Steve Schappell-My Blog

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Corned Beef Petunias

Sometimes when I write this blog, I have an idea already in mind to flesh out and create.  Other times, the blog idea comes to you.  Today was such the case.

My wife and I took advantage of the lovely Spring day...By lovely, we mean temps in the high 80's and hot.  We enjoyed a family morning at the Annville Memorial Parade out in the heat.  In the afternoon, we went shopping for some half-moon plant stakes.  I wanted to work outside in our front yard, planting and starting mulch.  We are also looking for some additional plants.

We made some stops at Lowe's, a local Nursery, and our local Wal-Mart.  Again, the intent was to look for specialty plant stakes first, and then plants.  Normally, we don't shop for plants there;  however, I have learned to trust my wife.  While looking at the plants, there was a discount rack in the back.  All the plants were half off.  Most of these are actually not bad.  They need water and have the dead flowers and leaves picked off.  I have watched my wife bring these plants "back from the dead," and have them flourishing again. 

We got several Dianthus and Petunias in different colors and made our way to the outside register in the garden section.

Here is the scene.  One worker on the register and another worker sitting on a folding chair nearby.  We put our purchases on the table to be rung up.   My wife told the woman these are all half off and marked that way.  One of the plants had a UPC label, but no price on it.  She started to scan and things went fine until one of the plants had an issue on the scanner.  She needed to find someone over to help.  At this point, there were several people in line behind us (who eventually went inside to pay) because the chaos was just beginning.

There is an LED screen that we can see, showing us the prices as they are scanned.  When she gets to one of the Petunia's to scan, it says "not available."  When she tries again, it says "Corned Beef" for $2.35.  Not a Petunia for .91 cents.  She tries to void it out, and it pops up again, this time with "Corned Beef" for $4.71.

Hmmm, something's not right here.  She calls a man over from the Garden center to explain what is going on, asking what their department code is.  He tries to scan and gets that same "Corned Beef."

Now it gets better.  Sometimes at Wal-Mart when you walk around, you can never find someone in the department you are in when you need help.   Well today, if you were there when we were, I can tell you why no one was around---they were with us.

The man who came over, went and got another Asst. Manager to come out.  She brought (2) people with her.  Now we had (5) managers (!) at the register to see what was happening.  They void out the entire order and start again.  .88, .44, .44, .44, .91. .91, .91, $2.36 Corned Beef...Not again.

Now this time, the manager did an override and manually entered the price as .91 cents for a petunia.  Oh, that plant that did not have a UPC Label on it, they gave it to us for $1.00.

What an adventure.  Well, the plants are, well-now planted, and here is a shot of the receipt with the Corned Beef Petunia.  Now that would be quite the hybrid plant to see...

Friday, May 27, 2016

Memorial Day Meltdown

4 years ago today, I proposed to Shari.  I was reminded today from Facebook, and their "On This Day," flashback.  That got me thinking about that day and the funny story that went along with it.

First, another flashback.  Our first date happened over a Labor Day Weekend in 2011.  I drove to Beaver, Pa., and met Shari at the Sewing shop she ran.  That evening, we went for a long walk in the downtown.  There was a park next to the town square where we had our first kiss.

Fast forward to Memorial Day weekend in 2012.  We had been dating via Megabus, traveling across the state from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg one or two weekends a month.  I had been working a second job delivering weekly Merchandisers in order to save money for a ring  (no, really), and I was going to surprise her over the weekend.

One of the other places we went on our first date was an Ice Cream Shop called "Witch Flavor."  They featured hard ice cream from the Penn State Creamery.  Shari and I went there many times when dating, and got to know the owners.  Prior to the weekend, I contacted them via Facebook messages and email, and we worked out a plan for the weekend.

Before I left on the Megabus, I posted on Facebook that I was off to "ring" in the weekend with Shari.  Some of you got it right away.  My plan was to propose on a Saturday afternoon, stop by Witch Flavor, and then go out for dinner.  It seemed like an easy plan...until the meltdown.

Now this was not the kind of meltdown you are thinking of.   Think hot.  Think heat.

My wife's former house had a large back yard, fenced on 2 sides and backed up to woods.  Mowing the yard in the back, side and front of the house required a few hours of work--even more than when rain + sun = TALL grass.  I figured we would pass the time in the afternoon by tackling the yard work out back.  All she knew is that we had dinner plans later.  It was a beautiful afternoon, but it was hot.

So we set out to work on the yard, mowing and trimming.  I remember how hot it was, that we needed to take water breaks--but not enough of them.  And losing track of the time.  My plan was to drive through Beaver and stop for ice cream, after a walk in the park, around 4 pm, as my plan included an outdoor sign asking Shari to marry me, placed at Witch Flavor.

