Wednesday, December 27, 2017

I'm not into hashtags, but, if I was, I would be using this one today: #feeling blessed!

Most of our grands plus one great grand.
Okay. I know I am running a little behind on my blogging but I do have a good reason. My computer is in my office, upstairs. Right now we have a 12 year old grandson camping out on a blowup mattress in my office. We are thankful to have all our rooms occupied at the time including our dear Dorothy, twin sister to wife Marilyn, born 18 months apart. Today, December 27, 2017, our 12 year old, Alex, got up earlier than usual. He must have smelled the hot out of the grease Shipleys donuts. Still is a little bit of a recovery mode after a busy Santa season. It's mostly the pulling, tugging, and picking up of the kids. They tend to do a good job aggravating these 71 year old hips of mine.

I do hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas celebration. What a blessing just to think about how God orchestrated our being able to be right with Him by having His one and only Son be born into our world. We had our family together. Twenty of us gathered. Everything was great. My mom used to ask me every year, "Son, are you going to say it was the best ever?" She knows me well. While we enjoyed the gift exchange and the great food, it was the gathering and the fellowship that we will continue to treasure in our hearts. We thanked God for that because we do not take it for granted.

Thanks Alex, for finding your way downstairs so early this morning which gave me the time to throw together a blog. Yesterday, I mostly spent time becoming re-acquainted with an old friend of mine. My recliner. Marilyn and Dorothy spent many hours at The Mall. No. I'm not kidding. The Mall. Oh well, if that is what floats their boats, I suppose it's okay with me. I did miss a lot of whatever it was that was on TV. I would wake up in time for the finish, but, it was nearly over, and I didn't have a clue what it was all about. I do love it when a plan comes together. May God continue to bless each one is my prayer. There's lots of people in and around our area who have this flu that seems to be hitting nearly every household. Remember to pray for them, especially, for the little ones and the older ones. Amen. ....More later.

Friday, December 22, 2017

“Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it's Christmas.” ― Dale Evans Rogers

Now, this is a Friday to behold, on this December 22, 2017! That's because our Company is taking a Christmas break and will be shut down until Tuesday, January 2, 2018. We have an abundance of things to do through Christmas Day, but, after then I will have seven, count them,  7 days of recuperation. I think everyone who knows us is aware that we might have been a wee bit over the top in our scheduling of so many Santa appearances. Twenty. But, God was good to allow us to complete these despite an illness epidemic that pretty much was hitting children of all ages. (I have one today and one tomorrow and I will be done with Santa for this season.) A manager we work with at Chick-fil-A had this to say, "I don’t know how y’all do it. Kids and adults are dropping like flies around here with the flu and strep. Y’all are a blessing to so many!" I did divulge our secret to her,  "I haven't completely dodged all the runny-nosed kids, but, with Dayquil and prayer we've been able to keep our scheduled visits, thus far." May I tell you this, please don't overlook the 'prayer' part as most significant. Not only in our being able to stay healthy enough to come to our job, to keep our Santa schedule, but, even more importantly, to be able to be faithful in our worship and service to Him through our local congregation. Prayer. It matters. It really does. Amen.

Our interim pastor on Wednesday evening had something to say about the empty chair on Christmas Day. He told how his father-in-law had passed away last December and how his dad had passed away on December 23, several years ago. He conducted his dad's memorial service on December 26, of that year and they had the viewing on Christmas Day. One of the things he recalled was how that when they did do the family Christmas, his dad had presents already under the tree for everyone. That made it a memorable Christmas, but, the empty chair is a reality for most of us as we face the holidays. This will be our first Christmas without mom and dad. My how they loved family get-togethers. But, none of us should feel cheated because God in His grace and provision gave them to us for such a good long time, and, for me, I will always be thankful for that. No tears? I didn't say that. Plenty of tears because we miss them but they come mixed with a sense of joy and appreciation. My heart goes out to those who will be facing the 'empty chair' this Christmas Day, and, I pray that God will surround us all with His peace, mercy, and the power of His presence. Amen.

I'll take the blogging one day at a time while I am off. Because of this, let me wish you all a most wonderful and blessed Christmas. Here's some of my favorite verses that portrays what Christmas means to those who have put their faith in trust in God's provision, "4) But when [in God’s plan] the proper time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the [regulations of the] Law, 5) so that He might redeem and liberate those who were under the Law, that we [who believe] might be adopted as sons [as God’s children with all rights as fully grown members of a family]. 6) And because you [really] are [His] sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying out, 'Abba! Father!' 7) Therefore you are no longer a slave (bond-servant), but a son; and if a son, then also an heir through [the gracious act of] God [through Christ]. (Letter to the Galatians, Chapter 4, as rendered in the Amplified Bible, AMP) These are most powerful truths! Think about those things. Until next time, you hear me exclaim, ere I drive out of sight— “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!” (Lifted and adapted from the poem, "A Visit from St. Nicolas", attributed to Clement Clarke Moore in 1837.)  May God bless. Amen. ....More later.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

“Christmas, when observed with the right spirit, still has the power to call miracles from Heaven to Earth.” ― Richelle E. Goodrich

"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 I'm late and when I wave, I lose the time I save." That quote from the Mad Hatter of 'Alice and Wonderland' fame, well, it pretty much gives you an overview of my status on this Thursday, December 21, 2017. I'm not complaining, just sharing. That's the way we get by when we are sharing our 'oh woe is me' mantra. It's almost as good as the pass we get to say anything about someone if we add at the end, 'bless their heart'. Given all of that, how in the world are you doing on this day that the Lord has made, and I might add, and given to us? What will I do with it? What will you do with it? It does help if we see it as an opportunity and a gift from above. How we view the days that God has given to us will greatly impact how we live them out. The famous verse lifted from the 90th Division of the Psalms, Verse 12 says, ""So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." (King James Bible, KJV) The sense of that verse can be seen in this translation from a modern, respected translation, "So teach us to consider our mortality, so that we might live wisely." (NET Bible) The bottom line: Each day is precious and it is ours to use to fulfill the purpose God has given for our life. Now that's something for us all to ponder as we consider it's implications. Amen.

I have been finding out some things lately. One has to do with these medications that are supposed to be able to be opened. Since they were produced and sold to be used, one would conclude that they are able to be opened. I've got news for you. Not so much for older people. Lately, I've been on a steady regimen of Vicks DayQuil LiquiCaps. According to the tiny instructions, they are designed so they can be torn open. Maybe by the Olympic champion who tears old 10-inch thick phone books in half for practice. I tell you, it's always something. Early in the morning, even my scissors get all contrary when I'm trying to use them to break into these little Fort Knox packages. The wife went to our primary care doctor with some shoulder and neck pain. After checking her out, he told her it was likely tension knots. He told her to go home and to tell me to give her a neck massage and do the chores for the next three days. Are you kidding me? Obviously, he was implying that I might be part of the cause for her pain in the neck. This is the same dude who canceled my appointment on short notice a few weeks ago. I asked her if she told him I was still angry about him standing me up. She proudly said, "Of course not." See what I have to deal with? I tell you, life can be tough, tough indeed!

