We are sitting on our living room couch with our computers in our laps listening to singer Petula Clark from the 1960s sing Downtown and other classic hits that she sang. It's all on our Apple Music where we have a free three month subscription.
While listening to these great sounds from my high school days, I'm poring over pictures taken with my iPhone from our past week.
We found the perfect gift to give each other on our 34th anniversary, but I'll get back to that shortly. The best part of my life has been my relationship to Gladys. I don't know why I didn't propose to her in a conventional way.
She was teaching at Immanuel Lutheran School in Bay City, Michigan and I went to her classroom after school one day where I pulled out my checkbook and found the page with the calendar. I pointed to it and said, "What day would you like to get married."
She said "yes" and the rest is history. Living life with her everyday and experiencing her unconditional love has been a life-changer for me. She has been a steady reflector of the only person that she loves more than me, Jesus Christ.
To cover all the things that I'm thankful for in my marriage to Gladys, Christian-singer Matt Redmond would have to change his song from 10,000 Reasons to, at least, 100,000 Reasons.
Okay, here's our anniversary presents to each other. We got each other new iPhones. We can call and text each other, as well as take photos and videos to share.
What's next? Stay tuned.
How do you celebrate Father's Day? In a commercial about this Sunday's holiday celebrating dads, Toyota hits a home run in my thinking.
I love my kids. I'm proud of my kids and hearing from them is better than gold falling from the skies. God has really blessed me.
Check out the commercial.
I've got a ton of pictures to go through from our long weekend celebration of our youngest grandson's first birthday which is coming up on Friday. It took place in St. Louis where my son and his family live.
During that time we had lots of time to get a perspective of the world from a one-year-old who's just starting to crawl and who already has a favorite app on his mom's iPad Mini. Before I gather my thoughts about the weekend and share more, I have to post these two picture of two early Father's Day presents.
Here's a sampler of pictures one really smiley and precocious one-year-old.
It's two bottles of really great craft beer from the Urban Chestnut brewery in the city. This place could turn me into a beer drinker. I love the flavors, particularly Snickelfritz, a German white beer. Here's the two I brought home with me.
Dads, do you remember the first time you held your newborn daughter? Did that beautiful little face with the fine features play strings on your heart that you never knew you had?
That's what happened to me when my daughter was born in the early 1980s. When she was born my face turned into a major smile and my heart softened to the consistency of putty that sat out in the hot sun too long.
Fast forward to 2008 when she married a guy named Adam. At the wedding rehearsal, I waited to practice walking her down the aisle. She grabbed my arm and I heard Steve Martin's voice in my head where he talked about the same trip with his little girl.
The movie is funny but it really shows the special nature of a father-daughter relationship. She's my pumpkin. She's beautiful and she walks on a special cloud that only daughters know about.
Son-in-laws are special to. They are like eating Rice Krispies where some snap, crackle and pop is added to your life. Mine has been worth the effort to get to know. We've talked lots, argued some, drank a lot of coffee and beer.
He's married to a special girl, my daughter, just like Steve Martin in the movie. It's worth watching. It's a pizza movie along with an an All Day IPA to drink. I'm glad I found it at Amazon at a good price.
And when I'm done watching it, I will give the DVD to him who has a member of the next generation of beautiful daughters. She's heavenly. Stands to reason if you look at her mom . . . and her dad.
Today is a big day for you, your dad and your mom. It's your dad's 31st birthday and I hope all of you can do some hooting and hollering to celebrate this special occasion.
Even though you won't be a year old for more than a week, at some point, you'll be able to look at the pictures and down the line read it.
I was right there when your Grandma Thorp gave birth to your dad on really early in the morning on June 10, 1984. We lived just down the street from the hospital where he was born. When Grandma knew it was time for him to be born, I suggested that we walk to the hospital. It had been a very hot summer day. With some conviction, Grandma suggested strongly that we take the car.
I dropped her off at the Emergency Room entrance and then parked the car. Because your dad was in a hurry to join our family, Grandma was already in the room where you deliver babies. Thinking that your dad would take hours to be born, I brought sandwiches, a couple magazines and a tape player.