What comes next was blurry, because the meltdown started.  I don't know how long before you experience heat exhaustion, or when the effects start.  I remember we got cleaned up, changed and drove to downtown Beaver.  I suggested going on a walk to the park and then for ice cream--before dinner.  We talked to the park and at the spot where we first kissed, I proposed.  Heat exhaustion was coming into play here.  I was feeling light headed, and nervous, rehearsing what I was going to say.  When I stopped, and got down on one knee, Shari thought I was falling down and wanted to help me up.  I told her how I felt, what she meant to me and asked her to marry me.  I presented the ring, and she was in shock.   She too was feeling dizzy--from both the heat and the heat of the moment. (Cue the song from Asia)

Well She.Said.Yes.   And then we continued over to Witch Flavor.  She completely missed the sign out front, until it was pointed out.   We went into the store and the owners were worried that either (a) We were not coming, (b) We forgot, or (c) She said No.  We each received an ice cream treat on the house and our picture taken that was later put on the wall.  It is still there, along with other customer photos all over the wall.

At this point, adrenaline must be working, or the ice cream, was a welcome treat, because we thought  we felt fine.  We finally got to the sign outdoors for some photos.

After all that excitement, we made calls to family while driving to dinner.  We chose to eat at Texas Roadhouse, as we enjoy going there....normally.

It was then...a few hours later that it all caught up to us.  I remember that we both did not feel so good while ordering and eating.  I remember we boxed up to go more than we usually do.  The conversation was good, we were both excited and only touched on the fact that we would become a blended family--with 6 kids total between us (Almost a Brady Bunch), (2) Dogs, and (2) Cats also.

And to top it all off, after the whole whirlwind of a day, we made it back to her house--and promptly got sick....

Ah, ain't love grand?    It was the next day after we slept it off....and had lots of water!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Welcome Home

Here's an admission.  I have OCD.   No surprise to those who know me, right?  I am not the "straighten the tassels on the end of a rug" OCD, but the "organizing, everything in it's place" OCD.

This is something that I need to work on, and get assistance with.  It can be a good thing from an organization standpoint.  I helps at jobs I have had that require organization.  It helps when planning trips, lists, or arranging at home.  It comes in conflict when it is used to control my surroundings and others.

My pastor told me recently that "life is messy."  Family and relationships matter more than things, but those relationships are never neat.  There is always a give and take.  This is a current story about that messy life, and how it is changing me for the better.

I am an only child, and never experienced the sharing of things with a brother or sister.  I was used to doing  things alone and enjoyed it.  After the divorce, I had my kids every other week, and lived alone 2 weeks during the month.  The townhouse I found worked great for the three of us.  When I got married again, and a decision was made that (2) of my wife's boys would move with her, we worked into those arrangements.  The finished basement became Noah's room.  Phil moved into my son's room, as he lives in town with his mom.  My daughter kept her same room.  This arrangement also worked-as we adjusted to each other over time, and earlier this year--after everyone being here (2) years, were settled.

So, I admit, I was the objector to plans to have (4) more people move into the townhouse.
I thought we were tight already.  I had many questions to consider.

Let's set the stage.  My step-daughter is married with (2) kids (our grandkids)  They are 2-1/2 and 8 months.  They were living 5 hours away on the other side of Pennsylvania.  Her husband had a good job and was a supervisor for Safe Tarp, a company that secured and tarped large vehicles hauling materials.  For some time, they have been looking at moving to the area, but were not sure when.  Then this February, Justin received news.  His company was being bought by another firm.  He would have to re-apply in order to stay there.  He was given (2) choices.  He could stay at lower pay, and no bonuses, but keep his position.  Or, he could stay to early March, and leave.

After lots of discussion and prayer, he decided to leave, and they made the decision to put their trailer up for sale and move in with us.  To prepare for this, they came in on weekends so Justin could apply for jobs here and we could make preparations.

In the past when they visited, they would stay in Phil's room (moy stepson)  He would be temporarily displaced to the sofa downstairs, or to Noah's room in the basement.  This worked when it was only a few days , but what about a few months.

Thankfully, Noah decided to give up his space in the basement so they could stay down there.  We took some time to pack up his things, and take his essentials to Phil's room.

This is where God took over.  The weekend before hie job ended, Justin, Moriah and the boys came in to visit.  He had an interview on Friday with a Pipe Maker outside Harrisburg.  It was a laborer job, working on the grind line, making large pipes.  I was at work when he called me.  He told me he had good news, he got the job, and then he told me they wanted him to start the following Monday.  That meant, they were going to move in the following weekend, in early March.

Remember how I said I was not good at change.  Well, when change is sudden, you have to roll with it.   So, my wife went with them to watch the grandkids, and they packed up the moving van and headed out for Palmyra,  We unloaded on a rainy Sunday night in a rented storage shed, and they moved in.

The first few weeks were an adjustment for all of us.   We had a morning routine for school and meals, plus evening activities.  I forgot about the adjustment for them.  Justin started a new job in an area he was not familiar with.  Moriah had to get settled in with  her boys and adjust to our routine.  And we needed to work on the arrangements. 

