Sunday, August 30, 2009

Thank You, Pastor Ed

A NOTE FROM RON: The following post was written in appreciation of the music minister at my church. It's very similar to a post I wrote on Monday, June 29, the day after he presented his resignation to the church. Both were written from the heart and just reconfirm how much both Paula and I love Pastor Ed and Dianne as church members and appreciate what they've done in their service to God and our church during their time there.

Today was the last day the music minister at my church, would serve in that position. I'll tell you more about the reason why he's leaving later.

I believe Pastor Ed served as leader of the music ministry at my church for about 4 years. He improved it in ways which are too many to write about in this post. Right now I just want to let you know what his ministry and his friendship have meant to Paula and me.

It was under Pastor Ed’s ministry that Paula became excited about and more involved in the church music ministry; especially the church choir. This was significant in a couple of ways. Perhaps most importantly it gave her an identity in church ministry other than being “Mr. Ron’s wife.”

She felt encouraged enough to start singing solos again. Her creative passion and the support she received from Pastor Ed quickly led her to move from choosing traditional hymns to more contemporary Christian songs for her solos. This was something that didn't just bless the congregation. I truly believe that God helped to grow Paula spiritually through the experience of learning and preparing to sing those solos. Most recently she joined the praise team, which leads the worship singing on Sunday mornings, and several all woman trios and quartets.

Yes, over the past 4 years or so my wife has really become involved in being a minister of music at church. Pastor Ed had a large part in the growth in her ministry. Thank you, Pastor Ed.

He was also a big encouragement to me in many ways as well. It was July of 06 that I began my ventriloquism ministry at my church. From the beginning Pastor Ed was a supporter. Because he was in charge of keeping the morning worship service flowing in an effective and worshipful manner he always made sure I had the set up to do what I was doing that morning.

Whether it was ventriloquism at the start of the service or the children’s sermon in the middle; Pastor Ed always looked after what I needed and helped me with the transitions. He also laughed at my jokes too; well, most of them.

Over the last couple of years Pastor Ed encouraged me to sing solos as well. He always asked me if I had something ready when he needed someone to sing. I can’t recall exactly how many solos I’ve done over these last couple of years but I do remember 2 of them specifically. I have written posts about each of them so I won’t go into great detail about them.

Singing the songs “My Tribute” and “Statue Of Liberty” in a morning worship service on two separate occasions gave me a pair of spiritual blessings I will always remember. For more details on these blessings read my posts from November 24, 2008 and July 5, 2009. When I sang “Statue of Liberty”, on the Sunday before I went in for my weight loss surgery, I didn’t just sing a song. I sang my testimony.

Because of Pastor Ed’s leadership and faith in me I was able to receive those blessings. Thank You, Pastor Ed.

I couldn’t acknowledge the blessing that the ministry of Pastor Ed has been with mentioning his wife, Dianne. She is truly the woman behind the man but a blessing in and of herself. Her involvement with Operation Christmas Child each year has helped children all over the country. Her accomplishment of running the Walt Disney World marathon race last year was an inspiration as well.

Together as a couple Pastor Ed and Dianne not only were a blessing to our church choir but in 2007 & 2008 they opened their home for a canasta tournament. On Kentucky Derby day church members and along with some of their family members gathered in Pastor Ed’s and Dianne’s living and dining rooms for an afternoon/evening of card playing sandwiched around a wonderful pot luck dinner. It was one of the most fun events of the year. I especially enjoyed it because I won a prize both years.

The reason Pastor Ed is resigning as music minister is because he and Dianne will be moving to Florida to be close to family. We all hate to see them go. But we are thankful that God has allowed them to minister to and with us for as long as they have. They are special people and special friends. They even loaned us their treadmill to use after we had surgery.

For me one of the bright sides of Pastor Ed and Dianne moving is that they will be living near Orlando. They have made Paula and I promise that we will come visit them some day. While we're there I can’t see any reason not to go visit Mickey and friends in Disney World. Just another reason in the future to say “Thank You, Pastor Ed.”

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Keeping Tapes Is A Matter of Pride

I recently finished reading a book entitled “Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World.” It’s a series of essays by a variety of pastors compiled by C.J. Mahaney. It deals with the subject of “the often subtle presence” of worldliness in the heart of a Christian.

There’s discussion about and biblical resolution for the influence the world has on a believer through the media, music, and possessions. There’s also chapter on materialism. This deals with two issues: the sinful obsession with accumulating possessions and allowing those possessions to displace God as the object of worship in your life.

“Worldliness” explores how Christians are to live lives worthy of the gospel and engage a fallen world, without being conformed and ultimately seduced by the system of this world.

The book didn’t have a lot theology that was new to me but it did help me revisit some of the lessons I had learned while taking the Crown Financial course last year.

The idea of “want versus need” was something that I had kind of drifted away from but the book brought me back to. Also I needed to be reminded about the danger of displacing God in my life by putting too much value in my possessions and the achievements linked to them. Here’s an area in my life where I had to apply that principle.

