Sunday, May 30, 2010


“And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.” (Luke 3:14)

That passage is from the story of the ministry of the prophet John the Baptist. I think it’s interesting that SOLDIERS came to hear John the Baptist and be baptized by him. When they asked him, “What shall we do?” John NEVER told them to stop being soldiers! On this Memorial Day weekend, we remember those men and women who served our country in uniform and who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

This Memorial Day, I’m remembering my father. My father, Eugene A. Baril was a World War II vet. Now, he never saw action in World War 2, (NOT all World War 2 vets did, many served the entire duration of the war on bases in the U.S.A.) but he’s still classified as a World War 2 vet. Dad graduated from Mechanic Arts High School in Boston (on the site of the present Prudential Center) back in 1940, and then went for two years to the post Graduate program at Boston Trade School. He was in his final year at Trade School when December 7, 1941 took place.

Shortly after graduation from Trade School, Dad enlisted in the Army in June of 1942. He had a tough time getting in for two reasons: reason one is he had flat feet, and reason two is he had a couple of mildly deformed fingers on each hand- they were slightly smaller and redder than normal and couldn’t spread apart from each other very well. Dad tried to enlist one day, and was refused. He came back another day and the recruiter said, “I had a guy with fingers like these come in JUST THE OTHER DAY!” It wasn’t like today when filling recruiting quotas is like pulling teeth. So many guys were enlisting that the recruiter didn’t remember that Dad was the SAME guy! He got in!

Dad enlisted in the Army Air Corps which later became the U.S. Air Force. He enlisted “for the duration of the war”. Dad was accepted in the pilot training program. The Army Air Corps had pretty strict requirements for their members. No Airman could be tattooed, for instance. My father’s education was not considered quite up to par, either. Along with a number of other young men, he was sent for a semester to Syracuse University to take several college classes.

Dad was stationed for awhile in Mississippi and for quite awhile in South Carolina. While in Mississippi, he worked part-time at a slaughterhouse! It really bothered my father to see the lambs come in to be slaughtered, and from that time on, he would never eat lamb. (It reminds me of that Scripture passage in Isaiah 53 about being led like a lamb to the slaughter.) Much of the flight training was in Camden, South Carolina. When our family took a road trip to Florida in the summer of 1965, Dad drove to the base and remembered his time at the barracks there. There were memories of practical jokes played on certain men in leadership, etc. The pilot training program was very strict. There were several phases the men had to pass through. At each phase, a bunch “washed out”. My father made it through all but the final phase. He was devastated to “wash out”. My sister and I are amazed he didn’t make it, because he became an excellent pilot and an accomplished flight instructor for the Civil Air Patrol. But his story is that the guy checking out the pilots was a tense, gruff man who was impossible to please. My father later learned that this guy had flown mission after mission after mission in Europe. He had experienced some pretty rough stuff. They’d sent him back to the States and given him the “easy” job of checking out the young pilots, but he was really in no shape to be doing that.

By this time it was almost 1945, anyway, and my father’s status was changed to aircraft mechanic. He served until the end of the war and was discharged. The service had a profound effect upon my father. He would frequently be whistling revile, or the song to “come and get the chow, men”. He used to do impersonations of one of the officers who was from the D.C. area and thus used to pronounce the word “out” with that distance D.C. or Canadian version of “out” which sounds like “aauuwwt”. Dad would announce, “When ya file AAUUWWT...I want ya ta file AAUUWWT!” I never met that officer, but I somehow FEEL like I did! Dad also had a slight hearing loss from the noise of the aircraft engines and so was discharged with a “disability” (I think a 20% disability- something like that). It qualified him to be a Disabled American Veteran. He belonged to a D.A.V. post in Dorchester, although like many, he almost never attended their functions.

Dad was 19 when he enlisted and was 22 when he was discharged! I can’t IMAGINE learning to fly military aircraft and doing all the stuff he did AT THAT AGE! Like many baby boomers, I guess when I was a kid, I really didn’t appreciate all that my Dad and his generation did for us during World War 2, but this weekend, I remember.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


“And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.” (2 Peter 1:7)

This morning, I was on my way to an appointment in Arlington, roughly 25 miles northeast of Framingham. As I was stopped in a line of cars at a traffic light in Belmont near the Arlington line, the guy in the white compact car behind me got out of the car and began walking up to my car.

