Friday, October 31, 2014

Boo! That scared you didn't it? Happy Halloween. I hope you are better prepared for tonight's run of gobblins and ghosties than we are. We got to go get candy today as we have yet to do that. Yeh, its a cheapism. I figure it will be on sale today. And --- this way I didn't eat it before Halloween got here. Bless their little hearts, it is going to be a cold raw night for the kids to be out. Our weather guy said this will be the coldest Halloween in twelve years. Probably half of the little girls will be dressed as one of the two princesses from the movie "Frozen"; and I suspect they are going to feel that way before they get home.

We have other reasons to be out on this blustry, somewhat rainy , cold morning. Ms. Kate and I are going to start downsizing our pantries. So, what better way to do that than to take it to the food pantry. I saw on Facebook that the one in Oakland City is almost empty so I guess we'll take them some. We only have a small load to go today, but I'm sure no matter how much or how small, it will be used and appreciated. We need to get dressed and get up there too. They have very limited hours.

We also need to do a funeral home visitation today among the other running around that we have to do.

The Cardinals are on every feeder this morning. I didn't get the feeders filled yesterday afternoon so that too is a "must do" on the list. And I need to run the mower over the back yard and mulch up the leaves once again. The other tulip poplar is doing a good job of shedding its leaves now. If I stay on top of it, then it won't be such a job all at once.

Our prayers go out for those folks on our church prayer list. We just added another last night. A friend is having severe lung problems and they can't seem to keep the fluid off of his lungs. Being an athsmatic, I know that feeling of not being able to breathe. It is not only extremely tiring, but also frightening. So we pray for God's touch this morning for all of our loved ones and friends who are facing illness this day.

I have a Downy Woodpecker out there on a feeder that is pretty close to being empty. It pecks out a couple of bites and then looks around the feeder towards me. Now, I know it doesn't see me or know that I have anything to do with it having or not having food, but, --- it's still making me feel a bit guilty for not taking care of business yesterday.

S-o-o-o, I guess I better get busy with my chores for the day. I pray your day will be full of blessings, laughter, and love.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

37° this morning! What's up with that? But, the Robin doesn't care --- he's taking his bath anyway.

I'm blogging early and quickly this morning and I have an all day class today. I'm not even sure what it is a class on, --- but it fills some of my continued education requirements, and I must have thought it would be interesting at the time I signed up for it. Isn't it amazing what things we do just to fill a square. I'm not saying I'm past learning something new; I'd just rather do something else. So, I hope the class is entertaining at least.

Mr. Fuss-a-lot, the Blue Jay is here this morning. I haven't seen one for awhile. Actually I think it must be a different one than usual because it looks a bit smaller and isn't making any calls or shreaks this morning. There aren't many birds out there yet this morning. I'm too early for them. I need to make sure I top off the feeders this afternoon. We are supposed to get some showers overnight and then by Saturday night we are to have our first freeze. It won't be a hard freeze but we'll wake up to 30° come Sunday morning; right on time for November.

My prayers go out this morning for the family of a parishioner who lost a father last night. I don't know the man who passed, but I understand the death to be unexpected. These are the times when people ask "why" and search for answers that are often slow in coming or never come. So, I ask for comfort for their hearts and spirits.

And--- while I've got God on the line, I'll ask for peace of mind for Ms. Charlotte, my 101 year old parishioner who is in a nursing home with alzheimers and for another parishioner who is also in the nursing home with onset of dementia. The "golden years" that we say we are looking forward to, far too often turn out to be nothing more than tarnished and dull brass.

And, --- assuming God is still open for more requests, ( and God always is), I' ll say a prayer for you and for me. It's a fact that I have more blessings in my life than leaves in my yard and I must give God thanks for all of them, for those blessings include you.

Time to go to class! Have a blessed day.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The coffee sure tastes good this morning on a chilly 46° morning. I don't know what the temperature is here in the sun porch but it is certainly a lot warmer than that. I've not put a thermometer out here. Maybe I need to pick a cheap one up somewhere. Come to think of it, I don't know when I last saw one of those little cheap wall thermometers other than in an antique store. I may need to stop at Menards or Rural King today while I'm out and about.

The sun is shing brightly this morning. I don't see a cloud anywhere. The rain and gusts of wind did bring down a lot more leaves but nothing that a quick trip with the lawn mower can't fix. We are at least a week away from the last of the leaf fall in this yard.

It is small bird time at the feeders right now. Lots and lots of Finches are picking out their sunflower seeds and their thistle seeds. The small Downy Woodpeckers have also been coming in and out. It will be another fifteen minutes until the Cardinals, Doves, and other larger birds will get here. Sunday we start Daylight Saving Time and that will change what I see when I come out here because I will be an hour later by sunlght time. I'm not sure why we hold on to that tradition of changing our clocks twice a year. There was a time some fifty or sixty years ago when it made sense, but not any longer.

Today's agenda includes doing parishioner visits in two different towns, going to the churches and running the bulletins and the monthly newsletter, and staying for choir practice. It will be a long day. Tomorrow I will be in class all day. Some weeks are just one thing after another. But, we all have those weeks don't we? Luckily, I have my sermons done for the next two Sundays. However I'm not really pleased with the one for the 9th of November, which is Veteran's Day weekend. I think it needs a lot of attention and rewrite. So, there you go; I'm making more work for myself.

I can't quit today without mentioning once again the importance of giving God praise for all that I see and have. A Cardinal sits there on a feeder, maybe five yards from my chair. The sun has made its red feathers almost glisten in the sunlight. What a beautiful creature God made there. And, you know, --- each one of us can be like that Cardinal. We can simply go about our daily business, doing what God intends us to do to the best of our ability, and we we never know when we may be used by God to be an inspiration to someone. We just might be the one that the Light of God shines off of and brings someone to a decision to stop and pray. A simple Red Bird did that for me today. Imagine what God can do with you and me. Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I was up before the sun today for what ever reason; not that one can tell that the sun is actually up yet. It is a rainy morning out there and the rain kind of just comes in small waves. It is very pleasant to sit here in my recliner and listen to it and yes, doze off to it for little snatches of peaceful extra sleeep. Knowing that my cup of coffee will get cold is reason enough to stay semi-awake.

