Old Xanga posts

I found I could download our old Xanga posts and open them on wordpress.   So I had fun looking at old pictures and reminiscing old times.  If you have the time and interest, you may be able to access them too.


family pics

 Some of these are centered at or near Grandpa Miller’s old sugar house, which is still a wonder but in various stages of decay right now.


Avery Mitchell Schwartz, 6 years old


Rich and his hot wife Sandy, together.  Married ten years. 


Brianna Raquel Schwartz, still 8 years old here.


Benjamin Dante Schwartz, 3 years old


Corinne Ida Schwartz, 18 months old.


Dad and Ada Mae, together.  Married six months.


The four pluebers


May God arrest you and ask you to live dangerously for Him this day!


Rambles, Brambles, and Rich’s introspection

Wise investment counsel to heed in these troubled financial times….

Spend your life on Jesus; the ultimate antidote to dead-end consumerism.

Some stories.   After we got back from boys’ camp at Camp Andrews in August, Benjamin needed a spanking for something, and apparently the fire of conviction burned in the belly of young master Avery, so he came crying to me in the bathroom and said that he was sorry for something that he had done about six months previously.  I think he had thrown a ball and hurt a girl at church and had never confessed it to me, and had actually thought he lied about it.   I thanked him for telling me then, and reminded him of the importance of telling the truth right away.  He said that I could do “whatever you want to me” and seemed prepared to get a spanking, possibly to soothe his jaded nerves.  Not the nerves around the gluteous maximus, but you know what I mean.  I told him that I wouldn’t give him a spanking, held him for a while, prayed with him, and then asked him if he wants to go with me to a recap meeting.  On the way over he told me “Dad, I feel kind of free.  Almost like I just worked a job and got paid at the end, and now I have the money or something.  Huh, feels kind of good, Dad.”   This was said in his serious, somewhat matter-of-fact tone of voice that is vintage Ave.  What lessons my children teach me.

Benjamin needed a spanking today and I was working in the office.  Sandy brought him in and set him on the small desk beside mine and told him that she would come in and get him when her friend leaves him. He sat quietly for some time, then leaned his head over on my closed laptop and fell asleep just before she came in.  He never peeped as we talked about what we should do, so we put him up in the bed.  I wonder if he would have opened his eyes if I had started talking about candy. 

Corinne is a trip.  Some weeks ago I was up for several hours with her at night.   I would take her out in the living room with me on the recliner, lean back, fall asleep, and wake up and she was nowhere to be found so I would go find her playing with toys in the dark.  This repeated itself multiple times, when I would wake up hearing her pitter-patter around the house.  The next morning I was discussing this dismal state of affairs with Sandy and we were both pondering what was going on.  Sandy had one of those light-bulb moments and said “I wonder if she was up because I gave her some of coffee at 9:30 last night while she was sitting on my lap.”  Wonderful.  Thanks, babe.

Bri turned 9 yesterday.  She is such a little lady.  My daughter is a very perceptive feeler, and can read my emotions even when I don’t know what they are.  When I hear her ask “Daddy, are you frustrated” I think she likely sees something there. 

I’ll put some pics up sometime soon.  Soups on.

Good day,


Vacation Bible School

DSC05500 DSC05502 So we had VBS at Highland Park again this year.   Bri and Ave were there for two weeks.  The anticipation of attending each day was very high in the Schwartz household.   Brianna announced about every hour, beginning at 9:00 a.m., when the VBS pickup would arrive.   Incredible.  

We had 131 kids there the last day, with the average attendance for the nine days being in the 100’s somewhere. 

DSC05482 DSC05505

I post a few videos here, two of which have Brianna and Avery in them.  If you can’t get them because of slow connection, sorry.  If you can get them and think the resolution is low and grainy, you’re right.  I tried to video it on low resolution so more people could see them, but the quality is rather poor.

