Monday, November 12, 2007

Thank You

It's been a long day and I'm tired. I was sitting in my comfy chair relaxing and thinking about heading off to bed when I thought about you. My friend. If you're reading my blog, it's most likely that you're one of my friends.

I want to thank you for being a friend. Friends are important to me. Friends care about you and how you're feeling. A friend takes time to do more than just say "Hello" and go on about their business.

I spend a lot of time complaining about how life is treating me here. I know it's not the most cheerful of blogs out here in cyberspace, in fact it's downright depressing occasionally. Sorry about that...but the fact that you come back and check in on me once in a while means a lot to me and I just feel the need to say thank you for that.

I have been blessed with many friends over the years. I occasionally run into folks that I haven't seen in ages and they always smile. It's rare that I see someone who doesn't smile when they see me. Thanks for smiling, it cheers me up when I'm feeling down.

Some of you have helped me out in one way or another. Helpful advice or encouragement, making a comment about one of my posts, showing me how to do something, or even loaning me a few bucks. Thanks ever so much for your kindness and generosity.

I love you, friend. You keep me from giving up when things get rough because I know there's a shoulder I can lean on.

I have another friend, his name is Jesus. Just like you he helps me through each day and keeps me from giving up. Although I can't physically see him, it brings a smile to my lips to think about him. He helps me out and I see his hand at work in my life when I stop to pay attention. I need to stop and pay attention more often. He has a shoulder I can lean on and I do so fairly frequently.

Well, I'm still pretty tired, so I think I'll turn in for the night. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read my ramblings. Love 'ya!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Pennies From Heaven

Most of you that read my blog occasionally know I've just come out of a short period of unemployment. I assumed that by accepting a job, I'd no longer qualify for unemployment benefits. That stands to reason, doesn't it? Patsy only gets paid every other week, and we were between paychecks there. Also when going to work for someone you get to skip the first week's paycheck while they do the paperwork. Things were starting to get pretty meager around our household.

At one point we were down to less than $20 to do us for a week. Where was the money for gasoline to get to work going to come from? What would we eat? How could I pay the various utility companies to keep them from shutting off our service? Rest assured, I was doing a lot of praying on the matter along with a lot of worrying.

I went ahead and submitted information to the Ohio Dept of Job and Family Services [ODJFS] to let them know I had a new job...and they quickly e-mailed me back to let me know that I still qualified for a $60 check that week and it would be direct deposited to my checking account the next day. Less than 24 hours later I received $20 from a total stranger who donated some money to a cliché photo website that I run (it's free, but I have a "donation" button for anyone who wants to help me keep it online).

It wasn't a windfall, but that unexpected $80 would cover gasoline and put some food on the table. A few days later, a relative who knew the financial problems we've been having gave my wife enough money to get us through the rest of the week without going belly up financially.

God seems to still be keeping me on a short leash, but I want to say "Thank you, Lord!" Just when things seem so dark, a ray of sunshine pops through to let me know that maybe things won't always be this difficult.

Yes, God IS good all the time. I'm slowly learning that I can trust in that statement as a fact.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Got A Job!

Well, yeah, I got a job. Not the greatest pay in the world, so I'm still keeping an eye peeled for something that pays better. I took a job with a local furniture and appliance distributor a couple of weeks ago. They first put me in the upholstery repair department but I couldn't do the lifting and bending it required, so they moved me into inventory tracking which is a lot easier on my back. I'd appreciate continued prayers that I might find something that pays better or a raise in pay at this job :)

My older son is still looking for work and it appears that they may be moving to a smaller place that is closer to his wife's job. Prayers for them also, please.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ow-ow-ow-ow-ow: Part 2

Picking up where I left off, the local hospital said I'd have to wait a week to get the needle removed from my hand. I'm an impatient person to start with and that was entirely too long. I jumped in the car (automatic shift this time) and drove to the ER at a different hospital about 50 miles away. Their blood pressure machine worked and they quickly flagged me with high blood pressure and a rapid heartbeat. VERY rapid. Atrial flutter. Since they are a cardiac oriented hospital, they wasted no time in getting me admitted for the heart problems. The needle in the hand sort of got some minor attention, but the heart stuff was center stage. After a day or so of giving copious amounts of blood and being poked and prodded with needles in both arms for IV's, my heart rate was back to normal and I was scheduled for tests that finally lead to some cardiac ablation...killing the nerve endings in my heart that were causing the flutter. As an afterthought, they also found a plastic surgeon to take care of the needle. So it took me four days to get the needle out of my hand and my heart back to something approaching normal...all because of a cat.