Well, I didn't need any of that because as soon as I got to the delivery room, Grandma was giving birth to your dad. I had to wear special clothes that were germ free as I heard the doctor say it was a boy. Then the doctor handed me a pair of fancy scissors to cut his umbilical cord and he said cut. And I did it.
Grandma and I started our family with the two of us. When your dad was born, it grew to four. His birth added to the excitement of being part of a family. We had a daughter and now had a son.
There's plenty more that I can share about the day before he was born and the days after.
He's a special guy. And so are you. You are a winner and never forget that.
I love you,
I remember when my son Justin and I met Ken Canfield, the author of the Heart of a Father, at a PromiseKeepers event in Chicago. He was in the booth for the National Center for Fathering where he was the president.
I bought the book and read it several times and then shared it with a big bunch of guys. This happened just as people were still learning about websites. They had one and I followed it for quite awhile.
Time flew and I'm now a grandfather looking at my son with his almost one-year-old son and at my son-in-law Adam and his almost five-year-old son and two-year-old daughter.
I've had the privilege to watch them father their kids up close and from afar. It would be an understatement to say that I'm impressed. To be accurate, I'd have to say that the hand of God reached down and touched both of them to be the exemplary fathers that they are.
My grandchildren have dads, real dads who know how to love their kids and the mother's of their three children. They are not afraid to get poop under their fingernails, change a wet bed or read stories until their voices become hoarse.
They enjoy being with their kids. Every morning after my first grandson was born, I'd look at a picture of him and his dad walking around a running track with Adam holding a basketball and my grandson hanging onto his finger. You could see the big smile on both of their faces. My grandson was not quite a year old and had just started walking.
Cutting, curing and storing wood for the winter is an annual event where they live in Bosnia. Check the picture of the two of them splitting and stacking the wood. There's one proud dad and a very proud son.
My granddaughter knows that she's the apple of her dad's eye and that he finds spending time with her a privilege even when she flexes her muscles as an independent two-year-old. He's her cheerleader along with her mom, my daughter.
Now my youngest grandson who is almost a year-old is not at the splitting wood age, but he and my son bonded real early, like from the time he was born. The two are tight.
Justin holds him, plays with him, talks to him and has fun with a little guy who has a smile that can fill a room. He knows his dad and he knows that his dad is in his corner.
My son loves to cook. During my daughter-in-law's challenging pregnancy, he cooked often. He stepped in and showed his wife the real love that comes from faithfully filling and operating the dishwasher and washing clothes.
All three of my grandkids have dads who love their wives and who show it through their words and actions. Their kids can take comfort from the fact that their dads put their wives on an elevated position which means their family will not be threatened.
And, finally, my son and son-in-law have God at the center of their lives. They know that when they blow it that they are forgiven. They are teaching this to their kids.
Now the National Center for Fathering has lots of categories for "fathers-of-the year", but I hope that they would consider these guys for consideration as Father's Day approaches.
And, one more thing, I hope that dads who have perpetuated a cycle of bad fathering can take comfort from this. The cycle can be broken. My father was a no-show. He came from a long-line of bad fathering. It can be stopped and these two guys are proof.
My wife and I were just finishing lunch at Panera Bread in Lansing's Frandor Shopping Center when I looked out the window there and saw the Video To Go store. When we rented a video tape for one of the first times more than 20 years ago, it was from this store.
With changes in the way movies and other videos are delivered with Netflix and other services, I have to wonder how much longer it will stay in business.
When I think about Video To Go and how much television watching has changed, I think of my three grandkids, one almost five, one who is two and one who is almost a year-old. They will have never seen video tapes and the odds are that they will not see a whole lot more of DVDs.
Their lives will be much more affected by the pace of technological change than mine. They are learning how to adapt to this rapid change. They are also learning how to recognize truths that never change.
How long will it be before one of them can call me on their later stage Apple Watch? They have all had their dalliances with iPads and apps for kids. They know about watching streamed movies over the web.
Change is inevitable. The pace of these changes seems to be running in high gear.
