Steve Schappell-My Blog

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Thank you...

Hey everyone,

Just a short note to thank you--yes YOU--for reading and supporting this blog.  I wanted to express my appreciation, call a few people out, and thank everyone else.

Thank you to Rich Deruter, who commented on a post I did years ago.  You were my "God sighting," as it were, telling me to continue the Blog that I let go for a while.  You helped me decide to get back and write again.

Thank you to the Gravel Hill Church Community for your support over the years, especially over the last year during my wife's Chemo and Radiation.  She is on recovery road, but has a way to go  (The after effects can last for years)  Many of you have taught me patience, endurance, and have encouraged me to use my gifts to help others.

Thank you to my children and step-children for making sure I know there is more to life than just myself.  Growing up as an only child can keep you gaze inward.  You are helping me to look outward more and more.

Thank you to my friends, both virtual online, and in person.  I appreciate your encouragement and comments.  You keep me grounded.

And Thank you to my wife for her unwavering support.  I am not easy to live with, believe me.  While we admit, we are both a mess, we somehow fit together, using our separate talents to compliment our weak areas.  You have been an inspiration to others during your Cancer fight (which by the way everyone is in remission, and her latest mammogram was given an all clear!!!!)
You let me write about whatever I want, and still put up with me.  I love you.

There is a place on my Blog where you can choose to follow me.  I am currently working on adding Facebook and Twitter tags, and figuring out how you can subscribe to the blog so updates get sent directly to you.  This blog is hosted on blogger.com, which is Google based and wants to build you follows off of Google+  (We all know how that turned out....does anyone use Google+?)

Anyway, look for more updates soon.


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

I want to be a Clone....



When I was in college, Christian Musician Steve Taylor was one of premier artists of the time.  Known for his satire and wit in songs, he was sort of the Christian "Weird Al."

For (3) years, I had a radio show on campus with cohort, Brian Johnson.  Our show was called "THE MEN," and ran from 9 pm to Midnight every Thursday.  In between our banter, skits, sound effects, and other related tom-foolery (Remember the "Shave Alert" John Bell?), we managed to actually play some music.

One of our favorite songs was "I Want to Be a Clone," by Steve Taylor.  Somehow this song was always dedicated to Jim Langan.  It was back in college, I don't remember why anymore...

Anyway, the song is about church conformity and the rules in the way to worship.  Here is a sampler:

I Want To Be A Clone.
I asked the Lord into my heart.
They said that that's the way to start,
But now you've got to play the part.
I Want To Be A Clone.
Be a clone and kiss conviction goodnight.
Cloneliness is next to godliness - right!
I'm grateful that they showed the way
'Cause I could never know the way
To serve him on my own -
I Want To Be A Clone.

At the time, I enjoyed the melody and the lyrics. And I understood that to be a clone was to copy others.  I never thought about what it would be like to really be cloned until later on.  There was a movie called "Multiplicity," with Michael Keaton.  In the movie, our protagonist is an overworked construction foremen, who through a project, with the Gemini Institute, agrees to be cloned.  Think of the possibilities?  All his problems would be solved.  What could possibly go wrong?  (a whole lot it turns out)

"You can't be in two places at once"...you have heard that saying.  I have wondered,  "Well, what if you could be?"    Cue the dream sequence...For starters, I could be at work, but getting things done at home.  I could be on vacation, and another clone be at work. Clones would clean the house.  Get groceries and run errands. Heck, I would probably retire, and let the other clones do all the work.  But would the clone that works want the money they earn rather than give it to me?    Hmmm....dream sequence over.

Then I thought about the memories and emotions we experience.  Would my clones feel the same way I do?  Would their personalities be different.  Would my wife know the difference?  For example, if the real me is on a roller coaster, I would experience all the emotions while riding. But if my clone is riding it, would they experience the same thing?  I would not be able to experience the same thing.  I would be watching my clone. Hmmm.  I don't think I would like that.  Then on the other extreme, if I could feel everything the clones did, I would go crazy processing all the emotions and feelings going on all the time.  It would drive the real me, and the clones crazy.  Or make me feel like Professor X does.

I think we all sometimes wish we could clone ourselves, and let them do all the things that we don't want to do.    That got me thinking deeper that while we cannot clone ourselves, we often copy others.  This can be both good and bad.  On the good side, an athlete can try to copy the successful moves of others in order to better their skills.  We can copy a recipe to try and replicate it at home.  Or, we can copy the attitudes of others who have positive things to say and do.  On the negative side, we can try to live and be like "The Joneses."  To want and live like they do, even if we cannot afford it.  Or we can copy a bad habit or wrong way of thinking that we inherited from our parents or others. 

