Thursday, July 31, 2014

I have a book here on my Nook called Amish Proverbs that I am currently reading. It is really a good read. It is full of common sense sayings and the thoughts behind them. I admire their philosophy and theology, but about the closest I come to being Amish is my love for God's creation that is all around me, and the finally attained ability to stop and count my blessings. But, even there I fail or I wouldn't look at my 13 year old, perfectly good 32" tv in my "man cave" and be wishing it were a 50" flatscreen with more capabilities than I would know how to use. Anyway, --- I recommend the book to you.

My backyard is in much better shape today. I got it mowed and Ms. Kate spent an hour out in the flowerbeds thinning out some of the phlox and another plant called " Obedient Plant", or at least we think that is what it is called. Things look much better out there. With the dry weather, I most likely won't have to mow it for a couple of weeks. I need to check on the front yard and see if it needs to be done today. I'll need to mow Dan's too if so. He came down with gout and can barely walk.

There is much activity in the backyard this morning. I filled all of the feeders yesterday and Ms. Kate filled the birdbaths. So tummys are being filled and feathers are being cleaned in the backyard hostel this morning. Only one squirrel has shown up so far today. It eats for a while, runs off , and comes back down the tree for more.

I didn't get a lot of writing done yesterday because it just wouldn't flow. I need to concentrate on that today. Julie and the pupperonis are coming this afternoon so I won't be concentrating on writing then. We have stuff planned this afternoon and evening, and then tomorrow she and Ms. Kate go to TN and I will dog sit until Sunday afternoon.

Well, the squirrel mafia is moving in now and there will be a war over feeders and birdbaths. They are already chasing one another around the yard and the bigger birds that share those feeders are taking off.

Time to close this up and that means that it is also time to lift up my thoughts to God before I start my day. Starting the day without the Lord is just wasted effort. So today I ask for God's words to flow through me as I work on my sermons. And I thank God for the priveledge of being allowed to serve as pastor of the parish. I am living a life long dream. I pray prayers of gratitude for my family and prayers of concern for those who are ill. May God grant them peaceful, pain free days. And, I pray your day will be filled with nothing but goodness and blessings.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Revelie has been sounded, at least in my mind, and the Colors are raised today on the new flag pole.  I think it is going to work just fine. Dan and I got both of our poles planted yesteday. I"ll have to rag him today though because the Colonel was up and had the flag flying before the Command Sergeant Major.

It is yet another cool morning at 63° this morning. We are supposed to have this kind of weather all week. And, --- while I do love it, it just isn't normal for it to be this cool for July. It is almost as if the season has jumped ahead. Its weird!

I need to mow the back yard today. It doesn't yet look bad but could "use a trim". And since the pups are going to be here for the weekend, I need to get it mowed before they arrive. They don't like the sounds of lawn equipment. Auggie goes nuts when I use the blower. If he is outside he will bark and bite at the end of the blower. Its fun to watch! I also need to fill all of the feeders again, and water the outside potted plants and garden.

My biggest job of the day though is to write. I have next week's service done but not the sermon. It is also the end of the month and I have my reports to put together and email out to the councils. Since I keep a diary of my activities, that is pretty easy to do. Keeping an activity diary was something I encouraged my young officers and NCOs to do as their commander. That way when it came time to write their efficiency reports, they could hand me their list of accomplishments throughout the past year and I could put together a proper report. I now have to do a report for the congregation at both thesummer and winter congregational meetings so, I use my own advice.

I have lots of activity on the feeders today. There are several Cardinals, a bunch of Goldfinches and common Housefinches, as well as Starlings. The Bluejay announced its arrival and "get out of my way" greeting a bit ago and then flew in and bullied everyone else off of the feeder it wanted. It only grabbed a few bites though and flew off. It all makes for a perfect start to my day, along with my morning coffee.

I give God thanks today for the peace that does exist in the world. It is hard to believe that on the other side of the world war is constantly going on in so many regions. As I sit here peacefully drinking my coffee, people are dying there because of greed and ethnic and religious hatred. Enjoy the peace and freedom that we have in this country and think today of a veteran and or active duty service person who is working to ensure our freedom and peace.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Wow, a cool 61° this morning. It feels wonderful and I'm glad because my neighbor and I plan to put in new flag poles today. The biggest problem I have is that I have to dig the base of the old one out before I can put the new one in, and I did a really good job of putting the old one in. So, we are calling today "Iwo Jima Day" since we are raising the colors.

I walked out by the garden this morning and it appears I need to pick the squash and cucumbers as well as the yellow tomatoes. I love it that we have had such a great garden this year. Yesterday we went to the produce stand and picked up some more sweetcorn. Ms. Kate put up another nine pints to serve when we have company.

My blog will be short this morning since my neighbor has already called and picking up his stuff he needs for us to put in his flag pole. We are very blessed to have a good neighbor like Dan. He and I have so much in common.

So, -- my prayers are once again prayers of gratitude. I try to take stock of my blessings each day because I am just so very fortunate to be able to live the life I live. I also raise up my 101 year old parishioner who I visited yesterday. I trust God is giving her peace to her soul. I fear she won't see Christmas except by watching the day come and go while sitting with the Lord. I also lift up a young lady from the church who is anxious about a medical procedure she is having tomorrow and asked me to pray for her.

Have a blessed day.

Monday, July 28, 2014

White puffy clouds against a brilliant blue sky, combined with a gentle breeze and 68° temperature is what greets me this morning as I bring my coffee out to the sunporch. I ask you; how can all of that put a person in anything other than a prayerful and joyful mood?

Yesterday was a great day. We began our day of course with our Sunday morning worship service. We had visitors in church yesterday because we did an infant baptism. What a blessing that is. I fully realize that some people and denominations disagree on the definition of what baptism is or is not, but the fact is that people brought their child for dedication to and reception of blessing by God. To me, that is a promise of continued llife with God's church.