My first reaction was to feel uneasy. “What does THIS GUY want?!” I thought. I certainly did not want to hear something like, “Do you know there’s some sort of liquid pouring from your car?” or “Did you know you ran over a dog back there?” or something even worse.

Instead, the guy handed me the GAS CAP to my 1995 Subaru!

I had “gassed up” in Framingham. For some reason there was a problem with my credit card’s magnetic strip. The pump scanner would not read it. I’d had to make two or three trips into the gas station to speak to the attendant at the indoor controls. Ultimately, I had to pay with my credit card inside after I had pumped the gas. I remember taking the gas cap off and laying it in the crease area between the back window and the trunk. I got so flustered with the credit card problem that I COMPLETELY FORGOT ABOUT THE GAS CAP! The amazing thing is that I drove about 20 miles, much of it HIGHWAY driving and the gas cap NEVER FELL OFF! I have to say, that was a “God thing”. In the past, I’ve been known to forget to put gas caps back on and usually they’ll fall off within a mile. A number of years ago, I did that with my 1985 Oldsmobile Cutlass. The gas cap fell off the car as I made a turn in Framingham. I got out of the car that day and found it, but the plastic gas cap was badly cracked and damaged. I remember I had to buy a new one at an auto parts store.

I was very grateful for that guy this morning! I felt kind of ashamed that I expected him to just be a pain in the neck. He was a real help- literally a Godsend! I’d have totally forgotten about that gas cap. Eventually I’d have gone to get gas someplace, found out that the gas cap was gone and been quite upset. (I know that on most late model cars, the CHECK ENGINE light comes on if the gas cap is not on, and that’s a big clue, but remember that this is a 1995 car which does not have that feature!)

People. Why are some SO nice and some so surly?

Today, in the afternoon, I worked a temporary job passing out flyers at the entrance of a “big box” store. Some people were SO friendly and eagerly took the flyers, thanking me. Some gave dirty looks and said things like, “I don’t want it!”. The worst was, “I’m GOOD!” I wanted to say to those, “Yeah, you’re good, I’ll bet you're a real piece of work!” but of course, I didn’t! One wore a tee shirt containing an obscenity. He just walked by disgustedly, and I really wasn’t surprised.

The fascinating thing was that if one person eagerly took a flyer and said, “Thank you!” the 4 or 5 people immediately behind him or her would all eagerly take the flyers and say, “Thank you!” too! If one person disgustedly said, “No, NOT INTERESTED!” the 4 or 5 people immediately behind him or her would all disgustedly say, “No, NOT INTERESTED!”

One guy even waved his hand in a “NO!” gesture and said he didn’t want the flyer. The person behind him did THE EXACT SAME THING!

So, we tend to COPY the behavior we see! It’s a rare person who DOESN’T...who knows who he or she is and does not become unduly influenced by those around him or her. That’s like that guy bringing me my gas cap. Would you have done that? Or would you have just thought, “It’s not my problem!”

I’ve been known to tell people things like, “Do you know you have a brake light out?” I’ve actually gotten out of the car at a red light and done that. But would I have actually grabbed and returned a gas cap? I’m not sure. I’m glad that guy did!

Friday, May 21, 2010


“That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace:” (Psalm 144:12)

Tomorrow, Saturday, May 22, 2010 is Rachel’s Day. NO, she’s not getting married...I guess someday that may well be her biggest day...but tomorrow, Rachel graduates from Westfield State College.

It does not seem possible that I have a 23-year-old daughter who is graduating from college. For that matter, it does not seem possible that I am 55! I look at all the white hair on my mustache and even the hair on my head which is my head which is now about a third white, and I wonder how it’s possible the years have gone by so quickly! Rachel is our youngest.

