When my wife and I shop at Meijers in the little town of Mason, we always see pomegranates in the produce section and I've pretty much ignored them. They were never part of my experiential base when it came to eating.
I had them once when our son Justin prepared Thanksgiving dinner at his apartment in Washington, D.C. I didn't remember their great taste.
Then last night my wife put them on our salads for supper. Wow. They added a pop and a sweetness to the greens that made it fun to eat. Then I had them with the Bran Buds that I had for breakfast. The blandness of the cereal was muted with these tasty morsels.
I need to go to Pinterest to find out how others use them.
We started with the two of us in 1981. This is our family now at the end of 2017.
In my head I'm hearing Matt Redmond sing about the "10,000 Reasons" to thank and praise God. And when that one stops I'm hearing David Crowder sing his "I am" song about the one of who gave me my family.
Our house has been filled with family all week, first our son Justin, his wife Lauren and their two kids and then our daughter Krista and her husband Adam and their three kids. Last night all them stayed at our condo. It was bliss for this 71-year-old guy who was raised as an only child and who had absolutely no experience with siblings or small kids until my wife, Gladys got married.
I praise God for each and everyone of them. As the patriarch of the clan, I've come to appreciate each of them as individuals and to see their enthusiasm for life and for each other. During and after meals I enjoyed just sitting back and taking in the conversations and the hub bub with the kids. I'm actually part of two families, my own and the family of God.
One of my favorite television shows was Parenthood where the main character Zeek Braverman would sit back during family get-togethers and say to one of his grandkids, "Family is everything." I agree with Zeek.
Pastor Jeff Manion during last night"s sermon on Choosing Joy
I know that I need to burn the message of Philippians from the Bible firmly into my heart. As I get older, I know the life challenges will increase. They seem to be bombarding us from all directions, the world around us and personally from the challenges of aging.
That's why my wife Gladys and I decided to check in at Ada Bible Church last night for the beginning of a new sermon series--"Choosing Joy Under Pressure." Pastor Jeff Manion presented part one. He laid the groundwork from Acts 16: 13-25.
I took notes and I'm transcribing them with the goal of reviewing them and this text during coming week.
The sermon video will be online in the next day or two and I hope to watch again.
Here's my rough notes. I hope to refine them as we get into the week.
Joy under pressure-how do you pull it off?
Why would you want to?
Examples of where needed: Ninth grade student nervous about high school has two girlfriends who unfriend her on Facebook. Others.
How do you choose joy?
Don’t underestimate the challenge of choosing joy.
Have I ever experienced a closed door?
Acts 16:7—it’s about slammed door and then it opens.
Acts 16: 13-25: This text has three encounters.
One encounter is with a businesswoman; the Lord opened her heart.
Prayer for myself and others should be “God open my heart.”
What if I can be relieved of the threat of perfection?
Encounter #2 is with a slave girl. Verses 16 a - 17.
This all demonstrates that you don’t need to become nasty when something nasty happens to you.
Does Jesus make a difference when you face a crisis?
Definition of Joy: Focus on generosity of God that expresses itself through gratitude and praise even in a season of pain and disappointment .
We focus on the bad stuff when bad happens to us. Verses 16, 31-32.
We did it when we got the call from our son Justin who said his wife Lauren had just gone into the hospital to have their first child. He said "grab mom" and a suitcase and share the joyous moment when their son Miles would be born. We knew he was coming, but the call came a couple of weeks before his anticipated arrival.
Within a half hour we were on the road to St. Louis with the suitcase in the trunk. We got there in plenty of time to share the excitement from a next door waiting room for grandparents and we saw our new grandson within a short time from his birth.
That was three years ago today. It's his birthday. Being part of his life for the past three years makes me bloat with pride. He's a spitting image of his dad and has his dad's temperament and gusto for life that he had at that age.
Watching Miles grow and being able to see that I'm a patriarch of a growing and thriving family had made me even more sensitive to the need for me to recognize and thank God for all the blessings he has given me.
Because the pressure in my right eye had been increasing, my glaucoma surgeon implanted a drain to reduce the fluid. After more than a month after the surgery the Baerveldt drain finally opened and the pressure is about half of what it had been. That eye is still being watched closely to avoid complications and to be able to react quickly if it changes.
What have I noticed since the surgery?
Right now, the vision in that eye is very blurry, but with both eyes it's manageable. Walking in a crowd, it would be impossible for me to recognize a person unless that were right in front of me. Reading is more tricky. It's all a function of the size of the type, the light where I'm reading and the device I am using.
