Monthly Archives: December, 2017

Happy New Year!

So, it is New Year’s Eve and the promise of adventures and accomplishments and love and laughter…await us!


I have a book planned for the New Year that I want to complete in the first quarter.

Upon completion, if I can not find a publisher…I think that I will self publish.


Jonathon and i began the task of putting up the Christmas decorations for 2017.  Mary Jane suggested that we put up all but the Christmas Trees, today, and then the remainder tomorrow.  It was a great idea.  Mary Jane is so smart!

As I placed the family heirloom Christmas Nativities and Santa’s and Dickens Christmas Village in the Christmas Closet…I thought how I hope that I will be getting them out next November.

This life is tenuous and brief and full of surprises…enjoy every minute!

Also, life is what we make it.

I have discovered things that I love to do and they awaken me with excitement, each morning, as to what adventures they will bring me that day.

I think that we must stop gauging ourselves by what others think of us?

It is okay to be different.


I saw a homeless person, in the bitter cold yesterday, and drove by.

Jonathon and and I went back to see if they were still there…but they were gone.

Actions speak much louder than words.  I am going to look into volunteering at the Good Samaritan House in our town.

I am going to investigate my ancestry in 2018.

My sister Tammy has already found many of our ancestors…and I hope to add to the number.

I wonder if each of us can wake up in the morning…and believe that January 1, 2018 is, indeed the first day of our lives?

What have you always wanted to do but been afraid to try?

What country have you always wanted to visit…but have been apprehensive regarding the different language or customs or just the long flight?

What have you always wanted to say and to express and to exclaim…’This Is My Truth!’


2018 is the magical year that all of these wishes can come true!

How many people can you help in 2018?

Karma is real.

How many people can I make smile in 2018?

The world is full of possibilities and we are here for a reason…let us practice…for 2018…Immersion in what could be…if we just believe!


My Wholehearted Aim for 2018

A great New Year Blog from Jonathon Brooks!


I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of a new year’s resolutions. This is the year I’m going to write every day, this is the year I’m going to read one book per week, this is the year I’ll finally lose fifteen pounds and this is the year for so many new goals and high standards to be met by me. I’m tempted to make these new year’s resolutions, but I know by January 15th I will have broken all of them.

Having said that I’ll now say what I truly aim for in 2018. I aim to live this new year primarily like I lived the old one. I aim to smile and laugh wholeheartedly. I aim to treat my neighbor as I wish to be treated. I aim to preach the gospel with my life actions and use words when words are necessary. I aim to write good…

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Jonathon and I attended our friends’ funeral today.

John Q. was the type of person that you just enjoyed being around.  He had a wonderful sense of humor and he enjoyed people and he would be extremely honest with whoever he was speaking with.

John Q. was genuine!

Genuineness is magnetic.


I came away pondering a great thought regarding a person’s spiritual journey.

It is impossible to know of another human being’s spiritual journey.

One, good christian, may attend church every time the doors are open and give their money and serve on committees…and the spiritual journey of life…is lost upon them.


Another person may work hard and enjoy hunting and fishing and the camaraderie of their friends…and love people and treat them as they would like to be treated…and know the Creator in their heart and spirit…while their’ church may have been the woods and their pew a boat on the lake and their testimony…the love of many friends.


Pansy J. has passed from us.

Pansy was one of the kindest people that it was ever my privilege to know.

Pansy did so many wonderful things for those in need and we who crossed her path.

I remember Pansy being the President of the Civil Service Council, in my early years as a member of the group, and her words of encouragement to me as a new member.


I recall one instance, in particular, where a colleague was making, veiled, disparaging public remarks regarding me and my subsequent decision to resign from the Council rather than endure the untruths that the person was perpetuating.

My friend, Pansy, told me to not resign and that the Council needed me and that she needed me.

That was enough for me…and I stayed…and I am glad that I did.

Pansy has been battling illness for some time and periodically we emailed each other and she always told me that I was a special friend…I was humbled and honored.

Pansy and I both talked about how we came from a poor start in life and the blessings of God and SIU and our roads to some achievement.

When Pansy was in my corner…I knew that I was alright.

Have you ever known someone that was soft-spoken but powerful…and a person that used their power and influence for good and to mentor many others?  That was Pansy J.

Not goodbye, John and Pansy,  we will see you again.


We are part of the Family

Jonathan and I just saw the movie, The Greatest Showman, and enjoyed it immensely!


This was a feel good movie with a message for our time.

The movie is an adaption of the life of the famous Circus founder, P.T. Barnum.

Barnum’s Circus was noted for its’ performers who were different or out of the ordinary.

