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Archive for Out to Pastor

Aug
09

The Amazing Wonder of A.G.E.

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I have just celebrated my recent birthday. By now, it is getting to be old business for me. Just another day of the year to celebrate something, which just happens to be my birthday.

I believe that if it is my birthday, I should be able to celebrate whatever birthday I want to celebrate. You are only as old as you celebrate.

I am not embarrassed at how old I am, I just sometimes cannot remember the exact figure. Some of my friends are rather legalistic along this line and are demanding the exact number of my birthday. Is it really that important? Does it really matter how old you are?

Well, if you spoke to some of my friends it matters to them. For those of us, however, who have experienced a succession of birthdays it does not really matter.

Thinking of my birthday this past week I was trying to figure out what was my best birthday. All of them had certain significance to them. For example, my 16th birthday allowed me to drive the car. However, I could only drive the car when my father said I could drive the car.

My 21st birthday was very important because I then could get married. Back then, you could not get married unless you were 21 years of age. Before that, you had to have your parent’s permission. I have asked my parents for many things throughout the years, but I think asking to get married is just crossing the line somewhere.

Every birthday starts a new year of adventure and excitement. When you get older, adventure and excitement sort of goes away a little bit. It can be exciting to celebrate another birthday and wonder where you going to be at when your next birthday comes around.

Some people feel it’s a little negative to get older. If you do not get older, it means that you have… Well, you know the rest of that sentence. I find nothing negative about getting older. I find certain amenities are associated with getting older that I could not cash in when I was younger.

When I was younger, I could not get away with much of anything. Now that I am older, I can get away with things because I have a few niches I can use. “I’m sorry,” I often say to the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage, “I forgot all about that. You know I’m getting older now.”

She smiles and shakes an understanding head. It is wonderful to have an excuse for things of that nature.

For my birthday this year, I discovered something rather interesting. This year I discovered the amazing wonder of A.G.E. If you look at age from the proper perspective, you do get some very interesting enjoyments.

I suppose I should explain to you what I mean by A.G.E. It never occurred to me until this birthday celebration. A.G.E is simply Aggressive Grumpy Elegance. I never saw this before, but then of course I was not old enough to appreciate it.

When I was young, I noticed my grandfather had some rather grumpy sessions and I did not quite understand. Now that I am approaching my grandfather’s age, I appreciate that grumpy attitude. Oh, the wonder of Aggressive Grumpy Elegance.

If I ever thought youth was exciting, it is nothing compared to this A.G.E. that I am experiencing right now. It is so wonderful to be grumpy whenever you choose.

I know some people are grumpy because they are just grumpy. That has nothing to do with this wonderful Aggressive Grumpy Elegance that I have discovered.

It takes quite a few decades to master this kind of attitude. I am delighted to say I have reached that stage in my life and I am mastering this part of Aggressive Grumpy Elegance. I just cannot say it often enough.

For example, when I want a quiet afternoon and maybe take a little bit of a nap, the result of this would be somebody saying, “Stay away from grandpa, he’s acting a little grumpy today.” The key to that is “acting.”

Some people are grumpy because they are grumpy, but those of us who have reached a certain level in life are grumpy because we are acting grumpy and to act grumpy takes a great deal of thespian skill.

If someone, and I will not mention the real name here, wants me to go shopping with her, all I need to do is put on the grumpy act. “Well,” she will say, “I guess you’re too grumpy to go shopping with me today!”

The person who has reached this level of A.G.E can turn it on when needed and turn it off when not needed. That is the “elegance” part of this whole business.

When the grandchildren are around making noise and excitement, I do not have to act grumpy. When their parents, however, come around that is the time when grumpy kicks in.

You have to know when to act grumpy and when not to act grumpy. That is the wonderful aspect of getting to the age I am at right now.

I believe Solomon understood this when he wrote, “The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the grey head” (Proverbs 20:29).