I'm taking a small assortment of eyedrops, including a steroid and one called Atropene. The hope is that better sight will return and that what wasn't restored will be correctable with new glasses.
I know this is going to be a journey. I am so thankful that I have an ophthalmology practice with a crew of specialists.
Our Realtor grabbed this picture yesterday after we closed on our condo.
How many of you baby-boomers came to a point where you realized that it was time to downsize your home. The kids are gone and you have more than enough space for the two of you. And you realize that you want to spend more time visiting kids and grandkids.
We came to that point about two years ago and started planning to leave Lansing where I've lived for most of my adult life and where we've lived for more than 35-years of marriage. We raised two kids here and have plenty of great memories.
But the time has come to move on and to view the world from a different geographical perspective.
We are moving into a condo from a house that has four bedrooms and a full and finished basement.
We are happy, but still a little sad. How did we get to this point and how did we make it happen?
For myself and for others who have done it before us and who are struggling with the decision, I will be writing more about that.
I was 14 years old and was sniffing around the State Capitol when my mom was visiting my aunt who was in Sparrow Hospital. We had driven earlier in the day from Bay City so we could visit with my aunt who had serious surgery.
I walked down to the Capitol building and watched a session of the Michigan House where I met my State Rep, Les Begick and Ed Good who represented much of the Thumb and grew up across the road from my mom's family outside of Gagetown. They showed me the rostrum in the chamber and asked if I wanted a picture taken.
They both treated me with great respect and encouraged my interest in politics. Les Begick became a mentor to me, an older brother and somebody I had a close relationship with until he died.
This is not a picture I'd put on my study wall, but I've saved it for more than 50 years. For me, it's an important reminder of two good people.
I spent most of my junior year in high school as a page in the Michigan Senate going to school one day a week in my hometown about a hundred miles north of Lansing. It was the next step in my education about government and politics.
On Mondays after school, I would ride to Lansing with either the state senator or state representative for the area. Then along with the other pages, we would prepare the Chamber for the Monday night session. My chair during the session right in front of Sen. William Ford who later served in the U.S. Congress and Sen. William Milliken who later became governor of the state.
During the day we would do errands for senators all throughout the State Capitol including the office of Gov. George Romney, the father of Mitt Romney, the presidential candidate. We would take documents and files right into his private office.
One day, the Sergeant-At-Arms of the Senate took all the pages into Romney's office for a group picture with the governor. That was 54 years ago.
We usually do it on Wednesday's during or right after the lunch hour. One is from St. Louis, one from the Indy area and the other from Florida. It's my son, son-in-law, a friend and me. We meet online and we pray for our families and for each other and anybody else on our minds.
On this blog, I've written about finding my niche as I move more solidly into my 70th year of life. Could it be prayer and could it have always been in front of me and I missed it? I'm very unpracticed in the area of talking to God, but I feel I'm getting better. It's feeling more natural. I'm even learning to listen as God responds.
Pulling yourself up on a chair can be a major life accomplishment for a crawler.
This is my youngest grandson Jacob. I love the wonder in his eyes and the almost perpetual smile he has. Everything is a discovery, including pulling yourself up to a chair. Yes, I am enjoy being a grandfather and a father. Both roles are special. I wonder if my father ever saw or enjoyed any of his grandkids. My mom did. She was really proud of our daughter and son. And, if she was still living, she'd really be proud of their spouses.
We use our Starbucks mugs for coffee and prayer.
We got our first Starbucks mug on a cold, rainy night in Budapest, Hungary. It was Good Friday and we had eaten at a pasta restaurant, went to a big old cathedral where a Mass was underway. The coffeeshop was just around the corner and we decided to get a cup of something that we recognized. We saw the Budapest mug and immediately decided to get one. It has been a reminder of a great trip visiting family. But more importantly, we use it to pray for other cities we've been to and gotten their mugs.
Meet my son-in-law Adam Jones who turned 36 today and my daughter Krista.
I've heard lots of banter among baby-boomer guys about their sons-in-law. It's easy to laugh at all the son-in-law jokes circulating among baby-boomer age guys.
My son-in-law Adam Jones turned 36 today and my thoughts constantly turn to how my daughter nailed it with her choice of guys. I've watched him up close and from far-away in his roles as a husband and a dad. I've seen his values. He loves God and Jesus Christ and then my daughter and their three kids.
I'm a picture-taker when around family, our kids and grandkids. I love looking at pictures of our son-in-law and family along with our son and his family. I see picture after picture where Adam is showing love and involvement with his kids. He and our daughter are leaving a footprint wherever they go.