I am certainly glad that I got the back yard cleaned up again from the leaves. As predicted, the one tulip poplar is now totally devoid of leaves. The fact that we had a day where the wind gusted to 40 mph for most of the morning took care of that. So, I ran the little lawn mower over the back yard and mulched the leaves right into the grass. Today's rain will help eliminate any dust from that and also begin the final decomposition process, which in turn adds nutrients back into my soil. Other leaves that I gather through the leaf vaccuum end up in the compost pile to make good nutrients for the flowerbeds and garden. God sure designed some great processes when making this world.

Ms. Kate and I have several things going on today. She is heading out this morning to get a perm. This afternoon we have two other appointments to take care of and I need to get to Office Depot and get ink for my printer. I started getting that "low ink" message last night and discovered that I didn't have any more.

The birds are just now coming from out of where ever it is they go at nght. I had at least a half dozen Cardinals fly in at one time. I guess someone sounded bird revelle somewhere out in the bushes or trees because not only the Cardinal, but also the Finches, Chickadees, Sparrows, and Downy Woodpeckers have arrived simultaneously. So suddenly the backyard is a flurry of wings flittering back and forth from feeder to feeder. I filled most everything up again yesterday afternoon so there is plenty to go around.

I suspect my farmers are not thrilled with this rain. Most that I talk to indicate they are pretty well done with bringing in their corn but now they need to get the soybeans harvested.  But a day off of the machinery will give them a day to clean up implements and take care of some other need to do work. I ask God for a safe harvest for all of them.

The predicted "cold front"  has arrived as I sit here. The wind has picked up and leaves are flying off of the trees. My yard that was clean ten minutes ago, is getting leaf covered once again. But --- that's all good. Let's get it over with. My coffee cup is empty and I need to refill and just sit, reflect, and enjoy God's show for awhile yet, then it will be time to get busy. Have a blessed day. I've said a prayer just for you today. Trust in its power.

Monday, October 27, 2014

O happy day! What a great morning it is. It is a a warm, (6!°) sunny morning, with a stiff breeze blowing. My tulip poplar that was 40% de-nuded on Saturday is more than 85% clear today. That is a lot of leaves to clean up today and I need to do it today because we are expecting rain tonight, and I don't want them to get all wet and yucky to clean up. Dry leaves are easy, wet ones are just a mess. The other poplar is just starting to shed, but the neighbor's maple leaves are also coming here to rest.

I am on a mental and spiritual high yet this morning. Yesterday my two churches jointly celebrated Pastor's Appreciation Sunday. The St. Lucas congregation had prepared the entire service, featuring my favorite scriptures, and hymns. There were duets sung and special instrumental music played, all featuring songs that I love. There were words of love and support and encouragement throughout the service and throughout the day. It was then topped off with a meal catered by my favorite restaurant. You know, --- our denomination allows and encourages their ministers to take a ninety-day sabbatical once every five years to rest and rejuvenate the pastor's mind and spirit. Well, --- the parish totally accomplished that for me with one Sunday morning worship service, a wonderful faith family meal, and a day of love and support for me and for Ms. Kate. And the best part was that Our daughter Julie and hubby Jim knew all about it and surprised us by pulling into the church parkng lot right behind us. Yep, I'm still on a high!

I'm also on a high because Sheilla and Byron had such a good weekend. They made it to their grandson's confirmation and had a good visit there. But more importantly, Byron is feeling well enough to make those trips and he is eating well again. The dramaic drop in his PSA number has had a dramatic affect on his mental outlook too. So I give God all praise for that turn around and also ask for continued progress.

It is supposed to get 85° today and Ms. Kate and I talked about doing a top down road trip. But, I think we'll be out in the yard instead, making use of God's gift of a warm sunny day. There is still so much to do and we can play another day. But, I still have time to sit here through another cup of coffee and watch my Cardinals and Finches, and Robins as they enjoy the back yard bounty. Afterall, why hurry peace? Life didn't hand me any lemons today at all. Instead,  God gave me a blessed pitcher of sweet lemonade. Grab a glass and come join me. We'll sit and count our blessings together.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The morning is rapidly getting away from me. However, --- it is a beautiful Saturday morning and I am very comfortable here in the sunporch. When I first came out here with my coffee I thougt perhaps we might be getting some rain. However, the sky has cleared and the sun is shining and it has risen to 61° out there.

It hasn't been all sitting around. I went out a while ago and refilled some of the feeders here close to the house and cleaned the leaves out of the bird baths, not that they will stay cleared very long. I've also made a pan if cinnamon rolls for our breakfast. Yes, of course they were from a can. I prefer the orange ones but this was what we had.

The leaves are falling like crazy this morning from the female poplar tree. It always gets it leaves first and loses them first. And, the leaves are smaller than the male tree. Of course, I'm only guessing that one is a male and one is a female. I know there are male and female holly trees, so why not tulip poplar trees? The female has lost probably 40% of its leaves while the male still hasn't started to shed.

Ms. Kate and I had a great work day yesterday and got some good work done. We even had time to jump in the convertable and do some errand running. It had climbed up to almost 70° and we had to take advantage of the beautiful weather. Today we need to go to the Wildbirds and Things and pickup a couple of feeders. Normally I don't buy my feeders there because while they are good quality they are really expensive. But they have a sale going and who can resist that? Besides its another convertable riding day. However, we can't spend all of our day having fun, we got yard work to do.

The phlox, the iris, and the peonies are all cut off now for the winter out in the back yard. Ms. Kate also trimmed up all of the potted plants and they now reside here in the sunporch for the winter. So bring on the frost. We are ready for it. I hope to get the peonies and iris out front all cut off today. There is still a 100' bed along the west fence that needs tending and another along the north side of the house. I'm planning to do major surgery to the spirea and the crepe myrtle on the north side.  Both are way overgrown.

Time for me to get busy. This is to nice of a day to not get something accomplished, although, I'd easily sit here doing nothing for another hour. Here's hoping you have a totally relaxed and blessed day. I certainly intend to.

Friday, October 24, 2014

This week is rapidly coming to a close, isn't it? It doesn't matter whether you end your week with Saturday or Sunday, this one is about done. Happy Friday morning!

