Sunday, November 06, 2016

So Now is the Time

We are currently studying Isaiah in our Thursday night small group meetings.  We use a workbook written by Howard Peskett to help with our meeting.  Each week we read the preface to the chapters we will be reading that week. After reading the chapter or chapters we answer questions and sometimes asked to do other things to help our understanding. This week we read Isaiah 5 and the last thing we were asked to do was "Write a short poem on the state of your society."  Here is my poem.

Babies dying
Countries are burning
Politicians lying
No one discerning
When will we learn, there's no time for beer
For it is written, the time is quite near
The Good Lord is coming, he soon will be here
So now is the time to believe without fear



Thursday, September 22, 2016

Are There Any Joys?

     Last night at the end of choir practice Heather (as always) asked "Are there are any prayer requests?" and then "Are there any joys?".  That is just one reason why I enjoy choir practice.  That just settles me at a bit the end of each Wednesday.
     Well this time when she asked about joys, I blurted out "I parred number five at Exeter!"  Oh the groans from other choir members.  One said we don't pray for golf.  I felt embarrassed.  So, I said  just kidding, don't pray for that joy.  It's just golf.  (The problem with being a jokester/kidder, is that people rarely know when you are serious.)
     I was serious.  In reality it was much more than golf.  It was and is a true joy to me.  Here's why:
     Sixteen months ago I was laying in the hospital with eight newly installed screws and four rods in my lower back.  I didn't know how it all would work out.  I didn't know if I would ever golf again.  The doctor had just told me there was nerve damage in my left foot and I would probably have numbness in it.  Inside I was terrified.  Outside I was optimistic and positive.  I didn't wand Diana or the kids to worry.
     Fifteen months ago I could walk a couple hundred yards with the help of a cane.  I still didn't know if I would ever be able ever golf again.  I asked the doctors assistant about it and he said I probably would be able to golf, but I wasn't allowed to even try until a year after the surgery.
     So.....  Five months ago I went the Exeter Golf Course, joined in with the old men of the church and started by just putting and walking with them.  By then I was walking over two miles every morning at home and feeling pretty good, but still not sure about my back.  From then till now I had to relearn how to golf without the flexibility my back once had and at the same time trying not to hurt my newly repaired back.  It was't easy and isn't easy.
    This Monday I actually felt like a golfer for the first time in a couple of years.  I was swinging freely and felt loose.  So, on hole five, a four hundred yard par four which I have never parred before everything worked.  My drive was straight and went 200 yards.  My second shot was straight and went 180 yards.  My chip shot landed on the green and then I made a 30 foot putt for my par.  I finally felt like a whole human being again!  For the first time in a long time.  That was a joy!  A praise God for healing joy!  
     Fellow choir members, I understand why you thought I was being flippant about expressing joy about one little golf hole, but it had little to do with golf.  It had everything to do with the Grace of God's healing hands on my broken body.  I hope you understand.  I love every one of you.  Not joking either.


Saturday, April 09, 2016

Blogging

April 6, 2016  1:00 pm Pacific Time

I write in my blog from time to time.  Right now I'm sitting in an airplane somewhere between San Francisco and Minneapolis bored out of my mind and thinking.  Why do I write a blog?  Mmmmm, why DO I write a blog?

Do I have a profound gift for writing?  No.  Do I have special knowledge that no one else has?  No.  Am I  insecure in my place in this world?  Maybe, probably yes.  Do I have unique experiences no one else has had?  Yes.  Am I a unique, slightly crazy, bullshit laden creature who was raised in a lumberyard by a combination of crude construction workers, truck drivers, traveling salesmen and a workoholic father while at the same time learning to be civilized by my mother, grandmother and three sisters?  Yes!  For sure.

O.K.  I am qualified to write a blog.  I just have to be careful not to let facts and settled knowledge get in the way of my opinions and stories.  Nothing in my blog articles are lies or made up stories.  I may not remember things the same way others do and I may embellish a story a bit, but for the most part things are 100% true experiences of mine or just simply my opinion.

