Wednesday, January 31, 2018

“Time doesn’t really ‘march on’. It tends to tip-toe. There’s no parade. No stomping of boots to alert you to its passing. One day, you turn around and it is gone.” ― Heather Babcock

I do not know this lady but this is how time works.
Hello everyone and welcome to Wednesday, on this, the final day of the first month of this new year, January 31, 2018. According to the nursery rhyme which has likely been banned by now, Wednesday's child is full of woe. Sorry. I was born on a Friday and just so you know, according to that same source, I was born to be loving and giving. Don't laugh. That little rhyme appeared in a collection of stories told to young folks, published in 1838. However, the rhyme itself may date back to the late 1500's. I believe in these little insightful poems about as much as I believe in horoscopes. That would pretty much be whatever adds up to zero. Sorry to all those who love reading their horoscope each day, but, surely I'm entitled to my opinion. We are a funny lot. Don't you agree? I occasionally see some person on Facebook that I knew growing up. There they are. I remember them well. I remember how they looked. Things are different now. It makes me wonder what happened to them. Must have had a difficult time of it or maybe some serious health issues. Then it dawns on me. I can almost guarantee if they see my today's after photo, they will wonder the exact same thing about me. Time really did a number on them, but, it's also had its way with me as well. I'm glad I can get to that but those initial reactions, well, that's why I say again, we are a funny lot, aren't we?

I did read that Japanese scientists have developed an MRI brain measurement system that will record your dreams so you can play them back. Since the average person will spend 6 years of their lives in a dreaming state, this is a very profound development. I watched a video summary of how they went about developing this system. It is fascinating to see how they were able to monitor people's brain waves while they were dreaming and then development computer models of what was being seen in the dream. They readily admit up front that science is still attempting to figure out why we sleep. I could have given them the answer to that one but they didn't contact me. God is our Creator. He made us the way we are. (Beginning in Genesis, Chapter 2, verse 21, we read the word 'sleep' for the first time. It appears another 115 times in our Bible.) In that summary video, they showed what the subject said they had been dreaming on one side and on the other side they showed what they had read and translated. Scary. Not close to 100% the same in clarity but maybe 80% or more of a match to the description, (in images), given by the subject. Maybe someday we will be able to replay some of our dreams instead of watching reruns of the black and white Perry Mason series because there's nothing else fit to watch on TV. It didn't mention anything about nightmares, but, they would likely be a part of what gets recorded. While scientists are also still mostly in the dark about the purpose of dreams, their best guess is that it "allows the brain to incorporate memories, solves problems and deals with emotions. In this way, dreams are essential for our emotional health." For me, I'm more like the joke told by Steven Wright, "I was trying to daydream, but my mind kept wandering."

And there you were. Thinking that you rarely learn anything when you read my blog. A fellow at our local fellowship gave a report last Sunday on the very important work of the committee he chairs. He said based on his previous update given to the congregation, some had suggested he go into politics. He said they advised that since they had never heard so many words used without saying anything. I thought that was pretty funny. It reminded me of some funny things politicians have said. Here's one from Vice President Dan Quayle, in a speech to a group of American Samoans, "You all look like happy campers to me. Happy campers you are, happy campers you have been, and, as far as I am concerned, happy campers you will always be." ~ From a speech by then-President George W. Bush, "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." ~ Here's a real jewel from Vice President Joe Biden, "When the stock market crashed, Franklin D. Roosevelt got on the television and didn’t just talk about the, you know, the princes of greed." (FDR became president in 1933, four years after the stock market crash, and nobody owned a TV set back then.) One final one, just for fun, from that notable President, Martin Van Buren, ""Railroad carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of 15 miles per hour. The Almighty certainly never intended that people should travel at such breakneck speed." ~ You may not be able to use any of these for anything productive, but, nevertheless, you have been informed. Have a great rest of the day and may God bless each one. Amen. ...More later.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Matthew 7:21-23 "Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’"

Good morning and welcome to Tuesday's edition here on this January 30, 2018. I read one of those flashback vintage facts that got my attention. A young woman, aged 16, didn't know what was actually happening when she was instructed to disembark off the Titanic before it sank. She thought it was all a part of the itinerary of the trip itself. She didn't know the seriousness of it all until she later reached New York. While we might use the word clueless to describe her situation, there's no debating that not knowing the truth can have far-reaching implications. When I read that little story about the young woman it reminded me of the lesson I taught this past Sunday in our Bible Study class. That lesson focused on The Book of Acts, Chapters 18 and 19. In one situation there was a great communicator named Apollos who was a wonderful Bible scholar but was not fully aware of the whole account about the coming of Jesus, The Messiah. A husband and wife team, associates of the Apostle Paul, went to Apollos privately and explained the truths he was unaware of. Immediately following this account, we find the Apostle Paul coming in contact with a dozen men who had previously become disciples of John the Baptist but they had not even heard about the Holy Spirit coming in a special way on the Day of Pentecost. At any rate, after questioning them, Paul determined they had not trusted Jesus and he presented the whole truth to them and they responded in faith and were baptized in Jesus name. So many today have a hit and miss understanding of the truth about heaven and hell, about our need of salvation, and how one can be made right with God. Being religious is not enough. Being on a Church roll is not enough. Nothing short of one crying out to Jesus the Christ in belief and repentance will bring about the saving of their soul, for time and eternity. Never believe it doesn't matter what you believe. Never!

I realize that some of those who read what I write each day prefer more of this and not so much of that. Maybe some would rather me not write so much about spiritual matters. Others would like it if I never mentioned politics. It's okay. We all have our preferences. The trouble for me is that I write this blog right off the top of my old noggin. When that spinning wheel lands of a particular spot, that's what I attempt to share. For instance, I support our President in his efforts to revitalize the American economic engine. I do. At the same time, I am often appalled at the religious broadcasters who are in the tank for President Trump, no matter what the issue might be. They don't need to do that. Do they? I voted for the man but there's no way I can agree with every iota of everything he has done, is doing, and will do, going forward. These folks really get me going when they use the Bible to try and defend some of the stuff going on. As for as the Scriptures, commentary, and other Bible-related matters I discuss, they are a part of who I am. Not that I have arrived, but, I am a fellow struggler on my way to my real home in heaven and I've been provided a life here by the Lord God of heaven and that life is the one I share with folks each day in my blog. I also enjoy the walks down memory lane and the reminiscing about the 'good old days'. And, I do notice things. Which reminds me, when I walk the mall on Saturday mornings, it seems there are always a large number of folks camped out, waiting on the Apple Store to open. What's up with that? Directly across from that business, the Lego Store is often filled up with adults and children sitting on the floor crosslegged playing with Lego blocks. Before regular hours. Some folks will get up early for almost anything. Like waiting in line, playing with blocks on the floor, or, maybe even walking around.

Maybe this day's musings will look smaller when I enlarge the print. Just joking. You will have to admit that we are living in some pretty strange times. We have things that are hard to process, all around us, on a 24x7 basis. The women celebrities show up for some big event and lecture everyone on the way into the venue on how they are there to call attention to how they are sick and tired of women being treated as sex objects. Yet, they say that with a straight face while exposing much of their body to the world in their choice of clothing. Really? Why do they dress that way? It calls attention to themselves and what does the way they dress communicate? I also read about a college up in Connecticut that wanted to demonstrate their free speech creds by allowing a conservative to speak on their campus. Good for them. Right? Not so fast. They also in the same paragraph offered counseling for any of their students that might feel despondent, threatened, or hurt by this activity. I don't even want to get into the details of the latest surveys from the most respected polling organization devoted to Church and Christian matters, the Barna Group. The bottom line is just this: As a percentage of the population, the overwhelming majority of our current younger teens through those in their twenties, do not, and I repeat, do not, share the values or the commitment to Bible defined morality that has previously been the foundation of our beliefs. Overwhelming. The history of our nation is marked by times when the need was great and God sent revival to intervene. We need that today. We do. We really do. Let's all pray that God will respond again for the sake of His Name and the good of these children that need Him. Amen. ....More later.