Of course, to my surprise, things started working out quickly.   My daughter and the boys went from an annoyance to acceptance.  Moriah and Justin wanted to help out by buying groceries and helping with dinner.  We kept our routines and developed new ones.  I was learning to let some things go with my OCD, and learning that this situation was temporary and to enjoy it.  I had to learn that a living room full of toys, meant we had family here.  That dinner was a social event, and that in all things, God was in control.

The past few months have been sent with Moriah and Justin looking for homes or trailers in the area, and getting used to the area in general.  Looking for a church to attend, and places to shop and eat.

And of course life moves on.  Shari finished her college courses in the Spring.  Noah graduates from High School in less than 2 weeks.  We got another van for Shari.  We are planning for our summer vacations, and working on our garden.

The point for me is that I needed to learn that this was family, and family is more important than things.  I know that should be easy to see, but for someone who does not have a large family, and used to a controlled situation, this was an adjustment for me.  My fears were not realized (They usually never are)  My perspective had to change.  Like if I needed some time away, I went up to our bedroom and worked there.

Anyway, the house hunting has been progressing.  They recently sold their trailer and moved the remaining items out.  And this week, they put an offer down on a house that is in the Palmyra School District.  We are currently waiting to see if the offer is accepted.  It is exciting, because it could mean a home for them.  And if this does not work out, there will be something else to come along.  In the meantime, they have a place to stay, and although they would like a place of their own--to call their home--they have a home now and family here.

Here are some pictures of the home they put a bid on.  Maybe this will be the place where they can say, "Welcome Home."

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

All Washed up

OK.  This is my Rant.  Well, call it a vent.....or if you are at Starbucks, a Venti.  This is the story of our new Washer.

As with all stories, there is a back-story.  A "how-did-we-get-to-here" story that leads us to the present.  A lot of movies have an "origin story."  A way to fill in the blanks of the past.

Let's go back to 2010, and my former house.  Part of a condition of selling it included leaving the existing Refrigerator, Washer and Dryer.  They were only a few years old, but the interested buyers wanted it as a condition of sale, and not having many offers, these appliances stayed behind.  

Fortunately, the townhouse I looked at, and eventually bought, had a full range of appliances, including a fridge, and a Washer and Dryer left over from the 70's.  They were load washer and front load dryer.  I was not complaining.  I did not have to buy new.  I did replace the refrigerator with a more energy efficient model.  (If you prank called me and asked if my refrigerator was running...I would have told you it was....all the time).

Anyway, when it was just myself (and my children every other week), I did the laundry once a week, and they worked just fine.  After my wife moved in with the boys, the laundry increased, but they still worked.  In fact, they worked for 5 years, until the issues this spring.

The washer was the first to go.  It started by not drying very well.  The heating element gave out.  It would take 3x to dry a load and was wasting electricity.  We made a decision to purchase a new dryer, using some money from our tax refund.

Well, then last month, the Washer decided it has to outdo the dryer.  The agitator began wrapping clothes around itself and shaking violently.  Now, it looked like we needed a washer and dryer.

We got a break at the surprise party my wife has for my 50th birthday, earlier this month.  My boss from work attended, and he overheard that we were looking for these items.  He told me that he recently replaced his washer and dryer, and he had a dryer for free if we wanted it.  He had replace the heating element in it, but otherwise it worked.

A few days later he followed me home from work and dropped it off.  Now we had a new (used) dryer that was not from the 70's.  Best part for us, it dries a load in one cycle!  We were very excited this worked out.

That left us with needing a washer.  The money for a Dryer went for a new Washer.   So last week, my wife and I went shopping and found one at Home Depot.  We paid for it and made arrangements for delivery, using their 3rd party service.  I paid for a warranty, new hoses, and set up and haul away of the old washer.

It all started out well.  They called the night before with a time frame, and then on Tuesday, the driver called 1 hour out from delivery.  I was at work during the install, but other family members were at home.  Apparently, the install went well and we were told to run the washer frequently during the first 48 hours.  If there was a problem with the washer, we could get a replacement.

Here starts the rant.  When I got home from work, I wanted to see the washer and get cracking on my laundry.  (Wow, so excited to break it in....what an exciting life I lead)  I was told that it was leaking and there was water on the floor in the basement.  My step-daughter was using it for their laundry and she noticed water leaking from the bottom of the washer.  There were towels down to soak it up and washing was on hold.

I called the customer satisfaction number to get someone back to look at it.  The guy I talked to said he had my information and someone would call me on Wednesday morning and come out to look at the install.   Well, no one called in the morning.  After lunch, I checked to see if anyone came to the house.  Nothing.

I called the customer service number again and got "Steven" on the line.  I explained my situation and said I was frustrated that no one called, and that I expected someone to stop out.  He said they had no record of my call and nothing was set up.  I explained I had a warranty and was in mid sentence when I was put on hold.  2 minutes later the call disconnected!!