For over a year now I have been transferring some programs I taped over a period of 10 years called “Rock & Roll Rewind.” These are programs that review the artists and pop music I have in my CD collection. Each program featured music on a specific subject, from a certain period of time, or recorded were by specific artists. I researched the music history, put together the song lists, wrote the scripts and produced the tapes. I put a lot of time and emotion into them; especially the programs featuring Christmas music.

The shows were my creative outlet for nearly a decade. I even continued to record them after I moved to Kentucky. They are personal time capsules for me. I made 36 programs in all. The last ones were recorded in 2001.

Unfortunately they were all recorded on cassette tapes which have not withstood the test of time. The tapes started to deteriorate a couple of years ago. Which is why I decided to start converting them over to CD. I didn’t want to lose these recordings. I consider them part of my creative legacy.

So now I’m at a place where I have all but 5 shows converted. This brings me to the issue of placing too much value in one of my possessions.

After I read the chapter on materialism in “Worldliness” it brought to my mind the fact that despite having converted some of them to CD nearly a year ago I still continued to hold on to the original Rewind tapes. I asked myself “why?” Why didn’t I just throw them away after the CD was completed? After some soul searching and prayer I realized it was because of personal pride.

I am very proud of the Rewind programs. They haven’t impressed a whole lot of people over the years (some have liked them but not many) but they mean a lot to me. In my mind if I discarded the “master tapes” and something happened to the only copy I had (the CD) my work would be lost forever. Essentially I want my Rewind work to last “forever” or as long as I can make it last.

This is a form of trying to play “God” for myself. The Bible tells us that only those treasures we store up in heaven will last forever. Nothing in this world is going to survive. All of it will eventually be destroyed. Some of it sooner than later but it will all go away.

Holding on to my Rewind master tapes is a denial of this Biblical principal and truth. It would be different if the tapes were my only copy. I mean there’s nothing wrong to want the recordings as part of my personal memories. But keeping the master tapes in effort to create a false sense of eternally securing the existence of my work is a sin; a sin that falls under the broad category of pride.

I don’t want to put my hope or my assurance of “eternal security” into anything other than God and the saving grave of His son, Jesus Christ. The gospel is my legacy.

I decided I’m going to “dematerialize”. I’m going to start discarding things that I’ve been holding onto for prideful reasons. So today before I left for work I gathered the Rewind master tapes that I already have on CD and I threw them in the trash can.

This may seem like it’s a bit extreme to some of you. But I must tell you the concept of depending on nothing but God for the preservation of who I am as a person is extremely biblical. If you’re intrigued by what I’ve written or at all interested in what I’ve learned about materialism I suggest you pick up a copy of “Worldliness” by C.J. Mahaney at your local Christian book store. Read it and I promise you that you’ll see your possessions differently… from God’s point of view.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Weight Loss is Laced With Little Moments

To step on the scale and see that you have lost nearly 60 pounds in 7 ½ weeks is a big moment for anyone trying to lose weight. Since my surgery I’ve had several big moments but they don’t happen every day.

The thing that really encourages me is the continuous parade of “little moments” that collectively motivates me to keep working at what I need to do to get closer to my goal.

I’m talking about being able to walk twice around the contoured ½ mile road through our cemetery without stopping to rest on the bench halfway around.

Walking up the stairs to get to the call center where I work and not be out of breath. Being able to walk with someone to the break room and be able to carry on a conversation without gasping for air.

Finding one of my favorite T-shirts in the back of my closet and discovering that I can wear it for the first time in 3 years.

But the best “little moment” I had this week was when I bought a new pair of walking shoes. For years (so long I can’t remember) I’ve had to buy sneakers with Velcro on them because I couldn’t bend over to tighten or tie laces. This time I decided that I would try to buy a pair with laces.

I was a little apprehensive when looking for just the right pair but I finally found one that laced partially up the ankle. I need the support. In the very public forum of the store called “The Shoe Carnival” I began what I feared would be a contortionist act of trying to tie shoes on my feet for the first time in a long time.

Much to my surprise I was able to get them tight and secure with little or no difficulty. It was a big little moment for me. I was so proud to take those shoes with laces to the front counter and pay for them. No one in the store other than my wife, who was with me, had the slightest idea that this pair of New Balance walking shoes was different from any other pair I had purchased in at least 10 years.

The next day I got those shoes out of the box, laced them up and took my dogs for a walk. The shoes gripped my feet so comfortably that, as I mentioned before, I was able to make it all the way around the cemetery, twice, without stopping.

So there you have just the latest of the many differences losing weight and getting back into shape (at least better shape than I was) is making in my life.

I thank God that He has sent me these little encouragements and continues to give me the strength to improve my health so I can do what I need to do for Him.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Another Wedding In October

A lot has happened in my life over the last year. My new job; our son James coming home from Iraq, buying a house, and moving out; both my wife and I having had gastric by pass surgery are just 3 of the major events. This year has been a lot different than last year.

Yet part of it is exactly the same. On September 7, 2008 I wrote a post about getting ready for some big events for my family in the month of October. Two of those same type events are happening the first weekend of this October.

On October 3 my son, James and his fiancée, Brandi, are getting married. My family from Pennsylvania is coming down for the wedding as part of their vacation; just like last year.

