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Rev. James Snyder, Out to Pastor bloggerThis past week the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage said to me rather casually, “I guess you know today is November?”

She’s always joking with me and I assumed this was one of her jokes.

“You can’t fool me,” I said quite sarcastically, “I know it’s October.”

With that, she led me to the refrigerator where she had a calendar and pointed to me that today was the first day of November.

It was hard for me to believe it; I thought she had made that calendar up herself. After thinking for a few moments, I concluded that she was right. After all, she’s always right and I’m always left holding the bag.

With a little bit of sadness in my voice I said to her, “Where in the world did October go? I’m not finished with October yet.”

“Finished or not,” she said laughingly, “October is over and it is now November.”

I like to enjoy my time and I did not believe I had fully enjoyed all of October yet. That’s just the way life is. Here today, gone tomorrow. October yesterday, November today. When will all of this nonsense stop?

I should have noticed it was November because the whole house smelled of roast turkey in the oven. It is in November that we celebrate Thanksgiving. My wife had already purchased the turkey and was in the process of cooking it for Thanksgiving.

The only turkey we’re not really grateful for is Yours Truly.

When Fall comes, you would think I would be prepared. Fall brings a different attitude in things. All of the nice warm weather is gone and now we have a little bit of Chilly Willy weather.

Summertime is the time to be a little lazy and not get too worked up about anything. The attitude I have during the summer is, “There’s always tomorrow.”

The attitude of the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage is, “There’s only today.”

Summertime cultivates a sense of laziness in my bones. I can get away with doing the summer because I can always complain about the heat. “It’s too hot to do anything today.” I usually get away with it.

Tripping into November that attitude and excuse goes out the window. Read More→

Rev. James Snyder, Out to Pastor bloggerDriving across town the other day I was nearly hit by four different vehicles. One ran a stop sign, another swerved in front of me and almost hit me and I’m sure the other two were on their cell phones. After a while I begin to think my life was at risk here.

I decided to drop into a little coffee shop and cool my heels a little bit. I ordered some coffee, took a table in the corner and just reflected on my day.

Why is it, I thought to myself, do people drive so crazy? How do they get a driver’s license?

Reflecting a little more upon the subject it dawned on me that it is not limited to people driving on the highway. People are just simply crazy.

After giving it more thought, I concluded that I do not mind being crazy, it gives life a little more flavor. Crazy does have its benefits.

For example, if you are crazy, people will not take you seriously and so you can get away with things you otherwise would not be able to get away with. “Oh, don’t ask him to do that, he’s just crazy.”

What I really want to know is that if a person is crazy do they know they are crazy? Or, are they just taking somebody’s word for it that they are crazy?

I was thinking about that in the coffee shop when an older couple came in and sat down across the room from me. Immediately they caught my attention. For one, they were quite a bit older than I am. It is always wonderful to see someone older than you are particularly during these last few years of mine.

The thing that caught my eye about these people was the fact that they were crazy in love, or at least it looked that way.

As they walked in they walked very slowly, she walked in front of him and he followed very gingerly. He waited for her to sit down, as a gentleman should, and then he sat down. He looked at her and smiled and when he smiled, I saw that he had absolutely no teeth in his mouth whatsoever. That, however, did not compromise his smile or her smile back at him.

Read More→

Nov
02

Why Did I Get Up This Morning?

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question markAll day long, I’ve had this burning question in my mind. One of those questions you just cannot shake and as the day progressed, it loomed larger and larger until I had to address it. Personally, I would like to have addressed it, put a stamp on it and send it to Timbuktu. I just do not know the ZIP code.

It all began first thing in the morning. Some days try to trick you into thinking it’s going to be a good day by starting the day off perfect. Such was not the case with this day.

The amazing thing about this day was it started bad and just got worse as the day wore on. Some days start out bad and then improve by noon. These days I do not mind. I figure the day is trying to play tricks with my mind. I would not mind if I only knew the rules or if my mind could win at least occasionally.

The day began with me oversleeping. It really was not my fault; the alarm clock did not go off. When I looked at my alarm clock, the numbers were blinking indicating sometime during the night the electricity went off. It is my personal opinion the electric company does this intentionally. The electric only has to flicker and all of the digital clocks go on blinking mode. This is a cruel trick perpetrated by our friendly electric company just to show us who is really boss.

