Posted by Big Papa | | Posted On Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 5:35 PM

Doing some cleaning in my office today and found this note in the back of a book.

Boy, had I known at the time!!! ------ I never in my wildest dreams would have thought that we would be blessed with all that we have.  God has been so good to us.

The Rest of The Small Town Story

Posted by Big Papa | | Posted On Sunday, October 28, 2012 at 8:01 PM

So a week after my trip to North Vernon I find myself heading back to deliver a proposal to my prospect.  Verna took a couple days off work which allowed us to spend the weekend at James & Shel’s helping Dave & Whit on their addition.  Verna decided that she would go with me to North Vernon on Monday and that we could then leave to head home from there.
I dropped her off in downtown North Vernon and told her that I would pick her up in about an hour.  She went to an antique shop, an old hardware store that could have also been labeled an antique store, and also to an Army surplus store.
The Army Surplus store is where my story starts, the first part as told to me by Verna.
She goes into the Army Surplus store and finds something that she wants to buy but when she gets to the counter she realizes that she doesn’t have her wallet.  She starts laughing and the store owner gives her in inquisitive look as to what’s so funny, so she proceeds to tell him of my experience at the restaurant just down the street. 
They have quite the conversation about the time he spent in the Army, and how he enjoyed coming back to his hometown to start up his business.  He also tells about how the lady that owns the restaurant always brings extra food to the neighboring store owners.  During this conversation Verna gets my call that I’m back in town and ready to go to lunch and head home.  She comes out and gets her wallet and goes back in and settles up with him.
We then go into the Hoosier Street Grill for lunch.  The Monday special is Lasagna or Spaghetti,   The same lady that waited on me on my first visit comes to take our order and she says,  “you can have both if you want”  we both declare that would be great, as we didn’t know which we wanted.  It’s not long till we are both staring at a huge plate of delicious food of which we are doing good to eat about half of it. 
The waitress comes by with boxes so we can take it home, and just like on my previous visit she tells us that its $7 a plate and we can just leave the money on the table, when we get ready to go.  I stop her and remind her of my earlier visit.  She laughs and said “Oh we get people in here all the time who don’t have money to pay and I always tell them to come back later and pay.  Some do and some don’t”  I ask her if she is the owner, and she tells us that 12 years ago, her and her husband opened the restaurant and how much they have enjoyed having it.  The conversation then leads to how much I enjoyed my visit to North Vernon earlier, and how I was looking forward to bringing Verna with me so she could see the town also.  Then Verna tells her of her experience with not having her wallet when she went to buy something at the Army Surplus store,  and we all chuckle and I comment about how it must be something about the town that causes us to misplace our money.  We all laugh again and she finishes off our conversation with the jovial comment “Well you must be like a modern day Bonnie and Clyde coming to town to take advantage of the small town folks”

Small Town USA

Posted by Big Papa | | Posted On Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 5:20 AM

I’m sure any of you that have been around me much since I changed jobs have heard me say that every time I go out to I-65 and turn South instead of North I get a smile on my face.  I’ve said this many times and don’t intend to slight any of my friends and family that live North of us.  I do very much enjoy traveling North for opportunities to visit with you.  However the times like I am about to tell you about just can’t not be duplicated in the stress-filled environment of my old sales territory.