I laughed it off and called back.  This time I got a woman and I explained my situation all over again, including being hung up on.  She told me she would contact the delivery service and make arrangements.  She would put me on hold, but not hang up.  About 5 minutes later, she came back on and told me the earliest they could come back was on Friday.

"Friday," I said.  "You have nothing earlier?  We have a lot of laundry to do.  Maybe I should try and fix it myself."

"And void the warranty," she told me.   That was good.  So, I told her  to set it up for Friday.  I was frustrated, but she said this was the best they could do.  The delivery service was a 3rd party and will only come when they are in the area.

So now we wait until Friday.  Rant over.  In the meantime, off to the laundromat.  Got change anyone??

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

To Infinity....and Beyond!

I really enjoyed the Toy Story movies.  The animation style.  The story.  The fact that from the first one to the third movie, the character of Andy "ages" in real time--meaning he would have been 18 when Toy Story 3 was released.  (I know,  I cried when Andy left for college too....c'mon, you did also)   Powerful stuff.

A lot of Pixar movies are on my favorites list.  This is in part due to the story and writing.  They can pack more emotion and story in a 4-minute, no words segment (Think UP!), than in most non-animated movies with dialogue.

Toy Story centers around Andy's Toys, led by Woody-a Wild West Sheriff, and Andy's favorite toy.  That is until Andy's birthday when Buzz Lightyear enters the picture.  Woody is jealous of Buzz, and after a series of mis-adventures, become best friends.  One of the signature lines from Buzz Lightyear is "To Infinity....and Beyond."

What does the word Infinity mean?  Having no limits or end.  Limitless.  Endless.  No beginning or end.  You have seen the symbol that looks like a sideways figure 8.

This got me thinking about the phrase, "To Infinity and Beyond," and I found it exists in Mathematics.  In Mathematical circles, What exactly does Buzz Lightyear mean when he says, "To Infinity and beyond!"? A few professionals at Harvard investigated the origin of this quote and traced it back to limits. According to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, "Buzz Lightyear is a metaphor of a function which approaches a certain number, but never actually reaches it." However, experts at MIT believe that Buzz Lightyear is referring to vertical asymptotes. Dr. Benjamin Hernandez says, "It is possible to cross horizontal asymptotes, but verticals are impossible. Buzz Lightyear is showing everyone that he can do the impossible and cross horizontal and vertical asymptotes."

Huh?  Wow.  Maybe this description is better:
In mathematics, "infinity" is often treated as if it were a number (i.e., it counts or measures things: "an infinite number of terms") but it is not the same sort of number as natural or real numbers.

Now my head hurts.....I will leave mathematics, and on to Infinity as Eternity.  From Eternity...and beyond.  Let's start there.

What is Eternity?   For some, it is waiting in line for 5 minutes at the checkout line.  "This is taking an eternity!"  Substitute the word Forever for Eternity, and it means the same thing.  As humans, we have a limited mind.  When I sit and try to thing about Eternity, or Forever, I have a hard time wrapping my mind around it.  My head hurts again....

If Infinity is never-ending--no beginning and no end.  Always there.  Does that mean that God is Infinite?  Has he always been.  No beginning and no end?  I believe so.  What does that Bible have to say about Eternity...

Let's start with Jesus in John 3:15-16. "That everyone who believes shall have eternal life in him.  For God so loved the world, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life."

Then, later on the New Testament...

Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death. but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

1 Timothy 1:16 "But for that very reason, I was shown mercy, so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life."

1 John 5:11 "And this is the Testimony.  God has given us Eternal Life, and the life is in his Son."

The New Testament is filled with verses about Eternity and the way to achieve that.  Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father but be me."  The road to Eternal Life is through Jesus. 

In Mathematics, using Infinity as a symbol can get you closer to the desired result, but you can never achieve it.  It's like running toward the horizon, and you never actually get there.  It keeps slipping away from you.  But with God, we can get close to him and receive eternal life through His son. 
We can reach that horizon.

I don't know what Heaven will be like, except for what is described in the Bible.  I read about a New Heaven and New Earth.  No night, as God's light will always shine.  No more sin, no more death, diseases like Cancer.  No more suffering or loss.  All the things that Sin brought into this world will be swept away in the next.  And while my finite mind cannot comprehend living forever, To Infinity is where I am headed when this life is through.

Maybe my new phrase should be "From Eternity to Everlasting."  How does that sound?