Monday, January 29, 2018

“The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.” ― Henry Ward Beecher

Welcome to one and all. It's a good day in the neighborhood as we embrace this back-to-work Monday, January 29, 2018. The popular Christian singer and comedian, Mark Lowry, has been doing a daily Attitude of Gratitude video each morning as a way of counting his blessings in 2018. Some of them are funny, but truth is, we all have so much to be thankful for. For instance, I'm thankful for Glimepiride. That's a tiny little pill that was added last August to help manage my diabetes. The doctor added it because my A1C hit 7.2, the highest it has ever been. (Anything over 6.0 is problematic.) The new pill is only 2 mg and I break it into 2 tablets, taking one in the morning and one in the evening. Well, the doctor knew what he was doing. That little pill along with the Metformin I take, it knocked the bottom out of my A1C as indicated by the 6.1 that I registered last week. That's a praise the Lord if I ever heard one! The above photo taken last week shows some of the people who attend our little Thursday evening singing, praying, Bible study, feasting, and fellowship, gathering in our home. Sister Carol took the photo. We were missing at least a half-dozen or more due to illness and other reasons. I put the photo up because I am so thankful for all of those involved in this activity, our love for one another, and how blessed we are to be able to enjoy our time together. That's a little taste of my version of having an Attitude of Gratitude for 2018. Amen.

Just so you know, last Thursday evening the women folk were so loud in enjoying their time of laughter and fellowship, it made it hard for us men to carry on serious conversations. They were laughing up a thunderstorm over there. And, we had important things to discuss. You know. Really important, things about work and work-related experiences. I noticed my buddy, Bro. J. R. kept cupping his ear with his hand trying to catch what I was saying. The wife told me later what all the commotion was about but I suppose it was one of those ladies things, therefore, it's best for us to just sit closer together next time where we can visit. One thing was unmistakable. There was sweet joy in our house. Having just studied our Lord's Prayer as recorded in John Chapter 17, we all were aware of the true joy found in knowing God through His Son. We also learned what He cares most about for His own. That joy in the house also reminds us all of how we can live it out in our daily lives. JOY. J is for Jesus, put Him first. O is for others, serve them even as He came to serve. Y is for you, we put ourselves last as we find true fulfillment in mirroring our Savior's mind. ("Let this mind be in you which was also in Him....." Philippians 2:5-11)

Just when you think you've heard and seen everything, suddenly there's this contagious form of idiocy where kids are actually eating Tide Detergent pods. Medical experts have attempted to get the word out on what the chemicals in those products can do to the body, but, thus far, it still seems to be a fad that is not slowing down. Here's one for you: I read one fellow's puzzlement when he installed one of those smart home control boxes that you can talk to. The box could respond to almost any name but did not recognize the name, Jesus Christ. It immediately responded to queries about Mohammed, and even Satan, but not Jesus. The user of the device is hoping he has a malfunction on his unit of some sort. However, the company that makes it has yet to respond to his questions concerning this matter. That blurb reminded me of the lyrics of a song the wife and I sing, "I'm glad I know who Jesus is, I'm glad I know who Jesus is. He's more than just a story, He is the King of Glory, and I'm glad I know who Jesus is." My prayer is that everyone who reads today's episode not only knows who He is but, more importantly, they have put their faith and trust in Him and the blood He shed on the Cross so we all might be saved to spend eternity with Him. Thanks for showing up today. Take care and may God bless us all is my prayer. Amen. ....More later.

Friday, January 26, 2018

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” ― Albert Einstein

Now we are talking. It's already Friday. That should be good news to a whole lot of folks here on this last Friday of the first month of the brand new year, on this January 26, 2017. As you know by now, I often get very worried about my number one nemesis: me, myself, and I. The other day someone said something that struck me as being funny and I immediately began to laugh. I almost fell over. Why? Without any fanfare whatsoever I found myself doing the Santa laugh. Are you kidding me? It just happened and it was spontaneous. Instead of my perfectly refined and sophisticated guffaw, I belted out a series of ho-ho-ho-ing. I hear what you are saying. It most likely came from that place where my alter ego resides. Yet, it sure got my attention. That's all I need. Please don't add another thing that I have to try and control. Just think. What if I were to be talking to one of our customers and suddenly I blurt out a question asking what they would like for Christmas. Have they been good or bad? You think what? Maybe the wife and I should keep that mental health emergency number on speed dial? I do appreciate your concern and that recommendation. It could get worse. What if I start counting reindeer in my sleep instead of sheep? Wait a minute. I don't count sheep, I typically just sleep. That's all I do. Please! Let's not complicate my life any more than it already is. Agreed? Thanks so much.

Let's face it. I don't write a farce, I actually live in one as a part of who I am. I'm sure I am not alone because we all have our moments. Take, for instance, last Saturday. I stopped by the tailor shop to pick up my Santa Claus coat. I left it there for them to make some upgrades. The place was overrun with people. Ladies were coming in and out of changing rooms with new clothes that needed to be altered. Younger women were trying on formals. One fellow had a pile of suits. He seemed resigned to the fact they all needed to be let out. (Been there, done that.) I know exactly how he felt. They brought out my coat and the owner, a wonderful Vietnamese American lady, asked me to please try it on. Everyone stopped what they were doing to watch me put on The Coat. How embarrassing. One lady came over to me and asked was I the one who appeared at a certain event. I told her I wasn't. She seemed unconvinced and said that I sure looked like the person she saw. (Folks, don't you think it might dawn on someone that all Santa Claus guys resemble each other?) I guess not. I passed out several of our souvenir photo cards hoping that would help get folks focused back on their own stuff. Another lady wanted to know when was the best time to contact me. I told her to send an email in August with the details and we would go from there. The Suit has some new features but I just wanted to get out of there. The alteration lady was insistent that I say it was what I wanted. I told her that we would see. The next time you think my life is easy, just think again, my friend, think again.

As you can tell, I have once again figured out how to plaster a lot of keystrokes and images onto the electronic page this week. If my count is correct, this is the 2,735th episode, therefore, I've had a fair amount of experience. Believe me, it is a labor of love, or, that's how I see it. Most days. I can identify with this quote from Robert Frost, "No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader." I'm talking about the sentiment of the quote, certainly not in any comparative sense to a great prose composer like Robert Frost. That sentiment has to do with writing from the heart. I've been blessed in my life to have had remarkable people who have made a difference throughout my sojourn. They have helped to define my journey. When I write about many of them it brings forth an emotional response. Of course, that has only gotten more so with age. If it keeps going in that direction I may have to turn in my 'man card'. I wonder when they start giving out oak leaf clusters for your 'man card'? That was supposed to be a joke. I do hope that you will have a most wonderful Saturday and that we all will find ourselves at the meeting place with others seeking to honor God on Lord's Day Sunday. Until next time, may God bless each and every one. Amen. ....More later.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

“You don't stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.” ― George Bernard Shaw

Well, well, and yes, that is a deep subject, it's also a way to welcome each one onto the front porch here at the ole blogger ranch, on this Thursday, January 25, 2018. Grab one of those chairs or sit a spell in the swing while I share a few thoughts for today. Aging and agility do not, based on my experience, go together very well. For me. Sure I hear it too. Aging gracefully. For me, that doesn't include my eye-hand coordination. Or my climbing. Or, just about anything I might do that requires physical movement. I'm not just talking about chasing the lid off a jar that goes rolling across the floor. Or, dropping one of the pills from my hand. The other day I needed to troubleshoot some issues with our furnace. That required me to venture up the ladder and into the attic. I can remember when the words bounded up the ladder would have applied. Now I no longer have to imitate Tim Conway doing the old man on the Carol Burnett Show. I can do it without a rehearsal. The Bible says, "Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling." (Proverbs 16:18) I have found this to be so true in my day by day carrying out of my duties. Sometimes I need help. The help is available. But, I do not avail myself of the help. Why? That verse most likely applies. At any rate, I do have the stumbling part down pretty good. At times I do have to look around hoping that no one saw me do what I just did. I don't know if this is a confession or nothing more than the sharing of facts from the aging reporter at the ole blogger ranch. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the opportunities to laugh at some of my own antics. You know. Conjure up the Three Stooges. Close enough. I think you get the picture.

