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18 posts from March 2015

What can you learn about dealing with cancer and death from young mom Kara Tippetts?

I stumbled onto Kara Tippetts' blog about her life as a young mom dealing with incurable cancer.  I was drawn by her spirit and her focus on God.  Her transparency makes her experience even more real.  I've read her book The Hardest Peace-expecting grace in life's hard.  

This video clip is a trailer that's part of a documentary being produced about her and her reaction to her disease.  

My heart is touched by this very real family dealing with some really tough stuff.  For me, I see it as a template for how to deal with circumstances that bring you to a wall that seems impossible to get through.


Letter to my Grandson Miles: You and I ate oatmeal together for breakfast during your weekend in Michigan


Grandson Miles eats oatmeal for breakfast.
My eight-month old grandson really likes oatmeal. He's a handson eater.



Dear Miles,

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.


Grandpa Thorp

Letter to my Grandson Miles: Going to the sheep farm at Michigan State University with you was real fun

My grandson and a black sheep at MSU
My eight-month old Grandson Miles goes eyeball-to-eyeball with a sheep at Michigan State University.

Dear Miles,

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.


Grandpa Thorp

Sheep pens at MSU.
You were all smiles around the MSU sheep.
One of the MSU sheep pens.
My grandson's eyes were wide-open at the MSU sheep farm.

Was Zeek Braverman from Parenthood television series a good dad?

I just saw this great question on Facebook.  Was Zeek Braverman the patriarch of a big family on Parenthood a good dad?  

What makes a good dad?

I look at my son Justin and my son-in-law Adam and I see great dads.  They are there for their kids.  Their kids know they are loved and accepted by their dads.  I love looking at pictures of them with their kids.  

What about Zeek?  Good dad?  Why?


Zeek Braverman.  A good dad?
Here's a great question about a television dad.



Our weekend guests, grandson Miles and his dad and mother are getting ready to hit the road



Father and son, the apple tree and the apple.
Our grandson Miles and his best bud, our son Justin and mom Lauren are getting ready to head out to Michigan.


If you drive by our house this weekend, it will be the one that the sun is shining specially bright on and  that is smiling big time because of the visit of three special people, our youngest grandson Miles, his dad Justin and mom Lauren.  They will be here for the weekend.

Miles is eight months old.  He's smiley, chatty and has really bright eyes.  I can't wait to see him, spend some time reading, talking, playing on the floor and eating together.  

I remember countless experiences when his dad was that age and grew into toddlerhood.  One involves socks and where you take them off.  When he was a toddler and while we were eating supper around a circular table, I took my socks off and left them under the table.  I did that most days.  

One night after supper, we moved into the living room, Justin sat down, took his socks off and ambled into the kitchen and with socks in hand, he put them under the table.  Like father, like son.  What will Miles learn from his dad?  Will he pick up habits because he saw his dad doing them?

They should be here around suppertime, I guess.

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Body piercing, Greek stir fry, gas for $3.99 per gallon, my grandkids play with Uncle Wes' doll house



This is the sign at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Lansing, Michigan exactly seven years ago today.  This tiny church changes its signs often with some pithy statement that matches the season or an emphasis in the ministry.  Have you seen any church signs in your area that got your attention?


Stir fry at the Athena Restaurant in Lansing.
One year ago today, my wife and I ate at the Athena Restaurant on the southside of Lansing, Michigan. Stir fry here was great.

My wife and I were out a year ago today and decided to have lunch at the Athena Restaurant in Lansing, the site of the old John's Restaurant where diners ordered by using phones at each booth.  When our kids were young, it was a novelty for them to use the phone.  The meal that we had a year ago was great.

Check the price for gas at this Lansing gas station.
Three years ago today this is what we were paying for gas in Lansing. This is on South Waverly and a station we go to frequently. The price was $3.99 per gallon.

There were months where I felt like I should be an investor in this Shell gas station.  We drive a small car, but filling a tank during this period could get us way too close to $40.

My grandkids play with a doll house made by my Uncle Wes.
Two of my grandkids play with a doll house made by my Uncle Wes Moll, a toymaker. This happened on a Thursday this past September.

My Uncle Wes who I was named after worked most of his life as a gas station operator.  When he retired he became a successful maker of wooden toys.  He made cars, trucks, planes, trains and doll houses.  At Christmas time this past year, two of my grandchildren played with one of his doll houses that he made before he passed away.

