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The Chair

Today's iv is something I ran across in my files as I began to look for material for upcoming Father's Day posts. This was so nice, I couldn't resist sharing it now.

a caned rocking chair

A man's daughter had asked the local minister to come and pray with her father. When the minister arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows. An empty chair sat beside his bed. The minister assumed that the old fellow had been informed of his visit.

"I guess you were expecting me," he said.

"No, who are you?" said the father.

"I'm the new minister at your church," he replied. "When I saw the empty chair, I figured you knew I was going to show up."

"Oh yeah, the chair," said the bedridden man. "Would you mind closing the door?"

Puzzled, the minister shut the door. "I have never told anyone this, not even my daughter," said the man. "But all of my life I have never known how to pray. At church I used to hear the pastor talk about prayer, but it went right over my head." "I abandoned any attempt at prayer," the old man continued, "until one day about four years ago my best friend said to me, 'Joe, prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus. Here is what I suggest: Sit down in a chair. Place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see Jesus on the chair. It's not spooky because he promised He would always be with us. Then just speak to him in the same way you're doing with me right now.'"

"So, I tried it and I've liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day. I'm careful though. If my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she'd either have a nervous breakdown or send me off to the funny farm."

The minister was deeply moved by the story and encouraged the old man to continue on the journey. Then he prayed with him and returned to the church.

Two nights later the daughter called to tell the minister that her daddy had died that afternoon.

"Did he die in peace?" he asked.

"Yes, when I left the house about two o' clock, he called me over to his bedside, told me he loved me and kissed me on the cheek. When I got back from the store an hour later, I found him dead.

"But there was something strange about his death. Apparently, just before Daddy died, he leaned over and rested his head on the chair beside the bed. What do you make of that?"

The minister wiped a tear from his eye and said, "I wish we could all go like that."

2 Corinthians 5:7 reminds us that "we walk by faith, not by sight."


"Today you and I are walking billboards, declaring either that the gospel is powerful and true or that it is weak and false. ... Am I really part of what Jesus does in people's lives, or am I part of some kind of culture?" - Dr. Drew Conley

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Do you ever feel like you're diagonally parked in a parallel universe?

Dangerous Hike and Freebies

Recently I received an e-mail with the subject line: Free lunch! Want to go? All our Thursday freebies and our thoughts about China that you'll read about below in our personal update made me take a second look at the e-mail. It was a series of outrageous pictures of a climb up a mountain in China, claiming that anyone who reached the top would eat a free lunch at a restaurant at the top. I checked with Snopes and found nothing to confirm or deny this claim. However, as I did other web searches, I found that there is quite a bit out there about the extremely dangerous hikes people can and do take on Mt. Huashan. Here are some of the pictures from the e-mail and from websites I found. I love to go hiking in the mountains, but I'm not sure this hike is my cup of green tea....

Here's a map to show where Mt. Huashan is located....

map with Mt. Huashan

Part of the climb is a pleasant ride in a gondola....

gondola ride on Mt. Huashan

Some of the sites I found stressed that the climb up Mt. Huashan is mountain hiking, not mountain climbing, which involves special equipment and knowledge. They also stressed that this particular hike is not for people not in shape, and Americans are surprised that the public is even allowed to do this - it's so dangerous!

Here are some pictures of what different parts of the "hiking trail" look like....

stairs cut into the rock

a walkway that seems to just float on the rock

Anyone care to go up this ladder...?

up a ladder

No one can say they don't warn the climbers....

standard disclaimers

Talk about walking the plank!

walking the plank

Watch your step! That's quite a drop!

girl walking the plank

guys walking the plank

I mean it - that's a really serious drop!

serious drop

Part of the climb is footholds cut into the rock and chains thoughtfully provided to hold on to....

footholds and chains

footholds and chains

footholds and chains

Be sure to stay on the staircase and hold on to the chains!

staircase to heaven

Since some parts of the trail make it difficult to pass people coming back down, someone has thought of providing two staircases - one for climbing and one for descending....

up and down stairs

As hard as this hike would be in nice weather, some people even take this hike in the winter, believe it or not!

climbing Mt. Huashan in winter

climbing Mt. Huashan in winter

Those who make it to the top of the five peaks are rewarded with some breath-taking views (as if they could still breathe once they got there!)....

The South Peak...

the South Peak

The West Peak (called the Playing Chess Pavilion)...

the West Peak

For those who can't get enough of this stuff, here's a website with stories from people who have done this hike (I'm not responsible for everything said on that site) - http://www.ssqq.com/ARCHIVE/vinlin27d.htm

So, anyone going to add this hike to your future travel and vacation plans?