It is a happy Friday morning around our house and family. In fact it is an extremely blessed morning. We learned yesterday afternoon that my brother-in-law, Byron, got wonderful news from his oncologist. His cancer numbers had dropped from 641 last month down to 61. I don't know all the particulars of PSA numbers except they should be less than 5. I think my highest PSA Reading has been a .09 or 1. The bottom line though is that it at least looks as though the Provenge treatments he took have done some real damage to the cancer cells. So this morning we pray prayers of overwhelming gratitude. And --- we are so grateful to all of you for your prayers. This morning they are on the way to St. Louis to celebrate a grandson's Confirmation. It is the perfect way to also celebrate their good news. After all, everything begins and ends with God.

It is a fifty three degree, somewhat cloudy morning. The sun is trying to burst through the thin cloud layer. This morning we have Cardinals, Finches, Robins, and Woodpeckers of two varieties munching at the feeders. I heard the loud rat-a-tat-tat of a Woodpecker while ago and as loud as it was and as far away as it was, could only mean that it was one of the Pilated Woodpeckers. I really hope it stops by here for a snack.

Ms. Kate and I plan to get out in the flowerbeds today after we have finished all of our morning rituals of checking emails, reading Facebook, playing our silly computer games like Bingo Bash and Crimnal Case, and me writing my blog. By that time the sun will have dried off the dew and warmed the temperature enough to be comfortable. Today and tomorrow are supposed to be really nice days and a couple of good days in the fresh air will feel good.

As I write this morning, I have a CD playing of the Cantata that we are going to do for Christmas. I hope that I'll learn my part better if I listen to the recording several times. Our choir is small, only about twelve voices. But --- we do like to sing, and don't mind takng on a cantata. My only regret is that when we do cantatas, that tends to be all we work on. Consequently, we end up only singing a couple of times a year. I guess that is what happens when you have more love than talent. I just give God praise that these twelve or so have chosen the choir as a ministry. I believe every human being should choose at least one way in their life to serve God, who has provided so very much to each us.

My coffee. Is gone, the music has finished, and the temperature outside has now risen to 56°. I guess these are all clues that I need to vacate the recliner and get productive. I hope your day is full of joy. God loves you and Christ walks with you. How much better can it get than that?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I have a very happy Wren this morning. Last evening I put out a fresh seed cylinder in the "caged" feeder. This feeder is designed to keep the squirrels out and it does a fairly good job. The wire cage is opened enough for the smaller birds to get in but it keeps out the larger birds like Grackels, Cardinals, Blue Jays, etc. The new seed cylinder is composed mainly of nuts and seeds and my Wren is all over it like it just doesn't know where to start. For awhile the squirrels had learned to hang on it and pull the cylinder to one side from the bottom so they could eat it. But, I put a plate under the cylinder holder and that stopped that. It is amazing what I have to think up just to prove I'm smarter than a squirrel.

It was 41° this morning outside when I came out into the sunporch. Our sunporch, while fully enclosedm isn't heated. We keep the sliding door going out here closed or mostly closed when we aren't out here to keep our heat and air conditioning bill down. So, it is pretty cool out here in the mornings like today, but it is still warm enough to protect the potted plants. So, Ms. Kate made a couple of "throw over" covers for us to cover with. It does make it very comfortable. Coming out here on a cool morning with my cup of coffee and snuggling under my cover in my recliner is a perfect recipe for dozing back off to sleep. It has been known to happen.

I finished the first of the two sermons I was working on last night. Now, I need to put my thoughts together and work on the next one. But, it is too nice of a day to stick myself in he office. Today's high temp is to be only 61° but I have enough moving around doing yard work that I doubt I will feel cool. The sermon will have to wait until "second shift". I started working on stuff for Advent services last night too. November 29th is I believe the first Sunday of Advent and in terms of planning, isn't that far off.

This afternoon we need to go make a home visit for a friend from church. She just got home from the hospital and Ms. Kate wants to drop off some of the chicken noodle soup that she made. And, -- we also need to go to another parishioner's house because Ms. Kate want to raid their turnip patch. She does love her fresh turnips, and Bob raises some of the best around. Then, it will be time for choir practice. We are working on the Christmas Cantata. It is going fairly well so far, but is a long, long way from ready to present.

My coffee cup is empty and my birds are apparently full for now because they have come and gone. They will come in for a second round in about 30 minutes. This is a day that the Lord has made, take time to rejoice in it. Count your blessings and share your love. God has given you another day in which to do good for somebody. Have a blessed day.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Good morning! The sun is roaring over the roof this morning. There are no clouds to dampen the skies or anyone's spirits on this 47° morning. It is a great day to sit here in the sunporch and watch the activities in the yard. The coffee is hot, the morning is cool, and the few remaining blooms on the roses, petunias, geraniums, and phlox are standing proudly out there. God is good --- all the time.

There are a lot of birds out there this morning. We must be on the Robin migration route because I have a lot of them out there drinking and splashing in the bird bath. I haven't seen a Robin in many weeks and this morning there are several out there. I also have several Cardinals, as usual, and Finches. There isn't even a hint of gold color now on the Goldfinches. There are also several Sparrows, Nuthatches, and the Titmouse duo. So, God has sent a bounty of joy once again to my back yard.

I bought a new leaf vacuum last week and yesterday afternoon I finally got the back sidewalk, the south sidewalk, and the two adjoining flowerbeds, and garden cleaned up from the first round of leaf fall. It looks so very much better. I also found the neatest thing yesterday at Menards. It is an insert to slide down in to the tall paper leaf and lawn bags. It folds so that the top is kind of a chute and it holds the bags open for you. It works perfectly especially when you are doing that job by yourself. It is a wax coated cardboard and I think I paid less than $10.00 for it. When you don't need it. It folds flat for storage. I hope the inventor made a fortune.

I got a start on one of the two sermons that are ratteling around in my head last evening. I need to try and finish one of them today before I lose it. I probaby should also jaunt some notes about the other so I can work on it too. I read once that Stephen King is usually working on as many as six books at a time. I can't imagine a mind capable of that. I sometimes walk back to the bedroom and forget why.

My prayers go out this morning as prayers of gratitude. My parishioner that just had cancer surgery has gone home and reports she is doing well, albeit a bit sore. God be praised for that. I also lift up prayer for my brother-in-law, Byron, who goes to see his oncologist this week for a follow-up of all of the treatments he has been through. We pray it has done some miracle good and that maybe his numbers will have dropped.

