Friday, December 30, 2016

Speaking of The Almighty God, "In whose hand is the life of every living thing, And the breath of all mankind?" (Book of Job, Chapter 12, Verse 10)

Well, I made it. As the Lord provides, this will be my last visit for the year of 2016. Wowie Zowie! I believe this to be the 261st edition for this year. That is a lot of something. Today is Friday, December 30, 2016, and I'm sitting here thinking about all that has happened during the past 12 months. Next Monday when I show up for a new episode it will be in the brand new year of 2017. Okay. I know the older you get it is the more that you get like the older folks that you have known in your life. For instance, I really do think that time is speeding up for me. It all goes so fast. I remember as a kid hearing my grandmother talk about that very same thing. I don't think there is a physics rule involved, it's an aging rule that makes one aware that time is slip, slip, slipping, away. But, I will be rehearsing some of the major things that happened in 2016 in a future blog. That is, if I remember to remember to do that. Right now I am focused on ending this year and preparing to start a new one. One thing I am more convinced of than ever before, God is the one who has brought me to where I am today. He deserves any honor and glory from what little I have been able to accomplish. That isn't a lack of self awareness on my part, it is a truth awareness that I have learned in my three score and ten plus years of breathing air on the planet. I thought I would mention that as a way of ending this last visit for 2016. Happy New Year and may God bless us all is my prayer. Amen. ....More later.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Happy Birthday Sister

I am glad to greet everyone on this Thursday, December 29, 2016. Today is my sister JoAnn's birthday. If there ever was a family person, a family history person, a caring family person, and one who has a sense of the importance of family, well, that would be JoAnn. She loves first and asks questions later. She has not had an easy go of it in life, yet, she hangs in there. Her health is not the best, yet, she hangs in there. As far as siblings, it's our elder sister Frances, then JoAnn, and yours truly as we continue this family journey God has given to us. We've said goodbye for now, first to our dad back in 1954, then the eldest child in our family, Jimmy Don, in 1961. Then our baby sister Kayla in 1978. And, also younger brother Donald in 2011. We all are blessed to still have mom and our wonderful step dad with us. I pause today to commend my sister Jo for her supportive and caring heart. That is a good testimony. Happy Birthday and may God provide is my prayer. Amen. .....More later.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

American King James Version: "But you are holy, O you that inhabit the praises of Israel." ~ Psalm 22:3

I'm not that good at selfies, but, this is my mom and dad!
Welcome to another potential record breaking high temperature day. It's Wednesday, December 28, 2016, and while many are digging themselves out of snowdrifts, we're trying to figure out if the A/C unit will survive this December heat wave. I am glad to report that mom and dad are well. We had a great visit and for me, it's always good to be able from the heart to sing that old song, "Ain't it good to be back home again." I'm not sure which one shows more wear and tear. My pickup truck or me. He's close to 160,000 miles and I'm on my way to 71 but truth is, that 360 mile turnaround does take its toll. I even slept later. It's a wonder the wife hadn't called the EMTs just to see if I was still breathing. But, I come to you today with this thought. God has been so good to me and my family and in the small way that I can, I offer up my humble thanks and praise. I believe the Bible tells us that He inhabits the praise of His people. Have a great rest of the day and may God bless each one. Amen. ....More later.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

We will not soon forget the great blessings we enjoyed on Christmas Day.

I should be on down the road, Louisiana bound, when you read my little story for today. Yep. I'm on my way to see mom and dad on this Tuesday, December 27, 2016. I'll be taking them some lunch. I always try to grill up extra steaks and chicken so they can also enjoy our big Christmas feast. We had the largest group on Christmas Day that we've had in a long time. Kids running here and there. Talk going on from ninety to nothing, (whatever that means). Wonderful time of giving gifts and then we do the grilling. I did my best to cover for our home team since the wife is pretty much laid up due to her fractured vertebrae. It wasn't the same but we did get it done. Many jumped in to help as well. It's been pointed out to me more than once that I often say it was one of the best. Sorry. This was one of the best. Ever. And, what I will continue to do is to thank Almighty God for allowing us to enjoy family time, again. May God bless. See you next time. Amen. ....More later.

Monday, December 26, 2016

"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." 1st John 3:2, KJV

Welcome to this abbreviated version of my typical long winded blog. I bring you greetings on this Monday, December 26, 2016. Our family get together was, as I am typically wont to say, more than I could have anticipated, in terms of the joy of our fellowship and feasting. We leave this time of celebration thinking of the famous recognition, "God is good, all the time! All the time, God is good!" He has blessed us with another day and we thank Him for it. Each day also brings us one day closer to that time when we will live forever in His presence. Here's a note from a wonderful obituary I read last week. After giving this Godly man's names, nicknames, professional names and family names, (nine in total), these words grabbed hold of me: "But the one he heard on his last day, surrounded by his loved ones, was the one he had been faithfully waiting to hear in his 71.5 years on earth: My Son. He heard the voice of his God call to him, and as any good son, he faithfully ran to him. And while we will miss seeing him among us, we take comfort in the knowledge that he lives in the presence of his God, that he is reunited with those who went before him, and that he was surrounded in the love of those who remain behind." I can't help myself. It made me a little homesick. But until He calls my name I need to be busy in living in a way that seeks to honor His plan and purpose for my life. Amen.

Enjoy your day and may God add His blessings to it. Amen. .....More later.

Friday, December 23, 2016

"He who has no Christmas in his heart will never find Christmas under a tree." ~ Sunshine Magazine, a monthly publication started in 1924, featuring warm anecdotes and advice.

Today is Friday, December 23, 2016. It is officially the day before Christmas Eve. I ask that you say a prayer for the wife. She has more or less suffered a setback or a relapse from her back injury. She actually tried to come back way too soon in terms of resuming her normal activities. It's the old story of how when you push it, it does have a way of pushing back. I could see it happening but it's typically not a problem until it is a problem. I know she feels terrible about feeling terrible as we do our best to celebrate Christmas with our family. My first concern is for her and making sure she does not further antagonize her situation. Everyone knows she desires to be actively engaged in her myriad of ministries and other activities. She is a yard fanatic but hasn't been able to do anything yard related for nearly two months. Her riding mower must think she has abandoned it. Just whisper a prayer that she will be able to enjoy our time with family while she is resting, relaxing, and recovering. Thanks.

Yesterday I completed my last professional Santa engagement for this year. So much fun. So blessed to have been involved in this work for the past eight years. The wife and I still have one visit we plan to do on Monday morning. (Hopefully, she will feel like doing it.) It will be in the home where some folks will be gathering that we've known practically all of our lives. This year they are having a Christmas family celebration in our area, in the home of a family member who is currently in remission after a prolonged battle with breast cancer. Therefore, we are going to show up and do our best to make some photographic memories of the occasion. The late Andy Warhol is credited with this well-known quote, "In the future, everybody will be world-famous for fifteen minutes." In finishing up my 8th year of representing the jolly old elf himself, I think I've received a lot more than my allotted 15 minutes. Not for me personally, although I did share in the joy, but for my alter ego, the one and only, as one little guy put it, "Mr. Claus." The wife as Mrs. Claus joined me in my third year and she has been a brilliant addition. The kids love her, the folks we work with love her, and as my better half for these 52 plus years, I love her too. She also helps to keep Santa on track. Many of you know that's no easy task. The bottom line and we believe this to be true is that in these roles we are in the joy delivery business, and what a privilege it has been to be a part of this great adventure.