Do you realize that you can never escape yourself?  No matter where you do, there you are.  You can never get away from yourself from the time you are born until the day you die.  You and I, we are originals, made by the Creator of the Universe.  We are not a copy and not a clone.  There is no one like us and there never will be.  That is exciting and sometimes a little scary.

I know that I am unique and creative.  One of a kind.  However, if I were so copy someone, to want to be like someone, who would it be?

Well, turning to the Bible in Ephesians 5, we read:  "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved [a]you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God [b]as a fragrant aroma."

When we receive Christ in our lives, and turn our lives and will over to the care of God, we begin to be more like Jesus.  And imitating Jesus--to be more like him, well that is a good thing.  To be an imitator of God is a good goal.  A life-long process.  That's something I would like to copy.  

So, I guess I am glad after all that I am not a clone.  I drive enough people crazy just as I am.  Can you imagine 2 or 3 more of me?  Scary.....
 
  





Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Happy Birthday Mukamwiza!



In the fall of 2013, My wife, Shari Schappell and I went to see one of her favorite Christian artists perform before his retirement.  (Bebo Norman at WJTL in Lancaster)

The concert was sponsored by Compassion International, a wonderful organization that connects families with a child in need from places like Africa, the Middle East, Far East, and here in America.  During a break, we felt led to visit the tables, and we agreed to sponsor a child.  (I had sponsored a child before, and so had Shari)  We were working on a blended family, and decided to add to that.

The tables were filled with dozens of information packets, showing the photo of a child in need of sponsorship, with information about location, family, and # months on a waiting list. The child we chose was from Rwanda, a war-torn country in Africa. Her name was Mukamwiza Appoline, and her birthday was in July. You can sign up there and register online. Your sponsorship starts right away, and for us, have it taken from our account monthly.

You communicate by writing letters. You can do this online or by mail. We write about our kids and what is going on in our lives. We ask about her and her family. We ask about school. We encourage her. And we tell her that she is loved and that God loves her and her family. I know that we don't always pray for her like we should, and we need to write more often.  We do get caught up in our own lives here, that we can forget she is over there. When we receive her letters of encouragement, it helps us.
 
They have so little compared to what we have, but she always sounds happy. Someone we have never met tells they love us and pray for us. That humbles us.

Compassion provides her with clothes, an education, meals and clean water.  This helps her family as well.   I recently received an email from Compassion that read in part, "We're excited to share an updated photo of Mukamwiza! Isn't it amazing how much a child can grow and change? And thanks to your support it's not just physical growth. Because of your sponsorship, Mukamwiza is growing spiritually and emotionally too!"

She lives in a hillside community, home to around 3,000 residents. Mukamwiza attends the Bigogwe Student Center in Rwanda. Her current schooling grade is 7 (equivalent to ours). She carries water and gathers firewood for her family. Her parents are farmers for income, and they earn around $30/month.
She just turned 15 yesterday on July 18th, so this is a Happy Birthday to her, aside from the gift we sent her.
If you are interested in learning more, visit www.compassion.com. Maybe you will add to your family also.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

I can sing a Rainbow

In some ways, TV was simpler when I was growing up.  There were fewer channels, for starters.  Saturday morning cartoons.  No reality shows, educational shows, and more comedies. 

If you lived in my area growing up, you may remember watching "Captain Noah and His Magical Ark," a syndicated children's TV show that ran from 1967 to 1994.  It originally aired around the Philadelphia area on WPVI Channel 6.  Captain Noah and His Magical Ark was created by W. Carter Merbreier, an ordained Lutheran minister an former Philadelphia Police Chaplain.  The show originally aired as a religious program before switching to a children's program in 1970. 

At it's height, the show was syndicated to 22 TV markets throughout the United States.  In my area, it attracted a larger audience than Sesame Street and Captain Kangaroo combined.  It ran on weekdays from 7 to 9 am and on Sunday morning. 






What I remember were the local guests, songs, puppets.  (His wife, Patricia, was Mr.s Noah on the show and a puppeteer.), and the organ music from local favorite Larry Ferrari.  We were taught simple things from the Captain, like respect for others, listening to your parents, (things similar to Mr. Rogers)  There were two other things I really liked, and they were both songs. 

