Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas beckons

The last of the Thanksgiving turkey has been relegated to leftover status and has lost its appeal. One can only eat turkey so many ways, you know. However, I'm thankful for the blessings that God has provided in His bounty.

Now, however, Christmas is picking up steam. More lights are appearing around the neighborhood; the air was crisp and cool today; and, I attached the last extension cord to our outdoor lights this morning. Let's roll.

My challenge is to set the commercialism aside (sometimes a herculean task), and take some time this Christmas season to dig down deeply as to why we celebrate this day. I know a great deal has been written about doing so, so you won't find anything new here. However, when we find a quiet moment to reflect on that most holy night when Christ the Savior was born, where does it take us? There are some huge implications in that event, you know.

Think about Mary...a child herself; probably 13 or 14 years of age yoked with the responsibility of giving birth to the LORD of the universe. What about Joseph, her betrothed? He could have had her put to death, you know, for the child wasn't his...What about her parents? What about his parents? What about the townspeople? The church people? God's plan to enter time and space touched each of us in a supernatural way. Christmas is as relevant today as it was then: Christ the Savior was born and God dwelt among us.

Powerful. The light of the world has come.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Blessings

Thanksgiving week. What a joy it is to count my blessings this year! One of the biggest blessings would be that Jo and I celebrate our 39th wedding anniversary on the 29th of November, and our 40th Christmas together as husband and wife. It has truly been a joy sharing my life with her. Our kids, and later, our grandkids have added a dimension to our lives that we never anticipated in our early years together. God has honored me with a wonderful family.

We're having family over for lunch on Thursday. Jo is in her element planning the menues, staging the baking and preparation times, and getting the house ready for the big day. As the turkey and beef thaw in the refrigerator, the pantry fairly bursts with those items that will grace our table on Thursday. While I look forward to the wonderful food, the best part is having everyone home with our feet under the same table. It doesn't get any better than that.

However, I'm reminded of why we do it: Our pilgrim brothers and sisters in Christ sacrificed so much so that we can enjoy the day. This holiday was built on the backs of those whose vision of living in a country where their freedom to worship the LORD freely was accomplished through their hardship, suffering, and sacrifice. Many of them never lived to celebrate the first Thanksgiving with their shipmates. However, their vision overruled their choice for comfort and we are the beneficiaries of their resolve.

May you and yours have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Too quiet around here...

Each morning I check my emails to take care of student correspondence, read newsletters that I subscribe to online, and see what news might have taken place overnight. Usually Miss Daisy is content to find her Nyla-bone and nestle down in a comfortable spot in the family room and gnaw away until I finish my work.

This morning I noticed that it was a little too quiet, so I went in to check on her. She apparently had discovered her baby next to her Nyla-bone and decided to abandon the bone for the baby. As one thing led to another, her baby's stuffing was too much of a temptation and found its way from the baby's inside to our family room floor. She disemboweled the little dickens.

As you can tell by her expression, she is smug in her conquest. The baby (one of her favorite toys) is half the size it was an hour ago. It is also decidedly more limp than it had been in its earlier life.

Miss Daisy is napping now. Exhausted from her morning "kill", she dreams of her next encounter and victory in the jungles of the doggie-toy veldt.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Just say it...MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Hey, Everyone! I just received this video about saying "Merry Christmas"! It says it better than I could ever dream of saying it, so watch it and consider it my early Christmas gift to you...MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Another Pleasant Valley a good sense, that is. The Monkees (remember them?) sang about that place and sub-titled it "status symbol land". Well sorry, boys. I don't view it that way.

It's been a mellow day. Church this morning was good, the Sunday crossword was easy, Jo is baking oatmeal cookies this afternoon, and the Colts play tonight. It just doesn't get any better than that.

A few of our neighbors have begun decorating their houses heralding the advent of Christmas 2009. Our things are still tucked away in storage and probably won't see day light until after Thanksgiving.

I understand there is talk this year about referring to the tree at the White House as a "Holiday Tree" for political correctness. Here in Pleasant Valley, however, I still call it a Christmas Tree, we proudly display Mary, Joseph, and Jesus in a creche (the reason for the season) so that we can still wonder at that miracle over 2,000 years ago, and, I still wish those I meet a "Merry Christmas". After all, the One who made it all possible (Jesus, Immanuel, God with Us) deserves that.

