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15 posts from February 2005

Murdered Detroit toddler Tashona Holmes will be forgotten

I probably shouldn't care about the toddler in Detroit who was murdered by her mom's 20-year-old boyfriend.

It's just another news story in the Detroit Free Press by Jack Kresnak about a faceless kid who was born to a 17-year-old mom and whose boyfriend beat her baby to death.  As a legislative staffer in the Michigan House of Representatives, I worked for the committee chair responsible for legislation dealing with abuse and neglect.

I've been a lifelong Republican and child abuse and neglect has never been an issue with them.  I worked for a Democratic House speaker once and these days child abuse and neglect is not an issue for them either.  So, why should I care?

Continue reading "Murdered Detroit toddler Tashona Holmes will be forgotten" »

Part #8--I finally found my dad-Claude Thorp-in Punta Gorda, FL

I was in my early twenties and working as a newspaper reporter at the State Capitol in Lansing.  While I was at the city library, I engaged in a habit that I developed as a youngster.  I thumbed through phone books of various cities looking for my father's name--Claude H. Thorp.

It was habit.  I never expected to find anything, so you can imagine my surprise when I found the name Claude H. Thorp in the St. Paul, MN phonebook.  My heart stopped.  I couldn't believe there would be two guys with the same name.  But, how do you check it out.  I remember the excitement I felt.  My hands were almost shaking.  It was potentially the end of a lifelong search for my dad.

My mom always claimed that he ran away from us voluntarily.  Some had suggested the possibility of amnesia.  I chose to believe that he left because his memory shut off.

Continue reading "Part #8--I finally found my dad-Claude Thorp-in Punta Gorda, FL" »

Part #7--A song: He Knows My Name

On the bulletin board in my home office, I spotted this morning, three verses of a song I saved from church--He Knows My Name.  The middle verse touched the really deep parts of my soul when I first heard it at Promise Keepers at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit several years ago.  I was there with my son.

It spoke to a need that I've felt as far back as I can remember and it's one that I've carried with me ever since.  I wanted something I never had.   I wanted my father to say, "I love you, Wes."  And, "I'm really proud of you."  Never happened, even with a father figure type.

Now don't take me wrong.  I'm not so scarred that I haven't been able to do that with my two kids.  God has poured dump trucks full of blessing on me, one after the other.  But, I still wrestled with that void.

And, then with my son, Justin, I sang this verse and it was like taking an electric shock paddle to my heart:

I have a Father:
He calls me His own:
He'll never leave me,
no matter where I go

The songwriter is Tommy Walker.  I have no idea who he is, but he nailed it.  That's what I always wanted.  Sure, the answer was always right in front of me.  I knew that, but I was never able to grab onto the handles in a way that I could make real to me. 

Now, my heart's in a different spot.  I think that I've got it.  I can now say, "I have a Father."

My prayer is that others who feel that father absence open their heart eyes and see what's in front of them.  It took me a long time to see what was always there.

I've always wondered about my dad, Claude H. Thorp, if he ever felt the presence of his father, earthly and heavenly.

Prison Fellowship seems to be MIA

Last thing, I ever saw myself getting involved in was prison ministry.  As a young newspaper reporter in Ypsilanti, Michigan, I remember seeing convicted serial murderer John Norman Collins in the courtroom and I would shake my head in disgust.  That changed when an ex-con friend of mine invited me to accompany him when he returned to the place where he did his time.

I remember that first time at Michigan Reformatory in Ionia like it was yesterday.  Every preconceived idea I had about criminals was dashed against the walls surrounding the place.  Singing "Victory in Jesus" with these guys touched my heart like it had never been touched before.

Prison Fellowship (PF) was the group sponsoring the program and our visit.  We went back and back and didn't leave ...

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Part #6 Follow-up--Why Am I Doing This?