Our household was very much like the household I grew up in, in that my parents had 3 kids in a row...VERY close together in age, and Mary Ann and I did the same. In so many ways, I didn’t feel ready for Rachel...not with a 3-year-old boy and a 1-year-old girl at home. Things were already hectic and stressful. A woman at our church at the time (Christian Life Center, Walpole) told us prophetically that Rachel would be a “joy baby” and would bring our family much joy. Early on, I couldn’t see that. Rachel was much more “babyish” than Jon and Amy had been. She was one of those kids that seemingly cried and whined about EVERYTHING. Ironically, though she was babyish, she was far more daring than Jon or Amy had been. Rachel did things like drawing in crayon all over the walls, and constantly “escaping” from the yard. We had to put up a temporary wire fence to keep her penned in! Rachel would climb any tree and try just about any physical feat! One time, my sister Dianne took Rachel out to McDonald’s. Dianne came back troubled, and told me, “Whenever I’ve taken Amy out to McDonald’s there were never any problems. But, Rachel just laid on the floor and would not get up!”

In the early ‘90s when we were without a church building for awhile, we held services at a school and rented an office in a professional building. From time to time I would have to baby-sit Rachel at the office. One time we were walking down the hallway of the professional building, and a heavy set guy in a suit bumped into us. In a loud voice that would remind you of Michelle from “Full House” Rachel loudly said, “That GUY should WATCH WHERE HE’S GOING!”

I don’t want to make it sound like Mary Ann and I were HUGE corporal punishment people, but let’s just say Rachel got the most spankings of the three kids when they were little!

Rachel has spent 5 years at Westfield State- NOT because she did badly in academics...JUST the opposite! I think Rachel’s made Dean’s List every semester and she belongs to one of those prestigious national honor societies with a Greek name. Rachel will graduate with two Bachelor’s Degrees, and in order to complete all the degree work, she needed 5 years in which to do it. The school calls 5th year kids “Super Seniors”. Tomorrow, Rachel will receive a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts and a Bachelor’s in Theater Arts.

I know, I know, “Where’s she gonna get a job in THOSE fields?!”
Well, for a time she will probably have to do something else, BUT I wouldn’t rule out a future for Rachel in one or both of those fields at all!

Rachel’s been active in the college’s Musical Theater Guild for her entire college career, playing lead roles and major roles in most of the productions she’s been in. She was also in a Shakespearian play (“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” ) in the school’s “Black Box” theater. She’s also already been an extra in a couple of films, including one shot in New York City. Rachel’s a grown up now. No more baby stuff. She and a friend took the bus to N.Y.C. to be in the film a couple of months ago. As far as fine arts, I draw like a 2nd Grader, but Rachel does outstanding artwork. I certainly hope she will be able to utilize that talent much in life!

Up until only a year or two ago, Rachel still ate like a 7-year-old. We used to kid her that her wedding meal will consist of cereal, English muffins, grilled cheese sandwiches, and maybe chicken nuggets. Well, when Rachel started eating salad, putting sauce on her spaghetti, and eating more “grown up” meals, I knew she wasn’t a little kid anymore. I knew I would not have to worry about her laying down on the floor at McDonald’s and refusing to get up! (Just kidding, but I couldn’t resist that one!)

Rachel’s a very talented and very bright young woman, and YES she has brought much joy to our family! I’ll probably do some laughing and some crying at the graduation in Westfield tomorrow, but I’m truly very proud of Rachel!

Friday, May 14, 2010


“He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matthew 10:39)

The closest thing Mary Ann and I have ever had to a “new” car is an ALMOST NEW car. It was a 1982 Ford Escort. It had sort of a light tan body with a dark tan-almost brown- roof. The car was a 2-door and was a “hatchback”. We purchased the 1982 Ford Escort in early 1983. We’d looked at a number of cars, and found the Ford Escorts to be in the price range we could consider. I almost bought a brand new 1983 Ford Escort, but we were able to save quite a bit by purchasing a 1982 “demonstrator” from Jack Madden Ford in Norwood. The car had 11, 000 miles on it but had never been sold as a new car. It had been driven by a salesman for a year and was used to give “test drives” to prospective customers. I loved that car. We DID have a serious transmission problem with it, BUT it was under warranty- THANK GOD!