What does Santa do when he has finished his appointed rounds? He breathes a huge sigh of relief. And, he begins to preserve his Santa attire to await his first next time in the chair, which, for me, is typically the week before Thanksgiving. While I admire those fellow Santas who wear the suit year round, I'm not sure I'm cut out for that kind of rigorous scheduling. One fellow, in particular, was previously a trainer and motivational speaker. He now runs a Santa school, does commercials for TV, and makes Santa appearances throughout the year at various festivals and other special events. He is very good at what he does and I say, good for him. It makes me tired just thinking about it. The wife and I do talk about the Santa enterprise itself when I do finally retire - retire. We are not sure what additional venues we would try to do, however, we are very much aware of a huge amount of demand for our services during the November - December time frame. One thing I am very proud of in all of this is how we have attempted to do what we do as Santa and Mrs. Claus with professionalism and sincerity. And, we have also tried our best to learn and improve along the way. What has helped us the most? Kids. That's right! Children of all ages, in every color, shape, and size. They make it exciting and that, my friend, fuels a ton of motivation. I send to each one a Christmas blessing from our home to yours. May God be honored as we seek to honor His one and only Son at this time of year. Amen. ....More later.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

"Plant flowers in others' gardens and your life becomes a bouquet!" — Unknown

It's Thursday, December 22, 2016, and I'm contemplating how that soon I will be greeting you for the last time this year from here at this workstation. I give a huge thank you to my dear friend and brother in Christ, the owner of our Company, for allowing us to shut down next week for a Christmas break. When we finish up tomorrow, I will actually be off from using this particular computer, Lord willing, until January 2nd. I am so looking forward to this little short sabbatical. Most of you know that I am a card-carrying member of the International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas, (IBRBS). This is a very active group that seeks to help and encourage those in the Santa Claus profession. Each day their Facebook page is filled up with photos of individual Santa activities. Many of them reflect charitable events in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospitals, and pediatric facilities. They show up on behalf of those dealing with physical limitations and learning disabilities. Reaching out to those with cancer. Showing some love for Autistic children. Think about it. A fellow shows up sporting a white beard, wearing a red suit, and suddenly hearts are lifted and eyes shine. Children who have lost all their hair put on a broad smile and their countenance is lit up like a Christmas tree. This may seem like a trivial thing to most folks, but, having personally loved on many with special needs, I can tell you, there's really not much like it. For those of my comrades in red who do so many of these events, I say, God bless you for showing up with some joy to help brighten the day and the life of someone in need. Amen.

It's always important to communicate clearly. I saw this photo the other day and I thought it was very telling in a number of different ways. I try to stay somewhat up to date with stuff happening in the modern culture but there are times when I hear kids talking forth and back and I have no clue what they are discussing. There's a particular commercial targeted to older people where the fellow hawking the product advises those interested to consult with their grandchild on how to place an online order. I see our grandchildren helping their MiMi with her smart aleck phone from time to time. She is always impressed with how much they know. Nearly every time I look at my Facebook I see more and more people, just regular folks, broadcasting live. It's a new function offered where you can produce a live video feed from wherever you happen to be. In the car, the kitchen, at the grocery store, whenever and wherever one wants to let the world watch them do their thing. It has given rise to those who wish to offer their live commentary on whatever happens to be in the news or of personal interest to them. It's pretty amazing to see how many of those are going on at the same time. There's now so many sending live feeds, I guess they will soon need to offer a multiple screen way of watching a dozen or more simultaneously. I can still remember when a TV program came on and it was a novelty for them to say, "Coming to you live and in person." Those times, they just keep on 'a changin'.

I am not into using those little emoticons or emojis as they are designated. That's those little faces and special symbols that are supposed to communicate your emotional response. A happy face would indicate you are happy. Now folks are getting into trouble because they either accidentally attach the wrong emoticon or they may even do it intentionally for whatever reason they have in mind. Then you have the ones that get mangled in the translation. They end up on the receiving end all distorted with no way of determining what was originally sent. I suppose I'm old school in that I typically try to write out whatever it is I'm wanting to communicate. I do believe in the use of images to convey a message but when it comes to things like how you feel about a certain comment or thought, clarity is the most important thing, as I see it. I don't mind people using these little ad ons. I'm just talking about my experience. I do that quite often. I'm sure you have noticed that about my sharing. I suppose that's why they call it a personal blog. I do hope you have a happy face day with the a-okay symbol added to it. See. That wasn't so hard. And, you don't have to look anything up to determine what I meant. May God bless us all is my prayer. Amen. .....More later.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

"It is mind-boggling to me that the Almighty power created everything I see; the Bible says that God created the entire universe just so he could create this galaxy just so he could create Earth so he could create human beings so he could create a family." ~ Rick Warren

The countdown continues. The anticipation is building. There's some real excitement brewing. It won't be long now. I can hardly wait. No. Not Christmas Day. I'll get to that one later. I'm talking about me finishing up on my professional Santa Claus duties after today and tomorrow. Mostly, I'm just messing with you on this Wednesday, December 21, 2016. I've been fitting in some shopping when I can and there's a real frenzy going on out there. The wife and I were in one of the mega toy stores the other evening and it was elbow to elbow crowded. I don't watch any zombie shows, period, end of story. However, the folks working in that store. Well, given their demeanor and the blank stare in their eyes, I think they might audition as a zombie on the spot. My wife does try to keep an eye on me. I did take something from another person's cart and was looking at it when she and the worker lady simultaneously said no, it belongs to someone else. The fellow came over to his cart and I apologized. He thought it was funny and pointed me to the shelf where he had found that item. The wife had a photo of a gift item that according to her smart aleck phone that business should have had several of them, so, she asked one of those zombie boys about it, showing him the picture, and he stumbled off and we never saw him again. Bottom line, we didn't blame him in the least.

I know some of you picked up on my comments about the Santa enterprise, and you may have recalled my long standing rule about never complaining when it is a self inflicted situation. I am well aware of my own rules but thanks for reminding me. Let me also make it clear that in my humble opinion, I was not complaining, just explaining, you know, sharing. I'm trying to remember if that ever worked when the boys tried to use that as a response. Oh well, I'm 70 now, and while I've been called an eccentric for years, I'm feeling more comfortable these days with that designation. There's some good news in all the hustle and bustle that defines this season. It has to do with remembering the Reason for the Season. Our little Bible study group has been continuing in our reading again as if it were for the first time, the Old Testament prophetic passages about the Promised Coming One. We then read the specific New Testament verses that speak precisely to how Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled that very passage. All I can tell you is that some of these correlations are breathtaking. They have caused us to stop and be in awe of God's plan to redeem His fallen human creation. As I go here and there I can't help but think on those things and at times I nearly gasp as my heart gushes forth in worship of my Lord and Savior. Don't know what I am talking about? These passages are easy to find. Google it. Read them and be blessed. Amen and Amen.