What if I was sitting around the table for lunch with my three grandchildren, Xavier, Gretchen and Miles and they asked me what was the most important advice I could give them?
It's probably the most important thing I've learned in my six-plus decades of life. It's a lesson that's like a scab that won't go away. Every once in a while I pick at it and it reappears. I guess I have to just stop picking and accept it.
The idea is not brand new to me, but I never heard put this simply. Our pastor, Jeff Manion, of Ada Bible Church, was in the second part of a series on Ephesians called People of the Way. It was on identity and how we get it.
He got to Ephesians 1:5 where the Paul, the apostle writes about how God, in love, adopted us as his sons and daughters. He is our father.
I had trouble imagining God as my father. Sounds nice, but, I could never call him up and ask him out for a craft beer or a coffee and just talk.
And, then Jeff said,
Remember Who You Are
I am a treasured son of the Almighty God. He picked me up. He saved me. My primary identity comes from him. That's what I want my grandkids to remember and never forget. Tattoo it on your arm or on your hand. Make it someplace where you are always reminded.
Do I believe it? Yes, I choose to believe it. God is becoming more real to me.
She deserves fields of heavenly-scented marigolds and daffodils today on Mother's Day and every other day. This morning I went to my online depository of digital pictures and plugged in her name and it kicked back bold reminders of how we have lived lots of life together.
A big chunk of it has revolved around her being a mom. We started out with the two of us and now have nine in our immediate family. Our kids and their kids are living life daily with smiles on their faces. They all love God and they are making a difference.
We've travelled to some far off places including Haiti, Alaska, Mexico and Eastern Europe. Much of it was to see our kids. We did it together.
We have moved into the senior citizen phase of life. There's downsizing and a move in the future. We are looking at where we want to land next. We have picture of grandchildren all over the place.
I'm looking forward to everyday that God gives us together and I thank him for the very special mother of my children and my best friend.
Tomorrow's Mother's Day and I wish I could have all the mothers who have been part of my life sitting around a table. There's my mother, my wife's mother, my daughter and my daughter-in-law. They are special people who have a vital role.
This above picture was taken in 1947 the year before my father--Claude H. Thorp--vanished. He left, never came back, never contacted us and never divorced her. I was barely a toddler when he cast us by the side of the road with no means of support.
My mom didn't quit. Life was hard and somedays were an emotional roller coaster for her. She made it work. She died in 1996. She had a love that could only come from one place. It was the overflow of the love that Jesus had for her and she passed it on to me. Even though, we had been both rejected and cast aside, she made me fill the love of God and reminded me that I was a treasured son of His.
The fact that she made it is not her story, but it's God's story about how he never abandons us, even if human fathers do.
Mom, I hope you have a good table up in heaven for dinner on Mother's Day. I'm thinking of you. And I thank God for you and your strong will and conviction.
I've been thinking a lot about my 92-year-old Uncle Ron Anderson, a World War II vet who served in the South Pacific, and his wife Aunt Aileen, 90, in the past few weeks. They were key players in my life as role models for how to live life with all its challenges and messiness.
This morning my Uncle Ron is in the hospital in Charleston, West Virginia dealing with declining health while my Aunt Aileen is at home dealing with her health challenges. They are both special people and I have them on my list of people to thank God for.
As a boy who grew up without a dad, Ron was one of the guys that I turned my focus to as a role model. I had 11 uncles and he was one of six who I had frequent contact with. I need to spend some time thinking about all the contact I had with him and then share it.
Today, I just want him to know he's not forgotten, nor is my aunt who left a big, positive footprint in her life.
I continue to thin out my massive collection of digital photographs. I found these, including this picture of our almost five-year-old grandson when we visited the Budapest Zoo. We went through the reptile house where he made a friend with this big guy who kept looking at him.
I share these as we get closer to a special holiday where the moms in our lives are celebrated. My wife is an extraordinary person who has shared her love with me and our kids. They reflect her in so many ways. Her legacy is a loving family and a husband who marvels that our almost 34 years together have gone by in a flash.