Following is how the story unfolds:  Tuesday I traveled to North Vernon, a southern Indiana town about the size of Lowell, to meet with a customer to tour their foundry and survey their needs for some new equipment.  We had a good meeting and I learned a lot about his needs that we will be able to help him with.  I ended our meeting at around 11:15 with an offer to take him to lunch, but he took a rain check and said maybe next time.  I decided to drive back into the old downtown area to see if I could find a local place to eat.  Like many small towns the downtown area had a lot of vacant store fronts and not a lot of activity but I did see several cars parked in one area of the downtown as well as a couple people entering an old building on the corner.  It was the Hoosier Street Grill.  I decided why not, I’ll give them a try.  The two adjoining storefronts were old but clean and nicely decorated with local pictures, a few antiques sitting around and an old projection type TV sitting in one of the showroom windows facing the diners with CNN playing.  The waitress was rather busy covering the 20-25 tables, which were probably about 2/3 full, by herself.  She handed me the two page menu that had sandwiches on one page and all you can eat daily specials on the other.  Tuesday was fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn and biscuits.  My order was simple “I’ll have the special”  It wasn’t long before I had a platter with half a chicken on it with all the fixins and yes it was good home cooking.
So…I’m done eating and taking a few minutes to check email on my phone when the waitress, whom by now I am suspecting is the owner, comes to see if I need anything more to eat.  I tell her no I’m fine and compliment her on the food.  She says “It’s $7.00 and you can leave the money on the table or when you’re ready just bring it over to the counter in the adjoining room.  As she is walking away I stretch out and go to reach into my pocket to get my money out saying “$7.00 I’ll see if I have that much” only then realizing that I don’t have my money clip.  With nothing to leave on the table I go next door to the counter and tell her “You know I was kidding when I said I’ll see if I have that much, but guess what I don’t.  I must have left my money clip on the table at home.”  She immediately follows with “Oh that’s OK just bring it in later”  I say “No, do you take credit cards?”  Again she says “just bring it in later.”  I say “I’ve got a $100. bill rat-holed in my wallet if you can break that.”  She says “I can break it but you don’t have to pay now if you don’t want to, just bring it in later”  I dig my rat-holed money out and happily pay her thinking to myself, that’s why I love this new job and the places that it takes me.  Life is still good in small town America.

On a side note:  I went to Wikipedia to see how North Vernon compared in size to Lowell and see that the Mayor of North Vernon is Harold “Soup” Campbell.  I’m thinking that with a mayor like that how can the restaurants in town not be M'm! M'm! Good! M'm! M'm! Good!,


Posted by Big Papa | | Posted On Friday, February 24, 2012 at 4:55 PM

Just one day short of six months from the time we welcomed, and way to quickly said goodbye to our seventh grandchild, Delia Jean, Verna and I find ourselves driving to Minnesota to welcome our eighth grandchild Aelah Mae into this world.  I'm about half way through the book "I Will Carry You", that Verna had read and recommended for me to read, when I come across the following Bible passage and the author's comments listed below.  Credit God in 2 Samuel and Angie Smith for these words of comfort as we go through these times of great joy and heavy sorrow.

God's Word:
19 David noticed that his attendants were whispering among themselves, and he realized the child was dead. “Is the child dead?” he asked.
“Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.”
20 Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate.
21 His attendants asked him, “Why are you acting this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!”
22 He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ 23 But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”
 Angie Smith's comments:
She will not return to me.
Six words that will shape every one of my remaining day on Earth.
It was a season that was cut short, and we continue to grieve the loss of what she would have been.  Yet we also believe that David’s words bring unspeakable hope and remind us that we do not wait in vain.  No, she will not come back to us.  But the Lord has gifted us with the rest of the story. His Word is water to our thirsty souls, and we drink deep of the promise He has made to us.  If you have walked the valley of grief, or are walking it right now, I want you to know that I don’t have the answers.
I wholly believe that He is real and that He is in control.
I believe He is working everything in my life, and your, for good.
I believe He can.
But if He didn’t
I stand beside you in spirit, weeping, and I pray for the promise of eternity to be carved deeply, unmistakably, into the very fiber of your hurt.  Do you believe that the Lord is who He say He is and that He has accomplished what He say He has accomplished?  If you do, then know that you are walking a road that leads to Him and to your precious lost children.
No, they will not return to us.
But one day, not so far from now, we will go to them.

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Posted by Big Papa | | Posted On at 12:26 PM

Camp Lutherhaven's New Cabin Project

Posted by Big Papa | | Posted On Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 3:50 PM

The last three weekends we've tried to spend as much time as possible in Southern Indiana helping James and Shel on their house.  I love that type of work and have really enjoyed the time there.  However I received an email from Jim Berning asking for volunteers to help with the construction of the first of several new cabins being planned at Camp Lutherhaven.  I told Verna I thought I needed to give some time to Camp also, so Friday afternoon I left to ride my motorcycle over to Camp. I planned on spending the night and helping with construction on Saturday.  Before I left I told Verna that there was only one thing better than a motorcycle ride and that was a motorcycle ride to camp.  I had a great ride over there the fall colors along route 24 were spectacular.

This is what we started with early Saturday morning.  A good sized crew with a slab and a pile of lumber.

By the end of the day this is what we had come together.  It's actually going to be three cabins under one roof.

