Monday, February 22, 2010

Getting ready for Easter


My favorite time of the year is approaching. Easter is the cornerstone of all that I believe. Had not Christ arisen from the grave, my trust in Him would be futile. He would be classified as any other man that did great things in his life. His resurrection makes the difference.

His shed blood on the cross was for me. It was God's perfect sacrifice and available to those that believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins...It is only in accepting that work on the cross will I find myself spending eternity with Him. Can you imagine? We are designed for eternity! Our souls will live forever. So, our lives should be lived here on earth in preparation for that eternal event.

Today is the day of salvation. If you have not accepted Christ as your Savior, I encourage you to consider doing so today. Rejecting Christ's work on the cross means separating yourself from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for eternity. God is a gentleman. He will not impose Himself on us. If we decide not to follow Christ, God will allow us to do that, as He honors our free-will.

But a place in Heaven has been prepared for those who believe. Call on Jesus Christ today. Make Easter a meaningful day for you as well.



Nicole C Mullen - Call on Jesus
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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sleeping through a thunderstorm


The kids were elementary school age. Our Sunday School class was active and friendly. A weekend family camping trip to Turkey Run State Park offered the stuff that memories are made of.

We were not seasoned campers, but we were willing. I loaded our "Jimmy 4x4" with a tent, sleeping bags, and other outdoor paraphenalia that would offer us an idyllic 72 hour respite from the mundane. We were pioneers. We were conquerors. We were campers.

It's a long drive from Northeastern Indiana to Southwestern Indiana, but the trip was filled with anticipation and joy as we left our driveway that Friday afternoon heading for Turkey Run to join other families sharing our enthusiasm for the great outdoors.

We arrived there late afternoon. I had read somewhere that pitching a tent on high ground was a reasonable and prudent thing to do. I did just that. The tent went up easily. The sleeping bags were nestled in the erected shelter, the sleeping arrangements were assigned, the campout had begun.

The first night festivities were boisterous. A campfire, s'mores, children's squeals of delight, adult laughter and fellowship, all combined to convince us that we were truly designed for this type of recreation. Plans were made to combine our food for a community breakfast the next morning. Someone had even brought an electric skillet (!) to make sausage gravy for the campfire biscuits that we were planning to make. Extension cords stretched to a nearby outlet would provide the power needed to make a steaming cauldron of gravy. All the comforts of home.

Families turned in to their beckoning sleeping quarters around midnight. Visions of the day's glee filled our heads and thoughts of tomorrow's adventures trundled us off to sleep.

Somewhere around 2 a.m. the lightning was sharp. The thunder rumbled ominously. The rain pelted our defenseless little canvas tent relentlessly. I was smug. I was confident. We could weather out this rogue summer downpour. I congratulated myself on finding high ground. Of providing shelter for my little family; keeping them high, dry, and protected. I was a pioneer! I was a camper! I was naive.

Opening one eye at dawn, I was more than a little surprised to see my Reebok tennis shoe floating by my sleeping bag. Further inspection revealed that all that we owned inside the tent was drenched. Soaked through and through. Not a dry spot in the place. The torrential rain had found our little refuge. It scoffed at my high ground location.

Last night's storm had abated leaving a gray morning with sprinkles mocking us as we slogged over to our community breakfast location. The expressions of glee evident the night before had become more solemn, and in some cases, even surly. Camping? Bah! Whose idea was this, anyway?

Those tending the sausage and gravy preparation were warned about standing ankle deep in rainwater while stirring their creation in the eletric skillet. We certainly weren't prepared to deal with electrocution, or even have the energy to do so if called upon. We were all tired, hungry, cranky, and wet.

My wife is a good sport, but I knew that her good will had been stretched beyond capacity. She disappeared shortly after breakfast with the children. I resignedly took down the tent, wrung out the contents best I could, and stowed everything away in the car anticipating that we would cut our weekend short and head back home defeated, licking our wounds.

The sun came out a couple hours later. Where in the world were Jo and the kids? She hadn't returned to the campsite. She had been very quiet at breakfast. And then her departure to...where? Was this the final straw? Was this the impulsive act that drove her to some desperate measure? I began to feel a rising sense of panic.