I'm also offering up prayers of gratitude for the wonderful people of my parish. This coming Sunday they are celebrating Pastor Appreciation Sunday, and I've been told that I get to simply come and worship and they are handling everything else. These are extremely busy people and yet, they comng together as a parish and are taking time to create a service and hold a dinner just to say thanks to me for doing what I love to do, and what they pay me for. I am overwhelmed and certainly a blessed man.

My coffee cup's empty and I'm sure Ms. Kate's is too by now. Time to refill and get productive. I pray you have a blessed day.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Happy new week! I wonder what great things are in store for this week and how can I make the best use of each day the Lord will give me.

Last night the weatherman said that there was a 20% chance of showers today. Well, --- from what I hear on the roof and see outside, --- we have now had 100% of our 20%!  But, I'm not complaining. They are only extremely light showers and the sun is shining through them. It makes for a beautiful scene. The good news is that once these pass over, we aren't supposed to have anymore rain for at least a week according to the "experts". I hope for our farmer's sake it doesn't rain. They are working so hard to get the harvest complete.

We've had a blessed weekend. Ms. Kate spent a good deal of Saturday cooking and baking. We had gone to the orchard on Friday, so Saturday she made two apple strudels and an apple pie. She also broke down a bunch of chicken to make chicken noodle soup. Last night was the Halloween party at one of my churches and she was making soup and strudel to take for that. There are good leftovers and a whole pie still here so you just know eating will be good around here this week.

I spent the majority of Saturday in the yard. I got my yard and neighbor Dan's yard mowed, and therefore the first falling of leaves all mulched up. Then, I spent hours out in my little 6' X 30' garden. I got the tomato plants all pulled up and most of the little trees and weeds out of that area. Then I tackeled the black raspberry patch. It had become overgrown with mulberry bushes and redbud sapplings. So I got that cleaned out; as well as all of the dead and dried raspberry canes. My garbage can is full as well as two large leaf/lawn bags of stuff from that patch but at least it is now recognizable as a berry patch. There is just so much to do, and I don't move as fast or as well as I once did.

I had a lot of birds out here when I first came out in the porch but right now I don't see any. There were Cardinals on every feeder for a while as well as Finches and my little Woodpecker. Even Mr. Fuss-a-lot, the Blue Jay showed up this morning again. I haven't seen him in a couple of weeks at least. But, they will all be back shortly. In fact, the Titmouse duo just did.

Until the sun comes out and it gets a bit drier, I might as well go down to my office and do some writing. I have two different sermons rumbling around in my head that I need to put on paper before they are forgotten. Some times I'm fortunate enough to have that happen and I consider it a gift from God when it does. Just another day of blessings! I hope you have a day full of good news and peaceful thoughts.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

It could be a sleepy, snoozy, Saturday morning but the phone started ringing at 0730 so we are up and engaged in our daily rituals. Had I stayed in bed this morning I may have missed my two Wrens out here as they scurry around. And, --- I would have missed seeing my big ol, Hairy Woodpecker out there eating bark butter pellets.

It is a 51° cloudy morning and I have lots of aviary company this morning. I probably have a dozen Cardinals flying in and out of the fire bushes to the feeders and back to the protection of the foliage. Several Chickadees and Titmouse are also swooping in for a seed. They grab one and take it to the closest branch and break it open to eat. There are also a few Housefinches dotting this and that feeder. And, --- I've seen at least one Nuthatcher out there. So, it is a very good morning here in the sunporch. The only thing lacking is in fact the sun.

We had a wonderful day yesterday. It was our first really sunny and warm day in a couple of weeks. It got up to 75° and we took full advantage of it. We had several places to go and errands to run, so we got in the convertable and headed out. Our best stop was to go out to the apple orchard over in the next county where we picked a buschel of apples. Yes, it took longer to drive there than it did to pick them but we were out on a jaunt, so what the heck. The trees are so full of apples that it didn't take us more than ten minutes to fill our box. Ms. Kate is in the kitchen making something with them as I sit here and write. I suspect there will be a happy tummy sometime later today. I can smell cinnamon and clove so the magic coming out of the kitchen could range anywhere from applesauce to apple pie.

Its hard to believe but I still have a Ruby Throated Hummingbird out here. There are only a couple of blossoms on the phlox but there it was, trying to suck the last tiny bit of nectar out of the blossoms. Then it moved on over to the knockout roses. What a joy to see it this morning, although it better be heading to Arizona for the winter. Their migration should already have occured.

Despite all of our running around, I did get a micro-bit of yard work done yesterday evening. Today is supposed to be ten degrees cooler and mostly cloudy, so, it will be a good day to get some more done out there. I feel like the kid who has been sent in to clean his uber-messy room. The work needing to be done is overwhelming and it is hard to know where to start. But, --- none of it will get done as long as I procrastinate.

As I sit here, I must give God praise for the wonderful world of nature that surrounds me. My blessings are impossible to count, so I simply bow my head in humble gratitude for this life I am blessed to live. I hope you will take time today to take stock of your life and acknowlege our marvelous God who has made you life possible. Christ is our strength, God is our hope, and the Holy Spirit is our ever present guide. Have a blessed day.

Friday, October 17, 2014

A bright, blue, and sunny sky greets me this morning. How wonderful is that?? This is the first morning in about nine days that is like this and it is certainly a spirit shot in the arm. Thank you, Lord, for a gorgeous morning. And, --- to top it all off, --- I have nothing on my schedule today and it is my "day off". I may just sit here for a couple of hours, watch my birds and wait for the temperature to move up into the sixties and then do some yard work. It is 54° right now and 64° sounds a lot better.