His birthday today is worthy of mention and celebration. He's a quality person and I'm happy that he married my daughter more than eight years ago.
So, "Happy Birthday Adam."
Have I ever given him a rough time? Oh yeah. But, we both had patience with each other. It's time for me to pass-on my copy of the movie Father Of The Bride to Adam and my son.
Our piles for Goodwill are getting smaller as we get ready to put our house on the market
We live in a very nice residential enclave on the southwest side of Lansing. We have four bedrooms, a finished basement and plenty of updates that make life more pleasant. It's perfect for a family with kids or for a couple with grandkids nearby.
Sometime next month, we will put it on the market. Our realtor has given us a good price range that will make it attractive to a buyer and that will give us what we need to make our next downsized move.
Our two kids grew up here. They are both adults and live in other states with their families.
Interested? Leave a comment. I'll keep you informed.
I'm talking about the real hell mentioned in the Holy Bible, like some people go to heaven and some go to hell. What's it like to move into the devil's neighborhood?
Thumbing through the Bible, I found this verse in the book of Isaiah. Chapter 66, verse 24 says:
And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.
What do you think? Is hell real? How do you get there? Know anybody who might have already made the trip there?
I may have a family member there. I hope not. Did he understand the consequences of rejecting Jesus Christ? I'm not sure. Did he ever reverse his course and accept Jesus as his savior. There's no evidence of that.
Thinking about the worms and the fire, I pick heaven. It gives me hope. It's a hope that everybody can grab onto.
The first thing I usually reach for in the morning is a cup of coffee. We have a collection of coffee mugs, including several from Starbuck shops around the world. Today, I chose this one that I got at a Promise Keepers event more than a decade ago. For most of that time I kept pens and pencils in it. Now I'm putting it back into circulation as a coffee mug. I need to be reminded about who I choose to serve everyday.
In this coming year, it seems like uncertainty will reign at all levels, on a personal level, state, national and international. There seems to no guarantees for anything. Psalm 23 is a direct promise from God. He's a protector and a guide and somebody who looks out for my best interest. These are the first Bible verses I read this year. I need to drill them into my heart everyday.
You can forget me this coming year, but don't forget Jesus.
Will the divisions in our country and the world continue this year? It's an age where people so easily trash talk each other with the ultimate threat of "unfriending" you. You can unfriend me, but I urge you to not unfriend Jesus. He's the only thing that makes sense in this world and the only one who provides real hope.
It was warm enough to take a selfie with my wife while waiting for "trick and treaters."
We had about 80 "trick or treaters" in our Lansing neighborhood tonight. The kids were extraordinarily polite and most had parents with them. How do you manage sitting on the front porch in mid-Michigan on the very last day of October? It's not a mind-numbing cold, but it leaves an impression after an hour.
While shopping at our Meijers yesterday, we picked up a bottle of Witches Brew from Leelanau Wine Cellars in Traverse City. This spice wine is best when hot and after two minutes, it has an aroma that talks to your nostrils and a taste that distracts you from the cold air while you're sitting barefooted on the porch.
All-in-all Halloween 20016 was a success. There were lots of little kids who were old fashioned cute and there were a lot of dads with them.
Now it's time for me to go to my Instagram Direct and see how my five grandkids living in other states celebrated the occasion.
No chocolate candy bars at our house.
While sitting on our front porch, we saw a steady stream of kids.
These are my left over eyedrops mainly from 2013 when I had several eye surgeries and struggled with a glaucoma that had a mind of its own.
I found these unused eyedrops while going through cabinets, cupboards and crates as my wife and I clean up our house to put it up for sale. In the process, I found these leftover drops tucked into a little blue bag that they gave me after one of several eye surgeries in 2013. It was during that challenging year that I learned a lot about the amazing design of the eye and how it's connected to the brain.
At the same time, I got to know a lot of ophthalmologists and their assistants who have nerves of steel and who can pinpoint nuances in the behavior of your eyes.
A key part of my recovery and ongoing treatment are eyedrops. Some worked and some didn't. They helped me recover from surgery for a lens in my right eye that wouldn't stay in place and had to be replaced or repositioned several times. They have also been key in managing the pressure of my chronic open angle glaucoma.
The above picture shows the extra drops that I had and have expired.
Great question from the sermon this weekend at Ada Bible Church.