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Divided We Fall (Part 2 of 2)

On my last post, we learned about Unity. Unity in the Body and ways that we can Stand United. Today, let's look what happens when Divided We Fall.
The country today is a mess. There is more division now than every before. Just look at the political landscape. The Facebook posts. It always seems like it is one thing vs. another. And, as Christians, we don't know where to stand, or what to do. Part of the problem lies with us.
It has been said that Christians are the only ones who bury their wounded. We are more judgmental on each other than those in the world. Instead of working for Unity in the Body, we are dividing each other. No wonder there is a rise of the “Nones.” Young adults and others who claim “none” as their religious affiliation. What we we and the church have to offer? Are we inclusive, and open our churches up to all kinds of people, or are we exclusive, catering only to our own? I believe, this is part of the reason for the division.
In1858, Abraham Lincoln gave his “House Divided” speech at was then the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, upon accepting the Illinois Republican Party's nomination as that state's United States Senator. His remarks created an image of the danger of slavery-based disunion, and became a rallying cry for Republicans across the North.
The best known passage of the speech is: A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided.
Lincoln felt that if his Republican Party could be unified toward the cause of ending slavery—working together to achieve the same ends—that they would prevail. Of course, it was not easy, and after a long Civil War between the states, Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves.
A house divided against itself cannot stand. The church divided against itself will fall. We are seeing evidence of this today. The division in the church is causing separation. The traditional church model, in some cases, are causing churches to close, and others to re-think their strategies.
Jesus also had something to say about this in Matthew 12:25-28.
Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
That is a powerful passage, and stands true today. There have been powerful nations that were divided against itself and fell. There are households divided against each other today for political, moral, or religious reasons. We are all sinners, and fall short every day. We need the Grace the God provides.
Where then, do we start to stop the division. I believe it starts with each one of us. We begin by being intentional about our faith and ways to live it out. To help others, to encourage them, and to pray for them. Then collectively, if we each work on this, we can begin to strengthen our church by being more inclusive—accepting others for who and where they are right now. The church can then reach out to the community that they live in, and show the Love of Christ by acts of service—with no ulterior motive. Doing it for service to God for the Grace that he gives us. That we can share some of that abundant live that Jesus gives us with others.
But what about our Country? I wanted to close with a passage from 2 Chronicles 7:14. I believe, this is key for Christians to do, no matter what the circumstances look like.
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

And that is us. As Christians, we are his people. We can fall on our knees and pray. Pray for this country and stand United. Praying that God hears from us, and helps to heal this great land of ours.

-Dear Lord, I pray that you would help us to heal the divisions in our home life, at work, and at church. That we would be a people God, that would show your love to a lost and dying world, by our acts of service and Love for others. Everyone is our neighbor Lord, and we need each other. Father, we pray for this land of ours. We pray that we would turn away from worthless idols, and turn back to you. Lord, heal this land. Heal our hearts and minds, that we may be able to do your will. In Jesus name, Amen.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

United We Stand (Part 1 of 2)

I recently watched the latest Captain America movie with my son at the local theatre. I am a self-confessed science fiction and comic book movie fan. I have most of the Marvel Movies on DVD and was looking forward to this latest movie. Captain America: Civil War, was in part, about taking a united group of individuals, and through different circumstances, causing division.
I wanted to explore this idea in another way, talking about Unity in this post, and Division in the next post. I have some scripture verses to help us along. I have asked myself, “What is Christian Unity?' How can we stand together? What things can we do that show the world that we are different.
Let's start with the most recognized verses regarding the Unity of the early Church, Acts 2: 42-47.
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Now, I have heard that his represents a form of Communism. In part, because they were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to anyone in need. They ate together. I don't believe this is true. I have read about Communism and from the definition, it is not the same thing. I think that the early believers were moved into helping each other. The ensure that no one was hungry. That the believers had a place to stay, eat and sleep. They prayed together and worshiped. They had gladness in their hearts and had Unity. This small. But growing group of believers were recognized by others, as being different. Giving of themselves so that others would be taken care of.

How can we as believers show that Unity today? How can we show that we are different? Jesus can help us with that. Let's look at Matthew 25: 35-40
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
I believe that we can help other believers—whether in our church, or in the community. We can also help those who are in need. Donate our time and talents to causes that let others know they are loved and that God loves them.

When my wife was going through Chemo, we needed help with meals. People from our church stepped up with meals and help. We did not ask for it, but we learned that people wanted to help in some way. This was a blessing to us. In the same way, we can help others—give to a local Christian ministry in your town. Volunteer at a food bank. Be involved in prison ministry. They are many things out there.

There is a song that says. In part: “They'll know we are Christians by our Love.” Well, the world is looking to us to see if we do what we say. We call ourselves Christians, but we are often self-absorbed, or following the pattern of this world, that where is no distinction between us and the rest of the world. Maybe in giving of acts of service—our time and talents—we can truly show the love that is in our hearts. And if more of us did that, there would be a Unity that would be visible to others.

God calls his people to live in unity with one another, so it is important to make every effort to live together in harmony with other fellow believers. Here are some other verses about Unity in the body of Christ.

Ephesians 4:11-13
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Colossians 3:13-14
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any one of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And above all these virtues, put on love, which binds them together in perfect unity.

Go God gives each of us different skills to work together for different works of service. In part, to build up the Body of Christ, but also to learn to become mature Christians in the faith, and use that knowledge to spread the word to others by our actions and deeds. In the Trinity, there are (3) separate parts: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—each with different gifts, but working together in Unity. Also, we need to forgive each other (More in Part 2) And we are to put on Love.
We have heard that God is Love. He showed his love for us by sending his Son to die on the Cross for us. He loves you and me. Love is the glue that binds us together. We show Unity in the body and to others around us when we show Love, by what we say and do, and how we live our life.
As believers, we can stand United...but we can also be Divided....