A funny thing happened to me on my way to doing my blog today. I hit a huge roadblock with this warning: BLANK PAGE. Here I am working on the third paragraph and to be honest, I will need to go back and read what's in the first two because when I sat down I didn't have a clue. That's why I am always thankful to round up some words and get them onto the electronic page. As I often remind us, anytime we share truth about God and His love, it is being delivered to the right address. I am trying to wait until later this week to begin finalizing plans for our family gathering scheduled for Christmas Day. That's easier said and done. Yesterday morning I was awake at 2:30 a.m., essentially waiting for my internal clock to tell me it's okay to get up and get going. Well, as I attempted to nap, all I could think of was the mental lists of all the things that need to be done for our gathering. I hate it when I do that because the more I think about things I wanted to wait on thinking about, it is the more involved I get in my review. What's that? You think you may have a better description than being an eccentric for me? Save that thought and we will cover it as part of my New Year's resolutions. I know. I don't do resolutions. But, I do believe in making plans. I sure hope this doesn't cause me to  wake up with a list of things I should be doing in the New Year. Someone please stop the train because I feel the need to disembark. (I've always wanted to use that word.) Until next time, think some about those verses I mentioned and may God bless us all is my prayer. Amen. ....More later.  

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The playwright Aeschylus, in Seven Against Thebes, 467 B.C., wrote: "Let women stay at home and hold their peace."

So many folks long for things to be like they were 'way back when'. I'm not so sure they really mean that except perhaps on a very selective basis. I heard a bubbling sound and this is what percolated to the top to get us started on this Tuesday, December 20, 2016. Just look at that ad. Those were the days my friend, those were the days. Practical. You just have to know that every little homemaker would love to have some new Pyrex oven ware. Right? I can actually remember back when I did buy my wife those kinds of gifts. I'm not sure when it faded but somewhere along the way they reversed course on us. It became no longer a personal or respectful gift if it is used as part of her chores. That had to have come from one of those foreign countries attempting to destroy our domestic tranquility. How about a set of brand new scrubbing brushes? Or, a brand new mop and bucket? Yep. Folks like to dream how it used to be, but, they would not want to return to some of the major features of the culture back in the day. I know my wife was gracious even when she got a new vacuum cleaner. Those units back then, the good ones, they could actually pick up a bowling ball. Pretty spiffy. Right? It wasn't long after seeing that bowling ball demonstration that got me to thinking about the fact that we didn't even own any bowling balls and really never would have imagined using a vacuum cleaner to pick them up. I'm very glad that many practices from the past are behind us, although there are many that we should have kept. (I'll save a discussion of that for another day.) Here's a cautionary note: If you were able to find a brand new unused set of those same Pyrex bowls today, you can be certain that you will be paying more than $4.90 for them. Just so you know.

HEB gave us a cake this past Sunday to recognize our 52nd wedding anniversary.
They tell us that based on demographics, Houston is the most diverse city in America. I can only say this about that. We live in a thriving suburb north of Houston but in my role as Santa, I can tell you that we in this area reflect every nationality on the face of the earth. Most of the cultures recognize and embrace Santa Claus. I very much appreciate that I am playing a character. I have no misgivings about that. Yet, it's somewhat mind-boggling to me to know that instantaneously taken photos of myself with kids of all colors, shapes, and sizes are being sent literally around the world. One American married to a French lady had their little guy and they thought they would at least give a photo with Santa a shot. Turns out, he loved Santa. It happens that way sometimes. They must have snapped a dozen or more photos. They could not believe it. The lady was nearly in tears. I told the husband that he was going to be able to make the grandparents proud. He said I didn't know the half of it. I couldn't help but think about the lady's parents in France. I can only imagine how they felt when they received those photos. This is why we like to think of ourselves as being in the joy delivery business. Oh yeah. Just so you know, sitting in that chair for hours handling these wonderful children, well, it is draining and it will literally knock the daylights out of you. Just ask my recliner at home.

It's good to know that, as of yesterday, we now have a duly elected new President, based on the way our elections are held according to our constitution and laws. Most of us by nature are not good losers. That's how we are put together. However, it does make a difference how far one is willing to go to discredit the election process. For those who supposedly cared so deeply about maintaining respect for how elections are conducted, before the votes were cast, they now are doing just about everything they can to undermine any confidence in the results. Let me rephrase that, everything and anything. What changed their minds on this subject? Simply put, they lost. I don't have a problem finding out what the Russians may or may not have done. However one looks at it, the veracity of those hurtful emails has never been challenged. Plenty of dirt was spread about Trump and his business dealings, personal life, and I think in his case, it included the proverbial kitchen sink. She lost. He won. Time to move on. I know that's easy for me to say but I do hope that for the well being of our nation that folks will get on with the job at hand. I think you've heard it before, the job of making America great again. Whatever our political persuasion, we can always know that God is Sovereign and He is in ultimate control. Amen. ....More later.

Monday, December 19, 2016

"My life is a monument to procrastination, to the art of putting things off until later, or much later, or possibly never." ~ Craig Brown, Satirist

Good morning. You caught me singing along with the White Rabbit from 'Alice In Wonderland', "I'm late / I'm late / For a very important date. / No time to say 'Hello, Goodbye'. / I'm late, I'm late, I'm late." Being Santa makes it somewhat difficult for me to say that Christmas has slipped up on me. However, I'm feeling just a bit bewildered by the runaway clock that stops for no one. Translation: I still have many things to get done before the 25th. There. I've said it. It's Monday, December 19, 2016, and at the present moment, I'm still stewing over which excuses for the situation I'm in makes the most sense. I'll get back to you when I come up with some good ones. Many of you know that I am a reader of obituaries. I read maybe a few dozen on most days. I love those that do a good job telling the story of the person's life. I also note interesting tidbits. Having just celebrated the 52nd observance of our wedding date, this interesting line from the notice regarding a 93-year-old lady jumped out at me, "Bessie is survived by her husband of 76 years, 5 months, and 2 days..." Now that's what I call a long run and a precise way of stating it. I assume they adjusted for leap years. That is a joke. Just trying to add some levity here. Now back to where I started, based on all that I have before me, I know this to be true, Christmas can't be far away.

I'm sure my wife thinks that Mr. Brown, the fellow I quoted in today's title, was mixed up when he wrote that about himself. In her mind, if Mount Rushmore was dedicated to procrastination, then my face would be on all four sculptures. I will assess more of her thoughts on this subject, either at a later date or when I get around to it. Here are some observations I found on the subject of procrastination: ~ "If and When were planted and Nothing grew." (Unattributed Proverb) ~ "When there is a hill to climb, don’t think that waiting will make it smaller." (Anonymous) ~ "After all is said and done, more is said than done." (Anonymous) ~ "Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow." (Mark Twain) ~ "Someday is not a day of the week." (Unknown) ~ "Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week." (Spanish Proverb) ~ "The worst form of procrastination is reading a procrastination quote, feeling the guilt and not doing anything about it." (Unknown)  ~ And, my personal favorite, "Warning: dates on this calendar are closer than they appear." That one was also written by that Anonymous individual. I sure see that name in a lot of places. Very prominent. Trust me on that one.

