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40 posts from June 2014

With my grandkids, learning the old art of throwing water balloons


Have you ever thrown water balloons with your kids?



Our grandson and granddaughter from Bosnia are learning the basics of a fun life, like throwing water balloons where they burst on contact.  It's something that every kids needs to know.  They are having fun.  Next year, we are going to recruit our St. Louis grandson Miles who will be one year old.

LINKS: My "to read" list for the next week--Start of World War I in Sarajevo and more

Do you come across articles and posts on the web that you don't want to read now, but would like to take time with later?  

I have a collection of links that I've accumulated and have been left as orphans that I either forget or never get back to.  Today is no different.  I do want to read these:

  1. New York Times article about the divisions in Sarajevo, Bosnia where World War I got started with the assassination of  Archduke Ferdinand and his wife Sophie on a non-descript bridge there.  I stood on the bridge and I have family that lives about three hours down the road.  
  2. Wall Street Journal package of stories about the legacies left from World War I after 100 years.
  3. Wall Street Journal story about what children of aging parents need to know.
  4. Daily Beast writes about Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as a dark horse Republican in the race for the presidency.  
  5. Detroit Free Press raises the question of whether charter school have been oversold as performers in teaching children.

Quote: Will the gospel soon be banned as hate speech?

Are we heading in the direction of banning mention of the gospel of Jesus Christ because it will be regarded as hate speech?  Here's what Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham says:

“I believe that a time is fast approaching–I think it will be in my lifetime–when the preaching of the Gospel is referred to as hate speech.”

We are in the middle of a full week of hands-on grandparenting

My granddaughter
My granddaughter puts on her gloves to get ready for the day

Super-wife and I are being full-time, hands-on grandparents this week as our daughter and her husband attend a conference.  

We are loving it.  We have learned a ton about our grandparent role and about ourselves.  We are tired by 9 p.m.  

I wouldn't pass up this experience for anything and I look forward to more, including those including our newest grandson Miles.

What can I say about my son--Justin Thorp--and his newborn son Miles?

My son and my very new grandson Miles
I'm sure that my new grandson Miles and his dad will be like two peas in a pod.

I love getting his text messages during the day about life with his almost week-old son.  My son Justin seems like he's a natural born father.  His texts range from reporting that he changed 11 diapers the day before to he had a poop that could only be described as nuclear.

He and his wife Lauren are really excited about the new addition to their family that had consisted of them, a dog and a cat.  Now, they have a son and Justin is loving every minute of it.

This excites me for a lot of reasons.  One is that all this really shows the grace of God.  Miles is really healthy and he was born a month early.  But, more importantly, it demonstrates that coming from a background of poor fathering is not a predictor of the kind of dad a guy is going to be.

I had no father figure and I had no siblings and I can say that the best job of my life has been being a father.  That is topped only by being a husband.  The poor fathering cycle has been broken officially.  This is proof.  Thank-you God.

Going to St. Louis with my wife to meet our new grandson "Miles Thorp" was a real joyride

Gladys gets to meet her new grandson.

Check mom and son and dad and grandma.
Two grandmas celebrate with a big hug.

Gladys and I were just sitting down to a living room lunch yesterday where we watch a Netflix television show everyday while we eat.  Then we got a call from our son Justin who said that his pre-born son Miles was soon to make his entrance into the world.

Knowing that we were fully mobile, he told us to pack a few things and hop in our car and head west to St. Louis and the hospital where Miles would be born.  Within an hour or so we were in the car heading out to meet the newest member of our expanding family who was getting ready to make an appearance.

We got there about seven hours before he was born.  As his arrival got closer, we checked into the birthing suite and gave a high five to our daughter-in-law Lauren who was getting prepared for the real hard part of the job.  Then Grandma Thorp, Grandma Morris and I went to the waiting room just around the corner.  We waited.  We visited.  We got the latest from Justin when he stepped out and we got his texts.

Then at 5:20 or so this morning, listening through the door, we heard the doctor say, "You've got a baby."  And then came the passionate cries of our newborn grandson.  His cries were loud and persistent.  

After a bath and other things to get him ready for visitors, we were invited to step in to see him, the new mom and our son who witnessed one of life's greatest miracles, the birth of your own child.

The grandmas held him and then it was my turn.  All I could think of was the great privilege of being part of a family.  I told him about how much his mom and dad loved him and how he was a real winner.  He pretended like he was sleeping.