I was really fussy about that car...washing it, cleaning it, etc. By the fall of 1985 we had 2 kids (and we’d have a 3rd a year later!) and the Escort was just plain getting too small for us. Through a friend of Mary Ann’s we bought a 1982 AMC Concord station wagon. That AMC is a topic for another day, but we then put an ad in the local paper offering the Escort for sale. It didn’t take long for a wealthy guy driving a Jaguar and his teenage daughter to show up to buy the Escort. Actually, HE bought the Escort as sort of a toy for his teenage daughter. He peeled out 27 one-hundred dollar bills like they were ONES. A few months later, I saw “my” Escort in a local parking lot. I was SICK! It looked so BEAT UP- obviously not taken care of and not appreciated. I was heartbroken to see it. I almost felt like hanging around and confronting that kid by saying something like, “you don’t DESERVE that car!” but of course, I didn’t!

Letting go. It’s not easy. The house I grew up in over in Canton was built in 1958. It was an “oversized Cape” with an unfinished second floor. My father intended to finish it in his spare time. He died in 2000 and the 2nd floor was still unfinished. That had been quite a point of contention between my parents. There was also the large 2 car garage (separate building) my father’d had built behind the house in 1972. There was all the “stuff” there my sister and I had to clean out. I often tell people I’ve never been a homeowner, but that’s not quite true. For a couple of years after my parents’ deaths, I WAS the co-owner of that house.
I was over there regularly cutting the lawn and doing other things. It’s a long story, but I sold my interest in that house to my sister. Now, it greatly BENEFITTED Mary Ann and I when we sent our kids to college and we were NOT homeowners. But I’ll never forget how I felt after the closing on the Canton property in late 2002. It really bothered me. I had not realized how much that house and property had meant to me. I did NOT want to let it go!

I got a phone call yesterday that shouldn’t have upset me, but it did. It was from a much younger pastor from over 60 miles northwest of Framingham. At first I was very surprised he was calling me. Then I guessed that maybe he was taking a Sunday off and wanted me to do “fill in” preaching for him. I started to feel happy and excited. That’s not what he wanted, however. He wanted to know a good time to come over to our former church building and get all the chairs. I felt like I’d been run over by a bulldozer.

No, I don’t own that building at 32 South Street. And, except for most of the contents of my pastor’s office, I don’t own anything in it. The way it works in the Assemblies of God is that once that church was closed the property and contents became owned by our District (like a Diocese or Archdiocese in some religious bodies) and they can do what they please with such. I understand that LEGALLY. But, emotionally and in other ways, I just don’t understand it. I remember us ordering and buying those chairs. They were purchased through one of many church supply catalogs we received. Initially there was a problem as they shipped the WRONG chairs...the wrong color. After a few phone calls, and dealing with the warehouse, etc, the gray and black “stacking chairs” arrived one day in the early Fall of 1994. I remember that (then) teenager Adam Aguilar and I opened up every cardboard box and unwrapped (the brown paper on) every chair. We had a LOT of trash when we were done! I remember wiping down all the chairs and setting them up- 100 total. It was such a time of happiness and expectancy as we prepared to move into our “new” building. Well, it was new to US, although this former United Auto Workers Union Hall had been built in late 1953 and early 1954.

It doesn’t seem long ago. I know SOMETHING has to be done with those chairs, but when I think of them going, I just want to cry. As it turns out, I can’t be at the building during the time that pastor’s scheduled to get the chairs and I’m glad. I think it would be worse than seeing that 1982 Escort in the parking lot. For that young pastor, he’s facing a time of beginning and expectancy. For me, it’s like the “death” of the church just keeps going on and on and on like that annoying childrens’s song Shari Lewis used to sing, “The Song That Doesn’t End”.

Yes, it all comes back to, putting God first in your life, learning to let go, and learning to trust Him. I’m not going to tell you it’s easy- it’s not. When people ask me how I’m doing I reply, “one day at a time” because that’s what it day at a time.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


“Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Romans 12:8)

I follow a set pattern in my Biblical “personal devotional reading” and it happens that my reading for today was Romans chapter 12. The part of the verse I want to emphasize in this piece is “...he that exhorteth, on exhortation...”. It could also be translated something like, “he who has the gift of encouragement, be sure to encourage others”. When I first knew my wife Mary Ann she was often talking about “affirmation exercises” she had been part of at First Baptist Church of Dedham. An “affirmation exercise” is something that highlights a person’s talents and gifts and is meant to be an encouragement to that person.

