expect in the future by and by. That, of course, is the Holy Bible, God's breathed out truths that give us the before, during, and after of all things. I recommend to us all that we consult it often. Amen.

Yes. That would be yours truly. Before and after!
Facebook allows us to see how folks look today that we grew up with, went to school with, and literally saw often in those golden days from our past. I believe the operative word is change. The chorus to an old Gospel song comes to mind: "Time has made a change in the old home place; Time has made a change in each smiling face, And I know my friends can plainly see, Time has made a change in me." The experts tell us that we typically can readily see these changes in others but at times we have trouble recognizing it in ourselves. I worked with a fellow one time who dreamed about returning to Germany where as a young GI he had been stationed for a few years right after finishing high school and boot camp. I had seen pictures of him in his uniform. Very slim. Fast forward to thirty five years later and he was maybe 125 pounds heavier and the roadmap of life had left some indicators on his facial features. He wistfully thought of meeting up with the young ladies that he dated when he was there. Finally, he and his family arranged a skiing trip to Austria. He took a day off from their trip and traveled by train into Germany. He found some of the ladies he was anxious to see. He arranged to meet them but it was not close by a landslide to what he had envisioned. I'm sure they felt the same way. You just have to know, we are a funny lot. Don't you think so?

Some of you looked at that picture of me and while you didn't say it out loud, you thought it: "What in the world happened to that young fellow?" Life, my friend, life. The good news is how that young fellow didn't have a clue about all the challenges he would face later on. I believe that is a good thing. After all, it is how the Master Designer set it up. When that younger photo was taken we still had my older brother, my younger brother, and my baby sister. Granny and Paw Paw Mac were still around for us learn from. There were many wonderful things that young fellow didn't know about either. Like a young lady he would meet in about three years that would literally rock his world and change his life. He wasn't aware of the three boys that were destined to carry his name along with the children they would be blessed with. He couldn't have guessed that he would end up with so many great job opportunities, the privilege of teaching God's Word for forty plus years, and to rub shoulders with and be a part of the lives of some of the most wonderful people in the world. All these blessings came with their own set of challenges, good times and bad, but on balance, that young fellow would grow over time in his great thankfulness to God for the life He gave to him. That's about it. Life, my friend, life. And, that's my story and for the time being I'm sticking to it. Have a great Monday and may God add His blessings to it. Amen.    ....More later.

Friday, May 10, 2013

"The mother's heart is the child's schoolroom." Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887)

Today is Friday, May 10, 2013, and I am sitting here thinking about all the special moms that have had such a huge impact on my life. The annual day where we honor moms in a special way is coming up on Sunday. The photo reflects the obvious. My dear mother. Her mom, Granny Mac. My wife. Her mom, Mom Rawles. These ladies literally influenced and shaped my life and are in many ways responsible for who I am today. The word profound comes to mind because that's the level and extent of these moms along with their impact on my life. All of these ladies reflect special talents and abilities. They were and are known for their devotion to their family. But, perhaps the most telling distinction I can think of is their shared common belief in God and their efforts to live, with His help, the life of a Godly woman. Mom Rawles was a pastor's wife for most of her adult life. She was a simple woman of faith and I learned to love her dearly. Granny Mac helped raise us kids and she never quit quoting the Scriptures to us up until her final days here on the earth. My mom sacrificed for us kids, took us to Church, worked outside and inside our home, and today she remains committed to the study of God's Word. Lastly, my wife, she is beloved by all, and the boys and I along with their wives, children, grandchildren, and the great grand, all can rise up in thanking God for who she is and all that she does for each of us. Thank God for mothers who show us the way. Amen.

