Not Alone
Off the Wall, December 30
, 2011

End of the year messages are always thought provoking because, at least for me. It’s a time to think back of the many blessings I received, in addition to the stories that got the most attention, as opposed to the ones I thought would be a hit but didn’t cut it.

Right off the top of my head was last week’s story. Even though I tell people I use fictitious names in making reference to someone, right away they think I am talking about them and that I’m opening the door to the hen house of confidentiality.

I can understand their feelings, however, a lot of prayer requests I received from people throughout the United States, Canada and beyond, do expose similarities. That is the one thing about having a prayer chain. Tens of thousands of people throughout the world have common complaints. Very rarely do families display unique difficulties that could be tagged as only their problems. Thus, when I state that the Dorks, Suettters and Marlenos are having trouble with their daughters who are drug dependent, they are not alone. A matter of fact, I image there are way more families than the ones I mention. I think it would be good if we pray for these families stating that others having the same difficulties be included as well.

I have to laugh. Another story that I thought would fill the space, but never get so much attention was titled, “Not for me.” In it, I told people that I had switched from putting a powder in my coffee to now consuming “the dark brown drink” straight. Wow, did I get the emails – all positive may I add. I can’t but smile when I think of a correspondent who remarked, “Welcome aboard!” Since I started with a well-known brand, I have decided to try others. A couple of weeks ago, I had to kill about 15 minutes, so I strolled into the Latrobe Art Center knowing it serves coffee there. I had not had my daily cup, so this was my chance to try another brew. To make a long story shorter, I fell in love with the brand I was savoring and had to buy a bag of it and drink it at home instead of the other.

A number of things I took pleasure in were receiving emails that stated, “Thanks for giving me a laugh,” or, “Hey Pee Vee, you made me think,” or “Wow, that was a perfect message for this Christmas season.” I have to make this perfectly clear. When I get such great comments as these, that’s not me writing the stories, but the Holy Spirit through me.

I’m sure there were columns with which you could identify. I know incidents that deeply touched me that I recalled. It was called, “Hey lady…” and it was about a young child approaching a woman in the library and asking if she lived above or below the tracks. When the woman answered, “Above the tracks,” the little girl was very disheartened and walked away with a hung chin. This association of division between the classes has been around for a long time, I know because I studied all about it when I was in college back in the mid-60’s. In as much as we no longer have the tracks running parallel to Lincoln Ave. will that association change, at least here in Latrobe? Of course, there will be parents who will teach prejudices to their children, and that grates me.

Another touching story appeared in last week’s column as well – the wonderful faith of Betty Bestolli. I became acquainted with Anthony just previous to writing this story. Here again, I feel it was the workings of the Holy Spirit. He told me his wife’s story. Not only did he tell me how much he misses his wife, but how his faith has continued to grow.

And even though what I have to tell you has not reached an Off the Wall tidbit, I have to say how blessed I was as a result of talking to one middle-aged woman in a doctor’s office two weeks ago. Nancy had told me how severely pain stricken she was as a result of fibromyalgia, not only in one part of her body, but throughout her whole person.

The Indiana County resident told me her mother kept insisting that she pray to God for help. In the midst of her agony, she did just that and said, with a smile on her face, “He did help me relieve some of my pain. I know so without a doubt.”

But when all is said and done, there were so many people from whom I received blessings that they are too numerous to mention. I do want to thank Gary Siegel and the editorial staff of The Latrobe Bulletin for giving me this opportunity to share my thoughts in both my Off the Wall and Inside the Outdoors columns. I never would have been able to write my book, Off the Wall Favorites, had it not been for having these privileges.

Second, I want to thank the people at Veteran’s Cab Company for their fine transportation, something maybe too many people take for granted, and third, and most important, God, who through the Holy Spirit, has given me life’s direction all 68 years.


May you all have a blessed 2012!

- Paul J. Volkmann
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To buy my book, Off the Wall Favorites, call me at 724-539-8850.