Sugar (ba da da da da da) ah, honey honey
March 16, 2017

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Sugar Diabetes. Type II.

What a cute name for a horrible disease. And, to make it worse, a self inflicted disease.

My mother was a diabetic. Sugar diabetic. I remember when she found out and she had to give herself insulin shots. She was overweight, ate poorly, and didn’t exercise. She had a sweet tooth like nobody I ever met.

She always baked, if it wasn’t cookies, it was pie, or cakes (oh, her cakes), or bread. Didn’t know about carbs then and just learning about them now. I’m Italian, of course I eat carbs. I remember pasta every Sunday (and maybe another day during the week), homemade bread with butter. On Sunday, I’d take a chunk of bread and dip it in the sauce while she was cooking it. Delicious doesn’t even describe it. Taste buds heaven is more like it.

So when she got diabetes, she didn’t change her eating much. I remember us kids helping her give herself shots. Two, maybe three a day, I don’t remember. But she hated it. And I said that wasn’t going to happen to me. But it did.

I tease and say it’s all my mom’s fault, but it’s mine. Undisciplined eating, lack of exercise brought this all on. I’m angry at nobody, but disappointed in me. I have a wicked sweet tooth. I wish Dr. Voisey could remove it, but it’s genetic. My father, however rarely ate sweets until he got into his later years after retirement, then he loved pies.

I’ve been diagnosed with this for about 17 years, and have been on Metformin since then. Recently, my sugar has gotten worse. Winter lack of exercise (laziness), and eating horribly (undisciplined). I am the type that as long as meds take care of the issue, there’s no sense in me changing anything. Until now.

My old doctor told me there is never a reason to eat a donut. I disagreed and switched doctors. Seriously, I did. Now my new doctor wants to add a medicine as my sugar has been ranging in the 180-220 range. That is bad and can cause eye, kidney, and other problems. My mother had a stroke at 65 or so. I don’t want that.

I remember mom, God bless her, after her stroke. It affected her speech, her one leg, and one arm. She still loved her sweets. One time I’m in the living room and I hear the fridge door open up and  then she heads out the door. I watch her. She went to the back of the yard and ate a donut! She didn’t want to get caught.

I went to the heart doctor recently, and she had my weight from two years ago to present. It ranged from 255-260. I’m at 257 this morning. I imagine, I’ve learned to maintain my weight, but I’d really like to maintain around 200 or so.

This blog has been about walking to 199, but it has been a journey with a lot of pit stops. I do good for awhile, I don’t do good, I do great, I do lousy, you get it. Up five, down five. Like Joan Rivers said, “I’ve lost so much weight I should be a trinket on a charm bracelet”.

So, I think it’s time. I made a deal with my doctor. I asked her that if she would wait until I see her in two weeks to decide on a new medicine. If I can’t bring it down by diet and exercise then I’m open to whatever she wants. She loves the idea, so I have been trying. And when I’m good with this mentally, it’s easy. When I’m wishy washy, its hard.

My first day of work after my decision, I go on the adolescent units, and there is donuts. Now usually, I go open the box “just to look”, and usually I take one. This day, I decided to treat sweets like porn……I just can’t look at it.

With this being said: I’m on the treadmill at home (B….O…..R….I…..N…..G), have begun packing my lunch for work with healthy snacks, and attempting to eat snacks every 2-3 hours between meals.

It’s working. My sugar has been as low as 110, and only as high as 159. Not where it needs to be, but it’s on its way down. Bonnie has been phenomenal and I couldn’t do it without her. She prepares healthy things, new healthier recipes, and prays with me. How blessed to have someone, when she heard the news about new medicines, took me by the hands and sat me down, saying “That’s enough”, and prayed with me. Through tears. I think she wants me around.

God is bigger than any problem. Jesus has been my help in all my situations. He is my strength. Will I slip up at times? I’m sure I will, but I’m praying that I don’t. I’m praying that however long it takes, I will no longer need medicine for this, but only self discipline.