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Burma Shave...Time for some signs

Over the weekend, we attended by Step-Son's Graduation from Geneva College.  This meant driving across the state on the PA Turnpike.  This exciting stretch of road (Yawn) was made more interesting now that most of the entire turnpike is 70 mph.  (Except for the construction zones)  I thought about the current speed, watched the vehicles blow by us at 80 (!) mph or more, and was excited to make better time across the state.

On our way back home, I was thinking about a Jingle I heard when I was younger, and the Speed Limit was only 55. I knew it, you were thinking about the song, "I can't drive 55," by Sammy Hagar.  But I digress.  The Jingle went something like this:  "You can beat a mile a minute, but there is no future in it."

I don't remember if there were actual signs for this, but it was intended to remind you that speeding had no future.  I can only imagine what the Jingle would be like today.  "70 is the way to go, you'll be run over if  you drive too slow."  I don't know.  This is why I don't work for Hallmark.

Now all this made me think about the Original Road Signs--Burma Shave.  Have you ever heard about this?  Depending on what age you are, you have.

Burma-Shave was a brand of brushless shaving cream that was sold from 1925 to 1966.  The company was notable for its innovative advertising campaign, which included rhymes posted all along the nation’s roadways. Typically, six signs were erected, with each of the first five containing a line of verse, and the sixth displaying the brand name.
   To market Burma-Shave, Allan Odell devised the concept of sequential signboards to sell the product. Allan Odell recalled one time when he noticed signs saying Gas, Oil, Restrooms, and finally a sign pointing to a roadside gas station. The signs compelled people to read each one in the series, and would hold the driver's attention much longer than a conventional billboard.  Though Allan’s father, Clinton, wasn’t crazy about the idea he eventually gave Allan $200 to give it a try.
In the fall of 1925, the first sets of Burma-Shave signs were erected on two highways leading out of Minneapolis. Sales rose dramatically in the area, and the signs soon appeared nationwide.  The next year, Allan and his brother Leonard set up more signs, spreading across Minnesota and into Wisconsin, spending $25,000 that year on signs. Orders poured in, and sales for the year hit $68,000. 
  Burma-Shave sign series appeared from 1925 to 1963 in all of the lower 48 states except for New Mexico, Arizona, Massachusetts, and Nevada. Four or five consecutive billboards would line highways, so they could be read sequentially by motorists driving by.
   This use of the billboards was a highly successful advertising gimmick, drawing attention to passers-by who were curious to discover the punch line. Within a decade, Burma-Shave was the second most popular brand of shaving cream in the United States.

  At their height of popularity there were 7,000 Burma-Shave signs stretching across America. They became such an icon to these early day travelers that families eagerly anticipated seeing the rhyming signs along the roadway, with someone in the car excitedly proclaiming, "I see Burma-Shavesigns!” Breaking up the monotony of long trips, someone once said, "No one could read just one.

By 1966, every last sign disappeared from America's highways. A very few ended up in museums, including a couple of sets that were donated to the Smithsonian Institution.
 From the website:

Here is the text from one of the sign sets along the road.


I personally have never seen these signs, as I was born in 1966.  But, I have experienced variations on these on several occasions.  Here are (2) examples.

The first was when I traveled with my parents and grandmother on our trips to Florida,  These were billboards for the Tourist Trap called "South of the Border."   This Mexican Themed gift area in Dillon, SC, has excited kids like me and annoyed parents to stop and see a Sombrero themed Tower.  There, you could buy fireworks, old man gifts, get gas and spend your money.  The billboards ranged from funny to insulting, and I believe they have received a makeover.  Each Billboard was supposed to be a quote from "Pedro," the mascot for South of the Border.  Google this and check out the billboards like this one:

The other is more recent.  For the last (2) summers, we have traveled to the Jersey Shore.   Shortly after we enter New Jersey, we see signs for a Roadside Fruit and Vegetable stand called Rosies, in Mullica Hill.  
This is a variation on the Burma Shave signs, without the rhyming.  They are normally one word signs with a picture or drawing of a fruit or vegetable.

Stop at Rosie's

It gets you thinking as you near the Stand.  And sure enough, every time we drive by, it is always full. Advertising does work...

At least, these signs, I don't mind.  Now, about those Political Signs.....

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Honoring Mom—Mother's Day 2016

This is it. More phone calls are made today than any other day. Almost a 40% increase, according to A T&T. This is a day meant to remember, celebrate, and tell Mom thank you for everything she has done.

And if you are reading this, chances are, you had a mom. How did we get to this special day? Let's go back to 1907, and a woman named Anna Jarvis. She started a campaign to honor mothers. She went to Washington, and in 1914, Mother's Day became a National Holiday.