The family will be arriving on Wednesday to visit us here in our little town for a couple of days. Then we travel as a group on Friday to Gatlinburg, Tennessee for the wedding on Saturday. We will be spending Friday night and all day Saturday together in a 24 person cabin in the Smokey Mountains.

This is all very exciting and has been something I’ve looked forward to for most of the year. However it wasn’t until the other night when Paula and I were discussing the plans for the wedding weekend that I realized we only have 5 weeks to go.

While Paula’s going to be helping Brandi with all the wedding plans as well as the small reception afterward. I am going to be in charge of making sure things go smoothly with my PA family. I’ll be doing my best to see that they enjoy their visit with us here at home and at the cabin in Gatlinburg.

I’ll write more about the event as it gets closer and after it happens. For now I must make the most of the time I have to prepare for these events.

Here at home it means sprucing up each and every room of the house so it’s presentable to company. I know my family will say that I don’t have to fuss for them but there are things I’ve been putting off doing that need to be done before they arrive. This includes reorganizing and rearranging things in several rooms.

I only have about 10 days off of work (2 each week for the next 5 weeks) to get this done so it looks as though, just like last year, I’ll be suspending my Rewind restoration project. Those afternoon hours on my days off can be better spent doing things around the house.

So it looks like the next 5 weeks are going to be very busy for both Paula and me as its déjà vu all over again with a wedding and a family visit. I can’t wait until the first weekend of October.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My Melodica

For years now I have wanted to learn how to play an instrument. Well actually, I already know how to play the harmonica. The one I have doesn't let me play sharp and flat notes. So I am limited on the songs I can play.

I tried to learn the guitar last year but had some difficulty with holding it and with my fingers reaching to play the chords. I decided to learning put it off until later. I really want to learn to play the Ukulele too.

I bought a recorder in October of last year but only picked it up a couple of times and never did learn how to play anything.

While watching some music videos by Julia Nunes, on You Tube ( I recommend you do a search and watch and listen to some of her music) I saw an instrument that I've always been fascinated with. I didn't know the name of it but thought it would be cool to have one. I did a little research on the internet and found out that it's called a "Melodica"

With my birthday coming up in a couple of weeks (2 weeks from tomorrow all you potential gift buyers) I decided that I would get a student model of a melodica. It came today by UPS. I am so pleased with it.

I am excited to start learning how to play worship songs that I can play in church some time in the future. I am also planning on making it part of my ventriloquist show as well. Kind of an entertaining segue between puppets or sketches. Haven't developed anything specific yet but I will.

So now I that I have a melodica I have to decide that I'm going to practice and learn the songs I am so anxious to play. I guess I'd better become committed to practicing my ventriloquism too so I can combine them for my shows.

Please pray for me and my commitment. I'm going to need it.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A New Post Surgery Low

Good News! After a week of being at odds with my scale this morning it finally told me something I was happy to hear. Yes I said “it told me”. My scale is one with an electronically tells you your weight. It told me a number lower than any other I’ve heard in the past 8 weeks. This is very encouraging to me given the fact that these last 7 days have been my slowest week for weight loss since surgery.

A majority of that time I have been frustrated with my lack progress. But now that I have reached a new low number and a new high in pounds lost I am encouraged. God is faithful and has helped me be disciplined in sticking to what I need to do to be successful.

Now I’m looking forward to stepping on the scale again with faith that I’m back on track and will keep hearing numbers I like.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Quoits (pronounced "kwaits") is a game I've known of since I was a preschooler. It was very popular in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania, just across the Delaware River from New Jersey, where I grew up.

Over the past couple of years I've discovered that hardly anyone in the south knows about quiots. With the recent growth in popularity of the corn hole game(a southern version of the common bean bag tossing game) I've been mentioning it to people I know and no one is familiar with the game.

According to Wikapedia, quoits is an old traditional lawn game that originated in England. It was brought to America in the 18th century. Today it's most popular in the Slate Belt region of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

The quiot boards are usually crafted out of slate (see picture above), are 24 inches square and weigh about 50 pounds each. The quoits are disks made of a hard but pliable rubber, are 8 inches in diameter with a 4 inch hole in the center.

The game is played in a manner similar to horseshoes. The players stand on either side of the board and throw the quoits at the other board 18 ft away. The goal is to toss the quoit onto the hub in the center of the board. That's called "a ringer" and is worth 3 points. If no ringers are thrown the quoit closest to the hub, measured by the concentric circles on the board, scores a point. The game goes to 21.

It's a very enjoyable and social game. In Pennsylvania there are even organized leagues and tournaments. There's hardly a summer picnic or gathering where some one doesn't bring a set of quoit boards.

For quite some time now, based on the popularity of the corn hole game, I've been thinking of trying to introduce the game of quoits to the area. However because of their size and weight shipping them from the Lehigh Valley companies who make them is expensive; up to $100 for a set.

Still I'm extremely curious to see what the cultural response would be. Would quoits catch on as a game in Kentucky? If so how popular would it become? Would it be the next "corn hole"?

