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15 posts from January 2010

Michigan should adopt "gray" as the winter season's state color

I'm looking out our front window before we go to church and I see plenty of "gray."

It seems like it's that way most everyday here in the heart of Michigan where sun is something that appears on irregular occasions during the winter.

I've found that for me it's easy to let the lack of sunshine sap the vitality out of me.  You have to make the sunshine in your head even though it's not doing it outside.

But I have to admit that two words are becoming more relevant to me: 1) snow; 2) bird.  That's snow bird.  It's where Michigan people take an annual break from the cold and the grayness down south usually to Florida.

The idea is starting to have appeal.  Today, I'd be ready to go right after church.

My first live Michigan State Of The State Address was given by Gov. George Romney

If you live in Michigan, chances are that you won't pay much attention to Gov. Jennifer Granholm's last State Of The State address on Wednesday night.  There will be some die hard types who will watch it on television with most everybody else choosing to ignore it to watch another episode of Everybody Loves Raymond.

There might be some attention given to the antics of the more than 1,000 expected protesters outside the State Capitol Building.  But after that the speech will be forgotten for the most part.

It hasn't always been that way.  I remember when the State Of The State address was widely-anticipated, watched closely when it was delivered and then discussed in detail for the next several months.

My guess is that I've seen live, at least, 30 of these annual addresses where the Michigan House and Senate hold session together to hear the state's top political leader give his appraisal of where the state has been, where it was at that time and where he would like to lead it.  Just a note, I said "he" because I've never seen one of Gov. Granholm's speeches live.

The first two that I saw were delivered by Gov. George Romney in 1963 when I was a page in the Michigan Senate and 1968 when I was a reporter for the Michigan State University's daily student newspaper, the State News.  For the second one, I sat on the floor with then state House member Bob Traxler on one side and James Karoub on the other.

I remember that the two Democratic members that I sat with listened closely to a speech that was filled with observations and proposals and I remember writing a story that got page one play in the daily paper for the MSU campus.

Going back to this Wednesday night and the Granholm address, will I watch?  I probably should.  Our state is at a crossroads and I should follow what's happening.  Will I watch?  Probably not.  It seems like it has degenerated into partisan puffery.  Would I choose poltical party blathering or Everybody Loves Raymond.  Probably go with Ray.

My son-in-law Adam called: OUR UNBORN GRANDCHILD, IT'S A BOY

Now I can be more specific when talking about my grandchild who's due to make an appearance sometime in image from late June.

My son-in-law Adam called on the way home from the ultrasound and said our first grandchild will be a  BOY!  Now I can talk about my grandson.  "Let me tell you about my grandson."  "Have you seen the latest picture of my grandson."  "My grandson has a real head of hair."  So, as a first time grandparent, I can practice how the words roll off my tongue.

For a guy, sons are really special in their own way, as daughters are.  Having a grown son, I can speak from experience. 

Adam will be a great dad.  His son will see a real man in real life and will have somebody worthy to emulate.

My daughter Krista and her husband Adam are really special people and they will have a very super child, our grandson.  I'm excited.

Specific things to pray for in Haiti

I just spotted this blog post from Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle about specifics we can pray for Haiti and all their needs.  It's a long list, but I'm sure it could be dramatically longer.

Driscoll and James McDonald of Harvest Bible Church in the Chicago-area are leaving for Haiti today with relief supplies.

Does anybody have other prayer requests for Haiti?

My online reading before church

Here's what I'm reading online before we leave for church this morning:

  • Importance of respecting all of human life:  Our Daily Bread devotion this a.m. is based on Psalm 139:14 which says, "I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made."  This means God had a hand in creating everybody.
  • Blogger writes what he see's in Haiti:  Billy Graham Evangelistic Association blogger Jeremy Hunt writes about what he sees while following workers from his group's aid organization, including it's Rapid Response Team and Samaritan's Purse.
  • State's unfunded mandates cost locals:  MLive story reports how a state commission has found that the Michigan Legislature has mandated local units of government to pay for certain items without reimbursing them as required by state constitution.  Costs locals more than $2 billion.
  • Denise Ilitch's obstacles to run for governor:  She's from a wealthy family and she's an accomplished business person, but her ownership of a Detroit casino may inhibit her in funding her run for governor of Michigan, according to a Detroit News story.  State laws strictly prohibit where casino owners can give money to political candidates.
  • 82-year-old snowmobiler prepares for 3,700 mile ride:  This guy is a bright light for anybody who has a little age.  Check out his upcoming snowmobile ride in this Grand Rapids Press story, and why he's doing it.  Also check the blog tracking the upcoming trip.

Harrison Ford visited our house just about every weekend

It usually happened on the weekends after the kids had their baths and the pizza was just out of the oven.  We would turn on one of a handful of Harrison Ford movies.  We saw the Fugitive so many times that we had the lines memorized, but we stilled watched like we weren't sure how it would turn out.

The same for Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger and some of the Indiana Jones movies.

Our kids have emptied the nest, but this week we will see another Harrison Ford movie, Extraordinary Measures where he plays a doctor helping a father of a child with Pompe disease. 