The doctor did mention the 'E' word to me the other day. Exercise. I told him that I had walked the entire mall twice just last Saturday. That was a true statement and I hoped he would accept that as my final answer. He didn't. How much during the week? He's a little nosey if you ask me. I thought about saying that I smile a lot. You've heard that it uses a lot of muscles. Right? But, I held back on that one. I also canceled the idea of how many calories I burn up while eating. I knew that one wouldn't go anywhere. Surfing the internet? Shopping? Answering the phone? Typing? Watching TV? Working my recliner? Switching the lights on and off? I finally came up with this one. There are days when I am more actively engaged than others. At times, this does require me to do quite a bit of physical movement. He had that look on his face. Like, really? He finally nodded and moved on down his checklist. I could tell what he was thinking. "Okay, couch potato, enjoy it while you can." No. I am not a mind reader. But, there are times when I pretty much can pick up on the vibes. Wow! I should have told him about climbing that ladder multiple times up into the attic. Maybe that would have made him feel better, but, I doubt it. Maybe next time I will choose an overweight doctor.

I saw a video of a comedian talking about laughter. He said people ask him often how he is able to write jokes. He told them what he wonders when he looks around at the world is why everyone is not writing jokes. I am said to be a serious person. We would need all the king's men, horses, and a team of mental experts to fully explore that one. Yet, I do look for and find humor as I go about my daily life. I'm not into silly. Some see that as a fault on my part. But, to each his or her own. See how I included everyone in that statement? Culturally in tune, my friend, and sensitive too. Some even find humor in the Bible. Here's some I read the other day. ~ What was Adam's explanation to his children as to why they no longer lived in Eden? Your mother ate us out of house and home. ~ What kind of man was Boaz before he married? Ruth-less. ~ Okay. Those are lame and intended for children. There are, however, some real events in The Scriptures that do have humor in them. Some of the illustrations of Jesus were pretty funny. The word picture of the fellow pointing out the tiny splinter in his neighbor's eye while having a huge board stuck in his own eye must have brought forth some laughs. (Matthew 7) One we recently read from the Book of Acts involved the Apostle Paul, having been beaten and abused, he revealed his true Roman citizenship. That meant they had done what they did to him illegally. They feared this getting back to those above them and they begged him to leave, hoping to put him and the incident behind them. He refused to leave until he got good and ready. (Acts Chapter 16) I found that to be humorous. Okay. Remember this one from the famous writer, Charles Dickens,  "There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor." Enjoy, and may God add His blessings. Amen. ....More later.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

“Some people think football [soccer] is a matter of life and death. I don't like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that.” ― Bill Shankly

Good to have you on board today for this little ride down the road of life. This one is taking place on Wednesday, January 24, 2018. Yes. I do know who is playing in the Superbowl this year. New England versus Philadelphia. No. I did not watch one second of either of the championship games. But, I did hear about it, and I did read about it. I am still boycotting the NFL and have no intention of watching the Superbowl. That is, unless I change my mind. My personal boycott has lasted for the entire season. I don't think there's a statue of limitations on self-imposed boycotts, however, this is, for the most part, still a free country where one can be against something one day and then find a reason to support it the next. I will admit the historical context for Brady and Belichick is very enticing. Nearly everyone wants to be an eyewitness to history being made. However, where one's principles are involved, I think conscience and commitment also have to be respected. I talk every day with fellows who think my boycott is meaningless as they see it. They understand why I have quit watching, but, to them, it really doesn't make enough of an impact to facilitate change. Meanwhile, they come to work and I get to hear them talk about watching the game I didn't watch. I often put in my earbuds and listen to some accordion music. Sorry. I happen to like accordion music. (Cajun button box is great!) And, you can feel free to boycott the hearing of it if that's your conviction. Go for it!

I also enjoy three-part harmony yodeling. And, two-part. And, even, one part. So? Sue me. See? We all have different convictions and preferences. I recently heard a preacher talking about the Word of God, the Bible, and why it is always out of touch with the personal persuasions of a fallen world. He said the Bible is considered to be politically incorrect, but, it isn't. It is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, therefore, God doesn't have to adjust His Word at any time for any reason. If this is true then why are there so many ideas about what God really meant when He spoke through His Word? That's certainly not a new thing. It started at the time of the fall as recorded in Genesis where Satan in speaking to Eve uses some of God's words but turns them around to cast doubt upon them. (Genesis Chapter 3) Like I say, coming up with novel interpretations of God's written word is not new. We see the Bible being used today to justify whatever it is the current generation wants to embrace. Some who claim to be teachers often are the purveyors of these unbiblical views. That is not new. Here's what was going on during the time of Jeremiah, God's called prophet, "Then the LORD said to me, 'The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds.'" (Jeremiah 14:14) I have no idea what made me think of this, but, some days are like that. Maybe it will remind us all to pay attention to the Rightly Divided Word of Truth! Amen.

I could go on and on about that particular subject, but, if I tarry too long you might think I will be asking for an offering to be received. I know they almost always say taking. They are taking the offering. It's a common way to express it. And, it might be reflective of how some folks see it. If you get it from me you will have to take it. Most of us know that giving is to God and those who come around with a box or plate are there to receive what is being given to God. Okay. Stuff keeps popping up as I sit here writing. Perhaps I need to reset my radar screen because it seems to be operating on autopilot at the present time. Not to fear, I just remembered the source for some anecdotes that might be useful to us today, ~ "Nothing will work unless you do." legendary coach, John Wooden ~ "Our aspirations are our possibilities." Poet, Robert Browning ~ "Wherever you go, go with all your heart." Confucius ~ "Life is unsure. Always eat your dessert first." Anonymous ~ And, finally, here's one from God through His servant Solomon, "The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person." (Ecclesiastes 12:13 as rendered in the New American Standard Bible, NASB) Okay. That should be more than enough for us to take in for one day. See you next time and don't forget to acknowledge God and His provision in your life. Amen. ....More later.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Hebrews 12:28-29 "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our 'God is a consuming fire.'"