I expect to do an “affirmation exercise” in some sort of a church or Bible study setting...MAYBE even in a secular therapy group, but I wouldn’t expect to do one at work. However, that’s exactly what I was called upon to be part of this week. Many of you know I work part time at Total Connections LLC in downtown Framingham- better known as VIP Answering Service. I have to be careful writing this piece because the job has a policy that I am not to discuss trade secrets outside of work, nor am I to discuss any of our clients or anything like that. BUT, I think this piece if done correctly does not violate any of those agreements.

There are actually quite a few people who work at VIP, mostly as answering service operators, like me. It’s a “24/7” operation. To boost morale, this summer we’re divided into imaginary “baseball teams”. We didn’t pick them...we got randomly assigned. My team is the “Victors” and Kathy, one of the supervisors, is our leader. I believe there are 4 of us on this “team”...well 4 or 5. We don’t all necessarily work together at the same time. For the past few weeks, every answering service operator has been given a trivial quiz to do. The first one was multiple choice questions. Then there were a couple of crossword puzzles. Each quiz dealt with our clients, policies, procedures, etc. It’s a good way to review the stuff, and it helps the management to know where there may need to be improvements. The past quizzes were done by each individual, and then the scores assigned to their team...if that makes sense.

Tuesday, Kathy the supervisor brought me a copy of this week’s quiz, which is by far the hardest. It’s meant to be done by our whole team. If we can’t all get together at once, which is the ideal, we can at least give input, and Kathy can tie it all together. First there was a crossword puzzle for us all to do together. Not bad. Kathy had already done about half of it and I did probably about a quarter of it while I was on the phone. But the next part is much tougher. There are several difficult hypothetical situations to consider relative to a nuclear attack! One part of the quiz deals with getting supplies together; but the next part asks what 6 people you would pick to survive in a fallout shelter and why? Kathy said to me, “Bob, I think you’d be REALLY GOOD at this!”

Well, I guess they all know I’m a minister. I looked it over and at first I thought,
“Why does she think I’d be good at this? This is like asking if you’ve got too many people in a lifeboat, who do you throw out, the baby or the old lady?”

So, at first, I thought it was kind of distasteful. Then, I started thinking about it. I realized I work with one guy who’s a great cook (he treated us all to chili dogs one Saturday while we were on the phones) and who is very optimistic and has a fantastic sense of humor. I realized he’d probably be a good one to be a survivor in the shelter.

After work on Tuesday, I began thinking about people who work at VIP, the qualities they have, and who I’d pick and why. I was NOT scheduled to work today, but I sat at the computer and typed out 6 names of workers at VIP and why I’d choose them to survive in a fallout shelter. Yeah, I know, it’s kind of a weird assignment, but I wonder if afterward the people will be told who chose them and why. That COULD be really encouraging to them! (Now, I suppose there might be some people nobody picks, and they might feel bad, but maybe THAT’S a teaching tool, as well.) I got so excited about it that I printed my sheet out, went down to VIP and went in to see Kathy the supervisor.

“I’ve got a special delivery!” I told her, and handed her my sheet. I’ll see her tomorrow, so I’ll find out if she liked it. Who knows, maybe our team will win this week!

Yeah, that’s an affirmation exercise, and you know what? I got really AFFIRMED just doing it!


I just want to point out that I've added my son Jon's blog "Macaroni Waffles" to my blog list (column at the right). He writes a lot about the ABC television show "Lost" of which I'm also a serious fan, but the piece of his I'd MOST recommend is his recent post entitled, "I Can't Stomach Terrorism -- I Don't Have the Constitution". I hope you'll check out Jon's blog "Macaroni Waffles"!

Saturday, May 8, 2010


“I will sing a new song unto thee, O God:
upon a psaltery and an instrument of ten strings
will I sing praises unto thee.” (Psalm 144:9)

Last night my son Jon and I attended ‘SWONDERFUL, ‘SMARVELOUS, ‘SGERSHWIN, a Musical Revue at Marian High School.

I know, I know, there’s the whole connotation about “Showtunes” and especially pre-1940s showtunes, and the belief that “real men don’t like showtunes” etc. Well, I respectfully DISAGREE!

