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

 

Merely Mortal
July 26, 2016

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It’s been a strange couple weeks. Not “strange” as it being odd, but “strange” in being eye opening. So maybe the word shouldn’t be “strange”, but instead, “enlightening”.

First, since it’s been awhile, I have a new granddaughter, Selah Hope, who I absolutely adore. I now have three grandchildren, two granddaughters and a grandson, whom I love in a way that I didn’t know was possible for me to love. It’s like loving your kids, only different. A lot different. Hard to explain it, but its like God opens up a new part of your heart to have these little munchkins inhabit. Beyond words.

With that being said, two weeks ago Bonnie, my wife of 31 years, was hospitalized with chest pains. I was called to where she works and told she was having pain. Now my wife is a daughter of a nurse, and unless you’re dying, you don’t go to the hospital. I tell you, it was the scariest thing I’d been through. She was pale and weak. So off to the hospital we go.

They ran tests, labs, x-rays, CT Scans, the works. They decided to keep her overnight for observation. My wife, to say the least, is a very poor patient. She was in the hospital bed with a gown, refusing to take off her pink scrubs from work, and wearing her tennis shoes! I told her to take her pants off and stay in bed and she tells me there is no need for that. She believed that there was no reason for her to be in the hospital, and that the Lord had her there to pray for people. That, in a nutshell, is my wife.

It was discovered that she had a leaky valve in her heart, and that she has to wear a heart monitor for a month. Now, it’s been over 90 degrees for a week and a half and will continue to be that way, and we are helping my daughter and son-in-law move into a new home. She had no intention of  doing this heart monitor thing, however, our doctor is the sweetest woman we know, so she wouldn’t fight her. So here we are with that.

Last week, the young Princess (that’s what I call Selah), was running a fever of 101.8. She was three weeks old and the doctor told my daughter to take her to the ER. So it’s 2 in the morning, and Jo Jo, Selah, and I are in the ER. They ran tests, took blood, and I admit, was horrible to watch. The poor thing was poked and prodded, and trying to get blood from a three week old was very, well, trying.

They could find nothing wrong, but decided that they needed her to go to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh, and by ambulance as her fever wasn’t coming down, and a three week old shouldn’t be having a fever. So I go home to be with the Princess (Haniah, Selah’s three year old sister) while mom and dad go to Pittsburgh. It was a crazy week.

They took tests, x-rays, couldn’t get blood so tried a vein in her head, and the nurses said that Selah was one tough girl. They were testing for meningitis and other things. She was hospitalized 4 days and mom and day got to stay at Ronald McDonald House, which is a fantastic place that parents utilize to stay close to their kids while they’re hospitalized. I will not rush by the donation requests for the Ronald McDonald House at my local McDonalds anymore..

Needless to say, all came back well, and it was a virus. Thank God for that.

These two incidents brought me face to face with the blunt reality that we are all mortal. We have a beginning and an end. From my wife to my granddaughter, thoughts of the reality of the end of life smacked me in the face. What would I do if something happened to Bonnie? Or Selah? Or, actually, anyone in my family. Are we ready for this?

I’m 60 and realize that things happen as we get older. This past month also saw my blood pressure getting out of control, and have been monitoring it closely with slight adjustments to meds. I’ve been walking nearly every day, but that is no guarantee, although helpful. of a longer life. Bonnie’s Uncle Ron, who is the most fit man in his age group (early 70’s) that I know, was hospitalized with a blood clot. It could have killed him.

There will come a day of reckoning for all of us. Some sooner than others. It is with this thought in mind that I wonder if I’m doing enough for God. I wonder if there is more I should be doing. I know God loves me no matter what I do, but what do I do that shows God how much I love Him? Do I love my fellow man and woman? Do I care at all for the poor? Am I self-centered or Christ-centered?

As I reflect on these, I realize that all that matters is that at the end, Christ will say ‘well done, My good and faithful servant’. My goal now, is to make sure that all I do is for Him, not for me.

I’m finding that it is hard to do. I’m finding that I am merely mortal, and it’s God’s grace alone that compels me to do good. To serve. To love.

I think I woke up.

Winter
January 7, 2016

Well, week one into 2016 and winter has arrived. I’m ok with that, as apparently, I’m a northern kind of guy.

Christmas Eve and Day was like 60 degrees, which is kind of nice. See, I like cold and cool weather. So 60 is cool and lovely. I guess that at my age, I’m over a white Christmas. If it happens, cool, if not, I’m very ok with it.

We’ve had just one snow, less than an inch. I find I like snow also. Not a “Oh boy, it’s snowing”, but more like a “oh, it snowed”. I’m learning to adjust to life. So let’s throw a bit of Bob Dylan in here, which is to no one who knows me surprise.

This song I discovered is called “It’s Not Dark Yet” off his “Time Out Of Mind” CD (in case you want to buy it……). Fascinating song as I am approaching the winter of my life. I’ve learned to accept things that are. There are a few things this song says, and I’ll quote it without permission and hopefully not infringe on copyright laws.

I have come to the conclusion that western Pennsylvania, maybe where I’m at in Sharon or somewhere near by, is where I’m supposed to be. This is where God has me. This is where God wants me. I had wanted to move to California with the kids, but they moved home. I had wanted to travel, but that desire has left me, also. If I travel, I want to do it as a family. I’ve also discovered that I love it here. Maybe that’s the Lord helping me, but I do. My desire is to live where my kids and grandkids will live. I have a friend Bill Jones who picked up and moved with his wife to eastern Pennsylvania because it was between where his two kids lived. I get that.

