Tuesday, November 29, 2016

What God Thinks

Today I will finish C.S. Lewis - "A Life" a biography written by Alister McGrath that is the start of the small group Susan and I are participating at Crossroads.  Since I rarely read fiction books, I have not read any of his Narnia books but will likely be required at some future date as we continue with this small group. 

"Lewis did not really see himself as "creating" Narnia.  Creation is a misleading term. He preferred to think of human thought as "God-kindled" and the writing process as the rearrangement of elements that God has provided.  The writer takes "things that lie to hand" and puts them to new use".

And so it is in the random bloggers posts of their thoughts and philosophy. The ebb and flow of my own personal blog is a rearrangement of memories, current events, relationship connections, and soul searching answers to purpose. 

It brings to mind the quote I have already used in a Vistage presentations to answer why I blog?

"I write to discover what I think"  Daniel Boorstin  (Former librarian of Congress)

Maybe I should modify that with a C.S. Lewis spin"

"I write to discover what God thinks"

Monday, November 28, 2016

I'm Sorry

Measuring and quantifying things has dominated my interest and study in life.  So when it comes to emotional feelings I have wondered about love, hate, sorrow and joy.   Intellectually I have stated that love is infinite and mysteriously and can't be quantified.  However Jesus in the Bible posed the question to Simon - "Now which of them [the two debtors] will love him [the forgiver of the debt] more?" Luke 7:42  

More means a quantity and in this case it is based on the amount of debt forgiven.  Later in verse 47 Jesus says "But whoever has been forgiven little, loves little".  

So what popped into my mind immediately -  Trump's answer to the question (July 2015)  about asking God for forgiveness - "I am not sure that I have".  However he then followed up this statement of doubt by talking about his participation in communion as his form of asking for forgiveness.  We all need our methods of being forgiven -  a lot!

Forgiving is mysteriously wrapped up into the emotions of guilt, sorrow and hate.  The hardest five or six words to say in the English language are  "I'm sorry, please forgive me".  Pride and power makes these words almost impossible to publically verbalize. 

Just remember - saying I'm sorry is saying I love you ..... a lot.


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Ornamental Opinions

Decorating brings out the very opinionated side of each of us.  This year the major dispute came about by the central location hanging ornament that greets each new visitor as they enter our front door.  It traditionally has been a large green and white jeweled globe with a white ribbon.

But traditions change.  Last week in an unusual move, I purchased from the Shaker Village gift shop (yes me), a large mobile star made of basil wood. Probably too fragile to hang outside, I placed it in the location of Christmas tradition - A Star is Born.

Jenna was on the same track of changing tradition when she had purchased a mistletoe  decoration to hang in the same location.  Purchased to coordinate with her beautifully decorated tree she was quick to find allies to remove the hanging star.

Finding compromise is difficult as there is only one critical entrance available.  Susan was thrust into a calamity of Christmas conflict. 

The advantage of "first to market" has temporarily won the battle.  But I suspect the millennial will win the war.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

To all a Good Night

It is the traditional weekend to put up the Christmas tree and outdoor decorations. Also to get all the outdoor furniture and rugs up and stored for the winter.  There are great memories that I have in getting all the decorations out and put on the tree each Christmas.  It becomes a day of nostalgia as te house fills with music and the lights go up.

Jenna is my energy for doing this each year.  Her enthusiasm is a great motivator for all.  Susan and Ellen reluctantly place a few decorations around the house to show support.  Paul was smart this weekend and got out of town with a after Thanksgiving trip to Columbus.

It will be about 20- 40 man hours total (decorating and tearing down) effort for one month of beauty.  But it gets us all in the Christmas spirit - which is the joy and celebration that makes it all worth the effort.

December is almost here -  decorate in good cheer!


Friday, November 25, 2016

Frozen or Fried Turkey

One turkey was not enough this year - we decided to have a backup and appease me in putting my Butterball Fryer to use again after three years of rest.

Actually it was by luck that Susan allowed a second turkey.  Since her loyalty is to Butterball she gave Ellen strict orders not to come home last week from Kroger with anything but a Butterball Turkey. Alas, when Ellen was at Kroger the only Butterball Turkey was a new technology - Frozen to Oven Bagged Turkey called "Ready to Roast Whole Turkey". Yet another first and would be added to the prior year Turkey variations:

2013 - Fried Turkey Experiment
2015 - Turkey Trials

So Susan allowed a second traditional frozen (needing thawing)  Butterball turkey to be purchased and agreed to another Turkey contest -Frozen or Fried.