I absolutely LOVE the music of George and Ira Gershwin. (You may know that Ira “helped out” but George was the real genius.) When I was a member of the Canton Community Band almost forty years ago, we played quite a bit of Gershwin’s stuff and that’s when I began to LOVE his music. Last night’s Revue was written, directed, and staged by Marian’s outstanding Drama teacher Steve Flynn and Orchestrated by Marian’s Band director George Perrone.

We learned a lot about George Gershwin last night. I did not know that he didn’t participate in any kind of music until age 12, and was much more interested in sports as a kid. He took to the piano like few have, and was a natural. I also didn’t realize he was only in his 30s when he died of a brain tumor in 1937. WHAT A TALENT! I can only imagine the music he’d have produced if he had lived another twenty years!

Certainly this was a show that I think would particularly be appreciated by an over-75 crowd...however, there were folks of all ages, and the high school kids obviously LOVED what they were doing. This was NOT some “hokey” high school type performance. It was really a CLASSY and fun event that I could imagine people paying serious money to see! Just as many people are surprised and even shocked by the fact that such a small team as Marian fields such outstanding sports teams, Marian’s drama and music program is something you’d expect from an absolutely
top level prep school, or some sort of top level performing arts school- seriously.

Usually, they put on their shows on Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday afternoon. However, due to Mother’s Day, they’re NOT doing a Sunday show. That means tonight is “IT”! I honestly think they should have planned for a couple of shows next week and wish they had.

If you go to the Gershwin Revue tonight you’ll really enjoy it. Tickets won’t set you back too much! The show starts at 7:30. I’d plan to arrive a little before 7. Granted the parking lot fills up fast, but there IS on street parking around the school.

Hope you’ll want to go tonight!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

25 or 6 to 4

“One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.” (Romans 14:5-6)

When I was in high school, the song “25 or 6 to 4” was a HUGE hit by the pop music group known as Chicago. We actually used to play “25 or 6 to 4” in the high school band. Yes, I was a band geek! I recall MARCHING in half-time shows to “25 or 6 to 4”. Until today I had no idea what “25 or 6 to 4” meant. I looked it up on wikipedia which said the following:

“Chicago fans have long argued about the meaning of the song. When it was released, there was speculation that the lyrics were drug-related; but the same thing was said about many songs in the late 1960s and early 1970s and the rumor has been largely dismissed.... Lamm himself says that the title is 'just a reference to the time of day,' and that 'the song is about writing a song. It's not mystical.' ... The time of day in reference is 3:35 AM (or 3:34 AM), which would then be 25 (or 26) minutes to 4 AM. Lamm was not above perpetuating the mythology of the song, though. In one interview, he referred to the song title as 'a cricket score.' "

This post is really NOT about the song 25 or 6 to 4, but I chose the title because of “25”. This month marks some BIG “25s” for our family. May 1985 was an important month for us. For one thing, Mary Ann’s sister Lynn graduated from Dedham High School. I will always remember that outdoor graduation...the kids had numerous beach balls bopping and flying through the air during the ceremony! MY kids kid their Aunt Lynn who still loves ‘80s styles and music that (like the pop song of a few years ago about a Mom of Lynn’s era) she’s “Stuck in 1985”! After Lynn’s graduation, we were involved in a car accident. A teenager who had JUST gotten his license plowed into our 1982 Ford Escort with his Dad’s Oldsmobile. As soon as the teen saw a toddler and a newborn baby in their child seats in the rear of the car, he started crying and freaking out! I actually calmed the kid down, explained that we were OK and that I’D had a similar accident when I was a teen and that it would all be OK. That teen’s Dad was an Optometrist in Dedham. Wow. Today that kid would be 41-years-old. I wonder if he remembers the accident!