Yesterday afternoon I had a very productive meeting with a member of the church concerning a letter writing campaign that the church has decided to do. The plan is to write "Thinking and Praying For You" letters for people in hospitals, nursing homes, the military, and just people in general. It is part of an effort to take the church outside the doors of the church, which I preach frequently. Getting people involved in a new project is often a challenge. Keeping them involved is sometimes harder. But if we don't try, we aren't living up to what we profess.

My last duty of the day was to conduct a pre-marital counselling session with a young couple. I love to do these because I am truly interested in them developing a firm and lasting marriage that is solidly intertwined with a relatioship with God. So, I sometimes ask hard and personal questions.

Today I need to go to the nursing home to see Ms. Charlotte, my 101 year olld parishioner. Odds are not good that she will overtly even remember me, but hopefully by praying with her she will know we all stilll remember her and love her. From there, I reckon we will go to the church and run our bulletins  for Sunday. It is going to be a perfect weather day to take the convertible and enjoy the full extent of God's world.

My prayers of joy go out this morning for parents that bring their children to church, and for parishioners that are excited about working for the kingdom of God. My prayers of gratitude are for my family and my loved ones who continue to support me in my ministry. I also thank God for my faith families from the parish and my home church. I lift up my brother in law and sister in their struggle with his cancer. I also lift up a former "brother in arms" who has developed Stage IV cancer. I also ask for God's continued blessings and guidance that I may be doing what He wants me to be doing. And --- I pray for patience in dealing with all situations and people in my life. I hope your day is as full of blessings as I know mine is.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

It sure is brighht and blue out there considering that the prediction was for thunderstorms today. But the humidity is high and the temperature is going to above 90° today, --- so we could get some thunderboomers later today. I would welcome a bit of rain. Otherwise, I will have to water stuff again this evening.

I had to fill the Finch feeder first thing this morning. The little flying pigs emptied it in a day and a half. I have three feeders for thistle seed out there but there is one that is a favorite and they will always empty it first. It is a two inch round mesh cylinder that is maybe eight inches tall. It is not unusual to see a dozen Sparrows, or Finches  on it at a time, fluttering  and twittering for a place at the table. It would be hard to guess which of my feeders I fill the most frequently. I have one feeder that is for "meal worms". They are little dried worms about an inch long and they stink. They are also expensive. A gallon bucket of them costs about $50.00. Needless to say, I don't buy those very often. I can get 100 lbs of blackoil sunflower seed for that. So, I just put some other kind of food in there...

The black-eyed susans are starting to bloom now and that will give the Finches somewhere else to eat. We planted some seed for those things several years ago and I have been fighting them ever since. They are a very invasive plant and will take over a flowerbed if not kept under control. But the birds like them so we continue to let some grow. Besides, I do like the looks of them. So many of our flowerbeds are filled with what many would maybe call "wild flowers", but we love the looks of it all.

It has been a goood week, full of God's blessings. I need to run down to the hardware store and pick up a couple of things for a little project I'm working on. Other than that my day is free. Oh, there are a bizillion weeds out there that need pulling, but I think not today. It is my "day off".

Tomorrow is Sunday and it will be a busy one. We are doing a baptism during the worship service, and I love doing infant baptisms. Some friends from my home church are bringing my mother up to our worship service and then we will all go out for brunch together. I have both a 5:00 and a 6:30 meeting tomorrow afternoon, so, I might as well stay at the church and run the bulletins for the next Sunday. Sundays for pastors are not a day of rest. I reckon the same can be said for lots of career fields.

Hug the people you love today. Life is too short and unpredictable to miss an oppportunity to say "I love you". Smile at a stranger. You just might be the first bright spot in their whole day. That makes you one of God's blessings for someone else!

Friday, July 25, 2014

The joy of play; that's what Ms. Kate and I did yesterday. Yes, I had a list of things that I needed to get done, but we re-evaluated the day and did none of them. Instead, we got in the convertable and went geocaching, found a new restaurant to try, then went to Cold Stone Creamery for ice cream, came home and I finished my Stephen King novel. Of course today I still have those same jobs to do, but it felt good to toss it all off for a day and go play. I highly recomend it. It is good for your physical and mental health. It is good for your marriage. And, --- it is good for resetting one's priorities.

Byron and Sheila's news from the oncologist was certainly a mixed bag of good and bad. But they are going ahead with the new treatment plan. Ms. Kate did some research on it on the internet and frankly, from what she found, it sounds like a hopeful and positive step. There are, as always, possibilities of side effects, but those were rare. So, I thank God that this may give him the chance he is looking for. And --- Byron is upbeat and ready to have at it.

It is hard to believe that we have come to the end of another week already. Of course being retired from a life that requires me to be up and dressed and at my office at a certain time skews the clock and calendar. I work at the most crazy hours. I do most of my writing in the afternoon and the evening. Add to that the fact that I'm always working on stuff for "next week", or maybe two or three weeks from now, I lose track of what day it really is. I'm also very fortunate that my congregations are full of healthy people. For the past couple of years my visitation needs have been minimal. Those that were hospitalized or in rehabilitation facilities were there for only short periods. There have been times when I spent a couple of days a week just doing visitation, sometimes at facilities in four different towns. Right now, I only have one lady in a nursing home and I am waiting on word from the family for when she is ready for visitation.

I really must fill the feeders this morning. The sunflower feeders are almost all empty and the squirrels are sitting on them, looking at me, and swishing their tails up and down rapidly. I think they are cussing me out! Maybe it is because the first thing I did this morning was fill all of the feeders that they don't eat from such as the finch feeders. They too were all empty and it took all of the small birds about ten seconds to discover that they were filled again. So the birds are chirping happily and the squirrels are flipping me the tail. I love my life. It is so entertaining.