I'm way over 10,000 Reasons to give thanks to God.  Meeting Miles was one.  There's his parents.  There's his extended family.

Gladys and I started our family as two a day short of our 33rd anniversary.  We are now nine.  Praise God.  My heart is still smiling.


This could be the answer for those who feel they just can't take it anymore

I was raised by a single-mom who faced insurmountable odds in day-to-day living.  The cards always seemed stacked against her big time.  But, she perservered and did it.  I'm pretty sure this is how she handled those days.  This is from the Twitter feed of John Piper, pastor, author and speaker.

John piper


Do you ever think about your soul and how much it's worth?

I've heard a lot of "soul talk" throughout my life from the time I was a young boy to now.  

I know it's there, even though I can't see it.  I believe that it will live on after I die.  So, it's important.  How important?

Franklin Graham, an evangelist and the son of Billy Graham, during a service in Warsaw, Poland, added this to the discussion about souls:

Sunday’s message at the Festival of Hope in Warsaw came from Mark 8:34-38, a familiar yet compelling Scripture that asks, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?”

Franklin Graham repeated the question throughout the night, and it hit home for many listening.

“You could have all the iPhones in the world … control all of the armies of the earth. You could put all the euros and stack them in this arena,” he said. “Your soul is still more valuable.”


I'm going to pass on my list of super-heroes to my grandson


This holds my son's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle collection.


These guys would fight battles on our living room floor.

My grandson who turns four on Saturday is coming to our house on Saturday to visit for a few weeks.  Last year when we visited them at their home in Bosnia, he was really into watching Veggie Tales,  He knew all the characters, their songs and their dance moves.  Now it's Spider Man and other super-heroes.

This made me think of super-heroes that I adopted when I was around that age.  I remember Zorro, the Cisco Kid, the Lone Ranger, Sergeant Preston of the Yukon and Super Man.  As a young boy, I spent time in front of the radio listening to their fight for good over evil.

My son had his super-heroes too.  I remember him watching Ninja Turtles and I remember the Ninja Turtle toys that he collected and played with.

Adults have their super-heroes too.  Last night, we watched "24" on television.  Isn't Jack Bauer a super-hero.  The threats he confronts are much more global and more violent.

How important are super-heroes?  To me, they seem important.  They plant a seed that good can win over bad.  

In a couple of weeks, my second grandson will be born.  I wonder if in a couple of years whether he will be into super-heroes.  Will he be playing Ninja Turtles with my son?  Will he know about the Lone Ranger?  Zorro?  Super Man?  I can't wait to tell him.

Was it ever too late for my scum bag dad to become a great dad?


"Baby Boy Thorp" will know he's loved and valued by his Dad--my son-- and by his Mom.  He will have a positive male role model and will learn how to become a man.


I kind of lost track of Focus on the Family and it's organization.  My wife and I listened to its radio program pretty faithfully when our kids were really young.  We learned a lot about everything form the strong-willed child to  how to discipline.

Dr. James Dobson retured and was replaced by Jim Daly who I had never heard much about.  Then I clicked on this tweet about how it's never too late to become a great Dad.  I've thought about that issue a lot over the years because of my birth father who deserted my Mom and me when I was a toddler.   He never came back, never called, wrote or did anything to support us.  He was a true "Scum bag Dad."  

I found him when I was in my 20s.  He had a whole different family, lived on the other side of the country and had lots of money.  He totally rejected me.  His parting words to me involved a threat to my life and then I left.  

The question I often wondered about was whether he could have moved the daddy needle from being a scumbag to being a real dad.  Can anybody else relate to this?

Jim Daly of Focus on the Family comes from a no-dad background.  And in this intereview with Christianity Today, he talks about his experience in plain terms that I can relate to.  He learned how to be a man and how to be a Dad by default.  He had no male role models.  

If this type of experience matches yours or that of somebody you know, this might be helpful.  This is a  multi-layered topic that reeks with emotion that most guys don't want to show.

Which end of the spectrum are you on, Dad or Son?  Daughter?

We've done a lot of living in the almost 33 years since we got married at Immanuel in Bay City

I think Gladys and I could sit down at the table on the back deck and spend the rest of the day talking about everything we've experienced together since we got married on June 20, 1981.  This picture was taken as we took our vows at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Bay City, Michigan.  It was a major life moment for each of us.

If I ever need proof of God's presence and an example of his grace, I just need to look at this picture and think about all the things that we've experienced together since.  Thank-you God.