It should be good and I'm sure I won't need a cup of coffee to stay awake.  Anybody else going to see if when it's released this next week?  Check out this interview in Time magazine this week with Ford:

Continuing to get ready for church tomorrow

I'm continuing to work on my heart to get ready for church tomorrow.

I just printed this post from the Rev. Paul McCain on his blog Cyberbrethren who provided this excerpt from C.W. Walther, one of the founders of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, about the importance renewing your heart daily before God.

Now I admit that I can get lost in what I see sometimes as a lot of God talk that only theologians and theologically-oriented people can grab onto.  But, this quote seems to make sense given the context of where I'm at during this part of my life.  I just wish I would have given this more thought earlier in my life.

I need to recalibrate my heart spiritually everyday.  I know that I'm saved by what Jesus did for me in dying on the cross.  But, sin is still part of my everyday life.  I need to go before God everyday and confess it and start fresh.  I think I'll print this post so I can continue to think about the content.

Anybody have any thoughts on this?  Do you do this and how do you do it?

Time for a "faith check" as I get ready to start a new week

I know I need to get my head and my heart ready for next week.  Far too often, I let things happen which requires me to be reactive instead of proactive.

I'm trying to take this quote that I scrawled in an old Bible to heart:

  1. What has God not done in my life because of a lack of faith?

  2. Is Jesus amazed by my faith or my lack of faith?

I've tried doing things in my own strength and it hasn't worked well.  Check Mark 6:6.   I know better and these quotes remind me of that.

What does bankruptcy for Detroit News owners mean for Michigan?

Did you know that the owners of the Detroit News are filing for bankruptcy?

Check out this Detroit Free Press story about how it's an organized effort where the debt holders have signed off on the move and where the owners say it won't affect the Detroit News or its operation.  That remains to be seen.

The Detroit News has played a proud role in Michigan in covering just about everything in our state, particularly politics.  Over the years, we've seen it diminish in size and in what it covers.  It's not even a shadow of its former self.

What are your memories of the Detroit News and its incredible coverage of the State Capitol, Washington, sports and local government?

Would the world be better without Democrats?

It seems like my computer has a political virus.

I'm on a lot of e-mail lists and part of a large number of Twitter groups relating to politics.  In the past, I've considered myself a Republican with a strongly-held opinion that the best government is the one that governs least.

I've worked in and around politics all of my adult life, some as a newspaper reporter and a chunk as a legislative staffer.

Many of my Republican friends believe that the road to hell is paved with Democrats and vice versa.  The back-and-forth rhetoric is ugly and devoid of any respect for each other.  It's easy to buy into this partisan mindset.

I was invited to be a guest-blogger on the PBC show Off The Record with Tim Skubick and the liberal bloggers climbed down my throat as soon as the red light of the camera went on.  Their attitude seemed to be that the only good Republican is a dead one because they are tools of satan.

I might lose more weight than I want this year because of the rhetoric.  It makes me want to vomit.  Is that what the political parties want?  How about you?  What's your reaction to the level of the political discussion?

How transparent can a politician be and still win?

Political candidates will come out of the woodwork here in Michigan in the coming weeks.

We will see some of their announcements on television, will see some of their websites, get their mail and, maybe, even meet them when they come door-to-door.

It should be a dynamic experience when we select who's going to represent us at the various levels of government.  But, it has transitioned into a bothersome exercise where candidates give as little information about themselves as possible, particularly with the "who, what, when, where, how, why and so what" about themselves and the office they are seeking.

Many of them will talk about transparency in government and about themselves and then move on to thumb-sucking platitudes about how they are for good schools, safe neighborhoods and more jobs.  And, that's it.

I want to know more about each one of them.  How about you?  I want to know about the values and the character of the candidates and I want to know about their knowledge of the process and of the issues.  I also want to know about how they will work in a legislative process that has built in frustrations, temptations and other obstacles which have tripped up many good people.

How damaging would it be to a political candidate to admit weakness about something?  Their knowledge of certain issues?  The interest groups that they take money from?  Their views about the issues?  When they make political decisions?  When they accept a freebie from a lobbyist?

Do taxpayers really want honesty with their political leaders and how would they react to it?

Do I speak from an experiential base?  Yup.

My morning routine and telling the truth

image from Do you have a routine when you get up in the morning?  I do.

This morning I followed my usual Wednesday morning moves by grabbing the scales and weighing myself.  As a Weight Watcher Online member, this is weigh-in day.  Then I grabbed my Mac Book Air and then checked my e-mail and then went to the Radio Bible Class website.

My first visit there was to their devotional Our Daily Bread and then Daily Strength by Dr. Joe Stowell.  Why do I do this?  It's simple.  I need to get my heart and head pointed in the right direction--toward God--for the day.  I don't have the mental stamina to read through the Bible in a year like some of my online friends.

This morning it was RBC's online Daily Strength that got my attention.  It was based on Ephesians 4:25 about putting off lies and telling the truth.  He shares a story from his own life as a pastor of a small church where he lied to his Sunday School superintendent.  In today's culture, it would be something understandable and accepted. 