Another thing that helps in writing a blog like mine are the influences on my life.  Both the Lutterbein's and the Rowe's had some pretty good story tellers in them.  The most famous one was my Uncle Dick Lutterbein.  He was without a doubt the best story teller I have ever met.  He was funny and imaginable.  I never really knew if he was telling the truth or not, but I loved to listen.  His brothers and sister were not bad either.  My Uncle Frank Rowe is a pretty good story teller as well.  Of course he was a Methodist pastor, so was licensed and trained to tell stories.  I have to believe most of his were true.  My Grandpa Lutterbein actually used to be a public speaker about a hundred years ago.  Here is a picture of his brochure cover.





So, yes I enjoy my self indulging hobby and will continue to write my little blog.  I just hope someone likes it and will leave a comment or share a similar experience they may have had.
 


To the moon Alice!  

 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Life and Death

On Life and Death.

As I was watching a show highlighting the 2015 year in review, I couldn't overlook all the death and killing that occurred.  It happens every year.  Friends, relatives, acquaintances and millions of people you don't know die.  It's the most important part of life.  It's really the only thing we have to do.

Sometimes I think I'm too flippant about death.  When someone I love dies, I weep for a while.  I don't want to, but I do, but then I'm happy for them.  I guess I assume they are Christian and they are now in Heaven.  When other people die, I'm not moved much.  I've seen death my whole life.

When I was really young, Tommy Faber got sick and we never saw him again.  I think he had cancer.  I guess that was in the late 1950's.  It was never explained to us.  He just disappeared.  He died and went to Heaven.

Both my grandpas died when I was in elementary school.  They were old and that happens to old people I was told.  Grandpa Rowe was 62 and Grandpa Lutterbein was 65.  I'm 63.  Mmmmm.
 
Later when we were in elementary school a bunch of us neighborhood kids would play after school.  Just about every day Jeff Yarger, a high school kid, would walk by us on his way home from school.  He lived around the corner from us.  When he'd walk by and say "hello men", that made a bunch of little boys feel pretty good.  Well he graduated and went into the Air Force.  We were in junior high by then.  One day we found out he was shot down and killed in a place called Vietnam.  That was my first taste/understanding of real death.  That changed my life.  I got a small understanding about both death and war.

When I went to college I knew I didn't want to go to Vietnam.  There were news reports of all the killing and death every night on the nightly news.  I was terrified.  My class was in the army lottery. My number was 71.  That was not good.  Fortunately there was a deferment for college students.  All I had to do was keep a C average and I was safe for four years.  Those were the four years I fell.  Heavy drinking, daily use of marijuana, a rebellious spirit led me to attend a few anti war rallies and develop a general disrespect for all authority.  Somehow I did keep that  C average and got my degree in economics.  By then the war had ended and life went on.

Later in life our first son was born.  We were excited as we anticipated this his birth, but there were problems.  Brian William Lutterbein was born with multiple anomalies.  Heart, lungs, kidneys, a little of everything.  He was born on October 13, 1978.  His funeral was December 13, 1978.  I blamed myself because of my earlier lifestyle even though there was no medical evidence.  You never get over something like this, at least I haven't.  I needed help.  Family helped a lot, but this 6'5" angel tucked me under his wing and helped me get though it.  We would go drinking and shooting/hunting.  In a strange way killing birds and rabbits was good therapy and my old friend beer helped as well.  It took less and less of both as time went by.

My two best friends in high school lost a son as well.  Roal's son died in a car accident in high school and Bev's son died of a freak aneurism when he was in college.  I don't know how I would have survived either of those.  I had Brian less than two months and melted into a pile of mush.  They had there sons for 16 and I think 20 years.  I never had the intestinal fortitude to talk to either one of them about it.  Didn't think I could handle it.  Those boys are in Heaven.  I still pray for their parents.

My cousin John Rowe would light up any room he walked into.  We sometimes referred to John as crazy John because he was his own person.  He was a conscientious objector to the Vietnam war.  He had a great singing voice.  He later became a minister and lead crusades in Europe when he was in his 40's.  I loved John.  He was my favorite cousin.  I got a lot of his old clothes since he was a year older than me and always just a size larger than me.  John got colon cancer and died at age 49.  That was a tough on the whole family.  John was life itself and then he went to Heaven.