Yesterday, we participated in a gift-giving operation. Big time! The program was designed so the law enforcement personnel could give out the gifts, hence the name, 'Operation Blue Elf'. We were there to make photographic memories. We came away as feeling both humbled and privileged to be a part of this amazing illustration of our community coming together to help make Christmas a little bit brighter for the less fortunate. The other day I was at a company and a fellow was waiting to have his truck unloaded. I went over to him and asked if he was ready for Christmas. He said he was trying to be and that he could tell from my appearance that I obviously was ready. (The Santa Motif is always a dead give away.) He then began to tell me his story. Back in February, he had a heart attack, one he was not supposed to survive. They called it a 'widow maker'. He did survive and was doing well when Hurricane Harvey hit. The storm pretty much wiped them out. He had just returned to work within the last few days. I offered him one of my Santa cards along with my heartfelt wishes that he and his family would have a Merry Christmas. He asked if I could spare a couple more of our cards to give to his three small children. I was glad to do it. He said, "Bless you, bless you, bless you." My point? It doesn't take much folks to encourage someone along the way. Not much at all. Maybe we all will find someone today that we can help along life's way. That would fulfill a part of our purpose. Amen. ....More later.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

“Welcome, old aspirations, glittering creatures of an ardent underneath the holly! We know you, and have not outlived you yet. Welcome, old projects, and old loves, however fleeting, to your nooks among the steadier lights that burn around us” ― Charles Dickens

"The pause that refreshes."
Good morning and welcome to Wednesday, December 20, 2017, as the countdown continues towards Christmas Day. In support of the Christmas spirit, the wife, (Mrs. Claus), and I are planning this morning to show up to help give gifts to underprivileged children. This is a program sponsored by our county sheriff. As of last week, I was told that over 700 children were registered to participate in this program. We are delighted to have been invited to be involved in such a worthy cause. I am praying that we will stay well enough to finish our appointed rounds as Santa and Mrs. Claus. I say that because our area has been struck with flu and related types of maladies. Report after report on Facebook and within our own circle, and in our own family, tell us that illnesses are very prevalent at this time. I have had my share of runny-nosed kids. Moms sometimes are less than clued into the reality of the situation. Last Sunday afternoon at an event, one mom sent her very obviously ailing little girl over to Santa to give him a final hug goodbye. Really? Couldn't you at least wipe her nose? And, yes, I have picked up some congestion, but, thus far, with cold medicines and other remedies, I have been able to continue the Santa journey. For that, I am both grateful and thankful. Amen.

What about the way the world is going these days? I check fairly often, but, as best as I can tell it is still messed up and will be messed up until Jesus returns to make all things right. That is not a pessimistic viewpoint, it's a faith-based interpretation of our fallen world. When we see it for what it really is, it helps us to trust God and not the corrupt world. I read this week where the Obama administration slowed down a huge multi-faceted takedown of one of the world's largest terrorist organizations' drug running so that it would not interfere with their nuclear deal with Iran. That deal in and of itself is known to be very shaky, however, when you think about it, we had a known drug-selling ring that was bringing great harm to American citizens and they were near bringing it down, but, it was slowed to a stop so as not to impede the President's agreement with an American hating regime. You think I am being critical? It is intended to sound that way because as best I can tell there's no appetite within the mainstream media to pursue this story. Messed up, folks. We do live in a messed up world. People's lives are impacted by political decisions. The monies generated by the sale of these drugs inside our country were used to blow up innocents around the world. Literally. See what I mean? The answer? God and God alone. You can quote me on that. Amen.

We are so looking forward to our family Christmas gathering next Monday. We are hoping the flu bug will be done with by then since several are dealing with it at this time. People ask me if I am excited about Christmas. I often tell them that dealing with all that we have on our plate with my regular job duties, the Santa Enterprise, and other activities, it's hard to know if I am excited or not. However, I don't have to check to know that I am very much looking forward to seeing our children and grandchildren next Monday. That, as they say, is a fact. I got home from Church Sunday evening in time to watch some of the live theatrical presentation of the movie, "The Christmas Story". I thought it was pretty good set to music. I thought the acting was good as well. Now I find out that I might be the only one who gave it a passing grade. There I go again. A majority of one. I still liked it. Sorry. I did. It does get lonely but as Popeye might say, "I likes what I likes." Take care now, you hear? Enjoy. Remember that it was God Himself, The Son, that was placed in that feeding trough. He was born to die that you and I might be given life eternal. Now that is exciting. Amen. ....More later.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

We have so much to be thankful for. Amen and Amen.

Our dear sister in Christ, Vickie, and husband John came by for a selfie with Santa.
My wife thinks that I am a little off most of the time, but, more than a little at other times. It's Tuesday, December 19, 2017, and this is the stuff that has been making that percolator sound in my head this morning. On occasion, I have been known to be looking in the mirror in getting ready for another Santa appearance when I call out, "Do you think it's possible that I might actually be the real Santa Claus?" I can hear her looking around for the number to the mental hotline but I do have to tell you, that reflection of the image in the mirror is pretty convincing because it can even fool me at times. The other evening we had some wonderful folks who came to our home to make their own selfies with Santa. One little fellow was particularly clued into the 'Santa fantasy'. He was trying to make sense out of me being in this location when he knew that I lived and worked at the North Pole. He told me that obviously, this house was a vacation spot. He didn't stop there. Being around 8 or 9, he confessed that many of his friends had the idea that Santa Claus was not real. He said he had thoughts like that but having been in our home and seeing me had confirmed his belief because I was the real Santa. Oh, my! All of this without me saying hardly anything at all. Talk about having a vivid imagination! We did enjoy making so many memories with so many folks who dropped by.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to wish the wife and me congratulations on our making 53 years as a couple. (As a dating couple it would be closer to 56 years.) I gave a special verbal recognition of her and what she means to me in our Bible study class on Sunday morning. I also added an anecdote. I told the class that her dad handed her off to me and said, "Son, I've done the best I can. Now it's time for you to see what you can do." I went on to say that I thought I had done a pretty good job of finishing to raise her. That brought a few laughs but there's always someone in the crowd that has an alternative view. He shouted out, "How about it being the other way around and she finished raising you." Are you kidding me? Here I am sharing my heart and I get heckled? It made for good fun and I also had to share how much we appreciate the way in which the folks in our class had taken us in as one of their own. What a blessing! When we were unsure of how things might play out, God was at work to show us His continued presence in the calling He has placed on our lives. We didn't know but He did and these wonderful people helped make Him known to us. One side note, when you are one of the younger couples in the room and announce your 53rd anniversary, it doesn't have as much impact where so many probably have 60 or more. At the end of the day, we are blessed folks. We really are! Amen.