I’m very thankful for medicines, but, as Bonnie said, “That’s enough”. So I’m praying this journey is helpful for some and hopeful for many. I’m 61, and God has been faithful to me.

I can do this. Romans 8:31- “ What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be[a] against us?”

No one.

As I remember, I will continue to put my highest and current weight at the bottom.

Please pray for me.

 

273.6/257.4

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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.

 

 

Gee, That Went Well
January 23, 2017

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Well here we are, 3 days into the new presidency and the country has gone mad. Wait, the world has gone mad. I’m 61, and I’ve never seen anything like this.

Protestors, which aren’t protestors when they don’t know what they are protesting about, are out on the streets because the democratic process of electing a president was upheld. Let that sink in.

There is nothing wrong in disliking your government. Jesus’ followers hated the government they had. They were under bondage. They were under oppression. They waited for a savior, someone to get them out from all of this. That is what they expected Jesus to do.

They wanted a revolution. Change things, and they were certain Jesus was the one that would change it all. He would restore a government for the Jews where they would rule. But that wasn’t why He came.

He paid taxes. Remember the story where He sent Peter fishing to get a coin from the fish’s mouth to pay? Or how about the time the Pharisees tried to trick Him about paying taxes, and Jesus’ response was “render unto Caesar what is Caesars and render unto God what is God’s”? (Mark 12:17)

Prior to Jesus coming to earth, there were many uprisings that were squelched by the Romans. Many times they tried to overthrow the government. But Jesus and His followers told them otherwise.

Paul said, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,“. (1 Timothy 2:1-3)

He didn’t tell them to hold up signs, break windows (if they had windows there), call names, and swear at them. He didn’t say overthrow the government, punch people, assassinate them, or belittle them.

Romans 13:1 Paul says, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”

So God gives us the leaders we need. Some He uses to bless us and others to punish us. When He blesses us we thank Him, when He punishes us, we repent. The Old Testament is filled with those situations. So basically, when we fight against the government, we are fighting against God.

But people will continue to be people. They will continue to fight and all the things we shouldn’t. And that is where we rise up as a Chosen people to fight back with the best weapons that God has given us.

Pray.

 

 

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.

Step By Step
June 1, 2016

So I’ve been going back and forth regarding what to do about this weight issue. Part of me REALLY cares and other times not so much. Part of me thinks I’d like to continue this walk to 199 and another part thinks that as long as my numbers are good, what’s the difference.

Well, I’m back at it again, giving it another shot. Weight was 268.0 today, I’ve been worse, but been better. I think I mentioned I’ve had some issues with my shoulder and am getting treatment for that. I used that as an excuse not to walk. Like I need an excuse.

I’ve discovered that mileage and time was stressing me out when I walked. It was not fun. I would walk so fast (at least fast for me) and it was difficult to talk with Bonnie, who was faster than me, because of being out of breath. So, we decided to walk at a “decent” pace, which I recommend. Also, the mileage thing has been replaced in regards to goals. When we walk we go from 2.25 to 3+ miles, but what I’ve been doing, although I still use the “Map My Walk” app, I have found that there is an app on my I-Phone that counts my steps.

Now I live a pretty sedentary lifestyle. I’m a pastor/counselor. I spend much time sitting in counseling and preparing my sermons, so activity isn’t the foremost of my existence. So I walk. Now I’m told that a person needs 10,000 steps a day. For a sedentary guy like me, it might as well be a million. So I had set goals of 7000 to start with and am up to 8000, and if the walking continues, should get to 9-10,000 easily. When I don’t walk, well, here’s some stats.

Without my taking a walk, here are some days totals of steps in a day: 3,045; 1,686; 2,823, 2,402, etc. No wonder the weight doesn’t come off. But on a day like today (5/31) where I walked 2.29 miles, I achieved 9,152 steps and that was with me working today counseling! So, I’m trying to go with taking steps, walking toward that 199, step by step, day by day. Because I don’t walk daily like I was, I’m sore and weak.