I thank the good Lord this morning for yet another beautiful day full of opportunities to do something good. I pray I will make use of those opportunities and that someone will benefit from the blessing God has placed on my plate. I pray for good health for my friends and loved ones, and I pray for God's touch of peace on anyone with troubled thoughts today. I pray that you may experience the presence of the Holy Spirit as you go about your day. I also pray that you too will take time to stop and play. Have a great day!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

July has decided to sleep in again on this 62° bright morning. I love this roller coaster weather pattern we have been having. As I suspected, rain did not materalize, at least for us, yesterday at all. I think the weatherman said we had one one hundreth of an inch. That hardly makes it to the status of dew! On the other hand --- this is perfect weather for the county fair. Animal owners don't have to worry about their animals overheating there in the show barns.

The Starlings are in for an early morning bath today. They have been lined up on the concrete deep water bird bath for quite a while. No doubt I will have to refill it if the splashing I see happening is any indication of what will be left out there. I see that a lot of the feeders are low or empty this morning. I guess it is time to refill the buffet table. I have mostlly the smaller birds out there this morning so far except for the Blackbirds and Starlings. I haven't seen my Cardinals for a couple of days nor has the Blue Jay been around. I was pulling some weeds in the flowerbed yesterday and heard  the Pilated Woodpecker somewhere close by with its weird call, but I didn't see it.

I was up late again lat night thanks to my Stephen King novel. I'm down to the last 120 pages and it is extremely hard to put it down at that point. But, I was getting bleary-eyed at 0115 and just had to quit. Hopefully I'll be able to get back to it today so I can rescue this little girl in the story and the creepo's won't get her. Besides, thanks to Julie, there is a brand new Stephen King novel sitting on the table beside my chair that is already calling my name.

My brother in law, Byron, goes for his oncolgist appointment this morning to learn about and make decisions about this new treatment plan for his cancer. Our prayers are certainly with him.  We pray this will really be a good answer for him. The biggest thing he has going for him at the moment is his attitude. He is upbeat, basically pain free --- and looking forward to building a new house and playing with grandkids for at least another five years. I hope he and God are reading the same set of life's blueprints. That would be wonderful.

My prayers also go out for my 101 year old parishioner who is now in a nursing home but fell this week. Fortunately she didn't break a bone but she does have a fracture. Alzheimers has robbed her of most of her memory and she no longer remembers her loved ones, including her daughter who constantly is with her. So, my prayers are for comfort for the both of them.

Since God has provided such a beautiful day; I better get started making use of it. I have lawns to mow and birds to feed, and a garden to water. Here's hoping your day contains only joy, and that you stop to give God thanks for it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The low rumble of thunder is a constant sound this morning coming out of the distant northwest. There is an occasional flash of lightening too from off in the distance as I look through the trees. We've had no rain here yet and frankly the way the weather happens around here it could possibly miss us altogether.  But a good inch of rain would be a blessing. Certainly the dark morning sky looks promising.

When I first came out here this morning the air was full of birdsong. The Sparrows and the Housefinches were all full of flutter and cheep, cheep, cheep. Now the yard has gone quiet. One squirrel sits out on a feeder and only a few birds sit quietly picking at seed. Maybe we will get a storm come through. I believe the birds and animals sense these things better than our best technology.

I'm up an hour earlier than usual this morning. No particular reason other than a nature call and then the desire for a cup of coffee. I was up until 0115 this morning catching up on this season's Under The Dome television show that we had recorded. It is one the very few shows that I try to follow. The original book was written by Stephen King and the show departed from that scenario a long time ago, but they have developed a good story line.  He was even in the season opener this year and has given the series writers his blessing to take the story where they see fit.

I'm hearing rain drops on the roof but not seeing much evidense other of that. But this is hopefully just the leading edge. If it rains very hard, it will take a lot of the fragile blooms from the phlox. But God keeps his creation to what God needs it to be even if the methods might seem overly destructive at times.

I was watching a show the other evening about space and man's attempts to peer through space via powerful telescopes. The bi-line was that there are thousands of galaxies out there with suns and planets and it is therefore entirely possible, if not probable,  that we are not alone in this universe. I have no problem with that thinking. I know the fundamentalists will call me a heretic but only man would be so arrogant as to try to limit the power of God. Jesus said "In my Father's house there are many mansions. If it were not so, I would tell you." Who knows the true meaning of those words? I don't. As far as I'm concerned --- God can create all the worlds and universes that God wants to and I'll just thank God for continuing to fill my life with goodness and blessings. Wrap your head around this thought; (and it might take a second cup of coffee) but, consider the fact that this planet already holds a billion individually God- loved people, and the possibility that there may be another billion planets full of God-loved people --- how amazingly deep must the love of God truly be? So, if today you share even a micro-bit of that love with someone; you are on some powerful territory. But what the heck; --- take the challenge and share some of God's freely given love with someone today.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What a beautiful morning once again! A beautiful blue cloudless sky, the sun shining brightly, and lots of my feathered friends out here to greet me. I watered everything last evening, filled the birdbaths, and filled the feeders. So, I have great expectations this morning for a yard full of blessings, --- and I haven't been disappointed at all.

The yard is slowly changing over once again. The lilies are all but done. Their bloom stalks will soon be dried and we'll need to go pull them off and rake out the dried leaves. The phlox has less flowers on it now and will slowly lose all of the blooms. Then it will drop its seeds on the ground to re-seed itself. (Another great engineering job by God.) The black-eyed susans are now bloomimg as are the four o clocks, which provides a heavenly fragrance each evening. Both of those flowers are sure indications that summer is in full swing. The roses are all kind of in between blooming spurts too. So, the yard continues to look nice but like all of us, maybe not as great as when we were in our prime.

The bird baths are in full use this morning and there are several squabbles going on as to who is drinking and who is bathing, expecially among the Grackles. The Robins simply move to a different bird bath. I have four out there full of water for them. But, there has been a lot of splashing going on. The Grackles, Robins and Starlings are the ones that seem to bathe most frequently. I very occasionly will see a Cardinal in there taking a bath and if the water gets low enough the Sparrows might get in there. Everything else uses them only as a watering hole.