I skipped out on Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy last night to witness part of Jesus' trip to Jerusalem


Ada Bible Church sermon notes
Some of my rough notes from last Sunday's sermon at Ada Bible Church


It was just before 7 p.m. last night and I felt myself being pulled away from watching Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, two television shows that give me a minimum mental workout.  Like a dripping faucet that you can't shut off, I kept hearing last Sunday's sermon by Pastor Jeff Manion at Ada Bible Church.

His current sermon series is on the Five Days of Jesus that lead up to the day that he is crucified.  He is essentially retelling that part of the story from the Bible and trying to show how it gives us a window into the heart and actions of the person we celebrate on Easter Day.  Keep in mind, he's human and he is also God.  He's God in skin.

While I heard on the TV, contestants telling Pat Sajak, give me this or that letter, I read about Jesus passing through Jericho and then going over to the Mount of Olives where he paused to look down on Jerusalem.

During the sermon, Jeff Manion said, it was his prayer that during the sermon series that we would understand him more, that we would feel some of the same things he felt, see some of the same things he saw and that we love and trust him more.

I really want to give this a chance.  For far too long, my view of Easter has been numbed by hearing it all my life.  I need to concentrate more on the "so what" of what happened as recorded in the Bible.  My view of Easter started to be shaped by a Bible story book read to me when I was a small child.  The problem is that it probably hasn't changed much as I have gotten older.

Here's a link to a clip from the sermon.

This Bible story book was given to me as a child in 1950.
My Aunt Mable Moll gave me this Bible story book in 1950 My views of God and Jesus were shaped by these stories.


I will have at least one six pack of Founders Dirty Bastard Ale when my son comes this weekend


Scotch ale
The words Dirty Bastard take on a new meaning with this beer from Founders

When I became of age, fancy beer-drinking was having a Shlitz in a frosted mug.  Then there was the Miller's beer that came in a clear bottle.

My thirty-year-old son introduced me to craft beer this summer in St. Louis when his son was born and we stayed there a week.  He took me to the Urban Chestnut beer hall where they served me their Schnickelfrtz and visited Schafly's not too far away.  Later we made a return visit with my son-in-law.  I really picked up on the difference in tastes.

My son and his family are coming this weekend and I'm stocking up with some Michigan craft beer.  First choice is Founders Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale.  

I'm not good as describing tastes, but it's has a personality and a flavor that speaks to me.  He and I drank it when he and the fan visited over Thanksgiving.  

What other Michigan craft beers should I stock up with before they come on Friday?

This guy is going to spend the weekend at our house and he's bringing his parents


Miles on FaceTime
If the weather cooperates, this little guy is coming to our house this weekend. This is from an FaceTime chat we had with him on Sunday.


I'm really looking forward to spending time this weekend with my youngest grandson who's nearing nine months old.  I can't wait to talk with him, read him some stories, glance at the newspaper and play with all his neat toys.

There are lots of stories I can tell him about our family, about his dad, his grandma and me.  If you're in our neighborhood, our house will be the one with the big smile, like the one we had this summer and at Christmas when our older grandson and our granddaughter, along with our daughter and son-in-law visited.

After I publish this, I'm going right over to Amazon to check on selfie poles for my iPhone.  I'd like to see if I can take some cool video of the visit.

A NOTE:  I just ordered a selfie pole from Amazon which extends to 50" and allows use of my iPhone camera through a bluetooth connection.  I paid for it with Discover Card bonus credit.

How can I use my iPhone5 and my point and shoot to tell stories?

My temptation is to say, "yeah, Casey Neistat is a pretty young guy who can use iPhone video to effectively tell a story.  And I am getting closer to crossing over to 70.  How much can I learn?"

I thrive on hearing stories and learning about other people.  I enjoy hearing them directly from other people and I love reading them.  And, I also feel that I have a few stories inside of me and some which are still happening.

I really need to kick the can down the road on this one with the visit of my grandson and his parents this weekend.  Miles is eight months old and I was just outside the delivery room door when he was born.  There have to be lots of little stories that can be told about their visit using words and visuals, both still and video.

Here's a couple of thought provoking YouTube videos from filmmaker Neistat that I viewed this morning.  They are helpful.


Watch this short film clip from Ada Bible Church sermon about five of the last days of Jesus


Jeff mansion teaching about Jesus.
This is a screen grab of Ada's Facebook page.

 It's lunch time and I'm taking a few minutes to meditate and center my heart on what Jesus did and experienced as he entered Jerusalem to be crucified.  This clip of the sermon is on the Ada Bible Church Facebook page.  I've heard many of these stories before many times, but I've become numbed out to them.  I pray that God will open my heart and let me soak all this in, so I can get to know him better.

Link to today's Ada Bible Church Beyond The Weekend devotion based on the sermon.