By the end of the day the crew had shrunk down to only four of us left and I was thinking that I needed to get on the road headed back to Lafayette, but I stuck around and helped clean-up and pick-up all the tools.  Before I left I jokingly commented to Jim that I was going to head of into the sunset.  As soon as I got out on the open road I was immediately rewarded with one of the best sunsets that I've seen in quite some time.  I thought to myself that I should stop and take a picture, but then I thought no this is my reward from Delia just between me and her, kind of like she was saying "Thanks Papa I know some of my cousins will enjoy that new cabin one of these days.

Oh yea, before I left I texted Verna to let her know I would be on my way.  I sent a message saying the only thing better than a motorcycle ride is a motorcycle ride that leads me back to you!  She replied yea, yea.  Not so sure that she believed that line, but it was great to be back home in a warm house.

Delia Jean Rockhill

Posted by Big Papa | | Posted On Monday, August 29, 2011 at 9:01 AM

It is with a heavy heart today that I think about God finishing the chapter about our dear Granddaughter's time here on earth. 8 months is such a short time for her to have made such an impact on our lives. Of course we are very saddened by the loss that we've experienced but the optimist in me won't let me stay sad for long as it amazes me to look back over this time and see how evident it was that God was very much present through this whole ordeal. Time and time again things would just fall into place and just work out better than if we would have been trying to make our own plans.


The service for Delia was amazing and just one of the many things that will live on in our memories of this special child of God.
I feel honored to have been able to have a small part of it with her eulogy and I just wanted to share that small part with those who were not able to attend.


HI, for those of you who may not know me my name is Mike Vandercar, I am Michele’s father.  I’m also proud to say that I am Papa to six lovely granddaughters and one grandson, I’m still hopeful of that boy girl ratio being improved as my wife Verna and I are anxiously awaiting the arrival of another grandbaby early next year.

My grandchildren have gotten to know me as quite a storyteller which I enjoy very much even though I can’t get Levi to believe all the stories I tell them.

With this said I would like to tell a true story to my newest Granddaughter Delia.   Some of you may already know this story but I would welcome you to listen in, for if this story had not unfolded the way that it has we would not be here today.

Once upon a time there were  two young people we will call them Mike, the son of Robert & Helen Jean Vandercar, and Verna the daughter of Albert & Verna Elser, my mother-in-law who I’m happy to say is with us here today.  One day Mike said to Verna “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” and asked her to marry him.  She said Yes, “I Will”.

The next thing you know they had three sons, Joshua, Luke & David.  Just when they thought that their family was complete God surprised them with another child, Michele, affectionately known to me as “Michele My Belle”  and what a blessing she was to this young family.

Mike went off to work and Verna stayed home to raise their family, that’s what you did in those days.  Michele’s dream for the future was to grow up and be a Mom just like her Mom.  Seasons passed until one day Michele met the love of her life one summer at Camp Lutherhaven.  This relationship flourished and faltered but eventually took root and lead us to August 2, 2008 one of the most bittersweet days of our lives as we gave up our little girl to James Rockhill so that they could start their new life together.

Again time marched on as it always does and soon Michele & James announced that they were going to add to our list of grandchildren and the next thing we knew we were headed to Georgia to welcome Eliza June into this world.

After several visits to Georgia we got the news of a deployment to the other side of the world and shortly after that news of more grandbabies on the way in Indiana, Minnesota and Korea.  Unfortunately as my father once said “God does not always want the old dried up flowers, sometimes he takes the first blooms”  We lost our Minnesota grandbabies as some of the first blooms and shortly thereafter learned of the plans that God had in store for Delia also.

As heartbreaking as this was for us the many “Words of Love” shared has helped us to remember that this is truly God’s plan and even though we do not and may never know his purpose we will openly accept it and “With a Little Help From My Friends”, which I’ll paraphrase to say with a lot of help from our dear friends and family, we will persevere and get through these troubling times.

Now I would like to direct my words towards my newest Grandbaby Delia,  Oh how I wish that I could hold you on my lap and tell you how much your Mommy and Daddy love you and how much they have done for you but it is not to be.  I will have to rely on my dear friend Jesus to hold you on his lap and tell you a true story of the best Mommy and Daddy that he gave to you.

Delia please know that Nana and Papa love you very much and are looking forward to meeting you and spending eternity with you in God’s house.