I guess the upside of this is that I'm feeling much better. I certainly appreciate everyone who took the time to pray for me, stop by my hospital room, call, or send a card. Friends are what makes life so enjoyable. Thank you.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Ow-ow-ow-ow-ow: Part 1

I guess God isn't done with me yet. Some of you probably already know I spent a few days in the hospital last week. You might not have heard all of the circumstances, so I'll fill in the details. It's a long story, so I'll split it up into two separate posts.

We have several cats that my wife adopted a few months ago that hang around outside. Although they are permitted to come in the house occasionally, they spend most of their time outside. Once they get inside, they prefer to stay inside, so it's a bit of a chore to catch them. If you recall the closing credits for the old Flintstones cartoon, Dino would jump back in the window after Fred tossed him out. It's kind of like that.

Sunday night (Sept. 9th) around 9 p.m., one of them had gotten into the house uninvited and it took me a while to finally get hold of it. I opened the back door and put the cat back out. I was just a little aggravated about the cat, so I used a little more "oomph" than usual when I put my hand on the door to slam it.

Go with me wife doesn't do that much sewing, but when she does, she's picked up the habit of parking her sewing needle in the nearest available curtain. Some time in the distant past, she was sewing something near that door I was slamming and parked her needle in the curtain that hangs over it's window. After slamming the door, I was surprised to find that needle was now sticking out of my right hand. Pulling on the thread that dangled from the needle only retrieved half of the foreign object. The other half remained inside my hand causing a moderate amount of pain.

Since I didn't want to leave the needle in my hand, I decided a hasty trip to the local hospital ER was in order. Unfortunately my wife had gone to work, leaving me with her vehicle to drive...which is a stick shift. My daughter can't drive a stick, so it was up to me to get myself to the ER somehow. Thankfully there wasn't much traffic that night, I was able to get there with a minimum of shifting...3rd gear most of the way.

Once in the ER, they tried to take my vitals, but the automatic blood pressure machine gave them an error message. Apparently it was too much trouble to check it manually, so they just skipped that step and moved on. X-rays determined that the needle was in too deep and couldn't be removed until they located a surgeon. Two hours later with a tetanus shot, antibiotics, and some pain pills, I was on my way back home in 3rd gear. The hospital said they would call me Monday to let me know when a surgeon could remove the needle for me.

By 2 p.m. Monday afternoon I gave up waiting and called the hospital. Yes, a surgeon was available...the following Monday. I don't think you'll be surprised to find out that I felt waiting 7 more days was unacceptable. The pain pills helped a bit, but my right hand was unusable for all practical purposes and still hurt like the dickens whenever I moved my wrist the slightest bit.

To be continued...

Friday, August 31, 2007

Job Search Update

I mentioned in my last post that I didn't expect being rehired by the school to be a slam-dunk, and it sounds like I was correct. With a little more than a week before they have classes scheduled to begin, I finally called the school today to check on my candidacy status. The human resources lady cheerfully told me all about the wonderful qualifications of one of the other candidates whose resumé very effectively blows mine totally out of the water. Although they haven't offered the job to anyone yet, it sounded like it's his if he wants it.

That's a little depressing, particularly since I haven't had any nibbles on the other resumés I've sent out. I spent most of today looking for job openings on the Internet, nothing much for computer technicians unless I'm willing to move out of the area. I did think of a couple of local companies that I haven't contacted yet that don't offer online job applications, so I'll probably drop by to see them early next week. Plus there's one company I applied at about a month ago that expected to have a job opening soon...I'm planning to stop there and remind them I'm available.

My wife has temporarily moved to a swing-shift (10 p.m. to 7 a.m.) for a couple of weeks while the store does some seasonal changes. That means more hours so I guess I shouldn't complain, but it's really messing with her sleep cycle. Sort of like jet lag except she hasn't gone anywhere.

My daughter-in-law is scheduled to do a preliminary interview for a job doing much the same thing she does now with a 4x salary increase and a lot of other perks. It would mean a cross-country move for the family, but I can't see how they could turn it down if she's offered the position.