I spent several hours at the hospital yesterday sitting with the family of a parishioner. My parishioner was having surgery to remove a significant cancerous spot from her lung. The surgery went well and we pray the doctors got it all out. It is an interesting thing to sit with families at a time like that. We sat together in the waiting room for maybe three and a half hours. The conversation among the husband/father and the three adult children and spouses covered everything from farming to hunting, to scouting and passing around pictures of grandkids. But --- in the entire time, not one word was mentioned about why we were there. We had said a prayer together before she went off to the operating room and that was the last they spoke of her surgery until the doctor came out several hours later. I found that to be an interesting family dynamic; not right or wrong, --- just interesting. It is not unusual to see that dynamic happen either. Families generally will either talk the issue to death in the waiting room or they will avoid conversation about what is going on as if they might jinx something if they talk about it. Of course, as a pastor, I wonder if it is related to a strength of faith. It would be nice to believe that not talking about it equals a faith that says; "God has this and I'm not going to worry about it." And, since it is my turn to wear the rose colored glasses, --- I'll just take that as my explanation.

The birds are enjoying the sunshine this morning too. I'm loving the way the sun is making their plumage brighter this morning. I had a Song Sparrow out here earlier and it was really adding to the glory of God's world in my backyard. The Friday morning garbage trucks have passed by on both the streets in front of and behind our house and now peace and quiet reigns. An occasional gust of wind blows leaves off of the trees and I can hear them swirling on the roof of the sunporch. But, beyond that; God's world, and therefore, my world, is at peace.

I give God thanks for that peace this morning and for the peace within my soul. I thank God for knowlegeable surgeons who have been given the knowlege to help people like my lady from the church, and my brother-in-law. I thank God for the indominable spirits of those who suffer from such horrible things as cancer and also for those family members who stand with them and walk that dark road, never knowing where the path may lead and yet, giving all their trust to the one true light that is God, our Father and Creator.

I hope your life is filled with that kind of trust today. Have a blessed day.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

We are welcoming in another gloomy day. It is cloudy with a misty type of rain and 54°. It is supposed to be this way all day. Days like this, especially when they come in multiples, can really affect one's spirit and emotional state of mind if we let it. Perhaps that is why God sent some extra bright red Cardinals to the feeders this morning. They are a beautiful contrast to the picture around them. I have a couple of Goldfinches out there this morning too and of course, my Downy Woodpecker. Perhaps tomorrow will be a dryer and brighter day. But I'm grateful for my feathered friends being out there and turning "dismal" into "thank you Lord".

Lots and lots of the leaves have fallen from my poplar trees but I haven't had a chance to get any of them cleaned up. Now, of course, they are soggy aand heavy. I'm hoping for some sunny days to dry them out and then I'll get out there and get busy. There are four little flowers still clinging to life on the phlox. Everything else is done. So, it is time to cut all of that back as well as the peonies, iris, and petunias. Then it is time to store the extra chairs I have here in the sunporch and bring ing the potted plants for the winter. The problem is that I'm a lot slower at getting it all done these days than I used to be.

Today is visitation day for my shut-ins, as well as the day we go to the churches and run the Sunday bulletins off. This evening will be choir practice at one church and craft night at the other. Tomorrow I have a clergy breakfast and then go spend a few hours at the hospital waiting with the family of a parishioner while she goes through her cancer surgery. We certainly pray this surgery will eliminate her cancer. God's will be done.

I was working on worship services last evening and it was hard to beluve that it was services for November that I was working on. It seems that we just kind of walk along doing our day by day and suddenly a bunch of time has passed. It seems it was summer and now it is November and sixty days untill Christmas. We have another vacation planned the second week of December which will really choke the clock and press us for time. Then before we know it, --- 2015 will be a reality.

So, what are we to do? I reckon our best course of action is to keep our head up and face each day and look forward to the next with a joyful heart. We need to be grateful for every day that God gives us on this earth. Crap will happen but God will walk you through it. You can't get milk without poop in the barnyard. So, love one another, hold on to one another, thank God for the people in your life and the blessings and joy they bring. Have a most blessed day. Remember that somebody prayed for you today ---- me!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I'm up early, for me at least. I have a Pastor's Circle to attend this morning. It isn't a big deal. The pastor's in our local Evansville Tri-state Association of the United Church of Christ get together once a month just to talk about whatever is on their mind. To me it is just a "rent a crowd" function because I'm not into that kind of meeting where nothing is productive. But, I go because "it is expected". Heck, they don't even serve good coffee, --- just decaf.

It is a cloudy morning and we will be having showers on and off today. A line of severe storms went through last night. There are power lines down and some people without electricity, but no real damage was done and thankfully, I have not heard of any injuries or death from the storm. I give God praise for that.

One lone Cardinal sits out there on a feeder. I'm a bit early for their full arrival. However, I am getting a lot less birds these days. I last filled the feeders I think four or five days ago and they are no where near needing to be filled again. My Finches are few and far between. I haven't seen the Blue Jays or Robins in some time. I guess many of my birds have migrated to where ever they spend the winter. And, I am still puzzeled as to why the squirrels are seemingly avoiding my yard. I'm still seeing a few in the neighboring trees but they come here, and eat for only a few minutes and are gone. They are saving me money.

Thanks for your prayers yesterday. I did manage to get my message done for this coming Sunday. Everything just kind of fell into place. I love it when that happens. Sometimes it seems I have to chisel every word out and I end up writing a paragraph four or five times, hoping it finally makes sense. Often, what makes perfect sense in my mind doesn't come out that way on paper. When I feel that happening, I generally have Ms. Kate read it and give me comment and or advice. She's a pretty smart cookie and spent a lot of years as a secretary in the Air Force reading and proof reading stuff for people.

My prayers go out this morning for one of my parishioners who is to meet with her surgeon concerning removal of a spot of cancer from her lung. Her oncologist told her that it wasn't a "spreadable" cancer but that it needed to be removed. She will have to be hospitalized for several days and may be very limited in her activities for several weeks. She is an active lady and the wife of a farmer. That is a bad combination for a cancer patient. But then, There is no good combination; so as you read this, keep Diana in your prayers.

It is time for me to get ready for my meeting. I pray you will have a day filled with there love of God. Enjoy one another and lift one another up. Remember that God walks with you every step of the way.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Good morning world and happy new week! It is a warm, (too warm, really) rainy morning and we are expecting that we may have at least one severe storm come through before the day is over. We are expecting a lot of wind and I reckon the yard will be full of leaves by morning tomorrow. But, as long as it isn't limbs or a tree, we'll just give God praise.