At long last, and to my relief, my family came walking back into the campsite. I welcomed them with the pronouncement that the gear was wrung out, the car was packed, and we could leave at will. I was doing all I could to make the transition from our night of Nature's wrath as comfortable as possible.

However, Jo said, "No, we're not leaving."

Excuse me? You want to spend another night in the tent? You want to sleep in damp sleeping bags? You want to what? This woman, I thought, truly is a pioneer!

"No", she replied, "we're not sleeping in the tent. I have plastic. I got us a room for tonight at the Inn."

Ha! We gave in, you say? We couldn't stand the rigors of the outdoors? Well, let me tell you: the room we had at the inn that night offered only black and white television. Roughing it? We were designed for it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I just remembered...


As I sat reminiscing today, I thought about a convocation years ago at Hartford City High School where I was invited to sing a solo. It was a religious convocation (In a public school, no less!) that occurred at Easter circa 1962.

It was arranged that Ann Clamme, a dear friend and classmate, would accompany me on piano.

The song was unfamiliar to me (I can't remember to this day the name of it), but after several practice sessions with Ann prior to the performance, I became confident that I could handle it. After all, I was an upper classman, had had plenty of solo experience, and felt ready to perform when the big day arrived.

Convocations at HCHS were pretty big deals. The entire student body (grades 7 through 12) were in attendance. During religious ceremonies, the gymnasium became almost sanctuary-like as students were solemn and respectful under the watchful eye of the many teachers and administrative officials who attended.

The message was presented, the closing prayer was offered, and, on cue, the moment came for my solo that would serve as benediction. Ann began the piece flawlessly; opening with an introduction that would, under normal conditions, set the mood for a reflective, grand arrangement designed to complement the tenor of the service. The introduction ended; Ann waited for me to begin. Silence. Ann re-played a bit of the introduction; again, she waited for me to start. More silence. After the third start of the introduction, my mind was reeling, "What is", I asked myself, "the first line of that song???"...

The piano was situated behind me as I stood facing the expectant faces of my audience. After it was clear that I hadn't a clue about where to start, solemn faces turned to nervous glances and muffled giggles. There was a rippling in the crowd that suggested Ol' Dave was having a "senior moment" (and I was only 16 years old). What to do?

The show must go on. Without hesitation, I turned and walked back to the keyboard to look over Ann's shoulder to prompt myself on those elusive lyrics. "Ahhhh," I thought, "that's what I'm looking for!" Again, we began. Ann played, I sang, convocation over.

My next scheduled class that day, after the convocation, was study hall. Study hall was a large room filled with students from all grade levels and tended that day by Mr. David Dick. Mr. Dick taught mathematics and, uncharacteristic of his professional teaching choice, had a light and delightful sense of humor. I was a little late that day in arriving at study hall having had to change out of my choir robe, put my music away, retrieve my books from my locker, and head on down to class.

I reached the rear door of the study hall and saw the huddled masses...a sea of my peers facing forward and settling in for an hour of quiet time before their next class. With their backs to me, I could slide unobtrusively into my seat forgetting the horrors that occurred a few moments before in the gym. However, as soon as I entered the room, Mr. Dick, in his inimitable style, called out from the front of the room, "Hey, look everyone!!!", cried Mr. Dick in a loud and clear pronouncement, "If it isn't ol' Cue-Card McIntire!"

That moment will never leave me.



Monday, February 15, 2010

Post Valentine Day Sentiments


We had a great weekend. On Saturday morning, we left for Greenfield around 6:30 a.m. to watch Caleb and Lydia play in their Upward Basketball League at their church. Caleb's game was at 9:00, Lydia's was at 11:00.

After their games, we lunched at Montana Mike's with Mark's family. Service was slow, and a couple of the menu items had to be sent back, but we enjoyed the fellowship and the time spent with them was memorable, as usual.

Jo and I left for Muncie after lunch and spent a few hours shopping at the Muncie Mall. We hadn't spent that much dedicated time in the Mall since our Ball State days. It was fun browsing, watching the people, and spending time together.

We met our friends John and Jan Michael at Vera Mae's Bistro for dinner around 6:00 and, as always, enjoyed spending time with them. We're laying plans for our early spring/summer bicycle rides together and comparing calendars to see which weekends will bring us together again. Friends are a blessing from God. Such treasures...

