So Unfo……what was I talking about?
June 11, 2017

 

forgetful

So, the one thing I am consistent on is my inconsistency. I didn’t realize that it has been two months since my last blog. It’s not that I didn’t have anything to say, as that rarely happens, but it’s not on my radar. I forget. I’m not focused.

I love writing (or typing) but it appears that I am not doing what I love to do best. Well, obviously, EATING is what I do best, and I do that well, thank you.

But I find I am getting forgetful. Age? Maybe. Too busy? Doubtful. Not focused? Bingo! Hold your cards, we have a Bingo! Again, hold your cards, we have a Bingo!

I am the least focused person I know. Example, just today. I go to pay for something today at the store and you have to put your card in with the chip to pay for it. So I wait…..and I wait…. then I ask the lady, “Does this machine not have a chip and I have to swipe it?”. She says, “No, it has the chip”. So I wait. Bonnie leans over and tells me, “You put the card in backwards.” As she always says, I’m not “in the moment”.

Then I go to the car and as I head for the door, I think, “Why is Bonnie driving?”. Well, she wasn’t, I was, but I apparently was heading for the passenger door. Forgetful. Not in the moment. Unfocused.

I have lived in the Shenango Valley for 55 of my 61 years. I walk in Buhl Park anywhere from 3-5 times a week. I love that park. But like today, I go to head to my car and Bonnie is going a different direction. I realize that I am headed for the wrong parking lot. I quickly catch up to her and pretend nothing happened.

Have you ever driven somewhere and as you’re driving, think, “I don’t know where I am or where I am going”? I’m not talking driving through Moscow, but your town, your county, places you’ve traveled your whole life. I have to focus on where I’m going.

Now I’m not really worried about this as I’ve been this way most of my life. I remember as a teenager driving home from Canfield, Ohio toward my home in Sharon, PA. I’m thinking, “take 11 South”, so I go. And I go. And I go. And I’m thinking, “I don’t remember it being this long”. My buddy Chuck was with me and I say, “are we going the right way”? He tells me that we are. So I drive. I saw a sign that said “Airport 12 miles”. I’m thinking I took a wrong turn and am heading toward Vienna, Ohio airport. It wasn’t until I saw the sign saying “Welcome to West Virginia”, I realized I needed 11 North, and the airport I was 12 miles from was Pittsburgh, PA, not Vienna, Ohio. I stop at a gas station for directions and watch two guys lifting their engine out of their truck with a two by four. West Virginia.

Yeah, that’s me. Unfocused.

Praying is hard for me. As I’m a preacher, that’s not good! I’ll be praying and in the middle say “Is that coffee I smell? Gee, what will I eat for breakfast? Did the Yankees win last night?”.  Then I try hard to go back, and start thinking about the day, the night, the anything, and I’ve spent 10 minutes praying, and the only one prayed for is my dog because he’s sitting in front of me. It’s work.

I start conversations and never finish them. Ben says, “What?”. I ask him what he’s talking about. He said, “You started a sentence and never finished it”. I tell him, “Be quiet and watch the game”. Then I realize he turned the channel and he’s watching SportsCenter now. Unfocused.

So, I attempt to be focused. It’s not easy for me. Maybe for you that is reading this, maybe you can’t relate, particularly if you’re a female. But fortunately for this country of ours, the draft ended and I didn’t have to go to the military. Because, it would be quite possible I would end up wandering into a Vietnamese village asking if this was West Virginia.

 

P.S. I had to edit this blog. I said I walked 3-5 times a day in the park. I wish! It’s 3-5 times a week, so I changed it because, Hey look! A squirrel.

 

273.6/257.2

Saturday Nights
January 29, 2017

alcohol

 

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.

 

 

Wasting Time
September 1, 2012

I feel, as I get older, I spend too much time on silly things. Now I’m not opposed to silly things, but I think there needs to be a balance in my life.

I can watch football 16 hours a day. I love football. I love being entertained. I can play games on the computer, on my I Phone, on any device that has it. Obviously, entertainment is what God has placed here for us to be, well, “entertained”. But where is the balance.

Can I be on Twitter and FaceBook for hours on end? I can, but is it a waste of time? For example, It’s 5 a.m. and I’ve been up since 3. Now I was productive, transferring pictures from my I phone to my computer, but could I have done other things?

What if we knew exactly how many days we had left in our lives. I talked to my nephew Bud and his pastor wants to live a to a certain age. He figured out how many weekends he has left to live to that age. So he got a jar of marbles, and at the end of each weekend, he takes a marble from the jar.

Great idea. Now think about it. Each marble represents two days of your life, and each marble taken from the jar is gone, never to be retrieved again. Pretty humbling, I guess. CS&N have a song called “Wasted On The Way”, and it’s so true. So much time wasted.

Scripture tells us to number our days. That’s a good idea. We are visitors here, passing on to another home when we breathe our last here. What have we accomplished? How have we impacted the world? Has my time been spent on helping people or just entertaining myself with hobbies, vacations, games, and such?

What if judgment day was this……face to face with God, and He shows a movie of your life. On one side of the screen was the world around you, with all its hunger, hopelessness, shame, with people that are lost, cold, hungry, homeless, struggling with marriage or addiction, dying, or hurting. The other side was you, sitting at a bar, or laying on the beach, or reading trashy novels, or listening to music, or working overtime to buy a boat, or sitting in front of your tv or computer for hours. And God says, “man, I could have really used you to help these people.”

Humbling. God, help me to get beyond myself. Help me to look at other people. Like Brandon Heath says, “give me your eyes for just one second”. Help me not to be so lazy. Help me to not seek entertainment above You. From what I’ve read about the crucifixion, it didn’t seem to be very entertaining.

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.