When I checked the real time, I discovered I was late. Have you ever noticed when you oversleep it is the day you have an early-morning appointment? Why is it nobody ever oversleeps on his or her day off?

As quick, as I could, I got ready. While I was shaving, however, I nicked my face. It was one of those little nicks that just does not stop bleeding, no matter what you do. I had blood all over my face even dripping down onto my T-shirt.

I quickly dressed and scampered into the kitchen to grab a cup of hot coffee. In my grabbing, I managed to spill the hot coffee on my shirt. Now that I am running late, I have to stop what I am doing, run back to the bedroom and put on a new shirt. It was a good thing because not only did my shirt have coffee stains on it there was a nice splash of blood on it as well.  Read More→

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Oct
25

Have You Seen My Glasses? And Other Trick Questions

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The only person who asks more questions than a lawyer is the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. I am not saying that questions are bad, at least not all of them. What I am saying is, some questions can be trick questions.

To know the difference between a legitimate question and a trick question takes years of practicing being a husband. If the husband learns anything in his marriage, it is this.

I know people ask questions in order to get information. Not all people ask a question in order to get information. Some people ask questions in order to trick somebody into saying something that is compromising.

Of course, we all know the old joke about Honest Abe and his wife when she asked him, “Does this dress make me look fat?”

What does a person do in a situation like that? If a person is honest and tells the honest truth, it may not fare too well with him. It is not so much the question being asked as it is the answer that goes along with that question.

It is the smart husband who is an expert in this “answer” scenario. How he answers his wife’s questions will determine the quality of his life. To ignore the question is only going to induce more questions and what husband really wants that?

The art of answering a trick question is the only thing that keeps some people on the positive side of marital bliss. If, for one moment, the husband thinks his wife is simply seeking an answer, he is in for a lot of trouble and heartache.

I certainly would not have liked to have been in Honest Abe’s shoes if he ever was presented with such a question from Mrs. Lincoln. Personally, I would have loved to hear how he dealt with that question, after all he was known as Honest Abe.

This past week I was presented with such a question, it caught me a little bit off guard, and I did not know how to deal with it.

I noticed my wife was walking through the house looking at everything. It may be curious, but I tried to keep out of that situation.

Finally, she came to me and said quite sincerely, “Have you seen my glasses?”

It sounds like a very simple question and it should deserve a straightforward answer. But I did not know what to say. What kind of trouble would I be in if I told her where her glasses were?

I stuttered a little bit, and she being very nervous at the time, turned and started searching the house again. What do you do in situations like this?

I knew that her glasses were very important to her, but I was in a position where I did not know if this was a trick question or if I was in serious trouble.

Trying to do the right thing, I said to her, “No, I don’t know where your glasses are? Where did you have them last?”

I thought if I said that it would solve the problem and I could go on with a very happy afternoon.

Looking at me, she said rather smartly, “If I knew that I wouldn’t have to ask you where my glasses are.”

That sorted cued me in to the reality of the situation. I was rather sure this was a trick question and I knew I needed to play this very carefully. One wrong word from me, and my boat was sunk for the day.

She came back into the room and I looked at her and smiled very cheerfully, hoping that that would kinda solve the problem. She looked at me and said, “What are you smiling about?” Read More→

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Oct
17

One Good Deed Deserves A Kick In The Pants

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foodHave you ever had the feeling that any good deed you try is counteracted by a good swift kick in the pants?

I recently grabbed a quick lunch at a local restaurant. I don’t like eating at fast food restaurants, but, occasionally, I don’t have much choice. Then, once in the restaurant the menu doesn’t give me much choice, either.

I ordered my lunch and settled at a corner table. About halfway through my lunch an older couple took the table next to me. Being a “people watcher,” which is a fancy way of saying, “I’m nosy,” I watched this couple out of the corner of my eye.

I noticed right away the woman got her things situated immediately. Not so with the man.

He struggled to unwrap the plastic fork. He fumbled trying to break the plastic wrapping and free his fork so he could begin eating. Nothing he did seemed to advance his cause.