To find out the answer to these questions I'm going to have to be pretty committed simply because of the cost. To get a set of boards, made of composite material lighter than slate, shipped here from the Easton company who makes them will cost close to $310. I could have my family bring set with them when they come to visit in October but that would still cost me about $250.

It's an experiment that I can't quite afford right now. Perhaps one day in the future might be able to introduce my friends here in Kentucky to a game that was part of the culture where I grew up: Quoits.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Check Up Day

Yesterday, Thursday, was a very busy day for us. It started off with the ringing of the alarm clock followed by a 1 mile walk around the cemetery with our pups. Around 9:15, ,after a stop by my sister-in-law's house to wish her "happy birthday", we headed down I-65 to Nashville.

We had a 10:30 appointment to see Dr. Houston, our surgeon. For Paula it was a 9 week check up; for me it was 6 weeks. It was a very good visit. I have "officially" lost 54 pounds. Paula has lost 49.

After our appointment we went to a local Greek restaurant and had lunch with a couple of Paula's friends, Melinda and Tammy. They are both bariatric surgery patients. Paula met through one of the online support group forums she participates in. They both live in Nashville and are friends. We were meeting them for the first time.

The food was okay but the conversation was terrific. Paula really enjoyed meeting them. I did my best to kind of stay in the back of the conversation and let the 3 gals just have fun getting to know each other better.

About 1 o'clock we headed back toward home. We had a long list of things we needed to do in town so we decided to stop and get them done. We would then come home and rest before heading back into town for our weight loss support group meeting.

It took us about 2 1/2 hours to complete our list which included stops at Sam's Club, the Vitamin Shop, and Kroger. By the time we got back home and put everything away we only had 1/2 an hour to rest before going to our meeting.

The support group meeting is a wonderful thing for us. It meets twice a month. We enjoy seeing all our friends and fellow weight loss surgery patients. We discuss our problems and our successes with the people who can really identify with them the most.

Finally, we were back home for the rest of the night about 8 o'clock. It had been a long day. I was ready to finally relax for the evening but remembered I still had to take out the trash. I kicked the can the curb, fed the dogs, and called it a day.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Day of "Trials" and "Blessings"

Even after nearly 48 years on this earth it still amazes me how a single day can consist of a wide range of contrasting emotions and events. For a Christian this daily potential is backed by one on going hope or assurance. The day, either of itself or within the context of a longer range of time, will always result in growing them spiritually or in bringing glory to God. Sometimes it’s “a two for one special” and its both. This happens only by the active and sovereign will of God. This brings me to the events of today.

The day didn’t start out too well. I woke up at 6:40 AM on my day off. This was after only sleeping 5 hours. The scale told me that I hadn’t lost any weight after exercising twice yesterday. I couldn’t get connected to a virtual online job fair for a company I was looking into working for. I spent about 45 minutes filling an application online that couldn’t be completed because of a software issue.

Finally, I found out that my request for 2 of the 3 days I need off in October from my current job at ShopNBC had been denied.

By the time all those frustrating events happened I was at my wits end in the “faith” department. I know God doesn’t want me to be tired. Why couldn’t I sleep? He wants me to lose weight. Why are the scales not moving? I know he wants me to get a job where I can spend more time with my wife. Why couldn’t I log on to the job fair or complete the application? I need those days off to go to James wedding in Gatlinburg. Why were they denied?

Now I didn’t really want answers to those questions I just wanted to give into my lack of faith; at least for a few minutes. After a while I decided that it wasn’t God’s fault. After all His word is filled with verses and promises that He’ll always be faithful and do what’s best for us. He never changes and is always faithful. I was being impatient and selfish; wanting things to be easy.

Putting my “crisis of faith” aside I looked toward the things I needed to do the rest of the day. Those things turned out to be things that showed me where God really wants me to put my faith: into action.

Over the course of the rest of the day I would come to realize the blessing of being allowed to serve others and help them in ways they aren’t expecting.

I dropped off some household goods to the Good Will store. There weren’t any clothes or appliances or anything major but there may be something that someone might need and get a blessing from finding it.

I also delivered a small room air conditioner to our neighbors at the end of our street. They have some small children who do not have any thing but a fan to keep them cool at night. The A/C unit we recently removed from our bedroom window should be a blessing to those children. The children’s father was very grateful for the blessing.

Coincidentally later in the afternoon a deacon from our church came by our house and picked up the 2nd and larger air conditioner we had stored away. He's going to give it to a co-worker who was living in a trailer with no A/C.

Being able to give some our possessions to help bless others is an action that’s very humbling and a blessing at the same time.

Finally the event that made me realize what a blessing serving others is happened when I led the children’s ministry hour at our church in the evening.

I really didn’t do much except teach the kids about puppets and how to use their imagination to create a character. I also taught them how to tell a story with their creations. There wasn’t much taught from the Bible during the hour but it was a time for the kids to have fun and just enjoying being at church. For me it was a realization of just how much I still enjoy teaching children.

So there you have my day of events that ran from a “trial of faith” to an afternoon and evening of blessings. As I wrote at the beginning I’m still very surprised at how much can happen in a day. Now that it’s over I am grateful that God is so faithful and is teaching me lessons (several of them sometimes) on a daily basis. No matter how low the gage gets on my “faith meter.” I can always fall back on Jesus to be faithful and count on his blessings.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Back To Work

Today is the day I return to my job at ShopNBC. I've been off on a personal leave of absence since July 5.