I wrote that we had a newborn baby in the car. Our daughter Amy was born on Mother’s Day, May 12, 1985. It was very, very special for Mary Ann to have a Mother’s Day baby. Mary Ann absolutely LOVED babies and little kids and really did a fantastic job with them. (I was not comfortable with babies and little kids but I had to learn!) Jon was really a great baby, but Amy (like me in 1954) was one of those who just cried incessantly. I’d heard enough stories from my mother about what an awful baby I was, so I had amazing tolerance with Amy! I laugh because of our 3 kids, the one who HATED going to the doctor’s was Amy. Today, SHE’S A PEDIATRIC NURSE! I still remember Mary Ann at 12:30 in the morning telling me we had to go to the hospital. I remember us driving Jon to the family’s that was taking care of him while Mary Ann was in the hospital, and I remember INSISTING we stop at Dunkin’ Donuts for me! My mother and sister came in to see Amy when she was just a half hour old. I just can’t believe Amy will be 25 in a few days.

The big hit song in May 1985 was the ORIGINAL version of “We Are The World”. That song was (frankly) overplayed that month. I was Ordained as an Assemblies of God minister on May 7, 1985. Each year Ordination is at our District Council...that year it was in Brookfield, CT ...that’s WAY down in southwest CT near the NY border. A big part of Ordination is that the Spouse joins you at the altar for the service. Due to Mary Ann being 9 months pregnant, she was unable to be there. Our “Senior Pastor” at the time, David C. Milley arranged for a Special Ordination service and fellowship time for me at our church in Walpole on a Sunday night later that month that Mary Ann and the church family could be a part of. Dave reads this blog. Sometimes he could be a real pain in the neck, but he also had a huge heart, and that generous act was something Mary Ann and I very much appreciated. I remember that “Presbyter” Carl Guiney was the one who “laid hands” on me for the Ordination. I thought that was kind of special because he’d also been the guy who’d given me my “License to Preach” exam four years earlier. (In our denomination, ministers are “Licensed” for a period of at least 2 years before Ordination. It’s at the discretion of the District hierarchy when or IF you’ll be Ordained.) The Rev. Carl Guiney is still in ministry but has had very serious health problems in the past couple of years...a brain tumor of the same type that Ted Kennedy had. Pastor Guiney is a very smart man, and a good musician. I feel bad about his illness and I wish him and his family well.

At each District Council, there is a special time of recognition for those who have been Ordained for 50 years and for those who have been Ordained for 25 years. I used to look at those guys getting their 25 year recognitions...mostly guys (or sometimes gals) in their late 40s or early to middle 50s and think they were SO old and that I’d NEVER be that old! I couldn’t imagine EVER getting the 25 year recognition. This month, I do. I’m actually not going to the whole District Council, but Mary Ann and I will attend the Ordination service, and I assume they’ll let her walk up to the platform with me THIS time!

So May 1985 was a BIG time for us.... 25 years ago. How many years ago does it SEEM like? Maybe 6 or 4!

Monday, May 3, 2010


“The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” (Mark 1:3)

“A Journey to Boston” is the title of a novel from the early 1960s. I also think I entitled a previous post on my blog, “A Journey to Boston”. IF I did, sorry for the redundancy, but I thought it was an appropriate title. (I did a superficial search and did not find “A Journey to Boston” in the blog archives but somebody may prove me wrong!)

This afternoon, I went on a short journey to Boston. My daughter Amy and her friend Nicole from Springfield, Missouri are visiting for a few days. After I got out of work at the answering service in the early afternoon, I joined them for a trip to Boston by public transportation. This is Nicole’s first trip to New England, although she went to New York City a year or so ago. (As native New Englanders know, New York City is NOT New England. Well, Fairfield County, Connecticut sort of IS, but NYC itself...NO!)

We drove to Newton’s Woodland Station just off Route 16 and took the Riverside Green line trolley into the city. You never know WHO is going to be on the T !!
About halfway to Boston, a heavy set African American guy wearing a huge set of headphones and carrying a CD player got one. He stood the whole way, SMILING and literally “moovin’ and groovin’” to the music he was hearing. At one point, he was making dramatic motions as if he was conducting the Boston Pops orchestra. I came within a sixteenth of an inch of laughing my head off. Thank God, I controlled my laughter. When some girls got were getting off at one stop they kind of danced with him for a few seconds, and he yelled, “Disco, baby, DISCO!!” Yes, you never know WHO will be riding on a trolley car with you!