This is the second time it's happened to me after hearing a sermon at church--Ada Bible Church. It would be too easy to nod my head in assent at what Pastor Jeff Manion taught, talk about it with my wife on the way home and then get involved during the week in projects around home. My heart is saying "don't forget this" and "work to make this part of my life."
The sermon was part seven of a series from Colossians with the title "The New You." Part of me says I'm way too old for a new me. Then I feel my chest on the left side and find that my heart is still beating. Nope, I'm not done yet. I'm still alive. Jesus says there can still be a new me in the spiritual sense.
The teaching was based on Colossians 3:12-14 and it involves the way that Christians interact with each other and with non-Christians. Others have irritated and frustrated me and I know I've been the same way towards them. How do you escape that? I've tried on my own and the results have been less than mixed.
According to the text for the sermon, I am to adopt in my heart compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience in my interactions with others. Doing this requires power from the Holy Spirit.
But, I need a constant reminder. That's where the tattoo comes in. If I was in my twenties, I'd consider having these five attributes put on my arm, so I could always see them. Then when I'm in the restaurant with my wife and the waitress is really show, I'd be able to quickly look on my arm.
There was one other sermon where I felt the same tattoo urge. It was from the first few verses of Ephesians about our identity in Christ. The pastor reduced it to a few words, Remember Who You Are. I am an adopted son of God. My identity doesn't come from the one who threw me off the train, but the one who picked me up.
It was early afternoon when I got the call from my two-year-old grandson. He had just gotten up from a nap and was feeling out of sorts. So, he called for Bubba. That's me. He handed his mom's iPhone to her and made it clear that he want to Face Time.
He started calling me Bubba this summer after spending a week at his house. He was having trouble saying grandpa and grandma, so he said "Bubba" and "Amma." When we left his house a couple states away and when we were saying goodbye, he made it clear he didn't want me to leave. He clung to my shoulder and cried "Bubba, Bubba, Bubba."
Of course my heart enlarged greatly with his affectionate sentiments. Since then, he still uses his favorite name for me.
So, when he woke up, his mom said the first thing he cried for was "Bubba" and that's me. My heart smiled in a way that only grandchildren can.
His picture came up on my phone after I accepted the call and the smiles showed across a few states. I haven't seen him in a month. I heard him use a full assortment of words that I hadn't heard from before. He's in the almost talking stage. It was a great visit.
Then there were pictures from our youngest grandson who had a physical today. He's a smiler and has big eyes that shine.
I love my grandkids and pictures, stills and video, are a good alternative when you can see them in person.
Ada Bible Church senior teaching pastor Jeff Manion
At our church, Ada Bible Church, we are going through a series of sermons on the book of Colossians, a place in western Turkey where followers of Jesus grabbed onto their faith with impressive gusto. They made a difference in their part of the world and it influenced the growth of the church around the world.
Because that church got started within a few decades of when Jesus was crucified on the cross, their faith was new and as Pastor Jeff Manion says new faith can be vulnerable to winds of change and circumstances.
The Apostle Paul wrote the book to encourage and strengthen their faith.
Pastor Manion, in this video clip, shares the scripture from which this weekend's sermon was taken. I pray that the Heavenly Father will help me digest and implant it on my heart.
This is the goodie bag that my daughter-in-law had for our one year-old grandson on a flight to Eastern Europe.
A year ago today, my son, our daughter-in-law, our grandson, my wife and I were on a plane to Stockholm where we had a layover for a flight to Croatia. We were traveling there to vacation with our daughter and family who lived in Eastern Europe.
The challenge was how to keep a newly-minted one-year-old entertained on a trans-Atlantic flight. They can get cranky and sometimes real cranky.
My daughter-in-law, Lauren Thorp, is one of the more creative people I know. She can take a handful of old treasures and turn them into something beautiful that you just want to stare at and smile.
She did that on this flight. During the course of the trip we passed the baby. That's when we each got into our bag of goodies she put together. They were little dollar store toys and little neat things, including little pieces of tape. The idea was to have a stockpile of attention diverters for my young grandson.
Did it work? Almost. Close. He was too young. The tape was a hit. I could put it on his foot and he would pick it off. That lasted for a few minutes.
I just bet that with him being two, he'd stay entertained longer.
By-the way, Lauren is the founder of Umba Box, a national subscription box service for curated handmade items. Really cool stuff.
It's a quiet, sunny and warm Monday afternoon and my wife was just casually looking through the screen door to our back deck when she saw it. It was a bat trying to find just the right spot under the umbrella on our back deck. My wife got nervous about opening the back door, but I did it anyway and got this video clip of the little critter with impressive little teeth.