Friday, August 29, 2014

Once again I am not sitting in the sunporch. Today I have the pleasure, and I mean that sincerely, to be sitting with my brother-in-law, Byron, as he goes through his cancer infusions. Today he will go through two and we anticipate it will take a minimum of five hours. We have been here for almost three hours now. He is gently snoozing in the chair while the I V drip does its magic.

This trip has given us a chance to "talk about stuff" and catch up with visiting. Ms. Kate is at my sister's place and I suspect they are furiously gabbing too. This evening my nephew and family, and my niece and family are coming over for a fish fry. Byron is cooking the fish.

The view from this room isn't too bad. There are some houses and a lot of trees across the street. Traffic is fairly light. It is a warm day out there and there are a lot of tall clouds with dark bottoms crowding the blue sky. It stormed a lot last night here in Springfield, Illinois. I don't know how much rain we actually got but I know it was significant. It appears it could storm again. I'd as soon it didn't, especially if Byron intends to cook the fish on the grill.

Tomorrow we will head back home. I need to get home soon enough to mow the yard, assuming the rain from here has not moved southeast and is over us. However, we could use some.

Coming here to this facility certainly opens a person's awareness of just how  widespread and impartial the cancer disease really is. There are people older than Byron, (74) and people that appear to be in their early twenties. Many have that "cancer look", meaning they have lost their hair because of their chemotherapy treatments, and others, like Byron appear healthy with the exception of looking a bit tired. What I see though mostly, --- is a look of positivity on the faces of the patients. I haven't heard anyone complaining, or being bitchy with the staff; and every patient that has left has had a smile and friendly "thank you" for the staff as they leave. I'm not saying that the opposite doesn't occur; but I did not see it.

So, today, I lift up my prayers of gratitude for the doctors and health care workers who take their profession with an attitude of spirituality. I thank God for people who do the research, invent the procedures that they use, and treat their patients like people with a sense of compassion. I also thank God for the warmth of God's healing arms as he wraps them around these folks who need to feel the Holy Spirit's touch in their life. God's blessings come in so many forms.

Have a blessed day!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

This morning's blog will probaby be short because I need to get busy and pack the car for our road trip up to my sister's place. But there is time always, if we only take it, to stop and give thanks for another day in God's marvelous world of adventure. It is going to be another hot and steamy one and to add to it, we have our first real "air quality alert" which means that old farts with breathing issues, (and that would be me) should not be outside.

We got a lot of stuff donne yesterday. I did my visitation while Ms. Kate ran the bulletins which saved us an hour. We got the laundry done and several other things that were on the list. But, I got no writing done which will put me a little behind. Perhaps I can hold on to the thought stream for the sermon I have started until I get back home Saturday. If not ---  well, I'll just start over.

There aren't many birds out this morning. I have a couple of Downy Woodpeckers eating on the barkbutter paste feeder, a couple of Goldfinches eating from the thistle seed feeder, and at least one Hummingbird flitting around the phlox. But the rest will start filtering in shortly. I'm a few minutes early for the normal group.

The sun is now starting to stream over the roof of the house and on to the flowers. It makes for a beautiful sight as it hits the purples of the phllox and the red of the roses, up against the yellow and black of the black eyed susans. However, if I don't water the petunias and geraniums before I leave this morning, they will be dead by the time we get back. The dahlias are looking sad too. The rain that has been in the area has missed us so I need to take dare of stuff. I allso need to fill the birdbaths at the same time so my feathered friends will have water in the heat.

So, it is time to vacate the chair and get busy. Before I go I must give thanks to God for this day of opportunities to do something good for some else. Life is short and I'm certain that we weren't put on this earth to just look out for just ourselves. We are given the responsibility to care for other people and to care for God's creation.

I pray for a safe journey, not just for me but for all who will be out there on the road with me. I pray for a day of world peace. Wouldn't it be a wonderful thing if we had a day where no one harbored an evil thought against any one else?? Can we even imagine a day of complete peace? So, I say, come on world, let's love one another like we were meant too. Have a blessed day!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A bright blue morning greets me this morning as I sit down in my recliner with my cup of coffee. The temperature outside and the accompanying humidity already clues me in that it will be another steamy day. That's okay because I'll only be in and out of it in the car. Today is paritioner visit day and work at the church for a while. The grass will wait until the weekend. So, --- I'm quite comfortable sitting here looking out with the overhead fan turning slowly. A fellow with less discipline would be snoozing already. I'm tempted but have too much to do.

There are lots of birds out this morning. The feeders are less than half full. I'm thinking I'll just let them finish everything up again before I fill them up. We are going to be gone for the next few  mornings and there is enough food on the ground beneath each feeder that I could leave them for a week and there would still be stuff there when I got back. They need to clean up after themselves.

We are heading to visit my sister and brother in law in the morning. We get to see each other only about four times a year and it has been months since we have been to their place. The biggest problem is that she works all during the week and I work weekends. It is hard to fit a quallity visit in that way.

I'm listening to the sounds outside and somewhere there is a squirrel that is totally honked off about something. It is chittering and fussing about something that is bothering it. From the way the small birds have scattered, I suspect there may be a big Hawk in the area. I hope it lands in the yard.

Last evening we went to Cajun Night at our favoriite restuarant. Ms. Kate's sister, Karen, is home from her European vacation and went with us, so we had lots to talk about with her. It sounds as if she had a great trip.