I know that some may get a little tired of my Santa stories. I can't apologize because they reflect not only my own reality but they also reflect a huge amount of my time during the holiday season. The picture above was made in the professional photography studio. For each sitting, we did a minimum of nine different poses. The one depicted in the picture is where Santa and the child pray before enjoying milk and cookies. This particular photo got a lot of play on Facebook and the mom wrote this as the caption, "Our family believes in Santa and we believe in the power of prayer. Our Santa is also a believer and knows the real reason for Christmas!" (I left out the family name.) I've been taking photos with that youngster for several years now and what a blessing it is to see these kids grow and develop. You know. From Santa's unique perspective. The photographer always asks if they pray before they eat before shooting this one. Often the children pray like they do at home. Doing these photos is a high pressure, high dollar venture because of the associated expectations. However, the kids are really something. They make what I do doable, with joy, I might add. The wife and I get the message loud and clear, we do make a good Santa and Mrs. Claus. We get that. Yet, in many ways, we are props because the real characters in the story can be seen in the responses of the children. I've heard my wife say time and time again that her favorite thing is to see a child light up as they approach Santa. She might not be proud of my procrastinator ways, but, she loves what I do for children of all ages when I'm wearing the Red. Take care and have a great rest of the day. May God bless each one. Amen. ....More later. 

Friday, December 16, 2016

There are milestones ahead!

Good morning and welcome to Friday, December 16, 2016. This coming Sunday is a version of the Big One for us each year. We have our grandson Jimmy Jr. celebrating his birthday. We have our daughter-in-law Mitzi, our Rodney's wife, lighting birthday candles as well. We are very connected to these two birthdays because the wife and I will also be observing the 52nd year of our time together as wife and husband. That's a lot to take in but we are thankful for these birthdays and the journey together that God has given to us.

Happy Birthday to our Jimmy Jr. This upcoming Sunday he will leave the teens behind him as he embraces his 20th birthday. He currently is working part time and taking college classes. He has been blessed with ability and we pray that he will use it to honor God and pursue a life of purpose and meaning. He is our first grandson and we love him with all of our hearts. Happy Birthday Jimmy Jr., from your MiMi and Poppy.

Mitzi continues to be the model for an active mom, friend, wife, business associate, and her life is reflected by the blur of motion as she seeks to serve while wearing so many different hats. Devoted. That's what we think of when we think of Mitzi. Devoted and loyal. We are so thankful for her and the way she cares for our Rodney, Kyleigh, Lexie and Brady. May God continue to bless our Mitzi and we send her our love as we wish her a wonderful birthday. Love, mom and dad.

Last but certainly not least, I pause to recognize the wonderful woman God gave to me so many years ago. Fifty-two is not such a huge number. It's just a little past the halfway mark on the way to 100, but, in terms of marriage, well, it's obviously a pretty big number indeed. How do I know? We hear it all the time. When folks find out that our version of Santa and Mrs. Claus have been a married couple for over 50 years, well, the response is more or less consistent. We get the Wow! along with some sad commentary about how unusual this is in today's world. While this long run is impressive to many, we are well aware that it has not always been a tip toe through the tulips. We've had our ups and downs, and plenty of the downs along the way. The actual records indicate that couples busting up was fairly low throughout most of the history of our nation. As recent as 1970 the number was only 33% or one out of three marriages ending in divorce. Now it is pretty much accepted to be 50% or more that don't make it. I say that not to build us up, but, to express my thankfulness to God that despite the tough times, He has provided for us, and, I thank Him for the wonderful girl, and she was only 17 when we married, that He, through His grace and mercy, allowed me to marry. I used to think she suffered from selective hearing. I've come to realize that today we both have trouble and because of the years and wear and tear, there's nothing selective about it. But, it does make for a good laugh now and then. Oh yeah. People want to know the key. That's one of them. Laughing. Together. As usual, I sign off my statement of devotion of fifty-two years like this, "Baby, you're the greatest!" Happy Anniversary Sweetheart! Amen. ....More later.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

"If we become increasingly humble about how little we know, we may be more eager to search." ~ John Templeton

Good morning and welcome to Thursday, December 15, 2016. The pastor of the local fellowship where we attend is currently doing a sermon series on selfies and what they say about us, and how we do need to examine ourselves in light of the truth of God's Word. I'm typically more interested in examining others, but, from time to time, I will make a foray into that mixed up world of how I became who I am today. A couple of things came to mind recently. As a kid, I used to love to eat produce out in the garden right off the plant or vine. So much so, my granddad would worry if we would have enough left over for the rest of the family. He was joking. A little. Then I thought about how I loved to eat whatever was being cooked in the kitchen before it was even baked. They would run me out of there and Granny Mac would proclaim that if I kept eating like that I was going to be as sick as a dog. Aha! See what I mean? That may explain some things. Raw fruits and vegetables and uncooked baked goods. It's a wonder they had not accused me of grazing out in the nearby field. Wait a minute. I dearly loved certain weeds. Some of them had these little pods that were bitter and they were oh so tangy. Other varieties were juicy and sweet. After all these years we are finally making progress. I'm pretty sure I'm not an alien lifeform, however, I'm 100% certain that I'm not a permanent citizen of this world since I'm on my way to my real home. You know. That one in heaven. In the corner of gloryland as the old song says. I can't wait to tell my analyst about these startling revelations. Oh yeah. I don't have one. Yet.

Maybe I should consider donating my brain for scientific inquiry. (Preferably after I have sung the last stanza and chorus of Goodbye World Goodbye!) That might make sense because I've been told ever since I was a kid that I should use my head/noggin/brain and or thinking apparatus for something other than a hat rack. Since I never wore a hat as a kid it took me a long time to figure that one out. They never spent much time discussing with me the nuances of the figures of speech they used. You may be reading this and also wondering what a hat rack is. Essentially, it is a place with a hook to hang your hat. Back when most men wore hats these units were very available in public places. Maybe things would have been different had I at a much younger age learned the implicit meaning of that admonition. On the other hand, I suppose it's not too late. There are a few gray cells still firing. On a hit and miss basis with a lot of knocking in-between, but, they are making a connection now and then. Enough to scramble some thoughts in the morning with a side of nonsense thrown in for good measure. I am unanimous in my reluctance to offer score cards to make keeping up with by blog easier. Now that I have finished with my hokey hat rack story, let me move on, although, I can't dismiss it altogether since it could well offer up another piece in the puzzle.

Given that I have these re-visited recollections to reflect on, maybe I should sit right down and write myself a letter. To finish the analogy, I suppose I could make believe the letter came from me. I know that's not exactly what the 1935 classic song was about, but, remember, we are into life as a mosaic here, and we have here a metaphor, there a metaphor, everywhere a metaphor, as we merrily go along. I've been told in the past that I should consider writing a book. Let me see, over 2,460 pages during the past ten years. Maybe I have already written one, or maybe even a series by now. Yes. I am aware that much of it is repetitive along with the rehashing of many of the same stories. I think personal blogging is fraught with those kinds of issues. However, as they say somewhere, we soldier on. It helps to be very clear on exactly what you want for Christmas. I had this sweet little girl on my lap who had lost her front teeth. I told her about the famous song that talks about all I want for Christmas are my two front teeth. She was emphatic. "Not me. No. No. No." She then proceeded to give me an exacting account of all the things she had on her list. (I believe her idea of dental work was that it is provided as a part of her parental health care coverage.)  Poor Santa. Just trying to make conversation. That's what I do here on most days and some of what I share goes over just about as well as my little forth and back with that little girl. For me it's time to get back to the aforementioned, soldier on motif. Enjoy your day and know that it was provided to you by the Lord God of heaven. Be sure and let Him know you are thankful for it. Amen. ....More later.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