Good morning. It's Tuesday, January 23, 2017. Last Sunday evening in our worship services, I noticed an elderly lady sitting across from me in the next section. She was with some other ladies. The songs were being sung. She wanted to participate. She obviously had a serious eyesight issue. But, she wanted to participate. She produced a small set of binoculars from her purse and focused them on the huge screens that had the lyrics displayed. Once she could see, I saw her body moving ever so slightly side to side and up and down. That is wanting to worship the Lord! My eyes were immediately filled with tears as I remembered my dear mother and how she struggled in her pursuit of reading her Bible, and her Sunday school lesson. She had all kinds of magnifying devices and she spent hours reading a text that may have taken her minutes in the past.The lady using the binoculars and my remembrances of my mom, they made me feel small. How blessed I am to have my faculties still intact enough to participate in those things that matter, for time and eternity, and, how often I take these simple tasks for granted. Some might have thought to see that lady straining to see the words to songs was out of place and odd. To me, she was preaching her own sermon and it impacted me. I thank God for a living testimony that I needed to see. Amen.

Well, a little bit of winter has returned. After enjoying some really moderate weather over the just passed Saturday and Sunday, we have somewhat of a cool down this week. Just outside the office where I'm sitting, the temperature is registering 35 degrees, (one of those old style thermometers on the wall). We will all agree to take this any day like it compared to the iced up conditions from last week. Comparisons. They are how we evaluate things. Yesterday, while waiting for my blood work at the clinic in an almost standing room only group of folks, I was able to observe some heart-wrenching situations. The elderly. There are folks in pitiful condition. Husbands with their pitiful wives. Wives with their pitiful husbands. The children. Little ones waiting to have their time with the needle. Their parents wearing the obvious facial expression of deep worry and concern. We all wait at the same speed. They give you one of those little alert devices that signals when it is your turn. One older man commented when they handed it to him that it was just like being at the restaurant. My heart went out to so many there whose obvious ailments are pronounced and serious. My heart went out to the little one I heard screaming in the background as the technicians did their work in trying to help. Then, my heart overflowed with thanksgiving to God for the fact that I'm still able to get up and go and I'm there for a diabetic check-up. Comparisons. I left with a heart of concern for those I saw and gratitude for God's provisions. Amen.

Back in 2007 when I started doing these daily episodes I quoted one of my favorite philosophers, the late Yogi Berra, hall of fame baseball player and manager. He passed away in 2015 but one of his most quoted quotes helped define my target for my blogging activity: "You can observe a lot by just watching." His homespun way of talking became somewhat famous as they came to be called "yogisms".  At any rate, that's more or less a lot of what you get when you tune into the broadcast that emanates from the ole blogger ranch. There's no telling how many repetitions my readers have had to wade through over the years. I know that because I observe it as a trait in older people. They, I mean, we do tend to tell some of the same stories over and over again. I do hope that if my stuff gets repetitive enough to become tedious and boring, that I will recognize it and pull the plug. Meanwhile, I will continue to share what comes forth from my observations and watching. Like the dialogue I had with my doctor. We had a good visit. I've learned that part of his technique is to let the patient help in coming up with solutions. He's pretty good at it. I noticed that because I was observing. I'll tell you about it one day soon in a blog coming to an electronic access point near you. For today, think about God's provisions. Think about others. Give God the praise for He and He alone is worthy to receive it. Amen. ....More later.

Monday, January 22, 2018

"Definition of a Jury: Twelve people who determine which client has the better attorney." ~ copied

With the wife having left me again, (I've lost count), I can better understand the impact of the Barbara Mandrell hit from yesteryear, "Sleeping Single in a Double Bed." I think technically ours is a queen size, but, the song didn't provide that as an option. I think you get the picture. If not, I'll try to think of another song and I'll get back to you later. As you can see, I'm up and going once again, and thankful for it, on this Monday, January 22, 2017. I told you the other day how the experts on climate change had predicted several years ago that we would have no more snow. Now we are seeing record snowfall and they turn around and say it is due to climate change. So-called economy experts who are on the left predicted a total collapse of the economy upon the election of Donald Trump as President. They said he would single-handedly destroy our economic well-being. The opposite has occurred, so what are they saying about it? These same people, (it really is hard to keep a straight face here), are now saying that President Trump has nothing to do with the economic resurgence experienced since the election. There's a current debate going on about whether the President used a crude word to describe some countries. He denies saying it. Here's the interesting part. President Obama said similar things. They didn't think he had committed an impeachable offense. Some of the most vocal critics who are saying he is unfit but they themselves have been found to have uttered similar things. In case you ever wondered what a DOUBLE STANDARD looks like, just sample the happenings emanating from Washington, D.C. each day. (It exists on both sides, however, a recent study by a respected media watchdog group concluded that 91% of coverage in the mainstream news outlets was negative towards President Trump and his administration. That, my friend, is about as unbalanced as it gets.)

I have to throw up some political stuff from time to time just so you know that I am paying attention. Now we have the government shutdown. Has anyone noticed what a mess we are in as it relates to how members of the House and Senate work together? If you decide to look, please don't stare too long. It is so ugly it could do permanent damage to your eyesight. Fortunately, our God is Sovereign. That means He is in ultimate control, not those holding out for their pet programs, not the lobbyists with billions to spend, and not even the President of our nation. God's got this and everything else that pertains to life here in His created world. The Apostle Paul said the things we touch and feel are not nearly as real as the truths that God allows us to see by faith. (2nd Corinthians 4:18) Sure. It does look hopeless at times when we view things from our physical perception. One of my favorite songs from the cartoon movie 'Prince of Egypt' is entitled "Through Heaven's Eyes." Here's an excerpt that encourages us all to see the reality of what God sees, " can never see through the eyes of man must look at your life ..look at your life through heaven's eyes ...lai-la-lai... through heaven's eyes...." Amen.

I am glad to report the wife did return. I told her that while she was away, one night I had trouble sleeping. That's very rare for me. I surmised it was because she was gone. It aggravated me a little. But, the bottom line, I always miss her when she is away. I'm glad she was able to go and visit with her older brother, her sister, the widow of Bro. Milton, and her sister's friend, James. They always have a good time. Thanks to Facebook I get to see them having a good time. I told her when I saw the caption on the photo, something about good times with family and friends, I noticed something was missing. She asked what was missing. I said, "What about the fellow with the beard?" She replied, "Are you talking about yourself?" Sometimes life can be difficult, but, I am glad she is back and things are mostly back to normal. She's not feeling that great and may have a sinus infection. Oh yeah, that reminds me. I have my doctor's visit this morning. She told me to let her know what he says. To be honest, I could probably go ahead and tell her. The words and dialogue might be different,  but, my visits mostly follow the skit from the old Hee Haw show. Patient: "Doctor, it hurts when I do this." Doctor: "Then don't do that." I'm mostly kidding. I do like my doctor and I'll be seeing if he shows up with his "a" game today. Or something like that. Take care. Enjoy. Be thankful. God is good. Amen. ....More later.

Friday, January 19, 2018

“Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family.” — Anthony Brandt

Cleon with the sisters and our dear Bro. Milton who is now in heaven.
It's Friday, January 19, 2017, and I bid one and all a happy day. Some call last Tuesday a snow day since most businesses had to either cancel or open much later. For me, it was more of a freezing day since there was very little snow at our place. The wife had sternly warned me there was going to be mucho trouble if I attempted to drive in. Why is it necessary to threaten me with violence? In the words of Rodney King, "Can't we all just get along?" I did stay home. Around 10 a.m., the wife's brother called. He lives over in Northeast Louisiana. She was out in the garage at the washing machine so I answered her phone. He seemed shocked. He figured no matter what that I would be at work. What's up with that? Does everyone think I lack any common sense at all? Don't answer that. He told me over in his neck of the woods it was 6 degrees and he would need to soon go and check on his cows. He's 81 years young and still taking care of quite a few Black Angus. We visited for a few minutes. He is a remarkable man who has always been loyal to our entire family and to his neighbors. I gave the phone to the wife and they were able to visit for a while. Family Ties. They have stood the test of time and we thank God for them. Amen.