I didn't have to do an ALS ice bucket challenge this mornning like I did yesterday. I am so proud of how many of our parishioners have done that challenge. This thing has not only swept the nation, it is sweeping the world. But, as I said yesterday, it is amazing how much good we can do as a country by just having fun with one another and working together to do something good in the spirit of charity. Who would have thought that a simple bucket of icewater and a challlenge to a few personal friends would garner millions of dollars for a charitable cause. This has been the biggest "ripple in the pond" that I have ever seen. Pure proof that we are all connected in God's world.

It is time to get out of my chair and get busy doing something with the blessings with which God has once again overfilled my life. I hope your day is as peaceful and full of love as is mine. Shalom!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Once again, --- I'm not sitting in the sunporch but rather at the local tire shop with both the Caddy and the Dakota in for lube, oil change, and tire rotation. It is just one of those busy days with several things on the "to do" list.

But --- I started my day off well this morning. One of my parishioners had challenged me on Facebook to do the ALS ice bucket challenge. It is a challenge that is sweeping the nation to raise funds for ALS research. To accept the challenge one must agree to pour a bucket of ice water over one's head and then send $10.00 to the ALS foundation. The alternative is to simply send $100.00 donation to ALS. Then you challenge other people to do the challenge. I had a friend, "Ace" Goyette that died of this horrible disease so there was no way we were not going to do both; send the $100.00 and do the ice bucket! Doing something for someone else, --- the perfect way to start the day.

I did have some time to have a little coffee and quiet time on the porch bfore getting busy. It was already 79° outside and starting to feel muggy. We're supposed to have another day or two of this hot and steamy weather before it finally breaks. It certainly is the "dog days of summer". This coming weekend will be Labor Day weekend. Ms. Kate and I are going to Sheila and Byron's on Thursday for a couple of days. But, we have to be home in time for church services on Sunday. We haven't seen them in a while so we are excited about the trip. I see a cold beer, good food, lots of laughs and feelings of love in our very near future.

Tomorrow I need to do my pastoral visitation with Ms. Charlotte. I pray she is still doing well and that they have been able to start therapy that will allow her to stand. She is a dear person regardless of the state of her mind. I have used her and some of my other senior members as examples of what a dedicated relationship with Christ should look like. Nearly all of them never missed a Sunday at church regardless of how they felt. Unfortunately, I have by now buried so many of them as they have passed on to eternal life. I'm down to only two of the extremely senior people still living. One is 101 and the other is 93.

My thoughts and prayers reach out for the members of the parish this morning. They are a wonderful group of folks and their love for the Lord is evident. I also lift up Byron this morning as he again goes for a blood draw. I lift up my friend Linda as she is now a couple of weeks past the funeral of Sully and continues to sort through her new life and status to make sense of it all. I know God walks with all of these folks through the power of the Holy Spirit. I never end my session though without being grateful for the overwhelming blessings that God had placed on me. I pray that God will use me to be a blessing to someone else. Have a wonderful day.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Today we have an afternoon blog. I have just finished a delicious lunch from the oven and stove of Ms. Kate, who I think might be the best cook I know. I'm sitting here with a full tummy from beef tenderloin, cooked with quartered potatoes and gravy with green beans on the side. Then to top it off, we finished with a wonderful apple pie /tart thing. Dang, --- that was fine.

I came out to the sunporch first thing this morning and right away I had to fill the birdfeeders. I hadn't done much with them in a couple of days and between the birds, the squirrels, and most likely a raccoon or possum; everything was empty. The morning was already muggy and in the fifteen or twenty minutes it took me to fill them all, I was already sweating. So, I had my coffee and sat and watched the birds fly in to check on the feeders, and had my morning alone time with the Lord. It was and daily is, --- the perfect start to each day.

I grabbed my Nook tablet to write my blog and the battery was dead on it. I hadn't plugged it in after writing my blog on Saturday evening and by this morning it was pretty dead. Whether it is turned on or off, the battery drains in about 24 hours. Actually, I think when I shut it down, I am simply "putting it in a sleep mode" so in effect it is still running in the background. I think that makes it operator error. However, it gave me a chance to get some other stuff done before lunch including finalizing two upcoming weddings. (Well, they are final until the brides change their minds again about something.)

It appears to be afternoon snack time for the fuzzy tailed rats. I've shot both of them in the butt with my BB gun at least four times, but a hungry squirrel is not to be deterred. They know I'll tire of the game before they do.

We had a full church yesterday again. I also had some nice visitoors from my home church who came to worship with us. I'm very concerned about my home church. The pastor just resigned and now the church is wandering in limbo. I pray for them because I'm afraid they have lost their sense of purpose and maybe forgotten that the church belongs to Christ and not to individual members of the congregation. Unfortunately, far too often when people say "this is my church" they mean it literally. My heart breaks for them and so my prayer continues to be that they will truly let God lead them through a healing process.

On a much brighter note. Those beautiful knockout roses that are shining brightly in the sunshine, reminds me that God just continues to bless my little world. I pray there is a beautiful rose brightening up your day too.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

It is 8:45 pm, and I'm sitting here in the sunporch having just finished a bowl of ice cream and four Oreos. This is the most relaxing time I have had today to just do nothing, so I thought why not do my blog.

It is a different world out here at night. First of all, it is much, much quieter. There are no birds chirping, school busses or garbage trucks going by, children playing or people going to work. I am hearing distant thunder and seeing far off lightening. The temperature is still 79° outside and there are thunderstorms to both the west and the east of here. We are kind of sitting right in a clear pocket and may not get any of it at all. But, the only sounds I really hear are Ms. Kate's television over in the bedroom and the night sounds of an occasional cricket. The world around me is at peace.