I realized that Christianity is like this. Sometimes, a few days may go by without my devotions, so then I spend 2-3 hours to make up for it. Well, that’s not good.

Christianity needs to be a walk, a daily walk with Christ. Not a sprint then three days off. Some of the days it feels like I walked 2000 steps with Christ, then do a 10,000 step day, then the next day or two under 4000. So I’ve decided to come to Christ step by step also. It’s the only way to get strength. If not, then I get sore and weak.

So those trying to lose weight, take it step by step. And those who are walking with Christ, walk Him step by step also. It’s easier to keep up with Him when you’re walking with Him daily.

Funeral For a Friend
April 16, 2016

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Yesterday was the funeral for my friend Lecie. If you saw my previous blog, she is Amanda’s mom. The service was lovely, the day was beautiful, and it was the chance for goodbye. Here’s why I think open caskets and showings are necessary, whenever possible.

Now, I’m a firm believer in closure. It’s important, I think that a person should be able to close any and all situations. Life doesn’t always do that, but I think it needs to be done when possible. Cremation doesn’t do that if it is done in place of a showing. If the cremation is done without a viewing of the body, it doesn’t give the grievers a chance to bring closure with that person.

If the family is for it and they get to see the body, and they’re ok with cremation, then that’s fine, as the family gets to see the body at rest. Or if one chooses to cremate after the showing, that’s the family’s choice. So, I’m not knocking cremation and people are certainly entitled to do as they please. I just think that the viewing of the body  gives the viewer’s senses  a reality of the passing of that person. A final touching of the hand, kiss on the forehead, a heartfelt goodbye. Even a note tucked away in the casket.

So it was with Lecie yesterday. A closure. A temporary goodbye. Why temporary?

When one is with Christ, a servant of His, then eternal life is the reward. He promises to wipe away all tears and dry all eyes and there will be no more crying. (Rev. 21:4). So as Lecie is in the presence of the mighty Christ, so we will be too, if we’ve placed our lives into His hands.

Christ is the Savior of the world. Without Him there is no hope. Because of Christ, Lecie will be seen again by those who know Christ. How glorious. The pastor yesterday said that a great way to honor Lecie is to come to the saving knowledge of Christ.  How pleased would she be if even one, only one, person came to know Christ personally because of her death? Maybe it’s you?

Maybe you haven’t fully committed to Christ as Lord and Savior. Maybe you’ve put your toe in the water and you’re not sure you want to step in. Any moment could be your last chance. And it won’t be an ending, but a beginning.

Will you come to Christ?  If you do though, Lecie will be waiting for you.

 

The Art of Dying (An Ode to Lecie)
April 11, 2016

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It’s a sad day today. My daughter-in-law Amanda’s mother died today, Lecie Cargould. She is four years younger than me. There were some complications, but physically, she was in better shape than me. She was a wonderful lady that I truly liked. They’re a great family.

Death is a great equalizer. No matter how rich, poor, cute, ugly, sane, crazy, conservative, or liberal, we all end up in the same box. I think death is one of the hardest things to deal with, because as I tell people during grief counseling, the death of a loved one changes your life without your permission.

I remember my dad telling me that the death of a spouse is harder than the death of a parent because the spouse you have is who you chose. I imagine that may be true. But the death of a close family member can be awful.

I remember being out with Bonnie after we buried my mother, and we were sitting at Perkin’s ordering dinner. I looked around and everybody was living their lives the same as the day before, laughing or joking, sometimes just reading or smoking (you could smoke INSIDE places 30 years ago). I remember looking around and thinking, ‘my life has just been crushed, and these people just go about their way’.  And I was so sad. And now it’s 30 years later.