I never understood why Paul McCartney always dreaded his “Beatles” years after they broke up. He rarely sang Beatles songs, mainly doing his solo work. I’ve noticed as Paul’s aged that he has embraced that the Beatles was a part of who he was, but not who he was. Now he does a nice mix of both in concert, so I’m told.

I’ve found that out about me. I hated the high school years. I think that’s why I drank so much in high school. Started drinking at 13, just hated Sharon. Moved to Florida twice, and came back to the area and when I got married we bought a house in West Middlesex. Not Sharon. As I’ve aged, I’ve noticed that I’m embracing my high school years as a part of who I was, but not who I was, just like McCartney. It was a part of who I am, but does not define me as who I am.

I was popular in school, but it didn’t satisfy me. I look back on the drama of high school and some of the crazy things I did and I should be dead. But God spared me and here I am. Friends who betrayed me, friends I betrayed, relationships that ruined me and relationships I ruined, poor decisions that I made. This brings me back to Dylan.

Always was a Dylan fan. He spoke for my generation, but it wasn’t until lately I’ve encountered some of the songs he did, especially off the Bootleg Series 1-12, that really speak to great depth in my life. Songs that I go, “Yeah, that’s true” or “yeah, I believe(d) that”. As I’ve turned 60, it’s becoming clearer to me that I have become older and wiser. Things don’t bother me like they used to, (well, except the Browns, but I’ve been working on that for years), and I really don’t care what people think. I believe if I had that attitude in high school I would have enjoyed it more. But back to Dylan.

The whole song “It’s Not Dark Yet” is so good and speaks so much to who I am. The one verse goes:                “I was born here and I’ll die here, against my will. I know it looks like I’m moving, but I’m standing still. Every nerve in my body is so naked and numb. I can’t even remember what it was I came here to get away from. I don’t even hear the murmur of a prayer. It’s not dark yet. But it’s getting there.”

I guess as I’m in the autumn of life, late October I’d say, that’s where I’m at. I’m in Sharon, at first against my will but now my will is lining up with God’s. I’ll probably die here. I’m ok with all of that. Heck, I got cemetery plots here.

This is where I’m to be. I like it here. Everything I need and want is here. My wife, my kids and their spouses and their kids, all here. I’m a blessed man. I don’t need a vacation. My life is a vacation. It was 12 degrees this morning and I walked in the Park. Crazy? Nah, enjoying home.

My home isn’t gorgeous or in the greatest neighborhood. I’m not a “fixer upper” kind of fella, so things need done. I get to things eventually, although I’d rather pay someone to fix things because, hey, that’s why we work, don’t we? Ain’t got a whole lot of money (“but I’m so in love with you honey”)But I love where I live. I do. I’m home. People say you can’t go home. You can, but it’s not the same. It’s different only if you’ve changed.

I absolutely have only one regret. I wish I’d married Bonnie earlier in life instead of 30 so I’d be around for the grandkids longer, but who knows? God’s timing is perfect.

Winter is here. It doesn’t last long. I’ve embraced it. Life is very good, and I’m realistic about life and the outcome. It’s Not Dark Yet. But it’s getting there.

Bye Bye 2015
January 1, 2016

Well, my “New Years Resolution” is to blog more. See how long that lasts.

Happy New Year to all or any faithful followers. The weight struggle remains real: 260-265 consistently. I imagine that must be where I like to be, because that’s where I be.

It’s been an interesting year. I had gotten off of Facebook because of all the arguing over sports and politics. I have gotten back on because I miss getting updates on what’s going on with my friends. I will, however, not argue sports or politics.  But this has been a good year.

I turned 60, that’s a biggie, and I’ve embraced it fully, and am actually loving getting older. God has blessed me with so much in 2015 and I don’t know where to begin.

Good health, a grandson, Zeke (or Zekers is what I like to call him), Zeke’s dad is buying a house across the street from me, which excites me, Yankees made the playoffs with marginal players and people only about 20 years younger than me, and the Browns are 3-12 with the possibility of being 3-13 after Sunday. I mention the sports teams because I don’t get as upset as I used to.

Example: My boys (Luke, Ben, Josh) and me went to our first game all together. Josh is a Steelers fan, so this was probably just for laughs for him. It was Monday Night Football. And, it was against the Ravens and it was a good game.

Browns line up for a winning field goal and it was blocked and the Ravens ran it back for a winning touchdown. Josh was shocked, Ben just stared into heaven, perhaps asking God why He hates the Browns and the city of Cleveland so much, Luke was mouth wide open. Me? I just laughed. Typical Browns. I’ve  reached that point of life when I don’t worry about stuff like that very much. Very much.

For my 60th, Josh and Jo Jo bought me a ticket to see the University of Michigan play against Rutgers at THE BIG HOUSE! First time there and it was just Josh and me. What a blast.  Michigan won big, but it didn’t matter, the place was fabulous. Loved being there and I discovered that 52 degrees in Ann Arbor, Michigan isn’t quite the same as 52 degrees in Sharon, Pennsylvania. We froze our tails off. But it was a super experience and I want to go again.And besides, how many people can say they got to see both of the Harbaugh brothers coach this year?  Checked off the bucket list. they had a very good season this year. Go Blue!

Things I’ve had too much of this year: Kardashians, Bruce Jenner, Isis, Bill Cosby, “affluenza”, Entertainment Tonight, Hilary Clinton, and biased news shows (left and right).

Things I look forward to in 2016: Closer walk with Christ, losing weight, Yankees winning #28, Michigan beating Ohio State, someone developing a plan to beat Isis, and people loving each other no matter what their color, religion, or sexual choices are. I’ll love you, but don’t try to make me accept your belief if it’s not Biblical.

To everyone: Peace.