Last Thursday we took advantage of several freebies or almost-freebies. First, we went to McDonald's for lunch. They were giving to each customer a free Southern style chicken sandwich with the purchase of a medium or large soft drink. We had eaten some vegetables before leaving the house to help round out our lunch. After lunch we took off for Costco - they were offering for several days the opportunity for non-members to get in for free. What I hadn't reckoned on was that the time of our shopping coincided very nicely with all the free samples of all kinds of things that further helped round out our lunch.

That evening after dinner at home, we made the mistake of taking Dunkin Donuts up on their offer for a free iced coffee. Dunkin Donuts coffee is one of my very favorite coffees, but their iced coffee was worth every penny I paid for it. The girls took only a couple of sips of theirs, but after doctoring mine up to the point it was palatable, I finished it off. After all, it was FREE, right?! I regretted it as I thought about that semi-wretched iced coffee off and on until 1:30 a.m. Did I mention that they weren't offering decaf iced coffee?

Did anyone else take advantage of any of these freebies last week?

Many have been asking if Becka and are going to China this summer to teach English again. Earlier this school year we rattled two different door knobs, thinking the Lord might open at least one of the doors. But that did not happen, so we know that He wants us here this summer. The dean at the university where we've taught two summers before said that they would love to have us come teach in 2009. So we will plan that way.

If you're new to my blog, you might want to check out some of our adventures from the summers of 2005 and 2006 that I chronicled on the blog. You can get to those posts by clicking on the China link in the tag cloud in the sidebar. There are many pages of posts to explore about our time over there.

People have been asking me for an update on the wren's nest in our bird house. Below is a shot I took this evening. You can see several little eggs in there.

house wren eggs in our bird house


"Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed there are many rewards, if you disgrace yourself you can always write a book." - Ronald Reagan

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Sign on high school bulletin board - "Free: every Monday through Friday. Knowledge. Bring your own container."

E-mail Promises

E-mail can certainly be a blessing or a bane, can't it? A lot of my readers enjoy reading my blog posts by e-mail - which I hope is a blessing most of the time. One of the banes of that for me, though, is that most of those readers rarely, if ever, visit the blog itself.

When I first started posting my iv's to the blog instead of sending them out by e-mail, I still sent an e-mail reminding people that I had posted something new. That little blessing became a bane to me when I started receivning literally hundreds of bounces each time I sent the reminders. Those who actually received the e-mails, would visit the blog, and would make frequent comments to the blog posts. That was great fun for me and for the other readers.

When I learned that FeedBurner had the capability of sending the entire blog post by e-mail, it was a great option, with no bounces to deal with - but the comments have nearly dried up! I'd like to remind those of you who receive the e-mail version that there are several links in the e-mail itself that will take you right to the blog or the blog post. The words "latest post to ivman's blague" in the body of the e-mail are a link to the blog. Clicking on the title of the post (in this case - "e-mail promises") will take you the post itself ... and the comment section is right at the bottom of the post, just waiting for you to add yours! 😀 Also in the footer of the e-mail is a link to the blog - just be careful not to click on the link to unsubscribe yourself.

Sorry to whine, but I'd like to get some fun feedback from this whole iv thing. Anyway, on to today's iv - a 12-step program for compulsive e-mail forwarders....

THE FORWARDER'S 12-STEP PROGRAM (feel free to pass this on to needy friends...)

OK, everyone say the following with me...

1. I will NOT get bad luck, lose my friends, or lose my mailing lists if I don't forward an e-mail.

2. I will NOT hear any music or see a dancing dog, if I do forward an e-mail.

3. Bill Gates is NOT going to send me money and Victoria's Secret doesn't know anything about a gift certificate they're supposed to send me, if I do forward an e-mail.

4. Ford will NOT give me a 50% discount, even if I forward my e-mail to more than 50 people.

5. I will NEVER receive gift certificates, coupons, or freebies from Coca Cola, Cracker Barrel, or anyone else if I send an e-mail to 10 people.

6. I will NEVER see a pop-up window if I forward an e-mail ... NEVER ... EVER!

7. There is NO SUCH THING as an e-mail tracking program, and I am not dumb enough to think that someone will send me $100 for forwarding an e-mail to 10 or more people!

8. There is NO kid with cancer through the Make-a-Wish program in England collecting anything! He did when he was 7 years old. He is now cancer free and 35 years old and DOESN'T WANT ANY MORE POST CARDS or GET-WELL CARDS.

9. The government does not have a bill in Congress called 901B (or whatever the e-mail creator named it this week) that, if passed, will enable them to charge us 5 cents for every e-mail we send.

10. There will be NO cool dancing, singing, waving, colourful flowers, characters, or program that I will receive immediately after I forward an e-mail. NONE, ZIP, ZERO, NADA!