Today I'm doing the worship service at the Good Samaritan Home. It is a nursing home that was established by the United Church of Christ butt is totally nondenominational in acceptance of residents. Once a year they ask me to do the service. I like doing them. There are generally about forty people attending. Some of them probably don't hear what is being said, or sleep through it; but most seem to enjoy the services and they are always appreciative that there is a worship service.

With this beautiful day that the Lord has laid out before me, and an opportunity to spread the Gospel of God's Word, --- how can I do anything but give God thanks this morning? So, that is where I must begin my morning thoughts and prayers. I also lift up my son in law Jim. Jim is heading off to northern Indiana this week to begin training to be a truck driver. He has several weeks of training to go through and then will work for the company that is training him. This has been his dream for some time and I pray he will be successful and that it will be what he thinks it will be.

Each and every day, I also thank God for Ms. Kate and our girls and their families. I simply can not begin to imagine my life without them in it. I also lift up Sheila and Byron as they deal with the daily challenges of their lives. I'm convinced that true peace in our lives can only come when we allow God to be the driving force behind our decisions. I have found that peace in my life and I pray for each of yoou that you will too. Have a peaceful day.

Monday, July 21, 2014

66° going to 89° today; hello July! Where were you last week? I can't say we missed you because we were really enjoying your replacement, "early fall".

Another week begins. This should be a busy one, or at least a week where we have something on the calendar every day. It is Vanderburgh County Fair week but I doubt we will go to that. Walking around in the heat to smell animals, look at kids 4-H projects, and eat fried food of some vatiety just doesn't hold the appeal that it did years ago. We have attended the Gibson County Fair for the past several years to support our church kids and their projects, but we don't know anyone involved in this fair anymore. Although, as kids, Ms. Kate and I both were involved in 4-H. But I don't think I ever got above a red ribbon on any project. I don't know if they even give red or white ribbons anymore. It might hurt their feelings or scar them for life by insinuating that they were not first in everything.

So today I go to the dentist with a bothersome tooth. Tomorrow I do a worship service for a local nursing home. Beyond that I don't know. Of course there is always another sermon to write, and a variety of things to do there. The problem is --- I'm on the last third of a Stephen King novel. It is always at that point that I don't want to put one of his novels down. I love to read but I am not a fast reader. So,  I must make time to read this book and make sure my main charaters make it through safely. King doesn't always let them live and it honks me off when he let's some child of the story die like he did in The Mist, and Cujo!

I need to fill the bird baths and water the the garden today too. We haven't had rain for a few days and none is predicted. So, if I want garden production and happy birds I better take care of both.

I had a great birthday although we did spend almost all of it at church. Yesterday was the second of our summer congregational meetings. Yesterday afternoon was the annual summer gathering and meal at St. Paul's. So, I conducted the morning worship, then we had the meeting. After that we went out for a great lunch at our favorite restaurant then back to the church. We ran the bulletins for next week's service and Ms. Kate got her food ready for the carry in meal. But it was a good day of friends and fellowship. I had lots of well wishes for my birthday through social media and phone calls. It just reinforced the fact that I am indeed a blessed man. For that and more, I give God praise and prayers of gratitude this morning.

We all have a brand new week to make difference in our world and in the lives of those around us. Reach out and take the hand of Jesus; he will walk you through it. Have a wonderful day.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The sunshine is finally peeking through the high clouds. It is again a nice cool 65° out this morning with only a little breeze, making it very comfortable.

It is Saturday morning and I haven't decided what I want to do with myself yet today. We did pick up three buschel of sweet corn yesterday and got that put in the freezer. It really didn't take all that long. I don't think we actually started on it until around noon and we were done and had everything put away by five o'clock. And, that included stopping for lunch, and stopping to visit with my sister in law for almost an hour. But, we will enjoy it this winter.

I have a lot of birds out there this morning including several Goldfinches and Cardinals. Of course they constantly fly off every time we let the dogs burst through the door to chase squirrels. Auggie spends most of his time out there patrolling one specific area. He's watching for Voles and is pretty good at catching them. Of course then he wants to bring their bloody mangled body and show yoou how proud he is of his hunting skills. Yuk! It always ends up with Julie having to chase him down and taking it away from him so he doesn't eat it or worse, sneek it into the house. But it is Auggie's great game.

I need to check the garden today and see what might be ready. I haven't picked for a couple of days so there might be some cucumbers or squash ready. I checked the tomatoes yesteday and nothing was ready. This has been our best garden year in quite awhile. Perhaps we'll drive out to the orchard and see what is ready out there. Our friend Bob was telling us that one of our orchards has raised some delicious nectarines. Perhaps they are ready for picking. I also need to go to Sam's Club to see if they have flag poles. Mine got broken off by the micro-burst that we had awhile back. That is the second time that has happened.

Life just continues to give me peace. On this, the last day of my sixty ninth year on earth, I thank God for protecting me and guiding me all these years. But for God's grace, there is no telling what my life would be like.  Tomorrow I start another decade of life. Will I make it through another decade? I certainly plan to and I pray that all of my family and loved ones will be there enjoying it with me. Life is just so very much easier when we turn it over to the Lord and take our hands off of the wheel. Jesus Christ is a far better driver than I will ever be. So, I think I'll just let him keep the keys permanently.

Stop today and once again count your blessings. You have a whole new bucket full since yesterday. Have a most wonderful day!

Friday, July 18, 2014

God has given us yet another beautiful cool morning. It is a very comfortable 71° outside and high thin clouds overhead are preventing the sun from bursting through. There is a nice gentle breeze blowing so the temperature is perfect.

Julie and the pupperonis are here. The three of them are gently snoring here in the sunporch. I'm pleased that she is getting some rest. Her RA seldom gives her a solid night's sleep and her two dogs are no value added to that equation with their constant demand to go in or out. But then as a technogeek, she doesn't help herself either because some ipad, ipod, or iphone is always going off with some alert or another.