As I sat down in my chair this morning, I noticed through my sleepy eyes what looked like a really bright orange bird over on top of one of my feeders. I was hoping that perhaps I had an Oreole passing through. However, after a sip or two of coffee, I figured out that it was only a leaf from off of the tulip poplar tree. Shucks!!

It continued to be a busy weekend. The funeral for Ms. Velma at church went well. The women of the church out did themselves bringing in a meal. Ms. Kate took a cherry and pineapple dump cake that was appreciated. Luckally for me --- she made a second one for here at home. I call them "Dissappearing Cake" because that is what happens rather quickly to them around here. True to form, there are only three pieces left of ours and it won't survive till morning!

Many of the usual supects are here in the yard this morning, especially the Cardinals. Both the Downy and the Hairy Woodpeckers are flying in and out. The Chickadees and the Wrens are here and their song always makes me happy. The Titmouse couple fly quickly in , grab a seed and fly out. The wind is picking up and most everything is staying close to the cover of the firebush trees for protection. Those firebush plants are an anomally. Most peaple keep them trimmed to around four to maybe five feet. I've trimmed mine from the bottom up and they are now about fifteen feet tall; much the same as I did the pussy willow out side the door of the sunporch.

I must get my sermon ready for the coming Sunday. (By the way, I dis-like the word sermon. It says I'm preaching at you, not relaying a message from God. That's just my quirk, I guess.) My next three days are all filled with events and while I don't mind writing at midnight, I prefer not to get into a crisis writing mode. So, --- I must close with my prayers for today. If you are reading this then know that I have prayed for your peace of mind and spirit today. I never know who may come across this and read it; but each of us can benefit from an extra prayer. So, I ask you to say a prayer for me today. May God clear my mind of clutter and trash so that I may receive and relay anything God wants heard and said. I give God praise for my blessings and prayers of gratitude for my loving family, both physical family and faith family. May your day be full of God'wonderful grace and love.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Saturday, Saturday, Saturday; the weekend is finally here for all those Monday through Friday folks. For me though, this is just another work day today. Taking a vacation from mid- week to mid-week really messes up my schedule and my thinking. We came home Wednesday evening and first thing on Thursday morning my cell phone and home phone was ringing to let me know that one of our senior parishioners had passed away in her sleep. So today will be her funeral. She was a sweet lady.  May God rest her soul.

Yesterday morning first thing, Ms. Kate and I went to the funeral of our friend Sandy. It was a very well done funeral. Each of her three children spoke as did Ron, her husband. They did exceptionally well. I have seen so many people try to do that and they get so overcome with their grief that they end up not being able to say what they wanted to say. But Ron and the kids kept it lght and actually celebrated Sandy's life. I pray God will give them peace in their hearts and minds as they adjust to a life without Sandy.

My world outside this morning is cool at 51° and a blanket of clouds is keeping out the sunshine. The rain has passed for now and I am hoping has passed for the day. I hate to conduct funerals in the rain or on cold snowy days. It makes the whole thing so much more dreary. Perhaps by this afternoon the sun will even pop out. That would be a blessing because it would match the personality of Ms. Velma, the lady for whom I am conducting the ceremony.

Speaking of the brighter side, --- my world is full of Cardinals this morning and that always brightens my day. So thank you very much God, for sending in the "red squad" to flit and flutter and cheep and fuss at one another; and to lighten up an otherwise cloudy day. I also have a couple of Downy Woodpeckers coming in and out to eat from one of their bark butter feeders. There are a couple of squirrels off in the neighbors trees but not here. And --- I have my ever present Carolina Wren out there. I absolutely love watching the wrens. They always seem to spend a lot of time in and out of our flower pots and potted plants. I don't know what that is all about. I'm also noticing that we are beginning to see several more Chickadees. I love their song. It is, to me at least, the official song of winter.

The smells coming from the kitchen tells me that Ms. Kate has already baked a cake or something of that nature for the bereavement meal this afternoon. Nothing makes a house smell more like a home than fresh baked goods. It is the oder of love in the air. With that, I will give my thanks this morning for the peace in my soul that comes from the constant love of my family and my relationship with God. Surrendering your life to God's plan and will, just makes life so very much easier. I hope your day will be a day of peace and love too.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Home again!  I'm in my chair, in my sunporch, and having coffee from my cup. Life is as it should be.

I begin by giving God thanks for an absolutely beautiful day yesterday for our drive home. Clear and sunny skies made the trip very pleasant. Seeing the occasional small herds of deer in the fields only added to the pleasure. The traffic was relatively light in all of the big cities and we scooted through with minimal frustration. So, I say "thank you Lord, for safe passage".

It is a cloudy morning with a bit of a drizzle on and off. As I predicted, the leaves are starting to fall pretty good. The blooms left on the phlox are down to  about 1% so it is time to cut all of that back. The petunias are done, but the roses still have blooms as do the geraniums. I need to get the geranium inside before long or they will get hit with a hard frost. This geranium is on its fourth year I think.

I won't see a lot of my feathered friends this morning, I suspect. The feeders were all empty and probably have been for several days. So, it might take a couple of days for the news to spread that the buffet is back open. So far, I've only had one chickadee here this morning doing a bit of exploring. I filled the finch feeders and the bark butter pellet and paste feeders first thing this morning. Next I need to fill all of the sunflower feeders. If the rain holds off a bit, I'll get that done pretty quickly. That will bring in the Cardinals right away. What I do hear though is the Canadian Geese on the move overhead.

The peace and quiet here this morning is almost deafening. Our cabin for the past few days was actually in the center of Berlin. While Berlin is a small town, it is on a main highway through eastern Ohio. So besides the clip clop and rumbling if the amish horses and buggies, there was also constant automobile traffic. I didn't really realize how noisy it was until I sat out here this morning and hear none of that. What a blessing silence can be. I suspect "city-folk" have to listen a lot harder to hear the voice of God than "country-folk" do.

There is much to do today, including a visit with my mother and a visit to the funeral home for our old friend Ron whose wife, Sandy, passed away. I was part of their wedding some forty six years ago and have known Ron since I was five years old.  I give God praise that they had each other for all of those years and I also give God praise that Sandy no longer suffers. Some day, we will see each other again in the realm of eternity. Such is the promise of our Savior.