So, enjoy your day today. Count your blessings and pray for our country. May Pleasant Valley Sundays always be a fixture of this great land.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A new day

Aren't mornings the absolute best? I know, I know, for some they're not. For many, mornings are just that blurry transition to lunch and the action of the afternoon. But for me, mornings are the best.

There's nothing better than being the first one outdoors to gather the morning paper (well, actually Miss Daisy is the first one out the door to gather the news) and discover the genesis of a new day. It was chilly this morning and the warmth I had absorbed in the house during the night soon dissolved as I walked a few hundred feet to the mailbox to get the paper. The neighborhood, sleepy and quiet, sports a different look than at 5 or 6 o'clock in the evening. There is a palpable anticipation of the new day starting.

This morning was so clear and beautiful. The stars were just saying good night and the sky in the east was just beginning to lighten. I looked at the darkened woods a few blocks from our house and the tree line was just beginning to take definition as the sun was still finding its way to the day. Man! There's nothing better!

I think that mornings are God's way of promising us new hope. I love the verse from Psalms 118:24 that says, "This is the day that the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it!" (italics are mine).

So, Good Morning! Grab a cup of coffee, sit at the table and watch the day unfold. It was made just for you.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day 2009

Happy Veteran's Day to all of those who unselfishly served, or are serving, in our country's armed forces.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Even though it's not very popular to do so, I'm celebrating Thanksgiving this month. Sometimes its celebration is lost between the hype of Halloween and the mass marketing of Christmas shopping. But, Thanksgiving is real. What is it about this holiday that should stir our very souls?

What is Thanksgiving anyway? Who were these pilgrims that are often caricatured, but never taken very seriously? It bears remembering.

The separatists (or Pilgrims) were at odds with the Church of England and refused to worship there thereby breaking the law. As a result, they were pursued and persecuted. William Bradford wrote:

But after these things they could not long continue in any peaceable condition, but were hunted & persecuted on every side, so as their former afflictions were but as flea-bitings in comparison of these which now came upon them. For some were taken & clapt up in prison, others had their houses besett & watcht night and day, & hardly escaped their hands; and ye most were faine to flie & leave their howses & habitations, and the means of their livelehood.

So, they fled. Stopping first in the Netherlands, they acquired funding to sail to the New World. An agreement was settled upon which became the historical document known as the Mayflower Compact. It begins, …“In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwritten…having undertaken for the glorie of God, and advancemente of the Christian faith…a voyage to plant the first colony…”

So, our heritage began! Brave people who sacrificed all that they had so that they might advance the Christian faith. How politically incorrect that must sound today. In fact, in many history books today , the original document as been edited to read, “We whose names are underwritten…having taken a voyage to plant the first colony…” An alarming revision of history it seems.

Dr. Del Tackett, of The Truth Project noted, "if I can change your historical context, I can change the way you view the present…George Orwell said, “He who controls the past, controls the future.” And Karl Marx stated, “A people without a heritage are easily persuaded.”

Os Guiness, a protestant philosopher, noted, “Those who don’t know history have no sense of identity, and no sense of wisdom as they explore where they’re going to go. Without history we’re lost.”

After the pilgrims’ struggle, William Bradford of Plymouth Plantation wrote, “But these things did not dismay them (though they did sometimes trouble them) for their desires were set on the ways of God, and to enjoy His ordinances; but they rested on His Providence and knew whom they believed.”

Bradford further noted, “Last and not least, they (the Pilgrims) cherished a great hope and inward zeal of laying good foundations, or at least of making some way towards it, for the propagation and advance of the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in the remote parts of the world, even though they should be but stepping stones to others in the performance of so great a work.”

So, I'm celebrating Thanksgiving. This great country was built on the backs of those who sacrificed so much. I hope that you and your family count your blessings this year, too.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunshine and darkness...

What a beautiful autumn day. It's days like this that makes me appreciate being a native Hoosier. Relaxing days like this help to smooth the corners of some of the sharp edges we encounter during the week.