I'm waiting on Ms. Kate to get ready. I'm going up to Ritter produce this morning to get sweet corn. I hope to get three buschel so we can put some in the freezer for us and some for Julie & Jim. I know they have three dozen ears ready for me but I'm hoping they have at least another five dozen pulled so we can get it all done today. I use the turkey fryer to cook the corn in outside. That keeps all the heat out of the kitchen. My jobs are to shuck and silk it and cook it. Ms. Kate and Julie will cut it off the cob and package it and get it in the freezer. The dogs job will be to get in the way.

On the blessed news front, my sister and brother in law learned yesterday that the treatment his oncolgist is recommending will be covered totally by their insurance. It was a real worry because they were facing the real possibility that this treatment would wipe out a lifetime out savings to an unknown end. But God has opened the door for them and we believe provided the path. We still don't know how much good the treatment will do, and it affects everyone differently, but the financial burden portion of the question has been answered. God is good --- all the time. For that, I offer my prayer of thanksgiving this morning.

Ms. Kate is ready so it is time to go. I hope you have avwonderful day

Thursday, July 17, 2014

66° and another beautiful day. How great is that? I have a busy backyard this morning. There are lots of birds out here this morning and several squirrels. What is interesting is that I've only had one or two squirrels this week, and this morning there were at least six out there as I sat down with my cup of coffee. Maybe they went to Disneyland for a vacation or something and just got home. Welcome home, you bunch of fuzzy tailed rats! Surprise --- the pupperonis are coming this afternoon for the weekend. So, don't count on any long stays at the buffet table for the next few days.

If there is such a thing; it was a perfect day for a funeral yesterday and it went well. The deceased was a World War II veteran so the local VFW did their ceremony and they did it well. The cemetery sits at the top of a rise and the sound of Taps floating on the breeze certainly adds a dramatic flair to the ceremony.

I think today I need to mow the yards and pick the produce from the garden. I did not get back to my flowerbed yesterday like I had thought I would so it is about time to throw on my jeans and get something productive done. I'm sitting here looking at a ripe tomatoe on a container plant right now that needs to be brought in and introduced to some bacon, bread and lettuce. When I picked the vegetables a couple of days ago I left several tomatoes on that I thought could use maybe two more days on the vine. I think today is the day to bring them in. Tomorrow Ms. Kate plans on her and Julie putting up corn in the freezer. And --- we need to be checking on the local peaches too. Its time to be busy ants instead of lazy grasshoppers.

I did manage to get most of my sermon written for next Sunday. It just takes a little patience sometimes to let it flow. I know people who can do extemporaniously what it takes me days to try and put together. All I can say is "God bless them." I write and rewrite until I think it makes sense. Thank goodness for computers. I would go through a lot of paper and pencils or ink if I had to do it the "old fashioned" way.

God has a world waiting outside my windows that I better get to. Before I do though, I must thank God for that world. But while I am enjoying my micro-square of God's world, I pray for the people in other parts of our country. Some areas have been ravished by terrible storms again this week. People have lost homes and there were a couple of storm related deaths. Yet, in the western states of our country they are suffering from a historic drought. The nations crops and produce raised in that part of the world are drying up to non-existence. So, Lord, your people need your help. Please calm the spirits of the people and bring the healing rain where it is needed so very badly.

Open yourself up today to recognize that the Spirit of God is walking with you with every step you take. Think positiive thoughts and give good will freely. Your day will get even better.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I'm up earlier than usual today. That frequently happens on days that I have to set my alarm clock. I almost always will be up long before it goes off. This morning I have to get ready and go conduct a funeral.

The sun has barely begun to crest the roof top to light up my flowers. The Blue Jay is fussing this morning about something. Maybe it don't appreciate a 57° morning on the 16th of July. I love it. But then, I like to be cool. Poor Ms. Kate is always cold and I always warm or hot. At night time she will be covered under the layers of  blanket while I'm totally uncovered with the ceiling fan going.

My feathered friends should all be happy this morning. I replenished my supplies yesterday. I was pretty much on target with my estimate of cost. I dropped $120.00 bucks on black oil sunflower seed, thistle seed and various other things that I use to keep the critters happy. The weeks of enjoyment though makes that a fairly inexpensive cost for entertainment.

I got out and worked for awhile yesterday in a flower bed. Just being outside, breathing in the fresh air was invigorating. We have a circular planter bed that I built several years ago that badly needed weeding. About the only thing in there is a couple of Knockout Roses but it had gotten overgrown with weeds in the past few weeks while we were gone. I'll finish it off today after we get home from the churches. Our cool snap is supposed to last maybe one more day so I want to take advantage of it.

I thought I detected the smell of bacon and bisquits is in the air. But, it was even better. Bisquits, eggs, and sausage gravy were on the table and Ms. Kate has called me to breakfast. So, if you will pardon me, I'll say my grace and thank you over my breakfast plate.

Have a wonderful day. That home msde strawberry jelly just made my day even better.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Wow! This certainly is a day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. It is a cool 65°, turn off the air conditioner, day. The sun is literally bouncing off of the flowers this morning and making their colors seem to explode. Way to go, God!

I have a lot of birds out there this morning. I think this "cool snap" has them confused that it is fall and they are trying to pack on energy to keep warm. I need to get to Pet Foods today to grab a bag or two of sun flower seed and then go to Wildbirds Unlimited for thistle seed and some other stuff. All of that will put a hole in a hundred dollar bill but it is worth it. Besides, I dropped that much in two hours at a penny slot machine in Vegas and didn't have a thing to show for it. This will give me entertainment for weeks and will benefit God's creation too.

I also need to get back to working on my sermon for Sunday after next. Yesterday I spent most of the day putting together the funeral service that I do tomorrow, and putting together the worship service that I'm doing at the Good Samaritan Home a week from today. I have a concept in mind for the Sunday but often by the end of the day, the words just all get bottlenecked and won't flow. Unfortunately, once that happens, it sometimes takes a couple of days to restart the writing flow.