Yesterday, it was our privilege to attend a Christmas party for some older folks with special needs. They always love for Santa to come and make photos with them. The wife and I will celebrate our anniversary in a special way at a time to be announced. I am so thankful for her and the others who go each week to this apartment complex and minister to these people. The photo was taken at this gathering yesterday. I think we all know and recognize the difference between talk and walk. The brother of our Lord, James, he had much to say about that in his inspired letter. He gave an illustration of telling someone to be warm versus giving them your coat. (Book of James) We all know that words are important. However, it was our Lord Himself who asked the question, "Why do you call me Lord, but, you do not do the things I have commanded you to do?" (My translation of Luke 6:46) Stings, doesn't it? I know I feel it. Christmas is a great time for us to become the hands, the feet, and the heart of our Savior in showing love towards others. I just have to say it one more time, "Thank You Lord for Your blessings on me." Have a great rest of the day and may our Great God add His blessings to us all. Amen.   .....More later.

Monday, December 18, 2017

A Colossal Day!

It's Monday, December 18, 2017. You know the routine by now. On this, the 2,711th time I have visited via my blog, I am proud to announce that once again, this is a HUGE day for us. It's our very first grandson's 21st birthday. Jimmy Jr. He is so very special to us and we thank God for him, his life, and his heart and character. He has not had an easy go of it, but, he, with God's help, is making it, one day at a time. We are so very proud of him. Happy Birthday Jimmy Jr., and may God continue to lead, guide, and direct your way. Amen. Our love, MiMi, and Poppy.

It's also the day where we recognize the birthday of our daughter-in-law Mitzi. Married to our youngest, Rodney, Mitzi is a tireless worker on behalf of her family. We thank God for her being in our family, for her being a good wife to our son, and for her love and devotion to our grandchildren. Happy Birthday Mitzi, and may God continue to bless. Amen. Our love, mom, and dad.

And, I suppose here's the biggie for the day since it does have a direct influence on the other two, it's the anniversary of the day we married some 53 years ago. We never brag about ourselves in this accomplishment because we know that we know that it is only by the grace of God. We thank Him for giving us the life we have shared together for this good long run. Marilyn is most definitely the wife of my youth, but, outside of my salvation, she is the greatest gift I have received from our Heavenly Father. I do thank Him for her. Every day. And, especially, on this special day for us. What a journey! I like to end my anniversary recognition with my same sentiment expressed each year, "Baby, you're the greatest!" Amen. ....More later.

Friday, December 15, 2017

"And on the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to depart the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight." ~ Book of Acts, Chapter 20, Verse 7, as rendered in the New American Standard Bible, (NASB)

I'm glad to report the results are in and they are conclusive. By all accounts, I can publicly announce that today is Friday, December 15, 2017. That should make for a happy happy response here, there, and in most places where the so-called weekend is greatly anticipated. You already know why I call it so-called. Saturday is actually the end of the week, (7th Day). Sunday, (1st Day), begins a brand new week. That's one of the reasons I always recommend that people start their week by joining others at the meeting place where God is worshipped. (In case you are wondering, the first day of the week for a gathering of a local congregation/church is the pattern found in the New Testament. It's generally referred to as the Lord's Day because Jesus was resurrected on the first day of the week and believers join on the first day to worship our resurrected Savior.)  I am, at the same time, well aware of the mindset that sees it entirely based on having two days off. An entire commercial system of entertainment and other related services is widely promoted to entice folks to enjoy their two days off. Big business. At the risk of being saddled with the moniker of a voice crying in the wilderness, may I say once again that in my own life, coming to grips with this truth about the week ending on Saturday and the new week beginning on Sunday, well, it has made a huge difference in every aspect of our lives. But, you've heard me talk about that many times before, however, since I had it on my mind, perhaps repetitively so, I chose to recommend it once again under this guise, try it. It's pretty simple. Make God your priority on the first day of the week and it will help you to deal with the rest of the week.

One of the things I remember as a kid was when I got to go with mom to do her Christmas shopping. We lived in a rural Louisiana town and she would drive a little over an hour to Jasper, Texas to shop. For crying out loud, we even had to cross the Sabine River to get there. For me, it was like visiting a foreign country. I'm not even sure why we went there. We had Leesville just 30 minutes south of us and the town of Many just 30 minutes north of us. But, she liked the stores in Jasper. They were different. Maybe the thing I liked the best was knowing what everyone would be getting for Christmas. I was sworn to secrecy. Mom always did her best to make Christmas special for us kids. Because of her experiences growing up during the Great Depression, she knew, firsthand, what it was like to have very little at Christmastime, maybe only an apple and a piece of peppermint. To the best of her ability, she wanted us to not have that same experience. Our visit to Jasper was back in the day when the stores were in the downtown area and you could park and walk from one to the other. We would gather up different items and occasionally make a trip back to the car to unload them into the trunk. We would take the time to eat a burger at a local greasy spoon and it tasted so good. I can't remember how mom decided who could go with her. I may have only gone once, but, I still remember it. Today. It was exciting. It was Christmas. And now, it is a memory. One that is cherished.

Granny and Paw Paw Mac.
I would never want anyone to think that my life as a child growing up was without its difficulties, heartaches, and challenges. We had plenty of those ingredients too. So much so, at times, other folks thought perhaps our family, if not cursed, was certainly singled out for some reason. I'm not sure at what age I became aware of these thoughts people had about us, but, I can't remember it ever really bothering me. One of the reasons was because the patriarch of our family, Paw Paw Mac, lived out his belief that God is sovereign and he and Granny Mac didn't just quote the verse but they believed that everything that happened, the good, the bad, and even the tragic would eventually lead to good because they knew that they loved God and were The Called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28) It was not fatalistic living. It was 'faith' living. I'm so thankful for their testimony and my mom's. They set before us, not so much a teaching ministry as from the book, but more so by their living by The Book, God's Holy Word. I think we all know there's a huge difference between a person's talk versus their walk. I was blessed to see folks who influenced my life who walked with the Lord, even through the valleys. I can only thank God for allowing me to have these folks in my life. The holidays are special times, but, they are made to be even more special as we remember folks like the ones I've talked about today. So very special. Have a great Saturday and Lord's Day Sunday, and, I will do my best to catch back up with come next Monday. Lord willing. Of course. Always. Amen. ....More later.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

“Love with a kind heart is what we can give to each other.” ― Lailah Gifty Akita

I'm still not happy about it. Nope. Not at all. My doctor. You recall he stood me up last time I had gone to all the trouble to schedule an appointment with him. They called the evening before and said he would be out of the office. Well, whoopty do dah! I haven't called to get another appointment yet. I'm still pretty steamed about it. I may have some diabetic induced neuropathy beginning to show up with some tingling and numbness in my fingers, but, I'll show him. Yea. I'll teach him to cancel my appointment. After all, it's only my health and well being at stake. You do know there's a fair amount of exaggeration in all of that. It is intended to be a parody of sorts on this Thursday, December 14, 2017. Of sorts. The bottom line is that I do need to reschedule my appointment. I really do. I am thinking about when it might be a good time to do that. Oh, I know when it was a good time. It was three weeks ago when I originally set it up. That was the time slot open on my schedule. Just think if they had not called me and I had fasted and not had my Community coffee the next morning. Me too. I don't even want to think about it. Horror show. Trainwreck. Disaster. Okay. I do have a slow news day now and then and my ad-libbing has to take over. It's how it works. Sorry. (Maybe I thought I was entitled to a reimbursement but that all fell apart when I figured out I hadn't paid anything.)