I've let my coffee get cold, so I must  warm it up and start my day. The rain is holding off so I better get my feathered friends all fed. Here's praying that your day will be filled with peace, love, and the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tomorrow morning we will put the suitcases in the car and head back home. Our vacation time has come to a close. I'm hoping for a rain free day for the trip. I have fifty two miles of narrow, hilly back roads to travel before we get to interstate; then there is Columbus, Cincinatti, and Louisville to drive through, none of which is fun in rain. I'll be glad to get back to Gibson and Vanderburgh County, Indiana where the roads are flat and a traffic jam is a John Deere combine going down the road. Boy--- am I sounding old, or what?

If anyone asks me if they should travel here to Holmes County, Ohio, --- I'd have to tell them that I don't think it is worth the trip. Yes, our cabin here is nice and the scenery was nice but none of it was really overwhelming. I got out into the local shops today with Ms. Kate. She found some stuff that she "needed", but most of the stuff I saw could easily be found in any flea market. If it was Amish made, it must have been made by the Amish Orders from Mexico, China, and Taiwan. I wasn't impressed. But then, I wasn't looking to buy anything either.

I've also been disappointed in the lack of good Amish pastries. We saw none of the cakes and pies and breads that we see in northern Indiana or even over in Washington Indiana. I was really looking forward to that too.

I know it sounds like I have complained about every aspect of the trip and perhaps I have; but the great part of taking the trip was just that; --- taking the trip. Perhaps we would have enjoyed it more had it not rained every day. But just the fact that we were together was enough to make the trip enjoyable. Ms. Kate and I have always been each other's best company. We aren't big "crowd people" and at a party, you'll generally see her and me standing together. It has been that way since June 16th, 1962 when we had our first date. We are just like an old team of horses, one doesn't function well without the other.

I need to close with my offerings of gratitude to God for the blessings of the week and the continuous flow of blessings into my life. I again ask for safe travels as we head out onto the road. I offer prayers of thanks for the people and parishioners who have taken care of the parish in my absence. I pray for health for my loved ones  and for strength in their battles with cancer. I offer prayers of love and support for those of you who take the time to read my daily ramblings. May Christ bring you peace.

Monday, October 6, 2014

I think we now know most of the backroads of Holmes County, Ohio fairly well. We traveled them quite extensively today. We started out our morning by going to a really nice Amish restaurant for a great meal. We are surprised though at the actual lack of places like that at which to eat. In most of the Amish areas in which we have traveled, good Amish cooking was always abundant. Holmes County, Ohio has the largest Amish settlement in the country, however, I think most of the places are Mennonite run here and the Amish seem to stay much more to themselves.

Our day started with sunshine so we were glad to get out and tour the area. We saw lots of beautiful farms and lots of horse and buggys going down the road, as well as many folks walking to where ever they needed to go. This area is really hilly and I feel for the poor horses that have to pull thoses buggies. Another thing we don't see as many of here, --- is people on bicycles. Like any other culture, things are just regional I guess.

By afternoon, we had rain and lots of it. So, we basically stayed around the cabin, took a nap, and talked and visited with each other. The rain finally tapered off around 5:30 this afternoon. Ms. Kate accused me of making a special deal with God to have it rain until the store and shops all closed. We went to a different, (dare I say, "the other" ) Amish restaurant for supper. I'd rate the food as "adequate". After all, any Amish restaurant that doesn't include dessert as part of the buffet is going to only get an "adequate" rating from me. What were they thinking??

Tomorrow I think we are going to start hitting a few of the shops. Ms. Kate wants to go to a quilt shop, assuming we find one. There are a lot of antique shops here. My sister and brother-in-law would love it. As for me, I don't mind looking at some of the stuff, but I have zero reason to open my wallet for any of it. As far as we have seen, most of the "shops" either deal in furniture, antiques, or cheese. Maybe we'll find out differently tomorrow. I did see a couple of bakery shops, so there is hope yet! We need to shop early though because it is supposed to rain again tomorrow. Yuk!

I must close with my prayers for the night. I am thankful that Ms. Kate and I have the opportunity to travel like we do. I'm thankful for the protection God has provided us as we have crossed this country from top to bottom and coast to coast so many times. I'm grateful to live in a country where such travel is possible without border check points and visa requirements. This is a wonderful country; far from perfect; but absolutely beautiful and wonderful.

I also lift up Sheila and Byron once again. They and their daughter and son in law have been planning and working for months now to build a retirement home next to the kids. Unfortunately, it all fell apart due to zoning laws and beaurocratic "stuff". So my prayers of support go out to them as they re-group and try and determine what is feasible and what might be in God's plan for them. I pray for their patience. I also pray foor my childhood friend, Ron, who lost his wife this week. May God lift him up and give him strength, and may The Lord Jesus comfort his soul.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

It has been an interesting Sunday for Ms. Kate and I. We left Millersburg, where we stayed last night, around 10:30 this morning. We knew Berlin should be a fairly short drive; --- we didn't know it was less than ten miles. So, here we were at 1100 hrs and couldn't check in to our cottage until 1500 hrs, which left us four hours to kill. There are many, many shops and antique stores and Amish restaurants here to visit. The problem for the visitor is that the entire town is closed on Sunday because the Amish and Mennonites strictly adhere to the commandment; "Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy." The only people we saw out were the Amish walking to church or riding in their buggies to church.

Ms. Kate and I decided to check the local country side out and began driving the backroads looking at the farms, and the cattle, and the beautiful horses. The sun was out pretty good today but the temperature never climbed above fifty degrees. But the area is really pretty and the farms are beautiful.

There is a non Amish owned pizza shop, a Burger King, a Subway, and a Dollar General store in town so we went for lunch at the pizza shop. But, after traveling all of the local backroads and having our lunch, we still had over an hour to kill before we could check in to our cottage. So, we just pulled over in an off street parking lot and took a snooze in the car.

Three o'clock finally arrived and we drove over to the cottage, and the entry code they had given us didn't work. I tried it several times and still no luck. So, figuring that just maybe I had the wrong cabin, I went around to the front cabin and it opened right up for us. So, we settled in just a little for about forty five minutes when here came a family that said they were supposed to be in that cabin. So, --- we didn't know what to do for sure and the big problem is that there is no cell service around here to call any one. They hadn't gotten an entry code but they were supposed to be in that cabin. I gave them the entry code and Kate and I took our suitcases back to the car. I drove over to the local Comfort Suites hotel and used their telephone and contacted the owner of the cabins, and he verified that he had given us the wrong entry code, and gave us the right one. Now we are snuggled in and all is well. Next, I went to the Dollar General and bought supplies for supper and snacks. All's well that ends well.