Cleon was one of the witnesses who signed our wedding certificate. Therefore, we've been at this thing called family for a good long run. It has been quite a journey! We've had some sad times and more good times than I could even count. That's the way it works with family. We've said so long to many as they have crossed over to the other side. Thankfully, we could say that instead of goodbye since we know that we know we will see them again. When our crossing day comes. We are also left with such wonderful memories. We were married in 1964. It was Christmastime. After a very brief honeymoon, we made our way down to Cleon's for the family Christmas gathering. They knew me already from our dating days but I was impressed with how they welcomed me into their part of our family clan. Our first child wasn't even being thought of at that time and now he has grandchildren of his own. Like I say, it has been a journey. I remember Cleon's in-laws way back then. They were special people. I remember hunting with Cleon and his in-laws. My recollection is of being out at the camp and enjoying the meals and especially the hearty laughter that was almost always going on. Cleon's family has always looked up to him. I learned to do the same. Family ties. They have stood the test of time and we thank God for them. Amen.

I did get myself rescheduled for my doctor's visit for next Monday morning. Let's hope they don't come up with another excuse to use to cancel it. The day I hear they had to cancel because they found a banana in the refrigerator, well, that will pretty much make it crystal clear exactly what is going on. I guess if they keep this canceling program going, it will soon be time for my annual physical. I'm telling you. It's always something. And, if it's not one thing, it's something else. I'm doing my best not to develop a complex, but, it would be easy for me to start thinking people see me as Charlie Brown, or they just enjoy picking on me. Of course, this could be nothing more than a figment of my imagination. I've heard it called a Fig Newton of my imagination but that just didn't sound right to me. At any rate, let's hope we can get this sad and sordid affair behind us. I hear it all the time. We have to move on. Let's just get this behind us so we can move on. I mostly only want to tell the doctor a dozen or more things currently relevant to my health and well-being. Or, maybe it's relevant to my perception of my health and well-being. They need to realize the longer they postpone the more I have on my list. I would send them a copy of my blog but they do not allow that many characters to be submitted. I'll leave it at that so you can say a little prayer for my doctor. Thanks. I am sure he will appreciate it. Have a great Friday and Lord's Day Sunday, and take care of yourself and remember that God is to be thanked, period. Amen. ....More later.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

"There's nothing quite as serene as seeing the countryside covered in a fresh sheet of snow." ~ copied, unatributed

Here's one for you. They ended up shutting down the Company yesterday. I didn't come in. They decided that to have everyone come in late, perhaps after lunch was probably not a productive venture, so, the decision was made to postpone everything until today, Thursday, January 18, 2018. Oh yeah, I almost forgot. They also called and canceled my doctor's appointment for Wednesday morning. That's two in a row for them. I know. Icy conditions and all of that. I did tell the lady this was the second time I had been canceled. She said, "But sir, it may not be safe for anyone to drive on the roadways." They will use any excuse. Don't you agree? The wife has a trip planned for later today over to Louisiana. She is going to check on her sister and to take care of some legal stuff regarding mom and dad's estate. We will have to make sure it's safe for her to travel before she leaves. Here's a bit of news: By Sunday, the highs are supposed to be back in the 70's. I think our lowest this week was 14 degrees as measured on one of the columns on the front of our house. For Christmas, our eldest gave me one of those very nice electronic display gadgets that give you a whole lot of information about the weather. It talks to that sensor on the column. We did hear of some in the neighborhood whose pipes were frozen. For us, it was brutally cold but we managed through it without incident. So far. We are thankful to be here at work and ready to get back into our daily routine. And, we do give God thanks for His provision. Amen.

The kids have been overjoyed to be out of school during the weather threat. They were off for two more days. They were all over Facebook with photos of them scraping up enough snow for a snowman, them using whatever they could find to do some sledding and other fun activities. However, they likely didn't see the notice that has revised the school year schedule. Those two days will have to be made up, extending the previously published calendar. I know how they feel. Enjoy now and deal with the consequences later. After all, by the time they get to May, two more days will hardly even be noticed. I did walk out to the mailbox Tuesday evening late but I guess the mail truck was canceled that day. That's about the extent of my cold weather activity. I do remember enjoying the very rare snowfall in Louisiana as a kid growing up. We were mostly just like kids are today. Have fun. Use every stitch of clothing you have because snow doesn't happen very often. At 71, we've learned to count the cost. Those days will have to be made up. Don't get out there and fall and hurt yourself. Don't expose yourself to the elements. There's a flu epidemic going around. Yep. That's what happens. However, coiled up in my recliner with a blanket watching NCIS isn't too bad either. Just say'in.

We've also seen a few episodes of Matlock, watched the Roy Rogers Show, the Lone Ranger, and a few other programs that qualify to be oldies but goodies to us. You noticed what? Those shows have been off for a long time? Your point? It's okay if people think we are out of the mainstream. We can handle it. We can manage when the grandchildren practice their eye rolls when they see what we are watching. And, I will be the first to admit that during the programs we watch you better be able to tune out the endless commercials or you will be depressed. I am aware that I am in the targeted group. I do my best to use my phone or find something else to occupy my time while they are giving all the dire ailments that need to be addressed. I read the other day a fellow's thoughts on why they call them Depends for old people. He said the same type of article for a child is called things like Luvs or Pampers. He said when a child uses that article they will still be loved and pampered. When an older person does the same thing, well, according to him, it Depends. Hey. I never knew that. You learn something all the time. You what? You can tell I've had some time on my hands? I suppose it is hard to cover my tracks. Enjoy the rest of your day and remember not to forget to thank God for it. Amen. ...More later.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” – Seneca, philosopher, (4 BC - 65 AD)

City of Inverness in the Highlands of Scotland
It seems like it should be later, but, based on the best information available to me, it is Wednesday, January 17, 2018. Maybe we feel that way because of how we all have been hovering over our computers and cell phones trying to track the potential frozen roadways. That can be somewhat tiring in and of itself. But, I do bid you welcome and I thank God to be here with this greeting for today. The other evening the wife and I watched a television program that was giving an overview of the Highlands of Scotland. It's amazing how much more a program like that means when you have actually been there and you recognize the locations visited. This particular program focused on the native foods served in that area. We actually recognized some of the particular castles and other sites that were featured. We greatly enjoyed our tour of Scotland. When we returned we talked about how that we would like to return. That was back in 1993. We haven't made that return trip yet. This is how it works. I talked to a fellow last week who was just back from a winter trip to Colorado. It was his first time there. He said he could hardly wait to get back up there and that he would like to forgo their annual trip to Florida and go to Colorado instead. News flash: I saw a posting from his wife that confirmed their condo and trip to Florida later this year. See what I mean? The program we watched reminded us of how much we enjoyed that trip. It may have reset our intention to return. Let me see. We were there nearly 25 years ago. In 25 years I will likely be in my heavenly home, but, if I am still hanging out here on the planet I will be 96 years old. Maybe I'll just watch the programs.