Here is an exciting truth that God is waiting to have lived out in more of His disciples.   When we “look unto Jesus, the author and Finisher of our faith” we find that our lives become more and more an expression of the gospel message of Jesus, in word, in spirit, in action, and even in faith.  

What are you doing with the GOOD NEWS OF JESUS CHRIST?    Don’t bury it under a stump somewhere, or you’ll just be another bump on a log.   Since you’re a child of God and not just another bump on a log, shine the light! 





Accidents and God’s Will

I missed the news earlier this week about Steven Curtis Chapman’s 5 year-old daughter’s tragic death in their driveway.   It would be interesting to do a time log over the years from the time I was fourteen until the time I was about twenty-one, in an attempt to discover how many combined 24 hour segments of my life were spent listening and/or singing with Steven Curtis Chapman songs.  I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to put the estimate at 300 hours or more of my life that were spent listening to or playing or singing his songs. 

It’s another reflective moment in the life of Rich.  How have I been so blessed to have had the opportunity as a young person to listen to a passionate musician, dedicated to God?  So many areas of my life I have taken for granted: parents, brothers, church, Christian school, Christian friends, Christian musicians, move to NYC, my wife Sandy, my children, troubles, jobs, education, money, no money, suffering, joy…   IN EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS.

This link is informative and moving:  http://www.stevencurtischapman.com


jumble (life). bumble (me) humble (action plan)

jumble.   life is actually fascinating even when it is in a jumble.    what is a jumble?   schedules that change with the wind and plans that are expressed but for some reason are difficult to execute, projects that drag on and on, and relationships that take an unexpected twist in the road.    jumble.   I serve the one true God who understands my jumble and doesn’t mind my bumble and loves me enough to make me humble.   wow.  such a God.   the only true God.   I don’t deserve to be so blessed.  

Sandy’s grandfather died this morning, so the week ahead has changed.    The Lord brings down to the grave and the Lord raises up.   For some reason death is never convenient.  Heaven is still a wonderful hope. 

My sister-in-law asked me recently “So Rich when are you going to start acting like a lead pastor?”   A very pertinent question for such a time as this.  It’s safe for me to say this because I have eight sisters-in-law and they are never going to guess which one asked such a probing question.  I am happy to report that God gives strength and does allow me to be a “servant to the servants” (a phrase used by someone in church history.   Can you guess?)  I feel kind of like a doorkeeper before the house of my God, blessed beyond words and too wordy to deserve to be blessed.  I wonder how to respond to “when are you going to start acting like a senior pastor?” or “How are you, your eminence?” or “congratulations, head honcho” or “what does it feel like to be the HPIC?”  (head pastor in charge) 

Rich here, reporting LIVE from a place where there are dead people walking around.  May the LIFE of God through the Holy Spirit lead our unbelieving friends and neighbors to Jesus!

Methane Gas and Daddy Dates

Yesterday was another Daddy date. Earlier in the week, I had seen a craigslist advertisement for “free furnishings in apartment” complete with about four photos of all kinds of stuff. The apartment was to be open from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., the address was given, along with the plea “no early birds.” I had shown this to Sandy, excitedly telling her that I could take the kids there and let them go shopping for free. Sandy “I-HATE-CLUTTER” Schwartz was petrified, and (theoretically) broke out in a cold sweat several times last week just thinking of us coming back with mounds of worthless treasures to clutter our apartment.

Despite Sandy’s trepidations I bundled our four young children into the van on Saturday morning and headed to Astoria en route to the New York Hall of Science in Elmhurst. It was not on the way, for those of you who care, but it sounds better to say that we “dropped by” to check out this apartment full of treasures “on our way to” the NY Hall of Science. It was raining quite heavily as I tried to corral the kids down the block and around the corner to the van. Our third-born had a demonstrative verbal application of the old man rising up in his flesh after our first-born took away an umbrella that the third-born felt belonged to him with all of its rights and privileges. I felt the old man rising up in my flesh in retaliation at this display of ungodly character I was seeing in my son, but fortunately I was able to quell any demonstrative applications of the sinful thoughts and just yelled at the top of my lungs “Come to the van, Benjamin, and stop yelling!” I looked around to see if any of my neighbors had heard my vociferous howling but the rain had probably kept them inside so I may have been safe. Lord, forgive me for those times I have lost it with these dear children and given in to anger.