As I sit here looking out at my back yard; seeing the flowers, watching my birds and listening to their birdsong; I'm thinking this is a good day to go outside and "internalize" God. It is a good day to go out and breathe in God's creation. It is a good time to simply go out and take deep breaths and close your eyes, and feel the miracle of oxygen as it flows through your body. And then, open your eyes and look around you at the miracle of everything that God has put before you; and then give thanks for all of it. So often we only externalize God. We study, we read our Bibles, and we pray, --- all of which are external things. And, they are all things we need to do in order to maintain our relationshp with God. But once in awhile, we need to fill ourselves up with God's essence.

As always, I begin my day with prayers of gratitude today for my blessings that continually flow my way. I pray for the family of the man for whom I'm doing the funeral tomorrow. I'm lifting up a family that is on vacation out west today. They notified me that the father was hospitalized for some testing this morning and they aren't sure yet what is wrong with him. I continue to lift up my sister and brother in law as they deal with his cancer and some very difficult decisions. And, I lift up the people of my congregations. We end our service each week with the song lyrics; "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me." What a great prayer to live by.

Have a blessed day.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A cloudy morning greets me as I bring my coffee out to the sun porch today. We had a lot of rain and thunder-boomers during the night. I went and checked the rain guage and there was a fresh three inches of rain water in it. I notice that the bird baths are all complletely full too which is always an indication that we had a good rain. The forecast calls for more storms today. Hopfully we won't get another three inches of rain.

The Robins enjoy a heavy rain like we had. It washes the earthworm up closer to the surface of the earth and today they are having a feast as they busily hop around the yard. Today I have a good dozen Goldfinches out there too. But, I'm out of thistle seed, which is their favorite, so they willl have to make do. Lord knows there is enough on the ground to last them until I get more.

I need to put together a funeral today. The father of one of my parishioners passed away yesterday morning early. He was 86 years old.  I never met the man but I am honored that my parihioner trusts me enough to ask me to bury his father who he loved very much.

This is a big week for me. This coming Sunday I will celebrate my 70th birthday. That just seems strange to me. I always thought of seventy as being "old". But achieving that age can certainly redefine what "old" means. Oh, I know I am slower than I used to be and I can't begin to do many of the things that I could do ten, fifteen, or twenty years ago; but much of that fault has nothing to do with my age. I've simply become far less active, (alright, --- lazier) than I used to be and have gotten out of shape. The thought comes to mind that I can still hear my Grandma say; "But I still got my own teeth!" And, at seventy, my grandma could bend right over and lay her palms flat on the floor, which I have never been able to do.

The sun has come out and is making the damp flowers glisten. It is a beautiful sight. I think it might also be God's cue to take my empty coffee cup out to the kitchen and get started with my day's work. But, I can't go without giving God praise and thanks for this wonderful life with which I have been blessed. I thank God for all those beautiful flowers out there in the yard and those delicious vegetables that I must go harvest from my small garden later today. I thank God for Ms. Kate and the rest of my family. I pray for days and years of peace for my loved ones who are ill. May each of their days be the best day they have ever had, and may they take the time to recognize it. Christ Jesus stands in front of us today with open arms. Take time today to step forward and give the Son of God a big ol' hug. The reward will be simply overwhelming.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

It is indeed a hot and humid afternoon. We are expecting thunderstorms this evening and tomorrow. That will usher in a cold front that will drastically cool things off for a couple of days. At this point, when I hear thunderstorm and severe weather predictions I always hope that the winds are not destructive and knock down the corn in the fields. The crops are really looking good again this year. The wheat did really well and the corn is standing seven foot plus tall and fully tasseled out with ears on. A hard wind could easily ruin all of that in a heartbeat.

I talk a lot about the view out my sun porch and I just wanted to give you a peek at what I get to sit and look at every day. Man has no idea how to create anything as beautiful as that. At best, we put some seed and maybe a bulb in the dirt, water it, maybe fertilize it and then hope for the best. God does good work!

Today was the first of our church summer congregational meetings. Next week we will have one at the other church. Today we had a meal catered by a local restaurant. Next week we will hold the annual fish fry in the afternoon, but this year we won't have fish???????  We are doing brats this year. Ms. Kate is, I think, fixing sauerkraut an spaetzel to go with the brats. It's going to be good eating, regardless of how the meeting goes.

Alright --- it is time to start a whole new week so let's get it started with prayers of gratitude for all of the blessing we received this past week and prayers of concern for those we love and know who may not be doing as well as we are. Have a great week!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

I'm just doing a short post as I sit here in the dark in the sunporch. Yes, the electricity is working but sometimes I like to just sit in the dark and listen to the sounds of the night which most generally includes nothing more than silence and a cricket or other night bug out side, and the occasional train whistling about a mile away.  I also like to watch for the fireflies.

We've had a good day. We lounged around until about 11:30 this morning and then went to our favorite butcher shop and picked up some meat. We also picked up some sweet corn and cantelope for this week. I do love summer vegetable time. We're getting a steady supply of summer squash, cucumbers, and tomatoes from our small garden. Tonight's supper included pork steak, corn on the cob, tomatoes, and squash. That is about as good of a definition of heartland cooking as it gets.

We also ran up to the church to set things up for tomorrow's worship service. Then I went to do a parishioner visit with my lady that had the back surgery. God be praised, she is doing remarkably well. She will be going home next Tuesday after three week hospital stay.

I love the sound of reletive silence in our house. But I find it interesting that silence has its own character and dimension. Ms. Kate is literally sitting no more than fifteen feet from me but we are separated by the brick wall that constitutes the out side of the house. She is in our bedroom watching tv. Knowing that she is here, --- makes the house and the silence seem "full". When she isn't here and is gone with Karen or Julie on a trip; that same silence becomes empty. The same can be said for having God in your life. When you put God in your life there is never a time that you are alone. However, if you shut God out; --- the silence in your lfe can be deafening, and overwhelming.

Tomorrow I'm back to work doing my Sunday duties. We have a congregational meeting tomorrow at St. Lucas after a catered meal. Next Sunday we will do the same thing at St. Paul's.