Last Saturday, I did a Santa Claus program for the employees' children of a medium-sized oil and exploration company. They were taking professional photos as keepsakes. Those booking the event had a fairly large sleigh for me to sit in. One of the things I said up front when I arrived was that I would not be able to lift children from the ground up into the sleigh. They told me not to worry because I would have my own elf to help do that. Good. Turns out, the elf was a youngish grandma herself. She was dressed out and she did an excellent job helping the children into the sleigh. I still had to lift many of them into my lap, but, I do that. I am, after all, Santa. We did this pretty much non-stop for four hours. It was easy to see that many of the children were well fed. I told them I was okay without a break but they called one anyway. I later thought about it and wondered if Granny Elf may have needed it more than me. I will tell you this. I don't know how well she sleeps at night, but, it is my guess that she didn't have any problems sleeping when nighttime came on that day. The sleigh was pretty tall. They had to have a stool for kids to stand on and then she helped get them into it. Try that one for maybe 350-400 kids and get back to me on how well that muscle pain cream actually works.

Last Sunday morning at Mims Baptist, December 10, 2017
We've undergone some significant stress involving changes and challenges this year. Back in July, we left our local Church home after doing our best to contribute our time, talent, and treasure there for nearly 35 years. We had intended on visiting a whole list of other places, but, we ended up at Mims Baptist in Conroe, Texas, for our first service the very next Sunday. Just a name on the list. We never visited anywhere else and joined the Mims fellowship of believers on September 10. We didn't know what this meant but God did. Marilyn found her place in the choir and is becoming involved in other ministries as well. I was asked to help in a teaching capacity, something near and dear to my heart. We now know that God had something better for us and we are so thankful to Him for His provision. In making the change we were very uncertain about our prospects. Let's face it, change is not easy and especially for folks who have crossed that threshold labeled three score and ten years. However, we feel humbled that God was not finished with us yet. He still had service for us to pursue for His honor and glory. We thank Him and give Him all the glory for His working in our lives. He is still challenging us to keep on keeping on in our service to Him. Amen and Amen. .....More later.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

I know I'm not hitting on all cylinders today. The problem is I can't do the math because I can't remember how many I had to begin with.

I did not order up a frozen start to this day, Wednesday, December 13, 2017. I thought it was supposed to be in the mid to higher thirties, but, while I'm no expert on the scientific details behind the weather, I do know that it has to reach at least 32 for it to freeze, and, I do know my windshield was frozen this morning. It wasn't frozen the other day when I had a five gallon bucket of snow on it. Oh well, the defroster finally kicked in and I am now here and ready to roll. We had a great time yesterday at the elementary school way out in the country. While it is literally way out in the country, may I tell you that obviously those in that district who have property way out in the country are doing quite well because that school is not only brand new but it is absolutely first rate in every aspect. I suppose that's what happens when urban flight is kicked up a notch. We were there for over four hours snapping photos for a Parent Teacher Organization fundraiser. Word got around that not only was Santa and Mrs. Claus in the building but Santa might just be the real deal, real beard and all that goes with it. On our way down the hall we were mobbed by a group of kids who wanted to touch my beard. I think they did well with their fundraising activity and I tip my Santa hat to all those who worked with us. You talk about an organizing challenge! Pulling together all the siblings for photos together, then getting just the students who had signed for photos from each class based on scheduling around their other activities like lunch, etc., well, they did a remarkable job of herding them in, taking the photos, and then getting them back to their proper location. The photo is of one family 'through the years' put up by their mom. This is the kind of repeat memory that causes us to be blessed all over again. Amen.

It looks like we are continuing the trend of upside down politics here in the land of the brave and home of the free. I think the fasten your seat belt sign came on some time ago, but, no one could have predicted the amount of turbulence we would be experiencing. Yes. I do believe we are living in a more coarse society than at any other time in recent history. I actually don't think President Trump is responsible for this precipitous decline. It's been slowly heading towards today's status for the past many years with vote after vote in our Congress and decision after decision in the courts. As the late preacher, Dr. J. Vernon MaGee would often say, "May I say this unto you." Turning away from God by directly and officially rejecting His established laws for His created human family will guarantee this type of godless environment. I am a believer, therefore, I do believe the Bible when it says, "The fool has said in his heart, there is no God." (Psalm 14:1) Our situation as a nation today reminds me of the nation of Israel during the days of the Prophet Malachi. When Malachi was sent by God, he came to his people and confronted them for their hypocritical and sinful ways. Their response? When did we ever do any of those things? They did them when they set aside God's laws and when they began to play games with His truths. Bingo! I think we all can begin to see why we are where we are and this includes us all, yes, including, me, myself and I. Wake up call! Amen.

One thing we, as believers, do not have to worry about is how all of this will eventually find its conclusion. God. Yep. God will make everything right in His own good time. I heard one commentator saying that a recent candidate was so out of touch and backward that he still believed the biblical definitions regarding human beings, their sexuality, and issues pertaining to the family. See what I mean? Out of touch and backward. We as a society may have moved past God's clear teachings on all issues pertaining to life in God's created world, but, it does not, I say again, it does not, change one iota of the truth. I might see it differently today. You might see it differently today. We may have changed over the years for any number of reasons. At the end of it all, regardless of what I think, you think, or what the world in general thinks, God's Word is true and He will vindicate His word and Himself in His own good time. Oh well, I must have thought the keyboard was a pulpit for today. I actually am not preaching at anyone other than us all. I include myself as well. Okay. Let's do our best to go forward by reclaiming those thought to be out of touch and backward truths that God has given to us. Take care and may God help us is my prayer. Amen. ....More later.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

“I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month.” ― Harlan Miller

Good morning and welcome where we will be observing today, Tuesday, December 12, 2017. We have been blessed to have our boys, their wives and children, and their grandchildren living in our immediate area throughout our time as a couple. That is about to change. Our granddaughter Brittany is about to move away. Her husband, Ryan, is in the Army. They will be on assignment in Kansas. They will be taking with them our newest great grand Gabi. That's her with her great grand Poppy Claus. Being scattered here and there around our geographical area had already made it somewhat difficult to see everyone on a regular basis. However, we still were able to see everyone from time to time. This transition is going to be particularly difficult for our Chris and his wife Sherrie. Brittany and Gabi have been in their home for the past six months. I can't even begin to describe the attachment she has for our son, her Paw Paw. And, it is 100% mutual. I do thank God for Ryan's willingness to wear the uniform of our nation in service on behalf of us all. This is the earliest we have ever had to give any of our offspring their Christmas gifts. I guess the cliche of "you're not in Kansas anymore" will no longer apply to our Brittany. I pray that God bless and keep them as they travel this week to get settled in there. Amen.