I've been to hundreds of legislative hearings at Michigan's State Capitol and at various places around the state. But, I've never been to one where somebody sang their testimony.
Then I went to a concert at Michigan State University given by my cousin Colleen Anderson who has been a long time resident of West Virginia. She went there as a VISTA volunteer in 1970 where she got involved in organizing Cabin Creek Quilts. She never left.
Through the years, her love for the state and it's people was billboarded in her design and writing business, her music and her art.
When there was the recent chemical spill in West Virginia waters which contaminated drinking water for a long period of time, she took her concerns to a hearing of their state legislature. She sang her testimony, rather than speak it. National Public Radio (NPR) reported on her effort. This is the song:
I wonder if my mother in heaven who died in 1996 has an iPad with good wi-fi. When she was living, I remember how much she liked pictures of our kids. These were her first grandkids. Now she would have three great grandkids. I'd love to see her smile if she saw their pictures.
My picture collection of our family is massive. I started when we brought our daughter home from the hospital more than 30 years ago and it has only increased with our grandkids, digital cameras, Instagram, Facebook, FaceTime, Picassa, and all the other ways to share pictures.
This morning I combed through my most recent pictures and found a sampling for her to look at. I know that she would share them with my wife's mother Catherine who is also in heaven.
The lens in my right eye has run amuck for the fifth time. I've had four different ophthalmologists examine it with one saying it has completely come loose and others saying it's partly attached, but flapping around. What does this mean?
Right now, I have double vision most of the time. I also have trouble reading, including the web on my new 27-inch monitor attached to my laptop.
Here's the fix: on May 13, two surgeons will work on taking out the lens and replacing it with a new one that will be placed in front of my iris. It's about a two hour surgery that has risks, but appears to be the only way to fix it.
To be honest, it would be easy to let the condition of my present vision, the surgery and the uncertainty consume my thoughts. With my wife's help and with the help of family, I am going to work hard to avoid that.
But most important is turning this over to God. It easier said than done. Even so, I just have to do it. I pray fervently that he will give me that kind of faith.
Our pastor, Jeff Manion of Ada Bible Church, shared this prayer a few years ago. He says he starts everyday by asking God to give him the grace to trust him everyday. "Dear Lord, I am asking the same."
I will report on the next leg of my eye journey from time to time. Today, I will teach myself how to use my cell phone to dictate posts right into this blog, just in case, I can't see well enough.
I really enjoyed eating breakfast with you yesterday morning. We both had oatmeal. It's one of my all time favorite breakfasts. I usually eat it every morning.
Grandma Thorp usually makes me a bowl and then puts all kinds of fruit either on it or in it. I love oatmeal with blueberries, cherries, banana slices and peaches.
For some reason, I've never cooked oatmeal myself. I've made the instant kind, but I haven't made the cooked kind. I've got to try that.
There's a whole level of adventure out there with breakfast eating. Pancakes in another one of my favorites. We don't have them often, but when we do, there's a smile on my face.
Keep eating a good breakfast.
You had your first official visit to Michigan State University yesterday when we went to the MSU sheep farm. As your dad held you, the sheep came right to you. They stuck their head through the fence and said hello. They made a lot of noise.
Your eyes really sparkled as they ran back and forth in their pens and let everybody know they were there by bleating. Isn't that the noise sheep make? You can look it up in Google.
Sheep are really an important animal. We get wool from sheep. Lots of clothes are made from it. Ask your mom and she'll show you some.
Look in the Bible and you'll see the word sheep often. It has special meaning for us. One Bible verse says, "We are all like sheep and gone astray." That reminds me of the time I saw a whole herd of sheep going down the road in the country of Mali in West Africa. There was one shepherd and he was busy trying to keep each sheep from going off in a different direction.
Most sports teams have nicknames from animals like Tigers or Diamondbacks or Gophers. But you don't see any called sheep. It could be that sheep are not good team players.
Well, next time you come, we can go back to Michigan State and see more animals like the chickens, the horses and the cows. Animals are great. I never stop learning about them and I'm always amazed by their variety.
When I come to your house, we can read about some animals.
Thank-you for coming this weekend.