Let me be clear about why I'm doing this:

  • I'm not off on some "woe is me" thing.  I really had it pretty good, compared to so many others.  I had a mom who showed me unconditional love.  And, I had some pretty nice aunts and uncles.
  • There's still a void there that's never been filled in a non-spiritual way.  I'd love to learn more about my father and his family.  Part of my identity has always been missing.
  • Dads who are out of the fathering game or on the fringes need to know that their kids will pay a price and so will their grandkids, their kids and on down the line.
  • Church people, believers, need to plug in to the lives of kids in this position and into the lives of the moms.
  • And, the moms and their kids need to see the utility of the Internet and blogs in finding information about the loved one who has bugged out.

Part #6--Claude H. Thorp(e) factoids

I'm picking up my father story that I started a couple of months ago with various factoids that I picked up about him from my mother or on my own:

  • His name was Claude Herbert Thorp(e) and I believe he was born in Millerton, New York.
  • He had several brothers and sisters.  Only names I remember my mother talking about are Durward, Cyrus and Grant.
  • He was in the Merchant Marine during WWII and then joined the Navy to escape something.
  • He took off the "e" in Thorpe because of some legal problems in the Navy.
  • His first wife's name was Elsie and she lived in New York City.
  • My mom and my dad met while he was in the Navy and stationed on the East Coast someplace.
  • He had a tattoo on one of his arms.
  • He had, at least, two other sons, Claude Jr., Eugene and a daughter, Karen.
  • He had a pretty successful business in St. Paul, Minnesota, a construction company.
  • From there, he moved to Punta Gorda, Florida and from there to Gainesville, Florida.
  • He was an operator.

I hope God's not teasing me

I left our men's group at church feeling pretty good this morning.  About 50 guys are being taken through John Eldredge's book Waking the Dead by Pastor David Maier.  I felt a unity of purpose among the guys there that I haven't seen before.

But, my concern is that I might be seeing something that's not there.  I'm seeing it because that's what I want to see and it doesn't reflect the reality. 

Continue reading "I hope God's not teasing me" »

Governing magazine called it wrong

Gov. Granholm trumpeted Governing magazine's story about Michigan being one of the best managed state's in the country. 

When she said that I didn't notice if her fingers were crossed. 

Oh come on. It's common knowledge that Michigan's various departments are really suffering.

The one I'm most familiar with is the Family Independence Agency.  Child abuse and neglect workers, as well as foster care workers are overloaded with cases.  Local offices are running with less than four cylinders.  Is the job getting done.

If you listen to Governing magazine and the Governor, you hear "yes."   Yeah, right.

The state of Michigan must have purchased a bunch of full-page ads in the magazine to get that kind of story.

God is not a Republican or Democrat

Our governor just finished her third State of the State.  It seemed not especially inspiring.  The big thing was a proposal to spend $2 billion for a new jobs program.  Voters would have to approve it.  There wasn't much more.  It might have merit, just how much I'm not sure. But what impressed me, actually depressed me was the Republican response while she was delivering it.  She called for bi-partisanship, working together on common issues. 

Republicans sat there like Buddas with suits and ties.  They would oppose a great idea just because it came from a Democrat.  These guys still have to govern.  Both sides will try to get point and game over the other side, without concern about the merits of what's being considered.  Hmmm...

Term-limited lawmakers haven't been a good deal for Michigan. 

Our Reps and Senators have no vested interested in developing relationships with the other sides.  They can act the partisan fool with full knowledge that they have an end date in the near future.  The Great Lakes state deserves better. It makes me glad that I've retired from the Michigan Legislature. Michigan citizens need to demand accountability from the people who represent them.  And they need to get rid of term limits.

Gov. Granholm's State of the State

Right now, I'm listening to Gov. Granholm's State of the State in Michigan.  The only plank in her platform about protecting kids is to control violent video games.  What a disappointment.  She could have done so much more.

What about all the abused and neglected kids who have drawn the short straw.  I'll have more to say later.