As part of my occupational exposure, as Santa, I, not surprisingly, do meet a lot of children. I at times need to fill in some time while the photograph folks are working on their equipment. During one of these interludes the other evening I asked one little girl what she enjoyed most about the Christmas season. Without hesitation she said it was the time that we all celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That made me feel warm to know that many children do recognize the Real Reason for the Season. On the other hand, some kids are dragged away still calling out all the gadgets and gizmo's they are expecting. One missionary recently wrote about how that, in his opinion, materialism had so dominated America for so long it makes it difficult for people to see themselves as being lost, helpless, and in need of a Savior. He contrasted this to the work he is doing in Africa where people are impoverished and hungry. Along with the physical hunger they endure, it appears to him they are spiritually hungry as well. It reminds me of that local congregation that our Savior addressed in the Book of The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Chapter 3, Verses 14-22. “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” Scary when you consider this was addressed to a local congregation!

Poppy Claus with great and grand Madi-girl.
This morning ,if all goes well, and Lord willing, Mrs. Claus and I will be doing a PTO fundraiser event for an elementary school. I received a note last night that said 281 children had signed up for photos with Santa. They want me to get there in time to speak to the children over the intercom during morning announcements. I wonder if it's okay to say girls and boys? That seems more appropriate than good morning students, but, there may be rules about stuff like that. As best I can remember, we kids growing up always enjoyed Santa and his role at Christmastime, however, I don't recall ever seeing him, anywhere. They did have a fellow come to our school who brought a trained horse or donkey to the gym and entertained us. About all I remember about that was the fact that the animal made a mess on the hardwood floor. Sorry. I can't remember the tricks they did. I suppose even back then I knew someone had to clean up that mess. I've been told that when the word gets around that I am willing to do charity events like this one, well, they said I will have probably 20 requests for next season. We are doing this one for a lady that we have known for a long time. Any other requests will have to be responded to based on our limited availability. I do hope you have a good day and that we all will find ourselves in a thankful response to all the blessings God has given to us. Amen. .....More later.

Monday, December 11, 2017

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas ...perhaps ... means a little bit more!” ― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

There are times when being Santa is such a blessing!
Today. It's Monday, back to work, December 11, 2017. I do know that I was voted some special recognition in my high school graduating class. You know what I am talking about. The 'most likely to' category. I'm trying to remember but I don't think it was, 'the most likely to admit it when proven to be wrong', or 'the most likely to fake my death and start a new life somewhere else', or, 'the most likely to star in my own reality show', but had they really been tuned in they could have come up with this one, 'the most likely to become The Real Santa Claus'. I happen to think I am starring in my own reality show entitled 'This Is My Life'. Yeah. I know the script can be pretty dull but here's what I've heard others say, "It is what it is." Maybe the person who first coined that was voted most likely to come up with an inane saying. That sounded a little harsh. Even to me. At any rate, we are thankful for the journey that God has given to us. For those interested, as Santa, (SC for short), I am hearing lots of requests for Baby Alive, Legos, (lots of girls want them), Hatchamon Hatchimals, (eggs that hatch into critters), Paw Patrol stuff, The American Girl Doll and accessories (translated = $$$$), latest PlayStation and XBox gadgetry along with I-Phones even from the youngest kids. I offer those as a public service contribution but with no implied warranties. You know. Tis the Season!

One lady posted on the Chick-fil-A Facebook page about their encounter with Santa, (yours truly). That was last Thursday evening. Here is her exact quote: "My daughter asked Santa for snow tonight! Heck, even I believe he is the real Santa now!!!" I think this is where I get to say I rest my case. But I won't because it is all a part of the imaginary fantasy that helps define this season. Reality does point to gift giving because what has been called the most popular verse in the Bible says this, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) Speaking of that as the greatest gift ever given, it reminds me that every good gift originates with our Creator God. "Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of lights [the Creator and Sustainer of the heavens], in whom there is no variation [no rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [for He is perfect and never changes]". (Book of James, Chapter 1, Verse 17, from the Amplified Bible, AMP) Christmas gift giving has some connection to the presents brought to the Christ child by the wise men. Three gifts. Not necessarily just three wise men or three kings. The text from Matthew implies a much larger entourage. They did bring Him gifts. "As they came into the house and saw the child with Mary his mother, they bowed down and worshiped him. They opened their treasure boxes and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh." (Matthew 2:11, from the NET Bible) That's one of my favorite passages because the Greek is emphatic where it says when they came into the presence of The Child they literally fell down and worshipped Him. Not a bad way to celebrate Christmas, my friend, not bad at all! Amen.

I respect those who do not want to have anything to do with Santa Claus out of their reverence for the True Meaning of Christmas. While my way of seeing it might appear to be an enigma, I have always embraced the festive activities while never even for one second compromising my understanding of why we have a Christmas Day to celebrate. I do love the song made famous by the late, great Eddy Arnold, "C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S". Arnold helped write the song with Jenny Lou Carson. Here's how it goes:

When I was but a youngster, Christmas meant one thing, 
That I'd be getting lots of toys that day. 

I learned a whole lot different when Mother sat me down 
And taught me to spell Christmas this way: 

"C" is for the Christ Child born upon this day; 
"H" for herald angels in the night. 
"R" means our Redeemer; 
"I" means Israel; 
"S" is for the star that shone so bright. 
"T" is for the three wise men, 
They who traveled far. 
"M" is for the manger where He lay. 
"A" is for all He stands for; 
"S" means shepherds came, 
And that's why there's a Christmas Day.

If I think of anything else I'll let you know. Until next time, take time to be reminded to remember Him. Amen and Amen. .....More later.

Friday, December 8, 2017

“At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I've grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.” ― Chris Van Allsburg, The Polar Express

From the Houston Chronicle. For some reason, I like the sweater.
It was a beautiful 'Christmas Card' ride into work this morning with the dusting of snow we received overnight. Having worked all day yesterday, then rushing home and changing into my Jolly Ole Elf attire to entertain children for two hours at the Chick-fil-A, well, when I got back home it did not take me long to find my pajamas. As Santa, I was informed about the white stuff falling from the sky beginning at 10 p.m. last night. I believe I was so excited I had this response, "It is? Okay. Thanks." I had a decent accumulation on my work truck this morning and I did pause to thank God for the beauty of His display of natural splendor. There may be one of those that says when you feel too old to get out and play in the snow, well, I'll let you fill in the blank because, for me, I had a most wonderful night of restful sleep.