Well the results are in -  Fried Turkey won hands down in taste only. The Ready to Roast wins in convenience, time, cost, and cleanup. 
Caution - never put a frozen turkey into a fryer unless you want a very explosive fire.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Redskins Football

Tuesday night my Miami Redhawks  (or should I really say Redskins) season tickets were put to good use by the guys (M.L.  J.R. and K.M.).  What a great Miami memory - freezing our toes while sitting on the edge of the bleachers on a come from behind win against Ball State:  21-20.

Actually we didn't see the end of the game since the three reluctant and frozen Miami fans negotiated with me (the driver) to leave the game early if Miami scored the go ahead touchdown.  We did and in the warmth of the car listened to the last four minutes on the radio.

So much history of football at Miami (the Cradle of Coaches) with yet another statistic in the record books.  The first team to go 0-6 for the first half of the season and then win six in a row to actually get a chance at a Bowl invitation. 

When Jenna started at Miami (2009), I sent her a letter  (the MMM - Monday Miami Memory) each Monday for her first 14 weeks.  Letter #5 was my favorite describing the first Nationally Televised Miami Football Game:

Here is the except from the letter I sent Jenna (10/27/2009):

The first Miami Home game was with Bowling Green State University (BGSU) on  9/23/72.  In those days both Bands were allowed to play at half-time and this was the first nationally televised game at Miami.  It was played at Old Miami Field which is where  Pearson Hall and the Psychology building is now located.  Since the game was televised,  Dave Wottle was being honored.   Wottle was a junior at BGSU and had stunned the world by winning the gold medal in the 1972 Olympics 800 meter run coming from last place at the half way point to win the race against the Soviet favorite (remember it was the Cold War back then)– all while wearing a golf cap (unheard of for a runner). His was the last gold medal won in that race by an American to this day.

Well since this was going to be televised (remember there was not cable in those days just 3 channels and only two televised college football games each Saturday) , some of the freshmen guys in East Quad came up with this idea to get on television.  They made up signs with the letters BGSU.  Sitting in the Miami Student stands, they all stood up to display the letters during a time out.  What a nice sportman’s like gesture.  One of the students waited to see camera lock in (the red light showing they were on national television).  Once locked in, three additional Miami men stood up with their letters --- cks.  Yes -- right there on national television before they could cut it for tape delay was BGSUcks.  It was unheard of to allow filthy words on TV.  We lost the game 7 – 16 and were, to some, in national shame.
Miami University 1970s
Not only were these students reprimanded – Dr. Shriver issued a public apology for the Miami Freshman’s rude and crude behavior. For the rest of us the East Quad Freshmen were immortalized.  In fact South Quad was upset that East Quad had outperformed us in creativity and we began a major planning exercise on how we could top that!  The R.A.’s were getting very nervous as the ideas began to blossom.  One R.A. tried to think of something legal and without negative administration consequences and said “Why not a Flag Football Marathon?” The South Quad FreshMen would play flag football all day and night – rain or shine -for a week (Sunday November 5 to November 11).  We all signed up for different slots and played day and night.  I think it ended prior to plan because of the rain and mud (we were tearing up the beautiful Miami turf  by Morris Hall ) at 9:00am on Thursday November 9th and Papa contributed a total of 16 hours of play.

It was a spotty season for the Miami Redskins although we ended the season on an up note winning the Liberty Bell beating UC (at UC) 23 - 0.  That was a memorable game for Papa since the half time show included a high kick performance by the MMM band during part of a song (like the Radio City  Rockettes).  That’s tough to do with a clarinet and play simultaneously  --- Papa got out of step  briefly--  something easily seen by all and very embarrassing.

