Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

Let me wish you a very Happy New Year! Looking forward to new ponderings in 2010.
Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pondering Christmas

Christmas carols. Christmas stories. Christmas stockings. Christmas presents. Christmas trees. Christmas lights. Christmas lists. Christmas traditions. Christmas candy. Christmas dinner. Christmas hugs. Christmas family gatherings. Christmas love...

"So this is Christmas..."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pondering 10 Turkey Truths of Life

One day two turkeys were feeding in the wild meadows of Cades Cove, TN. The grass was green and cool on their feet. The small pedals of the yellow flowers that sprinkled the meadow danced merrily in the breeze.

Suddenly, one of the turkeys lifted its head in stubborn defiance. A little further back, the turkey friend of the defiant one recognized the old, familiar sign of forgotten wisdom in the eyes of its friend. Calmly...firmly...the turkey lowered its head and said, "I guess I have to remind you again of the 10 Turkey Truths of Life."

1. Growing turkey old is inevitable, but growing up is optional.

2. There is no key to turkey happiness. The door is always open for those birds wise enough to seek it.

3. A turkey grudge is a heavy thing to carry.

4. The turkey who faces the Thanksgiving Ax with the most still dead.

5. We turkeys do not remember days, only moments. Our feathers are lost far too quickly not to enjoy our precious moments.

6. For a turkey, nothing is real unless we experience it. Without experience, the humans call it hearsay, but we call it gobbletalk.

7. It's okay to remain poised over the turkey pity spot every now and again. Just remember to cover it completely when you are done.

8. Surviving and living life successfully as a turkey requires great courage. Getting the grub of your turkey dreams requires courage and risk-taking.

9. Turkeys have to learn from the turtle, it only makes progress when it sticks it neck out. But, be careful with this turkey saying around Thanksgiving time.

10. Be more turkey smart with your character than your reputation. A turkey's character is what it is, and a turkey's reputation is only what others think it is.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Pondering How Cool People Think

Cutting wood is hard, back-breaking work. I have never found a single person who cuts or stacks wood for fun. People cut wood to fuel their own warmth, the warmth of loved ones, or the warmth of their wallets.

I wish I knew who took this picture. I would love to sit with them, drink a cup of coffee with them, and ask them..."Why would you do all this work? Neat idea. Great picture! A lot of work.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Pondering Our Veterans

Soldiers pay the price for our freedom! Some soldiers have given the ultimate sacrifice of giving their lives for us to be free. Others have given their health fighting for our freedom and are now disabled. Still others have suffered, and continue to suffer, deep emotional scars left by the horrors of mortal conflict. All soldiers have sacrificed time away from friends, children, spouses, and other family members. Soldiers, indeed, pay the price for our freedom.

Give them your respect. Give them your honor. Give them your sincerest gratitude.

Thank a veteran everyday, but especially this Veteran's Day!

Now if you know an Army veteran and want to do something special for them, go to and honor them with a salute.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pondering The Leaving Falling

I just love the Fall: the changing colors of the leaves, the cooling temperatures, and shortening of the days. Winter is circling the runway getting ready to land. I am sitting in my recliner with a blanket tucked in around me. This is really a nice time of year.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Pondering Life-Long Friends

Friends are to be cherished and valued.

I entered the U.S. Army in February of 1977. Going off to learn how be to a soldier, was exciting to me, and I gave it 100% of my attention. With one exception, a few months after going active duty the girlfriend I left behind and I became engaged to be married. Somehow, I was going to have juggle being married with being a soldier.

We married on a snowy Saturday, 4 February 1978. The next six days were a glorious honeymoon celebration of our divine union. On Friday, I took her home to her parents, said goodbye, and headed back to Ft. Bragg, NC. Sunday morning I deployed on a 6-8 week training mission.

Spring, 1978. After returning to Ft. Bragg from training, Debbie joined me. We moved into a nice, one-bedroom apartment in Fayetteville, NC.