We got off at Park Street station. My kids make fun of my interest in history and civics, but I make it a point to point out Park Street Church and speak of its history in the Nineteenth Century Abolitionist movement. I also pointed out Fox 25’s Boston studio, the State House, and even the headquarters of the Unitarian-Universalist Church. We enjoyed walking through Boston common. I did not know this is “U.S. Marines week” in the City of Boston! Marines and military equipment were EVERYWHERE...especially at Boston Common and Copley Square. That was pretty cool! I love Boston Public Garden. We did not go on a swan boat ride, although I could have easily been talked into one! We did walk through the Public Garden and just DRINK in the beauty. I have given express orders that when I die I don’t want to be cremated, BUT if I ever change my mind, I think I’d love to have my ashes scattered around Boston Public Garden. I love the place THAT much.

What’s Boston without Dunkin’ Donuts?! (You may know my hometown of Canton, MA is also where Dunkin’ Donuts’ world headquarters is located and the first D.D. was in Quincy, MA.) We stopped at a D.D. I had not eaten lunch, so I had a bagel sandwich. I really wanted an ice coffee, but because of the contaminated water in Boston this week, NO ice coffee. However, since the Coolotta mix is premixed from a factory, we DID order Coolottas.

We took a walk down Boylston Street toward Copley Square. One of Amy’s favorite spots there is the plaza outside Trinity Church. There were loads of Marines there. Nicole enjoyed the “eye candy”...HER term!

As we walked further down Boylston, the skies turned BLACK. It looked like we were about to have a Missouri tornado. I half kidded the young ladies about bringing their weather with them from the midwest! Just as it was starting to rain, we went into Prudential Center mall and enjoyed walking around there and Copley Place mall. The weather cleared up and we made our way to Copley station and got on a Riverside green line trolley heading back toward Newton and Woodland station. After going through six (or so) stops, the motorman stopped the trolley and announced TREES WERE DOWN on the tracks and we’d have to get off! I guess that brief squall WAS pretty bad in parts of Brookline and Newton! Everybody made their way out of the trolley and we were directed “upstairs” to the street where a bus was waiting for us. It was VERY crowded. I suggested we wait for another one. In a few minutes, two more of these emergency busses marked “OUT OF SERVICE” pulled up and a stressed middle-aged African-American T driver motioned and commanded the crowd to get on the busses. I felt bad for our bus driver. He was a nice guy. People were asking him questions such as, “Where are we going?” “Are we making ALL the stops?” “How FAR are we going?”

This poor guy had been home relaxing and had been pressed into service due to the emergency. This was NOT his regular route at all. He was no more familiar with it than I was. “I’m just following the bus in front of us,” he kept saying, “That’s all I can tell you!”

MOST people took things in stride, but a few had an “attitude”. I was sitting near the driver and I kind of humorously broke the ice, saying, “It’s like that old hymn, ‘WHERE HE LEADS ME I WILL FOLLOW’” The guy chuckled, and AGREED! The bus was “wicked hot” and uncomfortable as we New Englanders would say, but I tried to just enjoy the 30 minute ride. Actually, Nicole got to see some of the ritzy streets of Newton so that was nice. Eventually, we ended up at Newton Highlands station where we got back on the Green line and rode it a few stops to Woodland. Nicole noted that a number of people riding the busses in the opposite direction were all dressed up in Red Sox gear...obviously going in to Fenway Park. That couldn’t have been an easy trip for them.

After the 30 minute drive from Woodland station to Framingham it felt good to be home! In one sense, that was what I call a “short,cameo trip” to Boston, but it was also an ADVENTURE... from the cool, singing Black guy, to the Marines, to the storm, the city sites, and the “different” ride back on the T.

I’m a guy who DOESN’T tend to be flexible. I tend to be very rigid, and that’s gotten me into some trouble in life. TODAY I was flexible and just took things in stride and had fun. You may wonder what the Scripture verse I opened with has to do with this posting Well, John the Baptist prepared the way of the Lord and I think today the LORD prepared the way for us. What I told that bus driver... “where He leads me I will follow”...well, that’s really TRUE!

So, we’ve all gotta learn to be less rigid and more flexible. I will still have my “bad” days in this area...I know, but like all of us, I’m “under construction” and I want God to help me grow in this and other areas.