That's four moms and may I just tell you there have been many, many more in my life. I think about my wife's grandmothers, my aunts, my sisters, and other great moms in our family. There were teachers who used their motherly instinct and caring to help me along the way. Throughout my life there have been Church moms of all ages who have prayed for me, supported me in the ministries God has allowed me to pursue, and generally loved on everyone in ways that only a mom can do. Yeah. I am well aware of what the world thinks about the so called 'traditional' mom. It's not a part of the modern 'me first' way of living life. In my opinion, that's a tragedy because when young women choose to put aside their God given mothering calling, our nation, our children, and our families are jeopardized. But, praise God there are still those that follow His plan for men, women, boys, and girls. I thank God for the contributions of moms into my life and for their investments that have made this nation great. Just about every way I look at my experience with moms yields the image of sacrifice. That, my friend, has to be very close to the heart of God. Very close indeed! Amen.

When Jesus wanted to convey His love for His people who had rejected Him, He used bold language accompanied by the imagery of a mother hen desiring to gather her offspring under her wings. (See Matthew Chapter 23)  Sounds like mom to me. That will do it for today. I do pray a blessing on all moms and may God help each mom to feel honored on their special day. And, thanks to all moms everywhere who do make this world a better place. Lord willing, I'll be here at the keyboard trying to scramble up a thought or two come next Monday morning. Until then, may God bless us all. Amen.   ....More later.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The attitude of Congress concerning hidden taxes is not to do away with them, but, to do a better job of hiding them. (Unattributed)

If you were looking for Musing Manor, well, I think you might have come to the right place. On second thought, that may be slightly misleading because when you think about that musing word it supposedly reflects the output of contemplative thought. Oh well, maybe you didn't come to the right place after all, however, since it is Thursday, May 9, 2013, you might as well pull up a chair and sit for a spell. Ronald Reagan is widely quoted as having said, "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help." I did read this little funny the other day. "A little boy wanted $50 very badly and prayed for weeks, but nothing happened. Finally he decided to write God a letter formally requesting the $50. When the postal authorities received the letter addressed to God they decided to forward it to a high government official as a joke. The official was so amused he instructed his secretary to send the little boy $20. He thought this $20 would appear to be a lot of money to a little boy, and he did not want to spoil the kid. The little boy was delighted with the $20 and decided to write a thank you note to God, which read: 'Dear God: Thank you very much for sending the money. However, I noticed that you sent it through a government office and those idiots deducted $30, I suppose as a tax .......'"

The other day on our way out of my Louisiana hometown, the wife and I stopped by Beckom Cemetery to pay our respects. This is where the remains of many of my relatives were laid to rest. These include my dad, my grandparents, my older brother, my baby sister, my younger brother, my brother-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, along with classmates, teachers, friends, and neighbors. Walking around and looking at the headstones caused memories to literally gush forth. There's enough of them in that place to fill up a library. I could recall the voices, old times, and the way in which so many of these folks made a difference in my life. I know some people who prefer never to go near a cemetery. They say it's just too morbid. For me, I think about it as a very hopeful place. Why? God saw fit to make sure that we knew this about those who die in faith, "But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus." (From the Apostle Paul as written in 1st Thessalonians Chapter 5.) This tells me that I have not said a final farewell to so many of those whose time here on earth is now marked by a marble stone, for I will see them again and we have God's Word on it, and, that's good enough for me!

Last week my mom kept saying she thought she should pinch herself to make sure she really is 89 years young. I actually know how she feels. While I'm still for the next few months hanging out near that sign marked Route 66, I can tell you there are times when I feel like pinching myself because I am able to get up and go and function as well as God has allowed me to. Sure, I would prefer not to have to fret over the diabetes monster that hangs around twenty four hours a day, and I could do without some of the aches and pains that come with the territory marked aging. However, even with these slight difficulties, I feel blessed beyond measure because I am fully aware that it could be different. And, I am certainly not bragging because I know way too many people in that cemetery who went home way too early, or at least, from my way of seeing things. This doesn't mean I don't have my down days but when I'm thinking straight, I do thank God, like my mom, that He has seen fit to not only give me the years I have accumulated, but that He has enabled me to get up and go each day. As we so often hear, God is good all the time. All the time, God is good. And,  that He is! See you next go round and may God bless each one. Amen.  ....More later.