Kelly and Josh had their car vandalized last week. Some neanderthals decided to throw a brick through Kelly's car windows while she was at the Decatur Annex playing volleyball. It was the epitome of cowardice. Further away from home, another coward Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, opened fire on innocents at Fort Hood Texas, killing and injuring scores of people. The sniper in Orlando killed one and seriously wounded others while acting out his rage this week as well.

Even after like those events described above, some say that "man is basically good". However, my Bible says that "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9) The thugs who broke my daughter's windows and the cowards who took innocent lives last week, all seem to be driven by the same darkness that inherits each person's soul. There is only one remedy to that John 14:6 we read, "Jesus said...'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'"

God doesn't wish that anyone suffers in Hell eternally. We all have choices to make. Christ died for even those who have committed heinous acts. His grace is remarkably sufficient to cover even those. However, they, like all of us, have choices to make. They can continue to live in their lost condition and will, at death, be forever separated from God and His mercy by their choice, not His. Or, today can be the day of their salvation. In John 11:25, Jesus states, "...I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live".

I can only hope that those living in darkness discover God's wonderful truth before it is too late for them.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Rest and repose...just the right things.

We returned on Monday from our trip to Myrtle Beach; a trip filled with rest and relaxation. The weather was decent although a couple of days provided rain. Even a little sprinkle doesn't deter the respite one receives while walking on the beach. It was relaxing and fun.

Miss Daisy, our Golden Retriever, was thrilled to retrieve her "flippy" in the surf and meet new furry friends along the way. Every morning she would provide a nudge to my elbow or leg encouraging me to walk the 100 yards to the beach to play. Grandchildren and pets keep us young.

The cold virus seems to have left me and, for that, I am extremely grateful. Sunshine's provision of warmth and vitamin D seem to send those sorts of nasties packing.

Motorhome travel can be a curse or a blessing. There are hundreds of opportunities for failure given the complexity of a 38,000 pound home on wheels traveling at speeds of 60 to 70 mph. Jo and I always pray for God's hand of protection on us and others as we travel and He graciously provided that again for this trip. Everything went smoothly; the traffic was manageable and all systems were "go".

We made reservations at the same place for April, 2010. The motorhome goes into winter storage next week, but we begin dreaming afresh of our next journey to one of our favorite places.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Remarkably my cold symptoms have diminished using rest, liquids, home remedy, echinacea, and Tylenol as defensive weapons. Of course, God's wonderful design of the human body to fight off viruses played the major part in recovery. If you haven't read the book Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, by Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey, I would recommend it. It is remarkable how sophisticated and complicated our immune systems are! Only a Master Designer could have produced such wonder...

So begins our preparation for our trip to Myrtle Beach. Leaving Saturday morning, we plan to take two days of travel to reach our vacation spot. Dave and Jo's Excellent Adventure--sounds like cinema potential to me.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Seasonal sidenotes

What a beautiful autumn day. The temperatures have boldly claimed the low 70's, laughing in the face of what we were experiencing a few days ago. But, alas, it's not to be permanent. It is fall in Indiana and the weather is as fickle as sixth grade romance.

A cold virus has taken residence in my nose assuring me that we shall postpone our South Carolina trip for at least two days. The sniffles and sneezing seem out of place today as I feel the sun's warmth and take one last fleeting look at it before it succumbs to clouds, rain, and lower temperatures forecasted.

But, hey, this is Indiana. We have defineable seasons here. There is no blur between equinoxes and solstices in our neck-of-the-woods. When it comes to presenting seasons, our state subscribes to letting its "nay be nay, and its yea be yea". There nothing wishy-washy about its character.

I wouldn't wish for it any other way. Hoosiers rock.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Reaching for the tissues

Slip slidin' away
Slip slidin' away
You know the nearer your destination
The more you're slip slidin' away...
Paul Simon

Those words by Paul Simon haunt me as I strive to ignore the watery eyes, dull ache in my head, and nagging cough visited upon my person just a few hours ago. Cold and flu season has arrived in tandem with our anticipated departure to Myrtle Beach. Hence, the haunting tune by Mr. Simon floating through my head...