11. The American Red Cross will NOT donate 50 cents to a certain individual dying of some never-heard-of disease for every e-mail address I send this to. The American Red Cross RECEIVES donations.

12. And finally, I will NOT let others guilt me into forwarding e-mails by telling me that if I don't forward their e-mail, I am not their friend, that I don't care about people, or that I don't really love the Lord!

but you promised....

Is that a picture of Rob the ivman waiting for comments to the blog?) :-)

Having our daughter Megan and grandson Drew here this week has been a lot of fun, but as always happens - the week seems to have evaporated! And what a week for our digital camera to go haywire!!! Never fear ... Megan brought hers and is a scrapbooker, and some will recall that we lovingly call our daughter Nora the "baby paparazzi." So we've been anything but deprived of digital images! 😀

I'll describe briefly some of the highlights of the week. One evening we went strawberry picking. Here are a few shots from that.

Our personal favorite for berry picking is Sandy Flat Berry Patch...

we *love* Sandy Flat

Nora got this picture of the rest of us, posing nicely...

berry pickers

Drew looks like he's wild about strawberries, which is not at all the case...

our little guy is indeed the berries

We think he's the berries, though!

We enjoyed a nice afternoon at the Greenville Zoo on Tuesday. Nora brought the three pre-schoolers she nannies, and we all had a nice time with pleasant weather.

Here are a few pictures from that adventure...

Megan and Drew by the zoo sign

Here's a shot of Nora and her charges...

Nora and kids

Drew wasn't sure he wanted to sit on the bear's back, and tears started to well up in his eyes...

he could hardly bear it


"You can't live both devoted to sin and wanting deliverance from it." - Dr. Drew Conley

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Some people don't get even. They just get odder.

The Husband Store

Well, wedding season is already in full swing. Since we are in a university context, we are invited to many weddings. This past week we had two weddings - one Tuesday evening where I sang in a duet, and one Friday afternoon - the wedding of a teaching colleague.

We're excited for all these young couples as they begin their lives together, but we're also saddened to learn of some young couples who are working through marital problems. I believe that most if not all problems in marriage have their root in selfishness on the part of one or both spouses. I think some of the problems stem from unrealisitic expectations - expecting that any one human can be your source of happiness.

Today's iv is a light-hearted look at this issue.

The Husband Store

A store that sells husbands has just opened in New York City, where a woman may go to choose a husband. Among the instructions at the entrance is a description of how the store operates:

You may visit the store ONLY ONCE! There are six floors and the attributes of the men increase as the shopper ascends the flights. There is, however, a catch ... you may choose any man from a particular floor, or you may choose to go up a floor, but you cannot go back down except to exit the building! So, a woman excitedly goes to the Husband Store to find herself the perfect husband....

On the first floor the sign on the door reads:
Floor 1 - These men have jobs and love the Lord.

The second floor sign reads:
Floor 2 - These men have jobs, love the Lord, and love kids.

The third floor sign reads:
Floor 3 - These men have jobs, love the Lord, love kids, and are extremely good looking.

"Wow," she thinks, "I should probably stop here!" But she feels compelled to keep going.

She goes to the fourth floor and reads the sign:
Floor 4 - These men have jobs, love the Lord, love kids, are drop-dead good looking and help with the housework.

"Oh, my goodness!" she exclaims, "I can hardly stand it!"

Still, she goes to the fifth floor and sign reads:
Floor 5 - These men have jobs, love the Lord, love kids, are drop-dead gorgeous, help with the housework, and have a strong romantic streak.

She is so tempted to stay, but she goes on up to the sixth floor where the sign reads:

Floor 6 - You are visitor 4,363,012 to this floor. There are no men on this floor. This floor exists solely as proof that some women are impossible to please. Thank you for shopping at the Husband Store. Watch your step as you exit the building, and have a nice day!

The Wife Store

There is actually also a Wife Store, right across the street from the Husband Store. It works the same way as the Husband Store - it also has 6 floors, you can enter only once, and there is only one direction to go.

The doors read:

Floor 1 - These women are beautiful.

Floor 2 - These women are beautiful and have money.

What is on the other floors, nobody knows. No man has ever gone past the second floor!


Megan and Drew arrived safe and sound shortly after noon on Saturday. Drew did very well on his first flight. We decided to surprise Nora by celebrating her birthday a month and a half early since we wouldn't all be together on her actual birthday. That's about the only way we could ever surprise her. :-) Here she is blowing out the candles on her keylime cheesecake....

Nora blowing out her candles

Of course Becka enjoyed having our three kids and our grandson here for Mother's Day. Here's a picture of our little guy on our kitchen floor this morning. I'm sure there will be more pictures to share later this week.