Tomorrow we will take look at the local shops and eat some good Amish cooking. The same will go for Tuesday. Wednesday we head back home. So, even though we didn't attend church this morning, we did give God due dilligence and thanks for the beauty of the countryside we were seeing. Tomorrow will be even better. I hope your week will be full of peace and joy.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

We left Berea, KY this morning around 10:30 a.m., and headed to Millersburg, OH. The weather was cold @ 42° and windy and cloudy. Unfortunately, it never improved all day. We got into Millersburg around around 1700 hrs. It is still cold. In fact when we got on the elevator a little bit ago, some fellow got in and said "I hear they are predicting one to two inches. I hate snow". I sure hope he was just trying to talk smack.

Have I ever mentioned that I hate driving in Ohio? I'd rather drive backwards through LA than forwards through Cincinatti or Columbus. The speed limit was 55 due to lots of construction and traffic was moving at 70 mph. They obviously remove signal lights on the cars since no one ever uses them, and I think they remove the bumpers too so they can cut in closer to you. Ahh well, tomorrow we get to "buggy alley" and hopefully the pace will slow down.

Speaking of buggies, we went to the local Walmart across the street and there was a long open shed to one end to the parking lot. There was a sign on it that said "Hitching Rail". There was a whole row of buggies with horses hitched to them parked in the shed. There must have been twenty something buggies parked there. So, now we know what the local Amish and Mennonites do for Saturday evening entertainment.

We are definitely looking forward to our next three days over in Berlin. There is a lot to go and see and a lot of good food coming our way. Ms. Kate and I remark often that we love the dedication that the Amish have to their way of life and to their relationship with God. If the rest of us who claim believe in God and who tell the world we are Christians, stuck as closely to those principals, we would be a much gentler country.

So, my prayers this evening go out as gratitude for our safe travels today and prayers for safe travels for the next few days. I also pray you will have a paceful weekend full of the blessings that God provides.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Today's blog should be called "Notes from on the Road". Ms. Kate and I are in Berea Kentucky and are spending a couple of nights here at the Historic Boone Tavern Hotel,and Restaurant. Berea is the home of Berea College and is an "artsy" kind of small town. The hotel gets an "okay" rating from us. We've stayed in a lot better for a lot less. But --- it is haunted which is a plus, for me at least. I heard what sounded like a child laughing and riding a tricycle down the hallway twice yesterday afternoon, but I have yet to see any children around this place.

Our trip down was enjoyable. The best part was stopping by and picking Julie up for lunch yesterday. The leaves are turning now so the scenery along the highways was nice.

It is breezy and a little cool this morning. It has rained last night and in fact just quit. I can hear several Mockingbirds singing around here. I'm sitting on a nice veranda watching traffic and the students as they trudge off to college. The veranda is brick with at least a dozen large white columns holding up the roof. There are big planters of petunias drapeing the rails as well as massive planters of ferns and hybiscus, and mums sitting everywhere. It is quite nice.

We had a  good breakfast. The dining room is very nice and intended to be "elegant". Slow service didn't add anything to that theme. We had checked it out last evening and the hostess had indicated that we should make reservations, so we made them for 9:00 a.m.  however, a lady waled up in front of us this morning and asked for a table for ten, --- and they had no problem doing it. Nor, did they ever ask us our name when they finally took us in. But --- its hard to screw up breakfast, so the meal was tasty.

There are lots of little stores and shops around here to visit and I reckon that is the plan for the day. Assuming the rain is pretty well done, it will be fun.

I send out prayers of gratitude this morning for family and friends and those I love and who love me. I also thank God for the beauty of this world. As I sit here, surrounded by flowers and trees and listen to all of the birds singing, it simply reminds me that peace comes from within when we stop to count our blessings. God is so good. I hope you have time to count your blessings today. It will add joy to your life.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

That dang cat!! I had just set down in my chair when I heard a noise out side by the fence, and here came that calico cat running through my yard carrying one of my birds in its mouth. That's getting to be almost a weekly event. That thing, or one just like it has been around here for several years. I have no idea where it comes from or who it belongs to. It is probaby a ferral. We are fortunate that we live in a neighborhood that doesn't have stray animal running around except for the occasional possum or raccoon. And, my flowers and bushes make for a perfect ambush possibility. Ah well, nature has done what nature does.

Welcome to October! It is a cloudy, 61° morning with the sun beginning to burn off the clouds. I'm on day one of our vacation and as soon as I finish my blog, do a couple of chores, and put the suitcases in the car, we'll be off into the wild blue yonder. We really aren't going all that far, but it will be nice to get away. It has been many weeks since we've had any "down-time".

Can you believe it? That cat just came back for seconds. What it got was two BBs in the butt instead!

The leaves are really starting to fall from my tulip poplar trees. By the time I get back home there will be a lot of raking to do. I generally just rake them out of the flowerbeds and then mulch them up with the mowers. Its good for the yard, good for the air because I'm not burning them, and good for the environment because I'm not putting them in plastic bags be be buried in the landfill. God has given us a marvelous creation and we are total failures at maintaining it. So, Ms. Kate and try to do our little part.

Mr. Buzzwing and a buddy were here first thing this morning. Wwhat a great way to start my day. The downy woodpeckers are plentiful this morning as they peck away at the barkbutter feeders. I've counted nine Cardinals so far, although, I think it was a Cardinal that the cat got.

We are hearing some hopeful news from Sheila reference a medication change for Byron's cancer. We certainly keep the prayer line open and pray it does him some good. My prayers this morning are also for safe travels as we head out today. I also pray for the several people on our prayer list in the parish. You know, when I think of all of the people in this world and the fact that they are all praying for something from God, ---- how in heaven's name, does God manage that? The depth of God's love and power and capability is just totally beyond our ability to understand.

So, that is your spiritual homework for  the day. Think about that, and then thank God  for all you have.