General Tom Thumb was a dwarf.

There was the Bearded Lady.

There were giants and very the obese and Siamese Twins.

There were also people of color who performed alongside the others in an equal setting.

‘Being called different is like being called limited edition.  Meaning you’re something people don’t see that often.  Remember that.’


‘I don’t set out to be Different, I set out to be ME…people think its’ different.’

There is a compelling compulsion to follow the crowd in social and religious and political and all facets of life.

I wore a necktie during the entirety of my 25 year career at SIU.

I hate neckties.

Our churches, often, attract people who look like and act like and come from similar life and economic situations.

We are born with no preconceived notions regarding race.

If we have prejudice or bias…we…first….were taught these concepts by our parents and our ‘Tribe.’


Children, gather on the playground or in the gym or in their cliques of people that they perceive are like them…and segregate other children who for a variety of reasons…do not make the cut.

It could be body image or ethnicity or clothing or religion…that places some children on the outside…looking in.

When will we realize that our diversity is our strength?

There is a terrible rationale to compare ourselves with others who are different than we are and to believe that we are better than them.

The predominate Value System we have, in our Country and across the world, is to measure a persons value and wisdom and leadership ability and worth…by the money they have been able to accumulate.

Rosa Parks was not rich…but she was courageous and she had a mighty effect on U.S. society.

Helen Keller, who was deaf and mute and blind…was wise and a teacher and a tremendous leader.

Mother Theresa lived among the poorest of the poor in India…and her ministry reached around the world…today she is a saint.

When we finally choose to open our eyes to the beautiful diversity and wonder of the entire human family…then we can solve any of our world’s problems and set at the same table to break bread and give thanks…for what God hath wrought.

The Year That Was

There are 4 days left.


Each year, about this time, I think back on the year that was.

I remember watching our new President looking, fondly, at his youngest son at his Inauguration.

Mary Jane and I were invited to Florida by Ron and Ira Kaye and it was so unexpected and such a nice surprise.  Mary Jane drank, my favorite drink, a Dirty Martini…and enjoyed it.


We had a lovely trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee at the end of March and the first of April…and the wonder and beauty and gift…of our new family…warmed my heart…and I want to repeat the experience.


I was afraid that I might be very ill… and found out that I was not…and wondered again…and appreciated the gift of life that God has given me.

Massive budget reductions at my great University, SIU, made me aware of discussion of privatization of services…such as the department that I worked my career in…Building Services.  This worst fear…did not happen…and I am grateful to the President and Chancellor, at that time, for their consideration and wisdom.

I have been inspired to write in a manner that I have not experienced before.  Others may not care for the prose…but it has been the counterpoint or lodestone of my life in 2017.

My dear brother, Brock, and my sweet sister-in-law, Marcy, and my precious niece, Jaime, visited in July…and we missed my handsome nephew, Jeb.


Again, at our kind buddies invitation, we spent a week in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  We attended the Opera.

We had the great opportunity to visit, again, with Brock and Marcy in October.  I would like to see them everyday!

And, so, the Holidays are here.  We had a Happy Christmas and look forward with prayer and kind thoughts toward a New Year of Peace and Inclusiveness and Understanding and Communication.

We end the year with a new Tax Plan for our Country.

We are getting a tax reduction as is our son.

AT&T, upon the Tax Plan being voted into law, gave many of their employees a $1000 Christmas Bonus.

AT&T announced that they are laying off 2000 people.

A number of AT&T Staff who received the ‘capital freeing $1000 Bonus’, are on the chopping block.

‘Donald Trump ‘will take care of it’ after North Korea fires ballistic missile ‘capable of striking anywhere in US.’    The Telegraph

My friend, Peter, sang this James Taylor song at our Christmas Eve Service:

‘Some children see Him lily white,

The baby Jesus born this night.

Some children see Him lily white,

With tresses soft and fair.

Some children see Him bronzed and brown,

The Lord of Heav’n to earth come down.

Some children see Him bronzed and brown,

With dark and heavy hair.

Some children see Him almond-eyed,

This Savior whom we kneel beside.

Some children see Him almond-eyed,

With skin of yellow hue.

Some children see Him dark as they,

Sweet Mary’s Son to who we pray.

Some children see him dark as they,

And, ah!  they love Him, too!

The children in each different place

Will see the baby Jesus’ face

Like theirs, but bright with heavenly grace,

And filled with holy light.

O lay aside each earthly thing

And with thy heart as offering,

Come worship now the infant King.

Tis love that’s born tonight!’