A few years later big Bob Farnham, my 6'5" angel I mentioned earlier, died suddenly.  This was another big hurt.  As far as I'm concerned, he saved my life 25 years earlier and then he went to Heaven.  I'm still good friends with his wife.  I have to mention Denise.  She was pretty important and contributed to my healing as well.

Both my grandmas died, grandma L was 91 and Grandma R was 102.  Grandma L was always my biggest critic and Grandma R was always my biggest fan.  They were old and it was time.  They both lived good long lives.  They went to Heaven.

My dad was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease when he was around 80.  He went down hill until he was finally blessed with death.  It was hard watching the slide.  Year after year getting worse and worse.  When he died I realized the good of death.  Love you dad.  You taught me things even when you died.  Hope to see you in Heaven someday.

My Uncle Dick Lutterbein was also my business partner.  He was a pain in my side for much of my business life, but I still loved him.  When dad died he was especially caring and helpful.  Dick had a bad habit of not stopping at stop signs.  He had a lot of health problems and outlived his doctor's prediction and may still be alive if it weren't for that stop sign.  I was the first one of the family to the hospital.  He died a few hours later.  He had a couple of his daughters, his friend Fran, Don Landel and I with him when he died.  He is the only person that I actually watched die.  I don't recommend it.  There were times I wondered if he would make it to heaven, but the last couple of years I knew him makes me believe that's where is.

My in laws died a couple of years apart.  Clair's death wasn't a big shock.  He had pretty bad dementia and was in a nursing home for a while.  He was 88.  Irene on the other hand was a shock.  In fact she was going to move to California with us.  Then all of a sudden her health went down hill and died in just a couple of months. It was suggested she didn't want to move so she went to be with Clair.  I loved both my in laws and I know they are in Heaven.

Finally my mom.  She died last winter.  She was 92.  It was time for her as well.  She suffered from dementia for several years.  In my mind she died a couple of years ago.  There was a person in that nursing home who looked like mom, but I couldn't find my mom.  We were glad for her when she died.  We celebrated life when both my parents died.

We are all going to die.  Embrace it.  There are a lot of ways to die.  Some people like to decide when and how to die.  After dad died I thought that might be a good idea, but after further consideration, I think I'll take what the good Lord gives me.  My goal in life is Heaven.  It's a hard job for us humans.  It doesn't just happen.  As my econ professor Paul Jersa used to say the day before a quiz "A word to the wise should be sufficient".

Good living to you.  

Friday, July 03, 2015

Surgery Again


 Eight weeks ago I had back surgery.  After years of pain, I finally went to the doctor.  After X-rays, therapy and an MRI, I was sent to a surgeon.  My back was actually worse than I thought.  I knew it was bad because a couple of months earlier I had to quit a round of golf after only playing twelve holes.

The surgeon used a bunch of medical jargon, but in the end I needed back fusion surgery.  I had four spots fused together in my lower back.  Now I have another nice looking scar.  This one is eight inches long.  Here are the post surgery X-rays.



Since my 55th birthday, I've had four surgeries.  I hope I'm done now.  Two knees, a shoulder, and now my back.  I can't help but wonder what is wrong with me.  Am I not eating right or something like that or is it just genetic?  I'm pretty sure the knees are genetic, but as far as I know I'm the first family member with the back surgery.

Never the less, I'm thankful for Dr. Aryan and his team.  I'm looking forward to a good recovery and moving on with my life without back pain.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Grandparents Have Emotions Too.

Our church here in Visalia has had a couple of kids with serious health problems recently.  Two different families.  As I heard about these kids and prayed for them.  I also prayed for the kids parents and grand parents.  You see I have some experience in this area.

Our first child, Brian William Lutterbein was born on October 13th, thirty six years ago.  I still remember the pain and horror of his problems and death two months later.  Everything was wrong with him.  He had no chance of living a long life.