I went to my class this morning. The class was more interesting than I anticipated; ---- but the coffee was as bad as I thought it would be. But, --- it filled a requirement for my continued licensing, so, one plays the game.

After the class, Ms. Kate and I went to our favorite meat market / butchershop and picked up some stuff for the week. The lead butcher goes to one of my churches and they are all really nice folks. They win all kinds of national awards with their products and skills and their business is really growing. We are very happy for the whole family.

After that, we went to CVS and had some photo prints made and then Ms. Kate and I both went for pedicures. This is something reletively new to me. I think this was the third time I have gone. I have to say, --- its great! My only problem is that I have ticklish feet so I have to be careful that I don't kick the lady doing the work. Its about the same danger as sitting on a milking stool with a skiddish cow! I hear my wife and girls all talk about how relaxing it is, but I can't really say that. It just makes my feet and legs feel better when she is done.

Tomorrow is Sunday and it promises to be a busy one. I'll have church services first thing in the morning. Some friends are coming from my home church and they are bringing my mother with them, so we'll all go out for lunch afterwards. Tomorrow afternoon I have two sessions of pre-marital counselling to do. I have two weddings coming up in the next three weeks.

I thank God for a day filled with love and blessings. I talked to my oldest grandson this evening for a while and congratulated him on his new job and promotion. We are very happy for him and proud of him. He has matured into a fine, responsible young man. I also pray for a peaceful night and a Holy Spirit filled tomorrow.

Have a good night and a blessed Sunday. I will talk to you again on Monday.

Friday, August 22, 2014

It is a partly sunny, breezy, 80° morning that greets me today. I've only been out long enough to fill the finch feeder but the muggyness of the air was already oppressive. Hello Summer; where have you been all season?

The finch feeder that I just filled is literally smothered in birds. In fact the feeders are all full of my feathered friends this morning. Goldfinches, Housefinches, and Sparrows are busy everywhere fluttering and flitting back and forth to eat. The grass under the feeders is just as full. It makes me wonder if just maybe they are all preparing for an early fall migration. As weird as the weather has been this year, perhaps they sense something that we don't. A beautiful hymn says; "His eye is on the Sparrow ---", so who knows what is going on, besides God?

I also have several other varieties of feathered visitors today. The Wrens are busy as well as several Cardinals, Grackels, Chickadees, Doves, and Downy Woodpeckers. A rather large Hairy Woodpecker came through and gobbeled up a few bites before flying off. I haven't heard or seen Mr. Fuss-a-lot, the Bluejay, yet today nor have the squirrels shown up. Life is good at the buffet on this warm Friday morning.

I think today will be a day of no productivity. Yesterday Ms. Kate and I put up thirty four half-pints of peaches in the freezer. That will make for some fine snacks this winter. Last evening I mowed the front yard and Dan's yard at around dusk. The air was better and the temperature was more tolerable. I'm glad I have headlights on my little John Deere, although that is the first time I have actually used them. It wasn't actually dark when I mowed, but they did help.

Tomorrow I have a Continuing Education class to attend so my "day off" is shot. I'm required to attend at least five classes a year to maintain my standing in the church association. At least there are opportunities to do that locally so I don't have to drive three hours and spend a weekend at the seminary. Given the topic of tomorrow's class, I expect to be neither enlightened nor thrilled with the class. I hope the snacks are good; --- although, what can one expect from an organization that only serves decaf coffee!!!

This morning I continue to lift up my family to the Lord with prayers for good health, successful cancer treatment and safe travels from around the world. I give thanks to God who wathches over all of us and I thank Him for my continous flow of blessings. I also pray for this nation and it's role in the world. I pray that the world can be able to look at us and use us as an example of peace an love and caring for our fellowman. They call America "The land of opportunity"; and it is. But, it isn't the opportunity to be rich; --- but rather the opportunity to be free and live in peace and harmony. May your day be filled with a sense of The love that God has for you today.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A hot overcast sky greets me this morning. At 0730 it was already 76° and muggy. The sidewalks are wet but partially dry which says we must have had at least a shower in the last couple of hours. It didn't do anything to break the heat or muggy air though. We are supposed to have this kind of weather for at leasst the rest of the week. I'm not a fan.

My day was productive yesterday. I did my visitation with Ms. Charlotte. She is a 101 year old energizer bunny. A month ago I expected to be doing her funeral very shortly. Yesterday they had to go track her down. The staff said she wheels her wheelchair all over that facility. They expect to start her on therapy next week that will include standing and walking. Her hip and leg that she hurt when she fell is healing quite nicely. She of course didn't know me and what conversation we did have was limited to her understanding only. I had no idea to what she was referring, but she was in a happy and playful mood. For that, I give God thanks. She should be well enough physically by next week to move to the alzheimer unit.. it is a locked door facility. They have a lot of activities for the residents in there and this way they won't have to worry about her getting outside and wheeling herself to who knows where.

So, --- I ran my bulletins and got the church ready for Sunday. I filled all of my bird feeders, and I mowed my back yard yesterday evening. It isn't a huge back yard by any means, but it is fenced in and I can't get the John Deere mower through the gate so I use my push mower. It only take 15 - 20 minutes to mow it, but I had to come in and use my asthma inhaler when I was done because of the heat and humidity. But, I figured it was better to mow that part while the sun was down rather than today when the heat index gets to 105° . Today, after the sun comes out and dries the grass, I'll jump on the JD and take care of the front yard and Dan's yard.

I'm not sure what today's schedule holds although I think we will be putting up peaches in the freezer. The long pole in that tent is to find room in any one of the freezers to put them in. But I do love my frozen peaches. I take them out and microwave them just long enogh to melt them a tad, generally about 45 seconds. Its good stuff.

