Monday, April 30, 2018

Happy 50th Birthday to our Jimmy!

Another milestone day in our neighborhood today. It's Monday, April 30, 2018, and we are recognizing our middle son's 50th birthday today. Many know that our Jimmy has not had an easy life. Saddled with a serious bipolar condition with many side issues, he has been disabled for a number of years. Yet, he has hung in there, and today he joins his older brother Chris who crossed that 50 threshold three years ago along with his baby boy, Rodney, who will be there in three more years. Our Jimmy can count his blessings, and it especially includes his four children, Jimmy Jr., the twins, Alesha and Amanda, and Alexander Benjamin. We hosted a family reception last Saturday afternoon to honor him for this occasion. It was a wonderful celebration. We do pray God's daily provision into Jimmy's life and we wish him a most wonderful 50th Birthday. Our love, mom, and dad.

I'm not sure it is a milestone but today also has on its plate, this being the 2,800th published episode of my daily blogs. I think my Paw Paw Mac said it best when he used to tell me that he worried about me. "When will that boy ever come up for air?" He did think that I talked a lot. I suppose the 2,800 proves him to be a prophet of sorts. I do appreciate those who read them each day. I know some who read each day's offering with their morning coffee. I do get comments from time to time. While I will be the first to admit they often end up being a tangled mess, I do thank those who in my formative years taught me a little about reading and writing. I started to include arithmetic but I was afraid someone might ask me to prove it. As of today, I've accumulated 209,000 page views where someone accessed one of my blogs. Some 110,000 of those came from within the United States, another 22,000 were from Russia, and 7,800 came from the United Kingdom. Others were scattered in various places in the world. I've never promoted my blogs and never sought any type of advertising whatsoever. I do send them out via email to some 40 folks each day. The rest, as they say, is in the eye of the person landing on it, either intentionally or by accident. I wish I could have retained all the stuff I had in mind to write about, but, often they got away from me before I remembered to remember them. Here's a thought. Wouldn't it be wonderful to someday meet up with someone who landed on my blog, read something I wrote about our Savior, and later put their faith in Him? That would be a blessing! Amen.

Like most things in life, no time to dwell on number 2,800, we turn the page and move on. I think maybe I predicted something that I see happening. Everything is so turned upside down in the current political world we live in, it is having the impact on most ordinary folks to just look away. While I do try to keep up some, I'm not nearly as plugged into all that is happening like I may have been in the past. I'm not sure who gains an advantage as things have become increasingly more crass, crude, and classless. But, you can bet that gain is a part of the equation. I know what some say. It's always been this way. But in today's climate, it has become clearly seen out in the open. Slimy. That does have the impact of turning some folks off. The bad news would be for the wrong people to take advantage and while we were not paying attention, they end up taking over. That is a possibility. I read something the other day saying that if the people who voted last time sit this next election out, well, the other guys will have accomplished their objective, because, with both houses of Congress under their control, they can put an end to most everything the administration is attempting to do. That includes the good stuff, like reform and changing the status quo. Meanwhile, their strategy is to make sure the ugly gets uglier each day. Some predict this gutter emphasis approach may backfire. You might end up with a situation where the gutter people have become worse than the stuff that turned everyone off in the first place, therefore, it might not end up going the way they think it will. Have I confused everyone as much as I have myself? I'm pretty good at that. My last word here, be offended because the stuff going on is about as offensive as I have ever seen, but, at the same time, let's not take our collective eye off the ball, that is trying to drain the swamp. I don't have time to explain that, but, most will know what it implies. Enough for a Monday. Happy Birthday to our son Jimmy, and may we all find ourselves seeking God on behalf of our nation. Amen. ....More later.

Friday, April 27, 2018

“He knows nothing; and he thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career.” ― George Bernard Shaw

I don't have a cheer or anything like that but I am happy-happy that we have made it to Friday, April 27, 2018. What say you? One thing about being a serial blogger, I do have an idea what I was up to ten years ago. How? I wrote about it: "Today it's back to the real world where I will be very busy getting ready to get ready for my surgery later this week. I have the cardiologist this morning and will need his blessing before they can put me under for the knee scope. Tomorrow I have my primary care guy who has to also sign off a sheet with about 100 boxes that need to be checked. The surgeon told me that 80% of the people who have this surgery have little or no side effects and can return to their normal activities immediately. The other 20% end up with some minor complications, swelling, slow healing, and other stuff. In this case, I have built my schedule around the 80% rule, therefore, I intend, with God's help, to have the surgery on Thursday and be back at 100% bright and early Friday morning." That was my torn meniscus experience. I well remember the surgeon. He was a young fellow who was very proud of his work. When I called to let him know that I was still experiencing a lot of pain, he made it clear that whatever was happening, it had nothing to do with his wonderful surgical procedure. I believe he reminded me that it just takes longer for some people. Looking back, I can't say I appreciated his arrogance, but, he did fix my knee and after a few weeks, it has never bothered me again. I think I heard that doctor referred to as the 'Italian Stallion'. Maybe that's because of his long black flowing hair. He drove a Ferrari. And, I remember he had a troop of adoring female assistants that trailed around behind him taking notes. See there? You may not have known that I was worked on by a celebrity doctor. I guess when someone asks if I have had 'work done' I can tell them I did. It was my knee.

I try not to write too often about my off-season Santa experiences but it has become an ongoing part of my sojourn. One of my favorite things is to see people light up when I give them a business card sized souvenir. It's just a photo. The other day I was working with this very large African American fellow. He was trying to help me locate the person I was supposed to see at a Company that is in the process of moving from one location to another. We walked here. We walked there. Then, we walked some more. We finally found the fellow I was looking for. He was tied up with all kinds of stuff going on around him and he told the big black guy just to take care of whatever it was. So, we walked back out to my truck. We both were out of breath. After giving him the paperwork to sign, I handed him one of our cards. Suddenly, this fellow who might have been 30 years old, became a little boy again. He was so excited. He told me he had a special place at his home where he was going to put our photo. The same story at the Whataburger drive through the other day. The lady was probably in her fifties. As she leaned out of her cashier window, she looked like the weight of the world was bearing down on her. After paying, I handed her one of our cards. She nearly dropped the money. She was so excited. It was almost embarrassing. She told me she would treasure that card. My point? Folks, first of all, I can't make this stuff up, and lastly, I've said it before and I'll say it again, it doesn't take much to help make life a wee bit better for someone we meet along the way.

Okay. In doing the full disclosure thing I will go ahead and say this. Yes. I am often asked about the lady, the other half of the Santa photo. She is very popular. When I tell them she is my wife for nearly 54 years. Look out! "You are one lucky man!" Thank you. "She doesn't look like she's even 54, much less married for 54 years." Thank you. I guess I should be glad she allowed me to tag along the day that photo was made. The other day at the luncheon we had to honor her birthday, one of the grandkids was talking about some of the photos he had recently seen of the wife and me when we were dating. He said he could still see her, but, he was having trouble connecting the current me to those photos. Now I know exactly how the late Rodney Dangerfield felt. No respect. But, I will say she deserves the accolades she gets. And, she, by the way, is an excellent cook as well. I came in Wednesday evening to find that she had made cornbread dressing. It was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Literally. Granny Mac would have been proud. Talk about good! The chicken was cut up in the dressing. It was served with jellied cranberry sauce and English peas. That was the best I have eaten since this past Thanksgiving. That was the last time she made it. I've tried to find a hotline where a Santa Claus who ends up playing second fiddle can call to get some counseling. If you know of one, let me know. Have a really great Saturday and I hope you are already looking forward to Lord's Day Sunday, anticipating a time of worship of God, and fellowship with other believers. Until next time, I wish everyone a God blessed day and to all a good night. Or something like that. Amen. ....More later.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