We arrived home around 9:30 and Jo wasn't feeling well. She has encountered some sort of respiratory ailment that has come on rather quickly. By Sunday morning, she was feeling pretty miserable and spent most of the day nursing what we hope is the last cold of the season.

Jo did, however, open her Valentine's gift on Sunday morning and was surprised and pleased with her new Wii game. Our six year old grandson, Luke, came over later in the afternoon to give us lessons on how to use the game and, of course, beat us soundly with his skills. He shared with his mother that he thought it was "cool" that "Pappy would give Mammy a Wii for a Valentine's present". Maybe I've set the bar too high for future Valentine's gifts...

Family, friends, fellowship, and fun all in one weekend. I couldn't be more blessed.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wii challenge...


Each year I wonder what to offer Jo for Valentine's Day. She is not hard to please, mind you. It's just that traditional gifts sometimes lose their attraction. Flowers wilt, candy is a no-no at our age (the old metabolism is slowing down, you know), and commercial cards, while nice, just lack the personal touch.

So, what to do?

This year I bought her a Wii. Romantic? Not very. Practical? Not at all. Fun? I hope so. I got the idea the other evening while dining with friends. They pulled out their Wii game and we had a ball! Jo smoked us in bowling!

While Jo has played Wii with the grandkids (we got each of our children's family a game a couple of Christmases ago), she has gotten a little frustrated that her skills were, well, unpolished. The other evening it became evident that she has caught on how to master the game. She has become a contender. She is in the zone. She can do this game.

So, ebay offered; I bid; I won; the game arrived today via FedEx. I'm going to wrap it for Jo and present it to her on Valentine's Day on Sunday.

Let the games begin.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Bone weary...


What a long day this has been...it is the last night of Finance for Managers (MGT524); a six week intensive course I'm teaching which trains non-financial managers in the finer points of finance. While the students work hard, there is so much preparation work needed to bring everyone up to the same starting point. The students are adult learners and they bring a great deal of work experience into the classroom. However, being adults they are extremely conscious of doing their work well. The most difficult part of the course is designing tests that are fair, balanced, and test the knowledge the students gain in class. I contend that tests produce a higher anxiety level in adult learners than in traditional students (I have taught both); and, frequently, that anxiety gets in the way of the adult's performance.

So, tonight's the night. I have prepared a quiz (their second one, by the way) to measure what they know on present value (time value of money), bond valuation, stock valuation, and capital budgeting. We have covered numerous examples in class, performed dozens of in-class examples, and provided the opportunity for group work outside the classroom to reinforce concepts. Tonight I discover whether it's paid off.

I love teaching. I love the moment where a light bulb appears when a student grasps a concept. I love it when, at the end of the course, one tells me that there was so much practical information gained by taking the class. I love it when they tell me that this was one of the best courses they have ever taken. I live for those moments. I teach for those moments.

So, what will it be tonight? This class has the savvy, but lacks confidence. I've done all that I can; discussed bond valuation from every angle; and have enjoyed these folks immensely.

Regardless of their test scores tonight, I'm encouraged that they are taking the course seriously. It speaks of their character and their desire to do well. Any of these folks will make some employer very fortunate. I am humbled to have served in this way.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wishing you an UP day!

Tired of bad news? Tired of hearing people whine about unfairness? Tired of "political correctness"? Tired of people not taking responsibility for themselves? Just plain tired of all the crap that the "culture" tries to force on you? Then this video is for you...

video

Have yourself an UP day!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Six more weeks...


Well, it seems that Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning. Doesn't he always? So, we need to hunker down for six more weeks and bear up under Indiana's winter coat. The countdown calendar below states 46 days until spring; beckoning us like a light at the end of the tunnel.

46 days: that computes to 1104 hours. If we sleep 8 hours per night, that whittles the hours that we're conscious of winter down to 736 hours. If we divide that number by 24, that puts us right at 30 days of wakefulness before embracing the rites of Spring. So see? Not so bad after all.

Of course, winter has its advantages. Like Clyde Moore says, "There's one good thing about snow, it makes your lawn look as nice as your neighbor's."

So, grab a hot cup of something, prop up your feet, and enjoy the rest of the winter ride. Warmer days will be here before you know it.