Good morning world. Several fellows I know like to say this when they are asked how they are doing, "It's good to be on this side of the dirt." I'll let you mull over that one as we get ready to deal with the day the Lord has given to us on this Friday, December 8, 2017. One of the most aggravating things to me is a traffic signal that is often malfunctioning. At the same intersection. Flashing red. Four-way stop. We are in the 21st century but for some reason, this particular traffic signal has all the king's men and all the king's horses stumped. Yep. They are at it again. Two trucks and a supervisor's car. They are working inside that same box that I've seen them working in, time and time again. Those of us who ride down this particular major roadway are taxpayers. Many are on their way to engage in activities that provide the funds necessary to pay those taxes. Here's a note to elected officials: Before you get a bronze plaque at a park with your name on it, take care of the basics, like, keeping the traffic signals functioning. That will also make it easier for the little old lady who was somewhat puzzled by the flashing red lights. I could tell she was trying to remember if that was covered when she took her driver's test. I'm not sure they had automated signals that far back. Kidding only. Don't write me. I know she had every intention of going whenever it came her time, that is if she ever figured out when it was her time.

I am feeling somewhat weary of late, but when I get that way I try to remember a few things. I am somewhat overwrought at my own doing. Even today, my boys will remind me of the rule when they were growing up. My eldest reminded me of it when we were talking about this very subject earlier this week. "Self-inflicted means you are not allowed to complain about it." Secondly, I remember my parents and how they were actively engaged and very busy each day well into their mid-80's. And, most important of all, I am thankful to be physically able to do what I do. I thought about including the mental part but I didn't want to make it easier for someone to mock my testimony. Given all of that, one thing is still obvious. I'm not keeping up with my business like I kind of sort of do, most of the time. On the other hand, I am enjoying the cooler weather. How about you? I even endured that first-of-the-season heating smell here in my work office yesterday morning. Okay. I admit it. It felt pretty good. I turned it off before anyone else came in. I do have a reputation to protect even if my toes were feeling a little numb. Granny Mac prophesied that one day I would know what it's like to be cold. I may not be quite there yet but I am definitely on my way.

We do live in a convoluted and messed up world. A national museum decided to go ahead with an art exhibit despite a campaign to try and get it axed. The painter is best known for his works of younger girls in various degrees of undress. These girls would have been underaged as the term is defined. In the case of Judge Roy Moore, the liberal folks want him lynched over unproven charges that he dated or solicited teenaged girls 40 years ago. I don't know the truth of that situation. I do hope the truth will come out. I mention this only because of the outcry from left-leaning art lovers in support of this controversial museum exhibit. One wrote a defense of the artist and his underage subjects as being acceptable based on it being a natural portrayal under the umbrella of true artistic representation by a master. I'll not try and unbundle that one for you, but, there's a glaring revelatory disconnect in it if someone takes the time to see it. Just a little drive-by commentary on my way to the door marked Friday Exit. It may already be illuminated. I do hope that you will have a great Saturday and Lord's Day Sunday. Take care and may God bless us, one and all, Amen. .....More later.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

“Christmas is a necessity. There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we're here for something else besides ourselves.” ― Eric Sevareid

We are moving right along, merrily, merrily, not rowing a boat, but at times it seems I do have to deal with a few rapids thrown in for good measure. I'll not decode that sentiment, but, I think most know what I am talking about. I wished I hadn't said that. Because I'm pretty sure I don't always know what I am talking about. At any rate, I do want to wish each and everyone a wonderfully blessed and productive day, here on this Thursday, December 7, 2017. Many will recognize today because it is a day of remembrance of the surprise attack by the Japanese on the US fleet moored at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in 1941. I remember growing up there were oodles of people who would immediately tell me where they were when they got the news about this deadly attack. I'm sure I could find some today but they are surely passing off the scene. It's like my generation and the assassination of President Kennedy. We all remember exactly where we were when we got that news. For my boys, it's most likely the devastating September 11, 2001, terror attacks against our nation. Observing dates that commemorate key events in our nation's history help us to connect the dots of our development. I do know that many families were impacted by the attack on Pearl Harbor and I pause to remember the lives lost and those left to pick up the pieces. May God bless them and may God bless America is my prayer. Amen.

Our appearance this past Tuesday evening as Santa and Mrs. Claus at the Chick-fil-A in Magnolia, Texas, was highlighted by a set-aside time to deal with special needs children. The manager there coordinated with the parents in their cars to bring in the child at a particular time. Several ended up having to cancel but our first little guy was dealing with leukemia. Another not only had autism but was also highly susceptible to illnesses. Then we had a special young lady who we have known since she was born. She has an aggressive form of autism. I still remember the first time they brought her to see Santa back in 2010. (Photo) They didn't know how she would react. She immediately ran over, grabbed hold of me and wouldn't let go. She loved us back then and she still does today. On Tuesday, the restaurant was packed. Literally. Standing room only. The hyped up kids were lined up and biting at the bit. Yet, the parents were able to contain them while we showered some special attention on these special kids. Those waiting are to be commended because we were able to bring some momentary joy to these families. The outstanding studio photographer we work with each year sent me a note the other day. She is planning a similar in-studio day for next year where special needs kids can come and have their portraits made with Santa. She said she felt like we have a higher calling to show love towards these children. Santa's heart was full the other evening and it appears his eyes might be leaking a little as he writes about it today. I may need to get that checked out.

I saw a posting by a fellow Santa out in California. He had been asked to tour a large children's hospital and upon leaving he had this assessment: "First tears of the season." I get that. Big time! It reminds us all that we do live in a world where folks, just like you and I, are dealing with all kinds of challenges. After losing our baby sister Kayla to leukemia back in 1978, my mom became a regular supporter of The St. Jude's Children's Hospital. As a tribute to her heart for suffering children, we designated this charity at her home going and raised over $3000.00 for St. Jude's in her name. I know she would be proud. I pause to remind us all of the greatest need that all humanity shares. That being a relationship with Creator God through His provision of His one and only Son, Jesus, The Christ. We are in the midst of celebrating His very coming into our world that He might save us. I caught a video the other day of a modern group singing 'Oh Happy Day' at a very glittery celebrity event. While everyone was swaying and into the music, I don't know if they paid any attention whatsoever to the message but here are the lyrics as penned by the great musician, the Rev. Edwin Hawkins,

Oh happy day (oh happy day)
Oh happy day (oh happy day)
When Jesus washed (when Jesus washed)
When Jesus washed (when Jesus washed)
When Jesus washed (when Jesus washed)
He washed my sins away (oh happy day)
Oh happy day (oh happy day)

He taught me how to watch, fight and pray, fight and pray
And live rejoicing every, everyday
Oh happy day
He taught me how

Oh happy day (oh happy day)
Oh happy day (oh happy day)
Oh happy day (oh happy day)