As I remember that time I remember all the support and help we got from my parents and Diana's parents.  At the time I had no thoughts of the pain and hurt they were suffering with and enduring.  At the time I didn't understand that Brian's grandparents had feelings too.  I was thinking of Brian, Diana and myself.

It wasn't until I became a grandparent myself that I realized how emotional it is when a grandson is sick, or is having problems in school and how emotional it can be on a grandparent.  As a parent and grandparent; why can't I fix this thing or at least have the wisdom to say something to make everyone feel better? 

Grandparents are not magic.  They have no control over what happens.  It amazes me now how outwardly calm my parents and in laws were when Brian was slowly dieing.  They were so strong and supportive, but how were they on the inside.  From my experience as a granddad I know they were in a mess inside.  

God gives grandparents the ability to act strong and under control during times of high family stress.  That is a wonderful thing.  God seemed strong and almost cold when his son was crucified for us, but I'll bet he was suffering just like any other father would.  We are made in Gods image.  Through prayer and lifelong praying for others, we parents and grandparents somehow muster the strength to get through bad times.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that when you pray for a sick child, it would be helpful if you also pray for the child's parents and grandparents as well.  Not all prayers are answered the way we might think they should be, but I know prayers are answered.  I have felt and seen the power of prayers from people who have prayed for me.  Please pray for help when you or someone else needs it, but also offer prayers of thanks when good things happen to you through the grace of God.   Prayer helps all the way around.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Baseball, My Favorite Spectator Sport

I grew up in a pretty small town.  We had two stop lights, a k-12 school all on the same site, one full time policeman and the town team/high school/little league/pony league baseball field.  With everyone using the same field, it was busy all the time.  It was a pretty nice field too, and it was well lit for night games.  The town team played a lot at night.  There were bleachers on the first base side of the field and car parking on the third base side of the field.  People would sit in their cars all along the third base side of the field and when a good play was made or a home run hit everyone would honk their horns.  It wasn't uncommon for a car to get hit by a foul ball, but that didn't deter people from getting the best viewing parking spots.  Huck Zimmerman's mom ran the concession stand with her kids.  It wasn't much more than a mini storage shed with a flip up wood window and a couple of electrical outlets.  They served hotdogs, popcorn, candy bars, pop and coffee.

That baseball field was about fifty yards from the back of our house and my small bedroom had two nice sized windows and was on the second floor of the house.  At night it was like being at a baseball game.  The lights would light up my room.  With the windows up in the summer I could hear all the chatter of the players and the chears and moans of the fans.  When cars started honking I knew something good happened for the home team.  To this day I love to hear the "crack of the bat" when a ball gets hit.  

When I was a little older and finally got my own transistor radio, I'd have the Detroit Tigers on the radio at the same time as the local game was going on.  Listening to Ernie Harwell describe the game with the sounds from the local ball field was great.  Harwell was famous for the way he would call a game.  When a fan cought a ball he'd say " A fan from Gross Point cought the ball."  Every time it happen he'd say another town surrounding Detroit.  When a home run was hit he'd say "It's loooonnnggg gone!"  My favorite call was when someone was called for the third strike with out swinging.  He'd say " and he stood there like the house on the side of the road and watched it go bye."  Ernie Harwell is in The Baseball Hall of Fame now.  He was the greatest.

Growing up so close to the ball field, I was there all the time.  Watching games and even high school practices.  The high school coach gave me a broken bat from time to time.  I would take it home and my dad showed me how to fix them as long as they were not broken completely in two.  We would get some really small nails, Elmer's glue and electrical tape.  We would drill a little hole just a little shorter than the nail, squeeze some glue in the crack, put the nail in and the tape it up real good with the electrical tape.  When we were done, it was almost like new.  I know I never had to buy a bat to use, even though most of the ones we fixed were too big for me.  Sometimes I would take them back and show them to the coach.  He was probably just being nice, but he always acted like I had really done something good.