We were saying our vows to each other when this picture was taken. Notice our ring-bearer sitting in front of the railing on the right side.

Our house will be the one with the big smile that comes with your grandkids

Xavier and gretchen
A page from my Father's Day e-card from them.

I've been practicing smiling the past couple of weeks, so my face doesn't hurt later this week from all the smiles that come from two of our grandkids being here for about a month.  I know that I'll be using smile muscles that haven't been exercised in a while.

They live in Eastern Europe and are in this country for a few month with their parents, our daughter Krista and son-in-law Adam.  We have all kinds of things on our to-do list, a backyard slip and slide, all kinds of books, the zoo and bunches of other stuff.

Super-wife and I have been working at getting in shape for an 18-month-old grandaugther and almost four year-old grandson.  We are ready, we think.  

This face-to-face visit will be special.  We see them often, but it's usually over FaceTime on our computers.  It's a wonderful way to visit from a distance.  

For the next month, it will be hands-on grandparenting.

For my 50th high school class reunion, they asked what I was most proud of

Inside the invitation to my 50th high school class reunion this fall was an insert asking me to write a short piece about my last five decades of life since I left T. L. Handy High School in Bay City, Michigan.  It's for a memory yearbook for each member of the class of 1964.

One of the items they want each class member to share is accomplishments and awards.  They also asked everybody to talk about the jobs they've had.  I've had a bunch since I left high school.

For me, there's only one answer.  It's my family and my kids.  Father's Day is a strong reminder of how I feel every other day of the year.  It would take a big server with gigabytes of space to hold all the memories and there's unused space for more.

It started with my wife and me and then came my daughter and then my son.  Then there was a son-in-law, a grandson, a daughter-in-law, a granddaughter and a pre-born grandson who is coming real soon.

I feel like Matt Redmond in his song 10,000 Reasons to thank and praise God.  At this point, I can find way more than that number.  I'm still counting.  Thank-you God, bigtime.


Six month old Justin, Krista and my wife Gladys


This was from an e-card that I got this morning. This was taken in Vienna, Austria.


Gladys looks at great shot of Justin and Lauren.


I love this father-son picture taken long time ago.


My wife is teaching the country to make change through her YouTube video

Not everybody's brain is wired to make change or to count back change in their heads.  I know that mine isn't.  My wife, a retired third grade teacher, showed me a chart she used to teach the skill in her classroom.  When she did it, I recorded it with my Flip video and then put it up on YouTube.  

Every so often I get a comment from somebody reacting to the video.  As adults, they are looking for help when they get to the cash register.

How many people have viewed it?  As of this morning, more than 39,000.  


Is the "Tea Party" just folks who drool when they talk, move their lips when they read, wear white socks?

From my perch here in mid-Michigan, it's far too easy to think that Tea Party types are just a bunch of drooling rednecks who are bigoted and who have below average IQ.  Am I wrong in how liberals characterize Tea Party types.

Television political commentator Chris Matthews, in this video clip, reminds everybody of the reality that these are real middle-class people who are fed up with government and it failed promises.

My son Justin is getting excited for the arrival of his son Baby Boy Thorp

My son and his wife will meet their son soon.

 When I woke up this morning I clicked on this link to pictures of dads taken of them with their new baby.  I scrolled through each one and I read what each one had to say about the moment.  I know that Justin's getting excited to be a dad.

There's nothing like the anticipation of meeting and holding your new child.  I was able to have that experience two times.  Now it's his turn.  I am excited for him and for his wife Lauren.  Words can't describe how happy I am for them.  

I'm still feeling my way around in my position as a grandfather.  I never saw a job description. And I never knew my grandparents.  I too can't wait to meet Baby Boy Thorp. 

Do I want to jump out of an airplane like 90-year-old former President Bush?


Trying to decide what I want to do before I turn 70 in two-years.

 I read this story in the Huffington Post about President George H.W. Bush jumping out of a helicopter in Maine today, his 90th birthday.  He, apparently, has a bucket list that's long and many of the items involve getting an adrenaline rush.  

I'm a little more than two years from turning 70 and I'm trying to get clarification about what I really want to get done before I hit my expiration date.  I've been using  

Former President Bush is a great example to older baby-boomers who are coming to grips with the reality that they have more life behind them than ahead.

How many of you baby-boomers have a list of things you want to do?  I'm still working on mine.