House Calls

I never dreamed I would require ‘Home Care’. For the last few weeks of his life, my good-friend neighbor, Doctor Richard Maley, had daily visits and soon needed full time. I do not think Dick wanted to live the remaining time of life in a Hospice facility. He passed away within hours of being taken there. I spent hours being trounced by Dick Maley in his brand of Gin Rummy. He and his wife will always be dear to me. I miss Dick, as you can tell. Dick was another of those who went above and beyond the ordinary. As a popular family doctor in Pittsburgh, PA, Dick made house-calls up until retirement. I found that to be most interesting, especially with the set hours of today’s medical profession. Dick answered the phone personally without suggesting a call to ‘911’. I thank GOD that I am not to the point of full-time medical assistance, but the few weeks I’ve experienced the ministry of my local nurses, I am very comfortable with whatever comes. I even like “occupational therapy” and that’s a HOOT, donchaknow. The next time you meet a nurse, say a thank you, for me. That’s what I get from My Box of Chocolates. AMEN

The Snarl of Television Choice

Here in my suite, other than my blog, my ‘adult’ coloring book, my 1/48 WW II model planes Ambassadorship, dominos and scheduling my Chorale and Old Time Radio rehearsals, I depend on my TV for news and entertainment. I chose a SmartTV and Roku as my basic source and it is good for old movies, but NewFlix is my favorite. I have an Antenna connection, but it stinks. Therefore, my dilemma….. By the time I include CBS, ABC, NBC, SLING for cable repeats and ESPN, my bill gets very near what basic Longview cable would cost. I already have phone/internet with them, so I’ can simplify my problem by utilizing their service. Unfortunately, Colonial Village does not provide anything other than an access point in my efficiency, so there is a cost. My initial goal was to cut down on cost from DirecTV, but by the time I ‘ad-on’, it’s about the same, besides, I miss my daily FOX NEWS fix of Charles Krauthammer. It will require a bit of ‘paring’ (like a plastic model kit every 60-days) to stay within my household budget, but it will be worth it, donchaknow. That’s what I get from My Box of Chocolates. AMEN


I live among those who have made America great. If we truly want to ‘make America Great Again’, perhaps we should look at these lives. My neighbors did the honorable thing every day..they worked for a living. They completed every job to the best of their ability and they never demanded anything of anyone because they earned what they needed and were satisfied with the results of their labor. I have mentioned some stories they have told, but one stands out today. His name is Charlie and he is 94-years-old. Well over 6-feet tall, Charlie has had a rough life, but he never complains. Charlie walks with a cane (sometimes with two canes if walking is difficult). He has a walker, but somehow that indicates ‘too much’ assistance to him. He lost his wife a few years ago and his home health nurse determined that his living alone had gone long enough, so they suggested Colonial Village. Charlie was one of the first to welcome me and we’ve become good friends. He doesn’t talk much about himself, but loves to tell stories and some of his stories are startling. Charlie’s father died when he was three. His mother needed his help in caring for his siblings. He had difficulty in school due to poor attendance. It took him three years to complete the fourth grade and upon completion, Charlie left school and took odd jobs. He discovered a knack for construction and became much in demand in construction of oil derricks. Up until he was eighty, he worked for companies all over the world. Just to think about how Charlie refused to give up thrills me. Men like Charlie are the ones we should honor. They have lived the American Dream and contributed to society without complaint. There are a lot of Charlies here and I refuse to let the opportunity to tell their stories slip away. Life’s Lesson is to Learn to Earn and DO IT to the best of our ability. That’s what I get from My Box of Chocolates. AMEN

The Wrong Seat

Our Dining Room here in Colonial Village is large. It must accommodate over one-hundred diners , at least four-to-a-table.  When I arrived, each table was numbered and even though I was told it was “open seating”, I soon discovered  tweren’t so.  Even though we are encouraged to join other residents at meal-time it just doesn’t happen.  Breakfast is very good, but there are just a few neighbors who eat in the dining room. Many have their meals delivered, but even then, the diners are few.  Lunch is the big meal and that’s when a new person will be met with “You Can’t Sit There”.  I’ve enjoyed breakfast with the same three men since the first day. At least two are the originals, Don is new and has taken the place of James I. Breakfast is enjoyed with Tom, James II, Don and myself. Then at Lunch, I enjoy a great meal with Don and Tom, joined by Lou and Art. We’ve been eating at the same table for a while and are on our best behavior around our lady, Lou. Don, Art and I are usually the only ones partaking of the evening meal. As an Ambassador, I try to be attentive to new arrivals and attempt to steer them away from tables that are ‘claimed’. It saves some feelings, especially when many of the old-timers are not the nicest when dealing with new-comers. Even at that, there are some couples who have been ‘chased’ away more than once. An empty chair does not a seat make, donchaknow. We get intolerant with age. I pray that I can resist, even though it be comfortable to dine with the same friends. That’s what I get from My Box of Chocolates.  AMEN

The REAL Reason

Today is more than new bonnets, egg hunts and the second annual visit to church. It should be called “New Life Day” for all Believers… because HE LIVES!

That’s what I get from My Box of Chocolates.   AMEN and AMEN

It Should Have Been Me

Pastor Adrian Rogers has suggested that the mountain where Abraham was to sacrifice Isaac is the same mount called Golgatha as well se the site of Solomon’s Temple. Many Theologians agree. I was inspired by a broadcast by the late Paul Harvey  around Easter time many years ago. I wrote this as part of a special Easter presentation while serving as Worship Leader at Desert Hills Church in Las Vegas. Here is the narration,  without the music inserts. I pray you can open and receive a blessing from it.