“Right time, right place, right people equals success. Wrong time, wrong place, wrong people equals most of the real human history.” ― Idries Shah, Author and Teacher

Good morning and welcome. It's a good day to be thinking about God's provisions to us as we continue our journey here on the planet on this Thursday, April 26, 2018. Sometimes you just have to be in the right place at the right time. One time I was driving at night to Louisiana. It was in the early 1970's. I think I was going to fetch my wife and kids. At any rate, it was late at night. No satellite radio back in those days but I would always fiddle around with the knob to try and find something interesting to listen to. I picked up a radio station with a strange lady who went by the name of Madam something. She was taking calls from folks who had issues and problems that she promised to somehow fix. She was a medium of some type who mixed religion and spiritism to deal with people's problems. This lady caller came on the line. She was from Houston. She was wanting help with her boss. He was unreasonable and she was in fear of losing her job. Something about her caught my interest. She used her first and middle name. She was asking this lady to do something to make things better between her and her boss. I suddenly recognized the caller. She worked for me. I was the boss. She had many performance related issues and I had counseled her several times about her situation. She told the medium she really needed to keep her job. Her being close to losing her job was a very correct reading of the situation. I don't think the medium helped but I didn't end up firing that lady. However, she either retired or was let go in the first round of some layoffs the company did. There I was, driving at night, having never listened to that station and that person before and suddenly I'm the subject of the story. I was a very young supervisor at the time and I may have been overly zealous in my efforts to fix everything and everyone. Pretty strange, don't you think? I must have been perceived as being pretty tough if someone felt compelled to resort to that type of help. That's my weird recollection of the day.

I'm trying to remember if I have had any other of those types of experiences. Not to my credit, I do remember one Sunday morning standing out in front of the Church property in the little town where I grew up. I was a young teen and the men always stood out there talking and getting the last drag off their cigarette or pipe before the services started. On that day they were discussing those delinquent kids who needed to be caught and taught a lesson. These kids were stealing gas out of their vehicles and watermelons out of their fields. Okay. I may have tagged along as a part of such a venture a time or two. That didn't keep me from nodding in agreement as they lambasted these evil boys and their parents who obviously weren't doing their jobs. I didn't say I was proud of it. At that time, we never really saw it as a crime. If one of the older guys had a car, it had to have gas. A gallon or two was all that we needed to ride around into the wee hours of the morning. As far as the watermelons go, they had an entire field of them. That's how us boys justified doing stuff like that. And, let's face it, it was exciting. Wrong. Sinful. But, it was exciting, especially the times we were nearly caught. It was obvious from the way our men were talking they excluded me from those criminals they wished they could catch. Fortunately, God is in the forgiving business, and on a Saturday evening at services out at my girlfriend's Church, (my wife for nearly 54 years), on January 19, 1964, I gave my heart to Jesus. Since that time, I've failed often, however, I've never again been a part of those who took someone else's gas or watermelons. I thought you might want to know that.

I know I've mentioned both of those stories before but after more than ten years I may be reaching the prophetic realization of those words spoken by Solomon, "....there is nothing new under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 1:9) Within the next few days, I will complete my 2,800th episode, therefore, surely a lot of them have ended up being repetitive. When I was a kid a popular saying went like this, "All good things must come to the end and this is the end, my friend." I'm not sure when I will sign off from this writing venture, but, we all know there's an end date out there, somewhere. I actually still enjoy doing them. I suppose that continues to be a big part of the 'why' I do them. Someone told me that doing them might help to keep my mental faculties sharp. I'm still waiting for that one to kick in. I could have used some improvement earlier this week. My wife is still having fun at my expense because the other morning I looked at the clock wrong, got up, got dressed, and even made my coffee. It was 1:30 a.m. When I discovered what I had done, I wasn't really upset about it. I simply took my boots off and went back to bed with my work clothes on, ready to get up and go closer to 3:30 a.m. The wife somehow noticed that I was wearing my work clothes in bed. I told her what had happened. I've heard about it a few times since then. That's okay. I do my best to bring smiles to as many as I can. And, I know we all would agree that these days we all can use as many smiles as we can get. Thanks for tuning in. Enjoy the rest of your day and don't forget to thank God for all that He has done, is doing, and will do, for us all. Amen. ...More later.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

"I realize God has treated me with undeserved grace, and so I tell each of you not to think you are better than you really are. Use good sense and measure yourself by the amount of faith that God has given you. " ~ Romans 12:3, (Contemporary English Version, CEV)

You can be sure of one thing. I'll let us all think that one over as we do our best with the day before us. This one happens to be Wednesday, April 25, 2018. These cool mornings have been so much of a blessing to me. I see folks posting their laments over the lack of warmer days. That's almost criminal for those who live in the Houston metro area. When I read those I immediately can see that egg frying on the sidewalk. My take? I can wait. As long as possible. I can wait. I know some people are cold natured and they enjoy the warmer temperatures. While that's understandable, my only thought is they should be very careful what they wish for. Especially, in and around these parts. We've got the combo of heat and humidity here that will take one's breath away, both literally and figuratively. I think they are predicting an average year for hurricanes with the potential of 13 named storms for the upcoming season. We've not been hit by structural damage at our place since Hurricane Ike back in 2008. (Has it actually been that long ago?) We've lost power for extended periods of time and we've been unable to leave our area due to flooding several times, but, we are so thankful for God's provision. Mr. Harvey, last August, was devastating to our entire geographic area. There are thousands upon thousands yet to recover from this monster that caused 107 confirmed deaths and did an estimated $125 billion in damages. We just never know. I don't know why but I often think about a verse that's probably not too well known, "Disaster will be inescapable, as if a man ran from a lion only to meet a bear, then escaped into a house, leaned his hand against the wall, and was bitten by a poisonous snake." (from Amos, Chapter 5, Verse 19 as rendered in the NET Bible) Always stay close to God. Always. Always. Always. Amen.

I sense the fellow leaning his hand against the wall thought everything was okay. He believed the danger was over and he was safe. I suppose that part of the verse is more meaningful to me because of an experience I had many years ago. I've told it before but it came up again, therefore, please bear with me. We had an epic hard freeze back in late 1980's here in our area. I'm talking about us laying in bed and listening to the pine trees drop their huge limbs that cracked under the weight of the ice. Those limbs sounded like explosives when they hit the ground. It was Christmas time. All around us, people were dealing with pipes bursting, lawn watering systems messed up, and the resulting flooding, even inside their homes. This went on for a couple of days. We were preparing for our big Christmas get together. We had, thus far, escaped those incidents and I was feeling some amount of uniqueness in how I had been blessed and spared. I'll never forget. I was standing by the fireplace with my hand leaning on the mantle thinking how blessed I was. Me. Blessed. Others. Not so much. Suddenly, I heard this noise. It was loud. It sounded like it was something that happened outside. It was the sound of a pipe exploding. It was our pipe. One behind the fireplace wall. Suddenly, I went from being spared to wading water. My point? Never presume upon the blessings of God and never, ever, exalt yourself. We made it through. It wasn't easy. We went forward with our Christmas gathering. Maybe that's why that verse has special meaning to me. Now you know.