Keep us in your prayers.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Li'l Brudder

I think I mentioned in the comments section of my previous post that I was having a little problem with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services regarding unemployment benefits. For those of you that didn't read the comment, since I was working for a school in a teaching capacity, the standard procedure appears to be to deny benefits to any applicant because they're probably just "between terms" and not really unemployed. Since the school discontinued the day class I was teaching and created three newly structured evening classes to take it's place (and advertised for potential instructors to send in resumes), it's pretty apparent to me that getting to teach any of the new classes isn't going to be a slam-dunk. In my opinion I was unemployed until I signed a new contract with the school. I appealed the state's determination and got news early last week that they agree...I'm eligible for benefits.

While it's a relief to know that I will at least have a small income to help with the bills for a while longer, I also have this guilty feeling. I know that I legitimately deserve the benefits, the state agrees I deserve them and, as far as I know, very few people would deny that I deserve them. But the idea of taking any kind of public assistance makes me uncomfortable. There's this nagging itch in my brain that keeps saying "You shouldn't be taking that money. It isn't really yours. Other people need it more than you do. You can make it on your own!."

There is a popular Internet website that posts animated cartoons called Homestar Runner. Some of you may know of it. One of the minor characters is a one-legged puppy called "Li'l Brudder." The dogged* determination of the character saying "I can make it on my own!" as it pushes itself along with it's one hind leg points out the absurdity of people who refuse to accept help when they desperately need it. A dog with one leg clearly needs help getting around. So I guess I feel a little like that little pup...I want to say "I can make it on my own!" But obviously I need that unemployment check to help make the ends meet until I find a job.

After I got over the major portion of the guilt feelings about this whole thing, I got to thinking that we can be just like Li'l Brudder in our spiritual lives as well. We want to say "I can make it on my own! I don't need any help. Let me make my own decisions, let me blaze my own trail!" Yet most of us realize doing it alone isn't the way life works. We need help getting through it. And we certainly aren't going to make our way to Heaven on our own stubborn-headed initiative. Anyone that denies that is just fooling themselves, dragging along like a one-legged puppy. Thankfully, getting help is just a prayer away. God can pick us up like that crippled pup and carry us wherever we need to go, but we have to ask for His help and be willing to accept it when it is offered, under His conditions.

I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but on the outside chance that you don't already know what those conditions are, a little Bible study is in order. Acts 2:38 for starters, after that try John 14:6. To put it in a nutshell you must believe, repent, confess and be baptized for the remission of sins. Those are just the basics, there's a lot more than that to being a Christian, but that's enough to get you started.

Well, so much for the deep philosophy this time, keep prayin' for me and my family. I appreciate it more than you'll ever know.

*Pun intended :)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

It's About Time I Made Another Post

No new posts since May. Hmmm, not doing too well as a blogger, am I? I guess I just ain't one of those folks who can commit themselves to having deep philosophical revelations on a daily basis. It seems the only time I get on here to say something, I end up complaining about something...and I'm sure you folks don't get a big lift from hearing about my problems.

So here I am again, rattling my cage and complaining about how life really stinks right now. I know I should be grateful just to be here, able to see, feel, taste, and enjoy life. It's not like I'm homeless (at least yet), suffering from some incurable disease, or starving to death like so many others. It makes me feel guilty to complain about these little bumps in the road that I'm experiencing...but they're MY bumps, I feel them, and they don't feel nice.

Here's some updates on the whole family and things in general so you have some kind of idea where I'm coming from:

Today was my first day of unemployment in about 12 years. Yesterday was the last day of the summer term and the school has decided to change the format of the class I was teaching from a 3 term/900 hour course to three separate 300 hour courses on the different topics I was teaching. Plus they're moving it from day classes to night classes. The changes technically make it an entirely different class, so they have to start over from ground-zero, which means open interviews for instructors, etc. In the middle of this they have also been moving their classrooms from the old building to a new one...which is still in the final stages of construction. All of this means at least a month (probably 2 months) of no paycheck for me and the possibility that I might not be rehired. I've sent out a few resumés over the last month or so and had one interview, but no solid job prospects at the present time. I did submit a claim for unemployment benefits today, so hopefully I'll have a little income anyway.

My Wife
The wife is now working part time at the new Mal-Wart. Not the greatest pay scale in the world, but it's a job. It's easier than teaching school but a lot harder on her feet since she has to stand all day. The job physically wears her out to the point that about all she does is sleep when she's not on the job. Add to this that she just was informed that she gets an unpaid week off during fair week since, historically, their business drops dramatically during that period. So around the end of August there's going to be a big drop in our combined income for a while. Since many of our bills are already a month or or more overdue, I'm not looking forward to the notices and threatening calls from bill collectors that I know will eventually be coming in.