I think we all know that we tend to be pretty fickle. I've heard many folks wishing for those days when it's so hot you wonder if you'll be able to catch another breath or not. We tend to always find something to be perplexed, angry, disgruntled, and unhappy about. Here's a quote from an expert on managing stress in one's life, "People complain about cold weather during winter, about hot weather during summer and about rain in rainy season. People who are single are depressed that they are single, those who are married think that singles are having more fun, people with darker skin want to get fair skin, people with white skin want tanning and the list never ends. Sometimes I think what would happen to people’s life if you take their complaining habit out of their life?" (Subodh Gupta) Sounds like some of the same issues Solomon addressed in Ecclesiastes. He tried everything that his money, looks, and prestige could provide. Trying to find satisfaction. The good news is how he came to a conclusion that can help us all. It is straightforward and to the point, "Having heard everything, I have reached this conclusion: Fear God and keep his commandments, because this is the whole duty of man." (Ecclesiastes 12:13) I can, you can, we all can be helped when we recognize and embrace what Solomon discovered. Amen

As we sat around the office on Tuesday, it was continuing to get colder and colder. The vehicles in the parking lot were mostly covered with a layer of ice with some spotty snow on top of that. We began hearing about roads in and around the Houston metroplex being closed because of icing. That always makes it somewhat difficult to know when to leave or how long to stay. Some in my family couldn't believe that I had come in at my regular time. Believe it or not, at 4:10 a.m. when I arrived it was still above freezing but that quickly changed. It's pretty rare for our geographic area to be basically in lock down due to the frigid temperatures. We shut down at noon and I came home to a big bowl of homemade chili. She made the cornbread about a 1/4 inch thick so it would be good and crispy. I'm sitting in my upstairs office as I write today's episode. Waiting. To find out what the lay of the land might be. So far, not a creature is stirring including a mouse. We do have professional rodent control and any of those little animals might want to keep that in mind. Maybe we should put up a sign. Here's my word to us all for today. Stay warm. Stay safe. And, thank God for the provisions He has given to us, even on a very cold day. It is still 18 degrees here. May God bless. Amen. ....More later. (There must be a reason the early people are calling and texting me to see if I made it in.)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

"It was so cold I saw a hitchhiker holding up a picture of a thumb." ~ copied

We are now temporarily aware in these parts of how winter might feel. I hope this makes folks in cold weather states feel a little better since we've had a pretty good stretch where the frost has both been on and some days, it has stayed on the pumpkin. It's Tuesday, January 16, 2018, and I bid you a warm welcome. I noticed this past Sunday at the place where we meet to worship God there was a good number who showed up wearing real heavy duty winter clothing. Maybe they used to live where that was needed. I wore my suit. The windchill was slightly below freezing. The fellows greeting at the door looked like they were prepared to build an igloo at any moment. They commented that I was brave to get out without a coat. I had my suit jacket on. I will tell you this. When I get to the office and the temperature is right at freezing, that first cup of Community helps to keep me warm while the window unit heater is trying to do its thing. The smell of that coffee helps a lot. Speaking of that, the wife rode with me in the old pickup the other day. She is a keen observer. She said she could see the coffee stains on the seat. She said it was embarrassing. Really? Who knew? She then said she needed to get out there and scrub those seats. I was okay with all the criticisms up to that point. I told her that I did not want anyone messing with my pickup. Period. She should try holding a hot cup of sloshing Community driving 50 mph while at the same time dodging skunks, raccoons, coyotes, opossum, and deer, not to mention the occasional early morning driver out there messing with my schedule. (For the record, I am aware of those cups with a lid. I prefer a mug made for their Poppy by one of my grandchildren.)

I know someone out there must be wondering if I was going to quote my grandfather. You should know by now that his consistent word to me when he observed me shivering was, "Son, what are you going to do when it really does get cold?" He also made it clear time and time again that being cold was mostly in my mind. That served me well for so many years. The fact that it has something to do with the mind may account for the fact that I slowly but surely am not as able to deal with the cold as I once was. I can still manage it to a certain degree. But true confession requires me to say that on some days the penetrating and damp cold gets a hold of my bones and makes them rattle. You might recall that as a teen I was the all-time undisputed champion of the freeze out game. These days the wife even notices it from time to time. "What's up with you? Aren't you going to take your jacket off?" I remember when I was a kid we would go to my Uncle Claude's mechanic shop. He had those hunting and fishing magazines. They had one-page ads for battery operated socks. I used to lay in bed and dream about those battery operated socks. I think I heard others who said they didn't work that well. But, the idea of not having your feet frozen solid on the deer stand appealed to me. I can't be sure but those socks may have required a wagon to carry the battery back in those days. I'm sure all of that has greatly improved today. Maybe I should look into it. Maybe not.

The wife and I are coming off a spiritual high after the big Bible conference we attended at our local fellowship. We enjoyed some of the most God-honoring, beautifully presented music that I have ever heard. We had sermons from anointed preachers, two each evening, and they, with God's help, did know how, as they used to say back home, "to shuck the corn." God showed up big time. Conviction was heavy upon us all. It was one of the most stirring experiences I've been a part of in a very long time. It ended this past Sunday with two gut-wrenching sermons that left us challenged and uplifted. My point? Being stirred during the service time is a wonderful thing to have happen to anyone. It means that God is at work in your life. However, let's face the facts, it really doesn't amount to much unless I and others act upon what we heard and felt during this movement of God. Do we bask in the feelings we enjoyed or do we get busy making the changes that will help us to grow in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ? The good news? He's still working on me and I am thankful for that. He still has something I can do that will honor Him and help others. Pray for me that I will not forget how He spoke during this great time of revival. Amen. Until next time, may God bless each one is my prayer. Amen. ....More later.

Monday, January 15, 2018

"Yesterday is History. Tomorrow is a Mystery. Today is a Gift. That's why it's called The Present." ~ copied

Today. It's the object that we all have before us. If you are able to appreciate the truth of that statement, then, you, and I, have an opportunity to make something of this gift from God. Another day. It's our privilege to make it count. To apply ourselves. To honor God with our thoughts, deeds, and actions. It's also a catalyst for choice. We can choose our response to this brand new day. Yep. And, this one happens to fall on back to work Monday, January 15, 2018. ~ "Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant." ― Robert Louis Stevenson ~ "The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why."― Mark Twain ~ "This is a wonderful day, I have never seen this one before." ― Maya Angelou ~ "The day will happen whether or not you get up." ― John Ciardi ~ "As a child I had been taught to say my prayers at the start of every day, and so it did not seem an odd thing for me to stand out in the field and say "Oh God whatever happens today let it be under your perfect control." ― John Masters ~ Matthew 6:11, "Give us this day our daily bread." ― Jesus Christ. Maybe those quotes will help us all to get a running start at making the most of this day the Lord has provided to us. Amen.

I mentioned the other day how I'm not a New Year resolution person. Many are. I saw a statistic that reported only 8% of those who make them are able to achieve them. I'm not great at math but I believe that would leave 92% who make them but do not achieve them. I don't know the population that does not participate but I suppose it's like the old saying, "If you have no target you will hit it every time." This doesn't mean that I believe in settling. I don't. We have a mandate from above that we should always be growing and gaining. "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews Chapter 12, Verses 1-2, New King James Version, NKJV) I have a race. You have a race. Each believer has a race to run. There may be similarities but each race is unique to the individual who has been given talents and gifts from God. For me, I need to stay focused on the race given to me. That would be a good suggestion for each of us. Amen.

If they don't cancel on me, again, I hope to see my doctor this Wednesday. (The technical term: My Primary Care Physician.) I am looking forward to our time together. I rehearsed some of what I intend talking to him about with the wife. She had a response, "I certainly hope not." We will see. I was supposed to have a teeth cleaning appointment last week. The dental hygienist couldn't come in that day. They canceled the appointment. They warn you of dire consequences if you don't keep your appointment, but, both the doctor and the dentist can cancel at will. Since then, the dental office has been wanting me to reschedule. I told them I didn't cancel the appointment I had, therefore, I will let them know when I am ready to reschedule. I suppose I should be impressed for their concern about my teeth. (I must tell the whole story. I actually didn't even know about the teeth cleaning until they called to cancel, but, that is beside the point. Or is it?) No. I am not attempting to earn my way into the difficult patient/customer designation. Wait a minute. I think I had already made that one. I wonder what the next step up is. You do know that I am almost entirely, close to 100%, joking about all of this. I did have the dental appointment lady cracking up on the phone the other day. That should account for something. Right? I agree. I wouldn't wish me on anyone either. Thanks for the vote of support. Enjoy the rest of your day and may God help us to actively pursue the race He has set out for each of us. Amen. .....More later.