Some might say it's not appropriate for me to see God's teaching in that circumstance. Maybe it isn't, however, I saw it that way and I believe it helped me to grow. God didn't save us to make life easy for us. Having been saved, He wants us to bring honor and glory to Him, and to serve others. We serve others best when we ourselves have a humble spirit. You know. That was the mind of our Savior. The Apostle Paul made it clear what our pursuit as believers should be, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." (Philippians 2:5-8, New King James Version, NKJV) One might easily respond, that's humanly impossible. Bingo! We have a winner! The good news is that if we are a believer then we have Holy Spirit God abiding in us. He can help us to go about our daily living in a way that demonstrates the mind of our Savior. Now that is something! Wouldn't you agree? Amen! See you next time and may God help us all to allow Him to work through our lives. Amen. .....More later.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

"One of the greatest uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time." ~ John Piper

Good morning. It is Tuesday, April 24, 2018, and it is good to be able to greet you once again. A couple of weeks ago, I was very happy that our eldest, Chris, and middle, Jimmy, were able to go with me to a men's breakfast early on a Saturday morning at the meeting place where the wife and I are members at our local fellowship of believers. There were about 75 men who showed up for this gathering. The speaker was an older guy who had many years of ministry and experiences to share. Our youngest, Rodney, had planned on being there but it didn't work out for him. Since this group was made up entirely of men, our speaker was very direct in addressing head-on the issues that keep men from being the spiritual leaders God would have them to be. Much of what he said stung but it was coming from a man with a genuine heart of love and concern for the role of men in God's plan and purpose. The boys being with me made me proud. I left that meeting with one quote stuck in my mind. It's something he quoted from American author and preacher, Francis Chan, "Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter." I'm still chewing on that cud. It may take me a while to digest it. That's probably something we all could spend time thinking about. Amen.

We visited a dear friend in the hospital last Saturday afternoon. The nurse came in to check on her. Really? That young woman looked like she had shown up for a dress-up day as a nurse. She looked maybe in her early teens. One suggestion said perhaps she was a part of the bring your daughter to work program. Unfortunately, it has more to do with my age, than the age of the young woman. They get younger every time I see them. The longer I go places, it is the younger the folks appear to be. I've been told that it comes with the territory and that it only gets more so as the days go by. To add insult to injury, I have always gotten a senior's discount at a particular fast food restaurant. They were the only chain who offered it. This past Sunday, I stopped by to pick up some grub for a quick lunch after services at our local fellowship. The lady rung up my ticket. I asked if she was going to give me the old people's discount. (It took me forever to even be able to say those words.) She apologized and said they had discontinued the discount program on the meals but she could sell me a discounted drink if I wanted it. She said she had no idea why. I said no thank you to the drink. By the way, what's the age of that young man back there preparing meals? He looks maybe 12. Isn't there a child labor law about stuff like that? It doesn't get any easier folks. Not even a little bit.

Just last week I was visiting a company to discuss some particular issues regarding some work our firm was doing. The fellow there wanted us to go and visit with the project manager. He was maybe in his early 40's. We went into the office and he made an immediate left onto some stairs. They were steep. Two flights, but he bounded to the top. I felt compelled to bound with him. I'm really not good at bounding anymore. He was impressed and said I was really doing well for my age. We got to the lady's office. It was my time to talk. I was still trying to unbind the bounding I had done. I couldn't even catch my breath, much less talk without wheezing. She was the project manager. I knew she had a degree from university but I wasn't aware they could graduate and go to work at her age. She is young. And, she was very nice to the old white-bearded man who was huffing and puffing like he was going to blow the house down. I thought she might ask me to a tea party or something with her dolls. I've begun to mix the fairy tales and that's never a good sign. I finally got the discussion done, took care of business, and took my time walking down those stairs. The fellow who was into bounding walked slowly this time. He most likely had no desire to be administering CPR since it was close to his quitting time. Well, now you know. This is the life we older folks live. I saw one little ditty that named us keen-agers. P-l-e-a-s-e! Oh well, every day is a new opportunity to experience the stuff we all have to deal with. I will keep you posted. See you next time, and may God bless us all. Amen. ...More later.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Happy Birthday to my dear wife! "For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh." (Genesis 2:24)

This is one of the most important days of the year. For me. For our family. For many others too. It's Monday, April 23, 2018, and it just happens to be the anniversary of the birth of my dear wife, Marilyn. Her parents handed her over to my care back in December of 1964 and we look back on all these years and I conclude by saying, Thank You, Lord! We've had plenty of challenges and yes, heartaches as well. However, God has been good to give me the wife I have for these nearly 54 years. She is a person of distinction because of her identity as a Godly woman. That shows up in how she ministers to our entire family, her circle of friends, and those who have needs. She is a Proverbs 31 woman and today I do exactly what that text says, "I join our children in rising up to praise her." (Proverbs 31:28) Happy Birthday Sweetheart, may God continue to bless as we continue our journey together. Amen.

It's also the 19th anniversary of the wedding day of our Rodney and wife Mitzi. We thank God for them and how they have been a blessing to us, to their children, our grands, Kyleigh, Lexie, and Brady. May God continue to bless is our daily prayer. Happy Anniversary. Love, mom, and dad.

Okay. I will admit it. I have been dragging a little over the past few weeks. At the same time, I've been working longer than usual hours. That combination has brought on a malady they used to feature on the old Geritol commercials, tired blood. I think I'm getting better but I do have a checkup with my primary care physician coming up soon. Last Wednesday evening I was running late getting home. I told the wife I thought maybe I should just stay home and not try to make the Wednesday evening gathering at our local fellowship. She left early to take some food to a shut-in, so she was gone when I got home. She had supper on the stove top. As I sat at the kitchen table I began to wonder about whether I should stay home or not. It was already past when I typically leave. The thought occurred to me that I would not let how I currently felt keep me from making it to work. Therefore, I got up and got moving, and made it to the services. It was the right decision. On Thursday evening I was running late again. We have a Thursday evening gathering in our home of some dear brothers and sisters in Christ. We sing, pray, I teach a short lesson, followed by some fellowship and feasting. I was dragging but that little gathering gave me a big boost. Here's a funny one on me, myself, and I. Early Friday morning I woke up thinking it was Saturday. I looked at the clock. It was way too early to get up on a Saturday. I then remembered that we had our little meeting last evening. That would have been Thursday! It's not Saturday. I jumped up and got myself ready and was here in my chair at 4:15 a.m. I do wonder about myself sometimes. You too? Good. As you can tell, you have good reason to be concerned.

They say that confession is good for the soul but not always good for your career or your reputation. Dennis the Menace has been put in the corner by his mom to which he says, "Confession may be good for the soul but it sure is taking away from my playing time..." Then there is the deathbed confession. I saw one where everyone was gathered in the room. The dying man whispered something to his nurse. The nurse announced, "Whichever one of you is his life coach, you are fired!" Also, there was the little old lady who was nearing the end and she told her husband, "Sorry, honey, but we are bankrupt." He was flabbergasted. "How? Why?" She replied, "I never could learn how to fold fitted sheets so I bought new ones every time." We have this classic. The old man was soon to leave this world. He could barely talk. His wife stood by to help as best she could. He tried to talk. She told him it wasn't necessary. He said he had to get something off his chest. He finally got up enough strength to blurt out how unfaithful he had been to her. She simply replied, "Don't worry about it honey, I know all about it, why do you think I poisoned you?" I haven't seen the hook come out yet to pull me off the stage but I think I'll leave while I'm still behind. Take care. Enjoy your Monday, and as the late, great, singer Ernie Ford would say these words which became the title of one of his vinyl record releases, "Bless Your Pea Pickin Heart!" I add, may God bless us all. Amen. ...More later.

Friday, April 20, 2018

"There’s another side to taxes that goes completely unappreciated. According to a 2013 study by the Virginia-based Mercatus Center, Americans spend up to $378 billion annually in tax-related accounting costs, and in 2011, Americans spent more than 6 billion hours complying with the tax code. Those hours are equivalent to the annual hours of a workforce of 3.4 million, or the number of people employed by four of the largest U.S. companies—Wal-Mart, IBM, McDonald’s, and Target—combined." Walter E. Williams, Professor of Economics, George Mason University.