However, in 1923, this same woman who campaigned to make Mother's Day a reality, filed a lawsuit to stop the celebration, and arrested for disturbing the peace. Why? She felt the holiday had become commercialized. She wanted Mother's Day to be one of sentiment, not profit.

Nowaways, Mom's don't mind getting cards or flowers, or a phone call. You did call your mom if she is still alive, right?

But, how are their other ways we can honor mom? Here is a biblical perspective to explore.

  1. Honoring Mom is commanded in Scripture: Exodus 20:12
    "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you."   This is the 4th commandment.  The first (3) relate to God.  This is the first relationship commandment, to honor your parents.  God gives great weight to this.
  1. Dishonoring mom produces a curse: Deuteronomy 27:16
    "Cursed is anyone who dishonors their father or mother." Then all the people shall say, "Amen!"   Scripture does not take kindly to those who dishonor mom.  This was read to the Israelites as a group, and they all agreed to it.  Look up: Proverbs 20:20 and 30:17 for more.
  1. Honor mom through Obedience: Ephesians 6:1-3
    "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”  God gives a promise, Obedience brings well being and long life on the earth.  
  1. Honor mom though Respect: 1 Peter 2:17
    "Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor"  Now, we do not have an Emperor, but in the time this was written, Rome was in charge.  Because of her position, mom should be highly esteemed and regarded.  Respect involves the way we think about and treat someone.
  1. Honor mom through Affection: 1 Kings 19:20
    "Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. "Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye," he said, "and then I will come with you." "Go back," Elijah replied. "What have I done to you?"  When called to succeed the prophet Elijah, Elisha asked if he would see his parents one more time and show them affection.  Your mom will never tire of this, no matter how old you are.
  1. Honor mom through your Decisions: Proverbs 10:1
    "A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son brings grief to his mother."  When children act wisely, a mother's heart is at peace.  When foolish decisions are made, her heart is heavy and weighed down.
  1. And Honor mom through Care:John 19: 25-27
    "Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.  When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman,here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home."  Jesus, while on the cross-- and dying, still made sure that his mother was going to be taken care of.  He had one of his disciples take her back to live with him and take care of her needs.  We must also care for our elderly parents.
So, giving Mom candy and flowers is good, but giving Obedience, Respect, Affection and Living Righteous lives is better. His is just one perspective to consider. I know for some, you have lost your mom, and you honor her with your memory. For those who have a mom around, let them know that you love them. Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

That sinking feeling....

Today's blog post is more down to earth..  And by down to earth, I mean sinkholes...

See, I live in Palmyra, Pennsylvania.  A town built on Limestone.   In fact, we have a large limestone quarry just outside of town that employs many people.   This region where I live has a lot of limestone; but wonderful Palmyra seems to have more than it's share of Sinkholes.

I am no Geologist, but have read how water erosion underground has worn away Limestone in areas that has aided in creating Sinkholes.  When I moved to the area in 2002, I was not aware of this.  The development we were in did not require sinkhole coverage.  I got flood insurance, just in case--I knew we could get a lot of rain, and occasional effects from Tropical Storms--so I wanted to be prepared.

In 2010, I moved to my present home in Palmyra, and was told that I needed Sinkhole insurance.  In fact, it was recommended by my Realtor and the Credit Union I went through for my mortgage.   My first thought was "that's crazy."  There are no Sinkholes here.  Well, I got this added to my insurance and move in.

Move forward a year plus to September of 2011.  Tropical Storm Lee advanced to our area with tremendous flooding rains.

These images show some of the flooding the the Sinkholes that developed.  These include on on Maple Street, One at the Credit Union behind my house and Route 422 by the Bowling Alley.

As you can see, it was a real mess and took many months to repair the road and parking lot of the credit union.  The 1st photo shows the drive through of the credit union.  It was closed for 6 months while repaired.  The Rite Aid next to the CU also had a sinkhole in the parking lot only a few months after it opened.  Still today, there is a lot for sale next to the credit union.  I wonder why?  LAND FOR SALE.  MAY HAVE A SINKHOLE...  The 3rd photo down shows Maple Street.  This is a sinkhole that re-opened again after the flooding rains.

This is the street where I live.  This was not the first time, nor would it be the last time this opened up.

Now a funny aside, sort of.  When my wife moved in with her (2) boys, the plan was to have their room in the newly completed basement.  They started out this way; however, there was a news report about a house in Florida that was partially swallowed by a sinkhole, and his bedroom was in the basement and it disappeared.  Phil decided that he did not want this to happen, as we live in a town with sinkholes.  So he moved upstairs into my son's former room.  (This was one of the reasons he moved upstairs.)  And I can understand why. He thought that basement might collapse and be swallowed by a sinkhole.

Now last year in early 2015, the sinkhole opened up on Maple Street, down from our house. This was the 3rd time in a few years.  Repeated fixes by the Borough did not work.  They decided they were going to do a permanent fix.  Step one, was to "close" the road.  This meant putting up Signs that said Road Closed.  They put sawhorses around the sinkhole and hoped that people would not go on our section of Maple Street.

