Friday, September 28, 2012


In my last posting, I lamented the forces change to the new Google/Blogger template that does not allow any paragraph spacing.

I truly prayed about this, and I considered retiring this blog and possibly starting a new one with a new "server".

I asked the Lord if there was any "Trick" I could use to again get paragraphs back onto the blog.

God showed, me, no kidding and it WORKS as you can see. It is a LOT more work and more "tekky" which I do not like, but although it will take me more time and more work I will be able to write with paragraph spacing again!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


NOTE: SORRY that this is all run together!! This was composed on the "NEW" Google blogger template. I HATE IT! I miss the old one, which does not seem to be any longer available. When I composed this piece, it had paragraph divisions, etc. When I "published" it, the piece all ran together. Thanks a lot Google Blogger. I am being sarcastic. I HATE this! Well here is my piece: "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority..." (from I Timothy 2:1-2) If you're perceptive and alert, you can experience some interesting encounters with some interesting people in the midst of ordinary life. It makes me think of something that Pastor Westover (my first pastor in the Assemblies of God) preached in a sermon back in the 1970s. He said that you can learn something from almost EVERYONE and ANYONE. I remember him adding, "And, that guy digging ditches, you can learn something from HIM!" Today, I encountered Jay, a very interesting character. Following several hours working at the answering service, I went to my "other" job at BJs Wholesale Club, passing out flyers as people entered the store. After about an hour, and many "people encounters", a couple who appeared to be in their early seventies entered the store. They seemed to be olive skinned, and the man looked Asian...maybe Chinese or Japanese. The woman took a flyer, and the man immediately engaged me in conversation. As the flyers were for the Optical department, he began telling me of the problems he is having reading signs. Honestly, I'm having some of the same problems, so I could relate. This guy was very engaging and he talked and talked. He talked about how difficult it is to read highway signs. Then he commented something like, "this reminds me of the kind of stuff the Obama Administration does" and he chuckled. I chuckled along with him and told him I'm not really a fan of President Obama and that I thought I understood his point. The man told me his name is "Jay". He then said, "I'm sure you would NEVER GUESS where I originally come from." I don't think I could have. He was obviously Asian but his slight accent seemed Spanish. He then told me he was born in South America and that his first language was Spanish. He is ethnically Chinese. His actual legal name is Javier. Jay said that from the age of twelve he had been fascinated with the United States of America and wanted to come here to live. He loved the American culture and customs. Jay came here in the 1950s; he told me the plane landed in Philadelphia and that is what he considers his "birthplace". Jay had slightly bad breath. It wasn't TERRIBLE, it was just slightly bad. He had missed a few spots shaving, which I find is common with a lot of elderly men. He had several moles, including one prominent one in between his eyebrows. His wife stood patiently off to the side as he talked to me. She was around five feet away. I wondered if she was upset or impatient with him, but she seemed very calm, like this is common and he kind of needs to pontificate about life and politics and that she's content to just wait and let him talk. Jay expressed much displeasure about the Obama administration and the direction in which the country is moving. He said he longed for the America of the 1950s and 1960s. Jay's hero is Ronald Reagan. He admitted Reagan's administration incurred much debt, but Jay said he deeply admired how Ronald Reagan brought down the Soviet empire and stood as a true leader. I'm also a huge admirer of Ronald Reagan and Jay was pleased that I agreed with him. He told me, "back in 1968 when Reagan first ran for President, I had a FEELING about him that he would be a great President". He was very disappointed that Reagan did not get the nomination that year, but was thrilled that he finally was elected President. "My feelings are not ALWAYS right, though," he added, "I felt the same way about George W. Bush and I was WRONG!" I agreed with Jay's assessment of George W. Bush and I told him so. Jay said he knows Mitt Romney is "wishy washy" and is no Reagan, but he feels confident in voting for him. "I used to be a management consultant," he said. "I have been to Utah many times. Many of those Mormons are better Christians than most Christians are!" I'm not sure I would put it THAT way but I think I know what he meant. Many of you know I'm extremely unhappy about the choices we have for President this year. I think they're BOTH bad choices, but I found Jay's comments valuable and helpful. Jay's final message to me was vivid. He held up his hands in the "Praying hands" posture and he urged me to pray for our country. "Pray,PRAY!" he exhorted. In a moment, Jay and his wife were on their way shopping. It was quite an encounter for me. Jay was in the house!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

FROM MY BLOG ARCHIEVES: "Je Me Souviens" -about Sept. 11, 2001

This piece, entitled 'Je Me Souviens' is about my memories of Sept. 11, 2001 and was originally posted on my blog on Sept. 9, 2006.

