I know it’s dumb to text while you drive, but how about playing the harmonica?  Yes, that is my guilty vice! 

I am a harmonicalist. (Is that even a thing?)  Most people enjoy my harmonica playing (at least that’s what they tell me to my face). 

Harmonicas are expensive and somewhat fragile.  It’s easy to bend a reed, causing a note to sour. 

But I extend the usefulness of a wounded instrument by storing it in my car to use for practice – when I drive.  While other cars vibrate with an earth-shaking hip hop bass line, mine skips along to O Susanna. 

It was a pleasant summer day as I cruised the city streets – left hand on the wheel and right hand moving my mouth harp to and fro.

I had to make a rolling right turn.  Both hands were necessary, so I left the harmonica between my lips.  I abruptly jerked my head to the left to check for oncoming traffic and as I did the harmonica launched from my mouth, out the window and onto the street. 

Now I am a frugal man – my wife says “cheap.”  I had to get that mouth harp back, so I pulled over and went to retrieve it.   But alas another car had come along and run over my harmonica reducing it to a metallic pancake.

This is a sad but absolutely true story – and yet a story with a moral: “Don’t ever take a harmonica with a bad note for granted, or the whole thing might go flat.” 

Speaking of launching things – we are ready to greet a new year.  How shall we proceed? 

The apostle Paul had this to say, “Therefore consider carefully how you live—not as unwise but as wise, taking advantage of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”   Eph 5:16-17 NET Bible ®

This year we need to live carefully.  We can’t take anything for granted To care, is to give something serious thought.  Webster says, “painstaking or watchful attention.” 

This may be a good time to look at way we spend our money and how our time is allotted.   Is that enormous mortgage on your gigantic house worth the money and slavish time spent to maintain it?  Couldn’t you do something more significant with your money?   Wouldn’t you enjoy life more by downsizing and simplifying?   

Maybe we should think about the relationships we pursued and the ones we neglected?   Don’t your kids deserve more time than your fishing buddies?   Does Jesus wait in vain each Sunday to see you come through the church door?

Once the inventory is done, we need to act.  Paul called it “taking advantage of every opportunity.”   I prefer the way the sages of old put it in the King James, “redeeming the time.”

Hey, we don’t have forever.  As a Hospice chaplain I am acutely aware of this.  Our days are numbered, and we have only so much time to get it right. 

A few months ago, I happened to glance at my fingers and noticed they were wrinkled.  I was genuinely shocked to see this unwelcome sign of aging.   Oh, I have had white hair since I was 40 and the arthritis pain in my neck complains, but it was my fingers, ever before me that just seemed to scream out my age.

I was prompted to ask, “What do I really want to do with the time I have left?”  I have worked an average of 55-60 hours a week since I was 18.  My sweet wife has never whimpered the first complaint.  My kids were amazingly patient and still love me for some reason.

But I think it’s time to redeem the time.  This year I have decided to work less and do family more.  Thanks to my parents who were also frugal, my siblings and I were left with a modest inheritance.  I took that money and bought a used camper and SUV to pull it.  My wife and I and the grand kids are going camping this year – a lot.

As for you, ”Do not take this new year for granted or the whole thing might go flat.”


Hey, I went to Israel with this guy – Buddy Green.  He is a harmonica genius (unlike me). You must check out his youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zoauBe465qQ