The very next day  - Sunday 11/19/1972 the Miami Marching Machine would play the same pre game and half- time show at the Bengals game at Riverfront Stadium.  The Bengals played the Baltimore Colts (yes – back then the Colts were in Baltimore).  Now the Colts were Papa’s favorite football team mainly because his hero was the famous Quarterback Johnny Unitas ---” Johnny U”.  Papa decided he would do whatever it took to shake Johnny U’s hand at the game.  The Bengals were favored but Papa was rooting for the Colts.  The Colts won 20-19 in an exciting last minute 26 yd field goal by Jim O’Brien.   At the end of the game, Papa ran out to shake Johnny U’s hand.  Didn’t say a word – just shook his hand.  A brush with greatness!!
So the message here is celebrate your memories (the good ones) and remember each day is an opportunity to create yet another good one.

"When it/s time for memories to really count ...... It's good to have one nearby"   Fred Owlett

Monday, November 21, 2016

Ark Encounter

It was a fun overnight trip to Shaker Village, Ky with a stop on the way back to the Ark Encounter.
Just recently opened (July 2016), the Ark Encounter is jus 30 minutes south of Cincinnati and  conveniently right off of I75.  It's worth one trip to experience the actual size of Noah's Ark. - an would definitely be a fun experience for kids.  We spent about two hours walking through the Ark and ate lunch at the restaurant.  Full of fascinating Bible facts and rebuttal arguments to non-believers.  The other fascinating exhibit was the display of early Torah and Bibles - my favorite was the 1651 Geneva Bible.
I highly recommend that any Cincinnati visitors find a way to invest a half a day at this exhibit..    

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Predicting Presidential Confidence

My predictive ability this presidential election matches my forecasting record on stock market timing - clearly 100% wrong.  As a statistician, it is rather embarrassing for the profession when so many people were surprised by the result of Donald Trump winning the electoral college vote.  Yet my training in this field gives me amply opportunity to defend the analysis before and after the election.

The best statistician is " 99.7% confident that he is three standard deviations from the mean".  Which means (no pun intended) that he is 100% confident that your outcome is impossible to predict.

Predicting human behavior (which is an attempt at prophecy) is exactly what caused me interest in statistics.. Yet time and time again human behavior surprises us.  That is the beauty in life with others- and keeps everything interesting.

My emotions about the election have less to do with ideology and more to do with being tickled about the very surprise that seemingly occurred. Are events really random?  Is there an interwoven master plan and designer?  Is it some combination of both of these with a dash of free will sprinkled on top?

I am confident about predicting Donald Trumps actions -  He will be unpredictable.

"We plan, We predict and God smiles"  

Friday, November 18, 2016

Monkey or Pig

I've been reviewing my "dinosaur blog" - namely "penned" spiritual journal(s) that I started over 10 years ago.   Back in October 2007 there was an entry from the book "Treasures of the Transformed Life" by John Ed Mathison - namely Chapter 27 titled "Faith is Rewarded".

As we approach Thanksgiving (and the natural cycle of Stewardship campaigns, Salvation Army Red Kettles, Crossroads Thanksgiving Meals, Non-profit donor requests, and Christmas giving), it is natural to reflect on the emotions, calling, and action of everyone of us.

Are you a monkey or a pig?

How to catch a monkey - put seeds in a gourd with a small hole on top.  The monkey will grasp the seeds with his fist, not let go and can't get them out.  He'll continue to hang on to those seeds, even until people come and capture him.  Is that what we are doing with our time and money?

Pigs never look up.  They will eat almost anything. They keep their head down looking for another acorn or nut.  Never looking up to give thanks for where those nuts and acorns come from. Is that what we are doing - consuming endlessly without even looking up to say thank you?

Maybe we should release our grip on money and pause to look up for the blessings we have been given.  

"No one has ever become poor by giving"   Anne Frank

 PS  -   For the Chinese Zodiac fans ..... this is the year of the Monkey. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Sweater Weather

It is my first day of wearing a sweater, when Ellen informed me that the temperature was expected to peak at 71 degrees.  While we have had a few days of fall chill and frost has come, wearing a sweater has not been necessary. 

I personally like the image of a sweater and I try to find excuses to wear all types - vests, V neck,  and crew.  I prefer pullover to cardigan (button) and plain versus patterned.  My last sweater was a Christmas present from the girls.  It was a plain blue pullover, zipped V neck, with patched elbows (Vineyard Vines I believe).  It has become my favorite.

I am also partial to sweater vests.  J.B. quipped at Sunday fellowship, "I see you are wearing your 2nd Amendment sweater" awaiting for my ability to decipher his intellectual wit.  Alas, as he smiled to my puzzled inability to understand, he revealed the punchline:  "You know, the Right to Bare Arms".