Over the past 6 weeks my life has changed dramatically. I have been changed physically through surgery. This has resulted in losing over 50 pounds. The change in lifestyle has been significant as well. I have gone from sleeping 8-9 hours a night to between 6 & 7. My diet and eating habits are extremely different and better. I have been more ambitious. Striving to get a list of tasks completed on a daily and or weekly basis. I have started to exercise on a regular basis as well.

All of these changes, along with the spiritual growth God has cultivated in my life through the studying of His word, makes me a different person that the one who left the ShopNBC call center some 45 days ago.

I will do my best to continue in my new lifestyle and mindset once I get back into the pattern that working 2nd shift (3:30 to midnight) requires. I plan on continuing to get up about 7 or 8 am and getting things done around the house before I have to leave for work. In addition there will be trips to the gym to exercise 3 times a week.

I pray that God will help me keep this new attitude of the heart and its accompanying actions foremost in my mind and behavior as I go back to the job He has given to me.

It's going to take some purposeful adjustments and some time to adapt to going back to work. But I know that God has worked in my life over the past 6 weeks. I have grown in a lot of ways. This has allowed me to begin down the path God wants me to follow. I must continue to walk that road in faith not letting anything, including the circumstances and obstacles that come with working 2nd shift, stand in my way. Please pray for me I could use the support.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

HALT Helps With Resisting Temptation

In 1 Corinthians 10:13 the apostle Paul writes: No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man". This means that temptation to sin should be an expected part of any Christian's life. But the second part of that verse is a promise that gives us hope. "God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."

This morning on his Sunday morning program, In Touch, Dr. Charles Stanley, one of my favorite preachers, presented a message entitled "Responding to Temptation Wisely". You can see the sermon and review the sermon notes at

The reason I bring this up is that in this sermon he presents an acronym that can be used to help to remember factors in our lives that leave us more likely to give into temptation. That acronym is HALT. It stands for:


Spiritually every Christian is extremely vulnerable to giving into temptation to the point of sin when any of these elements are in their lives to extreme. In order to be able to be alert and able to resist temptation a Christian should do their best not to ever be too hungry, too angry, too lonely, or too tired.

Of course taking those precautions will help in resisting temptation but there is an ultimate weapon that God has given us to resist the tempter, Satan. That is His Word. When Jesus was tempted three times by the devil in the wilderness He used scripture to resist the evil one's proposals to sin. The Word of God helps you escape from temptation. HALT will keep you from being vulnerable to temptation in your life.

I'm not doing this point any justice. I highly recommend you go to and listen to the sermon. It will help you grow and become stronger dealing with the temptations in your life.
God Bless.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Follow Up Picture

This past Monday (Aug. 10) I wrote a post about a display remembering my dad. In that post I mentioned Green's bridge, a railroad bridge along the main street in my hometown of Phillipsburg, New Jersey.

After I published that post I searched Google for a picture of Green's bridge and here's what I found.

This is Green's Bridge. It's nothing remarkable but to me it's a reminder of where I grew up and my family who still live in the area.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Walk In The Park

Last night I went to Bowling Green Ballpark to see the Hot Rods play for the 4th time in the last month.

It probably was the last time I'll be able to go this season because I go back to working 2nd shift starting Monday.

I went by myself and sat down the left field line about 3 rows from the field. It was the first time I got to see the Hot Rods win. The final score was 3-1.

Because I was alone I decided that I wanted to see the entire ballpark for myself. After the 6th inning I left my seat and walked around the ballpark. I walked down the left field line since I was already on that side. I thought I was going to be able to walk around the entire park but public access ends at the home team bullpen.

I stopped along the way to get the view of the field from different vantage points. After a few minutes in left field I made my way back around past the gates and the concession stands and down the right side of the stadium.

The right field line is a whole lot more fan friendlier than the left side. The stadium store is there along with a kid's play area. There are several picnic tables on a patio at the very far end just above the visitor's bull pen. That's where the picture at the top of this post was taken.

Now to the average person there's nothing really all that significant about going around a relatively small ballpark. I'd say it's only about 500 yards from one end to the other. However for me to be able to do it without very much effort was an accomplishment. It shows that I'm making progress physically in my effort to get into better shape. At the start of the summer I never would have been able to make it. That's very encouraging.

I can't wait until I get to go to a game next season. By that time even if I buy a ticket for the seat that's the farthest from home plate. Getting to it will be a walk in the park.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Memories Of Christmas Past

I realize that it's still late summer and that Christmas is a few months away but I was visited by the memories of Christmas past, this week.

I spent a couple of hours copying a program of Christmas music I made 10 years ago in December 1999. It was another of my Rewind Christmas programs. For those of you not familiar with my Rewind programs let me explain.

Rock & Roll Rewind is a series of programs I wrote and recorded for over the course of about 10 years. They feature music about specific subjects (one hit wonders or instrumental hits for example) which link together through narration. Out of 37 programs 5 of them featured Christmas music.