"...and there he builded an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord." (from Genesis 12:8)

Here in Massachusetts, we see a fair amount of Quebec license plates over the summer months. Many Canadians vacation in New England and they love Cape Cod. I remember from my early childhood that the Quebec plates used to say "La Belle Province" but the new motto "Je Me Souviens" comes out of the Quebec separatist movement. My paternal grandparents each emigrated from just outside Montreal, and my heritage in Quebec goes way back. I deeply regret that I speak very little French, but I do know that "Je Me Souviens" means "I remember". (No, I won't talk about my French Canadian heritage today- maybe another time.)

I remember.

I remember September 11, 2001. I also remember November 22, 1963, for that matter. Up until 9/11/01, November 22, 1963 held the record in my memory as being the most sad and intense day that I could ever remember in this country. The shock of the news of the Kennedy assassination, and all that followed was so vivid and horrible. I never thought any day would equal the sadness and horror of November 22, 1963; and none did until September 11, 2001- which tied it.

Maybe it's because my birthday is in September, but I absolutely LOVE September. On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, I was on a day off (as I usually am on Tuesdays). At that time, my two daughters were students at Framingham's Marian (Catholic) High School. Since both were on "financial aid" my wife and I had to "give something back" to the school. (That was before my wife was the full-time head administrative assistant at Marian as she is currently.) I was committed to doing clerical work in the Development office at Marian every Tuesday, just as I'd done over the previous school year. Sept. 11 was my first day "serving" for that year. I was up VERY early that day. I drove Amy and Rachel to school. I then went out and took a long walk. It was a BEAUTIFUL morning. There wasn't a cloud in the sky. As I walked, I prayed that (like Joseph in the Old Testament) I would do a good job at Marian and find favor with my superiors. I was so happy and so thankful for the beautiful day. I picked up a Boston Herald and perused it over my breakfast table as I ate a bowl of Special K. One article leaped out at me. It said Regis Philbin was holding tryouts in Boston on Sept. 13 for college students. I ran upstairs and told my son Jon, a Freshman at Emerson at the time. Jon was ecstatic and determined to try out.

After watching the last few minutes of a particularly good episode of Northern Exposure on A&E, I left for Marian at 9 and was in the office by 9:15. After some cheerful "chit chat" I sat at the computer and began to work. At 9:30, Mr. Flynn (one of the teachers) burst into the room.

"My mother just called and said two planes crashed into the World Trade Center," he exclaimed.

There was a radio in the room, so I turned it on. At first I believed some terrible accident had happened. After about fifteen minutes, the announcer speculated that it must be "terrorism". I now feel stupid writing this, but I hadn't even thought of terrorism. I felt almost sick to my stomach. A few minutes later, it was announced that a plane had just crashed into the Pentagon. Like everyone else, I knew America was under attack. I couldn't believe that this wonderful September morning had turned into what seemed like a horrible nightmare. Then it was announced that a plane had crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. I knew my son was in Boston to attend classes at Emerson, and that my sister worked in an office building near Copley Square. I genuinely feared for their safety. I wondered if the trains would be shut down and how they would get home.

In my heart, I was really afraid. I prayed a silent prayer, asking God to calm me down and to lead me to a Scripture passage to read. I carry a small "New Testament & Psalms" with me at all times. I opened it to Psalm 27. That Psalm gave me such peace and ministered to me in such a powerful way that I used it for the text for my sermon on the following Sunday.