Drew playing on the kitchen floor

The house wrens have been busily filling the bird house with sticks. Here's what things looked like inside the house this morning....

the nest the wrens are building

Here's what this bit of "prime real estate" looks like from the outside...

local prime real estate

Who says there's a housing crisis?!?


"There are five Gospels: Matthew Mark, Luke, John, and the Christian, and some people will never read the first four." - Irish evangelist Gypsy Smith

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Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.

Kid Speak

The other day, a friend and I were exchanging the latest news on each of our respective first grandchildren. Her granddaughter is talking a little, but not everything is comprehensible. This next week we'll find out what our little guy can say now. He jabbers a lot, but not many understandable words. This friend was telling me about a little boy in her family who was recently at the beach. His mom put a tank top on him so that he didn't get badly sunburned. He'd never worn a tank top before, and his comment was "Shirt broke!"

This got me to thinking about all the cute things our kids said when they were little - things like Megan's being upset about the dirt on her "hand-elbows" (knuckles) or Nora's requesting "a Nora-spoon" - leaving us scratching our heads as to what was wanted. She was trying to tell us she wanted a metal spoon, not plastic, since she could see herself in the metal spoon. When Mark was little, he was obsessed with getting big. One day Becka asked him if he'd like a little milk, to which he indignantly replied, "No, I want BIG milk!" I'm sure your kids have said some great things too. Please post some as comments.

I'd like to post one last thing related to Mother's Day this week. Today's iv is focused on the child's side of the equation. Several of the short quips highlight some cute things children are reported to have said, and several relate some heart-warming things kids have said.


While working for an organization that delivers lunches to elderly shut-ins, a woman used to take her four-year-old daughter on her afternoon rounds. The child was unfailingly intrigued by the various appliances of old age, particularly the canes, walkers, and wheelchairs. One day the mother found her daughter staring at a set of false teeth soaking in a glass.

As she braced myself for the inevitable barrage of questions about the dentures, she was surprised when her daughter merely turned and whispered, "The tooth fairy will never believe this!"


A couple had spent the day moving from their farmhouse into their new house in town. They were too tired to try to meet neighbors on moving day and collapsed into bed late that night.

Very early the next morning, their 3 year old ran into their bedroom to wake them up. The mother dressed him and told him to play in the yard and to let them sleep. About 20 minutes later, he came running back. "Mommy, Mommy," he exclaimed, "everybody has doorbells - and they all work."


Finding one of her students making faces at others on the playground, Mrs. Smith stopped to reprove the child gently. Smiling sweetly, the teacher said, "Bobby, when I was a child, I was told that if I made ugly faces, it would freeze and stay like that."

Bobby looked up and replied, "Well, Mrs. Smith, you can't say you weren't warned."


Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once talked about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child. The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there.

When his mother asked him what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, "Nothing. I just helped him cry."


Teacher Debbie Moon's first graders were discussing a picture of a family. One little boy in the picture had a different color hair than the other family members. One child suggested that he was adopted and a little girl said, "I know all about adoptions because I was adopted."

"What does it mean to be adopted?" asked another child.

"It means," said the girl, "that I grew in my mommy's heart instead of her tummy."


A little 10 year old named Sarah was born with a muscle missing in her foot and must wear a brace all the time. She came home one beautiful spring day to tell that she had competed in her school's "field day." Because of her leg support, her father's mind raced as he tried to think of some encouragement for Sarah - things he could say to her about not letting this get her down. But before he could get a word out, she said, "Daddy, I won two of the races!"

The father couldn't believe it! But before he could say anything, she continued, "I had an advantage."

Ah, ha - he knew it - he thought she must have been given a head start ... some kind of physical advantage. But again, before he could say anything, she said, "Daddy, I didn't get a head start. My advantage was I had to try harder!"


In New York City, on a cold day in December a little boy about 10 years old was standing before a shoe store, barefooted and peering through the window, shivering with cold. A lady approached the boy and said, "My little fellow, why are you looking so earnestly in that window?"

"I was asking God to give me a pair of shoes," was the boy's reply.

The lady took him by the hand, went into the store, and asked the clerk to get half a dozen pairs of socks for the boy. She then asked if he could give her a basin of water and a towel. He quickly brought them to her. She took the little guy to the back part of the store, removed her gloves, knelt down, washed his feet, and dried them with a towel. By this time the clerk had returned with the socks. After placing a pair of socks on the boy's feet, she purchased him a pair of shoes. She tied up the remaining pairs of socks and gave them to him. As they turned to leave the store, she said, "Well, little fellow, are you more comfortable now?"

The astonished lad caught her by the hand, and looking up in her face with tears his eyes, answered her question with another question, "Are you God's wife?"


"To handle yourself well, use your head. To handle others well, use your heart." - Eleanor Roosevelt

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People who say they sleep like a baby obviously don't have one.