I have done more funerals than weddings. I’ve done my father, mother-in-law, cousins, friends, and acquaintances. I have done the funerals of strangers, which is very difficult to make personal. Especially if I don’t know if they knew of Christ, and salvation through His blood.

Sadness comes because of us not seeing that person on earth anymore. I had asked Bonnie, ‘when was the last time we saw Lecie?’. Then we realized, it was the very last time we saw her. There will not be another time on this earth.

Ah, but our hope goes beyond this earth. I know I will see her  as will her husband Barry, and her two daughters, Becca and Amanda. That is the hope we have in Christ. The knowledge that this current life ends here, but our eternal life begins at death. Lecie is in good hands, the best hands, the saving hands of God. There will be a time when we’re all gathered together, all of us that know Christ, and we will meet friends and relatives who have preceded us in death. And we will be so happy. It will be so good to see Lecie again, fully well.

And how nice when her one year old grandson, Zeke, will walk up to her and say, “NOW I remember you”.

 

The Sound of Silence
April 8, 2016

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I’ve just recently discovered a song by “Disturbed” (no, not my favorite band as actually I wasn’t familiar with them) shared by my son Luke. It’s a remake of “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel. Now I am told “Disturbed” is a screamer band, and they didn’t scream this one. It is phenomenal. Here’s why I like it, maybe even better than the original.

It’s an angry song. A protest song.And Dan Draiman sings it like an angry protest song.  Not so much of a war that was raging (it was written in 1964), but how their voice was not getting heard. Nobody was listening to them. And by them, I mean us, my generation. We had a president who was young and for the youth, and he was murdered. A war was increasing. Hopelessness for young people set in. A war that drafted us to go there, whether we wanted to or not. We were angry.

Nobody listened? We got drunk or high. And nobody seemed to care. Teen years are confusing enough about what you want to do, but add a war to it, and it multiplied. We were “hippies”.

We were rebels with a cause. Boys hair got longer (Thanks Beatles) and girls dresses got shorter (Thank you very much, Twiggy).

I like young people as I used to be one 40 years ago. I work with kids today and they’re angry. But they don’t seem to know why they’re angry. They’re confused. They don’t know what they want to do, what sex they want to be, what is right or what is wrong. At least we had a war to keep us focused to be angry about.

The twenty/thirty somethings are also angry. Their American Dream is fading. They went to college, did everything right, and are drowning in financial debt. They make the amount of money I made in 1974 in the steel mills, but then I could raise a family on it if I wanted to. Buy a new car? Good luck. A new house? So many of them, married or single, live with mom and dad.

These kids got nothing. Except the one thing that my generation was angry at. See, we thought it was the war, but it was more than that. And this song hits it right on the head.

We didn’t have a voice. And nobody listened if we did speak. And this generation is the same. They realize the government isn’t for them, they make it harder to get big loans for houses or cars, but will let you use credit card debt to bring you to the poorhouse. Of course they’re angry. As George Carlin put it, “It’s a big country club, and we ain’t in it.”

The song says, “And the people bowed and prayed to the neon god they made and the sign flashed out its warning int the words that it was forming. And the sign said, “the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls, and tenement halls.” Back then, I believed that. I believed we had all the answers, just as the current generation goes with what the rock bands or rappers say as truth.  Truth is something that the generation doesn’t believe in, at least an absolute truth. That’s because of weak churches, weak parents, and weak minds that don’t want to reason. But there is an answer to all of this.

God.

The same God they’ve kicked out of schools, courthouses, and public buildings is the answer. The words of the prophets are written in the Bible. And these people running this country  have raised a generation that doesn’t believe in God, particularly Jesus.

But that’s the answer.

 

 

Homeward Bound
March 31, 2016

 

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I love where I live. It’s a pleasant little home, in the city, and I really like it. I lived in the country for over 20 years and then was “transplanted” back to my hometown of Sharon, Pennsylvania. It’s not a bad place.