They did hear the truth and that is the only way to have a truly happy day. May God bless each and every one Amen. ....More later.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

“Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home!” ― Charles Dickens

Hello friends, neighbors, and one and all who for one reason or another landed here on my little piece of the information highway real estate. Virtual real estate. I suppose that would negate the word 'real'. Yet, we are here, and you are welcome on this Wednesday, December 6, 2017. I purchased some of those little packages of meat the other day. You know the ones. The little meat rounds that are sliced thin enough for you to see through them. An entire package weighs 2 ounces. They are typically low calorie, 100 or less. They cost less than 70 cents but they do have exotic names. I was particularly struck by the one named Black Forest Ham. (Smoked, chopped, pressed, caramel color added.) I was intrigued by this name so I checked what Wikipedia had to offer on the subject: "The term 'Black Forest ham' is a Protected Designation of Origin in the European Union, which means that any product sold in the EU as "Black Forest ham" must come from the Black Forest region in Germany. However, this appellation is not recognized in non-EU countries, particularly in the United States and Canada, where various commercially produced hams of varying degrees of quality are marketed and sold as 'Black Forest ham'". I didn't know that. "Varying degrees of quality." Sounds a little judgmental, if you ask me. There you have it. Good old American free enterprise ingenuity! And, it even has the coloring added to make it look like 'Black Forest'. All for 68 cents. Again. Is this a great country or what?

I want to say this about the Mrs. Claus who travels with me. She is remarkable. I know that Santa, The Santa Claus, has top billing because he does represent the legend. However, I want everyone to know that as one of the thousands of Santas out there across the globe doing our thing, I have the best Mrs. Claus I've ever seen, period, end of story. I thought about this when I saw this particular photo. That's us with a young lady from last Sunday. We were doing a Christmas party for a gated community and it so happens that some very dear friends of ours, brothers and sisters in Christ, that we have known since the mid-1970's live in that community. They were teenagers back then. That's one of their granddaughters. Looking at Mrs. Claus reminded me of that being her natural smile. She is a people person and it comes through. They respond to her. I know what some of you are thinking. I must be in trouble again if I'm writing all of these nice things about her. Just for the record, I stay in trouble, but, that's not the reason. I saw that photo and thought to myself, "Thank you Lord for giving to me such a wonderful helpmete, (Genesis 2:18), who can also pull off Mrs. Claus with such beauty and poise." You may recall that when she and I filled out the psychological assessment profiles she rated off the charts as a 'high blue'. Blue is the color of caring and altruism. My chart indicated a blended hue, meaning I can move in and out of the spectrum, I can be a blue, a green, or a red (tough guy) as the situation dictates. I've seen her become a red when dealing with me, but, for most of the time, she is always a high blue, because that's how God made her, and I am so thankful He did. Amen.

She can also be clever. When I wrote that she had read enough of those Amish Romance novels that by now she should be able to build furniture out of a stump, well, she did have a response. She sent me an email that said she had a stump in mind and she knew what she was going to build, a dog house, for SANTA. I didn't even know we had a dog. And, why would she name our dog, Santa? No wonder I stay so confused. And, there you were, thinking how easy it would be to always be watching out to see if there's any crying or pouting, to be constantly making lists, checking them twice, finding out who is naughty or nice. Easy? Try it sometimes. Some people think that Santa and Christmas is a whole lot like the workplace. You do all the work and the fat guy in the suit gets all the credit. I need to make one thing perfectly clear. Some have wondered why Santa has to be a man. Do you know any women who would wear the same outfit for the entire season? I'll leave you with this little inside information. What do we call a kid who doesn't believe in Santa? You can thump out your own drum roll on this one, "A rebel without a Claus." I think I had better shut down for today and seek out some new material. Enjoy. Be blessed. And, know that God cares. Amen. .....More later.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

“Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.” ― Steve Maraboli

Well, here we go, I think someone oiled the treadmill, (of life), therefore, I should at least be able to give the impression of movement on this Tuesday, December 5, 2017. I did not use the word progress. Hopefully, that will be a by-product of my busy endeavors. Thanks so much to so many who have prayed for our Jimmy Sr. He made it through the surgery and now comes the even harder part. His brand new knee is going through an adjustment phase at the moment. This is not a short-term investment. It will require a tremendous amount of rehabilitation but the outcome promises significant improvement in functionality. His mother tells him to always focus on the potential outcome. I suppose moms have their own form of motivational encouragement. Maybe it was one of those Dale Carnegie books she was reading the other day. Although I never saw one of his books labeled Christian romance. She has now read enough of those Amish novels that soon she should be able to build furniture from a stump. Someone tell me if she is laughing when she read this. Finally, we give God the glory for His provision. He alone is worthy of praise. Amen.

Yours truly reading a book about himself. (photo credit: by Alton Holmes)
One little girl told me she would like a pet shark for Christmas. I asked her if she knew what pet sharks ate. She wasn't sure. I told her they typically eat little fish. Her eyes lit up and she got all excited and said that would be so cool. Her little sister asked for a pet pig. Kids today. Two little girls approached me and they were absolutely beautiful. They wore gorgeous outfits. I couldn't tell if they were twins but they were very close in age, maybe 5 or 6 years old. One very politely said she would like a particular type of baby doll. That sounded very appropriate. The other looked me straight in the eye and in a very serious tone said, "I really need a .223 so I can hunt with my dad." You know that Santa works a fairly affluent area when the kids not only specify they want a new phone for Christmas but, they want an I-phone 10. One little girl couldn't get anything else out except the drivable Cinderella carriage. Her dad was in the background telling the workers that she was fanatical about getting one and they cost around $500. He seemed to be distressed about it. Looking at the big book of The Night Before Christmas almost always brings up the question about why Rudolph is not a part of the story or the illustrations. Santa really doesn't typically have time to explain how the original poem for The Night Before Christmas was written in 1823 and Rudolph didn't make his appearance until 1939. I usually say, "Now that's a very good question." while turning the page.

I had to drive through some dense patchy fog this morning, but, I may have met a new friend. You will remember the cream-colored coyote that I used to often see on my way into work. He would be on his way back to his den, having finished his shift, while I was on my way to start mine. I used to allow him to cross at the intersection. We had somewhat of an unspoken respect for each other. Then one day he was gone. He may have mistaken my truck for one of those red necks in a jacked up model who actually dodge to hit whatever they can. At any rate, I'm driving along this morning and a large coyote ran across in front of me. He had a brownish coat and actually almost looked like a wolf. He or she, (I have to include that because of the animal equality laws), ran up a slope, stopped, wheeled around and stared directly at me. I couldn't help but wonder what was going through his mind. "Is that the white beard in the white truck that Uncle Wiley told me about?" Oh well, I'll know for sure if I see him again. He did seem very well fed, therefore, I would advise people in his territory to keep their pets protected. After that, I came around a curve and a huge deer bounded in front of me. It ran across the road and stopped. I had my window down, so I just hollered out, "Hey, what do you think you are doing?" You believe what? There might be help for people like me? Thanks so much. I'll keep that in mind. Meanwhile, have yourself a good day and remember to thank God for all His provisions. Amen. ....More later.