Son # 1
My oldest son just got word from the school that he taught at last year that they aren't rehiring him for this school year. They waited until late July to inform him of this, so all of the schools that were hiring have already done interviews. Thanks, board of education. He's sent out resumés also but, like his old man, hasn't had many nibbles. There's a good chance that he may have to move in with his mother-in-law or us, since I don't think he'll be able to afford the rent on the house where he's been living.

Daughter and #2 Son
These two are the only bright spots so far. my younger son's new job is going well and his employer seems to be happy with his work. There's been a hint of a possible promotion in a year or two to a significantly better paying position if he sticks with it. He misses being around family and friends, however, and longs to return to southern Ohio. My daughter is doing well academically and just turned 18. She doesn't say much about her personal life and feelings, but she seems to be happy; although a little bit bored by having to live with a couple of old geezers for at least another year. Her summer scholarship program appears to have been a blast and she's looking forward to being able to go to college next year. I just hope she can find a full-ride scholarship somewhere, because it doesn't look like we'll be able to afford tuition any time soon.

Other relatives
Mom fell and broke her arm and is still recovering from that. At 78 years old that's a serious thing to have happen but, considering her severe heart problems, she is doing pretty well. Dad is doing alright, but taking care of my mother puts a lot of stress on him as well. My wife's sister is still having problems with her legs, but has improved significantly over the past few months to the point that she can sometimes get around without a walker now. Her brother is being sued for medical expenses by a guy who was speeding in a blind curve and ran into him as he was pulling out of his driveway. Clearly the other guy's fault, but technically my brother-in-law was cited for the accident and therefore liable.

Well, enough about my problems, how's life treating you? Praise the Lord that I don't have cancer or whatever. I know things could be a lot worse...but when does the uphill part of this roller coaster ride I'm on begin?

Know of anybody hiring computer repairmen or teachers? I know where they can find some really good ones. :)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happiness Is

While driving his car through the streets, a successful musician was contemplating the bitterly cold weather outside and thinking how happy he was to be inside his nice warm vehicle. Stopping at a red light, he glanced over and noticed two men who were obviously down on their luck. Dressed in rags, they were talking to one another on the windy cold street corner. The musician thought about how unhappy they must be to be out in the bitter cold with nowhere to keep warm. Then both of the men laughed and it became obvious to him that one of them had just told the other a joke. They were happy. Standing outside on the coldest day of the year they were happy.

Recently I recalled an old Bobby Sherman song titled “Happiness Is.” It’s one of those songs with some pretty lousy lyrics but a catchy tune that gets stuck in your head and you sing it over and over to yourself until it almost drives you insane. That’s probably why Kent cigarettes picked up the tune for their TV jingle, and yes, I remember when they used to advertise cigarettes on TV. Anyway, the song talks about what happiness means to different sorts of people. If you haven’t heard it, don’t bother looking up the lyrics, they’re not that great. Example: “To the Beatles, it’s a yeah, yeah, yeah.” But the song brought up the question, “What IS happiness?”

We sometimes tend to tie happiness to material things. We think “If only I had this or that thing I would be happy.” Yet upon acquiring the desired thing we experience only a brief period of happiness. Once the newness of the desired possession wears off, we see something else that’s shinier and more desirable and once again think “If I only had that, THEN I would be happy.” And the cycle continues.

Personal achievements can be seen as the source of happiness as well. “If I can only win this contest, If I can only loose this weight, if I can only [insert goal here] then I would be happy.” Yet, once again, happiness is fleeting. Winning a contest or an award, achieving some other personal goal may bring a moment of happiness, but once it’s over the happiness fades quickly.

Speaking about serving others, Jesus said “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do themJohn 13:17. He had just washed the feet of his apostles, a menial task. I don’t know about you, but washing stinky, dirty feet doesn’t immediately conjure up images of happiness in my mind. Part of the point is that you can wash people’s feet and not enjoy it, or you can decide to be happy about serving others. It’s all in how you approach the task.

Happiness is not about obtaining possessions or personal glory. Happiness is a state of mind. You can decide to be happy or not. Like those men on the cold, windy street corner, we can choose to be happy no matter what our situation. Happiness is in the doing, not in the getting. Serving others can bring happiness or not. No matter where you are, no matter what you have, no matter how rich or poor you are, ultimately whether you are happy or not depends on you. Decide to be happy.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

A Couple of Unanswerable Questions

I ran across a couple of rhetorical questions on some Live Journal blogs the other day. I usually don't pay a lot of attention to stuff like that, but these two made me think a little bit.