Friday, January 12, 2018

“Sometimes chaos is the very thing that deliberately shakes up our neatly ordered world’s in order to get us out of the neatly ordered ruts that have kept us stuck.” ― Craig D. Lounsbrough

Good morning and welcome to Friday, January 12, 2018. As most of you know, I am a very early
person and I start my day here at the ole blogger ranch typically in or around 4 a.m. Most days, I encounter very few vehicles on the road during my morning commute. The sheriff's department has patrol vehicles here and there or they might be pulled up alongside each other talking things over. Being mostly by myself allows me to drive down the road, drinking my coffee, and doing my morning conversation with the Lord. Uninterrupted and unbothered. Yesterday was different. When I hit one of the main roadways I was surprised because I was surrounded by a half dozen vehicles. I didn't send for any of them. Suddenly, I had to be more careful. You know. I had to do things like concentrating on staying in my lane. And, by the way, where did these folks come from? And, why in the world are they out and about at 3:45 a.m.? I'm used to seeing the occasional 18-wheeler making an early visit to the big box store and now and then one of those noisy garbage trucks that empty dumpsters. But, these were, like, real people, driving their cars. Some were behind me. Others were beside me. I even wondered to myself if these folks out and about so early, do they really have a life or what? Wait a minute. It hit me. That would include me, myself, and I. I hate it when I have to deal with boomerangs so early in the morning. I hear you. And, yes I agree. It is, after all, a free country. Thanks for reminding me.

You think they may have been wondering the same thing about me? Good observation. And, they are entitled to do just that. However, I do prefer if they are going to share the roadway with me so early in the morning that they make no sudden stops that could endanger my hot cup of Community. Is that too much to ask? That title quote above might speak to my orientation around my own version of 'neatly ordered ruts'. And, yes, I am very much aware of the old saying about how a fixed routine can become a rut which is nothing more than a grave with the ends knocked out. I like to think of mine in a more kind and gentle way. As for chaos, I think there's pretty much enough of that to go around. I've been through many of those management programs that foster a 'if it's not broken, break it' mentality. Upside down thinking. Run the day or it runs you. Don't build the business, build people, they will build the business. There is a better way, find it! And, the list goes on and on. Oh yeah, I failed to mention a favorite today, you've got to think outside the box. Are you tired yet? By the way, I have driven in a few times using a different route. That supposedly is a way to mess with those well-ordered ruts. While I did see different terrain, it was also further. It ended up not making much sense. I've gone an entire day using my left hand instead of my neatly ordered right hand. Supposedly, that will engage a different part of the brain. It also helped me to drop a few things. There are other quirky kinds of stuff I could mention, but, I think we all are exhausted by now. Meanwhile, I will continue to make it up as I go, in a neatly ordered rut sort of way.

Dot and Lil Bit.
This has been an interesting week. God has been good. We've had the wife's sister with us this week as she has been recuperating from a strained ligament in her leg. These girls! That's right. I call them girls because to me, while they may both be in their 70's, that's just who they have always been. Tight. Close. That's why we call them twins born 18 months apart. Since I am on this 'attitude of gratitude' emphasis as a way of shaping the new year, I want to mention the family that raised up these girls. Some theologians believe those in heaven are made aware of the good accomplished in their earthly families. While I'm not sure of that, I do know this. If mom and dad Rawles could see their girls, they would be bubbling over with Godly pride for the women of faith these girls live out in their daily lives. All our families are blessed as a result. That includes me. Yes. I am thankful for home cooked meals. But, there would be no meal without the home cooker. My desire to be truthful requires me to add that they are not perfect. However, they are women of distinction and they are a blessing from above. Therefore, since every good gift comes from God, I give Him thanks for these influential 'girls' that mean so much to us all. (James 1:17) Okay. That's my story for this week. Until next time, may God find us all to be faithful to Him as we continue our journey here. Amen. ....More later.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Luke Chapter 2:41-42, "And every year his people were going to Jerusalem at the feast of Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went out to the feast just as they had been accustomed;..." As rendered in the Aramaic Bible in Plain English

Hello there, my, it seems like only yesterday.... Just joking around a little on this brand new day, Thursday, January 11, 2017. We are hosting a Bible conference at the local assembly where we are members. The conference includes day sessions as well as evening services beginning last night and continuing through Friday night. I plan to make the evening services, Lord willing, but, it does require some planning and effort to get home, get ready, and then fight the traffic to get there. I continue to be so impressed and encouraged by the older folks in the class we are a part of at our local fellowship. Rain or shine, they are there. Many of them are well into their 80's. A number of them do have physical challenges but they let very little come between them and their being at the meeting place at the appointed times. One lady recently told me this little story. Her husband is closing in on 90. One particular stormy Wednesday evening he suggested that perhaps they should stay in. They do drive a good distance to get there. She said she asked him if he would make the same decision if he had a doctor's appointment. They showed up. The point of my sharing this is not to put a guilt trip on anyone. It is to encourage us all to elevate our appreciation for the priority and significance of our participation in any and all things that pertain to our worship of and service to our God. That's all. By the way, that's not a new thing with me. I saw it consistently played out as a pattern, in living color, in my growing up days by observing the life and times of my Paw Paw Mac.

I had that on my mind and that's why I shared it. I do at times have more to talk about than just the weather. Although the weather has been a news item this year, especially in the cold we've experienced. Last Sunday evening we had one of those freakish storms roll through. I was tired and went to bed just as it was getting cranked up. I could tell it wasn't the normal thunder bumper. Someone told me the next day there were 50 mph wind gusts associated with that storm. I do know this. It was raining hard. I went to sleep. I suppose I must have thought she would wake me if I needed to be awake. Raining hard. As best I recall, that was my last recollection. I slept through the storm. In the wee early hours of the next morning when I got up, I saw she had a couple of containers to catch water in our fireplace. Wow! I've only known that to happen once or twice before in our more than 30 years in that house. I slept through it. One thing did get my attention. I was really impressed with the way the rain had washed my pickup. It was practically gleaming. I also noticed a lot of standing water in various places as I drove into work. Maybe my wife is right. "You could sleep through almost anything."

The prognosticators tell us we have another round of feels like in the mid 20's coming up on this Friday and Saturday. 'Feels like' maybe we are going to have winter this year. Interestingly enough, the global warming alarmists who said many years ago that we would never experience winter again, (no more snow), are now saying the extreme cold we are having is caused by global warming. I am actually not into conspiracy theories as it pertains to climate change, however, it would seem they could at least be consistent in their stories. I've never doubted in anyway whatsoever the ability for God's created human family, in its fallen condition, to do things that are detrimental to the environment. However, God made some promises to Noah that I continue to believe because of Who promised them, "While the earth continues to exist, planting time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night will not cease." (Genesis Chapter 8, Verse 22) Does that mean we should abuse and pollute the earth without regard for the damage it might do? Absolutely not! That would be totally inconsistent with the stewardship responsibility we have before Almighty God. I think I've given us all more than enough to think about for one day. Until next time, may God add His blessings as we continue to pursue the life He has given to each of us. Amen. ....More later.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Do we really want to live in a world where it's Person Claus and Frosty the Snow Person?