Good morning and welcome one and all to Friday, April 20, 2018. One day I need to search my blogs and see how many times I have opined on the subject of taxes. I know it would be a high number. Here's a little ditty I wrote ten years ago in one of my daily episodes: "I have not mentioned anything about the political landscape for some time. It’s a mess and watching and listening to the current round of point, counterpoint, soap opera stuff is enough to challenge anyone’s gag reflex. Meanwhile, seems housing is in a deep ditch at this time except for the fact that we just received notice from our taxing authority that while no one can sell their homes in our area, ours has just greatly appreciated in value for tax purposes. Up 42% over the past five years, therefore, I think it’s time to check out the protest process. No wonder back during the time Jesus was here people turned the other way when they saw Matthew or Zacheus coming. They were both tax collectors!" My point? It is something we all talk about. There are ancient quotes about taxation. The Bible has much to say about fairness and honesty in any transactions where money is exchanged or collected. An example from Proverbs 11:1, "The LORD abhors dishonest scales, but an accurate weight is his delight." One of my favorites comes from the Minister of Finance, Jean Baptiste Colbert, who served King Louis XIV of France in the 1600's, "The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing." I think I have fulfilled my hissing quota for today, therefore, I will move on, but, you can be sure you have not heard the last on this subject.

Just this past week, one of the employees affected leaked the letter sent to them by Sears announcing the closing of their store and the termination of all employees. This latest round of store closings is the continuing attempt by Sears to slow down the flow of red ink. There is no easy way to deal with terminating a large group of workers, however, this is the wording that caught my attention. "Employee terminations including your own is scheduled to commence on July 8, 2018 and with the remainder to occur during a 14-day period to be concluded on or about July 29, 2018. Please understand the entire facility is closing, and there are no applicable bumping or transfer rights. We hope to accomplish this closing with the least possible disruption to the lives of our employees and the community." Like I say, there is no easy way. Most of us grew up with Sears as a part of how we functioned. I know the Sears Catalog was a huge part of our growing up days, especially the Christmas Catalog or Wish Book as it was called. After this most recent announcement of store closings, Sears will end up with fewer than 940 locations, down from 3,150 stores six years ago. Think about it, during our lifetime, we have witnessed a sea change in how merchandising is done. We no doubt will all have drones bringing stuff to our doorstep in the near future. And, based on what I know about these kinds of terminations, there is no such thing as doing it with the least possible disruption to people's lives. May they all look to God during this time of transition and change. Amen.

I've terminated the employment of people during my time working. I've had my employment terminated due to circumstances beyond my reach or responsibility. These types of changes can be extremely difficult and can have long-lasting implications. I remember one woman in particular at the big Company that we terminated as part of a large layoff. She had been hired straight out of a business school and this had been her only job, for 20 years. She ended up having to go for treatment in a mental health facility. There was no least possible disruption for her. I oversaw the release of some 25 of our good people in one morning. It was gut-wrenching and heart-wrenching. My word to my managers was for them to think about the other person. The one sitting on the other side of the desk. Helping those people was my main goal. Fortunately, we did have a series of helps and benefits to aid their transition. That doesn't mean it was easy. I remember it even now like it was yesterday. The look in people's eyes is something you don't soon forget. Yes. It is a part of how life works, and, even more so today where it has become commonplace. This is why we all need the Lord. He is our refuge in time of trouble. He has promised never to leave us and to never forsake us. Without Him, I don't know how folks make it. I really don't. That reminds me to remind you. Have a great Saturday and may Sunday find us all at the meeting place to join hearts with other believers as we seek to praise and worship our God. Amen. .....More later.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

"Get rid of all bitterness, passion, and anger. No more shouting or insults, no more hateful feelings of any sort. Instead, be kind and tender-hearted to one another, and forgive one another, as God has forgiven you through Christ." ~ (Ephesians 4:31-32)

Here we go again. This time we are geared up to face the day before us and this one happens to be: Thursday, April 19, 2018. That shoe on the other foot will get us every time. I see people lamenting how they were maligned in their school or on their job for being a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. They decry the mistreatment they have to deal with. However, whenever someone in the public does something stupid, many times the Christians are the ones calling for them to be burned at the stake. The inspector who recently wrote up a business for flying military flags created a hostile situation. She then got into an argument with a decorated veteran who had been wounded in combat. In the heat of the argument, she blurted out that he had not really done anything for his country. She later apologized and told about her own family's storied history of military service. That was not good enough for us God-fearing folk. The cry for blood was unrelenting. She has now been suspended from her job. My guess is that she will, for one reason or another, end up either losing her job or leaving due to the threats and other pressures. I was upset with her actions in the situation that occurred. The city has since changed the ordinance to make sure this doesn't happen again. She has asked for forgiveness. I leave this topic with this comment: "In Matthew, Jesus says that church members should forgive each other 'seventy times seven times' (18:22), a number that symbolizes boundlessness." People of faith should not lose their jobs because of their religious affiliation. People who make a mistake, (although she was technically correct based on the ordinance she cited), shouldn't lose their job once they apologize and commit to making it right.

One reason I mention this is because of the reputation that Christians have in general, and in particular, in the workplace. I've been working in public roles for over 55 years and often people who are the loudest in wearing their religion on their sleeve are the ones thought to be the most vicious. Sorry. But, it's the truth. I've worked with a number of folks who were like that. I have seen their negative influence on their lost co-workers. You know. "If this is what it's all about, I want no part of it!" At times, I may have been on the edge of that line. I hope not. It's not so much about holding people accountable, but, rather, it has to do with how we carry ourselves. Christians who operate mostly in an un-Christlike manner fail to honor the calling on their lives. A person can be tough and committed, strong, and faithful to their jobs without being mean-spirited, angry, un-loving, and vindictive. I've worked for some very harsh people in my time and when I was blessed to assume different management positions I pledged myself to not treat people the way I had been treated. I may not have always made that happen, but, it was a work in progress. It matters. For some, we end up being the Bible they read and the Gospel they hear. Something for us all to think about. Amen.

I am not preaching down to anyone. I am talking to us all, beginning with me, myself, and I. Believe me, I've got plenty of work to do in my own backyard. For those who think they have arrived, well, that has certainly not been my experience. The kid's song continues to apply to my daily life. "He's still working on me To make me what I need to be It took him just a week to make the moon and stars The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars How loving and patient He must be 'Cause He's still workin' on me." I get the idea that will still be my testimony until the day I realize what it means to be "absent from the body and present with the Lord." (2nd Corinthians 5:8) Until then, we can support each other as fellow strugglers. Can someone be loving and kind without compromising the truths that God has given to us? Only with His help which He provides to us through His Word and through the Holy Spirit who abides in each believer. I promise I did not show up today to deal with theological matters. I shared what was on my mind and in my heart. That's how it works here at the ole blogger ranch. I sometimes finish an episode, proofread it, and, I'm surprised too by what it says. Have a great rest of the day Thursday and may God add His blessings to our day. Amen. ....More later.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

"Death is no more than passing from one room into another. But there's a difference for me, you know. Because in that other room I shall be able to see." ~ Helen Keller (1880 - 1968 ) American author