Without missing a beat, his wife reached over, took the wrapped fork from her husband, popped it open in one easy motion and handed it back to him. Without saying a word, he took it and began eating.

This incident reminded me of something that happened the week before.

A friend phoned, asking me if I could help a friend of his who was moving from Florida to Virginia and had nobody to help him. Immediately I agreed to help all I could. After hanging up my phone, I wondered what I had gotten myself into.

I told him to have this person call me. I figured if he doesn’t call, I wouldn’t have to help. No sooner had this thought rambled through the little gray cells, then the telephone rang. It was this person requesting my assistance.

I invited him to church on Sunday and we would see how we could help him. I hoped the “we” did not mean “me.” After hanging up the telephone, I told my wife the incident and she reassuringly said, “He may not even come to church.” I took comfort in her suggestion.

On Sunday morning, an hour before services, this person showed up at church. He introduced himself and we got acquainted.

“All I have,” he assured me, “are 25 boxes of books that I need to take to the post office so I can mail them to where I am going.”

Well, I mused, this may not be as bad as I thought.

On awakening Monday morning, second thoughts about the whole project bombarded my empty head. I was trying to think of some way to graciously bow out of the whole mess.

I have a problem pronouncing the word “no.” You have no idea the trouble this has brought me. I’m thinking of consulting a speech therapist to help me.

My watch told me I was running a little late. I wish my watch would tell me how to get out of such predicaments. But when I inquired, it didn’t give a tick. Then an idea burst in my noggin. If he said anything about me being late I will get mad, turn around and go home. Or, if he wasn’t ready to move the boxes when I got there, I would, in a huff, turn around and stomp off and go home.

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Oct
10

Normal Isn’t All It’s Cracked up to Be

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light through cloudsWell,” the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage sighed rather deeply, “now that the hurricane is over I guess we can all get back to normal.”

When she said “normal,” she looked at me and gave me one of “those looks.”

I am very much confused when it comes to this idea of normal. What in the world is normal?

Often when we go out somewhere she says, “Please try to act normal tonight.”

For me, normal is just the way I act. Furthermore, I am not acting.

I have never given the subject of normal much thought. I just assumed that is what I was, was normal and let it go at that. If I would pose such a question to my wife, I am sure I would catch a rather lengthy definition of what normal is. I can be sure her definition would in no way harmonize with my definition.

I do not know if I am normal according to her, but I am normal according to me. I just will not let this get out.

Perhaps this is one of the great problems in our society today. Nobody knows what normal really is. If I would meet normal on the street downtown, I am not sure I would recognize it. In addition, normal probably would not recognize me.

For example, what is a normal lunch for a normal person?

I believe a normal lunch would be the lunch that I would have on any given day. I am not outstanding in anything. I do not have gifts, personality or anything of that nature. I am just normal when it comes to everything about me.

Could it be that normal is what a person defines it to be?

Just the other day I walked into my favorite restaurant, sat down at my normal table and when the waitress came, I told her, “I’ll have my normal lunch.”

I have been going to this restaurant for a long time, so the waitress did not have to ask me what I meant. She knew that normal for me was what I usually got for lunch. One time I decided to go in and order something different, but I just did not have the strength to do that. When she came to my table I blurted out, “I’ll have the normal.”

There is nothing wrong with normal. It is usually something we have done before and so we are comfortable with it. Personally, I do not want to be anything more than normal. What advantage would that be for me to be abnormal? Moreover, what is the definition of abnormal?

I am comfortable being my normal self. I am not competing with anybody. I am not a person with multi-personalities and so I have to compete with myself. I am just a normal person with normal appetites and normal expectations of life.

I never gave it so much thought before, but perhaps the reason my wife has this thing about “normal,” is that she does not know if she really married a normal person. I would like to sit her down and explain to her that I am as normal as I am ever going to be. But, you know the outcome of that kind of a thing.

My aspirations in life are to be normal and to be accepted as a normal person. I never want to pretend to be something that I am not. Read More→

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Oct
03

Those Annoying Sounds of Silence

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This is the day which the LORD hath made;
we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

(Psalms 118:24).