I hope the rest of your weekend goes well. Peace!

Friday, July 11, 2014

A very happy Friday morning to you. It is a noisy Friday morning around here today. The traquility that I normally have here in the sunporch has been shattered. Friday is routinely trash pick up day from one of the companies that service this area. There was a time when they would drive down the street to their customer, get out of their trucks, pick up you trash and throw it in the back of their truck. It wasn't very efficient and was, I'm sure, hard on the drivers. Now their trucks are automated. They pull up to the trash can and a big old arm reaches out and picks up the can and puts it over the collection bin , shakes it empty three or four times and then swings the can back and sits it back on the curb. It is efficient, less time consuming, easier on the driver, --- and terribly noisy. The other company that services this area has fewer customers and still does it the old fashioned but less noisy way on Wednesday.

The other thing shattering my peace and quiet today is the roofing crew across the fence at the neighbors house. There is a lot of scraping and raking, and hammering with hammers and the air compressor. They appear to be a good crew though. They work hard and I'm glad to say their conversations don't contain a lot of foul language. That hasn't always been the case from roofing crews that have come through and worked in this neighborhood. I can fully appreciate the hard work those guys are doing though. Back in the early seventies, I did a few roofing jobs with a contractor friend of mine. That was long before portable air compressors and I thought my thumbs would never heal from all the times I hit them with a hammer.

I filled my feeders and cleaned and refilled the bird baths yesterday afternoon. This morning, so far, I have had a few Cardinals, a Robin or two, and Goldfinches and the House Finches. Mr. Robin seems delghted with the filled bird baths and has already been here twice for a dip and a wing flutter in the "pool". Yesterday even the Cardinals were trying to take baths, which I don't see happen very often. My squirrels have yet to arrive which is really fine by me. While they are entertaining to watch, --- I can do without them.

Ms. Kate has some Stargazer lilies out there and one stalk has at least four big blooms on it. While I was filling feeders yesterday I had to stop and smell them several times. The smell is simply overwhelmingly wonderful. Many people don't like the smell because they say it is too strong and reminds them of funeral arrangements.

God has given us yet another beautiful day. The sun is shining, the sky is blue, the heat and humidity aren't too bad yet today. Ms. Kate and I need to go do a bit of shopping today. It is a great day to once again take stock of your life and the wonderful things God has done for you. Your life was freely given and your blessings should be passed around like the fried chicken platter at a family dinner. I hope you have a marvelous day.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

I am going to try this again. My Nook was acting totally screwy this morning and even though I wrote a complete blog, it wouldn'r save it or publish it. I think it might have been because I did something wrong but I guess we will see.

It is really great to be back home and in my recliner in the sunporch. It is great to hear my birds and watch my squirrels and listen to familiar neighborhood sounds. My neighbor next door left for work right on schedule as evidenced by the sound of her car. My neighbor across the yard is having a roof replaced and the sounds of the scraping and hammering is almost comforting too.

The place looks great. My neighbor across the street kept my yard mowed for me. Sister-in-law Karen and daughter Julie kept the indoor plants watered and God certainly kept the outdoor plants watered. The phlox has grown a foot and is in full bloom as are the Stargazer Lilies. The tomatoes are loaded down as are the cucumbers and the squash. Julie filled the feeders this past weekend so I have birds to watch this morning as well as the fuzzy tailed rats. Life is just plain good.

We had a grand vacation. It was relaxing and it was wonderful to get to see Heather and the kids. However, I am getting to be more and more of a homebody. I like being in my home, surrounded by my stuff, sleeping in my bed, and pouring coffee any time I want to from my coffee pot. I am, by my own admission, a routine-aholic. We have seen a lot of beautiful sights and gained a life time of wonderful memories when on vacations over the years; but as Stephen Foster wrote; "There's no place like home." Maybe that is why I feel so blessed and at peace with my life.

I offer prayers of gratitude this morning to our great and onderful God. I thank God for our safe travels, and I thank God for takng care of all of you while we were gone. I thank God for great neighbors and friends and family that look after our place while we are gone. I thank God for our parishioners who take care of the church and each other whether we are here or not. I also continue to lift up Sheila andvByron as they struggle with Byron's cancer. I can say and I can certainly feel that it isn't fair that he has been stricken with this horrible disease; but then again he might out live me. I won't question God's ways. I only ask that he and Sheila be allowed quality of life and a sense of peace and happiness for every day that they have together.

It appears my Nook is workng properly so I must try to save and publlish. I wish for you a day of peace and a total sense of God's presence in your life. Take a moment to realize that God was continually filling your life with blessings even as you sat and read my silly blog.

Have a wonderful day!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Sunday night in Vegas and we are counting down the days until we must return to reality. It has been a good time off from all that goes on back home but I will be glad to return to whatever it is we call normal.

Since we returned to Vegas from California we have stayed at the Wynn/Encore Hotel, then over to the Treasure Island (TI) Hotel, and today we moved to the Rio All Suites Hotel complex. Ms. Kate just continues to get offers for either free or greatly reduced in price hotel rooms when we are at home so we just kind of lineup a a gypsy-style arrangement when we come out here. But, for these four and five star hotels --- it is worth the moving around.

We really enjoyed celebrating the 4th of July right there in our hotel room at the TI. Our room had a great view of the LV Strip and the valley floor to the north and west. There must have been at  least fifty legal and possibly illegal fireworks shows going on to the north and west and they went on for a solid hour before the beginning of the big show three doors down at Caesars Hotel Complex. It was magnificent and we were right at eye level. The traffic on the strip had come to a complete stop for blocks in every direction and we were really glad that we weren't out in the middle of all those people. We had been down stairs earlier in the evening and it was already starting to get "drunk out"! Not the kind of crowds we enjoy.

We've done a pretty good job of staying out of the buffet lines and limiting the number of meals we have eaten. Today for breakfast we ate at a place called Hash House a Go-Go. It is a restaurant that was started by a couple from northern Indiana and has really taken off with a bang here in Vegas. Lots of celebrities have eaten there, and food is great.

