A Thought-Provoking Incident

One day this past week I went to the mall a little before 8:30 a.m. for my usual morning walk. But what happened when I got there wasn’t anything I could ever have anticiated.

I saw a crowd of other walkers going inside–they don’t unlock the doors until 8:30–but when I reached the door, it was locked. I checked the other doors. All locked.

One of the walkers inside saw me and pushed the door open for me, and I held it open for two ladies who were coming behind me. Why were the doors still locked when someone–presumably the security guard–had obviously let everyone else in?

I was immediately informed that the security guard had fallen–or at least she was lying immobile–on the floor just fifteen or twenty feet inside the Food Court entrance. Somebody was frantically requesting that someone with a phone call 911. Apparently someone did.

I don’t know what I expected, but the walkers–there must’ve been fifteen or twenty of us–were all standing around at a respectful distance. I don’t think anyone was talking, and I don’t believe anyone bypassed the crowd to walk. One lady was rubbing the female security guard’s back…as if to sooth her. I couldn’t see any indication that the guard was even conscious, however. (See the P.S. below.)

At 8:38 one of the custodians came in from outside and announced that we would all need to leave. The management couldn’t allow us to walk without having a security guard on duty. As we filed out–I didn’t hear anyone complaining–the ambulance arrived.

I don’t know if the security guard is okay now or even alive. But I’d be willing to bet I wasn’t the only person in the crowd who was praying silently for her. And continuing to pray for her now–several days later.

Earlier this morning I was looking for the song I wanted to post on my “As I Come Singing” blog this coming Wednesday, and I decided to use one whose lyrics, based on Isaiah 40: 6-8, say:

The grass will soon wither,
And the flowers will soon fade;
So the strongest of men will soon weaken and die.

Only the Word of the Lord lasts forever;
And one Word from Him gives us eternal life.
One Word from Him gives us eternal life.

I started thinking about the security guard again. I hate to keep referring to her that way, but even though I always spoke to her, I didn’t really know her…not even her name. She didn’t appear to be anywhere close to middle age. I knew and still know nothing about her but her function at the mall.

And now I don’t know whether she’s still alive. Or whether she’s become a withered blade of grass or a faded flower.

Something to ponder as I thank God for my hope of eternal life through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.

Your comments are welcome.

 P.S.  I saw the young lady several days after writing the rest of this blog post. She’s twenty-five, pregnant with her first child, and doing all right medically, although she does have another doctor’s appointment this week. The problem she’d experienced was a combination of low blood pressure and low blood sugar–with no explanation of why.  Although I still didn’t learn her name, I was thankful for the opportunity not simply to get the update, but to express my concern for her.

 

    

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

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Which Book Would You Pick?

For the sake of this post I’m assuming that all of you are readers of novels. Maybe Christian ones, maybe secular. Maybe both.

And you’re confronted with far more books than you have the time and inclination to read. And possibly the money, too. Are you with me so far?

You spend a long time browsing the bookshelves–or doing a comparable search online–and you’re paying special attention to three things: the title, the front cover, and the back cover blurb.

If those three things impress you, you may also look at the first sentence and maybe the first paragraph. Those steps help you make the best possible choices.

Well, let’s have a little fun with this now.  I have nine UNPUBLISHED novel manuscripts on my computer. So there’s no front cover or back cover blurb. I’ve listed their titles below along with a brief description. Please read them carefully. You should be able to tell which ones are Young Adult and which ones are general adult. All of them are Christian novels, however.

  • Project Muffintop: A teen girl diets to attract a boyfriend. But is she after the right boy?
  • Do I Ever!: Two couples try to hide their pending divorces from one another only to fall in love all over again.
  • Impractically Yours: Middle-aged best friends Robbie and María must overcome trust issues, blood sugar complications, and an ill-timed practical joke to keep their friendship intact and reveal their mutual love.
  • Fifty-Fifty: A greedy businessman who’s turned his back on love faces certain death at the age of fifty. But what if he miraculously survives?
  • Misfits: Two teenaged preacher’s kids discover the joys of being different when they start a misfits club that even the in-crowd kids want to join–and then rediscover one another.
  • Wherefore Art Thou Ramon?: As children, Ramón and Julianne unwittingly start a feud between their fathers. As teenagers, they must stop it. But do the ends justify the means?
  • Rosa No-Name: A young woman returns to the tiny Mexican village that once rejected her and earns acceptance by helping the villagers learn to read, to forgive, and to survive.
  • Overshadowed: A teen who’s lived under the shadow of family and friends discovers a self she never knew she could be after becoming a hesitant leader.
  • A Twisted Rainbow: Two young men discover the never-ending joy of following Christ after winning and then losing a fortune in the lottery.

Okay. You still with me? Would you now please leave a comment specifying which two manuscript would appeal to you the most if they’re ever published. Don’t worry. You’re not committing yourself to anything. I’m just curious.

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.
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Best regards,
Roger

Vinyl What? (part two)

IMG_20150403_142356046If you read my post from this past Wednesday, you already know that I’m talking about record albums, which I recently discovered are being made again and found some of for sale at my local Barnes & Noble store.

As an adult, I especially enjoyed my parents’ college graduation present, a subscription to the Columbia Record Club. Are you old enough to remember that? By signing up to buy a certain number of albums over a certain period of time, the subscriber could select a huge number of free albums starting out. That really got my album collection going strong.

My musical interests became more eclectic over the years. I fell in love with the music from Windham Hill’s multitude of talented artists, although I’ve always regretted–no, actually, I’ve always resented–the fact that the music industry labeled that kind of music as “New Age.” I preferred the designation of “Yuppy elevator music.”

My record collection outgrew the available indoor storage space, so I moved a number of albums to the shed. A shed that wasn’t leak-proof. Many of my favorites were ruined when the covers got soaked and stuck to the records themselves, but some were salvageable.

When my first wife and I divorced, I helped her move some things to a storage facility–a water-proof one! Since most of my albums were in the way at the time, I put them in storage along with the things my ex- was taking to Illinois.

Only too late did I realize I’d failed to rescue them before the move. Almost all of my albums went to Illinois, where she gave them to her uncle, who sold them at yard sales. Gone forever were my seventy or eighty Windham Hill albums.

Although I missed my records, I was joining the CD craze, so it wasn’t that much of an issue. Not until I found out how many of the old albums weren’t available on CD–oh, do I miss the Charlie Bird album, Delicately!–did I realize the extent of my losses.

Fortunately, I still had some of my albums, and one of the best presents I’ve ever gotten was a record player that connects to the computer and allows mp3 files to be created from records. It does a fantastic job.

Tell me. Will I return to Barnes & Noble to spend two to three times what albums used to cost? And would you? How about leaving a comment?

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Family Christian Stores. Go HERE for links to those places.
Tentative-Front-Cover
Best regards,
Roger

If You Want Something Assembled, Don’t Ask Me

mower   BoltHoles   bolt

If you need to have something put together, I’m probably the last person you should ask for help.

First of all, I am a typical guy. I avoid directions at all costs. Then, too, even if I get something put together so it functions properly, I’m apt to have at least one part left over. If I’m trying to fix something, I’ll probably have more than one.

You think I’m exaggerating?

Let me tell you about the lawnmower pictured above. It came basically assembled, thank goodness. If I recall correctly, all I had to do was bolt the handle piece in place, position the rope from the pulley at the proper place on the handle, and attach the little shield covering the output opening.

I got everything together. Apparently correctly since I didn’t have any parts left over.

So I filled it with gas and oil and pulled the rope. I tried to, that is. But the starter wouldn’t. Wouldn’t start, that is.

Turned out I’d failed to attach the rope’s handle to the mower handle. Hmm. Not a drastic problem. Except I couldn’t pull the rope out from the coil to do that.

Okay, the coil assembly was fastened down by only three bolts. I removed them and did what I needed to with the rope so I could attach it to the mower handle. But I didn’t feel confident about whether it would start, so I didn’t fasten the bolts very tightly before starting the engine.

It started beautifully.

But running a mower with part of it held down by only three loose bolts has some potential problems. Specifically, I discovered I had only one bolt left. The chance of finding the missing two was zilch–or less; a metal detector might’ve helped, but we don’t have one.

As you can see from the picture above, the bolt is not a normal you-can-find-it-at-the-hardware-store kind of bolt.

I removed the one bolt I had and went to a mower repair place. Oh, but of course they couldn’t help without specific information about the mower that wasn’t written in the instruction manual I’d had the sense to take with me. After two round trips to that place–they told me to bring the mower next time–I decided to quit for the day.

As it turned out, I could start the mower easily enough if my wife pushed down on the coil assembly while I pulled the rope. Got the grass mowed. The last cutting of the season. I drained the gas and put the mower away.

Yesterday, I decided to try once more to replace the lost bolts. My wife wouldn’t always be around when I needed to mow. So I removed the one bolt to take to a mechanic friend to see whether he could find a work-around.

But doggoned if I didn’t drop the bolt coming into the house. Thank goodness my wife was able to find it, because I sure hadn’t been able to, and the prospect of finding a replacement or a work-around without anything to go by wasn’t good.

I’d already loaded the mower into the trunk, but I gladly unloaded it again. And what did I find on rolling it up the ramp back into the shed but one of the two missing bolts!

So I took one to my friend and have the other in my pocket.

Yes, please don’t ask me to assemble anything for you. Not unless it’s supposed to self-destruct.

Does my all-too-true story remind you of anything you’ve experienced? How about sharing in a comment?

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website. Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Family Christian Stores. Go HERE for links to those places.

Best regards,
Roger

 

Photography–from Hobby to Ministry

AshesThree   RobinBabies   Dsc_7197

The pictures above are three of my favorites.

I started developing a real interest in photography–no pun intended with “developing”–around 1966 or 1967, when my church had a friend of my parents for a revival preacher. He was in and out of our home several times, and he became interested in my Zenith Transoceanic shortwave radio, something that had given me hours of pleasure over the years, but which I was no longer using at all then.

And he had a camera he no longer had a need for. An Argus C-3, if I recall correctly. Of course, that was a long time before the advent of digital photography. As a college student, I didn’t have much money for film and processing, so I focused (no pun intended here, either) on black-and-white photography. I didn’t go crazy taking pictures, though. I still couldn’t afford to.

But then–that summer or the next–I was working at a summer job in North Carolina at a Baptist conference center that produced a yearbook of and for summer staff. I don’t recall how the editor of the yearbook came to see some of my photographs, but I was asked to be the yearbook photographer. That meant taking as many candid pictures as I could–not the individual staff pictures–at no cost to me personally.

In fact, they not only borrowed a light meter and a tripod for me, they allowed me to keep all of the prints they couldn’t use. How could things get better than that?

Although I still glance through that yearbook occasionally and take pride in a number of my pictures, I can’t help feeling embarrassed over duds they had to include because no better pictures were available.

Skip ahead a number of years to my first mission trip–Australia. By then I was lugging around a good-sized video camera that used VHS tapes–and not a film camera. It took several more mission trips for me to realize that–although being able to show certain activities “live” was desirable–it was a poor substitute in other ways for good  photographs that people could peruse casusally.

After several years of doing both videos and still photos, I gave up the video recording. I moved slowly through a progression of increasingly nice film cameras until I finally made the move to digital.

I was hooked. I could finally take as many pictures as I wanted to, delete the duds, and print only the ones I needed prints of. I could even doctor them up electronically. How wonderful!

For a number of years I adorned my living room walls with 24×30 inch posters of some of my favorite pictures. (I’ve since downsized to ledger-sized prints in order to include more.) And I’ve posted many of them on my website as well. Check HERE for a page of them. (The pictures OF me are NOT selfies, however.)

Sometimes I’ve felt a little funny about having so much money invested in camera equipment. Not that a professional photographer would look at my gear with more than mild curiosity.  But it’s turned out that God had a purpose in providing me with the interest, the talent, and the equipment .

I may not have an official title like “Church Photographer,” but I’ve become one of several people they always ask to take pictures of special events. Events like the yearly Family Fishing Day. The Shoebox Party. Special choir events. And numerous other occasions. Being useful that way not only makes me feel good, but encourages me to keep sharpening (okay, pun intentional this time) my skills.

I’m thrilled that God has chosen to turn my hobby into a ministry.

What about you? Do you have a hobby that has turned into a ministry to other people? How about sharing a comment?

