Winter
February 12, 2017

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This isn’t open to debate. I’m telling you the truth. I love all the seasons as there is beauty in them.

But what I like about western Pennsylvania is the beauty of winter. Although fall is my favorite, I truly love winter next.

There is something about winter that is peaceful. I chose this picture as its a picture I took of a beautiful February sunset over the wide open fields. The calmness and the serenity of the photo is what winter is for me. What comes to your mind when you hear the lyrics “Silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is bright”? A beach? Nah, me either. I see a snow covered peaceful field, where shepherds heard the glorious news about our Savior.

People complain that it is too cold. Winter here is cold. But that’s ok, I’m not that much of a sissy that can’t handle some cold. This winter and last has been mild with little snow. I love snow, so it’s a bit of a disappointment to me.

Now I’m not saying I like snow on the roads. Untreated roads are nerve wracking, and troublesome, but if that’s the worst of it, I’ll take it.

I remember living in Florida and missing the cold. I went to the movies, saw “The Shining” (NOT recommending the movie). There was a scene at the hotel where it was surrounded in snow. Made me miss it.

I had a friend that lived down  there and he was from Cleveland. He said he hated the winter and that the cars were dirty, you track snow into the car. I didn’t .

I remember Christmas shopping in Florida, and you’re in the mall and shopping with Christmas music, Santa inside, place all decorated, and you go around the corner, sunshine, people in shorts, step outside and it’s 85 degrees. Not my cup of tea.

I lived in Florida twice, and when I moved back the second time, it recorded the coldest actual temperature in the history of Mercer County. This was 1984. And I remember, thinking out loud, “God, why have you brought me here”. I really felt that He said, “Because I need you here.”

That’s the point. That’s when I really fell in love with winter. Because God placed me here, then this is where I want to be. See, people move because they don’t like the area, and they don’t even ask God if this is where they should go. I asked, and He said so.

They say, “I want to live near the ocean”. “I need to live in the mountains”. “I need to live with no humidity”. “I need to live where the land is flat”. “I need to live where their are lakes and streams”. And they never consult God. I want to live where God has me.

I just realized I moved back here 33 years ago. I have lived a great majority of my life here. God has placed me here because I am needed here. I’ve gotten married, have three great kids, two in-laws that aren’t in-laws to me because I consider them my own, and three grandbabies here. And it gets cold.

I see the little ones bundled up, cute as can be. I see the blessings of being able to have a warm house and car, “winter skin” that I can put on, and, on days like Friday, open up the windows because it’s 60 degrees.

Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t like other places. Southern California, driving along Pacific Coast Highway, is absolutely gorgeous. No humidity. I like it there, but I like here better. Because this is where God wants me. At least for the past 33 years.

People that say “come to paradise” doesn’t phase me or entice me. “Paradise” for me is doing and being what God wants, when He wants. Before I was a Christian, comfort was what I strived for.

I’ve learned that when we complain about the weather, we are murmuring against God. As Paul said in Philippians, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” How? “I can do all things through Him (Christ) who strengthens me”.

I’m content here. Small little house, nice little church, great church family, great family, and all four seasons. Solomon, the wisest man ever, says everything is vanity. He had chased after fame, fortune, success, yet was not satisfied because his affections left God and focused on other things.

My focus is God. Wherever He wants to send me, I will go. And if He tells me to stay, I will stay, because there are two things I absolutely know.

  1. There is a God.
  2. I’m not Him.

 

273.6/256.2

 

Saturday Nights
January 29, 2017

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I remember Saturday nights when I wore a younger man’s clothes. As I sit here at 11 p.m. on a Saturday night, I began thinking of those times.

EVERY Saturday night was a party night. Sometimes we didn’t go out until eleven p.m. and still it was a rowdy night. Let me tell you of those days.

Let’s start with the big one. Saturday, October 2, 1976. My best friend at the time was Chuck Jones (who I haven’t seen in 40 years. Funny how life does that.) My birthday was October 1st, his was October 3rd. We would both be 21. October 2nd was a Saturday, so it seemed the most logical day to celebrate.

My cousin Don Lacey, Chuck, and I decided to hit every bar in Sharon, Pennsylvania or maybe the Shenango Valley. Now, I’m going to tell you about this night, but I don’t remember all of it.