One of the great privileges in life is to earn that “grey head.” More important, to use that grey head in a positive, affirmative fashion.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship and an award winning author whose writings have appeared in more than eighty periodicals, including GUIDEPOSTS. “In Pursuit of God: The Life of A. W. Tozer,” Snyder’s first book, won the Reader’s Choice Award in 1992 by Christianity Today.

Snyder has authored 35 books altogether. He lives with his wife, Martha, in Silver Springs Shores, Florida. Learn more about Rev. Snyder at WhataFellowship.com.

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Aug
03

Go Ahead, Call Me If You Dare

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Ipink telephone don’t think it was in the mind of Dr. Bell when he invented the telephone for people like me to be harassed by people who are only after my money. Don’t get me wrong here. The telephone has been a great blessing to many people. But lately, the wrong people have my number.

It finally came to a head this past week. At least as far as I was concerned.

The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and I had a very busy week and by Thursday we had accomplished a lot, or at least we thought we had. We had lunch with a very good friend and enjoyed ourselves tremendously.

On our way home from lunch I mentioned the fact to my wife that I was feeling very tired and I probably could do with a Power Nap, as they call them today. She just looked at me and said, “Go ahead and get your nap in.”

Being the husband that I am, I always obey my wife. And so, off to the parsonage I headed to get in a well-deserved, at least I thought it was, Power Nap to rejuvenate what little energy I had left.

Nothing feels better to me than stretching out on my easy chair, closing my eyes and drifting off into Lala land, of which I am a frequent visitor.

I am not quite sure how long I was sleeping, but suddenly I heard a weird noise that awakened me. That weird noise was the telephone ringing. I never know who’s calling and I never know if it might be important, so I answered the phone.

I am so tired of getting telephone calls that just interrupts my day. I get calls from somebody who has a solution for my student loan and how to pay it off. I never went to college and therefore I don’t have a student loan. At my age, if I had a student loan it would be a tragic situation.

The call was from some health agency that had a deep concern about my health. More particularly, they had solutions for pains that I was experiencing.

“I understand,” the person on the other end of the telephone said very businesslike, “that you are having problems with pain in your body.”

I do not know where he got that understanding or why he would be interested in any of my pain.

“No, sir,” I said with a healthy yawn, “there ain’t no pain here.”

“Is there someone in your house,” he went on to say, “that has some back pain?”

Without giving me time to respond, he continued, “I believe you qualify for one of our back braces to help manage your back pain.”

“No, sir,” I said most pathetically, “nobody here has that kind of pain.”

Not hindered in his salesman pitch, he said, “Is there someone in your home that has an ankle pain? I have a wonderful solution that I would like to send you to deal with that pain?” Read More→

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Jul
26

Did I Just Blow My Cover?

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This month I celebrate another birthday. At my age, I cannot remember exactly which one but that does not really matter. The number of the birthday, in my point of view, does not influence the celebration of the birthday.

Life has been rather good to me in many respects. The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and I are a wonderful team and have been for so many years; I’m not allowed to say how many.

As a team, she can fix anything and I can break anything. That certainly goes hand-in-hand with life. No matter what I can break, she can fix. This has made life rather good.

Throughout life, I have gone under the ruse that when it comes to fixing things I am all thumbs and no fingers. I cannot seem to fix anything. Of course, if it can be fixed with a hammer I might try. When anything goes wrong in our house, I offer to fix it and my wife steps in most gallantly and retires me to my easy chair.

When I try to fix something it usually turns out worse than when I started.

I am not sure if I have created this ruse or if I really am “all thumbs.”

Regardless of the situation, as long as she can fix it, I’m comfortable in breaking it.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t break things on purpose. At least, I do not think I do. At my age, what’s thinking got to do with anything? It just happens that I have the knack of breaking things.

Nobody has ever created anything that I cannot in some way break.

So, life has been wonderful and I hope it continues to be wonderful and it will be as long as both of us stay to our role in the marriage. When I try to take over her spot or she tries to take over my spot, there is trouble a’ stirring.

Everything was going wonderfully until something happened this past week.