“We seldom realize, for example that our most private thoughts and emotions are not actually our own. For we think in terms of languages and images which we did not invent, but which were given to us by our society.” ― Alan W. Watts

Let me open today's visit with an apology. I have at different times had some great stuff to share and I could hardly wait to get them onto the electronic page. However, I do have the 'other duties as assigned' category of activities to take care of, therefore, I did wait and now find myself wondering what in the world happened to those marvelous stories. Oh well, they tell me it does happen to older folks but that wouldn't explain it in my case. Right? Joking only. Welcome to today's edition where I will do my best to dredge up something on this Wednesday, December 14, 2016. When I thought of that word 'dredge', it brought to mind the late, great Cajun humorist and TV cook, Justin Wilson. He was big on using a dredge in his cooking. He also liked the word 'drench'. Here's his recipe for frying catfish. 1-quart oil, 4 catfish fillets. DRENCH: 1 large egg, 1 cup buttermilk, Louisiana hot sauce to taste, salt to taste. DREDGE: 1 cup corn flour, 1 cup cornmeal, salt to taste, ground cayenne pepper to taste. Preheat the oil to 365°. Beat together the egg and buttermilk in a small bowl, then add the seasonings.  In a separate bowl, mix the flour, meal, salt and pepper. Pass the catfish fillets through the drench and coat well with the dredge.  Fry several minutes until the fillets float and are a golden brown.  Drain on paper towels and serve immediately. That was posted from someone on the internet who had used it from one of Wilson's cookbooks. I shared it because of the words DRENCH and DREDGE. (Sorry, it's that kind of day.)

I'm not completely sure, but, maybe me sharing that recipe will qualify my blog as some type of public service help site. Don't count on it. I do think word association is a pretty neat thing. I am aware that dredging is a digging operation and that is the context I intended, however, at the same time I immediately thought about Justin Wilson, a fellow I saw in person at a business conference, and one that I watched for years on his PBS cooking show. Just one word, dredge. I often hear people say, I give you my word on it. That causes me to typically think of my grandfather, Paw Paw Mac, because he personified the meaning of 'my word is my bond.' He was not known for saying things like that. He was known for living it out as a day by day part of how he functioned. From the inside out. Even when it cost him something. He was one of those who placed a high value on his integrity. Looking back, I see why many of the brothers within his circle were a little wary of him. They knew that he could spot phoniness a mile off and they also knew he would never go along to get along. He was not a deal maker. He was a word keeper. I hope you have certain words that trigger specific recollections and give you a sense of thankfulness as a result. Amen.

The power of word association.
That type of personal word association can be both instructive and inspirational. My grandfather was not perfect. He had a healthy temper. Yet, the sum total of his life was exactly the way I described it. You could count on him. He cared little for worldly accolades or the other attractions, but, he believed in God's purpose and that included him living in a way that honored God. Even after these many years since his passing, some 45 of them, I find myself desiring to be a fraction of the man he was. I can assure you that even at 70 years into this journey, I still have much to do to emulate his example. But, I digress, since I couldn't remember that long list of great subjects, I ended up serving up what we find today. Fried catfish including how to drench and dredge, and a word to us all about the practical aspects of living a life of genuine integrity. When I put it like that, it actually makes it seem more worthwhile. I know. You will be the judge of that. I do hope you have a great rest of this day and that we all will be thanking God for it. Amen. See you next time. ....More later.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

“For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.” ― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Good morning and welcome to Tuesday, December 13, 2016. It took a while but I finally was able to locate it. I'm talking about the animated cartoon version of Mr. Magoo's A Christmas Carol. I put it up in a little box on my computer and watched it off and on during the day. I had heard a lady who called into a radio program talking about watching Magoo's version of this classic Dicken's story as their family tradition on Christmas eve. That reminded me that I had not watched it for a number of years. The late character actor Jim Backus was great as the voice of Magoo. While the experts tend to argue the extent of Charles Dickens' heart for the poor, there's no doubt that his writings called attention to many who were enslaved by their poverty. He was seen as a champion for the poor during his lifetime. We are all familiar with the morality tale represented in his famous work, 'A Christmas Carol'. That story never gets old because it depicts how a person given over to greed and selfishness can change. A hard heart became soft as he repented of his past and pursued a new beginning of genuine caring and giving. It reminds us of those less fortunate than ourselves, and in doing so, it has something to say to us all.

The current rage in the political world has to do with something called 'fake' news. These are untrue stories out in the world of social media put up by a variety of people. Now we have Hillary Clinton hinting that her loss most likely was directly connected to fake news. I heard the campaign chair for Donald Trump give her insight into the fake news that could have made the most impact. That was the fake accounts trumpeted by the mainstream news media on a 24x7 basis that Mr. Trump had no chance of winning, none whatsoever, it cannot happen, no mathematical path, forget about it, and odds were more than 85% against the probability of a Trump win. You tell me. Were any of those accounts from the so-called most trusted news people in our country legitimate? Take your time, but, I can't wait forever. No doubt there are planted stories of all kinds. From all sides. We even have the questions for one of the debates leaked beforehand to Hillary and she still lost. Suddenly, according to the mainstream who had the fakiest of all accounts, our government needs to step in and do something about these fake news stories. I believe they were still saying there was no path to victory as late as midnight on election day. What could have been any more fake than an attempt to defeat a candidate with those kinds of erroneous stories? We could say they were just flat out wrong but that would still not absolve them from campaigning against Trump with their mythical propaganda. Now they are lamenting how respect for them is at an all time low. Really? Duh!

Here's one for us all to try and make sense of. A recent in-depth university study concluded that 50% of people remember events, including the details, that actually never happened. Talk about having an inventive imagination! I know exactly what some of you are thinking. Having read my blogs, you think that perhaps I was the main source for this study. The joke is on you because they didn't even contact me. Or, maybe in a few years, I will actually remember them talking to me along with the questions they asked. I recognized similar problems long before this study was ever undertaken. I often ask myself, do I remember this event or was it one that I heard about so much that it became my recollection. I'm not always certain, especially when we are talking many years ago. It would be nice to think back on the times when I felt very hurt and see those incidents as having never occurred. But, based on the study, that's not really the type of things they found. An example might be a recollection of being at a specific event like a rally, a concert, or other significant happening.  According to the study, people remembered being at those events including what was going on, even though they were not present. I will have to spend some time thinking about this one. I suggest you do the same. One thing I don't have to study. I wish each one God's best as we continue our journey here on the planet. Amen. ....More later.

Monday, December 12, 2016

How to surprise Santa: Leave a note by the telephone telling Santa that Mrs. Claus called and wanted to remind him to pick up some milk and a loaf of bread on his way home.