Isn't it interesting how that one can scan literally thousands of headlines on any given day but when one pops up that grabs hold of you it can get you going in a heartbeat? This is the cud I'm chewing on this morning, on this Wednesday, January 10, 2018. There is a historical context for our recognition of the character of Santa Claus. It has its roots back to a real person. Saint Nicholas. There are numerous variations in both style and names but most have a common connection to this individual as the origin. I was looking through some stuff and a headline grabbed me by the throat. It had to do with some people in Europe who are calling for the elimination of the term Father Christmas to be replaced with the name Person Christmas. I read the article. This is for real folks. I kid you not. In that same article, it mentioned concerns being expressed concerning the overuse of the word Snowman or Snowmen and how that this too should be dealt with in order to eliminate discrimination. Okay. I am a person who portrays the character, Santa Claus, and I am greatly offended by these idiotic recommendations. Sorry. That's how I feel about it. One expert said the issues involving changing anything to do with Santa Claus is more difficult because of this tie back to a real person. I give you my word that if I am asked to portray Person Claus, I will follow the statement precisely that was made by President Lyndon Johnson when he announced he would not seek reelection. It was later related in this paraphrase, "If nominated I will not run. If elected I will not serve." His exact quote was this, "I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president." I think you understand my meaning. And, as always, I am unanimous in my opinion!

I know what some of you are thinking. Why don't I really say what's on my mind? Sometimes the insanity of it all nearly takes your breath away. I can't help but wonder if this trend of political correctness continues to run amok, how it will be for our grandchildren when they are our age. I suppose the utopian goal would be for there to be no distinctions regarding identity as it relates to gender, none whatsoever. No he or she. No him or her. I remember when the first so-called gender-neutral Bibles came out. The overall stated objective was to make the language of the Bible more inclusive. I am aware the original languages used as the basis for translators do, in fact, have places where the original is gender-neutral. An example would be the word for humankind that often gets translated mankind. I don't have a problem with mankind but some do. However, the masculine and feminine pronouns found in the original languages are a different matter entirely. If the original language clearly identifies distinctions regarding man, men, and woman, women, then we as believers must embrace those distinctions as coming from God Himself. And, especially, as they refer to references to God Himself. At the same time, if the original language does not invoke these specific distinctions and a translator uses a broader inclusive term, well, we shouldn't reject this treatment out of hand. To be clear, my problem is when the best evidence we have is tampered with in any way whatsoever to fit the current notions or trends. God's Word stands because it is just that, God's Word. Amen.

I do get updates on my Facebook page from the last remaining major newspaper in our area, the Houston Chronicle. Here's how they introduced this feature. "World news photos: Other than this one mention, there is no Trump in this gallery. So enjoy a Trump-free cruise through our unique collection of world news photos from the past week." I used to be a subscriber to this paper. I used to read it pretty much front to back. I gave up my subscription when they re-invented themselves into a New York Times wannabe. When I saw this precipitous left-leaning shift, I did attempt to reason with them through their reader ombudsman representative. However, they didn't respond to my concerns and now they have joined the ranks of the mainstream media that would greatly like to see our nation enjoy a Trump-free existence, regardless of the outcome of an election where the people of the United States chose him to be our President. Sorry. That caption got to me a little. And, I took the ball and ran with it. I suppose it could be that it did not intend any slight or slant whatsoever. Nope. Not buying it. I'm sticking with my reading of it and now allow you to make up your own mind. Have a great rest of the day and may God bless us all is my prayer. Amen. ....More later.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Sending a bunch of happy birthday greetings to our Brady-Boy!

Poppy with Brady, then, AND, look at him now!
It's so hard to believe that by this time next year, Lord willing, both our Brady and our Alex will be teenagers. They are our most recently born grandchildren. Not to worry, we do have great grands coming up as well, however, it is hard to fathom how time gets away from us and our Brady is a great example of this. He is a remarkable young man who is all boy with everything that entails while at the same time he demonstrates a sense of purpose and character that is both noticeable and commendable. We thank God for him and for his family. He is, after all, our baby boy's baby boy! Happy Birthday Brady, and may God continue to lead, guide, and direct your way. Our love, grands, MiMi and Poppy.

Yep. Another day. Another birthday. Someone who follows us on Facebook told me one day that we sure have a lot of birthdays in our family. That would be a correct assessment and it leaves us with a grateful heart and one given over to thanking God for our family. Today is Tuesday, January 9th, 2018, and the pursuit continues. I'm not into making New Year resolutions per se, however, the way it works with me, I am typically being challenged to change nearly everytime I come in contact with thus says the Word of the Lord. It's at this time of year when the sermons from the pulpit tend to emphasize the opportunities found in the brand new year. One recent Wednesday evening message shared these keywords. Forget. Focus. Finish. Forget about the things from 2017 and/or the past that may hinder progress moving forward. Focus on what God would have you to accomplish in 2018. And, stay with it, each and every day, and Finish strong. There were Bible verses for each point. The bottom line: I did feel a sense of conviction about the life God has given to me and what I have done with it, and what I am doing with it now. That's how resolutions work in my realm. The Holy Spirit who resides within me works to reveal to me that which God would have me to know and respond to. I always come away knowing that I still have much to do. Amen.

I realize that I talk a lot about me, myself, and I, in these daily visits. It actually comes with the territory since from the get-go this blogging exercise has been and continues to be from my perspective, the way I see it, my thoughts, and my opinions. It is a personal blog. I am the person, therefore, it does meet that printing standard acronym, WYSIWYG. What You See Is What You Get. While I can apologize for the lameness of the writing and the material from time to time, I really can't do that much about it because it really is my life. Or, the popular vernacular, 'my so-called life'. The only one I have. I'm not sure if writing these blogs has made me a more keen observer of things as they unfold before me, or if I was doing that already and the blogging is just a way to pass these observations on. My guess is that both are correct in an 'all of the above' context. I must tell you there's so much I lose along the way. I have a great encounter that really cracks me up and I make a mental note that I should write about it for my blog. One problem. That file labeled 'mental notes' revolving around in my brain has a way of hiding from me, and, there's no telling how many really great stories I could have told but they got away from me. I know. I know. I could use a few good new stories from time to time. Thanks for hanging in there with me and always remember that I am, at best, always and forever, a work in progress.

I mentioned yesterday about old people issues as it relates to taxes. I saw a blurb on Facebook talking about how that an individual pays Social Security taxes for their entire working life. When they begin to receive the retirement proceeds based on those taxes paid, the income they receive is taxed again. At 71, I am still a full-time employee for the Company I work for. I am also a retiree from the Company I worked at for many years before. I am also a recipient of the proceeds from the Social Security taxes I have previously paid. I am also a professional Santa Claus and I receive payment for many of my Santa related appearances. I pay taxes, including Social Security, as a result of my fulltime job. I pay taxes on my retirement income from my previous employer. I pay taxes including self-employment Social Security taxes from my Santa Enterprise income. This doesn't include the state and local taxes we pay. Let me be clear. I'm not asking for anyone's sympathy, I'm just sharing my story. This is why I am anxiously awaiting the changes represented in the recently passed federal tax overhaul. I have no idea if I will be helped or hurt. But, it does offer some glimmer of hope. At least, for the time being. Since I am attempting not to be a complainer, please accept my comments as either 'just sharing' or maybe even educational. I do thank God for His many blessings and I hope you do too. Amen. .....More later.