There are lots of Finches, Sparrows, Cardinals, Doves, and Grackles here this morning. A single Robin has stopped by for a bath and is splashing water everywhere. Mr. Fuss-a-lot, the Bluejay came by, did his normal fussing and grabbed a bite and left. These are just a sample of the blessings I get to start my day with every morning. With a great cup of coffee and God showering me with entertainment and peace in my heart and soul; --- I am a blessed man. I pray your day will be filled with blessings too.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wednesday, --mid-week, -- hump day, -- what ever one wants to call it, this work week is moving along quickly. But that's all good since I'm on track with my work for the week. I finished next weeks sermon yesterday and got started on September 7th worship service. Today is visitation day and then go run the bulletins for this coming Sunday.

Mr. "Fuss-a-lot" is here this morning. That's what I call my Bluejay. I actually have a pair that eat here regularly. But the one, I assume it is the male because it is the larger of the two, always comes in first calling loudly and announcing himself. He will do that for maybe three minutes, then he gobbles a bite of food and flies away. All my birds have their strange little patterns as do my squirrels. It is very interesting and entertaining to observe.

From the looks of it, I'll need to fill the feeders again today. I know that at least two of the sunflower feeders are empty. I have a feeder that I bought in Amish country that looks like a gazebo. It takes about three pounds of sunflower seed to fill it. There are easily fifteen birds of all varieties eating off of it this morning. It sets on a 4x4 wooden post about seven feet off of the ground. I wrapped the top two feet of the post in aluminum flashing and also put a squirrel guard up there. It does a fair job of keeping the squirrels off. But somtimes they defeat it. They are industrious and determined when hungry. --- And they are always hungry.

The sun is streaming through the trees brightly this morning. It is already muggy outside. The heat index is supposed to go to 103° today with another chance at thunderstorms this afternoon. This is the summer weather we've been waiting on for several weeks. There are crops that thrive in this kind of weather and require it to mature, so as always, --- God has provided. Because I actually stop to think about these things, I never cease to be amazed at the complexity of God's creation and handiwork.

I'm lifting up there community of Ferguson Missouri this morning. I pray that peace will prevail in that city that has seen a week of demonstrations and riots and looting. A young unarmed black teenager was shot by a white police officer during an incident of some nature. It has sparked nights of demonstrations and violence. As is usually the case, most of the violence and looting is caused by opportunists from outside the community. They couldn't care less about the young man that was killed, --- they simply come in to hide in the aggravated crowd and loot and steal and destroy people's property. So, I lift up that community as I pray calmer heads will prevail.

Of course no day would start off right without prayers of gratitude. God continues to provide all I truly need in my life; a loving family, loving friends, and daily opportunities to make life better for some one else in some manner. I hope your day is as blessed as mine already has been.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The sun shines brightly this morning, such a change from yesterday. Summer weather has certainly got a grip on the area though. Today promises hot and sticky weather as does most of the week. This afternoon may be bringing in a round of severe thunderstorms. This has been the weirdest weather year that I can remember. I know God put the world into motion, but, man has sure put a lot of dirt in the gears with how we treat our atmosphere.

My flowers are really changing in the yard. Probably 75% of the blooms have fallen from the phlox, so despite the sun shining on them, they look sad. However there is a lot of seed on them still and the Finches love it. The black-eyed-susans are still pretty fresh. It was interesting sitting here during the rain showers. The rain was very light at the moment and drops were hitting the blooms on the black-eyed-susans making then lightly dance up and down. (Yes, I'm easily amused with random thoughts.) One of the prettiest plants we currently have out here is a large pot of sun patience. The other plant that is doing well is a dahlia that has now grown to almost six foot tall. It is a "dinner-plate" dahlia which means it should have blooms on it the size of dinner plates. However, all of its growth went to stalk. It has nice blooms but they are not the huge blooms we were expecting.

Yesterday was a good writing day for me. I finished a good portion of my sermon for next week. I have maybe a page and a half to write yet. The lectionary takes us to the story of Moses and the voice of God coming from the burning bush. Anyone who has had even a glancing view of the Bible has read that story, so to come up with something fresh and interesting can be a challenge. But, with God's help, it continues to happen week after week. I don't even begin to think my messages are always facinating or even interesting, --- however, so far, no one has fallen out of a pew asleep. I 've been doing this now for over a decade and my mentor has been doing it for about 55 years. I don't know how he does it.

The sun is shining brightly on a couple of Goldfinches about ten feet away from me. There is also a male Cardinal on the branch next to them. The way the sun hits them just brightens up that particular area. It is a reminder to me that even in the shadows of our lives, the sudden brilliance of God will come shining through. Its always there --- but we need to stop and look for it and absorb it into our own consciousness. So, that will be my prayer of gratitude and hope for today. I thank God for his unexpected appearances in my life every day and I pray you will experience the same in your life. Walk with thhe Savior today. It is a comforting place to be.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Wow, everything is pretty well saturated this morning. I don't know the official total rainfall we got but there was five inches in my rain guage and I had emptied it Saturday. The air outside is dead-still and muggy. I've seen no birds out here this morning with the exception of one. A Red Tail Hawk was right up by the window in the flowerbed and grabbed up a vole for its breakfast. That is the same spot that Julie's dog Auggie sits and scratches trying to catch a vole too. That Hawk is welcome any time.

I see that the Finch feeders are empty as are the Woodpecker feeders. I think I will go fill them right quick.