It was in the 60s when Simon and Garfunkel recorded their famous song, “The Sounds of Silence.”

I must confess that I do enjoy what I know of as “The Sounds of Silence.” Nothing is more relaxing than sitting back with a cup of coffee and enjoying the silence as it whistled by. This has become a rather infrequent period for me.

I love the silence and I enjoy the peace and quiet it brings.

The problem is, silence can be taken too far.

Recently, we were the target of a ferocious hurricane who tried to have her way with us. She snorted, huffed, puffed and stomped her way up through the state of Florida. As it turned out, although there was a tremendous amount of damage, it was not as bad as expected. That is something we can thank God for.

For almost a week, we were privileged to have her presence in our state. She did not stay as long as we expected and we were quite happy to see her go. The further north she went the less strength she had. The state of Florida simply exhausted her.

Here in Florida we are used to high winds and that sort of thing. Water, rain and flooding are a common occurrence here. We did have some record high flooding, but in the mainstream, we endured and got through it.

Many people were out of electricity for days and some for weeks at a time.

The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and her faithful companion did not lose electricity. We did lose, however, our Internet, phone and TV. That covered pretty much everything in our house.

My wife had her car filled with gas while I on the other hand, did not. I did not think it would last long, so I stuck it out because I really had no place to go. Where would I go?

Almost everything was closed. Even the gas stations at one point closed. Restaurants were closed so I could not go out and have lunch. Therefore, even though I did not have gas, I really did not need gas. I really had nowhere to go.

I did have a plan, though. I figured if we had to go somewhere, we could use my wife’s car. She always has plenty of gas, so I wasn’t worried.

Many people around us lost their electricity and I figured we would lose ours too. We did not and so I was most grateful. At least I could set in the living room with the air conditioner on enjoying myself.

As the days turned into more than I can remember, it started to get rather boring. We had no Internet or phone or TV so I did not know what was going on around us. It was quite exasperating to me.

I like to know what’s going on and what’s happening and what to expect.

“Just relax,” my wife said rather calmly, “everything is all right and we have nothing to fear.”

It wasn’t anything I wanted to Fear, there were just things I wanted to Know. Fear and Know are two very different things.

Then she said something, which she thought, would calm me down a little bit.

“Remember,” she said most seriously, “that song by Simon and Garfunkel?”

I knew where she was going with this, but I had nothing else to do so I thought I would play along.

“No, I don’t,” I said as seriously as possible. “I can’t remember that far back.”

She scowled at me and then continued, “The Sounds of Silence.”

“We have electricity, the air conditioning is running, the refrigerator is okay and the stove is working so I can cook. We don’t have anything to worry about.”

“Just listen,” she continued, “to those wonderful sounds of silence.”

It was about that time that the rain came down in torrential fury. I looked at her and smiled and she whirled back to the kitchen to cook supper. Read More→

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Sep
27

My Sneeze Is No Gentle Breeze

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Disgruntled Young Man by Maggie SmithIt has been days (or has it been years) since I have enjoyed a sneeze free day. The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage told me it is simply that time of the year and I should learn to deal with it. “After all,” she opined, “you’re not going to die.”

That news was not quite encouraging, because it was the hope of dying keeping me alive so far. If my brain was functioning anywhere half-decent, (and I can’t remember a time it has) I probably could remember when I felt worse. However, it does not matter how I have felt in the past it is how I’m feeling right now that really matters.

I have gone through a million boxes of tissues this past week.

I would not mind an occasional sneeze every now and then. For example I could live with a simple “aah-choo,” and be done with it. But, oh no, my nose has different ideas about the whole thing.

It is what I call the unholy Trinity. It goes something like this.

Aaaaah Choooooooooooo.
Aaaaaah Choooooooooooooo.
Aaaaaaaah Choooooooooooooooo.

Each sneeze tries to outdo the previous one. I can never sneeze one time, it always has to be in multiples of three.

Of course, sometimes my nose tries to outsmart me. For example, when a sneeze comes I gear up for three in a row. Then my nose will sneeze two times and I am ready for the third one and it does not come. It will do this several times in a row, then it will sneeze twice, there is a small pause, and I think it is over and the third thunders forth.