The Claus Team, this year at Chick-fil-A, Magnolia, TX
"What goes up must come down Spinnin' wheel got to go 'round", those are the lyrics from the 1969 mega-hit by the group, Blood, Sweat, and Tears. I remember it being on all the radio stations but I can't recall knowing anything about the meaning. That is still true today, however, as I thought about our busy schedule I could hear that line in my head, therefore, I decided to get started with it on this Monday, December 12, 2016. We finished our 13th Santa Enterprise event yesterday and that pretty much does it for Mrs. Claus. I still have six more scheduled where they only want Santa to show up and we do have one last joint appearance planned for a special family the day after Christmas. The wife will go with me to some of my single appearances. She is my supporter and encourager. I always do better when she is with me. Always. And, she can help spot and fix issues with my appearance. I do my best to keep up with stuff like that but with kids of all ages wallowing all over the uniform, well, it can become pretty discombobulated along the way. You remembered. Good. I do like the word discombobulated. I haven't used it in a while so I thought it was about time.

We wanted to spend our free day, last Saturday, starting to get ready to get ready for our family Christmas celebration. Turned out, I had a number of errands to take care of and Mrs. Claus was mostly laid up most of the day on the couch in recovery mode, therefore, we'll get to it another day. That special family gathering is one we always look forward to when all our kids, their kids, along with our great grand all gather in our home for a time of feasting and fellowship. I started to say it's that time when we enjoy sitting around the blazing fire in the fireplace but it's one of those fake jobs but it does make a crackling noise. I may have been fooled by it once or twice on a very cold morning. Nothing like trying to warm yourself on a flickering low watt light bulb made to look like fire. I'm always glad when I'm the only one who knows that I did what I did. Given recent developments, based on my age, it may be harder and harder to cover up these types of miscues. Just too many of them. I have an old friend who will soon be 80. He worked with me several years here at the company. He used to be an early person, like me, and we would enjoy some Community coffee together. He came out the other day to visit. He told me he wanted to tell one on himself. He is a huge dominoes game player. He is always on the look out for an opportunity to play. He and is wife were traveling down the roadway near their home and he spotted a huge sign on a Church. He got excited because it was about dominoes. He couldn't wait to call and see when the games were played. He called. He told them he had seen their sign and wanted to know what day and time the games were played. They told him the sign wasn't about dominoes. They were a Spanish-speaking Church and the sign had said Domingo, meaning Sunday.

The other evening the folks at the Chick-fil-A where we were doing our Santa and Mrs. Claus appearance came and told us that a nine-year-old boy wanted to come see us. His mom had left him out in the car until she let them know his situation. He is battling cancer. He wasn't allowed to be exposed to a lot of people so they asked if we would let him come and take a picture ahead of the others waiting. The Chick-fil-A manager gave me a large gift basket to give to him when we were done. The little guy came in and took off his mask and came over and sat in my lap. They snapped a few photos and I gave him his gift that he greatly appreciated. The people in line didn't mind at all. Say what you want but the environment is just different in those restaurants. One of the managers at that particular location came up through the AWANA program at our local fellowship. We helped sponsor her as a teen on a foreign mission trip. She is now married with a couple of kids. Her and her husband both work at Chick-fil-A. She's the one who arranged for this young fellow to get a photo made with Santa. Those are the kinds of experiences we treasure. Probably less than a minute of time spent but it made a struggling kid a little happier and we were privileged to help make that possible. Okay. Now it is time to say so long for today. I do hope you enjoy the rest of your Monday and I'll do my best to catch back up with you tomorrow. Lord willing, of course. Amen. ....More later.

Friday, December 9, 2016

"Go the extra mile. It’s never crowded." ~ unknown

Our middle son's four, 2009, three of them are now in college.
Today. Friday. Yay! December 9, 2016. Since last Friday I've sat in the Santa chair for many hours, doing eight events with another one scheduled this evening. I've dealt one on one with literally hundreds of children and the song they sing in Church comes to mind, "Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, red, yellow, brown, black and white, they are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world." For you purists, you will no doubt notice I inserted 'brown' into the song. Believe me, I've been up close and personal with many brown faces during this most recent run. I think many of you know that I have a huge soft spot for those with special needs. This past week I've had some with severe physical limitations. I've had some in their 40's who still have the mind of a child. I've even had one young man who suffers from an extremely rare, always fatal, neurological disease. At age 14, he has been living on borrowed time for several years. He loves Santa. I've had those missing their mom or dad who serves in the military. I had one ten-year-old girl who almost teared up when she plainly told me all she wanted for Christmas was for her mom to find a husband. One little girl gave me a long whispered explanation for why they were running late. It had something to do with her dad and his problems in the bathroom. Her mom had a puzzled look on her face as this young lady unfolded her little story. Oh yeah, I've had a handful of screamers. Some of them very strong and I might add, very good at kicking. I'm am so proud to relate how that my number one companion, Mrs. Claus, has made every joint appearance, and she has, as always, captivated those who came to see us. I think it is safe to say that I did bite off more than I should have for this season, however, I do sleep very well at night. In fact, the other evening after we got home, I thought I might relax a little in my recliner. It was funny because after about 45 minutes I woke up and called out for Mrs. Claus. For a few seconds, I didn't have a clue where I was.

Tired already of my Santa related stories? Sorry, but I'm pretty sure you've not even begun to have heard the last of these stories. You have my permission, not as if you needed it, to change the channel anytime you feel like it. That reminds me of the main TV remote controller we have at home. It is way past its prime. It is very challenging but I am the master in using it. Let me point out that we do have a brand new modern device given to us by our eldest son, however, it requires set up that I've not bothered to research yet. How long? Not that it makes any difference, but, I think we've had the new one for a couple of years. At any rate, the old one causes lots of consternation around our place. It's a wonder the wife hasn't thrown it against the wall. You have to baby it. Talking to it helps also. And, you do have to get into a variety of different positions before he can align himself with the correct telemetry required to change a channel. (I actually count those gyrations as exercise points. They give me something to tell my doctor when he asks.) The remote and I are not helped in the least by all the decorations surrounding access points. But that's a subject that I've learned will get me nowhere, fast. He and I, working together, has become somewhat of a ritual. The good news is that once he can be coaxed to get up and going, he does a very reasonable job. What more could we ask?

Never get the idea that I am complaining about burning the candle at both ends. No one is more thankful for me being physically able to juggle my schedule and scramble in trying to be in two places at the same time. Or it seems that way at times. Thankful. Last Monday when we were at the senior adult special needs apartment complex, one lady didn't want to have her photo made with Santa based on her religious convictions. I told her I totally understood her point of view, and I do. I've shared many times how that, growing up, we were 100% aware of the real meaning of Christmas. Always. We also were allowed to enjoy Santa Claus. Others see it differently. The commercial aspects involved will always be an issue. I mentioned to someone the other day about the new drivable Cinderella carriage being promoted by the world's largest big box store company. You've likely seen those TV ads for it. Guess what? They work. Little girls are asking for that carriage. At the same time, I've concluded the wife and I are in the joy dispensing business. That may be self-serving but think about the brief enjoyment we are able to bring to those special needs children, and I think you will see where I am coming from. To see where I am coming from, well, that might be a reach, so please don't hurt yourself trying. Thanks for tuning into this channel this week. Enjoy your Saturday, (we purposely have nothing scheduled that day), and remember to meet up with others at the place of worship on Lord's Day Sunday. Amen. .....More later.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

“My blog is a collection of answers people don’t want to hear to questions they didn’t ask.” ― Sebastyne Young

Well, hello there, seems like it was only yesterday we were talking about this, that, and oh yeah, the other as well. Good to meet back up with you here on this Thursday, December 8, 2016. Welcome one and all. I've often thought about developing a type of warning notification to accompany my blogs. You know, it might be like those signs that warn of danger ahead. I really never know exactly what might end up on the electronic page until it is there. Contrary to what you might think, I do edit out a lot of stuff. I'm pretty fussy about this part of my daily activities. Makes you wonder about some of the stuff that ends up staying in, doesn't it? While I may not be able to plead the 5th, I typically can embrace the 'eye of the beholder' excuse as a way of explaining the stuff I share. I saw a statement attributed to Uncle Si of Duck Dynasty fame. It went something like this, "If you don't want to see guns being used and our family praying, then don't watch our show." I'm not sure he actually said that because social media makes up stuff all the time, but, it does sound like him. I mention that because I really do understand how my view of life, the reflections on my journey, and other areas that I write a lot about are not everyone's cup of tea. But, when it's all said and done, it's a blog, a personal blog, therefore, what you see is what you get, (WYSIWYG). Knowing this to be true makes me very appreciative of those who take the time to read. Thanks.