The one song sent like this:  "Send your pictures to dear old Captain Noah.  Send today.  Send right away.  Send your pictures to dear old Captain Noah.  Send away.  Send today."
Kids would send in their hand drawn pictures and the camera would pan across the pictures.  Captain Noah would point some out, "Look at this picture of a cat from Suzie..."  I admit, I never sent a picture in, but I thought about it.

The other song was one he closed with.  It was the Rainbow Song.

Red and Yellow and Pink and Green.  Purple and Orange and Blue.
I can sing a rainbow.  Sing a rainbow.  Sing a rainbow too.
Listen with your eyes, listen with your ears, and sing everything you see
Now I can sing a rainbow.  Sing a Rainbow.  Sing along with me.

That song pops back into my head when I see a rainbow after a storm.  Now, the colors are not the same, but it has a deeper meaning.

Let's go way back.  Way back after a really big storm.  A 40 day and night storm.  Back to Genesis 9, Verse 8-17, and God's Covenant with Noah.


Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”
17 So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”

So, when I see a rainbow, I am reminded of the Covenant and the Promise from God.  I am reminded of a simpler time when Captain Noah would sing about a rainbow, and everything felt alright.

Life is rough today and our Country needs one large rainbow from coast to coast.  Something to remind us that Black lives, White lives, Yellow lives, Brown lives, Gay lives, Straight lives, young, old, homeless, rich and poor.  ALL lives matter.  For God created all of us.  And he loves all of us.

I hope that when you see a Rainbow, you see a promise.  A promise that God made with us, and a hope that we learn to love more and hate less.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Freedom!



Happy 4th of July.  We live in the greatest country in the world.   The freedom's that we have are not available in some parts of the world.  Freedom of religion.  Freedom of speech.  Freedom to disagree.  Freedom to pursue your interests.  Our country does have many problems and issues.  Too many to discuss here.  Even with all that, there is no where else that I would want to live at.

On this Independence Day, I wanted to talk about another type of freedom.  This is a freedom found in a personal relationship with Jesus.  We are all born into bondage, caused by sin that traces itself all the way back to Adam.  We were intended to be in a relationship with God.  Spending time in his presence.  That was broken when sin entered the world.  And thus, began a journey that is chronicled in the Bible, that culminated with Christ dying on the cross for our sins, setting us free and opening up that personal relationship again.

In the Book of John, Chapter 8, verse 32, Jesus says to the Jews with him, "Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free."  What did he mean by that.  We learn that Jesus is the truth.  So, if you know Jesus, your will be free.  Continuing on in verse 33 "We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone.  How can you say we shall be set free?"  verse 34-36 "Jesus replied.  Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.  Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed"

Jesus did not sin his whole life, and was not a slave to sin.  He is God's son and belongs to God forever.  Be believing in the Son, you will be free.  Belief in Jesus will give you a freedom that you cannot find anywhere else.

We are all a slave to something.  For some it is an addictive lifestyle.  For others, it is money and the pursuit of riches.  Now living in true freedom still has boundaries.  What do I mean?  Look at our country.  We have many freedoms, but not everything is OK to do.  We have laws in place.  A governmental system over us.  We have liberty-but it needs to be kept in check.  The Apostle Paul knew what it meant to be a slave.

Read this passage in Romans 6: 22-23.  "But now that you have been set free from sin, and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Slaves of God?  I thought Jesus said if you know the truth, the truth shall set you free?   I think Paul had a good insight.  He knew that we were all slaves to something.  We are all born into sin and were a slave to that.  We all have something that we believe in.  In Paul's day, there were people who worshiped idols of wood and clay.  Some did not believe in God at all.  Others, a God of their own making.  The same is true today.  If we are all a slave of something, Paul became a slave of God, though faith in Christ Jesus.

This freedom in Christ, sets is free from sin.  Makes us a joint heir in the Kingdom of God.  We become transformed in a new life, that marks an intentional path to holiness.  Not that we reach that in our lifetime, but that we are on a journey towards that destination. 

We have been given a free gift from God, by grace--by beveling in Jesus as the son of God and our Savior, we have eternal life.  We have a restored relationship, as it was in the beginning--only this time, there will be no sin to tarnish it.  There will be an everlasting relationship, walking with God and with other believers.