Songwriters: A. Burt/W. Hutson






Christmas Eve And SIU And Life

I walked around Campus Lake today, as is my custom on Christmas Eve, and saw the majesty of God’s Creation and the demonstrated love for Christmas.

IMG_7672IMG_7667I happened upon a flock of Geese…which is unusual for me.

IMG_7615IMG_7619I thought of the passage of scripture in the book of Isaiah 11: 1-9

‘And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:

And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord;

And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:

But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.

And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den.

And they shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.’   KJV

The tradition of decorating the bare trees that line the walkway around Campus Lake, has flourished this year.

IMG_7632IMG_7654IMG_7639IMG_7637I received some very sad news today that my friend and colleague, of many years, John Q., had passed away yesterday due to a heart attack.

John was a gentleman and a professional and an extremely hard worker.

Whenever there was a job, in Building Services, that needed to be done in a excellent manner…I called on John Q.

I take with him earlier this year.  He was, as always, refreshing and funny and genuine.

My son, Jonathon had lunch with him Friday.

John told Jonathon that he missed me….I miss him.

So when we gather around our Christmas Trees and share gifts and love and laughter…give an extra hug or kind word… or express what a loved one… and friend …means to you.


Joyful Gingerbread Men for all to Enjoy

Another great Blog from my son, Jonathon.


Passing out Christmas cards has been one of my favorite holiday season activities for around ten years now. Since 2008 I’ve given away Robert Sabuda’s pop-up Christmas cards. Through the years there have been snowmen and gingerbread men and penguins and polar bears and Christmas trees and sledding children and snowflakes and other wonderful designs that pop into your life with holiday wonder and cheer. If the recipients of these cards receive half the joy I get through giving them then my job is one hundred percent complete.

I must confess as a boy I didn’t appreciate cards on the level I value them as a man. Saving cards wasn’t a top priority as a kid. I didn’t have the maturity to cherish the thoughtfulness the giver of the card put into it. Looking back I wish I had every thoughtful card ever given to me from age one to…

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My Friend of Many Years

I was visiting with my friend, Thelma, today and noticed that I had visited with her exactly one year ago.

Last Christmas, Thelma, had received a new iPad as a gift from her daughter and son-in-law, Margo and Jeff and I was assisting her in setting it up.


I did not realize how little that I knew about iPad’s…but we finally got the job done.

I first knew, Thelma and her sons, Brent and Bart, and her daughter, Margo…during the early 1970’s when we all attended a little church together.

I marveled today at how talking with Thelma was no different than when we visited over 40 years ago.

She is still the same, sweet and considerate person, that I knew as a mere lad.

While we were visiting today I reflected on the magic of the evaporation of time and how our friendship seems that it began just a few days ago.


I thought of the many good times that I enjoyed with her sons, Brent and Bart, and the kindness and warmth of her daughter Margo and Margo’s husband, Jeff.

When Margo and Jeff gave me their Senior Photos, upon their high school graduation, I kept them in my wallet for many years.

Brent and I aspired to become ministers…at one time.

Bart is one of the most pleasant and kind human beings that it has ever been my pleasure to know.

And, so this life rolls by so very quickly…and if we are not careful…we loose track of the people that our special to us.


I have often considered that we are an eternal soul living in a not-eternal body.

The relationships that we form and the passions that we have for life and love and truth…seem to be intended for a much longer time than we are afforded on Terra Firma.

Hold your loved ones close to you this Christmas…appreciate every moment…and take a lot of pictures….things change so quickly.


There is Magic in The Simplest of Christmas 🎄 Gestures

Mary Jane and I had a lovely dinner with our friends, Jim and Joan, last evening.

As we spoke of many things, both great and small, we talked of Edinburgh, Scotland.


Edinburgh is one of my favorite cities in Europe…and I plan on returning one day.


Today, I received an email from a shop in Edinburgh, that wished me a Happy Christmas and had a photo of a little Yarn Angel that the owner of the shop had picked up on a walk in Edinburgh.  A note on the Yarn Angel said that it was free for the taking.


Simply reading the email and seeing the angel…gave me a warm feeling and reminded me that Christmas is about the greatest of gifts and the simplest of gifts.


Of course the gift of the Christ Child is magnificent and Christmas Story engages both the wise men and the shepherds and the Star of Bethlehem.


All of this happens at the same time that there was no room for Mary and Joseph and the soon to be born, Jesus, in the inn…and so the ‘Desire of the Ages’ was born in a common manger in a stall that was for animals and the glory and the splendor of the birth was portrayed in the beauty of simplicity.