The first Sunday morning after Debbie’s arrival in NC, we attended the Helen Street Church of Christ. We sat near the back because Debbie was a shy, young bride a little uneasy about being away from home for the first time. I was the only person she knew. She watched closely as people arrived for Bible Study and made their way into the auditorium. Having attended there some since my arrival in NC, I knew a few people, but not many. Most of the time I had been stationed in NC, I had not been in NC…I had been in New Mexico helping to develop a new weapons system, in California, and in a few other places. So, here we sat. My wife was 14 hours away from home and feeling a little scared due to her not knowing anyone but me.

Her beautiful, green eyes fixed on a young couple coming into the auditorium. The couple was obviously married and obviously well at ease with the congregation. They were greeting people, passing out smiles and hugs in abundance. Debbie never took her eyes off them as they made their way toward the front of the building and sat down.

Momentarily, Debbie leaned over close to my ear and whispered, “I think I know that girl that just came in.” I couldn’t believe it. Surely not. How could my shy, young wife know someone all the way here in NC from her small, southern IN hometown? Nevertheless, after services I dragged Debbie toward the front of the building and introduced ourselves. Their names: Danny and Sherry Morris.

As unbelievable as it sounds, Debbie and Sherry knew each other from being at the Blue Ridge Encampment together (Black Mountain, NC) when they were both little girls. My memory is a little fuzzy about what happened next…who invited who to dinner, etc….

All I can remember is that from that day on Danny and Sherry have been a constant part of our lives. We have lived together, worked together, raised kids together, traveled the world together, watched our kids get married together, suffered hard times together, celebrated good times together, laughed together, cried together, and sang together. We have been friends now for over 31 years. I can’t imagine what our lives would have been like without Danny and Sherry in them. In fact, I don’t even want to try to imagine it.

I look forward to these times…growing grandchildren together, getting old together, dying together, and being reunited in Heaven together.

I’m so thankful to God that I have Danny and Sherry as my life-long friends.

Friends are to be cherished and valued, but life-long friends are priceless and their value is far above any measurement!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pondering Her 50 Years

I've known her for nearly 36 years, and I've been married to her for nearly 32 years. But, I have never gotten her quite like I did on her 50th Birthday.

Her mom and sisters planned a great party, complete with "over the hill" decorations, a casket, and a tombstone for a cake. It was perfect. Our sons were not able to make it into town which seemed to really depress her. Then, her mom made her believe that her sisters were not going to make it into town. THEN, I was scheduled to work on the night of her birthday party. I was honestly concerned for her mental well-being. She was turning 50 and longed to have her husband, her sons, and her sisters at the 50th anniversary celebration of her birth. Although the party was not a surprise, the wife had a lot of surprises in store for her.

Her sisters revealed. On Friday night, I took Debbie to the auction to be with her mom and dad (auction fanatics). Here is where her sister, Pam, sprang the first surprise on her. She was standing outside the auction and called Debbie on her cellphone. Then while talking to Debbie, Pam made her way inside the auction building. Debbie's face just lit up! At least, Pam was going to be at her party.

On Saturday, Rhonda's (Debbie's youngest sister) surprise was slightly marred by Debbie's 94 year old grandfather when he said, "What time is Rhonda getting here?" Debbie's keen hearing and sharp mind (even after 50 years) caught that piece of information.

Her last surprise was still to come. I was able to make arrangements with fellow workers to get me off work so I could attend her party. Pam borrowed a Grim Reaper outfit from one of her co-workers and had me wear it. And, wear it I did.

I dressed in the outfit and put a baby's pillow ring around my neck to break up my body outline. It worked perfectly! Debbie walked in the gym and looked over the decorations. She thought I was just a "stuffed" Grim Reaper. She had no idea I was beneath the suit.

Then we sprung it on her. My brother caught the moment on his camera. We pulled off one of the best surprises ever (normally Debbie figures everything out). I am grateful to Debbie's mom and sisters for putting this party together, to Tammy (Debbie's sister-in-law) for coordinating invitations to church members and desserts, and Mike (my brother) for doing some great photography.

Happy 50th Birthday, Debbie. Gotcha!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pondering Newspapers

It is hard to believe the last day of March has only three more hours. Not only that, but it is hard to believe I have failed to make a single post on my blog this month. I’ve let myself down.