Good morning and welcome. It's Wednesday here at the ole blogger ranch and this one checks in as April 18, 2018. As many of you know, I do read obituaries. They fascinate me. There's something about the way in which a person's life is described that is of interest to me. Morbid? I don't think so, but, that, I suppose, is in the eye of the beholder. I saw one that only had a photo of Doug. Underneath the photo it had these words, "Doug died." That was it. Nothing more. Maybe Doug was a fan of William Shakespeare who said, "Brevity is the soul of wit." An Ohio man included these words in his obituary, "Respectfully requested six of the Cleveland Browns to be his pallbearers so the Browns can let him down one last time."  A fellow named James from Moss Bluff, Louisiana had this sarcasm put in his death notice, "His regrets were few but include eating a rotisserie hot dog from a convenience store in the summer of 2002." This one more or less is self-explanatory: "Richard Norton Bacon (Rick) of Lumberton has left the building. His friends will tell you he's in a better place. The rest will say they can smell the Bacon burning. He is stress-free and at peace." Then we have the computer programmer's summation: "Diagnostics indicated multiple cascading hardware failures at the root problem. Though his hardware has been decommissioned, Bill’s application has been migrated to the Cloud and has been repurposed to run in a virtual machine on an infinite loop." I can understand the thoughts from Amos, whose write-up gave this insight: "Loved everything about New York City except for the New York Times." Freddie's legacy included this conclusion, "His stories may have been only 50% true but they were always 100% awesome." Raymond obviously wanted everyone to know exactly how he felt: "He despised canned cranberry sauce, wearing shorts, cigarette butts in his driveway, oatmeal, loud-mouth know-it-alls, Tabasco sauce, reality TV shows, and anything to do with the Kardashians." One last one for today: "William left this mortal realm on Friday, July 29, 2016, at the age of 69. We think he did it on purpose to avoid having to make a decision in the pending presidential election. He leaves behind four children, five grandchildren, and the potted meat industry, for which he was an unofficial spokesman until dietary restrictions forced him to eat real food. . ." I can hardly wait to read mine. 

I remember an older preacher I heard who said we should all live our lives in a way so that when we die, people will not have to make up something good to say about us. I'm preparing to teach this upcoming Sunday the so-called love chapter, 1st Corinthians 13. Jesus had said, "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35) The folks that were born again members of the local fellowship meeting in Corinth, Greece, needed a lot of correction from the founder of the work there, the Apostle Paul. The 'why' we do what we do is always key. In Hebrews, we learn that without faith it is impossible to please God. In our lesson from Chapter 13 in the first letter written to the Corinthians, we learn that without true Christ-like love, everything else is pretty much meaningless. This love, like our Savior, is demonstrated by self-denial, selflessness, and sacrificial living on behalf of our brothers and sisters within our local fellowship. Jesus said when that is in place, the people outside will know that we are His followers. That chapter goes into a lot of detail to describe what true Christ-like love is and isn't. For those folks at that time, they had everything going on, preaching, teaching, worship, and activities, yet, they were greatly lacking in the foundation of the purpose, that being showing forth the love of Jesus, one to another. Very convicting stuff. I should know. I've been studying it. We all can be challenged in that chapter. Amen.

It has everything to do with genuine humility. Again, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, is our example. The great Christian writer C. S. Lewis wrote these words, "The point is, God wants you to know Him: wants to give you Himself. And He and you are two things of such a kind that if you really get into any kind of touch with Him you will, in fact, be humble – delightedly humble, feeling the infinite relief of having for once got rid of all the silly nonsense about your own dignity which has made you restless and unhappy all your life. He is trying to make you humble in order to make this moment possible: trying to take off a lot of silly, ugly, fancy-dress in which we have all got ourselves up and are strutting about like the little idiots we are." Here is a blessing of humbleness that C. S. Lewis spoke about, "Laughter is a divine gift to the human who is humble. A proud man cannot laugh because he must watch his dignity; he cannot give himself over to the rocking and rolling of his belly. But a poor and happy man laughs heartily because he gives no serious attention to his ego….Only the truly humble belong to this kingdom of divine laughter…Humor and humility should keep good company. Self-deprecating humor can be a healthy reminder that we are not the center of the universe, that humility is our proper posture before our fellow humans as well as before almighty God…" Here's my take. I've been at this a long time but I have a long way to go in reflecting these truths in my daily living. What about you? (Remember, once you think you have achieved a state of humbleness, you just lost it.) May God help us all is my prayer. Amen. ....More later.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

“Will you please tell Santa that instead of presents this year, I just want my family back.” — Kevin McCallister, from the original 'Home Alone' movie

The wife with Mark Lowry.
Good Tuesday morning, this one happens to fall on the final day for tax filing, April 17, 2017. I know many of you, like me, were wondering why it was moved out to the 17th this year. We knew the 15th was on Sunday, but, one would think the filing deadline would have been Monday the 16th. Here's the reason: "The nation's capital celebrates Emancipation Day to mark the date that President Abraham Lincoln freed slaves there in 1862. While it's a local holiday, it affects when taxes are due." Now we know. The wife left me again. She went to Louisiana last Friday and returned home yesterday. She and her sister and brother along with others attended the annual Catfish Festival in Winnsboro, Louisiana. That's where the wife was born and that's where her brother Cleon still lives. One of the performers at the festival was Mark Lowry, the renowned Christian singer-songwriter, and comedian. She was able to have a picture made with Mark. He is a funny fellow and he also proved he could write song lyrics with his song, "Mary Did You Know?" She did tell me the catfish she ate wasn't really that good. However, it is my understanding that a good time was had by all.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I was left to fend for myself. I know what many of you are thinking. I should be used to it by now. On Sunday, our pastor preached a sermon and part of it dealt with us being salt and light. He illustrated the value of salt by talking about his favorite hamburger, the Whataburger. He said he gets that burger and opens it up and pours the salt on because it makes it taste so good. As salt, we are to add flavor to all those we come in contact with. On my way home I began to think about the profound meaning from that sermon. The thought came to me. Maybe I should go by and get me a Whataburger. I began to debate whether I should or not. On the one hand, it would likely not be that good for me. On the other hand, it was mentioned in the sermon and the pastor said it was good. I passed up the exit that didn't go by the Whataburger place. I went through the drive-through. When I got home I did exactly what the pastor said to do. I opened it up and poured on the salt. Sunday evening I went up to him and told him I didn't realize we would now have to be dealing with product placement announcements during the sermons. You know. Subliminal suggestions. I explained to him how I came to eat a Whataburger. He laughed and said his wife had wondered how many of our members had stopped there for lunch. This is how it goes when I am home alone, all by myself, humming how that one is the loneliest number.

You bet what? My blood sugar number was out of sight on Monday morning? Believe it or not, I will never understand exactly how this works but it was an 89. (Maybe the preacher was right and it's a God thing.) That blood glucose reading was the lowest I can remember since I began sticking holes in my fingers back in September of 2007. A conservative estimate would indicate that I've used that little lancet launcher on my fingers just under 3,000 times. Maybe the 89 was a fluke. I'll take it anyway. And, thank you Whataburger, and our good Dr. Pastor for their collaboration. One thing about being alone is you don't hear the well-intended question, "You are not going to eat that, are you?" I know it is only put forth out of concern for my health and wellbeing, however, may I just say that when it is on the plate in front of me, it is pretty obvious what my intentions are. I am thankful for my wife who does care about me hanging around as long as the Lord allows. There wasn't any Blue Bell in our freezer so I didn't have that temptation to deal with. I'm trying to remember any sermons I've heard that might give me the right to enjoy some homemade vanilla. I did find this one from Nehemiah, Chapter 8, Verse 10, "Then he said to them, 'Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.'" I took care of the fat with the Whataburger. I could melt the Blue Bell and drink the sweet. Nothing like being biblical on a Tuesday. Enjoy the rest of your day and may God bless us all is my prayer. Amen. ....More later.