Notwithstanding, this has made certain inconveniences in the life I once enjoyed. For example, in the middle of the night when nature calls I try to be as careful in getting out of bed and going as I possibly can. I never open my eyes so as not to become fully awakened in the middle of the night. Once awake I find it difficult to go back to sleep.

Just the other night I was responding to nature’s call as I normally do and was just about ready to get back into bed when my nose realized what was happening and called forth three mighty sneezes.

Not only did it bring me to full awake status, but also the lady sleeping in my bed was aroused to full alertness, and yelled, “What happened?”

I live by one basic rule. Never wake up grouchy. Read More→

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Sep
20

If “All Things Are Possible,” Why Can’t I Balance My Checkbook?

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For me, the most terrible time of each month is the day our bank statement comes. We commonly call it BSS (Bank Statement Syndrome). I don’t know why it is, but I have trouble getting the parsonage checkbook to balance with the monthly bank statement.

That ominous document intimidates me every time it arrives. After all, the bank’s business is keeping track of accounts. They have hundreds, maybe thousands of accounts and I have just one. On the surface, it seems a rather simple thing for me to keep our checking account up to date, but I assure you, it is not. Every time I try, I lose interest.

Keeping our checkbook accurately balanced is almost like a circus balancing act; everything is up in the air. No matter how often I add those figures, I never get the same result twice. I have resorted to adding up the figures at least three times and then take the average. So far, I’ve been batting a .195 and have been dropped by the major league, which lost interest in my career. This may satisfy my conscience, but it does little to appease the accounting department of my friendly banking institution.

The thing flustering me more than anything else are those fees. The average bank has more fees than a West Virginia hound dog has fleas. Everything I turn around there is another fee. (I need to stop turning around.) Somebody needs to invent a fee powder.

Each bank must employ a stable of employees whose only job is to dream up these fees. How else can you explain it? These fees are creative enough to cover every aspect of a person’s wallet, retroactive three generations.

To open an account there is a fee. Each account carries a monthly maintenance fee. I have been paying this monthly maintenance fee for several years and I have yet to see someone from the bank come out and mow my lawn. What is this maintenance fee? What are they maintaining? They certainly are not maintaining my checkbook. With all the fees I am paying, I would expect someone from the bank come to my house, sit around my table, and help me balance my checkbook. I would supply the coffee and donuts; for a small fee of course.

Another thing I do not understand is the ATM fee. Why do I have to pay money to the bank to get my money out of the bank? Whose money is it anyway? Read More→

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Sep
13

I Didn’t Win $750 Million

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money guyDuring a recent lottery shindig, everybody was watching to see who was going to win all that money. Even I got all caught up in the excitement and was on the edge of my seat too.

“Why,” the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage said, “are you so interested in that lottery?”

“Well,” I said as soberly as possible, “what if I win all that money? Wouldn’t that be tremendous?” Then I flashed a gracious million-dollar smile at her.

She just stared at me, rolled her eyes and walked away. As she was walking away, she mumbled something like, “You gotta pay if you’re gonna win.”

Oh yeah, I thought to myself. I am sitting in my chair wondering what in the world I would do with all that money if I actually would win it when in reality I am not even playing the lottery. I just got all caught up with the idea of winning money.

Even if I did play, according to some statistics, only one person in 300 million had a chance of winning that lottery. I’m not sure how they come up with such statistics; I am rather suspicious of the whole thing.

I remember a favorite saying of the late Will Rogers, “All I know is what I read in the newspaper.” That was long before all of this media electronic nonsense that we have today. I think he might change his saying something like this, “All I know is what I see on TV.” Or, some of the younger group might include the Internet.

I am not a skeptic, mind you, I just do not believe everything I hear or see these days. I never guess how much change I have in my pocket, I always count it. I never want to guess at anything.

Some people believe everything they hear and see on TV these days. I think most of it is just entertainment. Entertainment has become such an obsession these days that it is hard to get away from it.

We watch programs that solve problems that don’t even exist. We get all excited about somebody playing some role on some fictitious TV program. Don’t get me started on those reality shows! Read More→

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