I’m feeling a little afraid today because of something I read on YAHOO several days ago: newspapers around the country are going out of business. It hurts to know that major papers are being thrown in the economic trash can.

I love newspapers. I read their ink covered pages everyday. I love the sound of my coins as they course their way through the lock of the news stand, the smell of the ink that rushes my nose, and the feel of the folded pages as I pull the paper out of the stand. Like you, of course, I always get the paper that is two or three down from the top. I’m not sure why I always feel like the paper on top has pages missing or something, but I do. Oh, and if I should be the one to take the last paper from the door of the stand, I always feel like I’ve won the lottery or something.

Everyone has their favorite way to read the paper. Some start with the Comics, some the Obituaries, and some the Sports page. My favorite way is to start at the beginning and read all the way to the end. Of course, I save the Classifieds and the advertising inserts until the very last. It’s just hard to believe these daily literary works of art are going away.

Even as I ponder the disappearance of the daily newspaper, I know I am a big part of the blame. Like so many others, I have found it more economical to go online and read the newspapers that I follow. It’s fast, it’s easy, and I can read papers from all over the nation and the world. Recently, I even started reading my local paper online.

Naturally, reading the paper online makes it hard to start at the beginning and read all the way through to the end. Online newspapers elicit a focused review of material: news, lifestyle, business, etc… There is no fluid transition from page to page. There is no serendipity of finding that hidden story on B3.

I have also contributed to the demise of our nation’s newspapers by using online classifieds. I am a registered user of eBay and CraigsList. I no longer search those little ads in the back of the paper, and I no longer advertise in print classified.

No wonder the papers are closing.

I wonder what we will have in the future. Will any newspaper survive? Will our grandchildren ever hear “Extra! Extra! Read all about it!”

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pondering Truth

I enjoy honest inquiry. I enjoy passionate people discussing topics of importance. I enjoy people who think and speak fearlessly. Truth is worth asking questions, discussing ideas, and speaking plainly.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like arguing and fussing. I don’t like people who babble and yak about things of which they have made no genuine study or given no considerable thought.

“We the people” must square off face-to-face with one another and seek truth. Truth must prevail in our homes, on our jobs, in our cities and in our nation.

Only the strong can face the truth.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pondering a Cowardly Act

It’s a cold night in southern Indiana. The wind cuts through your clothes and brings goose pimples to your skin and a pain in your bones. When it’s cold like this, the night seems darker and longer.

Tonight is going to be an even longer night for the families of Officers Longhorn and Broady, police officers with the Jeffersonville Police Department. These brave men were serving our community and were ambushed by a coward. One was shot in the chest, and the other was shot in the leg. A man hunt is underway to find the sorry coward that did it.

I ask each of you reading this blog to pray for these men and their families.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Pondering Sacrifice

It’s a sunny, cold day in Southern Indiana. The snow and ice storm have left many still without power. Men and women from the utility companies are braving the cold and working around the clock to restore power.

I work across the river in Louisville, KY. Our restaurant has been flooded with customers looking for a warm place to just sit and enjoy a hot meal and a cup of steaming coffee or hot chocolate. The work crews are there, too. These folks, utility workers and the KY National Guard, have left their homes, their families, and, in many cases, their own power troubles behind to help other people. Interestingly, so has my crew. Many of my cooks, servers, cashiers, and dish washers are without power, some even have trees sticking out of their houses or apartments. Nonetheless, they are working to help other people.

This kind of attitude that serves others while possibly needing to be served is called sacrifice.

Isn’t it funny how we often overlook the spirit of sacrifice until disaster strikes us? Or do we think sacrifices are not made on a daily basis? Our troops sacrifice everyday. The men and women of the police, fire, and EMS services make daily sacrifices. Parents sacrifice for their children, social workers for their charges, teachers for their students, and the list goes on and on. So why does sacrifice seem so much more important in times of tragedy?

I think the answer lies within us. For most of us, we get so wrapped up in our world, our responsibilities, and our problems that we fail to notice the sacrifices being made by others. I don’t think this is a heart issue. That is, most people are not uncaring of the sacrifices made by others, we just don’t take the time to see those sacrifices. When misfortune smacks us right in the face, we have more time to notice and appreciate.