One thing my wife enjoys is mowing the lawn. I am not allowed to ride the lawnmower and I am not quite sure why at this point. However, if it makes her happy, it makes me happy. She spends many happy hours mowing the grass.

It is not so much that I don’t like to mow, but she likes to mow much better than I do and of course, she does a much better job at it. She knows how to keep that lawnmower running and if the engine sounds a little off key, she knows exactly what’s wrong and how to fix it and she does.

My responsibility is to give her a hand whenever I can. When she passes the front porch, I stand up and applaud as she goes by. It’s the least I can do.

Then this past week brought in a new picture. She was mowing the grass when, unbeknownst to her, she ran over a long dog chain the neighbor had somehow got into our lawn. By the time she realized what had happened, the chain had twisted all over the blades of that mower.

She pulled the mower up to the house, turned it off and began repairing it. The wire was all twisted very tightly around one of the blades under the mower. She pulled, yanked and twisted, but nothing happened.

I walked up to her and said, “Is there anything I can do to help?”

Without even looking at me she said, “No, I got everything under control.”

What I have learned throughout life is never contradict your wife. That’s the recipe for a cooked goose. Read More→

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Jul
20

I Was Just Thinking

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stinking thinkingThinking is not my strong suit by any stretch of the imagination. Every time I start thinking, I either get a headache or get into trouble. I’m not sure which is worse, the headache or the trouble.

In my normal pursuit of life, thinking sits in the backseat. If there is an emergency, thinking may come forward and help out. However, in the meantime, thinking is not something I like to do on a regular basis.

That is my side. On the other side, the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage is always thinking. Most of the time, she is thinking about jobs I should be doing. I don’t know how she does it, but she can come up with a list of “honey-do’s” that will occupy all my time. Of course, I must confess, while I am doing these “honey-do’s” I am thinking, but not thoughts I would like to come out into the public arena.

I do not really have to think that much because my wife thinks for me. How she does it is beyond me, but she knows what I am thinking three days before that thought enters my head. At least, that’s what she tells me and she would not lie to me.

I have learned through the years that there are several questions that I should never ask my wife. One is, “Honey, what are you doing?”

You would think after decades of interaction with her I would know what to say and what not to say. Because I don’t give much to thinking, I usually speak without thinking, which always gets me into trouble. If I could think through something, I just might escape the trouble that I get into.

Just the other day I came home from working at the office and my wife was sitting in the chair and I asked “the” question. “Honey, what are you doing?”

My wife knows how to ask questions and is very skillful at asking the right question. The other side is that she knows how to answer questions to such a degree that gets me into difficulty. How she manages this is beyond my wildest imagination. Of course, if I would think about it, maybe I could come up with an answer, but who has time to think these days?

Without any delay, she responded to my inquiry by saying, “I was just thinking…”

As soon as she said that, I knew I was in trouble. Why don’t I keep my questions to myself? Why must I always fall into that trap she lays for me?

“I was just thinking,” she said without giving me any opportunity to respond, “that we ought to go to the mall this afternoon and do a little bit of shopping.” Read More→

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Jul
13

To Stink, or Not to Stink, That is the Question

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question manThere are all kinds of questions in this world of ours. Most are rather annoying. It would not surprise me in the least if there were a gang of hooligans somewhere hired to make up silly questions. If I could find this gang, I would disperse them immediately, without a question.

Of course, there is the fact that the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage is in cahoots with these question-maker-uppers. Every once in a while she comes up with questions for Yours Truly.

It is not the questions I object to but rather the answers I am supposed to give in connection to the questions. My wife has a silly notion that the answers I give should be in direct correlation to the questions she asked. Who made up this rule? Oops, that was a question. Sorry about that.

It is my opinion, and mine alone, especially in my home, that if I am asked a question I should have the option to give the answer I want to give whether it relates to the question or not. My wife insists my answer should be a response to her question.

More times than I care to admit, when my wife is asking her second question, I am still thinking about her first question. By the time she had gotten to her sixth question, I have formed an answer for that first question. And when she asks her tenth question, I am answering her first question.