People are smart...or do not like change.  Since the road was not actually closed, people ignored the signs and continued to drive through.  After repeated complaints to the Borough by myself and others, they "Closed"the road this time by putting Orange Barrels across the street to the left of our house.  These were easily moved by drivers determined to go through Maple Street.  Some of us countered by putting Yellow Caution tape through the top of the Barrels and tying them to a telephone pole, and the other end to sawhorses going across a one way alley that was also closed off.

What fun it was to watch motorists fly down Maple Street and Encounter the Barrels and tape.  A lot of cars turned around in our driveway pad and peeled out back the way they came from.  Others, stopped by the cones, looked for a way around, and eventually backed up.  Others moved the barrels to go though.  I remember looking outside during a Thunderstorm last summer and watching someone get out of their car, leave the door open, and in the rain, move the barrels just so they could go through.

Eventually, fewer and fewer cars made their way on our street, as they found another way to go.  This has made for a very quiet street, especially at night.  Oh, how we enjoyed our summer and fall. Quiet nights with the windows open and no traffic.

Step 3 was more permanent.  In order to fix the Sinkhole, the Borough went with an outside contractor to build a concrete bridge below the sinkhole.  This started last Fall when they finally really closed the road, by having barriers on both sides of the sinkhole, and forcing residents, like myself, to always leave and go left on our street, and others to only go right.  Now the road was really closed, as you could not go though Maple Street anymore.

We had a quiet Winter and Spring.  However, that is all coming to an end soon.  As these photos show from a few weeks ago, there was still a lot to be done.

Well, that is now all covered up and soon the road should be paved and open again for business.  Cars going 50 plus in a 35 speed limit.  Yay.....

At least the sinkhole was in the street and not on private property, or it may never be fixed.   As the people who live on Cherry Street with the sinkholes there, affecting both their homes and the road.  It is still not fixed several years later.

Hopefully for us, our long national nightmare may soon be over....and maybe the road will not collapse again.  Well see......

Sunday, May 1, 2016're almost 50!!!

Well, my wife did it.  She planned a surprise party for my birthday.  She told many people (I mean, by boss showed up).  No one let it slip.  That is not easy.  I hear everything.  I notice if something is off.  You have to use deception and subterfuge to keep me off balance.

Honestly, I thought it was going to be on my Birthday.  On May 2nd.  I received a text from her last week.  "My boss said we should go out to eat at Shady Maple on your birthday."  I decided to play along.  "OK.  I hear you eat for free on your birthday."  Now, you do eat for free, but it is not cheap.  I began to wonder if she was planning something, but I pushed it out of my mind.

After all, we had another birthday first.  My stepson turned 19 on Saturday the 30th.  We had people over and needed to plan for that.  Also, this weekend, the 7th-my other stepson, David, graduates from Geneva College, where I sent to college.  We are going away for the weekend and have to plan for that.  On top of that, I am planning for our summer shore trips.

Soooo, Sunday morning, today.  It starts out like a normal Sunday.  I like to get up early and go to church before it starts.  We go to our 10:30 service.  Between the first and second service, they have food in our fellowship hall.  I like to go, get some breakfast and hang out.  Normally, my daughter Ariana and step son Phil go with me.  Shari follows later.  Now, we also have more house guests.  My step daughter, husband, and their 2 kids are staying with us, as they are moving to the area.

Anyway, my wife was up early to write a paper for her school work.  When I was ready and downstairs, she was putting home made mac and cheese in a crock pot.  She told me that this was for lunch after church.  OK, I bought that.  Because, we were going to Texas Roadhouse that afternoon at 4 for a birthday dinner.

Well, Ariana and Phil went with me to church at the normal time.   As we were leaving, Justin came back from running errands (that is my step-daughter's husband)  I found out later the errands also included getting some food and drinks picked up....and the cake.

We got to church and I went in when it started.  Normally Ariana and Phil go in with me.  I thought they were getting food.

Well, the service goes on and no one else is down to sit with me.  I thought that was odd.  No kids.  No Shari.  No Moriah or Justin.  Finally, Justin shows up, but no one else.  Shari texts me that she is running late and that Moriah is with her son.  After church ends, everyone shows up, and then Shari is asking me to help her find something downstairs in the fellowship hall.  Normally, she is a busy bee, talking to many people.  Today, she was making sure I did not leave.

Well, when I went downstairs....boom.  Surprise!!!  My parents.  People I work with.  People from Church.  Other friends.  My son, Drew.  Turns out, it was a walk in party until 3 pm.   There was a photo wall that my dad put together.  A Star Wars cake.  And lunch.  I asked if there was Texas Roadhouse later.  Nope.  That was a cover to keep me off track.

There you go.  My last day in the 40's.  Not too bad.  Here are a few photos....

BTW, some of us went to Texas Roadhouse anyway for dinner, and I sat on the saddle....