I wonder what the world would be like if we all made an effort to notice how others daily forfeit their own wants, needs, and desires in order to make our own lives better? I wonder, too, what the world would be like if we did not forget so quickly the sacrifices of others?

Why don’t you join me in showing some appreciation? Let’s turn the world upside down by giving thanks to the people in our lives that are making sacrifices for us? Let me get us started…
God… the Father, Son, and Spirit…thank you for the sacrifices you have made for me. I don’t understand all that you have done, but thank you for counting me worthy enough to surrender your heart for my good.
My wife…Debbie…thank you for giving so much of yourself each day for me, for standing beside me, loving me, supporting me. I know you have hopes, dreams, and desires for your life. Thank you for including me in those dreams.
My sons…Joey and Shane…thank you for being more sons than any man has a right to have. You are my heart personified.
My daughters-in-laws…Karen and Candice…thank you for loving my sons so dearly. Your love has made them more complete in everyway. And thank you for loving your in-laws, too.
My friendsthank you. Without you, my life would be a lot less pleasant.
To all whose name I do not knowthank you. Your sacrifices for me make my life better.
To everyonethank you. I will try to do a better job of recognizing your sacrifices. I will never be able to repay you for what your sacrifices are worth, but I will give you my sincere and honest gratitude for all you do.

Now you try it! It feels good.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Pondering a Paradigm Shift

In 1962, Thomas Kuhn wrote of what he called a “paradigm shift” in his book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn limited the use of the term to the world of science, and he would later voice great displeasure in the adoption of his phrase to other areas of life and academic disciplines. Nonetheless, his phrase enjoyed a growing popularity and a broadening scope of use. Today the expression maintains its rudimental meaning…a basic shift in the way one thinks about or views a particular topic or situation. (Thank you, Wikipedia, for the research.)

Recently, I experienced a paradigm shift. Let me share it with you.

I am a restaurant manager. One of the hardest tasks of being a restaurant manager is finding good help, people who are willing to be at work everyday and work while they are there. On any given day you can find dozens of people who will accept your employment offer, but who will only come in when they want and stand around while they are there. These are the people I say are more interested in a paycheck than in a job. Our store seems to attract a lot of people who want paid, but don’t want to work for it.

About six or eight months ago, Miro (pronounced “me row”) became of my employees. He spoke very little English, and I spoke even less of his language…none in fact. The General Manager assured me he was a good worker and would make an excellent dishwasher. I took his word for it.

Since then, I have had a few occasions to see Miro work. My problem with Miro was not so much the quality of his work, but my own inability to communicate with him the things I wanted him to do. My recourse was uneducated, but very American. I ignored him. I fussed at him when he didn’t do what I tried to get him to do. I knew he didn’t understand and that added to my frustration. When I would call out his name, he would not answer. I was sure he could hear me because I was only a few feet away from him. I got to the point where I hated to see him at work when I arrived. I assumed he was uneducated.

A few weeks ago, the restaurant was empty. We did not have a single guest in the store and had not had anyone in the store for about 30 minutes. Miro began talking with the employees. I listened. The more I listened the more intrigued I became. The more intrigued I became the more I attempted to communicate with him. This eager attempt at communication precipitated my paradigm shift.

Miro (I can’t pronounce or spell his last name) is from Bosnia. Thirteen years ago he moved to the United States to escape the ravages of his war-torn country. In Bosnia, Miro was a postal worker with 30 years service. He owned his own house. He helped take care of his entire family. He was happy. Shortly after the war broke out he heard his neighbors being killed and knew his family was next. He quickly gathered his family and fled, leaving behind the house he had worked so hard to own…a house to which he and his family have never returned. In the course of his escape from Bosnia, he lost 85% of his hearing to bombs exploding. He managed to get his family out of Bosnia and into the United States. One day, perhaps, he hopes to return home. However, as pleasant as the thought of going home is to Miro, he fears what he might find when he does go home.

My experience with Miro helped to see that I…Americans…am far too caught up in my own little existence. I complain about the cold in the winter and the heat in the summer. I become frustrated with the traffic. I fear the poor economy, the declining dollar, the stock market, and the long lines at Logan’s Steakhouse, but I have never feared for my life or the lives of my family. Bombs are not exploding in my neighborhood. My eyes have been opened to a larger picture of the world and the people in it.