My baseball playing career started and pretty much ended in Little League.  I played three years in little league.  My first year I was terrible and was stuck playing right field.  I was a skinny little runt and hadn't developed many muscles.  It was a long season and the coach was a kid just a few years older than us.  He didn't have much patience with us.  My second year I had Huck Zimmerman as my coach.  Looking back, he was probably the best coach I ever had in any sport I played.  Huck wasn't a good student in school, but he was enthusiastic, kind, and just made me want to work hard and play better.  He moved me to first base and I started every game.  I actually made the all star team that year and was a pretty decent hitter.  I remember there was one kid I just couldn't hit.  His name was Chuck.  That kid had a really good fast ball and he struck me out every time except one.  That one time was the last game before the all star team was chosen.  He was pretty cocky and was trying to make me look bad.  He threw me a change up and I hit a home run off him to win the game.  I knew he was throwing the change up because he cocked his wrist differently and I was waiting on it.  Chuck and I were friends and that was the first time I could ever rub it in to him like he did to me so many times before.

Over the next winter, I started to grow taller and became a little more uncoordinated.  I tried out for Pony league, but got cut.  I was still young enough to play little league again, but was not nearly as good that year as the previous year.  The next summer I tried out for Pony League again and got cut again and thus ended my baseball career.  I didn't play baseball until I pitched slow pitch softball at college.  By then I was much bigger, stronger and a pretty good athlete.  I played soft ball until the age of thirty and loved it and was pretty good.  I was a pitcher the whole time and hit over 600, but couldn't hit a home run.  I just opened my stance and slapped the ball where there was a hole.  Strictly a singles hitter.  

Well now you know all about my illustrious baseball career.  The game I loved the most was the game I just coulded master as a teenager, but it's still the best game in the world.  Play Ball!!


This picture was my last year in little league.  I was the tall kid in the last row.  As you can see I had gone through quit a growth spirt and was way taller than the other kids.  Huck Zimmerman is on the far right.  I have really good memories of playing baseball as a young kid.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

There's A Song In My Heart.

After church this morning a friend of ours motioned us over.  Sally said I've met your daughter, I'd like you to meet my daughter.  She is from Fresno and her name is Katie.  As I shook Katie's hand I began to sing.  Kkkkatie Kkkatie, your the one the only one that I adore........when the Mmmmoon shines over the Cccow shed...........
She and her mom both seemed to enjoy my silliness.  I explained to them that my Dad sang to my Mom all the time when we traveled places.  Many of the songs were love songs.  Mom would sing with dad a lot as well.  My dad truly loved my mom and vice versa. 
It's funny as I get further removed from the lumber business my memories of my dad are more as my dad and less as my boss and later business partner.  For the last forty years of dad's life our relationship was a business one and most of those good memories of him as a father were pushed to the back of my brain.
My sisters probably wondered why I didn't give him more of a break on his little faults.  I think I was pretty hard on him and didn't appreciate him as a dad.  All he would ever talk to me about was business and I just accepted it as the way it was.  Enough of that.
I'm so thankful for my dad and I'm so happy that the memories of dad are surfacing to the top of my mind now.  Tell my why the stars do shine, Tell my why the ivy twines.  Kkkatie Kkkatie.  Bill Grogans Goat.  The horses run around with their feet upon the ground.  There were many more, I just can't think of them right now.  Some one will say something to me and it seems there is always a song that relates to the comment.  
There is a song in my heart.  Thank you dad.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Eleven Perfect Years