The first question went something like Does Superman have to exercise? The blogger's commentary went something along the lines of, if the Man of Steel puts on a few extra pounds, does he get winded when walking up stairs, or does he have just as much energy as he does when he's fit and trim? Can he eat a whole bag of potato chips, a gallon of ice cream, and a half dozen candy bars and not gain a pound? Certainly this is an unanswerable question. Superman is a fiction to begin with, so there's really no way to answer it. The answer depends on the people who write the comics. My guess is that somewhere over the past 69 years since he was created, one or more of the stories has dealt with this very issue.

The second question was a little more thought provoking, one that I've heard asked in other places as well. Is God male, female, or genderless? It really isn't that important to know and I'm sure God would answer in some cryptic fashion such as "I am that I am" or something to that effect. Most Bibles refer to God in the masculine although there have been a few that have had a feminine slant and others that endeavored to remain neutral on the subject. If you go back to the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, my guess is they probably use the masculine. But when you really stop to think about it...what would God need with gender anyway? God doesn't need special body parts to create.
Man was created in God's image, but does that mean a physical image, or just a philosophical kind of thing? An unanswerable question to be sure, but intriguing to think about nonetheless.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Now that I are a teacher...

If you had told me in high school that I would eventually end up being a teacher, I would have laughed in your face. I wasn't the best of students. In fact I was a pretty poor one. It wasn't that I didn't have the potential, I just didn't have the motivation. I squeaked by in most of my classes with a C or less. A few F's here and there, not enough to fail the course, but it surely didn't help my GPA.

College was a bit different, but again I wasn't greatly motivated at first. It was just more school. Predictably, my grades weren't that spectacular. I did feel somewhat guilty about it since my parents were paying the tuition, and I eventually dropped out of school rather than waste their money.

When I returned to school several years later it was at my own expense, so I had some motivation for good grades, plus I was taking mostly classes that were of great interest to me. Not surprisingly, my GPA came up dramatically.

Now that I'm a teacher, those years of being a slacker are coming back to haunt me. I've discovered that motivating students to learn, to take an interest in what I''m trying to teach, is a real challenge. What works for one student doesn't work for others. And some students just don't respond to anything. I'm starting to realize how many of my teachers over all of those years must have felt. If you care about teaching, you care about your students, and you care about how well they are doing. If the student doesn't care, it doesn't still care. It's hard to see a student continue to get poor grades when you've done all you can think of to motivate them.

I suppose that's sort of how God feels when He sees how we sometimes act. After everything He's done for us, all of the teaching His Son did, all of the Scriptures He has given us...we still don't seem to get it right. Will we ever learn? Most of us probably won't. Everything in this life is sort of like a series of labs, pop quizzes, and exams over the things Jesus taught. And you know what? There's a final exam...will you pass it? I suppose a lot of it depends on how motivated you were.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Well another month has passed without any comments from me...guess it's time to say something else.

I switched to the new version of Blogger and lost all of my customized design stuff here, so I suppose I'll spend a little time soon restoring some of the things that were lost if possible. I put off making the switch for a while after the new version was announced, mainly because I'm a person that resists change. I'm set in my ways, I don't like to move out of my comfort zone. If it ain't busted, don't mess with it. Unfortunately I'm one of the administrators of our church blog, and for that blog to move on to the new version I had to upgrade. So I've been dragged, kicking and screaming, into the new blogger universe.

I'm like that with a lot of things in life. I tend to go with the flow. Don't get excited, just sit back and see what happens next. If pushed, I'll make adjustments, but I don't really like to go out on those limbs. I think the reason for my conservative "don't take chances" approach to life is because I've had too many limbs sawed off behind me. I like to play it safe.

In some ways it's nice to be that way...things tend to be stable. I like stability. Stability is easy to deal with. Change is difficult. Change means I have to work towards making things stable again. Don't rock my boat, I don't like it.

Yet change is inevitable. Nothing remains the same forever. New jobs, new situations, people come and go, eventually everything in life changes in some way. Sometimes it's gradual and we hardly notice it. That's nice. Gradual change is a lot easier to deal with than radical things like changing jobs, sudden illness, etc. I can deal with most things like that, but it's not pleasant. It makes me nervous and upset.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this post, I don't have a scripture quote or some sort of parable to go along with it. No real profound philosophical revelation...just a crotchety old man rambling on about nothing important.

Maybe next time I'll have something more enlightening to say.