It always amuses me when one of the small bbirds will land on a feeder as I'm letting go of it. That happens every once in awhile and it happened again a few minutes ago. I put out thistle seed for the Finches and Bark butter paste and bark butter bits. Everything likes the bark butter. It is a peanut butter and ground corn mix. I have Downy Woodpeckers on those feeders right now. I alo have three or four Cardinals feeding this morning but they are on the feeders at the edge of the yard eating sunflower seeds. All in all though,, it is a quiet morning in the back yard.

Church was sparsely attended yesterday for what ever reason. I think folks are taking advantage of these last days before school starts. Others are taking kids back to college. Summer for the young is done. We only have two more Sundays of our summer combined worship schedule. September 7th we go back to separate services. I love it when we do combined worship. It should be a reminder that we are a faith family and not two separate worshipping entities. I'm not sure others look at it that way.

Brother in law, Byron goes in for his second blood extraction today, so my prayers are indeed with him. This will be the first extraction using the port they put in last Thursday. I pray it goes well. I also lift up my friends and loved ones this morning. I hope they each have a week full of peace in their soul and joy in their hearts. Life is so much easier; --- so much less complicated when we put God in the driver's seat and unburden ourselves from worry. Jesus said to not worry about tomorrow but to concern ourself with today. That is sound advice.

Have a blessed day. God loves you and the Holy Spirit surrounds you. What else could you possibly need?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Gosh! It is Saturday morning already isn't it? It is the end of a week that from the Monday end of it appeared to be a bit overwhelming. I knew we had to drive to Missouri to conduct the burial service for my friend; I had pastoral visitation to do and the set up for services for this Sunday. We had to get back from Missouri in time to celebrate my mother's 97th birthday, and we had the normal weekly stuff to do too. Sitting here in my reclner, having my Saturday morning coffee in the sunporch; now the week becomes just a day at a time thing.

 Sometimes we do indeed make mountains out of mole hills. We can declare ourself exhausted or we can count our blessings for the week. For example, look at my week this way: I got to visit with a 101 year old faithful member of our church. Ms. Kate and I had a nice trip in beautiful weather and got to spend time with just us. I got to visit with old friends who I had not seen in several years. I was honored to say the "final goodbye" to a friend who proudly served his country. I helped a grieving widow begin the healing process. Then I came home and helped a 97 year old have a better day by being there for her birthday. And finally, I contributed to the beauty of my neighborhood by mowing my yard and my neighbor's yard and insuring they look nice for the weekend. From that perspective, --- I have had a blessed and wonderful week. Life is good! God is great!

The sun not breaking through the clouds this morning. Predictions are for hot, muggy air with chances for thunderstorms for the next few day and nights. Some rain wouldn't hurt. The garden is about done but the flowers still need water and God does a much better job at that than I do. Maybe God will fill the birdbaths back up too. The Blackbirds and Robins have been busy in them taking baths this morning. They are fun to watch with all of their wing flapping and shaking themselves around. I've had several Downy Woodpeckers of different sizes here this morning, as well as lots of Finches, Sparrows, Chickadees, and Cardinals. Its just another batch of blessings that God has heaped on me.

The psalmist said; "This is a day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it." So, --- that is my plan for today, --- " to be glad in it". I give God thanks for family and friends and good health. I lift up those who are ill and ask for healing and peace. I'm grateful for daily opportunities to make my little speck of the world a bit better than when I found it. I pray for spiritual health for our churches and thank God I have been allowed to serve them. I also pray for you as you read this, and I wish you a blessed and peaceful day.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Did you miss me? I certainly missed the time I spend each morning out here contemplating life and enjoying what the Lord has laid out in front of me. I've missed sharing all of that with those of you who read my blog and have "virtually joined me" each morning as we have our coffee.

We arrived home from the Springfield, MO area around mid day yesterday. It was a good trip with exception of the reason for the trip; the burial of a very good friend. It was great to see the band of brothers that were able to make the funeral. As a Christian who totally accepts our resurrection to life after death, I have no doubt that Sully was present in spirit and enjoyed the celebration of his life too. I pray I don't have to do another one soon. However, the reality is that we are all getting older and time does take its toll. As the song says, "I want to go to heaven, but I don't want to do it now!"

My friend's former life wasn't the only celebration of life though this week. My mother turned 97 years old yesterday. We took her out for supper and visited with her for a few hours. She gets around fairly well for her age and is also relatively in good health.

I got home to seventeen empty feeders, a dry garden and planters, and dry and dirty bird baths. So, I spent my time between getting home and going to my mother's place, filling feeders, watering stuff,, and giving the critters clean bird baths. They appear to be appreciative or maybe just satisfied this morning. There are several Cardinals and a variety of Finches here this morning. The Blackbirds are splashing water out of the bird baths as they enjoy the water. Mr. Bluejay comes, grabs a couple of bites and goes away for a few minutes and repeats the process. So far the squirrels haven't discovered the buffet today but they will. They don't miss much.

It is 70° this morning with a gentle breeze bllowing. I need to mow the yards this morning and the day is perfect for it. My plants look a bit more lively this morning after having been watered yesterday. I think I my pull up the cucumbers and squash though now. They have done well but now have that end of summer look and we aren't getting any new production from them.

I must close with prayers of gratitude once again this morning. We had a safe trip, Byron made it through the port insertion just fine, all of my friends made it back home from the funeral just fine, and my sister-in-law Karen is enjoying a wonderful trip through Vienna Austria this morning. I ask for strength and courage for Sully's widow, Linda, as she now faces all of the "first times" that we must face when we lose our loved ones; first Thanksgiving, first Christmas, first anniversary, etc. etc.  Those are tough times but Linda is strong and has her faith to draw on.