Monday, December 4, 2017

“Sunlight is the best disinfectant.” ― William O. Douglas

Good morning and welcome. I find myself seeking a moment of clarity as we continue the journey, here on this back-to-work Monday, December 4, 2017. Thanks for those who are praying for our Jimmy. He has his knee replacement surgery today. We are praying for the surgery itself and that his recovery would go well along with the results, in that it will help him to be able to function better. The photo above was shot by a friend. He actually shoots the picture through a large globe. He is a police officer in his day job, but, has been into photography for many years. The wife wanted some of these novelty shots so he was kind enough to come to our house one evening and make them. I do appreciate those who look out for us. The other day I got an email from a lady who had seen a flyer with my photo on it. She wanted to make certain it was a legitimate use. It was. It is being used to promote a fundraiser we will be doing at an elementary school next week. But, I'm glad she saw it and was kind enough to ask. You know. If you see something, say something. Just joking. Don't report me to the homeland overlords. Please. I am glad to report that we did make it through a grueling Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I was able to attend our Sunday morning Bible study but as soon as it was finished I had to leave it to make our next appointment. We did get to see hundreds of children and we know we were able to help make some memories. That, my friend, is a blessing.

Okay. I occasionally do read our President's tweets. They are, for lack of a better word, incendiary. I'm not sure why he does them but many of them do seemingly tend to be needlessly provocative. Many say that's just who he is. Well, I'm not sorry I voted for him, but, only because of the alternative. I don't even want to think about where we would be had the other person been elected. I saw an interesting take on all the harassment charges flying all over the place. The Washington Post had an editorial that essentially said this. Because of the President's own past allegations, if you voted for him, then you are not allowed to comment on the charges against other politicians, especially those in the Democratic Party. I guess there is a threshold for this lady as to when a person can exercise their freedom of speech. I didn't vote for Donald Trump because I supported his personal background. I didn't support his nomination. However, I voted for him intentionally because it was either to do that, write in a name, or not vote at all. Yet, to be told that because of who I voted for I can't express an opinion on any matter that I might choose, well, to me there's something very un-American about that. But, that's the way some folks roll these days.

Not to even mention what all of this charge, counter charge avalanche has done to due process and the concept we hold dear, innocent until proven guilty. Let's face it, folks. We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) We all stand in need of God's love, mercy, and grace. One of the sad outcomes that we see is how dominating the role of politics is in all of these cases. We hear of taxpayer-funded settlements over a period of years where the names of all involved have been protected. Did you get my point? Taxpayer-funded. If an elected official is accused and ends up paying a settlement to make the issue go away and that settlement is paid for by those who pay taxes, well, I'm not sure those should be able to be suppressed. I'm not even sure if they were paid for privately they should be able to be withheld from public scrutiny because if it is an elected official, then those who vote should be aware of those things that pertain to the one representing them. I am well aware that often the names have been withheld to protect those who made the charges. That I understand, but, surely we shouldn't be running clandestine payoffs within our elected government officials without having any awareness of what is going on. Things like this are why people think we should 'drain the swamp.' Oh well, I just wanted to throw out a few conversation starters for your day. Maybe one of them will give you something that will help get your blood pressure going strong. Or, maybe not. Take care. Don't forget to pray for those in our government. We are told to do that by God Himself. (1 Timothy 2:1-3)  Amen. ....More Later.

Friday, December 1, 2017

We only have 23 days left until Christmas Day. Please tell me you are kidding.

Today. It's Friday, December 1, 2017. I came into my regular job today just to open up the shop and then I'll be off to fulfill some Santa Enterprise schedules. I do my best to not have to miss work, but, there are times when it is necessary to fulfill our contracted commitments. We had our little gathering last evening in our home of our Thursday Evening Bible Study group. These people are so beloved to us and we always have a great time of fellowship and sharing. I chose for us to begin to read together a chronological overview of the New Testament birth narrative of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. It basically takes the Luke and Matthew accounts and puts them into a time sequence where we can observe those day by day happenings that brought our Savior into the world. In my Bible teaching, I have done this many times, and, to me, it really does help to enhance our appreciation of all God did to bring salvation to His created human family. The song by the late Fanny Crosby, one of our greatest and most prolific hymn writers, is never out of season,

Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word.
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.
Tell how the angels in chorus,
Sang as they welcomed His birth.
"Glory to God in the highest!
Peace and good tidings to earth."


Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word.
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.

I would portray a scanned copy of my calendar for this brand new month, but, it would most likely be viewed as an attempt to get sympathy. It does look something akin to the graphic above. Needless to say, we are going to be the busiest we have ever been, BUT, I do the booking, so, I have no one to blame but me, myself, and I. I'm glad to say we are increasing our charity work this year by providing Santa and Mrs. Claus for a school fundraising event, an appearance at a senior/special needs apartment complex, and, we will be working with the county sheriff's office in their providing of toys to underprivileged kids. There will be lots of opportunities to spread joy to kids of all ages. Kids are so funny. There are some who like to punish their parents. They will not tell the parents what they want for Christmas. When I ask, the kid looks at his parents and then he whispers something in my ear. The parents get all excited waiting for the reveal. Sorry, I have to inform them that he basically just mumbled some unintelligible gibberish. The parents are exasperated. I look at the kid and he has this mischievous grin from ear to ear. I think we used to be promised a bag of switches, but, I'm sure that's either illegal or it could lead to a lawsuit in today's environment.

I've mentioned before that I might be interested in doing customized videos as Santa. I've been looking at a few made by some of my brothers who wear the red. Many of them tend to reinforce the implied bribery aspect of getting gifts at Christmas. "You are doing such a great job. I sure hope you plan to pay more attention to your math homework before Christmas comes." "Family is so much fun. Your little sister looks up to you and I know you will be nice and kind to her because that will make Santa very happy." And, several more had similar kinds of emphasis. It kind of reminded me of some of those scenes from the Godfather Movie. I'm not sure I would want to be the enforcer as a threat maker to the children. When you think about it, it can't be worse than some of the Christmas songs. One says the child's grandmother got run over by a reindeer. Another features Santa as the 24/7 seer of all that happens. He sees everything, all the time. What about Santa coming into your home and grabbing your mom and kissing her? Wow! I haven't even mentioned the Elf on the Shelf. He or she provides the muscle for any who get out of line. Okay. I'm just poking fun at some of the stuff we all encounter, however, the true meaning is still there if we take the time to remember Him. Go back and read Fanny Crosby's lyrics again. That will help put it all into focus. Have a great Saturday and Lord's Day Sunday. I will do my best to catch back up with you again at our regular meeting place. (The Ole Blogger Ranch) May God bless each one. Amen. ....More later.