I think all Lutterbein's are born to be very competitive.  My dad and his two brothers and his sister were all that way.  I think they had no choice in the matter as It was instilled in them by their mother and father.
That being said they all tried to pass it on to their kids.  I know my dad certainly did.  Even something as simple as having kids with the best attendance records in Sunday School attendance.  I don't know about my sisters, but at one point I had eleven years of perfect attendance.  Do you remember the Sunday Schools pins for attendance?  There was a pin and then little hanging bars or schrools hanging off the pin.  Dad even made us wear them from time to time.  
You might ask, how can you do something like that.  As I remember it was something like this...  1. We weren't allowed to be sick.  2. We never went on vacations.  And 3. Even when we went to or from Grandma Rowe's house on a Sunday morning, he would find a Methodist Church in some town pull over and into Sunday School we would go.  At the time it was terrible.  My sisters and I hated it and I think the only reason we stopped was so when they give the little awards out we would always get/win the attendance awards.  Another victory for the Lutterbein family!
Now let's look at the bright side.  I'm sure going to Sunday School other places didn't hurt us at all.  It was also good for us to meet different people with different ideas and ways of doing things.  Our minds were in some ways opened up and expanded.  Finally it equipped us with the ability to meet and communicate with people we didn't know.  That in itself was worth the torture we felt.  Everywhere I go I easily meet people and love to talk to them with ease.  It's quite a gift form my mom and dad.
No matter how much I may complain I love my whole life.  God has blessed me.  I am very thankful for the Grace of God.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Playground Lumberyard

     In a previous post I mentioned how we would play in the old lumber shed and the old high school gym converted into a warehouse.  Those weren't the only places.  Lutterbein Lumber was a treasure trove of places to play and imagine adventure.

     Where do I start?  My dad ran construction crews and they layed bricks and blocks on those buildings.  To make the mortar they needed masons sand, lots of it sometimes.  There was always a pile of sand contained by three wood walls.  Whenever it would run a little low, dad would order another dump truck of sand.  Sometimes there was a little sand and sometimes it seemed like there was a mountain of sand.  It was a great place to play except it was also a cat litter box, but we over looked that small problem.

     In the back of the lumberyard there were wild strawberries growing all over the place.  In season it was fun picking and eating thosestrawberries.  There were really small and as I remember pretty sweet.

     Climbing on piles of lumber was our version of going mountain climbing.  We would use our imagination and reall have fun.  There was one day that the boy across the street had a pile of lumber tip towards him and trap him so he couldn't get out.  I still remember him screaming "I'm dying, I'm dying."  In reality he was just scared half to death.  He wasn't hurt at all.  We just unstacked a few dozen 2X4's and let him out.  No harm.  No foul.

     Speaking of fouls, we also had a grass basketball court nailed to the side of the lumber shed that had the walk across plank.  All the neighborhood boys would come over to play basketball.  We didn't have referees so there may have been a few fouls here and there.  Again, no one ever got hurt, we just had fun.  

     Dad and Uncle Dick were quite the promoters.  A few times they hired a company with an elephant and a monkey for a promotion.  A way to attract customers.  An elephant inside the retail store!  That was the neatest thing in the world.  How many people have been able to experience that?  What fun!

     One time one of my sisters (I won't say which one) was in the office playing.  She found a few sheets of "stickers" and thought it would be fun to past them to the office chair.  I imagine it was very pretty.  We were pretty much banned from the office from that point on.  Those stickers were postage stamps.

     In the back of the lumberyard where the strawberries were there were dirt driveways with deep ruts in them.  When it would rain those would fill up with water.  A few times when it was hot we would play in them.  Running and doing belly flops in them sliding from one end to another.  We were just like barnyard hogs wallering in the mud to stay cool.  To this day, I don't know why I didn't get in a lot of trouble over that.  Again, we were never hurt.  I can't imagine even thinking about letting my kids do half of what I did as a kid.

     I mentioned earlier that Dad and my uncle were promoters.  On another occasion they put a pen up in the north lumber shed and had a large pig put in it.  They had a hog wild sale!  People could enter to win the pig.  The good thing about it they had Pepsi put a Pepsi/Mountain Dew machine out there with paper cups.  We drank all we could get away with.  I think my friends and I drank up any profit that might have been made.

     It was another day back in the 1950's and 1960's.  We did things that parents would probably be charged with child endangerment today if they let their kids do.  Of course we didn't ask our parents if we could do any of this.  We were allowed to roam as we pleased.  There was little or no danger to any of us being allowed to do as we please.  I am thankful for the freedom I had.  We learned as much playing as we did in grade school.  Both parts were important to growing up.  I wouldn't trade it for the world.