Could it be that our anticipated departure on Thursday this week for our coveted beach vacation is slipping away? There is no task as arduous as driving a 39' motorhome while one is feeling poorly. So, maybe, we'll delay leaving a couple of days...

I'm learning to trust that delays in my schedule often have a greater purpose. The journey toward our destination should be enjoyed as much as the arrival at our destination. Perhaps these little physical interruptions should be viewed as scenic overlook where one can stop, discover new vistas, become enriched by the detour, and then move on...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Myrtle Beach bound...

I spent the afternoon washing our motorhome since the temperature has managed to inch above 40 degrees...We leave Thursday for our semiannual trip to Myrtle Beach; something we look forward to with great anticipation.

We stay at Ocean Lakes Campground on the Grand Strand ( There is a mile of oceanfront inviting us to walk, relax, and enjoy the power and beauty of the Atlantic Ocean...Ocean Lakes is a gated campground that is very family-oriented and offers so many amenities; we love going there. By and large, the staff are friendly, helpful, and accommodating. We always enjoy our visits there.

The journey is fun, too. We spend two days traveling which requires an overnight stay; usually around Beckley, West Virginia. There is a quiet place there where we can stay overnight and easy access back onto the interstate the following morning to complete the final leg of our trip to MB. The leisurely drive puts us in a great frame of mind as we arrive at our destination. No hassles, no deadlines, just relaxation.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A day memories are made of...

Our grandson Caleb scored a touchdown today in his final seasonal game of flag football. All of the energy displayed by himself and other 7 year olds today was electric. The 30 degree temperatures didn't seem to bother the 22 kids on the field striving to play their very best to an audience of appreciative parents, siblings, grandparents and others braving the unseasonable chill of this mid October morning. What a joy to watch his final game of the season!

Later, we walked 300 yards to the gymnasium where the ambient 70 degree inside temperatures welcomed us to our oldest grandaughter's youth league basketball game. Her third grade skills were impressive as she drove the basket, played very well defensively, and managed to contribute 4 to 6 points for her team's 12 point total.

Every season brings a new dimension to these children that is precious and wondrous. They each have gifts and personalities that reflect the Hand of God on their lives shaping them, directing them, and blessing those of us observing their growth.

It was a day well spent in the company of family contributing to our growing treasure trove of memories that become priceless with age.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Grandkids rock!

Jo and I went to our third oldest grandchild Luke's school today to celebrate Grandparent's Day with him. He's in first grade this year and the program was awesome! Students k thru 5 provided a musical program themed on the USA that was terrific. It was obvious the music teacher was inspirational to the children as they belted out patriotic songs, waved flags, played musical instruments, performed the Virginia Reel, and provided readings from the early formers of our country. It was definitely more than just a cookies-and-cider kind of day (although they did provide those in the classrooms after the program).

Tomorrow we travel to see our other grandchildren in a different kind of performance. Our oldest grandson plays flag football in his youth league and our oldest granddaughter has a basketball game. The four hour round trip is a bit taxing, but the hugs from the little ones have a way of dispelling the weariness that travel brings. Mary H. Waldrip said, "Grandchildren are God's way of compensating us for growing old". Right on, Mary.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Welcome to my world...

Ahhhh, so this is what it's like to blog? So far, pretty painless. The user-friendly setup was harmless, and it appears that I've selected all of the right options, so maybe I can do this after all.

Now, what to post? First of all, I'm very conservative politically, and would probably be described by some as right-wing. Well, I would consider that a compliment.

I grew up in the mid-forties and fifties; discovered girls, the Navy and VietNam in the 60's; married my wonderful wife Jo in the 70's; and, my life has been molded and shaped by God's hand. I've observed that in pottery, the clay never molds the yields to his hand. So much the better for the can become something remarkable and unique. Not by its choice, but by the one Creating.

That's been pretty much my life. I've yielded; God has shaped. Tough going at times, but always intriguing and never dull. I'm always wondering what He will add later--what embellishments or changes He might make today or tomorrow. Life is one big adventure.

I like what CS Lewis said: "A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell." Some things are just out of our hands. The older I become, the more that I like it that way.