So away we finally went, one hour later than planned. I had thought it would be cool to arrive at 10:00 a.m. and have first pickings. When we arrived at this apartment the rain had stopped. The sign on the apartment door read “Hi friends, please do not ring the doorbell before 10:00. Respect the house as if it was your own. Thank you.” The door was open, so we went up to the third floor and saw about ten people talking and laughing in what was a nearly bare apartment. The people in the apartment were almost in shock. They told me that the doorbell rang at 10:00 a.m. and about twenty people were lined up outside the door waiting to be let in. These people rushed into the apartment and proceeded to fight over the free stuff that was there. By the time we got there (55 minutes later), nearly everything was gone. The one woman from the apartment felt sorry for my four children so she took them into a room and found them four stuffed animals sort of like snowmen. Brianna said “Mommy’s not going to like these. We have enough stuffed animals.”

Well Benjamin was keen on these stuffed snowmen so he took about three of them, and then he got a little round orange wicker basket that had a face painted on it like a jack-o-lantern. Brianna whispered, “Uh….Daddy….I think that’s halloween stuff. Do you really want him to have it?” I told her “Hey, we came over here so we have to take something home, right?” I then found a hardcover novel that looked like it was in decent shape. We smiled and waved, and went down the steps and out to the van. On the way out, Benjamin tired of his stuffed snowmen, so I transported them back to the apartment. All told, our pillage count was the small orange basket that looked like a Kansas jack-o-lantern, and the novel that was likely not worth much. I consoled myself that I would give the novel to Dwight and Zonya for them to sell. (Dwight looked it up later and found that there are 693 used novels of that title for sale, and the 3 cheapest are listed for $0.01. One penny. Way to go, Rich.) Anyway, it was an adventure. Funny things that people do when the word “free” gets bandied about, eh?

That was the first leg of our journey. Now to the New York Hall of Science. We like to go there if it is raining outside, because they have a lot of great indoor activities. Yesterday was special as well, because there was a “Going Green in Queens” program directed by the NYC parks department that was going to have tables and workshops and environmental information. Since I am a closet member of an environmental group whose goal is to save Ridgewood Reservoir, I have been reading their excited plans to present their goals at this “Going Green in Queens” event, and I wanted to see what their table ended up looking like. Their emails would be like this “we need to have lots of pictures of birds and wildlife, but if we see the public are getting turned off by our pictures we can put them under the table.” “Shall we bring candy for the children?” “We need to educate the masses.” Etc. They were about as enthralled with their plans as NY meteorologists are at the prospect of reporting on an actual storm. Electrifying.

Some environmentalists are wackos, to be sure, but these people seem to be fairly even keel. I had read a quote recently from John Guillebaud, emeritus professor of family planning at University College London: “The effect on the planet of having one child less is an order of magnitude greater than all these other things we might do, such as switching off lights…The greatest thing anyone in Britain could do to help the future of the planet would be to have one less child.” That alerted me to the thoughts of some fringe tree-huggers that we humans should de-populate to save the planet, so when I walked into this “Going Green in Queens” event I had the uneasy feeling that some of these greenies were looking cross-eyed at this dude who was leading around four GIANT CARBON FOOTPRINTS, a/k/a children. Thankfully none of them expressed any negative sentiments about my four children, but there were certainly long looks and knowing glances exchanged. They probably have something to talk about now over their lentil soup and soy milk ice cream in the coming weeks.

