Friday, November 20, 2015

Happy Birthday Freda Kimsey

When I check the status page on my blog, on any given day the views it receives may come from as many as 13-17 countries around the world.  It also shows me where the traffic comes from (various search engines, websites, etc).  The problem is, I never really know WHO is reading the blog. Oh, I know that close friends and family members read it regularly, and sometimes someone will leave a comment on a particular post that will let me know that person is reading it.  However there is one lady who seems to read my blog daily.  Even though I don’t always post daily.  In fact, when I don’t post to it in a while, she’ll send me an email to let me know she misses it.  Now THAT makes me feel like it matters to someone!

Well, tomorrow (Saturday, November 21st) is that lady’s birthday, and if I should ever wish anyone a happy birthday on this site, it should be Freda Kimsey of Parkersburg, WV.  I don’t think Freda would mind me telling which birthday this is, since an 80th birthday doesn’t come around very often.  In fact, it doesn’t come around at all for many folks.  Today is a day for Freda and her daughters, sons in law, grandchildren, and great grandchildren to celebrate, and we all should celebrate with her.

The Kimsey family’s story is a great American story.  She and her late husband, Dan (a career US Air Force veteran, who saw duty in Korea and Viet Nam) raised three daughters, and were great Christian examples to them and their families with a heritage that will last for generations.

Freda and Dan were married June 20, 1954 when she was only 18 years of age.  Dan passed away on June 5th of last year, just 15 days shy of their 60th wedding anniversary.  I was privileged to attend his memorial service in Parkersburg, and it was a fitting tribute to BOTH Dan and Freda and their lives well spent in service to God, Country, and Family.

As I said, Dan was a “Fly Boy”.  They were stationed at Lockbourne AFB and moved to Circleville, OH in 1955.  Freda soon became active in Circleville First Baptist Church around 1959.  Her faithful witness helped lead Dan to Christ and he came to faith in Jesus in 1961.  Freda worked in the church teaching Sunday School, VBS (back when it lasted 2 weeks) and was involved in Women's Missionary Union, holding various offices in WMU including president.

In April, 1963, Dan was transferred to Grand Forks AFB, and they immediately joined a church just off the base.  Even though only at Grand Forks for two years, Dan and Freda made many life long friends there.  1964 brought them back to Lockbourne and Circleville.  The church family and neighbors there became extended family to the Kimseys. 

When Dan retired from the USAF in 1972 they moved to West Virginia.  Once again, Freda made her home a welcome place to all her new friends and neighbors. She and Dan attended Marshall University football and basketball games regularly.  Eventually they settled in Parkersburg in 1978 and became active in the MU alumni association, where she even served as president.  She is still involved.  In retirement, Dan and Freda traveled regularly, visiting old friends and attending squadron reunions, etc.

It is an understatement to say that the last year and a half has been tough for Freda, her three girls, five grandchildren and nine great grandchildren, but they would all agree that they are blessed to have her in their lives.  She is a wonderful, godly woman, and a true prayer warrior.

Freda, you have been a great encouragement to this pastor for a number of years.  You are a blessing to many, and now we wish you a happy birthday, filled with the blessings of family and friends!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

For Those Of Us Of A Certain Age - A Great Christmas Poem!

All this talk about Starbucks and Christmas has made me realize that Christmas is just around the corner.  Hard to believe it's going to be upon us soon (even though Thanksgiving is still a couple of weeks away).  How is it possible that it's Christmas again?  Didn't we just have it ...?
It all got me thinking about back when it seemed like Christmas would never come. Back in the '50s on Gallaher Street in Huntington, WV.  Back in the days when "boys were boys", and we got into everything that we could, most of it our mothers would have described as "mean-ness". 

There were sling shots and BB Guns.  Double Bubble Gum and Bazooka Joe, Turkish Taffy, RC Cola and Moon Pies.  There was stealing tomatoes from Mr. Black's garden, and buying cigarettes for 35 cents from the machine at the Dairy Cheer and smoking them behind the Beverly Theater.  There was the daily ritual of throwing of crab apples at the Curtis girls on the way home from Gallaher School.  And who remembers climbing over the fence after dark  and skinny dipping in the swimming pool they set up on the school playground every summer?  There was lots of stuff to get into, and we did what we could, but sure enough, when it got down to this time of year, there was a marked change in our behavior.

After all, Christmas was coming.

You know the line, "He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake. He knows if you've been bad or good, so be good, for goodness sake!...".

Santa Claus was coming and we knew there had to be a marked change in our behavior.  When it was Christmas time, a guy HAD to be good.  And it was tough.

Years later, as a young father, myself, those memories were brought back to me by Carl D. Taylor, when we worked together in an Automobile Dealership in Ashland, Ky.  At Christmas time, Carl was prone to quote a poem, a long one he had learned by heart at a young age, It harkened back to the days (even back before the '50s) with a narrative by a young boy who understood what each of us went through at Christmas time when we had to be "as good as we could be"!

I haven't seen Carl in years, but through the miracle of Google, I did find that old poem recently.  In the spirit of the coming season, I thought I'd share it with you today.  Hope it brings back some sweet memories to you.

Jest 'Fore Christmasby Eugene Field (1850-1895)
Father calls me William, sister calls me Will,
Mother calls me Willie, but the fellers call me Bill!
Mighty glad I ain't a girl---ruther be a boy,
Without them sashes, curls, an' things that 's worn by Fauntleroy!

 Love to chawnk green apples an' go swimmin' in the lake---
Hate to take the castor-ile they give for bellyache!
'Most all the time, the whole year round, there ain't no flies on me,
But jest 'fore Christmas I 'm as good as I kin be!

Got a yeller dog named Sport, sick him on the cat;
First thing she knows she does n't know where she is at!
Got a clipper sled, an' when us kids goes out to slide,
'Long comes the grocery cart, an' we all hook a ride!

 But sometimes when the grocery man is worrited an' cross,
He reaches at us with his whip, an' larrups up his hoss,
An' then I laff an' holler, "Oh, ye never teched me!"
But jest 'fore Christmas I 'm as good as I kin be!

Gran'ma says she hopes that when I git to be a man,
I 'll be a missionarer like her oldest brother, Dan,
As was et up by the cannibuls that lives in Ceylon's Isle,
Where every prospeck pleases, an' only man is vile!

 But gran'ma she has never been to see a Wild West show,
Nor read the Life of Daniel Boone, or else I guess she 'd know
That Buff'lo Bill an' cowboys is good enough for me!
Excep' jest 'fore Christmas, when I 'm good as I kin be!

And then old Sport he hangs around, so solemn like an' still,
His eyes they seem a-sayin': "What's the matter, little Bill?"
The old cat sneaks down off her perch an' wonders what's become
Of them two enemies of hern that used to make things hum!

 But I am so perlite an' tend so earnestly to biz,
That mother says to father: "How improved our Willie is!"
But father, havin' been a boy hisself, suspicions me
When, jest 'fore Christmas, I 'm as good as I kin be!

For Christmas, with its lots an' lots of candies, cakes, an' toys,
Was made, they say, for proper kids an' not for naughty boys;
So wash yer face an' bresh yer hair, an' mind yer p's and q's,
An' don't bust out yer pantaloons, and don't wear out yer shoes;

 Say "Yessum" to the ladies, and "Yessur" to the men,
An' when they 's company, don't pass yer plate for pie again;
But, thinkin' of the things yer 'd like to see upon that tree,
Jest 'fore Christmas be as good as yer kin be!


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Random Thoughts

There is no one who can ask more questions than a four year old.  I'm laid up this week, spending much of my time in the recliner with my recently operated on right foot elevated.  My four year old grandson, who lives next door, has been coming in and out to visit me.  I have had the time to really pay attention to him and his actions and I have been amazed at how many questions he can ask.
His mind is like a sponge, and his curiosity is insatiable.  It is a joy watching and listening to him as he processes the steady stream of information generated by his inquisitive nature.


Does anyone else out there think the moderators on last night's Republican candidate debate asked more substantive questions than did their counterparts at CNBC on the last debate?  Questions seemed to be more focused on economics, foreign policy, immigration, and policy issues in general, and less on "gotcha" questions and stirring up hostile exchanges between candidates.  On the "not ready for prime time" earlier debate, recently demoted Gov. Chris Christie really seemed to dominate that group. Although not a great Christie supporter, I thought his performance was more suitable to be with the "big hitters" no matter what polling information indicates.


I have been invited to speak at the Veterans Day Program at my grandson's elementary school tomorrow morning.  I have attended the annual program there for the past few years.  They always do a great job in honoring the veterans who attend and the kids always have a great patriotic program.  To be honest, I am a little bit nervous about this program.  It's not that I'm nervous speaking to a large group of people, as I do that every Sunday morning.  It's the fact that they have invited me to be the speaker for this particular event.  I feel a bit like Paul when he compared himself to the other apostles. I definitely feel that I am the least among these veterans.  Among those who will be in the honored group are men like my father in law who served under General Patton in WWII, as well as other Korean and Viet Nam war veterans, along with Kosovo vets and men who have served in both Gulf Wars and in Afghanistan.  I have Viet Nam era service, but was never stationed overseas during my Air Force career.  I plan on talking about the fact that all veterans are trained to serve as combatants even though many primarily served in supportive roles.  I'm going to talk about the Oath of Service and what that means to every veteran who has served.  Should be an interesting time, and I know my grandson, Asher, is very excited about it.  This is his last year at Charles Russell Elementary, and he's proud that his Papaw is going to be the speaker.  Now I hope I don't let him down.  There is the pressure!


This Saturday, November 14th marks the 45th anniversary of the crash of a chartered Southern Airways jet that claimed the lives of 75 Marshall University football players, coaches, boosters, and flight crew, as it went down just short of the runway at Tri State Airport.  That rainy fall night is etched into the memories of anyone who had connections with the University in particular or the city of Huntington in general.
I had just transferred in that fall semester from Marshall to Free Will Baptist Bible College (now Welch College) in Nashville, TN.  My Saturday had been filled with intermural athletics, and laundry all afternoon.  There was no television in our dorm, and late that evening several of us were comparing notes and trying to get scores from our favorite teams.  Most of the guys there were SEC and ACC fans (since most of them were from the southeastern US) and those scores were most discussed.  I had asked several guys if they had heard anything about the Marshall vs. East Carolina game, and somebody said "I think I heard that East Carolina won".  That was about all the information I could get, since Al Gore was still a reporter for "The Tennessean" then and had not yet invented the internet.
It wasn't until after lights out, as I lay in my bunk with my earphones plugged into the radio, listening to WMAK, that I heard the report on the 11:00PM news cast that a plane carrying the Marshall University football team had crashed in Kenova, WV.
I rushed to the pay phone in the stair well and called home (collect) and stood in stunned silence as Dad told me the information that was coming in over the local television stations from the crash site.
I had been in numerous freshmen classes with several of the now varsity players who were on the ill fated flight.  Our neighbor, Ken Jones, the sports director of WHTN channel 13 was on the flight. My Dr. was aboard.  Several other boosters and local business people - many from our neighborhood, several of them parents of my friends and former classmates were also among the dead.  I would imagine there were very few people in Huntington who were not personally touched in some way by the tragedy on that long ago November night.
I remember feeling so helpless, and so far away.
It's been 45 years since that terrible night, and I still remember it like yesterday.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Get Over It, and Get On With The Mission !

Well, the latest uproar in the so called "Culture War" revolves around Starbuck's new "Christmas Cups" for 2015.  Some well meaning evangelicals are bemoaning the fact that Starbucks has
de-Christmasized the seasonal cups - thereby advancing the attack in the ongoing secular "war on Christmas".

Fellow believers, let's slow down and take a rational look at things.

First of all, Starbuck's previous "Holiday Cups" have never made reference to Christmas itself, nor to the true meaning of the holiday.  A quick check of Google Images will show that the previous years seasonal cups had white tree ornaments, or snowflakes, or doves decorating the cup over the same red background that makes up this year's cup. No "Star of Bethlehem", no nativity scene, no shepherds or maji, nor images of the Christ Child.  Certainly no inscription of "Merry Christmas".

They were simply "Holiday Cups", not "Christmas Cups" any way.  Deal with it!

Secondly, why should we really expect a totally secular business enterprise to endorse the centerpiece of the Christian faith?  I mean, really.

Like many other Christ followers, I do regret the secularization of America.  Since the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, there most certainly has been a strong Christian influence in the United States.  While our founders were most certainly not all devoted followers of Christ, there was a strong recognition of the existence of a Sovereign God, and a belief in the value of His written Word.  These are evidenced by references to Him in our founding documents and other writings by the founders, and to the practice of taking oaths of office, or giving testimony in court with a hand placed on the Bible.  Without a doubt, our legal codes are based on the Commandments of the Bible, and our society was heavily influenced by what we often call the Judeo-Christian ethic.

After WWII, as the second half of the Twentieth Century unfurled, the Christian influence in our culture, slowly began to erode.  While this erosion has been slow and steady, those of us who have lived through the cultural changes of the '60s and '70s can look back and identify some of the key events that highlight those changes.  Now, here in the second decade of the 21st Century,  we can safely say that we are not a Christian nation.  Even though references to God still exist in inscriptions on the Supreme Court building, in our pledge of allegiance to our flag, and a slogan on our money, a true reliance on the Supreme Being no longer exists at large in the USA.

Those of us who do worship our God and have placed our trust in Jesus Christ, deeply regret the Christless condition of our present culture.

But why should we be surprised?

The Cross of Christ is a reproach to this world.  The message of Salvation has long been anathema to those who do not believe.  Christians have been persecuted and despised by the world system since Christianity's earliest days (see Acts 4) and persecution and martyrdom of Christ followers has intensified throughout the centuries (see Foxes Book of Martyrs).  And even today, our fellow believers are being persecuted with ostracism, imprisonment, and even death in many countries around the world.  Why should we expect a secular culture to cater to our beliefs.  Furthermore, why should we expect any better treatment that was afforded our Lord?

Jesus put it this way:
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you..."  (John 15:18-20a ESV)

Finally, we believers spend an awful lot of time and energy fighting those things that we perceive to be a threat to our beliefs. 

Don't get me wrong.  We hold to Truth.  Truth is not a concept, Truth is a Person, Jesus Christ. We also hold to the truth of the written Word.  Sin is sin and we recognize it as such.  Sin when it is finished brings forth death.  There is no cure for sin other than the application of the precious blood of Jesus as we by faith receive the gracious gift of God through Christ alone.

We live in a depraved world, and a dark culture.  Too often we spend our time railing at the culture around us.  We've done a pretty good job so far of letting the world know what we are against.

It's time we do a better job of letting the world know what we are FOR.  Things like Grace, Mercy, Love, Forgiveness, Eternal Life, Abundant Life and a personal relationship with God.

We are called to be Ambassadors of Christ.  We have been reconciled to God through Christ Jesus, and He has called us to a ministry of reconciliation. Perhaps we should spend more of our time and energy finding ways to share the Good News of Christ, rather than protesting, ranting on social media, and trying to force a godless culture to confirm to our beliefs.

Only Christ can change lives, and he does. 

Share the Gospel.  Tell the Christmas story - the story of Jesus.  Endeavor to show the Love of Christ in your life and, "always be ready to give an account for the hope that is in you...", and leave the rest to the Holy Spirit.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

A Word of Praise for Those Who Serve Our Veterans at the Huntington VAMC (Especially the Nurses on 5 South)

I am a U.S. Air Force Veteran from the Viet Nam Era.  When I received my discharge from active duty, I was blessed to get an entry level job with the VA in the Huntington Regional Office.  I worked there several years advancing up to the Finance Office (and would have been long retired had I stayed) but eventually I left "government work" for a career in sales that I felt, and proved right, would be more lucrative financially.  Although I did well in sales and management, I did miss out on many good government employee benefits, but that was the path I chose, and I am content with the choice.

I had little contact with the VA Medical Center in Huntington until,  at the bidding of a fellow veteran friend of mine, I went up and signed up for the Veterans Health Care system.  After all, he said, "We've earned it"! 

Neither of us had service connected disabilities, but we were eligible for the program, including prescriptions, with provisions of co-pays, etc.

I had never thought much of the old "VA Hospital" up on the hill off Spring Valley Drive just outside the city limits of Huntington.  It is where my grandfather (a WWI veteran) had died from lung cancer in 1959.  I always thought of the hospital as the place "where old guys went to die".  Not a very good image, but it's what I thought, nonetheless.

A pleasant surprise awaited me after I became eligible for the system.  As I begin to get treatment for my feet and vision care related to my Type 2 Diabetes, my opinion of the facility began to change.  Dad had been going out there for years, and I began to realize what good care he was receiving. I learned that it had become associated with the Marshall University Medical School, and there were some outstanding teaching physicians who were there on site.  In fact, in the past year an a half, I have actually been treated by two excellent physicians who are practicing there, whom I had previously seen in private practice here in my hometown of Ashland, KY!

A couple of years ago, we began to see some bad reports on television about the VA Medical Center in Phoenix, and as the news media often does, they "dug up as much dirt" on the VA health care system as they possibly could.  While I realize that there may be some VA facilities that are not performing well, and I do know that there is a shortage of good physicians system wide, my experience has been nothing but positive.