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website. Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My new novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out now. If you’re interested, please check it out at Amazon.
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Best regards,
Roger

 

 

Recalled to Life

I probably first read Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities in high school. Then I taught it at least once during my six years of teaching. As an adult, I’ve reread it a couple of times. And I still enjoy it.

It may not be everyone’s preferred novel–contemporary novels are written in such a different style that many readers feel bogged down in A Tale of Two Cities. I can understand that.

But who can ignore that wonderful beginning? “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” (Kind of sounds like Dickens was writing about the 21st century, doesn’t it?) Or Jerry Cruncher demanding that his wife quit “pray against him…” Or those memorable ending words. “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done. It is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”

But my favorite quote is “Recalled to life,” the title of “Book the First”; A Tale of Two Cities is divided into three books.

Without going into more detail here than necessary, old Dr. Manette had been falsely imprisoned prior to the French Revolution and kept in solitary confinement for a number of years. At last his release was arranged–and none too soon. He was suffering extreme emotional problems at the time of his release. “Recalled to life” describes his release and subsequent journey to recovery.

I referred to that quotation in my yet-unpublished novel, Fifty-Fifty, in which the protagonist becomes convinced he’s going to die at or before the age of fifty and takes refuge on a houseboat, where he lets himself grow fat and slovenly. When he doesn’t die, he realizes that he has been “recalled to life”; he can start really living again.

People frequently get caught up in problems that keep them from living a full life: physical, emotional, and financial. Even spiritual. Guilt can be a horrendous thing to live with.

Some people choose to suffer silently. Others take their problems out on their families, friends, and coworkers. And some of the most hopeless people contemplate or actually commit suicide.

Although people like them need to be “recalled to life,” that’s often not within their ability to do anything about.

God is the only “person” I know of who has that kind of power. After all, he recalled His own Son to life again after His crucifixion. How could He be incapable of dealing with lesser human issues than death?

The twenty-third Psalm says it all. Especially the verse that in one translation says, “He restoreth my soul” and in another, “He refreshes my soul.”

Are you so far down you need help to be “recalled to life”? Ask God for help. He’s only a prayer away.

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My new novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out now. If you’re interested, please check it out at Amazon.
Tentative-Front-Cover
Best regards,
Roger

 

The Bruner Breakfast Sandwich

Sandwich-1  Sandwich-2  Sandwich-3

I love Egg McMuffins, but I never eat them. Too fattening.

But I’ve come up with a breakfast sandwich of my own that is–to say the least–is both tasty and low calorie and low fat.

I use the “light English muffins” that come as a store brand. Under $2.00 for a package. One reason for this choice, however, is they are higher in fiber than many other brands of English muffins: 9 grams. And just 90 calories.

Then there’s the Sargento’s reduced fat Swiss cheese, which is made with 2% milk and weighs in at 30 calories for the half slice I use. I buy the nine-per-package and use only half a slice.

I don’t have a turkey bacon package to check, but I’m sure one slice of that is no more than 40 calories.

Then comes the egg: egg whites that are 25 calories per serving.

Finally is the no-fat, no-calories spray margarine.

Were you keeping track? Just under 200 calories for a filling and tasty breakfast sandwich.

Sandwich-4

Here are the steps.

  1. Tear the English muffin apart and toast it
  2. Tear one strip of turkey bacon in half, wrap the two pieces flat in a paper tower, and microwave for 30-35 seconds. Even if you prefer crispy bacon, you don’t want this bacon crumbling and falling out.
  3. Spray the muffin with the margarine and put one piece of Swiss cheese on each half of the muffin as soon as possible after toasting. That helps to melt the cheese just a tad. Lay one piece of turkey bacon on top of each piece of cheese.
  4. Spray a ramekin or similar dish with cooking spray and pour one serving of egg whites in. Microwave 50-55 seconds. Sometimes the result is nice and flat on top, but sometimes it’s quite odd-shaped. Tastes great either way.
  5. Remove the egg with a fork (or whatever) and place it on either side of the English muffin.
  6. Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Eat and enjoy.

Sandwich-5

I used to use a Jimmy Dean product, turkey sausage crumbles rather than the turkey bacon, but our grocery store has quit carrying it.

Have a favorite recipe? How about sharing it in a comment?

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website. Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My new novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out now. If you’re interested, please check it out at Amazon.

Tentative-Front-Cover

Best regards,
Roger