There were many bars in the valley at the time, and I don’t honestly remember where we started. Now, we weren’t rookies as we both started drinking on a weekly basis at the age of 13. We would go to the bars in Ohio every Saturday and they would serve us, usually, as we used fake ID’s to get in. Sometimes we would just get quarts of beer and ride around, or sit on the side of State Line Road  and listen to Yankees games on WGAR out of Schenectady, New York. Night time was the only time we could hear the games. But I digress.

We thought, rather foolishly, we would stop at every bar and have a shot and a beer. I never cared for alcohol, but beer was always good. Alcohol made me angry (except Rum) and beer made me “happy”.

We immediately realized that after the 5th or 6th bar, we had consumed a lot of alcohol. But there were so many bars left, we trudged on. A couple bars didn’t serve Chuck as it wasn’t officially his 21st birthday, which we thought was petty.  So we moved to the next bar.

It gets a bit fuzzy now, but somewhere along the line, Chuck was getting sick. We pulled off, actually, not too far from where I now live, so he could vomit. Don asked us if we wanted to quit and we said no.

Then, Chuck couldn’t walk. We were in the parking lot, and Don and I carried him. Unfortunately, we dropped him two times, with each time he hit his head on the pavement. We had to explain the excruciating headache he had the next morning to him.

I then was told that our final stop was at the Lube downtown, our usual stomping grounds. I was told that my friend Bill bought me a beer, and as I was talking to him, i apparently put my hand down to the side with the mug in my hand and spilled it on the floor. He said I looked at the mug and said, “Oh, that was quick. Guess I better go.”

And we did.

That was Saturday, October 2, 1976. At the time I thought it was fun.

But today is Saturday, January 28,2017. I think this Saturday was more fun.

I stayed home most of the day and read a book that’s been on my shelf for two years. It’s by Tim Keller called “Jesus The King”. Keller has become one of my favorite authors, and I actually got to meet him.

I helped Bonnie make three different soups for what we call our “Super Soup Sunday”, for church, held the Sunday between the Championship games and the Superbowl. Everyone makes a bunch of soup and desserts and crackers and breads and it’s a blast. Actually, she made the soups, I just cut up onions, carrots, etc. I really enjoyed working in the kitchen with her.

I had to pick something up at Jo Jo and Josh’s house and got to see Haniah. She cracks me up, and I love how she greets me. Enjoyed the visit there and came home. Because we were busy, we got a pizza from Francescos, my favorite quick Italian place.

I had ginger ale. No beer. No alcohol. Ginger ale.

I am so thankful that I no longer have to drink like that to have fun. I don’t have to get drunk to get away from my problems. I don’t have to get high, try to pick up a girl, or get into a fight for my entertainment. Jesus Christ took that desire from me. There is no other way I could stop drinking. It was Christ.

When my dad was my age, he was still a heavy drinker. He didn’t have Christ. Thankfully, I do.

Sitting at my computer, am I missing anything out there that would benefit my life? Nah, I’m good right here. I tell people that what I have, I could never give up. My life is very, very, good. Besides, I have church in the morning.

I don’t need a vacation. My life is a vacation, and it’s all because of Christ Jesus.

 

 

Flying, Airports, and Adam-12
May 22, 2012

Well, here it is. Heading to California again to visit Luke and Amanda. Bonnie, Ben, and I. I love California. I love LA, Moorpark, Simi, etc.

I love airports. I love the planes, the look, the signs, running through Houston airport because my flight was late, arriving at Gate 2 and my connecting flight in 10 minutes is at Gate 52. Yes, I really like airports.

Everytime I’m at the airport, Jimmy Buffett’s “Changing in Latitudes, Changing in Attitudes” comes to mind. “Reading departure signs in some big airport, reminds me of the places I’ve been”.  Brings back many good memories (and a couple bad ones).

I was flying into Pittsburgh from Orlando, and the pilot says, “We will be weathering some disturbance”. The plane dropped 2000 feet (ok, maybe NOT that much, but enough to make me wish I’d written a will) immediately. The lady next to me had wine, it hit the ceiling and spilled on us. Two rows back someone was puking. I don’t believe the pilot “weathered” it very well. So that’s the bad experience. But I still love to fly.