But, it really bothered him and he couldn't function right until he admitted what he did and asked forgiveness.  And that's what God would want us to do, according to that verse.

Then, he has application for everyday life.

I get it.  But, far too often I've ignored it and I think that's something I need to deal with.  Spending my life around politics, one was encouraged to shade the truth to favor your party, your candidate or your boss.  Most people would say it was understandable and acceptable.

But, God says its not.

About my weigh-in this morning, I had to move the scales three times until I got 210.6.  Otherwise, it would have been 211.8.  Which one should I record online?

My New Year's Resolutions: I need to be physically fit

I used to run when I was in my mid 20s to early 30s.  It started when I worked for former Michigan House Speaker Bobby Crim who was a runner of the first order.  His enthusiasm and encouragement got a lot of us to join him at the Downtown YMCA in Lansing.image from

It was great because as I ran around that small track inside the building there were a lot of things happening.  It was 24 laps to the mile, so it wasn't hard to run a lap, run a few more and work your way up.  There were the social aspects.  Every morning I ran with lots of people from the legislature, various state departments and others who worked in the downtown area.

I ran in some races and enjoyed it and I felt good because I was fairly trim and I was fit.  And then my life went through various transitions and I found myself reverting to old habits and ouch, I had gained the it all back.

Now as a baby-boomer of the first class, my knees can hurt and so can an ankle where I have a plate with some screws.

During the summer, we walked outside on many days and now with the snow and the ice, I'm left with the treadmill and the mall.

I need to resolve to do it everyday where I break a sweat.

I also need to continue my journey on Weight Watchers Online which has helped me move from 238 to 210 with another 15 pounds as my goal.  That means watching and recording what I eat.

Two resolutions right there:  Walking and Weight Watchers Online.

What about you other baby-boomers?  Have you struggled with this area?  What are you doing or what do you want to do?

A starting point for my baby-boomer New Year's resolution setting

UPDATE:  Here's the post written by my son, Justin, that inspired me to think about my own New Year's resolutions.

It's been five years since I retired from my day job as a legislative staff member in the Michigan House of Representatives.  It's time for me to take a serious look at where I've been, what I've done and where I want to go.

image from I realize that at age 63, it's important for me to pick what I want to concentrate on wisely.  I've got more life behind me than I do ahead of me.  That's just a reality.

What's my baseline for deciding where I want to spend my thoughts, my efforts and my passion?  That's changed over the years pretty dramatically.

All my life I've been a person filled with passion to help make the world a better place, especially as it related to the things I experienced.  For me, it was my single-mom who was married right after World War II, had me, and then had by dad disappear to never be heard from again.

Back then, the world was not kind to women in that position.  Social services were almost non-existent. Churches, the place where you'd expect love and help for a person in that position, were no-shows when it came to practicing what they preach.  And public officials, at least the one's from the local city hall, kicked around single moms like they were an old almost deflated soccer ball.

That's why I became a newspaper reporter, got involved in politics at a variety of levels and spent a good chunk of my life as a staffer in our state legislature.  I wanted to make things better.

Well, you can see what happened to the news business.  Politics is ripe and overflowing with individuals who are interested mainly in themselves.  Oh yeah, I got involved with the church.  Religion as defined by the contemporary church can be toxic to individuals. 

After experiencing the ultimate reality show of daily living, I have come to the conclusion that the answer is in none of those.

It rests with my relationship with Jesus Christ.  That's not a popular thing to say.  Some will point and say, "Wes, you've gone extreme."  No, I haven't really.

There's nothing left.  There's nothing that really provides hope that lasts other than that relationship which requires faith.  This is my starting or continuing point if you will for the next period of time.  The Bible verse, the word as stated in God's book: 

Acts 20:24 (The Message)

 22-24"But there is another urgency before me now. I feel compelled to go to Jerusalem. I'm completely in the dark about what will happen when I get there. I do know that it won't be any picnic, for the Holy Spirit has let me know repeatedly and clearly that there are hard times and imprisonment ahead. But that matters little. What matters most to me is to finish what God started: the job the Master Jesus gave me of letting everyone I meet know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God.


Reacting to my son's New Year's resolutions

My son, Justin, just published his list of resolutions for the New Year and my instant reaction is to say, image from "Right on, man.  Go for it."  It's a pretty impressive list of goals and includes things like writing a book about what he's learned in his field, cooking a couple of big meals every month for his friends, losing  weight and running more and about traveling around the country.

What else can I say?

Well, he's made think about my goals for the next year as a somebody who will turn 64 at the end of the summer.

I realize that I'm at a point where I need to narrow down my goals to the things most important to me.  Perhaps, I need to put together my list and get blog input as I shift the pieces around and move some off the list.

His employer, Clearspring Technologies which has the AddThis for content sharing on the web, is lucky to have him, especially in his position as community manager.  He knows how to pull people together and how to serve them in a way that's an example to others.

UPDATE:  My son has inspired me to look at my own New Year's Resolutions from a babyboomer point-of-view.