But my house, I love it. I find that I don’t like to leave it. It’s “homey”. Now my other house was homey too, but I found we liked to leave it to do things. Maybe it’s age, maybe it’s complacency, or maybe it’s that I like being home. Either way, I like it.

When Paul McCartney left the Beatles, he had difficulty talking about the Beatles. When his new band, Wings, was playing, many times the interviewers were asking about Beatles times, and he didn’t want to talk about it. In fact, many of his concerts featured zero, or only a couple Beatles songs. It’s like he didn’t want to remember his time there, as he isn’t THAT GUY anymore. He couldn’t embrace what it was because it ended badly.

I thought about that when I got out of high school. I didn’t hate high school, but I didn’t love it either. I was into alcohol pretty regularly my last two years, and discovered pot my senior year.  I had two sets of friends, actually three. Those I drank with, those I smoked with, and those I didn’t do any of those with. Obviously, I had NO relationship or awareness of Jesus Christ at this point in my life. I’m beyond thankful that I do now. And so do my kids.

I was a pretty friendly fellow, had lots of friends.  I had a good relationship with my classmates. I was the class vice-president for the Class of 1973. It was fun. I didn’t run for president, too much work. We’d drink a lot, spent a lot of time drinking at a doctor’s house where his wife would actually serve us drinks. His son was in my class. Drank a lot with my friend Chuck and would be with him at Francis’s house, where his mother never minded if we drank there.

I was unbelievable slow with girls. Only had a girlfriend or two during the high school years. Even though I was popular, I was never pushy with them. Had tons of crushes but, believe it or not, was actually too shy to pursue them.  I was a virgin when I graduated high school. Never went to prom as I didn’t want to go. I’m still not much of a dancer.

We started a group called “Bleacher Bums” and we’d travel to all the basketball games. We started chants and choruses of songs.  Chuck, Frank, Scott, Tom, just a bunch of us having fun. What a great time that was. Usually drinking. One game Chuck and I arrived late, and there were no seats so we sat in the New Castle section. This was back when we were a big school playing big teams. For some reason that I don’t remember, we were kindly escorted out of the gym by two of Sharon PD’s finest. The principal, Mr. Bennet told us to meet him in his office on Monday .

We went to our usual parties, and my buddy and I  were at the party imitating Mr. Bennet, saying “Get your hat and coat son, you’re going home”.  We thought we’d be expelled. Well Monday comes, and no call to meet with Mr. Bennet came……..until 10 minutes before dismissal.

Well, a bit nervous, we approached Mr. Bennet and he was as cool as could be. Said he was disappointed with us, hoped we’d represent the school and team better, and if it happened again, we’d be expelled. Well, from that point on, we made better decisions. Just one beer before the game ( a 42 oz. beer), then party afterwards.

With all that being said, I loved THAT part of it, but couldn’t wait to get out of Sharon. I remember running into Nick and I told him I was living in West Middlesex and he said, “Couldn’t you find a house in Sharon?” as if that was THE place to be in the valley.  I wanted no part of it. Until I came home.

I felt like Paul McCartney (I wish), and being completely sober for 30 years, I am fond of my time in Sharon, and I fell like I really am at home. I embraced who I was then and who I am now. As Paul began doing Beatles songs and embracing his past, I too have embraced those times and celebrate my past. I’m so thankful to be home. The saying is, ‘home is where your heart is’. Well, I guess I’m home.

I really don’t know what I would have done if the principal told my kids, “get your hat and coat, son you’re going home'”. They were better kids than their father was a kid. But I think they had a better father than I did.

 

I, Me, Mine
March 10, 2016

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I’m self evaluating. Not sure why now, not sure what brought this on, but that’s what I’m doing now.

I find myself questioning my motives on all things lately. Why do I share certain things with others? Is it for their approval/disapproval? Why do I do the things I do? To please myself, others, God, none of the above?