J Austin

Longview, TX  Easter 2016


Goin’ Home

I am living proof that you can ‘go home’ again. Home has meant a bunch of addresses in various cities, but it all began just about an hour’s drive north from where I live now. I’ve hanged my hat all over the place. I count 17, not including the 4-year tour from coast-to-coast. Now, here in Colonial Village, Longview, Texas, I plan to stay. I will go visit some, but for the most part, Apartment 140 is my final stop. I am excited to have plans to travel to Bryan one more time. In April, I hope to visit with a bunch of my first choir members at SFA, when they gather for their 57th Reunion. (They say it’s their 75th, but that’s probably their chronological age, donchaknow). This group of folks was actually Carl Best’s choir. He had done the preparation and I benefited. It will be interesting to see how many can make the event and how many recall that year in the ‘dungeon’ of SFA. I’ve heard from some and really look forward to seeing them again. As I recall, the Class of ’59 was outstanding and respectful. It was a difficult adjustment for those singers..from a Master Musician to me. It was simply a blessing for me. It was from that introduction, that I learned to love my job. I have shared that teaching was my reason for living. Even today, I still look for ways to share the truth as I know it, for the edification of the body. I make mistakes and get ahead of myself, but am trying to slow down and ‘wait’. That is the difficult part since I am a prone to be impatient and desire to get the ‘gettin’ on’. We are now beginning to rehearse a choral reading of one of the first radio broadcasts of “Father Knows Best” from 1950. I have a great cast of neighbors who have had very little experience, but a bunch of desire. TBA. If any of my 1959 choir is reading this, please make an effort to join us on April 28th. It will be a HOOT! I love to tell that story. It’s as heart-warming as the one about JESUS and HIS Love. That’s what I get from My Box of Chocolates. AMEN

The Inch Worm

Back in 1959, we had the privilege of taking the SFA A Cappella choir to New York City representing Texas’ Rotarians as official Texas Ambassadors to their national convention. I have shared all the hurdles we had to jump in order to appear with Dave Garroway on NBC’s “Today”. One of the songs we sang (without accompaniment) was “Inch Worm”. The lyrics of that beautiful composition are not necessarily true today. Not with “Core Curriculum” as practiced in many public schools. The first line of “Inch Worm” says, “Two and Two are Four, Four and Four are Eight, Eight and Eight are Sixteen, Sixteen and Sixteen are Thirty-two”. As I understand it, Core Curriculum has no ‘absolute’. Two and Two can be Nine if the student truly believes it to be. It all depends on his or her opinion, not on common sense. I am so glad that I was taught absolutes, aren’t you? I am so glad I was taught ‘right from wrong’. I am so glad that I was taught to have Faith as a personal choice. I am so glad that Mattie and Sam Austin brought me up in the way I should go and even though I traveled some wrong roads, I have returned to the right one. I am so glad that my Heavenly Father, GOD, has allowed me to make the right choice by gentle bumps. I am so blessed to know JESUS personally and through it all, have come to the realization that there is ONE TRUTH and that truth is revealed in GOD’s WORD. I am so glad that GOD created the Inch Worm, aren’t you? That’s what I get from My Box of Chocolates. AMEN

The Pattern for Living that makes Dying Easy

 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

A simple fisherman named Simon preached this formula for a full life.  It is in his second book, chapter 1. It all begins in Faith to which we add Goodness. To me that means to love everyone first, after Jesus, and save ‘me’ to last. Then to Faith and Goodness, we learn as much as we can about as much as we can, beginning with internalization of GOD’s WORD. Patience toward each other brings Self-Control that is necessary to see us through difficulties in an honorable fashion. From here we exemplify Godly Nature that cares for others without reservation and that then affords opportunity to truly Love one another. To me that is being Fearlessly Christlike, donchaknow.  That’s what I get from My Box of Chocolates.   AMEN

Thinking a bit Tacky

My Longview Doctor has me on a blood-pressure-home-daily machine. I usually take my daily around 7AM, but the other day I hadn’t done so and there was a lady’s voice that said, “Time to take your blood pressure”! I will do so at the right time from now on. I watched the NCAA tournament and note that my Aggies and my daughter’s nephew’s team (Cornhuskers) are advancing. I am convinced that my blood-pressure skyrockets when I watch sporting events, so since I have a pressure-taker, I am going to take it during the next Aggie game. I bet it goes stratospheric and sets off a bunch of response at the results terminal of the Home Health folks. Perhaps I should warn them of my experiment, but probably not. However the results may trigger emergency reponse and that would cause a bunch of neighbors’ blood pressure to peak alarmingly and that could be bad, donchaknow. So, I will probably not do the experiment, but am sure my blood-pressure will shoot up, regardless. I apologize to my very nice home health folk. They do not deserve a foolish prank. What is most concerning is that I even thought about doing it. I’d best get a model plane to construct since I’ve too much time on my hands. I bought an adult coloring book and it’s interesting, but little use since the colored pencils don’t have the color printed on them. Color blindness is a bummer! I may just color the silly thing anyhow. It’s supposed to be ‘restful’, donchaknow. I just wont put it on public display. That’s what I get from My Box of Chocolates. AMEN