 

I like the display of “confiscated weapons” that Cleveland airport has. Makes you feel safe that they confiscated a BUTCHER KNIFE and HAND GRENADE before they boarded. That was, of course, all before 9/11.

 

Now when I travel, I love to see the security let the man in the turban pass without notice, while they frisk an old lady like it’s their first date. Ah, political correctness, but that’s for another post.

 

One of the greatest views I had was flying into Newark, NJ and the sun was just beginning to set. We flew out over the ocean to circle in and I looked out and there was the Statue of Liberty. It was humbling and I  wondered how my grandfathers felt when they came over from Italy and they saw that beautiful lady. They came through on Ellis Island and became US citizens and got jobs to support my parents. They didn’t sneak over a border and get welfare, but again, political correctness is for another post.

 

I remember flying into LA at night, with all the lights. Gorgeous. Flying above the clouds from Ft. Lauderdale to Pittsburgh and going through the clouds to snow and overcast. Taking off over Detroit and getting a Goodyear Blimp view of the Tigers and Lions stadiums. The Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania. Home.

 

Flying over Pike’s Peak and thinking how small it looked. Seeing the Pacific Ocean for the first time. Saying, “wow, those people look like ants” and Ben saying, “Dad, they are ants, we haven’t taken off yet”.

 

Being on the plane and Bonnie telling me to turn down my I-Phone music because it was bothering the other passengers. This was with my headphones on. I may have hearing issues.

 

I don’t travel much. That little Facebook thing that asks, “how many states have you been in” came in at about 25, which includes Texas because of the airport. I’ll add Arizona for the home flight. That’s 26.

 

I hope I can travel more. Maybe I’ll get lucky and meet famous people at the airport. My niece Dee Dee meets presidents, singers, etc. My claim to fame was meeting the two guys from Adam-12 when they flew into Youngstown to perform in a play with their spouses. Cool at the time. To everyone under 50, Adam-12 was a cop show on TV. Yes, it was in color.

 

My wife met the Yankees in Toronto airport back in the 70’s. Lou Piniella tried to hit on her. Too bad “Sweet Lou”, I got her. I’d love to meet someone famous at an airport.

 

I’m heading to Haiti in September and January for a mission trip. I look forward to this so much. I’m sure “African Friend” by Jimmy Buffett will go through my mind at the airport in Haiti.

 

So we’re going to California. I love California. (Did I say that already?) Maybe I’ll meet someone famous. Either way, I’ll see someone who already is famous to me but is going to be famous to everyone else. Luke. And that works for me.

When I was 19
April 13, 2012

When I was 19, you either could make a living and raise a family by working in the steel mill, go to college, or join the military. (Vietnam had just ended).

When I was 19, we got into fights without weapons, just fists. Nobody shot anyone, stabbed anyone, or bludgeoned anyone.

When I was 19, it was a THRILL to see your favorite rock band on television. There weren’t music videos. (MTV didn’t come around until I was 26!)

When I was 19, FM radio just started to become popular. It surpassed AM radio in my 20’s.

When I was 19, you could legally drink beer (although it was 3.2 % alcohol) in Ohio, but not Pennsylvania.

When I was 19, I bought my first car, a 1964 Lincoln Continental for $400. (“I’m the friendly stranger in the black sedan, won’t you hop inside my car?”)

When I was 19, I thought my parents would live forever, never realizing that my mother would die just 12 years later.

When I was 19, I didn’t know that Bonnie Bateman existed, let alone that I’d marry her 10 years later.

When I was 19, my father was stupid and I knew everything.

When I was 19, I had hair. LONG hair down to my shoulders and parted down the middle.

When I was 19, I was drinking heavily and smoking pot. I was not a happy hippie.

When I was 19, I was a democrat and liberal.

When I was 19, I saw the play “Jesus Christ Superstar” and thought it was biblical.

When I was 19, the Yankees had won only 20 World Series titles.

When I was 19, I prayed the Beatles would get back together.

When I was 19, I knew everything about women.

When I was 19, $2.00 gave me a half tank of gas and $5.00 filled it up….even the Lincoln.

When I was 19, I thought that if Carly Simon met me, she’d divorce James Taylor for me.

When I was 19, I viewed Cat Steven’s “Father and Son” from the Son’s perspective.

When I was 19, I was going to change the world.

When I was 19, I never thought I’d live to be this old.