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What Are You Leaving Behind?

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It was sad that we had to leave some things behind after our five-week visit to Normandy, France this past summer. And I'm not just referring to family or some damaged luggage. During our visit, I got a "hankering" for a good, old fashioned butter cookie to eat along with my evening coffee during movie time. The French know how to bake almost anything delicious, but I had to "get my fix" at the local grocery store. It was a "packaged item," but it hit the spot and became an instant favorite each day. The product was labeled, "Petit e'colier" and was a little buttery biscuit half-dipped in rich milk chocolate. Each one had a royal-like imprint of a little school boy.

My sister-in-law really doesn't regularly eat these sugary delights and certainly is not as fond of them as I am. But when we left behind two boxes on her counter, she decided not to waste them. She ate each 2-pack of cookies until they were all gone... three months later…

"Use Your Words!"

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Our youngest grand daughter, Klaire, is quite precocious! You would expect a "doting grandfather" to say this about any of his grandchildren! She is admittedly pretty smart and aware of things in her 2 1/2 year-old world. By comparison to the eight grandsons, to me, she seems to be ahead in her verbal skills. Now, it was not always that way! She used to squeal when she was frustrated and couldn't make her family understand what it was that she wanted. I distinctly remember hearing her mother repeatedly say something rather adult to her, "Klaire, use your words!"

When our middle son, Marc was a little guy, his brother, Matt, did a lot of the speaking for him. Marc had chronic ear infections that left him unable to hear what was being said and this impacted his ability to speak with clarity. So, he learned the "point and grunt" technique of communicating. For example, in the mornings for breakfast we would open the pantry and ask the boys what cereal th…

"Let There Be Light!"

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Anticipating colder than usual temperatures, I recently had the furnace serviced by a local HVAC company with whom I have had dealings for over twenty-five years. Of course, I had tried to implement a "diy" (do it yourself) strategy to avoid the service call, but noticed while vacuuming the ash from the burners and rechecking my filters that the pilot light was not functioning. It is true that I only have a rudimentary knowledge of the inner workings of a furnace, but I have re-lighted a few pilot lights in my time. So, I thought I would give it a try.

While holding down on the gas control knob for the recommended 30 to 60 seconds and using my handy-dandy long reach butane lighter, I was able to immediately re-light the pilot and admire  the beautiful blue flame it emitted. However, I soon discovered that the flame would not hold after releasing the button. A quick search on the computer gave me some needed information. The problem was likely due to a failure with the "…

Hospitality Check

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Keeping things clean is one of my passions and a personal value statement. I admire those committed to this important task. Recently, I had a brief conversation with an employee charged with the responsibility of cleaning the restrooms at the local restaurant we frequent on most Friday evenings. It's the one with the country store! :) He was wearing a kitchen white apron, and carrying an all purpose cleaning rag in one hand and a fully equipped caddy in the other.

I engaged this worker at dinner time while he was finishing up his cleaning the restroom sinks. I questioned, "Are you tidying up?" and he answered, "This is one of the regularly scheduled 'Hospitality Checks!'" I then followed that with the affirmation, "You've got things looking real good!" After I'd exited and was back at the table, I thought about how unique the euphemism, 'hospitality check,' was. When I worked in retail and had to do this often unpleasant detail…

Choosing A Church

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I have been retired just over a year now. It has been an all new experience for me. Unlike my beloved wife who refuses to let go of the reigns of her profession as an educator (she recently substituted in her favorite school 11 days in a row!), I have intentionally shifted the gears of my daily schedule to more mentoring meetings with friends, increased time with family, and yes, some travel far and near. I do continue to serve on a chaplain team in a retirement center, and occasionally do pulpit supply for nearby congregations, but I have slowed down. In short, I am enjoying this time of my life. Our eldest son recently described this new chapter by saying, "Dad, it's like you and mom are on a sabbatical! You guys have earned it! You are free to travel, meet new friends and to visit new churches! Enjoy it!" I like what he described and we are trying to grow into this new phase of our lives.

About the matter of "visiting new churches," we are pioneering this wi…

"One Ball and Four Bases!"

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Kickball at the Keppler's is nearly a daily experience this fall! Our two energetic grandsons, Danny and Charlie, gather on their "field of dreams," (actually, the front yard of our house) each day after school. It is their downtime to "blow off some steam!" Their daddy, Dan, made kickball famous with them during summer kids' club at church. They have loved it ever since they first joined in that simple activity of "one ball and four bases!"

I've observed how the boys are like a "relational magnet" drawing other kids into the game! We have watched the numbers grow from two or three to regularly six to eight and some days more that a dozen neighborhood boys and sometimes, a couple of girls. Moms and dads have joined the crowd occasionally. When I say, "joined," I mean that literally. They are out there playing with the kids too! They are remarking to us, "Thank you so much for letting our kids play with yours!" Anot…

Lost and Found

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Our grandson Charlie is really enjoying his kindergarten year. He didn't attend any preschool for his first five years and was so ready for school to begin when he reached eligibility! As a result, he is like a sponge soaking up every experience! He comes to our house each day bounding off the bus with a new story to tell of something he has discovered in class that day. He is working on his word sounds this first month and wears a special hat band home with the latest letter and shows off his newly acquired skill of sounding them out by rehearsing each letter with  Mimi pronouncing and puffing out the exact sound... buh, cuh. duh, juh, kah, and puh as he progresses throughout the entire alphabet! It is so precious to watch his ambition and dedication to this evolving educational process!

One recent day after school, Charlie came in wild-eyed with exploratory optimism. He couldn't wait to relate the account of how one of his classmates had misplaced his lunch kit during the da…