Each year I seek for a Christmas Moment…something that brings the meaning of the Season into my heart in a personal and significant manner.

I have had the good fortune to travel to many places in our world and enjoyed the experiences very much.

However, often the quietest of gestures and actions and gifts are where the real meaning of Christmas can be found.


I can vividly remember traveling to Gatlinburg, Tennessee for Christmas on several occasions.  Our friends, Steve and Faye wold join us and we would rent a condo in the mountains.


I recall, just before midnight on Christmas, standing on the balcony of our condo and looking out at the mountains and the stars and moon shinning down…and knowing…Christmas.



There was a time, many years ago, when I attended the annual Christmas movie at the Orpheum Theatre in Eldorado, Illinois and the Lion’s Club gave each child a large Christmas basket filled with all types of delights.  I wondered why these people that I did not know…gave me such a wonderful gift?


For many years the Service Employees International Union #316 invited me to the annual Christmas Luncheon.  As I would walk from table to table greeting the Union Members and their families…I felt a warmth and genuineness of support that strengthened me long into the New Year.


When I see my son’s faces lit up with joy on Christmas morning and my Wife’s joy and delight in handing out the gifts…I think of how God has been gracious to us.


When we sing Silent Night and hold our candles in the darkened church…I pray for the greatest gift…Peace On Earth.

You know, Charlie Brown and Linus and the rest of the Peanuts gang had the right idea regarding the Little Christmas Tree…all it needed was love.


‘Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself’

‘Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all they mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’


I was watching the television show, Curb Your Enthusiasm, the other night and Larry David was admonishing an Airline Attendant that would not give him access to the plane he was running to catch, due to the door already being shut.

Larry asked if the Golden Rule did not supersede their Airport Rules?

The Attendant said that it did not.

I witnessed a troublesome problem at my beloved SIU, when I was employed there.

There seemed to be a large beautiful Campus that was full of hard working and dedicated faculty and staff…but they were housed in invisible Silos.

Simply put, if you were a member of the College of Liberal Arts…you really did not concern yourself with the College of Agriculture.

Or, if you were a member of Student Affairs…the condition of Administration…was little to none of your concern.

Sadly, our country has developed our own Silos that house us and shield us from those who may only be moderately different than we are.


I am watching the joy that the Republican Party is having in the passing of their only piece of legislation in 2017.

The leaders exclaim that this is a tax cut for the middle class and that the rich will not benefit.


Senator Lindsey Graham said, prior to the Republican Tax Plan passing, that the donors to the Republican Congress had put them on notice that if they did not produce a new Tax Plan…that the Republican members of Congress need not come back to them for more money.


There are millions of poor and working class and middle class Republicans in this Country.

If you are blessed to have financial resources then you probably feel good about the new Tax Plan…if you are struggling or just getting by…then you probably do not.

When I was a child…in the evening in warm weather…everyone sit out on their front porches…there was little air conditioning.


Neighbors knew each other and each other’s children and cared about them.

There were no smart phones to hide your face in and avoid talking with those sitting next to you.

And, what of our churches?

When someone enters that does not look exactly like the rest of the parishioners…do we stare at them and wonder why their clothes are tattered or perhaps they are gaunt or with the smell that comes from not having daily access to bathing facilities.


Or, do we think of the goodness of Jesus for us and our lovely homes and our full to the brim refrigerators and of the Holiday Revelry that we will partake of.

‘Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask,’ said Scrooge, looking intently at the Spirit’s robe, ‘but I see something strange , and not belonging to yourself, protruding from your skirts.  Is it a foot or a claw?’

‘It might be a claw, for the flesh there is upon it,’  was the Spirit’s sorrowful reply.  ‘Look here.’

‘From the foldings of the robe, it brought two children; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable.  They knelt down at its’ feet, and clung upon the outside of its’ garment.’

‘Oh, man.  Look here.  Look, look, down here.’  exclaimed the Ghost.

‘They were a boy and a girl.  Yellow, meagre, ragged scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility.  Where graceful youth should have filled their features out, and touched them with its’ freshest tints, a stale and shriveled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and pulled them into shreds.  Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing.  No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread.’

‘Scrooge started back, appalled.  Having them shown to him in this way, he tried to say they were fine children, but the words choked themselves, rather then be party to a lie of such enormous magnitude.’

‘Spirit.  are they yours?’  Scrooge could say no more.’

‘They are Man’s,’ said the Spirit, looking down upon them.’  And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers.  This boy is Ignorance.  This girl is Want.  Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy.  for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.  Deny it.’  cried the Spirit, stretching out its’ hand towards the city….’   A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens