Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thank God I am Too Old to Care

Back up in the NW rain country for a few months. Sold our home in the Seattle area as it was sucking money out of our retirement savings and have moved into a great, bank owned condo we picked up at a fraction of its original price. One break in a horrible Real Estate market.

However, every day when I read the paper, I want to reach for a valium. Today, the article of interest was Washington State’s program of giving a driver’s license to anyone who could walk up to the counter and ask for one in any of the world’s many languages. No proof of citizenship or residency or literacy or even proof of birth.

Someone finally noticed that there were more licenses given out than we have citizens. There has been a travel program, a fly/drive through system that has allowed illegal aliens from everywhere to come into Washington for a few days, pick up a driver’s license and head to their desired state where the ID will help get them a job, an apartment, welfare, even a SS # and a bank account.

I personally watched a man who spoke no a word of English give the clerk an old, expired driver’s license from Guatemala and stand there until she handed him a valid Washington State license. No written or driving test, like the actual citizens sitting there waiting their turns to take the tests. She said, in an aside to several astonished citizens who questioned her actions, that she had to do it because she spoke no Spanish.

They really know how to fix things up here. The Seattle mayor, concerned that the lack of business sales taxes have hurt the City finances is fixing it by raising the city .parking rates to $4.00/hr.

Of course, that will just drive the buyers to the malls where parking is free on land the city does not own and the city center businesses who have already lost half their sales will continue to shut their doors. Pretty soon we will be paying $20.00 an hour to shop at the three stores left in the city.

The other day, the great thinkers announced that because they can’t manage the metro bus lines efficiently, we will be charged a new $40.00 fee when we renew our auto plates to pick up the slack.

The Citizens had voted in a measure that prohibits the State from adding taxes without voter approval, so they just add fees. In King County we now even have a special fee we must pay to get an official permit to bury our dead. Of course, with their usual efficiency, it could take weeks getting the needed permit. Bodies are backing up in funeral homes.

Another gang of thieves is adding another $30.00 fee to help their special deficits and now we are going to be paying around $5.00 per car to drive across the lake on a bridge we already paid for through tolls. This will send all the cars to the only other bridge or around the lake on already clogged roads. It should add an easy hour of commute time to and from the East side and down town Seattle. That is each way…

I begged my wife to let me go back to the Coachella valley and let me sit in the sun, watching the golfers go by. This economy is turning our politicians into crazy people who have an answer to every one of their failures. Take the money from the citizens while they still have a little left.

When we planned for our retirement, we made sure we had enough to last us until we die. We still do. We just have to die ten years sooner..

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

In Memorial

I don’t know.. Maybe it is just because I am getting older, but I am going to too many Memorial services lately. I just don’t like it.

Dr. Wendell Smith, our wonderful pastor for the last 16 years passed away recently after battling cancer for 6 years. Thousands of people from around the world showed up about a week ago to pay their respects and it was a mighty tribute to his life and legacy. I would have really preferred that they were all there to listen to one of his marvelous sermons. He was too young and will be greatly missed.

A few days ago, I went to the Memorial service of a dear friend of mine, John Parrott. John was a long time missionary in Mexico where he lived a poor peasant life, ministering to those around him. His skill as a mechanic kept many an old appliance, car, bus or truck running. He lived a servant’s life there as he shared the Lord along with his gifts of love, humor and grace.

John never tried to be the center of anything. He was always on the outside of the center, being a servant. When his mother became ill, John returned to this area and became not only a servant to her for the rest of her life, but also served Pastor Wendell as personal assistant, there to take on any assigned task with a joy in the doing.

John always had a hug and a kind word for anyone who crossed his path and his relationship with me was one of grace and gentleness, qualities I learned to blend into my own life through his example.

John was a serious diabetic and the disease ate away at him over the recent years, yet he never complained. He told another pastor that he could easily lay down on the sofa, close his eyes and slip into heaven if it were not that his mother needed him to care for her needs.

In late December, both John and his mother were in the hospital he was there because of her heart and John was there because the diabetes was starting to shut down his organs, as it had happened with my own sister, Judy.

On December 27th, during the mid-morning, John’s mother, Jean Peterson closed her eyes and went to heaven. Two hours later, in another part of the same hospital, John sighed deeply and slipped into heaven right behind his beloved mom.

A tenor sang the song, On Eagle’s Wings as we said goodbye to both Jean and John. The words here do not capture the joy in Christ we felt as we thought of them at home with Jesus.

And he will raise you up on eagle's wings,

bear you on the breath of dawn,

make you to shine like the sun,

and hold you in the palm of his hand.

Goodbye my dear brother. You made a difference in my life and the lives of all who knew you. Let it be said that you filled your life as a faithful servant of the Lord.