Monday, April 16, 2018

"I do not like toll roads. Taxpayers are already paying for those roads through their gas taxes, and then to turn around and tell them they need to pay more to drive on the roads, I don't like it." Sam Graves, US Congressman from Missouri

I bring you greetings in this forum for the 2,790th time as we get back to it, on this, back to work Monday, April 16, 2018. I was reading about a recent debate regarding portions of highways being built and whether they will be tolled are not. Welcome to the silent revenue generator that does its thing 24x7 with no voter review or input. Tolls. They just collect the money. These, in my opinion, have become the politician's dream machine and ATM. Recently, a flyover was completely paid off on a major thoroughfare but those receiving the funds were very reluctant to take down the toll booth. But, the tolls are there to pay for these road systems. Really? What happens whenever they are paid off? Well, there are other roads that need to be paid, plus, we have a huge administrative and enforcement overhead to cover, and other projects as well. Here's my take. You know something is up when you are attempting to read the road signs for your exit but the warnings for how you will be prosecuted for not paying your toll are so huge you can't really see the other signs. I kid you not. In our area, the Harris County Toll Authority collected just under $780 million to operate its systems in 2016. That's just one of the state's large toll operations. They were proud of how all that money was spent. Meanwhile, those collection monitors keep flashing and the money keeps rolling in. "Rolling, rolling, rolling, rawhide!"

It may be time to resurrect one of my favorite quotes from the author and humorist, Gerald Barzan, "Taxation with representation ain't so hot either." Since most of us are participants in the taxation part of the equation, we do have the right to voice our opinions and concerns. I am aware that as a citizen, I have a duty to pay my taxes. (The United States Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 1) I also have a God-directed admonition to honor government and to pay my taxes. (Matthew 22:17-29, Romans 13:1-7, 1 Peter 2:13-17) This doesn't mean that we are also called to support corruption in office and waste of collected taxpayer funds. There are those who advocate the inefficiencies of government spending because it has to be that way, by design. And, we are supposed to be okay with that. The famous bridge to nowhere that was constructed cost taxpayers $320 million. We are also told that with spending for the federal government nearly $4 trillion per year, why should we be focused on such small amounts? It's really not worth the time to even discuss it. And, we don't have to guess if there are other bridges to nowhere because they pretty much are a feature of how government operates on all levels. I know that for a fact. From time to time, I scan newspaper headlines from all over our land/world. (829 Front Pages can be found at One of the most commonly seen headlines deals with government corruption, from the top echelons of our federal bureaucracy to the proverbial local dog catcher, and everything in-between. These typically reflect misuse, abuse, embezzlement, scandal, corruption, and you name it, it's a part of the fabric, typically, all at taxpayer expense. Sadly, I can write about it but at the end of it all it's kind of like the weather, "Everyone talks about the weather but no one does anything about it."

I actually am not cynical about these matters. I attempt to be a realist. At the same time, the basis for truth is that which has been given to us by God. Because of knowing the truth, we are aware of how sin has penetrated every facet of life. Not just government. The Prophet Jeremiah was inspired to give us this truth, "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9) That includes us all. That's right. None righteous. No. Not one. Yet, God through His mercy and grace in eternity past made a way that men, women, boys, and girls could be made righteous in His sight. That involved providing His created human family with salvation and that came to us through a Savior, His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Those of us who have accepted God's provision have been made right with Him, now and forever, Amen. As born-again believers, we still have our flesh to contend with, to battle, and to subdue with His power that indwells us. It's an ongoing battle and can only be won with His help. He somehow gets honor whenever we fight those battles and allow Him to help us to overcome. This is why I am not a cynic. I am a believer in the Lord God of heaven and I trust Him and His Sovereign control over all things. Because of this, I'm actually just passing through this world on my way home. While I am here, I will do my best to meet my responsibilities, including praying for and supporting the government that God ordained. That includes paying my taxes. It does not include being happy about the many bridges to nowhere that permeates our governance. That's my take for today. I think I'm going to stick with it. Have a great rest of the day and may God bless each one. Amen. ....More later.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Psalm 34:4 "I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears." (New King James Version, NKJV)

I did not read my horoscope this morning. In fact, I never read the horoscope that corresponds to my birth. I mention this because of this being that scary day. You know the one. It is Friday, the 13th of April, in the year of our Lord, 2018. When and how did folks begin to identify this particular combination as being scary? Here's an excerpt from Wikipedia. ~ The fear of the number 13 has been given a scientific name: "triskaidekaphobia"; and on analogy to this the fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskevidekatriaphobia, from the Greek words Paraskeví (Παρασκευή, meaning "Friday"), and dekatreís (δεκατρείς, meaning "thirteen"). The superstition surrounding this day may have arisen in the Middle Ages, "originating from the story of Jesus' last supper and crucifixion" in which there were 13 individuals present in the Upper Room on the 13th of Nisan Maundy Thursday, the night before his death on Good Friday. While there is evidence of both Friday and the number 13 being considered unlucky, there is no record of the two items being referred to as especially unlucky in conjunction before the 19th century. An early documented reference in English occurs in Henry Sutherland Edwards' 1869 biography of Gioachino Rossini, who died on a Friday 13th: He [Rossini] was surrounded to the last by admiring friends; and if it be true that, like so many Italians, he regarded Fridays as an unlucky day and thirteen as an unlucky number, it is remarkable that on Friday 13th of November he passed away. It is possible that the publication in 1907 of Thomas W. Lawson's popular novel Friday, the Thirteenth, contributed to disseminating the superstition. In the novel, an unscrupulous broker takes advantage of the superstition to create a Wall Street panic on a Friday the 13th. A suggested origin of the superstition—Friday, 13 October 1307, the date Philip IV of France arrested hundreds of the Knights Templar—may not have been formulated until the 20th century. It is mentioned in the 1955 Maurice Druon historical novel The Iron King, John J. Robinson's 1989 work Born in Blood: The Lost Secrets of Freemasonry, Dan Brown's 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code and Steve Berry's The Templar Legacy (2006). ~

I know. That's way too much information, but, it is good to be able to inform those who have issues with this day as to how all of this got started. As for me, it is just another day in the neighborhood and one that gives us all an opportunity to honor our Lord and Savior. I have never seen any of the Friday the 13th movies. I do know the iconic horror image of Jason. Some people are fans. The franchise has taken in just under $400 million here in our country. Some people like to be scared. Me? Not so much. I don't need to go to a movie to enhance my fright sensitivity. The other morning I came to the office gate. I leaned out of the side window of my truck to key in the security code. Just as I was about to hit the enter button, bam! a large 'something' crashed in the tree that was overhanging my pick-up truck. Maybe it was a large nesting bird or a squirrel or who knows? What I can tell you is that it did bring about a response on my part. My instinct was immediate. I did not want whatever it was to join me inside the cab of my truck. My window has the manual handle to roll it up. It's typically hard to roll up. Guess what? Not that morning! I spun that handle so quick and closed that window faster than a speeding bullet. Now you know why I don't need a movie to check my fear reflexes. Got it? Good. I may have also completed a heart test all at the same time.

Another week has come and gone. It will soon be in our rearview mirror. Whatever it was that we intended to do yesterday that didn't get done, well, that opportunity has left the building. I keep a rolling 'things to do' stack in my briefcase. It serves as a reminder of my status as a certified procrastinator. I earned that recognition from the woman who has observed my approach to life for well over 50 years. I appreciate her thoughts on my behalf, but, there's no way I can live up to her claim, for she has designated me as 'The World's Greatest Procrastinator'. We were going to do an awards ceremony but I kept finding reasons why I couldn't attend so we finally cancelled it. It's a joke. Lighten up a little. Had we done a formal ceremony we could have used that wonderful tune from the musical, 'Annie'. "Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love ya Tomorrow!" I think I should have quit while I was ahead but that would have been many, many blogs ago. You know. In a blogosphere far, far away. I do hope you have a most wonderful Saturday and Lord's Day Sunday. Lord willing, I will catch back up with you come next Monday. Until then, may God bless us, one and all. Amen. ...More later.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

"The power of incumbency is the main reason why so many office holders are re-elected over and over - especially in Congress and the Senate. They already know how to use the system to reward and punish - a new guy has to start from scratch - as a new guy he has less influence and power in many cases." ~ Kevin Burke