This is a freedom that was bought with a price--the blood of Jesus.  All freedom has a price.  Today, we celebrate our Independence as a free country.  Those men who signed the Declaration of Independence, they knew they were committing high treason.  They knew England would not take this lying down.  There would be a price to pay.  There would be blood shed.  Our freedom has come under fire, and been protected ever since by the blood of sacrifice.   Those who gave their life in defense of our freedoms. 

God loves you.  He died for you.  He loves us to much that he gave his Son, that we might have a real relationship with him.  True Freedom--forever.  That is something to be thankful for.   God seeks a relationship with him, not religion.

So from our family here, Happy Independence Day.  Enjoy this country and all the freedoms we have.  And thank God that he has made a way to be truly free.


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

It's Colored Boom Boom time



I love fireworks.   Always have since I can remember.  And we are heading for prime time.  The 4th of July.  Fireworks season normally starts around Memorial Day, usually at minor league baseball games and some carnivals.  It really ramps up for Independence Day (No, not the movie), and winds down in the fall.

This is going to bring up some memories buried in the old, and now bald, cranium.  Bear with me, as I talk about all things fireworks related.  Let's get in the way back machine and travel in time to the early 70's.

I grew up in small town Hamburg, PA.  Back then, it was on the map because we had a State Police station outside of town.  Nowadays, it is known for having a Cabela's outside town.  At one corner of the town was the local park.  The park had a ball field, band shell for music, swimming pool and playground.  When Memorial Day would roll around, the park would have a carnival, with rides, games and music.  For me, the highlight was the last night and the Fireworks.  Here is how it would work.  The band that normally played was "Crazy Elmer and the Outlaws," a group still performing today!  They featured country music and comedy, ala Hee Haw.  Anyway, the fireworks were to start at 10:00 pm, but they never did.  The band was told to milk  the crowd to buy more food, drinks and play Bingo.  Back then you could park your car in the park on the lawn and watch the Fireworks from you car, or in some cases, on the roof.  That's what I remember.  Fireworks going off overhead while sitting on the car roof.  Good stuff.

I got my first taste of "out of town" fireworks when my parents and grandmother traveled to Disney World,  They would have fireworks every night over the castle and the lagoon.  (There was no Epcot yet)  I thought they were some of the best.  But I had not seen anything yet.

During the summer growing up, we would go to the beach in Wildwood, NJ.   If we were lucky enough to be there over the 4th, I got to see fireworks from out hotel roof, being set off over the ocean.  They were not bad.  More on this later.

Also in my teen years, I would travel to Shillington, PA during the end of their annual Community Days celebration, which still goes on today.  Back then, we watched the fireworks from an open field across from the vendors and where they were set off.  These lasted a good 45 minutes and had ground displays we would never see, as we sat farther away.   What I remember most, other than the fireworks, was the long traffic jams and fireworks go together?  Oh yea, lots of other people like fireworks also.  More on this later.

Moving ahead to college, or was it after....don't get older people.  Stay young.  I remember it was after a college homecoming and football game.  There were fireworks in downtown Pittsburgh, by the Zambelli Fireworks company.  It was amazing.  Fireworks from the City rooftops, launching from barges on the rivers.  They were going off all around you.  I remember a frantic ride to get into the city and then not knowing where to park.  It was a great time.   More on this later.

After I was first married and my son was 4 years old, and my ex wife was expecting our 2nd child, we had the great idea to travel to Washington DC to see the fireworks celebration on the 4th.  This was in 1999 and on a Sunday.  We will drive down for the weekend, we thought.  We will go some sightseeing, we said.  How many people could possibly be there?  How about thousands.  Tens of thousands.  We were by the Washington Monument--with everyone else.  Oh yea, the weather was hot and muggy.  Great for pregnant mothers.  And the porta potties...I can still remember the terrible smells.  All this for a 15 minute show?  Afterwards, it takes about 2 hours to clear out the mall.  We waited and rode the Metro.  A packed Metro back to our hotel.  Never again in person.  Been there, done that.  Did not get the T-Shirt.  And no more on this later.