The Christmas program I recorded in 1999 was significant because of all the changes in my life that year. I realized that at the time I recorded it because I made a statement to that fact at the start of the tape. I chose the subtitle: Christmas In Kentucky because it was the first holiday season I was living in the bluegrass state.

In addition to spending my first Christmas with Paula and her family in Kentucky; it was the first time in my life I wouldn't be with my family in Pennsylvania on Christmas day. Also it was the first holiday season since the death of my father. It was a year of events that changed everything and this Rewind Christmas show would address those changes.

I know it's rather self indulgent for me to be writing about this but hearing this Rewind show again 10 years later really touched my heart. The script recalled the family tradition of decorating my parent's house and the music that we played every year. I remembered my father by celebrating all the things he loved about the holidays. I acknowledged and recounted one of the best Christmas days in our family history; Christmas 1997. That was the day that Olyvia Rose Nunez was born.

In the preshow statement I mentioned before I expressed a hope that, in the future, when anyone heard the show they would remember and compare. Remember the people and the days which I endeavoured to honor through words and music. Compare where they are now to where they were in 1999 and see how far they've come

While recording the tape I participated in both of those actions. In the end I realized how much I still miss both my parents. I also found myself grateful to God for the way he has guided and grown me over the past 10 years. In my case, as I look back at the my life in Kentucky over this past decade I overwhelmingly see the hand of God on my life.

I am so thankful that He brought me back to Him. He loves and cares for me and has blessed me in ways I could never ever imagined 10 years ago. He helps me every day and is working in my life to make me into someone who can bring glory to His name.

Christmas is always a sentimental time of the year. The "Rewind: Christmas In Kentucky" program preserved the sentiment of Christmas 1999. Listening to it once again has given me a renewed assurance of God's faithfulness as I face the future.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

"Totally" Committed

I was very disappointed and somewhat angry after discovering yesterday that the new public indoor pool built by our county school district isn't all that accessible or friendly to the public. I was looking forward to swimming again on a regular basis. But it won't be there.

However my that pool was not my only aquatic option. There is a gym called "Total Fitness Connection" on the other side of town (the town about 25 miles away not my little quiet hometown by the way). It has a pool, exercise equipment, weight machines, and free weights.

I went there today to investigate the facilities, especially the pool. I liked what I saw. When I found out that I got a $15 monthly discount and a $150 enrollment fee discount because of where I work I liked it even more. I signed up for a year.

In addition to exercising and swimming, the center has a physical therapy department that will give me a free consultation. I can have an evaluation by a therapist to help me with the tightness I've been having in my right hip. That's another advantage of becoming a member.

So now I'm committed to walking my dogs for a mile every day and to going to the gym and swimming or working out at least 3 days a week for about an hour or so.

It's going to take some effort and planning to get into my new habit; but if my wife can do it so can I. So while I haven't actually accomplished much of anything in regard to taking my exercise to a new level, yet. But in my heart and mind I am now "Totally Committed".

Monday, August 10, 2009

Displaying Dad's Trains

Last month when we rearranged our living room we replaced one of the storage cabinets with a bookshelf. On the bottom 3 shelves we have displayed our DVD collection. Paula suggested that we use the top shelf to display my dad's model railroad cars.

They have been wrapped up and put away since I brought them back from New Jersey about 5 years ago.

The engine, passenger car, box car, and caboose represent the memory of my father's hobby, model railroading. His passion for it began when he was a teenager. It was a passion he pursued the rest of his life.

The display I created is pictured above. The four cars were hand painted and very meticulously lettered by dad himself. The picture in the back ground shows a train from a railroad company called "The Chessie System" crossing over a bridge. The picture has a double meaning.

"The Chessie System" was one of my dad's favorite railroads. He liked it so much he even named one of our cats after it. The bridge in the picture reminds me of "Green's Bridge" a railroad bridge that passes over a section of South Main in my hometown of Phillipsburg, New Jersey.

I'm very pleased with this memorial to my dad. I am very grateful to Paula for suggesting that we add it to our new living room. The timing of it's creation has special significance as well. It was 10 years ago this month that Dad went be with the Lord in heaven. I still miss him very much.

From now on when I'm in my living room I'll be able to look up and see a representation of one of the things he enjoyed during his life here with us. It will help me to remember that Dad is now in the only place he ever wanted to be; the presence of his creator. I can then remember and faithfully lean on the hope that one day soon I will be reunited with him as we spend eternity in Heaven praising the Lord forever.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

An Enjoyable "Last Weekend"

This weekend was my last one off of work due to surgery. Next Sunday, August 16, I start back to work on my 3:30 to Midnight shift making my life "out of sync" with the rest of my world once again. Having said that I wanted to make note of how much I enjoyed these past 2 days, my last Saturday & Sunday "free" for a while.

On Saturday, while my wife went to Nashville with her cousin, I spent the morning and early afternoon at home. I had gotten up about 6:30. About 9:30 I walked my dogs twice around the cemetery. This doubled the distance we had gone previously. I had to laugh because near the end of the 2nd time around the dogs, who had been walking out in front of me with their leashes taught most of the time, had their tongues hanging out and were doing their best to keep up with me. I guess a mile walk was a bit much for them. But they'll get used to it.