Suddenly, Miro has become more than just a non-English-speaking dishwasher. I no longer see him as uneducated. In fact, now I am the one that seems uneducated. Miro’s life experiences have given him a Ph. D. in World View, and I am just starting my elementary years.

I thought I was well balanced in my view of the world and people. Miro taught me differently. My paradigm is surely shifted. Thank you, Miro. Through what paradigm do you see the world and its inhabitants?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pondering A Following

I got the first follower of this blog today. I am so excited!!! Never mind that my one follower is my very own wife, and never mind that I called her and asked her to become a follower of my blog (shameless promotion, I know)…I have a follower!!!

If you would like to join my one, highly esteemed follower, then just make the click. It’s simple. It’s fast. Besides, Debbie needs the company.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Pondering The Snow

The snow fell on Southern Indiana last night, and I went into the darkness to discover the light. Here is some of what I found. Although I do not believe a picture is worth a thousand words, here are some pictures because I don’t have time to write a thousand words.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Pondering Meme's: Seven Random Things About Me

Although 50 years old, I am always ready to learn something new. Thank you, Ashley.

Here are the rules:
Tag people with the meme.
Tell them the rules.
If they have a blog, include it.
Make sure the people you tag, know they’ve been tagged.

Seven Random Things About John

1. I cannot stand it when people are impolite to strangers. For instance, one needs to say “please” and “thank you” when dealing with people. Being nice isn’t limited to the people we know. There is nothing more irritating than to hold the door for someone only to have them march right through the door and never even acknowledge your presence or show a sliver of gratitude.

2. I love mustard on corn. It is so good. The next time you have some corn for supper, get the jar of mustard from the refrigerator door and squeeze a little out on the corn. Open your mind. Mix the corn and the mustard. Give it a try.

3. I once bit the head off a chicken. One part of my military training required us to kill and eat a chicken at the end. They didn’t really care if we ate the chicken or not, but they watched carefully to see that we “bit” the head off. After killing the chicken, I cleaned it and made a Chicken and Vegetable Soup. Some of the soldiers put the entire Chicken’s head in their mouth, but I was afraid my chicken would peck my teeth before I could bite its head off.

4. I am a night person. I can stay up much better than I can get up. Some of my most productive work is done in the wee hours of the morning when everyone else is sleeping. Furthermore, as a general rule, I do not like morning people who do not or cannot understand my night person status. These people get up all chipper and loud. If you want to be a morning person fine, but don’t disrespect my night person status.

5. I love reading Westerns. As I write this, I feel somewhat ashamed as I have not read a Western in a year or two. Louis L’Amour is my favorite Western writer. I have all his books, even his first book which was a book of poetry. I would love to get my hands on some of the work he did in Pulp magazines. Although L’Amour is my favorite, I will read anything Western.

6. I eat my food by certain rules. Rule 1: everything has its place on the plate and no other food should violate this place. Mashed Potatoes go here, the steak there, and the mixed vegetables next to the potatoes. Rule 2: Each food item must be eaten individually. I eat salad first, then vegetables, then meat. Sometimes, just for a change, I reverse the order. However, reversing the order will often cause me to become disoriented and irritable. Rule 3: Dessert does not have any particular order. I can eat it before the meal…during the meal…after the meal, and sometimes all three. I do not always have dessert, but I always think about it.

7. I am a storehouse of useless information. One of my curses in life is that I seldom forget anything. I may not always remember the source, but the information is readily available. I think I would do well on some game show. Once, when my children were small, they recognized this amazing talent of mine and started calling me Chief A Lot A Bull.

As a new blogger, I am proud to have had this opportunity to experience the Meme. However, I’m not sure I want to experience it again. Telling things about me like this is not very comforting.

Whose next?

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Pondering 50 Years of Marriage

It’s another cold day in Southern Indiana. The wind is kicking up and cutting right through jackets, gloves, sweaters, and long johns. It is the kind of day that requires finding warmth from steaming cups of coffee or hot chocolate topped with whipped cream. A good wood-burning stove sitting next to your recliner would help as well. It’s the kind of day that found me bundled up in my thoughts, particularly about my mother and father-in-law, Harold and Bonnie.