Even though we are away from home, our thoughts always go back to our friends and loved ones back there. Through the use of email and Facebook and texting we have been kept informed of how people in our lives are doing and we appreciate that. Our prayers are never stopped for our friends and loved ones just because we happen to be away and out in the yard to play. Having said that, I give God thanks for each of you and the role each of you play in our lives. We'll be home in three days and look forward to seeing all of you. Have a blessed week.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Birthday America!! What a great place to live. I'm looking out my hotel window from the Treasure Island Hotel in Las Vegas and below me is the pool, thirty one floors below. The Las Vegas strip is fairly busy, but nothing compared to what it will be tonight or was last night. Last night was a stream of red lights four lanes wide creeping along going south on Las Vegas Blvd, and another stream of white lights going north. The DJ has the crowd in the pool already hopping and that went on last night until 10:30 or so. The point though that I think is important is that none of those people or us have to worry constantly about bombs going off and militant hoards gunning people down. We are a nation that enjoys our peace and our freedom. Certainly --- we all have complaints about how our government is run and all manner of other things; but we don't take to arms to change it. We use our voices and our votes. God bless the people who established this United States of America, and God bless those who have defended it all these years. I'm blessed to have been a part of the latter group for almost half of my life.

I'm not sure what we will be doing today other than hanging around here. The weather folks said that those of us with asthma problems and other breathing conditions should not be out today. It is hot and a bit dusty. It is that way everyday so I don't see the problem as being any different than yesterday. In fact, it is supposed to be cooler today and only get to about 106 or so. They were talking about the chance of rain for most of the week next week here and they are really needing rain. Las Vegas has only had three tenths of an inch of rain this year! As Julie says, we've had more moisture from humidity than that at home.

I heard from home that my parishioner that had the back surgery has vastly improved. I give God praise and thanks for that. But, I also continue to lift her up for continued healing. I also lift up the millions of people that are going to be out on the highways and lakes and other places as they rush to "have fun". I pray they can do it safely. My thoughts also go to my sister and brother-in-law as they celebrate this holiday with their families. I pray they can enjoy many, many more holidays together.

Tomorrow is our Julie's birthday. She is such a joy in our life. As she deals with her RA, I recall her desire to not be in a wheelchair at forty five. So --- with God's help, she has met and achieved her goal. I pray she never has to get to that point.

I hope you take the time today to thank God for your blessings and to stop for a moment to just appreciate the blessing of living in America. Ask yourself this ---- if this country is as bad as the "naysayers" claim it to be --- why do so many people from all walks of life and all cultures dream of living here. Go hug a fellow American today! We are all in this together.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

It is 11:30 at night and the temp is 91 degrees. The weather man just said this is the 124th day in a row with no measureable rain. Tomorrow's high is to be 108.

We went to Red Rock Casino this morning for breakfast, or should I say we tried to. They have a great breakfast buffet but the line was at least 45 mnutes long. The casino has some kind of special deal for seniors, (we found out after we got there), and we all know that we seniors will drive 200 miles for a free doughnut! So, ee left there and went to Sweet Tomatoes for lunch. It was delicious. I wish Evansville had one of those. The closest one I know of to Evansville is in Webster Grove. MO close to Eden Seminary.

This afternoon we came back to the hotel relaxed for awhile. Then this evening we went to In and Out Burger for supper. That is ānother franchise I wish we had in Evansville. They remind me of Five Guys. We like it because it is clean and the service is great.

We counted it up today and realized that it has been 15 years since were lived here and this city has grown so much. Mega-resorts and condo complexes drape Las Vegas Blvd now. One of the most tourist friendly things they have done is to build cross over bridges for the pedestrians and fences along the sidewalks to help cut down on pedestrians being hit by cars on the blvd. But, foor someone who has not been to Vegas in the last two decades; they would be totally lost. That's my justification for ccoming at least twice a year.

Time to drop off and hit the bed. Tomorrow we move to the Treasure Island Hotel for three days. Since it is only a block down the street, it won't be much of a change of scenery. It is now just called "TI". I also see they are makng major changes to it too. It will be interesting to see what they are doing.

So, I must of course close my blog with my thanks to God for his continued care of those I love. I hope you have a blessed day tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Tuesday night, 10;30 Vegas and it is 85 degrees. but that is better than the 115 we had earlier. We didn't do much today other than go to a couple of favorite casinos, go to P.F. Chang's for lunch, and then to a show called Le Reve at the Encore/Wynn theater. It was kind of like a Cirque de Soleil acrobatic show except in water for most of it. It was supposed to be a dream scenario but it was way too highbrow for me to understand.

I find that while I have plenty of time to do nothing for almost two weeks, --- it gives me a re-evaluation and recall of why I came out of retirement after a year in the first place. There is no sense of accomplishment when one simply sits around.

I miss my back porch though. There are no birds or flowers or other things that I like to sit and watch from the porch routinely out here. Here, there are people; lots and lots of people. I've always enjoyed watching people, especially in a place like this. Las Vegas is not even close to the atmosphere that was "en vogue" when the town was established. One sees everything; (and often too much of everything) walking around the streets and in the casinos. Ms. Kate and I went to the show this evening dressed in our every day clothes. Time was when no one would have thought to go to a casino or to the night club out here unless you were in evening clothes. Now girls and guys walk around the casinos in their short shorts and bikini tops, showing off their tattoo covered bodies. It is a people watchers dream.

Maybe tomorrow we can get out to Red Rock National Wildlife area. I won't be able to go rock scrambling simply because it will be to hot. But we always enjoy the drive and if we are lucky, we'll get to see some wild horses and burros. When we lived out here, we liked to go out there with a picnic lunch during cooler weather.

I give God thanks again today for my blessings. Every day, I continue to be overwhelmed with the goodness of God. I hope I do a sufficient job of sharing those blessings.