After the walk I rested a bit then played a couple of games of tennis on the Wii video game system. I took a 90 minute nap and then went to our church to do some recording of cassette tapes to CD. That took about 3 hours.

When I got returned home my wife had gotten back from her trip to Tennessee. I spent a few brief moments with her before I left to pick up my oldest son and daughter-in-law. We went to the Hot Rods baseball game. We each got a model replica of the new stadium as a free souvenir. The game was pretty much a blow out as the Hot Rods lost 9-2. But getting to spend time with Michael and Heather was worth the price of admission.

Today, Sunday, started out with going to church by myself. Paula was feeling a bit tired and ill. It was nothing serious. She was suffering from what we have come to describe as "a grouchy pouch". It's best explained as a bit of an upset stomach.

After church I came home and spent some time with my wife. We had a very relaxing afternoon. We really are settling into enjoying our empty nest together.

About 5PM I went back to our church campus to attend the "Back to Sunday School" block party. This was as big event. There was inflatables for the kids to play on, a dunk tank, and a "pie in the face" booth, a cake walk, as well as other events and games. Of course there was food as well: hot dogs, nachos, and snow cones. None of which I could have but that didn't bother me.

The turn out was amazing. There were a lot of people there. The only problem was that it was incredibly hot. Despite the heat and the nearly blinding sunlight there were perspiring, sunbuned face kids and adults running around every where having a good time. I couldn't stay out in the heat (about 92 degrees) and sun for very long. I sat under the canopy outside for a while but eventually took refuge in the air conditioned church fellowship hall.

While inside I decided to watch the cake walk. The two ladies who were running the game had been doing a great job but the music they were using was not very good. I retrieved a children's praise CD with better music on it for them to use. I'm not exactly sure how but after I did that I got involved in running the game as well. This wasn't a problem. I really enjoyed it. I was in my element.

About 7PM I left the block party and came home to have dinner with my wife. I also settled in and watched the last game of a 4 game series between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. The Yanks had already won the first 3 games so I truly expected them to lose this one.

The game turned out to be yet another classic in the on-going rivalry between these two teams. The Yankees came back to win the game (5-2) in a fashion reminiscent of their comebacks during their championship runs of late 90's and early 2000's.

The comeback was so exciting it got me wondering if the "ghosts" that were so legendary in the "old" Yankee Stadium have finally made the move to the new stadium. In case you haven't gotten the picture I really enjoyed the game.

So there you have it, that was my weekend. Not really much on an event by event basis but for me the sum of all the parts made it a very enjoyable one. I may not have many more like this for a while but it was fun while it lasted. All I can say is "Thanks for the weekend God, I really needed it."

Friday, August 7, 2009

Dog Day In August

According to Wikipedia, the phrase "Dog Days", refers to the hottest, most sultry days of summer. Well yesterday was a warm day with a high temperature of 84 but that's not why it was a "Dog Day" for me.

I know I've written about starting to take my dogs for a walk this week already, but yesterday I took it to the next level. I had been walking them individually; each one time around the cemetery. Today I took them both at the same time. This took me about 20 minutes.

With that completed, most of the rest of the day was spent doing other things for my dogs as well. I took their crates outside onto our car port, sprayed them down, and washed them. Then I vacuumed and mopped the area of the room where the crates are kept.

Later, about 9:30PM I gave each of them a bath. The most difficult thing about this is getting them into the bathroom. Once I take their collars off and head toward the bathroom they both realize they what's about to happen. This is not something they want to volunteer for. They hide and try to go anywhere but the bathroom. I usually end up carrying them to the tub.

So at the end of this "Dog Day" my two canine pets now have a clean living space, clean crates, food bowls, and water containers. They are clean, fluffy and smell a whole lot better. That makes life for all residence in this house, both animal and human, a whole lot happier.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

2nd Coming Sunset

Over the last couple of months I have been taking a musical sentimental journey into my past. I've been remembering songs that I listened to when I was young. I quickly discovered that the Internet is a wonderful tool for finding these songs again.

found several comedy/novelty songs I remembered including: "The Little Space Girl" by Jessie Lee Turner,from 1958, "Juanita Banana" by The Peels and "Kookie Little Paradise" by Jo-Ann Lee Campbell. Those last 2 remind me of my sister and my dad respectively.

Finding these songs again took some online research but i was like discovering hidden treasures to me. Hearing them again brings back wonderful memories of my childhood.

The song I had the most trouble finding was one that I associated with the church I attended when I was growing up. I was introduced to it by Gene C., my youth group leader for most of my teenage years. It's called "2nd Coming Sunset."

After a couple of days of searching I finally found it on an obscure website and downloaded it. I was so excited. Although I hadn't talked to Gene C. but once or twice in the last 10 years I had to contact him, ask him if he remembered the song, and see if he wanted a copy.

One afternoon last week I called and talked with Gene C. He told me he remember the song and that he had been thinking about it for a couple of weeks. He was considering trying to use it as material for the gospel quartet he sings with. I told him I'd send him a copy.