Fifty years ago (January 5th, 1959) Harold and Bonnie pledged their love and devotion to each other in Holy Matrimony.

They gave birth to three beautiful girls…the oldest is my favorite wife. With God walking beside them they raised their girls to be fine women. They watched their “girls” marry, and then watched as grandchildren and great-grandchildren came along. In addition to their biological children, they also gave hope to more than 50 other children through their service as foster parents. In my mind, there is no greater crown bestowed than the jewel-filled crown of love given freely and abundantly.

Their 50 years wasn’t all rainbows and roses, though. They endured economic downturns, car wrecks and the deaths of loved ones. They suffered through financial burdens. They suffered through chronic physical pain. They suffered through their girls moving away from home and moving away from the area. In short, they suffered through more then their fair share of tough times.

Through both the good times and the troubled times their love for each other continued to blossom.

On this cold winter day, I am thoroughly warmed by the great example they have been to me. They have given me their heart. They have treated me more like a son than a son-in-law. They have taught me to give my heart even when it may be painful. And, they have taught me how to love their daughter through their sterling examples. That isn’t counting the times they have loaned me money they didn’t have, cars they could have sold, and a helping hand that was already weary from a hard day’s work.

The thought of their never giving up on each other, their family, or their friends chases the chill from my body. How refreshing it is to see two people who left father and mother, became one, and are sticking to it with style and dignity. These are people worthy of our praise. These are people worthy of our admiration. These are people worthy of being followed. These are people I wish you could know like I do. These are my in-laws!

Happy 50th Anniversary! I love you and thank you for all that you have been, are, and will be in the next 50 years of your marriage.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Pondering Change

Today it has been cold in Southern Indiana. The snow has fallen, but chose to leave us before covering the ground. The white flakes gently falling to the earth excited me...fasinated me. It seems like only a moment ago that I was complaining about how hot it was. That's change.

I listen to some talk about how if they had it their way it would always be Summer or Winter, etc. Yet, everyone knows that change is inevitable. A wise person once said the only thing that doesn't change is that change happens (or something like that). So tell me why we live our lives acting like nothing is going to change, and yet, striving daily to change things?

We are never satisfied with the way things are. We want change in our jobs, our salaries, our cars, our houses, our health, and on and on and on. I recently turned 50 years old. I didn't want to turn 50. I do not want to think of me getting older, of not being able to run like I used to run, do the things I used to do, or of me closing in on my departure from this earth.

Frankly, I'm afraid of change. I fear it mostly because of the "unknown" factor. I don't know if the change that is occuring is going to be better or worse than what I have now. Have you ever worked hard for a change in your life only to find that when it happened it wasn't what you thought it would be? Have you ever shocked your own ears by saying something like, "I wish things were like they used to be?" That "unknown" factor is what makes me tremble.

Sitting here now in the middle of the night typing this post, I'm pondering change. I don't want to move. I've bought the house I plan to die in. What I want is a new job. I'm tired of working in the restaurant industry (and I have only been in it for about five years). I'm tired of working rediculous hours. I'm tired of going for days without seeing my wife. Don't get me wrong. I am thankful for my job. It pays the bills. I would be foolish not to be glad I have a job when millions are being laid off or fired. I just want to change jobs. Even saying that brings a tinge of dread to my heart. While I want a new job, the fear of going to a new job scares me.

However, change is going to happen. I have to learn to work with my natural fear of change, or better yet, to make it work for me. You see, we can't live our lives trying to avoid change or only acting when we know for certain the circumstances are just right for change. We have to change and then work to insure the changes are positive. Perhaps instead of fearing change or wishing that change would not occur, we should embrace it. Relish it. Adore it. Seek it. Chose it.

Nothing can stop change. It happens everyday in each of our lives. Today...I am going to change, and I am going to enjoy it. I am not going to fear change anymore. I am going to revel in all that change has to offer, whether good or bad, positive or negative.

Do you know anyone who is hiring?