Now about the "more on this later."  When I was composing this, I was beginning to see parallels.  When I was young, my parents took me to the beach, and sometimes we got to see fireworks.  When I was first married, we took our kids to the beach over the week of the 4th (Where I worked, we closed for that week)  For a few summers, we stayed in Ocean City, MD at a rental home off 120th street.  The fireworks were set off 7 blocks away at a local park.  We could watch them and when done, walk back inside the house.  (Shortest commute ever)

As my kids were a little order, and after my re-marriage, we have gone back to Shillington and their fireworks.  These times; however, we have sat up close.  In the grass area not far from where they are set off.  In fact, the fireworks go off overhead and often, there are pieces of cardboard and materials floating down around you.  It's a great show, and now I know why we sat father away when I was younger.

And in Pittsburgh, my wife Shari and I celebrated New Year's eve in 2012, watching fireworks going off from building tops, like I saw in college.

And about the title, that was from my son, Drew.  When he was young, he would call fireworks, colored boom booms.  I have never heard that before, and wonder where he got that from.

I have seen many changes over the years--fireworks shows have gotten more elaborate.  The shapes are more detailed.  There are a variety of colors I don't remember seeing.  I hope you can get out and see some shows this weekend.  For me, I always become a kid again at every show.

So stay safe.  Leave your pets inside.  Enjoy the shows, and leave the fireworks to the professionals.




Thursday, June 23, 2016

Musical Chairs...AKA Wack-a-Steve

When I got up on Thursday, I was well rested and ready for a day of work.  I am in the middle of Vacation Bible School and usually begin to drag now.   I also knew I had outstanding orders to enter at work and needed to get a good start.

Well, you know Murphy?  He has laws, and sometimes they affect yourself.  In this case, me.  I got into work and turned on my computer.  I got the password screen, entered it and got the next screen that says welcome.  We have Windows 7 software loaded on our computers, and are resisting going to Windows 10.  The welcome screen I got had a spinning circle that tells you something is loading.  The only problem was, that 5 minutes later it was still spinning.

First diagnosis?  Turn off the computer and start again.  This time, I got nothing past the login screen.  It was black.  Turn it off again and this time when it starts, enter it in safe mode.  That worked.  Hmmm...  Log off, turn off and restart.  This time, I got back to the Welcome screen and....nothing.

At this point, I knew there was trouble, so I go to our IT/WaterJet Operator/CAD room assistant, Shannon.  He is a guy and like the song "A Boy Named Sue," by Johnny Cash, you don't want to mess with Shannon.  He loves Star Wars, is a great family man, but you don't want to meet him in a dark alley.  Anyway, he had a migrane and intended to go home early.  (He stayed all day)

After consulting with my boss and Shannon, I began a day of musical chairs.  I work in a small office, with (7) workstations.  Today, I was at 4 of them.  To make this easy, let's diagram this out.

Let's call the workstations by the first letter of the people that sit there.  We have T, J, D and S (my desk), and we have a Copier/Printer.  Call this CP.  Normally at my desk, I enter the orders, email customers, and print everything out at my desk printer.  None of that worked today.

So, how to get orders entered, email confirmations out, and generally do my job, while not impacting everyone else.  You play musical chairs.  The day played out sort of like this.

T, CP, T, CP, T, CP, T, CP, J, CP, J, CP, J, CP, T, CP, T, CP, D, CP, D, CP, D, CP.  I started out at desk T while they took their work elsewhere.  All these desks print to the main Copier/Printer. The Work Cards that I enter are printed on yellow sheets.  Normally, I hand feed them at my desk.  Today, I have to insert them into tray #1 on the CP.  Then run back to the desk I am at, hit enter, and print before someone else is printing there.  That is why there is a CP so many times listed.  Sit at desk T.  Put yellow paper in CP, run back to desk T.  Enter another order at T, run to CP, etc.

When J was at lunch I sat there and entered orders.  After D left (he works a half day),  I stayed there for the afternoon.  So, there I went, up and down and at different desks all day, while Shannon tried to figure out what was going on.  Eventually, he backed up my mail info, desktop stuff, etc on a flash drive and he re-installed Windows.  He expects to finish tomorrow morning and have it ready for me when I arrive.

It was interesting to see our Production Supervisor that I work closely with, come in to look for me, and each time I was at a different desk.  Or my boss asking the same thing.  The funniest comment came from one of our Estimators, who said "This is like a game of Wack a Mole, you never know where Steve is going to pop up next.

(Where will Steve pop up next?)

See, just another ordinary day at work.  But I still managed to enter a large amount of orders, and leave work on time, and get to VBS in one piece.  Speaking of which, what am I still doing up?  I need some sleep.  One more day of work and night of VBS before sleeping in on Saturday.