Look around at your little universe today. Believe it or not -- God has filled it with good things that are for you and you alone. Take time to recognize those things and then give God praise and thanks for them. Have a great day.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Monday morning, --- the beginning of a whole new week. This one will be a full one too. Today, I need to begin by re-printing my sermon for this Sunday. I just went through it and made several corrections and rewordings. Now I need to get to my computer and fix it. Then I need to go to the church and get the bulletins run off and the church set up for Sunday. While I am up that way, I'll go a little farther and visit my lady in the nursing home.

Tomorrow we drive to western Missouri; Wednesday I bury my friend and start back home. Thursday we get home in time to take my mother out to celebrate her 97th birthday. Friday I'll hopefully crawl on my little John Deere and mow my yard. Maybe I'll just sit on it for a while and enjoy  the peace and quiet. Maybe I'll  do "Notes from the John Deere".

I went out and filled several feeders first thing this morning. It was already muggy outside. It is a cloudy day and more showers are anticipated. I'm hoping it will be a dry and sunny day for the funeral. I hate rainy day funerals. Personal grief is bad enough without the sky crying too. People don't think about the joy of the resurrection on a day like that. They only concentrate on their misery.

We had a very well attended worship service yesterday. I love these summer combined services. The music swells up through the rafters and fills the church. Our organist at St. Lucas plays beautifully and our Baby Grand Kurzweil keyboard is such a wonderful instrument to showcase her talent. I have the same instrument sitting in my living room and love to sit and play, but I don't have a tenth of the knowledge and ability that Brenda does. Her mom was just as talented and played the organ at church for about fifty years. I could listen to either one of them for hours.

My prayers this morning are numerous and wide spread. I pray for my friend's wife as she has to bury her husband this week. I pray for all of my friends who are traveling long distances to attend this funeral. I lift up Byron again this week as he goes to have a port put into his chest and pray that will work well for him. And finally, I pray for my home church. After months of frustration and infighting, I learned the pastor resigned yesterday. It amazes me that people can belong to a church and lose God in the process. But that is what happens when people forget that the church is Christ's church and not their personal property. I pray they will turn to God in search of forgiveness and guidance. I pray they find peace.

Have a blessed day.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Finches, finches, and more finches on this cloudy morning. All of the Goldfinches make a great substitute for the sun that is well hidden this morning. There are at least nine of them currently fussing over the two thistle feeders. It is a beautiful sight.

The air is very still out there this morning. The rain has turned everything back to a lush looking deep woodsy feeling theme. Our house is surrounded by at least seven, thirty to forty foot tall trees. We have also have a border of fire bushes, rose-of-sharon, and crepe myrtle on the south side of the yard that has grown by now to twenty feet tall. With all the flowers we have planted in the back yard, this easily become an enchanted garden or even a picture from a forest primeval. Were it not for the few houses I can see through the trees and bushes, it would be perfect.

I talked to Byron and Sheila after Byron's blood work yesterday and he said it went extremely well. He had no after effects from it. His only problem was being cold during the procedure. But that isn't unusal for him. He is like Ms. Kate --- always cold. But, by the time they had finished he was hot. So --- they went to Culvers for an ice cream. Next week they put the port in his chest to make the extraction and re-insertion much easier on him. But certainly I send prayers of gratitude to God this morning for how well it went yesterday. And, I pray this is the path to remission.

Oldest Grandson, Joshua, and the love of his life, Christina are off for a weekend at Disneyworld. I think the last time Josh was at Disney, Josh was being carried for at least part of the day by either me or grandma. I hope they truly enjoy themselves. They are a couple of great kids; we love them dearly. I just wish they would get married. I'm an old fashioned fart and just don't understand the modern day trend to just live together and not get married. (Sigh!) But it is a different society than the one I grew up in. The definition of who and what constitutes a couple is a blur these days. Heck, the definition of who's the husband and who's the wife in a relationship isn't even clear these days what with all the same sex relationships and "marriages". But, having said my rant --- I don't see a certificate from God on my wall making me judge of anything.

The sky grows darker as the morning grows longer. It is starting to shower again. As I look across the yard there must be fifty Sparrows on the ground out there under one of the feeders cleanning up what the squirrels and bigger birds have knocked out. A gentle rain now falls, the squirrels are in the neighbor's tree chasing one another and peace reigns all around me. Thank you God for all this beauty. My. blessings flow in like the rain. I hope your day is as full of blessings as mine has already been today.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Rain, rain, please stay. We could use you for another day. Yes, it is raining this morning. We got a good half an inch last evening before dark. I haven't checked the guage this morning. But,, the yard and garden and flowers all really needed this.

I filled sixteen feeders yesterday afternoon. Everything was either empty or almost empty. This morning, there has been just a constant flow of birds of every kind coming in for breakfast. It does make for an enjoyable and peaceful scene, although the noisy chirping and cheeping is a bit contrary to the sound of the gentle rain on the roof of the sunporch.

Today my brother in law goes back to the hospital to have his blood re-inserted that they extracted, cleaned, and added the antibodies to. We really hope this works for him and that there are no residual effects from the procedure. Next week they will put a port in his chest to make this procedure go a bit easier for him. His veins kept "blowing" during the extraction process. So, the prayers are running up the  celestial ladder for the both of them.