Today. Yep. That's the one. According to the calendar I have on the wall here at my home away from home, the one displaying a beautiful photographic image of the Jefferson National Memorial with cherry blossoms surrounding it, well, it indicates that we are dealing with Thursday, April 12, 2018. I've attempted to come up with my own way of describing what we are witnessing each day from our nation's capital. I think sideshow makes some sense, although, many may not grasp the word picture it invokes. Maybe freak show is a better descriptive term. One thing does fit. It has surpassed any and all conceptions of what a bizarre reality show might look like. I don't mind telling people that I'm embarrassed by the daily preoccupation with parading the latest lowest common denominator of classless behavior for all to see. The System we have in place is strong. It is powerful. It is a force to be reckoned with. It includes the entrenched politicians and their allies. It is held together by a powerful bureaucracy that has self-preservation as it's ultimate goal. President Trump did not come up through The System. He is an outsider. Don't get me wrong. He has enough personal baggage to muck up things on most days. But, The System, made up of both parties, it will use that and anything else to maintain its power. No one, including the highest elected official in our land, is exempt from the all-out war that seeks surrender of anyone who would buck The System. Let me summarize, taken in context, it's one huge mess. The bottom line as I see it: Never underestimate the power of The System.

I tried to listen to some of the testimony of Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, as he responded to questions from a Senate panel. Having worked for nearly 25 years in the computer technology world, in a past life, I am somewhat familiar with the highly technical gobbly gook he often shared in his answers. (I suppose it was good for him that he was not required to be sworn in so he could answer without being held to the standard of being under oath.) He did admit that his California main campus is made up almost entirely of some of the most left-leaning people on the planet. That was in response to a question regarding their blocking of certain conservative commenters while not doing the same to those espousing liberal viewpoints. Zuckerberg acknowledged this to be a problem. He did not acknowledge how it could or would be fixed. Facebook recently suspended the account of a professor who criticized the Muslim religion. At the same time, they allow unmitigated and vicious attacks against Christianity almost as the norm. I am a Facebook user. I use it to share with family and friends. As a result of what we have learned about how they use personal data, I will be using the controls in place to limit their ability to capture and use my personal information. Labeling only one side as haters in a free and open society does not support freedom of speech and other rights that are constitutionally protected. One financial analyst pointed out that Mr. Zuckerberg's fortune increased by $2.8 billion dollars even as he sat before the committee. In today's world, I suppose that's the only endorsement that counts. (That $2.8 billion was added to his accumulated $66 billion which had made him the 5th most wealthy person in the world according to the recent Forbes ranking.)

Much of what we are seeing is consistent with God's prophetic word to us. God breathed out these words through His inspired writer, the Apostle Paul, in a letter written to Paul's associate, Timothy: "Know this: In the last days perilous times will come. Men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, slanderers, unrestrained, fierce, despisers of those who are good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying its power. Turn away from such people." (2nd Timothy 3:1-5, Modern English Version MEV) Here's something I recently saw. A late night talk show host thought it would be funny to make fun of First Lady Melania Trump and her accent. A particular conservative TV commentator took exception to him doing this and more or less declared war on the talk show host and his program. The two of them had heated exchanges on their programs as well as on social media. This went on for several days and became uglier and uglier. Finally, the talk show host used some crude sexual remarks to indicate the relationship between the conservative and President Trump. That was a big mistake. Up until that point, the liberals were rooting him on, but, when he said those things he alienated one of his major support groups, the homosexual community. They must be powerful because once they protested he immediately began an apology tour and even attempted to settle the matter so everyone could move on. This is the world we live in. The one Paul told Timothy about. God knows all about it. May we all trust in Him. Amen. ....More later.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

"If you don't know your history, then you don't know anything. You are a leaf that doesn't know it is part of a tree." ~ Michael Crichton

Good morning and welcome. We have before us the day the Lord has given, let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24) This one happens to be Wednesday, April 11, 2018, and I'm tossing around some stuff for us to think about. I like to try and remember some of the things my folks used to say when I was a wee little lad growing up. My Granny Mac used this one quite often, "Don't worry son, it will all come out in the wash." While this saying has been alluded to in many different forms, the actual use of this particular phrase can be dated back to 1876. It is connected to how the wash cleanses a soiled garment for all to see. In other words, the truth will come out. My grandad, Paw Paw Mac would hurl this one at us when we were out of sorts, "You've got the same clothes to get glad in." That is identified as a Southern composition with a number of variations. "You can get glad in the same pants you got mad in." We didn't need a search engine to know the meaning. You can sull up like an angry opossum and be that way as long as you choose, but, it's up to you to get rid of that bad attitude. Oh yeah. If that didn't work, this one usually got our attention, "Hey, do you want me to give you something to cry about?" Special memories from special people. I think they did a pretty decent job. And, for those who feel they were somehow injured by these homespun phrases, well, I do believe the statute of limitations has come and gone. Meanwhile, Paw Paw liked to tell me as we pulled that crosscut saw forth and back, "Son, don't lean on the saw, I didn't eat your breakfast. And, quiet down, I'll do enough grunting for both of us."

My wife wants me to be checked by my doctor. My primary care. Not the psychiatrist. (That train left a long time ago.) At any rate, she thinks she has noticed some tremors or shaking on my part. I haven't but she says it has been confirmed by other eyewitnesses. I'm not taking this lightly. I will mention it next time I go. The other day I was out and about. I was outside and it came an unexpected downpour. The temp was in the 50's and I was chilled. I called her up and told her that I had been really shaking that morning. She wanted to know the details. I told her I got caught out in the rain and it was pretty chilly, therefore, I had noticed me shaking a little. I told she could post that in her journal. She wasn't amused. Sometimes she sounds like my mom, "You listen to me, I will go in with you to see the doctor." I thought it was a good joke. She wasn't as impressed. She notices me doing the shaking deal mostly in Church. I told her that it might be one of two things. I could be dozing off which does happen when my blood sugar gets out of whack. Or, maybe I am under conviction. That happens quite often as the Word goes forth. I thought I might surprise her by learning the lyrics from the Jerry Lee Lewis hit, "Whole lot of shaking going on." But, that might be taking it too far, if I haven't already. I know. It could be a symptom. I will discuss it with my doctor. I promise. Meanwhile, here's another one from my folks, "Son, you might as well laugh as to cry."

The other day I was visiting with a fellow in his early 80's. We were talking about one of our class members who had been in a car accident. He had been riding with another gentleman who was a newer member of our Church but not in our class. So I asked about the driver's age. He said he had visited the driver in the hospital and thought he was quite elderly, maybe in his late 60's or early 70's. I don't know why but that was funny to me. This guy in his early 80's saying the other fellow was quite elderly. I do know where he is coming from. I see people all the time who are in my age range and I immediately think of them as old people. At the same time, I often don't think of myself that way. Except for the shaking part. Scientists tell us this has to do with our mental image of ourselves. When one sees himself in a mirror, much of what is communicated has to do with the perception in one's mind. I'm still somewhat physically able to get up and go. That does have an impact on how I see myself. Truth is, we tend to be kind of funny about things like that. They do make mirrors that are accurate. They are expensive. Most people who buy them are not pleased with what they see. However, photographs are typically more accurate than the standard bathroom mirror we peer into. I do know that my body is going the way of all mankind. It is aging. And, that is a part of the journey. They used to say you are only as old as you feel. On some days that means I am a very old man. On others, not so much. At the end of it all, I am thankful for the years the Lord has given to me and I pray that He will help me to use them to honor Him and serve others. Amen. ...More later.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

"Back on its golden hinges The gate of Memory swings, And my heart goes into the garden And walks with the olden things." – Ella Wheeler Wilcox, (1850-1919), American Author