It is all very confusing to me because she always says, ”That was not what I asked you?” It was but she was so far ahead of me that it is virtually impossible for me to catch up. So, if I cannot catch up, I catch flak.

Last week, for example, she put to me a very penetrating question. ”What is that awful smell?”

I would not have taken offense to the question so much, but she was looking straight at me when she posed it. What I took from the question was that I, for some reason unbeknownst to me, smelled pretty bad. Even though it was not Saturday night, I took the hint and marched my raunchy body to the bathroom for a bath.

Read More→

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Jul
06

Can Two Walk Together, Except They Be Going to the Same Store?

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After about a million days of toil, sweat and aggravation, the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and I decided to take a few days off and relax.

I am not a real expert when it comes to relaxing. I have not pursued a PhD in relaxing and therefore it is a foreign theme to me.

Of course, I have advised many people to chill out, relax a little bit and not get so excited about things. What doctor do you know who takes his own medicine? Or, what pastor do you know that listens to his own sermon?

I could preach a sermon to beat all sermons on relaxing and not getting so uptight about things. You would think after listening to some of these sermons that I was an expert in this area. My expertise is only in telling other people what they should be doing. I do not have time to listen to my own sermons.

My wife and I realized a month or so ago that we have not taken a day off in over six months. Actually, we were trying to figure out the last time we did take a day off.

“I think,” my wife said most reflectively, “that we should take a day off and relax.”

It has been my policy throughout my marital life to not disagree with my wife. This was one of those times when I was in full agreement with her statement. It doesn’t happen often, when it does, it is time to celebrate.

For us, a couple days off takes a couple months of planning and when I say planning, I mean planning.

We had to coordinate the date with the rest of our family, and with the church schedule.

I fully understand that the church will run quite well without me, but I have conned myself into believing that it can’t. That means, I have to make special plans for when I take a day off.

It did not take me long to rearrange my schedule, but it was a different story with my wife.

She had to coordinate her schedule for a couple days off with both of the daughter’s schedule because she watched the grandchildren while the parents were working. It took several months for her to coordinate all of the schedules and finally, voilà, we arranged a time that we could “leave Dodge,” and head to St. Augustine for a couple days off.

We left after the Sunday evening service and our plan was to return Wednesday before the Wednesday night service. If you plan something right, it all comes together.

We left that Sunday night and headed for our motel to settle down for several days of rest and frivolity. I do admit that I have a PhD in frivolity and so I was ready to for frivole. (Pardon my French).

When we woke up Monday morning, I began to realize that my definition of rest was not exactly the definition my wife embraced. Read More→

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Jun
29

Two In A Row Okay, But Three Is Suspicious

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So applethat you know, I am not suspicious (knock on wood). I take a rather practical approach to life and try my best not to get bent out of shape. At my age, it’s rather difficult to keep my shape. I try to keep my guard up, but no matter what I do, I drop it.

Tuesday I was engaged in a “project,” when the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage came and brought me an apple fritter. “I thought,” she said rather cheerfully, “that you could use an apple fritter.”

I was most gracious for this apple fritter. Nothing raises your spirits and encourages you to do your best like an apple fritter. I know my wife and I disagree as to the nature of these apple fritters so it surprised me that she brought one to me.

My insistence is that an apple fritter is an apple and an apple is an apple. She, on the other side of the breakfast table, insists that it is a doughnut. We have never resolved this difference in our relationship. When she brought me an apple fritter I was a little bit surprised, but was thinking deep in my heart it may be I have convinced her that an apple fritter in deed is a fruit.

I smiled most graciously, thanked her and enjoyed the apple fritter like I enjoy every apple fritter I eat. It was the highlight of my afternoon, I can tell you that.

Nothing more was said about it because I do not like to spoil a good thing. I just enjoyed it and went on thinking that perhaps we have come to a conclusion about this contradiction.

Then Wednesday came around and in the middle of a project in the afternoon, my wife came in and said, “Here, I thought you might enjoy an apple fritter for today.”