I lost a friend yesterday afternoon to cancer. He and I were part of a select Air Force police unit called Intelligence and Reconnaissance, aka, the "Red Patch, doing a special job back in the 1968-69 time frame in the Philippines.  There were the thirteen of us originally for about a year before the unit was eventually expanded to forty four. The expansion happened at about the same time as I returned home. So, the first group of us were especially tight. Sadly, time and age are our biggest adversaries these days. I'm honored to have been asked to conduct his graveside service and burial. So, early next week Ms. Kate and I will drive to the Springfield MO area where I and a few of my comrades in arms will send Sully off to the final guardmount. RIP Sully. I'm prayiing this morning for God's comforting hand to rest on his wife Linda as she works for closure.

Uexpected events like Sully's death and funeral are exactly why I try to stay at least a couple of weeks ahead in my sermon and service preparation. Unfortunately I'm not quite at that point which means I need to really get busy these next couple of days. But, the Lord will let happen that which needs to happen.

Another weekend is here. I hope that it will be a relaxing one for you. We are supposed to have rain off an on around here so, if you are in my area, stop and maybe read a book, call a friend, or do something silly. It will make you smile. And, when you smile, --- you let God's blessings and joy and peace flow all the way through your body. Have a blessed day.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Yesterday was a "start early --- stay late" kind of day and I never did get around to my blog. Of course the downside of that is that I didn't take my own advise; "Exhale and pray -- then start your day". Oh, I did some prayers throughout the day but it was only me doing the talking. I didn't take the time to listen for anything God might have wanted to say. Its a human habit, -- and not a good one.

The sidewalks are a bit damp this morning so we must had a minimal shower at least. The forecast is for some significant rain between now and the weekend and I hope it happens. It is dry enough that the grass hasn't grown at all in the past week. So, -- no John Deere ride this week. Poop!

I have a yard full of activity this morning. There are several Cardinals, a dozen or so Grackles, Goldfinches, Housefinches, Sparrows , Chickadees, and a couple of Wrens all competing for the food. The Doves are literally chasing one another around the yard as are three squirrels. It is a zoo this morning. I think the word got out that I went to Wild Birds and Things yesterday evening and restocked their pantry. I still need to run down and pick up a hundred pounds of black oil sunflower seed. Then I'll be set for a couple of weeks at least.

I was so very surprised an pleased as I went to visit my dear 101 year old parishioner. Last week I was afraid she was sitting at death's door and the door was open. Yesterday she was sitting up in the bed, good color in her face and was smiling and somewhat talkative. As we held hands and prayed, even her grip had some of the strength that she used to have. It was wonderful to see her in that condition. The lesson there in that bed was; -- never discount the works of God. When things look the bleakest and life appears to be going south --- there just might be a u-turn in your path that you can't see.

It is going to be hot and humid today before the rain an thunderboomers start. We need to get out to the store early and pick up the few things we need. Then it will be time to start working on getting some writing done.

So, I begin my prayers this morning as always with prayers of gratitude. I continue to look around me and recognize a wealth of blessings, some tangible, most intangible. My life is full of loved ones and friends. I'm lifting up those loved ones and friends this morning and asking that God lay his hand of peace and comfort on each of them --- and that means -- you! So, thank the Lord for this day, and this moment in time. Share your blessings with one another. Tell someone today that you love them.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A grey sky greets me this morning as I come out to the sunporch. With any luck, maybe it will bring us some rain. It has been nine days now since our last rain and that wasn't a lot. All the plants and the garden could benefit from it.

The yard is quiet this morning. No breeze is blowing and there are very few birds out there; mostly Finches and maybe four Cardinals. The Finches are eating the seeds from the phlox these days which is good because they have gone through almost two gallon of thistle seed in the past two weeks. So supplementing their diets from off of the phlox and the black-eyed susans is a good thing. Again I'm getting low on bird seed of all kinds and it will be another expensive trip to the store. In the mean time, I may have to let wild birds and squirrels do what they are designed to do, --- fend for themselves. There is certainly enough spilled food on the ground to last them. I just hope they don't organize and start picketing. I hate it when they do that; ---- walkng back and forth with their little sign, flipping me the human.

I'm working on my sermon for next week's service and it is a difficult subject. The liturgey is all on "forgiveness", and I find that writing about forgiveness is almost as hard to write about as it is to do. I doubt that I know a single person who doesn't hold at least one grudge against some person in their life, and that includes me. I wonder why that is. I only got a "D" in my college Psychology 101 class so I probably won't come up with a good answer to that question, however, perhaps holding on to those grudges is what constitutes the basis for our mental defense system. But somehow there has to be a difference between learning from an unpleasant or hurtful experience and letting that experience control you. Anyway --- wish me luck in putting this together.

Good news--- my 101 year old parishioner that fell is doing well enough to sit up and eat at the table. I give God thanks and praise for that. I saw her a week ago and she appeared to be on death's door step. God never ceases to amaze me with His goodness. Of course I also lift up Byron and Sheila as they go through Byron's appointment today. It may not be as big of a deal today as I imagine but certainly our prayers are there for him. I continue to thank God for my family and friends and the abundance of blessings I receive each and every day.

Now, I must get busy. I have work to do, and the coffee cup is empty. Have a wonderful day.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The squirrel crawls up the pole to the feeder, eats a few bites, and crawls back down the pole, sits there for ten seconds, --- then repeats the entire process. It has now done that at least a half a dozen times, one after another. Then it ran off up the tree. It appears to be a young squirrel and extremely cautious. Its possible that it doesn't belong to the resident group. Or, maybe the pups chased it so many times this weekend that it is looking for them.