Why do I put expectations on myself but not on other people? Do I feel I have to “be” a certain way or “act” a certain way? So bear with me while I figure this out.

As a pastor, who loves Jesus, I find that my behaviors and actions are at times more that I “like” Jesus more than love Him. I have attitudes, behaviors, thoughts, etc., that certainly wouldn’t be pleasing to Him. I feel shame with some of this, but as I evaluate, do I really feel shame or is it that I’m “supposed” to feel shame?

Do I write these blogs to get noticed, or do I write them for me? Do I have a need to be noticed, and if so, why? Am I that self absorbed?

I’m remarkably flawed, and it astounds me that God would ever want to use me in the pulpit. I tell Him, “You are one desperate Deity”. But yet He does. And He never lets go. Subtle changes have taken place, and other changes are yet to come, so let’s just put it out there. This is me.

I love Bob Dylan ( I have 35 of his CDs and have seen him twice in concert) and the Beatles. I find that the music moves me. There’s a show that is called “House of Cards”. It’s not a nice show, it’s a political show that I would not recommend to other Christians, but I like it very much. I am a very strong New York Yankee fan, I’m passionate about them and the Cleveland Browns. Win or lose, they are just a part of me. I get angry when they lose. But, as I’ve aged, the anger leaves quickly.

I’m a conservative Independent from a liberal democrat family. I will probably vote for Donald Trump. Everyone says if you’re a Christian, you shouldn’t vote for him. I don’t care, I probably will because I like the changes he wants to make. He’s vulgar, verbally abusive and can be mean. I’m not voting for his bedside manner.

I remember when my daughter had to go to a specialist and the doctor was very mean and ill mannered. I didn’t care because I hired her for her expertise, not her chumminess.

I loved my mother deeply and liked my dad. I get angry I see my dad in other people but I get madder when I see my dad in me.

Did I mention I love Bob Dylan?

I think our current president is one of the most ungodly presidents ever put in the White House. Then I remember that the Lord puts rulers in their places, and sometimes gives the people what they want.

I have a wickedly sometimes warped sense of humor. Morbid at times, inappropriate at times, but I always go for the laugh. I’m told I’m not supposed to. I’m working on it. But obviously, not very hard. I’m 60, not sure how much longer it’s going to take.

I’m greatly overweight, or I’m undersized, depending how you look at it. If I was 6′ 8″, I’d be the perfect weight. I’m undisciplined in my eating, but I do enjoy my walking to 199. I love it. I’m bald, and I am so ok with it. People think I shouldn’t be, but I am. And as I’ve gotten older, I care less and less about what people think of me. Although I care deeply what my wife and children think, and more so for my grandchildren.

But, I love all people. Christian, atheist, whatever. I love people who like the Pittsburgh Steelers (even though for the life of me I can’t figure out why they do). I love people who love the Boston Red Sox, although I believe a mental disorder is present. I realize if it wasn’t for Christ, I would not be very likable.

I love my church people, but some I love more than others. I’m like that with a lot of people. People tell me “I love them in Christ” but they don’t like them. My response is that if you love them in Christ then you’ll die for them. Outside of my wife, kids, and grandchildren, there aren’t many I’d die for.

I think I am a very good preacher, not by my doing, but by God’s. I don’t think I’m a very good pastor, however. I can get distracted and be lazy. I can put myself first at times, and that truly bothers me that I can do that.

I don’t want my flaws to be a stumbling block for someone coming to Christ. My political or sports or music views should not cause one to stumble. I wouldn’t want that.

Nobody knows how many prayers I’ve prayed for the Lord to change me more like Him. Struggles with thoughts and actions, confusion about “what is a Christian?” or “how does a Christian act?”. I look through the Scriptures and see David, a murderer, Jacob, a liar, Peter, a denier of Christ. Yet the Lord used them, as He uses me.

So my reflection has taught me this: I am a Christian pastor. I am also a human being sanctified daily.