Without thinking, I took it, smiled and thanked her most graciously for this afternoon treat. Nothing bolsters my day more than a warm apple fritter. Nothing goes better with a cup of coffee than an apple fritter. I am quite convinced that in heaven we will enjoy apple fritters.

With me whenever I have an apple fritter in the afternoon the day goes by so smoothly. I enjoyed that apple fritter to the nth degree, whatever that may mean.

I did not think much of it, because you should just enjoy your day and whatever blessings come, like an apple fritter, just enjoy it to the best of your ability.

Let me repeat that I am not a very superstitious person (knock on wood), but I do like to take precautions. Once it is over, I like to move on.

Then on Thursday, the inconceivable happened.

“Here,” my wife said most cheerfully, “I thought you would enjoy an apple fritter for the afternoon.”

I did not know what to do or say. I put on a greasy smile, accepted the apple fritter, nodded my head and said, “Thank you.”

For her to bring me one apple fritter was a wonderful thing, and I deeply appreciate it and did not give it too much thought.

Read More→

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Jun
15

And The Award Goes To…

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Rare is the time when I actually am all caught up with my schedule. Whenever I think I am caught up, something happens that takes that and throws it out the window.

Such was the case this past week. I was very much happy with the fact that I was on schedule and I had everything in hand. Nothing makes me feel better.

Of course, this is mostly delusional, at least for me. If there ever was an award for being delusional, I am quite certain I would be at the top of the list. The amazing thing about being delusional is that you never think you are.

As I was wallowing in my delusion and enjoying every moment of it, the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage came and said rather sharply, “Are you ready to go?”

At the moment, I had no idea what she was talking about. And so I responded, “Huh?”

I’m not sure if that is really a word or not, but it accurately described my delusional moment at that time. I had no idea what she was talking about.

“You haven’t,” she said, “forgotten what day it is, have you?”

I was tempted to say, “Of course not. It’s Tuesday.” Fortunately, I did not yield to that temptation and just responded with another, “Huh?”

With a disdaining look she said, “You would forget your head if it wasn’t attached.”

I wouldn’t tell her, but I probably would not miss my head if I would forget it. After all, I don’t wear a hat.

“Today,” she said in a very serene voice, “the two grandchildren are getting awards at school.”

I’m not quite sure if I forgot or if I was not listening when the instructions came my way. At this point, I was not going to let anybody know, particularly my wife.

“Oh, yes,” I said getting up from my chair, “I’m all ready to go. Let’s go.”

She gave me one of her classic sarcastic grins and we headed for the door.

Our one granddaughter was graduating from the third grade and the other from the fifth grade. Unfortunately, one was at 8:30 in the morning and the other was it 1 o’clock in the afternoon. It would make sense to have them all at once, but what has sense to do in our world today?

I did not want to complain, after all, it is our grandchildren, but I think the planning could have been just a little bit better than that. After all, sitting in the school cafeteria listening to the award ceremony is about as exciting as it can get.

The chairs that we had to sit on were uncomfortable, which was very fortunate for me because I was not tempted to fall asleep during the ceremony. I believe that was done on purpose.

Imagine getting an award for completing the third grade!

I cannot remember any such thing when I was going to grade school. Our great award was leaving school and going home in the afternoon. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

We live in a different world today where everybody gets an award for something or sometimes for nothing.

Then I remembered my cell phone in my shirt pocket. It is times like this that God had in mind when he invented this cell phone technology. I pulled out my cell phone and started checking my email.

Then I felt a sharp pain in my right ribs (thanks Eve) and I heard a voice saying, “Put that away and pay attention.”

Slowly and reluctantly, I returned my cell phone to my shirt pocket and tried to pay attention but I didn’t have enough quarters. Paying attention can be very expensive when you’re in situations like this. Read More→

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Jun
07

Where Do You Look When She’s Lost Her Voice?