The final period of the day was a special assembly to address the terrible events of the day. Fr. Sheridan, the Catholic Chaplain came in from his parish in Ashland and spoke. I had to give him a lot of credit because I was not even sure what I'd say. Sitting across from me was the mother of a Marian student. She was also a woman who'd left our church six months earlier. It was not a pleasant time and we'd angrily clashed over the departure. After the service, I spoke to her, urging us to forgive each other and reconcile. We did.

The train service was slow and sporadic but Jon finally got home from Boston. I remember feeling very patriotic and very emotional at the end of that day. I suspected other attacks would follow within the next few months, and of course that did not happen. I suspected America would never be the same, that we'd really draw closer to God and to one another. That lasted for about three weeks, and then everything was back to "normal". That still surprises and saddens me.

September 11, 2001. I remember.

Sunday, September 9, 2012


"...and he made as though he would have gone further." (from Luke 24:28)

This morning as I drove from Canton, MA to Westminster, MA (about 65 miles one way) I had an interesting "travel companion" for about half of the drive. On Route 128 (also known as Interstate 85) in Needham, I noticed a classic car of the sixties as I glanced into my rear view mirror. At first, the car was too far back for me to tell the make. At a distance, it almost looked like a 1968 full-sized Chevrolet. The car moved into the passing lane, and came alongside my car, then moved in front of me. In fact, it was a 1964 Ford Fairlane. The Ford was metallic green with a white roof and white trim. In the '50s and very early '60s Fairlanes were full-sized Fords, but for 1962 through 1967 they were mid-sized cars. Well, cars got SO big in those days, that the mid-sized Fairlane is almost as big as a full-sized car of today.

Boy, did that car "take me back"!

Can it really be forty-one years ago when I was learning to drive?! In those days, I was learning on a 1963 Dodge Dart, and there were cars like that '64 Fairlane all over the roads! A Ford Fairlane has particular significance beyond the usual nostalgia, however. My late brother Eddie was VERY partial to Ford products. Over the years, he had a black 1962 Ford Fairlane, a red 1966 Mercury Comet Caliente, and a metallic green 1970 Ford Thunderbird. At classic car shows, you see a lot of Ford Mustangs of the 1960s and a lot of the big Ford Galaxies of that era, but not too many mid-sized Fairlanes. But a Fairlane was an "Eddie" car, so that was kind of special.

Our cars drove in tandem onto the Mass Pike (Interstate 90) and then onto Interstate 495. We each took the same exit off 495 onto the beautiful country road known as Route 117 through Bolton and Lancaster. THAT'S "apple country" and some very beautiful country, at that. It turns out that at the Lancaster Fairgrounds they were having a huge classic car show. The Fairlane turned in.

I was truly sad to see it go. For thirty miles I was day dreaming about Eddie and learning to drive and life in the 1960s and 1970s. In the words of a famous song:

"Could it be that life was oh so simple then? Or has time rewritten every line?"

I spent the NEXT few miles after the Fairlane turned off thinking about the symbolism of that car today. I'm a guy who hates change, but change is inevitable and is a huge part of life. I'm actually having a sort of a 1964 Ford Fairlane experience right now. Since June, I have been living at my sister's in Canton- in the house I grew up in. It's all very different from what it was in the 1960s and 1970s. In those days, the oversized Cape Cod house was painted red. The paint inevitably faded and peeled,and the house constantly needed to be repainted. My father was the kind of guy who had "stuff" left all over the place and there were always a lot of unfinished projects. In those days, there was a hardtop play area in the back yard. As little kids, we rode tricycles there.

The hardtop play area is gone. It's all grass now. The house is sided in yellow vinyl. Everything inside has been done over, really nice. It's very 21st Century. Even so, I see tricycles and kids playing jump rope and my father in work clothes working on some project, and my mom baking a cake, and all sorts of other scenes in my mind all the time as I'm staying at that residence.

It's kind of nice to be "in tandem" with that house for awhile, as I was in tandem with the Fairlane today. But, for scores of very obvious reasons, this living arrangement is temporary. It's not something I really chose any more than linking up with the Fairlane is something I chose. Like this morning's trip, it's kind of different, and kind of neat, and kind of cool, but it's just for a brief season.

A future lies ahead and like precious memories of the past, that future is a gift from God.