My little world is back to my definition of normal. Ms. Kate is back home with me  and the pupperonis are back to their home. The feeders are full, there are lots of birds and sunshine out my windows, and the month of August brought with it the promse of hot and humid weather for the week. Life is as it should be.

My prayers this week are certainly sent up for my brother in law, Byron. Tomorrow he begins what will be a six week process of a blood cleansing process for his cancer. Tomorrow they will draw blood, send off immediately to a lab for cleansing of toxants and replace them with auto-immune particles, and then on Friday, they will re-insert his blood back into him. This has to be done every two weeks for three treatments, I think. The hope is that this will give him the stuff he needs to fight the cancer and send it into remission. We are all praying that this is God's answer to our prayers and not just a human experiment. If God is not in this process, it won't work. God's plan for Byron and all of us will always prevail, and I accept that as fact.

We had a full church yesterday and it was wonderful. One of the familes of the church had their annual reunion at the church so we had extra guests which is always nice, especially on Communion Sunday. I love Commnion Sundays. It adds a sense of intimacy to the service for me. I realize it may not do that for everybody but it does for me. I have said many times that having a meal together is one of the more intimate things we humans do. Communion is the symbolic symbol of that "last supper" of Jesus. We are therefore symbolically sitting there in the presence of Jesus and the disciples. I love it.

My cofffee cup is empty and I am sure Ms. Kate's is too. It is time to get down stairs to my computer and get started. I finished this coming week's sermon last night so it is time to get started on the next week's service. Before we know it, the combined services will be over and the fall programs wil begin. The world does keep turning and life goes on.

I pray you will have a blessed day and a week of peace in you heart.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

It is another nice comfortable morning out side the sunporch. I went out and watered the potted plants and filled the birdbaths first thing. The pups have been in and out a couple of times already this morning. Auggie, the youngest of the two, is sitting right at the door because he obviously saw a vole run across the walk and his biggest pleasure if finding them and killing them, and carrying their bloody body around.

The girls made it to TN just fine and Julie did her blood draw last evening. Today they will lounge and shop. Tomorrow Julie will do another blood draw and then they head back to New Albany. I will take the pups back over there tomorrow afternoon.

I should hang one of those signs that says "Baths 5¢" out there in the yard. The birds are lined up out there on the birdbaths waiting to take baths this morning. But then, it is Saturday after all.

So, I have let the dogs out --- again. Auggie is trying to dig through a concrete paver to get at the vole that is burrowed under it. Harley is out by the compost container where she has gotten several corn cobs out and is knawing on them. They went out at 0330 for a pee break. Auggie did his business and came back, but Harley wasn't to be found. I called and called and finally took the flashlight out and found her eating on a corn cob and refusing to move. We had a blunt discussion and she reluctantly came in but was mad as the devil at me. Danged dog! There won't be a lot of squirrels out there this morning, what with the pups going in and out.

I got my yard mowing done yesterday as well as several other things that I had on my list to do. Today I still don't have a plan other than taking care of the pups. Maybe I'll read and do a bit of writing. I still have a least two pages to put together for next weeks sermon. Saturday is considered one of my "official" days off but I've taken a couple of days already this week of doing no writing including yesterday. So, I think I will have some cantelope for breakfast and then head downstairs to my office.

God continues to provide a wealth of goodness in my life and my soul is full of peace. Were the rest of the world to feel the contentment that I do; there would be no wars. There would be no crime. So this morning I lift up anyone who does not feel the peace of God in their heart. I have found that the best way to have peace is to share your blessings and God's love with others. Smile at a stranger today. Do something for some one else. Have a fully blessed day.

Friday, August 1, 2014

I'm up a bit early this morning. Ms. Kate and Julie have just now left for Tennessee. Julie has a blood draw at a clinic in Johnson City this evening and then again on Sunday morning. So, it is just me and the pupperonis until I take them over to Julie's house and pick up Ms. Kate after church service on Sunday.

There is lots of chirping and cheeping and fussing going on out on the feeders this morning. I filled the barkbutter bits feeder this morning and the Sparrows are all over it. They also have to compete with the Starlings, woodpeckers, and Finches. Everything seems to like that stuff.

Julie said the pups had a possum trapped against the fence at around 0430 this morning. She had to literally get in the flowerbed and drag Harley out because the possum was trapped up against the fence and had no escape route. Its a wonder the dogs didn't get bit. Hopefully that critter will remember there are dogs here and stay away. But,  we've had possums out here as long as we have lived here.

What to do with myself today is the question. It is already muggy outside. I do have to jump on the John Deere and get my and Dan's yards mowed. That doesn't take very long though. I need to do some writing today and of course I need to take care of the pups. But maybe I'll catch up on some of the stuff that is on the DVR and get that kind of cleared out. I find it facinating that Ms. Kate has been gone less than an hour and the house just seems so empty. I wouldn't make a very good bachelor. I guess I could say that I am most comfortable in accommpanied solitude. Did I just invent a whole new social and psychological status?

We took Julie out for a photo-shoot last evening. Each year she volunteers for the cast at the Baxter Avenue Morgue Haunted House. It is an actual former morgue in Louisville, KY, --- and yes, it is indeed haunted. She spends months planning her costume for the next year. So, she got into her costume last evening and we went out to a local cemetery and shot some pictures for her to send to the owners to use as advertisement if they want to. She did look creepy.

The coffee cup is empty for the fourth time so I need to get off of my duff and accomplish something positive for somebody today. I guess I will go mow Dan's yard since he is still suffering with gout.

While I always say prayers of gratitude for my blessings, my main prayer today is for the ladies to have a safe trip. I don't know what I would do without them. Have a blessed day!