Here's the eyedrops that I was taking everyday two years ago today

Eyedrops and eye pressure pills I took two years ago today.
A year ago today these are the eyedrops that I was taking everyday. I also took two pills to lower the pressure in my eyes.

My eye journey two years ago at this time took me through some very experiential waters.  My eye pressure spiked and after several surgeries my right eye took some time to heal.  The experience took me through some uncharted waters of impaired vision and pain.  

These eyedrops helped me get back on track and, of course, care from my team of ophthalmologists.

To keep track of all the drops that I needed my wife, a retired grade school teacher, made me a very simple to use chart.

How far can I move the needle in my relationship with Jesus during Lent this year?

 I invite you to watch the sermon which is about 15 minutes into this video.


For much of my life, I went to Lenten services on Wednesday nights which were usually preceded by a church supper.  Then we'd go to the service which was very liturgical and which centered on some aspect of Jesus' final week before the crucifixion and resurrection.

Most sermons I heard about this important time in history and in everybody's spiritual life were delivered in a seminary style using big theological word.  For me, they didn't seem to dig deep into my heart that was formed in a place called Banks in Bay City, Michigan.  

Right now, we are attending Ada (Michigan) Bible Church where Pastor Jeff Manion has a strong Gospel orientation, but has the teaching ability to make the Bible more understandable and relevant.

Yesterday, he started a sermon series on the Five Days of Jesus as he approaches Jerusalem, gets there and then deals with the brutality of his crucifixion.

My prayer is to make space for the Holy Spirit to pound this deep in my heart and to encourage others to take the same journey with me.

Casey Neistat has opened my eyes to the possibilities of one person film-making where one point is made

I love watching YouTube videos and video clips, especially those which tell a story.  I've played with two different Flip video cameras, the video camera on my iPhone and the video on my point and shoot camera.

I've amassed hundreds of video clips, everything from my youngest grandson's first cry as I listened through the door of the delivery room and my oldest grandson when I held him for the first time within an hour of when he was born and he wailed.

But, I've never used the video to tell a story.  Then I ran across Casey Neistat on YouTube where I watched at least a hundred of his online videos where he uses the medium to tell stories about his everyday life experiences.

Watching his video is like eating potato chips.  It's hard to stop watching.  He appears to have hundreds online.  When I finish one, I'm anxious to see one more and learn about him and what he does and how he does it.

I never realized what Snapchat was until I watched about 50 of his Snaps.  What a great way for people to communicate.

Am I willing to do the work to learn more and up my video game to tell a story?  Yeah, I want to try.

Check Casey out on You Tube.


Unlike Zeek Braverman on Parenthood, I'm not our family patriarch, but the "Grand Dude"


This is my new job title. In my family, I'm the "Grand Dude"

Our family, my wife and I, our daughter and son-in-law and our son and daughter-in-law, were real fans of the television series Parenthood.  At one point, one of them described me as the family patriarch, a word I don't use.  

Then, as I understood what it meant I started to see the importance of the role as the family encourager in chief and the one who can dispense wisdom as asked for and needed.  

My role model was Zeek Braverman from the show.  He was far from perfect but acquired a knack for encouragement and an archive of wisdom  learned from decades of life.

The word patriarch sounds too much of biblical figures like Abraham.  But, my son Justin and his wife Lauren and my grandson Miles gave me the t-shirt in this picture which says, "I am the Grand Dude."  I like that better.  It's me.

My grandson Miles
My grandson Miles and his two cousins, Xavier and Gretchen, made me the "Grand Dude"

Dislocated lens note: I saw two of Pastor Jeff Manion in church today


An iPhone picture of the opening of the service at Ada (MI) Bible Church.
This is the pastor who opened the service before Jeff Manion spoke at Ada Bible Church. Yes, I saw two of him also.

It happened again today in church where I saw two of the pastor as he was giving his sermon.  Pastor Jeff Manion of Ada Bible Church was teaching about the Five Days of Jesus as he was approaching Jerusalem during Holy Week and I saw two of his images.

It wasn't a twin brother and it wasn't an angel, I don't think.  It was the dislocated lens in my right eye that has come lose on one side.  This time it's producing doubles in the church setting with one image on top of the other.  

My eye and vision journey continues with this lens in my right eye having been dislocated several times.  It required surgery each time.

Along the way, I have acquired glaucoma and have had a retinal detachment.  

In the mornings, my dislocated lens moves and makes reading very difficult.  After a period of time, it adjusts.

However, one of my ophthalmologists on Friday said, I am not going blind.  However, he said my vision will be challenged from time to time.