My mom, (1924-2017), and, my dad, (1923-1954)
Good morning and welcome to another day where we will be doing what we can to pursue God's best here on this Tuesday, April 10, 2018. Last week, my wife surprised me one afternoon with a framed photo of my mom and my dad. It was likely taken sometime during the year before dad passed away, (January 1954). Mom, at some point and time, had the photo painted to match what they were wearing at the time. The wife said it was a 'just because I love you gift'. I don't doubt the sentiment of that statement, but, I must admit that hearing it said like that was a first. After nearly 54 years of being together, there are not that many firsts. I am very thankful for her preserving this memory. It was destined to be hung in my upstairs office, but, I liked it so well, we have found a place to prominently display it downstairs. Photos serve the purpose of reminding us of where we came from. Speaking of photos, here is one for you. Sunday evening after Church services, I was out in the parking lot and this elderly lady motioned for me to come over to her. She said a visitor in the Sunday morning services mentioned to her that I sure looked a lot like Santa Claus. This elderly lady got tickled and said that she told the person that she could help her with that. This lady then proceeded to show me one of our Santa and Mrs. Claus cards that she had captured a digital image of on her phone. She said she showed the visitor that photo and said, "Does this help?" She said I had given her that card last year. I didn't remember her, but I could tell that she was very proud of herself for helping the lady to know why I look the way I do. When I got to the car, the wife had one of those 'what in the world?' looks on her face. I told her the little story. As I have always said, Santa loves the children, of all ages. And, for the most part, they love him back. Amen.

Early yesterday morning I had to be out and about the Houston metroplex in a drizzling rain, the streets were slick and slimy, it was also overcast and dark, and yes, there were wrecks here, there, and everywhere. A one-way 45-minute ride turned into a 1-1/2 hour drive. Coming back, the same thing. It will forever be a mystery to me why people still want to drive the posted speed when folks are obviously slipping and sliding all around. (Typically running late is all I could come up with.) I remember back in the day when I had a large workforce. I had what I would call a few buzzer beaters who tried to get to their workstation right at the start time. This meant that everything had to line up perfectly every day in order for them to make it into work on time. Whey they failed to make it on time they would plead the conditions like I described above. I wasn't very understanding. I recommended they back up their alarm clock by another hour to limit this exposure. I don't know. Some folks are wired to want to make it by the skin of their teeth every day. My observation is that approach typically leads to all kinds of troubles including the potential for being caught up in an accident as they hurry their way to their destination. Don't write me. I am aware there are different strokes for different folks. Diversity. I get that. My last word is simply this. Sometimes folks who have those types of proclivities might want to find a place to work more suitable to their inclinations.

Mom and dad with one of the two eaglets.
I've been keeping up with some bald eagle eaglets that were hatched right after Christmas Day, last year. I typically check in on them once or twice a day. They are pretty much fully grown but they will not get the full plumage and coloring we associate with our national symbol for up to five years. They are able to fly but they have not yet learned to hunt for food on their own. It's been very impressive to see how doting mom and dad eagle has been in providing for their two offspring. There are 3 special cameras mounted that pretty much operate 24 hours a day. They have had over 123 million accesses to watch the eagles. Some designated observers keep up with the details of their development. They catalog things like the food brought to the nest. There is a nearby pond so they have eaten plenty of fish. Occasionally, they get a squirrel or other small rodent. At mealtime, I've noticed they are not so good at sharing. Today might be an important day for these two. Mom and dad have not brought them any food today. That's the first time I've seen that. Since eagles mate for life, it may be time for these two to be thinking about getting themselves a new nest and also to get busy learning how to hunt and capture their own food. They both are still afraid of the crows even though they have the talons and beaks to get on with finding supper. I've read that it takes practice before they get the hang of it, but, I'm sure they will be able to learn. That gnawing hunger will help motivate them. You might want to check in on them. Google, "Florida eagle nest". It usually comes up first. It's the website operated by Southwest Florida Eagle Cam. Oh yeah, one more thing. They are beautiful birds and so are their parents. God's creation is amazing! Amen. .....More later.

Monday, April 9, 2018

"If you make any money, the government shoves you in the creek once a year with it in your pockets, and all that don't get wet you can keep." ~ Will Rogers

Why wait? Today is Monday, April 9, 2018, and I bid you welcome to today's issues as determined by yours truly here at the ole blogger ranch. The why wait question has to do with filing my income tax return. I owed money. (Too much, if you ask me.) But, somehow waiting until Tuesday, the 17th, which is the official last day to file, well, it just doesn't appeal to me. I know many do it on the last day as a way of protesting the system. I actually don't see where it buys people a lot to do that. We file a joint return but I'm the one who does the calculations. This means that we both are responsible and will both have to pay the penalty if I make some kind of big boo boo. I think when we started out I may have let someone help me to prepare my tax return. That was the conditioning effect of the environment I was brought up in. You know. Taxes! You had better get someone with an accounting background to help you. It didn't take me long to figure out that I should be doing my own taxes and I have done them ever since, except for when I had the consulting business and needed some help with some investment losses. Today, there are many computer software packages available to guide one through the process. My take for this year? I well know why they don't give old people more of a break. They depend on any and all revenue to mortgage the future in the trillions that must be borrowed to keep our government afloat. I'll let you think on that for a while. Not too long. It will give you a headache. Or worse. But once again here is my bottom line: Still thanking God that we live in this country and that we were able to make it another year and had enough to pay what we owed. Amen.

Now would be a good time to find one of those deleted paragraphs that I flagged for later use. You know. The ones I was going to remember to remember. Since that's not working at this time, I need to either put a temporarily out of order sign on my memory bank or come up with something new. I'm almost certain that the new stuff might be the old stuff but since I didn't remember it, well, it will be new to everyone, including myself. No. I do not furnish scorecards. There's much about the current administration that is problematic all the way to the top. However, as it relates to dismantling notions that pertain to 'conventional wisdom' and 'status quo', well, I for one am okay with blowing up the bureaucracy and coming up with some new ways of doing business. I'm not sure the blowing up analogy is acceptable today given the sensitivity of the word police, yet, something drastic must happen if real change is ever to take place. I think respect for traditions is a good thing in its place. However, the continuing debacle of waste and corruption that passes itself off as 'this is how it works' needs to be annihilated. Sorry. I used another violent term that entrenched political operatives hate. Like I say, I'm not one of those who supports everything going on in President Trump's day to day functioning as our nation's chief executive officer. But, I do support those things that could make a difference in the effectiveness, efficiency, and in reducing the cost of our government institutions. You can quote me on that. Anonymously, of course. (Lois Lerner may still have friends at the IRS.)

My thoughts last Friday about my grandfather where no doubt prompted by the time spent over the past several weeks immersed in reviewing the information we have regarding our lineage. We will soon be celebrating the birth dates of both our mom and our stepdad, and, during the same interval, we will be recognizing their home going dates as well. They were something to behold for their 40-year run and we as a family can only be thankful for the time God gave them to share with us. They both had their quirks, just like we all do, and they were funny. Even together. And, they were together. That's how most people remember them. Together. Mom, in her 90's, was even jealous of ladies at Church who hugged 'her husband'. Dad laid out a template for a demonstrated devotion that most of us will have a hard time duplicating. But, it does give us something to shoot for. Some like to quote verses. "Love your wife even as Christ loved the Church." (Ephesians 5:25) Dad may or may not have been aware of that verse but he knew what it meant to live it. Which one do you think is more effective? Quoting it or doing it? When I would talk to mom she would tell me how concerned she was about dad overdoing it, some of his ailments, and his general welfare. They cared. They left us a legacy of caring. I do hope we all will take it seriously because God intended for love and devotion to define a healthy marriage. Even with peculiarities and quirks. May God help all of us who were witnesses to their lives to learn and to do our best to put what we saw into practice. Amen. .....More later.