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megaphoneIt has been a quiet week at the parsonage. Far quieter than usual. I cannot remember a time when it was quieter. If silence is golden, the week glowed with a yellow brilliance.

Have you ever noticed when you lose something, it is always in the last place you look? I could save a lot of time, not to mention energy, if I would look for that lost item in the last place first.

Back to the sounds of silence in the parsonage.

When the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage awoke from her beauty sleep on Monday morning, she discovered sometime during the night she lost her voice. It was a strange sensation that bears repeating – often.

At first, I thought I lost my hearing. I am not accustomed to starting the day with such silence. I could see my Beloved’s lips moving, but nothing reached my ears.

I must confess that there have been times when I feigned not hearing her, but this time I really could not hear a word she said. Immediately I plunged a finger in each ear to check for any foreign correspondent.

My fingers reported nothing. I must admit that clean ears are a novelty for me. God gave me such large ears attracting all sorts of stuff.

My ears produce enough wax each week to take care of 17 Rolls Royces. The strange thing was, I had just waxed my car the Saturday before.

With nothing in my ears – or between them, for that matter – I could not explain this sudden silence of my Little Lamb.

I am the kind of person who tries to find good in everything. Some circumstances severely try my efforts in this endeavor, but, believe it or not, I was able to find some good about this little incident in our parsonage.

The good news was my wife had lost her voice; the bad news, however, she insisted that I look for it.

Have you ever tried looking for something you hoped you would not find?

Through the years, I have engaged in many things my heart was not totally in full sympathy with.

Such things as Christmas shopping with my wife at the mall; going to a wedding reception for some family member; attending the Christmas play by first graders at the elementary school.

All these activities are good in and of themselves; if only they would merely keep themselves to themselves, it would not irate myself so much. As a dutiful husband and father, I bolster up both chins and go forward.

Being the considerate soul that I am, I submissively went through the motions of looking for the lost voice. (I did have my fingers crossed.)

My problem was: where do you begin looking for a lost voice? In my lifetime, I have looked for many lost items. My car keys, my wallet (especially when the check at the restaurant is due), and my mind, which I have yet to find.

However, where does a voice go when it turns up missing?

I began my search under the sofa and found a set of car keys I lost seven months ago and my checkbook that I looked everywhere for and finally had to close the account and start over again, but no voice.

I spent a few moments meditating in the garage, but did not find or hear the voice of my Beloved.

I looked in the refrigerator – pausing for a small snack without fear of remonstration from you know who. Of course, I may have been remonstrated, but I did not hear a thing. Read More→

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May
25

My Advice: Twice Is Just As Nice

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NWhat is your marriage modelingothing is more important to a blissful marriage than finding a point of agreement. Every veteran husband knows if he wants to change his wife’s mind about anything, just agree with her. It is amazing how this works. The technical name for this is “re-wife psychology.”

The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and I have been married since 1971 and have not had a serious argument or disagreement. (She does not allow me to talk back.) We have had rough times, but not with each other.

We have survived nine congregations, 19 homes, three children with nine grandchildren and all without compromising our relationship. My sanity is another issue.

Throughout our marriage, we have always held to the advice not to go to bed angry. Of course, there have been a few sleepless nights. I have a simple rule: do not close your eyes if there is an angry woman in the vicinity.

I honestly can say our marital relationship through the years has been most amicable. Since our marriage, my wife and I spend a lot of time working together and we never seem to get bored with one another.

We are a great team. She puts up with me and I let her. It works wonderfully and we have been able to accomplish a good deal together.

Only one area where we disagree and there may not be much of a remedy for this departure in company.

Never fear. Our marital dissolution is not near.

We have just learned to live with this dissent and, I might add, have survived quite happily.

I suppose no relationship is absolutely perfect this side of the Pearly Gates. Not to boast, but I have my wife beat in this one area. I do not often get the upper hand with her; in fact, I cannot remember any other occasion where this has occurred.

Nevertheless, we have come to a meeting of the minds on this subject. Really, if you don’t mind, the meeting doesn’t matter. Read More→

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