I have been having issues for some time with diabetic ulcers on my right foot.  In March of 2014 I was admitted with osteomyelitis (in layman's terms a bad infection) in my right foot, with sharp pain shooting up my leg.  They determined that the infection was MRSA, an antibiotic resistant staph infection, which left untreated, would be extremely dangerous.

To make a long story short, I had two stays there in March and July of 2014, resulting in amputations of toes number 4 & 5 along with part of their metatarsals as well.

On both occasions, my room was located on "5 South", which I understand to be the surgical floor.

Just after my 65th birthday, in late October of this year, the symptoms recurred. I had continued to be dealing with an ulcer on the bottom of my big toe, which, no matter how hard we tried to keep it clean and properly dressed, continued to resist healing.  It turns out, I had either contracted MRSA again, or it had never completely gone out of my system.  At any rate, in severe pain, and a tremendously swollen foot, I was admitted back to the VAMC.  Within a couple of days, I endured
another two surgical procedures, the second one being a resection of the bone in my big toe, where the MRSA had already infected part of the bone.  Thankfully this procedure was designed to save my "Piggy that went to market" from the "chopping block".  The surgery was successful.

Once again, I found myself in a private room on 5 South, and renewed old acquaintances with many of the same nurses who had taken care of me last year.  I was so happy to see them again, as I could never describe the wonderful care they had given me after those two painful amputations last year. 

Well, I was with them for nine days and the treatment from "my friends from before" and nurses that I had not previously met, the nine days of my "Incarceration" were made more bearable, and at times, even bordering pleasant.  My one big regret was that last year, although I thanked them profusely for their care, I failed to let anyone higher up the chain of command know how much I appreciated their help and professional care on my two periods of confinement.  So, upon arriving home last week, I wrote a letter to the VAMC Director to commend the guys and girls on 5 South who provide such excellent health care to me and our other veterans on that floor.  Here is the text of the letter I sent to Director Nemo.  Hopefully they will receive the recognition they deserve from higher up, and if not, perhaps some of them who are now my Facebook friends will see this post and share it with the others.

November 4, 2015

Director Nemo
VA Medical Center
Huntington, WV 25704

Dear Director Nemo;

I recently spent 9 days as an inpatient in room 5124 in your facility, I underwent a couple of surgical procedures, and was treated for having MRSA in my bloodstream, as well as a serious infection in my right foot.

The reason I am writing today is to bring to your attention the quality of care I received from the Nurses on 5 South.  Every employee I encountered, from the housekeeping, dietary, and other areas was top notch, but I cannot say enough about the nursing staff on 5 South.

I was also a patient on that same floor, twice in 2014 as I underwent two partial amputations on my right foot.  That is when I first learned what a wonderful group of men and women served our veterans in that part of the hospital.  I had several of the same nurses this year who had cared for me before and I was blessed to have them care for me again.

As a pastor I have spent a lot of time visiting in hospitals in the Huntington and Ashland area.  I have also been a patient, myself at Our Lady of Bellefonte, Kings Daughters, and Cabell Huntington Hospitals.  While I received good care at each of these facilities, none of them compared with the kindness, caring, and professional bearing of the nurses on 5 South of the VAMC Huntington.

The nurses who primarily worked with me were Rainelle, Paige, Beth, Marc, Scott, Abby, Susan, Rhonda, and Brittany. There were others, too, whose names escape me now, but each of them went above and beyond just “doing their jobs”.  I cannot adequately express my gratitude for the wonderful care they provided for me and, I’m sure, for the other patients as well.  I was impressed with the comprehensive personal care they provided, even with a large patient load.

It’s hard enough to be a patient in a medical facility, sometimes in great pain, and always concerned about the outcome of one’s  illness.  These wonderful nurses made the hospital experience not only bearable, but helped raise my spirits by actually seeming to care about me as a person, not just a patient in the crowd. I believe these dedicated professionals deserve recognition for a job well done.

Sincerely,C.J. Adkins

Just allow me to close this post by saying a big THANK YOU to EVERY nurse, doctor, resident, student, housekeeper, food service personnel, social worker, therapist, and chaplain with whom I came in contact.  Every single one of them provided professional, caring service, always ending every conversation with a hearty, "Thank you for your service."

May I say to each of them in return, "Thank you for YOUR service, and may God bless you abundantly!"