Now some of you might say that the fact that Gene and I both thought about a song we hadn't heard in nearly 30 years within roughly just about the same time frame was a coincidence. But I'd like to call it more of a "God Thing."

Rediscovering that song has allowed me to connect once again with a long time friend and just might become part of the ministry of "The Inner Light" gospel quartet. The way God works is amazing.

"2nd Coming Sunset" is a very entertaining song about a guy who just has a rotten day. He experiences everything from a bad night's sleep to getting locked out of the his own house. In the end he is comforted and encouraged by the Holy Spirit who reminds him that "this too will pass". All that matters is to continue serving God until Jesus Christ returns to take all believers to be with Him forever. A message that all Christians should keep in mind.

Now that I've shared with you the story behind my experience with the song. Here's the link for you to download and listen to it yourself.

I pray you are as blessed as I was by "2nd Coming Sunset".

Two Songs and a Message

Monday, August 3, 2009

Happy Dogs And A Cemetery

Today being Monday I decided that I wanted to start the week by making a decision regarding an activity that should be one of my top priorities: exercise.

In the weeks since my surgery I have really not changed my attitude toward exercise. I have gotten up and moved more than I did before surgery. Paula and I went out walking several times a week as far as I could go. But I have not given exercise the place it needs to have in order to be obedient to God and lose the weight I need to lose. That changed today.

Starting today I am committed to giving exercise top priority in my day. What that means is this. Instead of my physical activity being some thing I plan on fitting in at the end of or in some other convenient place in my day I will do it at the start.

Paula has already made this change in her priorities. She has been getting up and going to a local gym to exercise before she goes to work since last Tuesday. I am so proud and inspired by her. If she can do it so can I.

Having committed to this new top priority, I decided to walk through the cemetery at the end of my block. From my house, a walk around the grave yard and back is 1/2 mile.

So I wouldn't be walking alone I decided to take my 2 dogs with me. I wasn't sure I could handle taking both of them at the same time so I walked each of them around the cemetery once. That means I walked 1 mile. That's only the 2nd time I've walked that far since surgery.

Each of my puppies were very happy to be out and walking again. They haven't been for a walk like that in over 2 years. They celebrated their new activity with a long nap afterwards.

So day 1 of my new commitment to exercise was a success. Now I've got to keep it up until it becomes a habit that benefits my physical condition and my weight loss effort.

A Different Road To Oz

"The Wizard Of Oz" holds a significant importance in my life. It was the inspiration for the first thing I ever said to my wife when I met her online. I wrote "Can you help me find the Yellow brick road?". If you're not familiar with why I wrote that ask me sometime and I'll fill you in.

Over the years I've experienced The Wizard Of Oz in many ways. I've seen the movie on TV and on DVD with all the "behind the scene extras. Read all 14 of L. Frank Baum's Oz books as well as a book about Baum's creation of Oz and a book about the making of the movie.

I've seen a made-for-TV bio pic about L. Frank Baum starring John Ritter. And I've even went to the theater and saw the movie on the big screen when it was released back in 1999 for it's 60th anniversary.

However yesterday Paula and I experienced The Wizard of Oz in a new way; as a stage play. The summer youth theater group in Glasgow Kentucky, a town about 30 minutes away, presented a matinee performance of the play at the town's historic theater, The Plaza.

The two act play was about 3 hours long. Given the fact that it was a local youth theater it was very well done. The set was brightly colored and well designed. The costumes, especially the scarecrow, tin woodsman, and cowardly lion, were excellent.

The music for the stage adaptation was a little different in that some songs had beginnings that I had never heard before. But all the familiar songs: "Somewhere Over The Rainbow", "Follow The Yellow Brick Road", "If I Only had a Brain", "Merry Old Land Of Oz" and "We're Off To See The Wizard" were all included. It also included the movie excluded "The Jitter Bug Song."

The Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow were by far the cast standouts. The young college girl who played Dorothy was convincing when she was playing the part and not preoccupied with imitating Judy Garland.

Without a doubt the highlight of the show was the scene in Munchkinland. The Munchkins were played by children of all shapes and sizes. I would venture to guess they ranged in age from 4 to 10 or 11. They were well rehearsed and cute as can be. The entire audience erupted in applause and cheers when the lights faded as Dorothy waved "good bye" to her little friends.

All in all it was a very enjoyable afternoon. I repeat for a local youth theater production it was well worth the price of admission. Paula and I really liked it. Now I can add "on stage" to my list of the many ways I've experienced The Wizard Of Oz.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Performance At Community Days

Yesterday about 2:15 PM I performed a short ventriloquist act in front of small crowd outside the local IGA grocery store. It was part of the IGA Community Days.

I did routines with 2 characters: Cecil the turtle and Harley the Gnarly beach towel. That character was drawn on my magic talking dry erase board.

It had been nearly 2 months since my last performance and it was the my first "post surgery" performance. I was the last event at a 4 hour event on a very warm summer afternoon. So the crowd was pretty tired and didn't react the way I'd have liked them too. But overall just getting out there and performing again was a good thing for me.

In addition it was the first time I'd ever set up and used a PA system at a performance. Good practice for the future.