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Red Kettle Reason

Today was a luncheon for the Salvation Army that I was graciously invited to by M.L.  It was a pleasant surprise to see Brian Tome (Sr. Pastor Crossroads) give the invocation.  We sat a tables with empty plates for a reason - to highlight the number of families that will go hungry this holiday season and how the Salvation Army tries to minister to those in need.

Luckily food was delivered to the table - "Family Style".   What a great touch to have each table pass the food and/or serve each other by passing the plates.  This annual luncheon starts off  the tradition (beginning Friday) that everyone comes to connect over the holidays - the ringing of the bell at street corners (or your local Kroger in Cincinnati)  encouraging people to put money into the Red Kettle.

So this Holiday Season - empty your pocket of change into the Red Kettle.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Selfish Reds and Blues

The post election emotions of a surprise upset by Donald Trump, with a slit decision between the electoral college results and popular vote, has raised the volume of rhetoric around racism.  How appropriate (and maybe a God wink) that a page from Timothy Keller's book "The Reason for God" fell out of my spiritual journal (Susan and given me a copy of this page earlier this year).

The conundrum:  "The more we love and identify deeply with our family, our class, our race, or our religion, the harder it is to not feel superior or even hostile to other religions, races, etc.  So racism, classism, and sexism are not matters of ignorance or a lack of education.   THE REAL CULTURE WAR - is taking place inside our own disordered hearts ....."

If the highest goal is:
(1) The good of our family ....  we will care less about other families
(2) The good of our nation, tribe or race .....  we will tend to be racist, tribal, or nationalistic
(3) Our own happiness ..... we will focus on self economic and power interests

If we get our very identity, our sense of worth from our political position, then politics is not really about politics, it is about us. Through our cause we are getting a self, our worth - the very definition of selfish.

My observation is that both sides are selfish (and dangerously approaching racists)  -  The Reds for public ethnic slurs and degrading the PC (Politically Correct) elites;  and the Blues for their pride in PC and indignant comments about deplorable stereotypes.

Only GOD can be our Summum Bonum -  the highest goal.  As Greg Stover peached one Sunday - we are citizens of a Heavenly Kingdom.  Maintaining an identity to that political position would go a long way to healing the wounds of the red and blue tongues

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Oneness of Marriage

Exactly one month ago, Susan and I acted as coaches at Outback Cincinnati with Marriage facilitators Dr. David and Terri Sumlin of Marriage Life Ministries

This was a follow-up experience to intentional marriage encounter we had at Scott River Lodge (see July 18, 2016  - Heaven Board #11). 

Today, I sent out my fifth follow-up email to the couples we shared the October weekend with - "Don't give up" - reminding them of the six week commitment after the Outback encounter.

"What if GOD designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?"    Gary Thomas

Monday, November 7, 2016

T'was the Night before Election

As I was thinking of composing this - I googled to see if someone had already parodied the poem.  Eureka - someone had already penned it -  T'was the Night before Election.

A great ending....  And we’ll hear him exclaim, above globalist neighing:

It will be pleasant to move on from the torture of minute by minute polls and reality TV politics.  My prediction has and always was a landslide victory for Hillary Clinton. The market today seems to predict that also - today up over 300 pts after the FBI indicates nothing found in the additional emails.

So I have decided how I will vote tomorrow:

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Political Cheer!

At exactly 5pm November 2 Sirius/XM turned channel 17 into the "Holly" Christmas music channel.  And I was in the car to hear the rollover.  I listened last year to the "Holiday Traditions" channel so much that just singing the marketing jingle would create sighs from both Ellen and Susan.

When Sirius/XM offered the 4 month introductory special back in October for $25, I couldn't resist knowing the Holiday music --  "Soon would be there".  So now the family will be listening to Holly until Holiday Traditions debuts on December 5th.

I love the music of Christmas - both the secular and the religious.  I'm lucky enough to have great memories during the holidays with family and friends.  Yes, there is always a small slice of stress that goes with the hustle and bustle of the season.  But what better thing to take my mind off this November political election.

What would you rather listen to -  Fox News, MSNBC, etc.  ........  or HOLLY.