I just remembered another calamitous situation that occurred back in my formative years. I was elected class president three out of my four years in high school. I was nominated every year. I was beaten my sophomore year. Three out of four. Not bad. Right? Not so fast. I was beaten by a girl. Her name was Sudie. I am well aware that times have changed. This was the early 1960's. Beaten by a girl! Humiliation served up by plenty of my sidekicks who relished seeing my downfall. What was up with this girl Sudie? When I had the position I was mostly a figurehead. Girls. She took the job seriously. I can still hear the taunts, "Guess who got beat by a girl?" That's not the end of my sad story. Sudie came to our school in the 5th grade. Until she showed up, I was the consensus master sketch artist of my class. She's the one the other girls used to concoct a showdown drawing contest on the blackboard. I was a sketch person. At recess one day the girls challenged me. The boys were my supporters and they thought I could easily beat this new girl, after all, she was a girl. She started drawing. I started drawing. Her depiction actually looked like an illustration, next to hers mine looked like stick figures. My world came crashing down. The boys acted like I had let them down. But, oh no, it wasn't over. It may have been on the back burner for six years, but it was obviously still simmering. She didn't have to accept the nomination for class president. After all, she was running against me. Me. But, just like that day she showed me up on the blackboard, Bam!, she went and did it again. I don't know whatever became of that girl but as you can tell, I hardly even recollect anything about her.

Please don't tell me how that little revelation explains a lot. I prefer to spend my time still thrashing about trying to figure out where it all went wrong. Don't believe a word of that. Although, on second thought, I would think my psychological development over time would be something worth figuring out. When I get it solved, I will let you know. Let me see. I'm 70 now, well, I wouldn't waste too much time waiting to hear back from me on that one. I don't mind being a work in progress. I think that really is the way we are described as those who seek to follow our Savior, Jesus Christ. He is always working on me. That molding process to shape me into something useful in His Kingdom is a life long project and I'm thankful that He is still chipping away on me. For those who have arrived and are no longer in need of any growth or changes, I say, congratulations and good for you. That would not be me. In fact, thinking about high school, I can't even remember what I was voted most likely to be. I know I was. I may have been given two categories. I did have a little Einstein sitting on Santa's lap the other day and he had a pretty good idea of where he was headed. He might have been 7 or 8, and after giving me the mathematical formulations for how robots work, he volunteered his life goals. When he grows up he wants to be a scientist, an astronaut, and a pizza man. I can't remember ever having any specific goals other than I wanted to draw better than Sudie and beat her when she ran against me for class president. That's a joke. You can laugh. It's okay. Take care and may God bless us one and all. Amen. ....More later.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

"...a date which will live in infamy." ~ President Fraklin D. Roosevelt

Pearl Harbor survivor visits the USS Arizona Memorial.
Okay. It's Wednesday, December 7, 2016, Pearl Harbor Day, and a day of great significance in the history of our nation. I'm not certain what kids are being taught today about this attack on our fleet in Hawaii in 1941, but it wouldn't surprise me that political correctness may have changed the story some. We were taught and I believe it to be true how the Japanese launched this bombing attack on a nation that they were not at war against. The impact was devastating to our sitting fleet. A total of 2,403 of our military personnel were killed and some 1,178 injured. Devasting to us, but, in the long run, even more so to Japan. Today, I pause to remember this eventful day, and especially the families who lost loved ones on that day. God bless them all and God bless the United States of America.

With all the presidential voting recounts going on, the news media wants people to believe the wishes of the people was somehow manipulated. The major metropolitan cities typically support a more liberal agenda than the rest of the country. That's how Hillary Clinton ends up with more individual votes. In the wisdom of our founders they did not want to see the big cities determine election outcomes, therefore, a proportional system of representation reflected in the Electoral College was adopted. The map shows the depth of the Republican victory. On a county by county basis, Trump won 3,084 of the 3,141. That's pretty widespread. This system was in place before the election began. Everyone was aware of how it works. In fact, it's been around a lot longer than that, as it was established in Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, the Electoral College as the formal body which elects the President and Vice President of the United States and was first used in the presidential election of 1789. Don't let the mainstream bigots mislead you. The representative form of government that we have seeks to hear the voice of the entire nation as opposed to only the large population centers. That's my take and I obviously thought it was worth passing on.

The news media is in a fact-checking frenzy as it relates to any and all things done or thought about by the president-elect. Funny how they called anyone wanting to fact check President Obama as having potentially untoward motives, like maybe racist inclinations. Now that their guy is out and the new guy is not the one they attempted to elect, all bets are off. Take for instance the Carrier Air Conditioning deal where 1,000 jobs were saved. They have taken that deal apart, seven ways from Sunday, pointing out every little inconsistency as a major failure. Don Evans, the former Secretary of Commerce in the George W. Bush presidency finds this to be a total misread on the part of the mainstream media. (Perhaps intentionally.) He believes the saving of these jobs were symbolic. They are a message to America and to the rest of the world how the new president is going to operate differently than his predecessor when it comes to business and jobs. President Obama's press secretary applauded the saving of these jobs but added when Trump has done that another 804 times, (total of 805,000), he would then equal Obama's record of adding manufacturing jobs. My point? If they really want to fact check information, they might tackle that 805,000 claim and get back to us on that one. I forgot. They can't do that because it would be racist. Sorry for the foray into politics today, but, it was such low-hanging fruit, I thought I should share. Take care and may God bless each one. Amen. ....More later.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

1. Remember the meaning of Christmas … Emanuel, God with us in the Christ Child … God is present with you. 2. Refocus on the birth of Christ … God’s greatest gift to us. 3. Read the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ birth and Old Testament passages about the coming Messiah. 4. Reclaim the wonder of the Biblical story. The shepherds were keeping watch at night when the angel appeared to them. Be on the lookout for God’s visit. 5. Rejoice and praise God for all the joy and power of the good news in your life. Mary worshipped God … shepherds praised God. 6. Reach out and love someone this Christmas … maybe a stranger, co-worker, family member, lost friend or someone that God sends your way. 7. Receive the peace of Christ and become a peacemaker in our chaotic world. ~ lifted from the online edition of Guideposts dated 12/3/14