Brianna heard that there were “refreshments served” so she and Avery took turns tugging my arm to lead me to the refreshment corner while I chit-chatted with my friends at the Ridgewood Reservoir group. I spoke several fleeting seconds with the Department of Parks Commissioner for Queens, New York, but had to apologize and take my leave, saying “Sorry, gotta go. My kids want to eat.” They had quite a spread there. Catered in food of all sorts. Wraps, sandwiches, fruit, vegetables, juice, soda, etc. My friend Sam helped me get this food for the children and we sat down to eat. It was actually a great time. I started feeling a little self-conscious when I realized I was the only one who had children there, and FOUR at that, but hey what ya gonna do? So we finished eating and walked around a bit. Avery collected a couple maps, since he is a budding cartographer, and I got a bag called “I love the earth” from a group of Chinese Buddhists who bowed to me and smiled a lot. Benjamin and Brianna collected candy. Corinne grinned at everyone and clapped her hands.

That group of Chinese Buddhists had a bunch of tips on saving the earth. The one tip is to not eat beef, because livestock contribute 18% of the methane gas that goes into the atmosphere. One cow alone contributes about 18 kilograms of methane per year. Wow. I’ll bet on a good month I contribute 1 kilogram of methane to the atmosphere. Ask Brian. Not that my gaseous emissions stink, but some say they are lethal and could be classified as germ warfare. Joe might know. So I got to thinking, “If cows are really that bad for the atmosphere, I suppose we should eat more of them so that more of them will be eliminated and fewer of them will contribute this bad methane gas, eh?”

What a day. I’m hungry for a hamburger right now, the hardcover novel has been thrown away, and Ben’s round little orange basket that looks like a Kansas jack-o-lantern is about the only tangible remains of our experiences, except the green “I Love the Earth” bag, which I may give away to Gary as a going away present, along with a few tips from the Tzu Chi Buddhists on how to save the earth.

Of Housewives and Apples

I’m eating an apple this morning. 

Yep, it’s an apple that were bought by mah dear wife Sandy. 

Yup, she’s a real sweet thang, and I’m goin’ ta speak ’bout her fer a minuht er so. 

Yestiday mah wife she done took our lil’ three year old to the doctah ta get that thar cast off’n his arm. 

Ah got me chance ta stay home wi’ the young’uns fer a spell, and I’ll tell y’all what, that spell done jus’ about did this man in onc’t and fer all.  Then mah wife done took the eldest out shopping yesterday afternoon, leavin’ me wit’ the three youngest.  Then last night she done went off to some “homeschool marms” meetin’ whar they get together and do what homeschool marms do, and ah was done stuck at home wit’ the four chillens bah my own self. 

The day ended wit’ mah head hittin’ the hay by nine o’clock, plum tuckered out.    Iff’n thar was any song goin’ through my noggin las’ night, it were likely “the wheels on the bus go round and round.” 

Hats off to Sandy Schwartz.  God done showed me again why I am a man and she is a woman, and He done showed me again how my wife Sandy Schwartz is a princess beyond compare willing to work like a bear without under_______ (just trying to rhyme, okay?)  just to express to me and the kids that she do care. 

The Cynic In Me

I looked out the window this morning at the beautiful snow falling down, and began dabbling in limerick verse.  Here goes…


There once was a cynic in me

He claimed there was nothing to see

So he stayed in my head

Lounging all day in bed

And was glad to espouse misery


My cynic had no proper manners

And destroyed any thought of day planners

His hair was unkempt

And his slovenly bent

Pulled my mind towards political bannners

I hated my personal cynic

Whose presence destroyed any lyric

My soul was a ballad

Of leftover salad

That was a relational gimmick

The cynic in me cut his hair

And was terribly scared by a mirror

The mirror’s reflection

Showed soul putrefaction

Which killed my poor cynic right there

The happy ending is coming

And you can be sure I am humming.

When I am not cynical

Life’s irresistible

And explosions of joy begin blooming.