There are times when I am stopped in my tracks by nothing more than the message being conveyed by an image. I have no idea who came up with that one but it's been circulating out on social media for the past couple of weeks. I ask you, does that not tell the story? Amen! and Amen!. Today is Tuesday, December 6, 2016, and I offer up a very warm greeting to one and all who happen to read today's blog. As many of you know, I have been teaching God's Word for over forty years. For the most part, the people I teach are seasoned believers who have a good foundation in knowing their Bible. Since Christmas Day falls on Sunday, we will have only one service that day, therefore, I will only be teaching three Sunday mornings this month. I always attempt to cover again, as if it were the first time, the Bible accounts that pertain to the coming into our world of God's one and only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. This year, during our time together, I will be sharing in an interactive way the more than 40 Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in the life and times of our Savior. We will share in the reading of the actual prophecies from the Old Testament and then do the same as we read the texts where it reflects fulfillment in the New Testament. These are truths worth knowing. What we see in the Bible are the truths God wanted people to know. He inspired those writing to record His revelation of Himself to His created human family. It reminds me of what the Apostle John said about the things He was inspired to capture and preserve, "but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name." (John 20:31) Amen

Scene from the movie, The Passion of the Christ.
You are correct. All of that first paragraph was prompted by that single particular seasonal image. I read that our brain processes an image 60,000 times faster than text. We need only think about visual messages coming at us from TV commercials of all kinds. Powerful indeed. If you Google 'powerful images that changed the world' you will see some very familiar photos that influenced history. God created us to be visual and His Word unfolds in word pictures, truths that can transform lives. I remember being at a sold-out showing of the movie, 'The Passion of The Christ'. Packed house. As the story unfolded on the screen, total silence. When Jesus cried out to His Father and gave up his life, a loud, almost synchronized gasp penetrated the silence. I heard people crying, some were sobbing. As a self-appointed theologian, I might take issue with how some of the Bible accounts were put to film in that movie, but, never have I experienced what happened in that theater on that day. I would like to think it was a heartfelt response to The Way, The Truth, and The Life depicted in all His glory, suffering on behalf of a fallen world. It was an eerie but unforgettable experience. It was personal for those, like me, who have experienced His grace in their lives. As they might say back home, powerful stuff, powerful indeed!

Chick-fil-A franchise operator's kids from back in 2011.
The wife and I continue to be literally floored by the heartfelt, warm reception we receive when we show up as Santa and Mrs. Claus. Some of this may be because we do so many return engagements and we have gotten to know the folks involved. An example would be the Chick-fil-A employee party we visited this past weekend. It was for all the folks and their families that work in two of the stores in our area. There were easily over 200 people at this gathering. This is our 7th year to be associated with these folks. We've watched many of their children grow up. We've seen employees become managers and others finish college and move on in their careers. I am not so much a huge fan of the food, but, I am an ardent supporter of this franchise, the parent organization, and especially the approach they pursue in operating their business. They may not have the most locations compared to their competitors, but, I read recently how they produce more revenue, on average, per store than others in the fast food industry. I think everyone knows they are a family oriented restaurant. Maybe that's it. After seven years we are like family to them. And, we greatly appreciate and enjoy working with them. No. I'm not doing a commercial for them. I'm only passing on my experience. Oh yeah. I also recommend them. Just so you know. Full disclosure requires me to say we will be making an appearance in their two stores this week. Take care now, you hear? May God bless each one. Amen. ....More later.

Monday, December 5, 2016

What does Santa like to have for breakfast? Mistle -toast!

Good morning and welcome. We will see what we can do with today, Monday, December 5, 2016. We had a little of this, that, and a whole lot of the other since we last visited. This had mostly to do with the Santa Enterprise and I am happy to report that it is on the tracks and steaming full speed ahead. We worked four different events beginning Friday evening. That included the participation of my number one sidekick, the one and only Mrs. Claus, who was right there with me for every appearance. I know she is not close to being completely healed from her back fracture, but, she is a trooper, beloved by the children, and always such an encouragement to yours truly. This morning I will be leaving for a little while to make a brief visit to some special needs adults to take photos with them. They are residents at an apartment complex where our local Church has a weekly service with them. Many of these folks are older but they are just as excited as children to have their photos made with Santa. I will run to the house, do the quick change, spend about 30 minutes doing the photos, then back to the house, change into my working man's attire, and back to the workplace. That's part of fulfilling my duties as assigned. Some time ago, I had a dialogue with some fellow wearers of the Red where we were discussing scheduling issues related to our Santa business. I was the only one in the discussion who still worked full time. One fellow was very direct in his assessment. He said I should retire immediately and pour 100% of my efforts into bringing joy to children. He went on, saying that life is way too short and it consists of more than making money. Are you kidding me? I was just doing forth and back with these dudes and I had no idea I would end up on the receiving end of a sermon. That was last year so you can see I have not yet taken his advice.

We do live in a world where folks will try to come up with something funny about any and everything under the sun. I know all of the ladies who read the little story in that photo will enjoy the sentiment being expressed. It is a play on the general theme of men being too stubborn to ever stop and ask for directions. We've seen that one time and time again. Why did the children of Israel wander in the desert for forty years? Because Moses refused to stop and ask for directions. Ha ha. A 2010 study concluded that men drive on average 276 miles per year directly attributed to them being unwilling to ask for directions. The study added insult to injury by estimating the wasted cost of fuel in a man's lifetime was an average of $3000. Here's a submission from a lady identified only as Lorraine. It too reflects similarly on this subject. ~   The top ten reasons God made women: 1)God worried that Adam would be lost in the Garden of Eden because he wouldn't ask for directions. 2)God knew that someday Adam would need someone to hand him the TV remote. (Parenthetically, it has been noted that men don't want to see what's ON TV; they want to see WHAT ELSE is on.) 3)God knew that Adam would never make a doctor's appointment. 4)God knew that when Adam's fig leaf wore out, he would never buy a new one for himself. 5) God knew that Adam would not remember to take out the garbage. 6)God wanted man to be fruitful and multiply, but he knew Adam would never be able to handle labor pains and childbirth. 7)As "keeper of the garden," Adam would need help in finding his tools. 8)Adam needed someone to blame for the Apple Incident, and for anything else that was really his fault. As the Bible says: "It is not good for man to be alone." And the No. 1 reason of all . . .God stepped back, looked at Adam, and declared: "I can do better than that." ~

Just having a little fun at my own expense. I feel the vibrations from all the ladies out there nodding their heads in agreement. My wife would tell anyone that when it comes to the 'ask directions' situation, I'm not like other men. She would say that I am ten times worse. I was out trying to find a location one day for the Company. I had a printed Google map. It was in a fairly remote area. I drove up and down that same boulevard several times but I couldn't make sense out of the street numbers. After about 30 minutes, I did the unthinkable. I pulled into one of those filling station convenience stores and stood in line to ask the fellow if he knew where that particular company was located. He pointed out the window and said it was across the street one block further down. I don't think many of the other people in the store spoke English but they all, when he gave me the answer I sought, chuckled in the same language. Turned out to be a big building. I was close but now you know one of the many reasons men do not stop to ask directions. It's not easy listening to foreign looking fellows laughing. One example only. Okay. I've had my confession for the day and now it is time to move on. Take care, and may God bless each one. Amen.  ....More later.