When I came back from a mission trip to Haiti and to the West African country of Mali, I fantasized about what it would be like to serve as missionaries on a long term basis. I surmised that such a move would be challenging for sure, but I wasn't aware how not being prepared could suck the life out of your good intentions until I read this book "of stillness and storm" by Michele Phoenix
This novel was written in a style that shows the real grittiness of many mission fields and how poor communication between a couple on the field can have a life-changing impact for a family.
While our son-in-law was away on a short business trip this fall, we visited our daughter and their three kids. Our oldest grandson-six years old--and his dad are tight. My son in law has always shown him how to do lots of stuff, including cook.
One morning my wife asked our grandson what he wanted for breakfast. He said an omelet. My wife said she wasn't very good at flipping them.
He responded, "Grandma, I'll show you how I do it." My wife was a little leery about his cooking skills.
These videos show the steps he took. Notice how he grooves to some inner music by dancing around and then in step 4, see how he flips it. It was a great job.
Roger's family receives his medals posthumously after his death in Vietnam
When we cleaned out my mother's house in Bay City, we took many crates of old papers, clippings, pictures and greeting cards that she had saved. In it, we found two memories of my cousin Roger Moll of Bay City who was killed in Vietnam in 1968.
I remember how Roger's death upended the life of his family. My Uncle Ralph took years to sort it out in his heart and come to peace with the fact that his oldest son had beaten him to heaven. I remember how my mother's siblings--six brothers and five sisters--circled the family wagons to give Ralph and Anna Mae extra love and ears to listen.
The top clipping from the Bay City Times shows his family receiving his medals in 1968 and the bottom was his obituary that has been on my workbench for the past year.
This is where I grew up. My mom was meticulous about keeping our sidewalks shoveled.
I thought about my mom yesterday and her compulsive, driven desire to keep the sidewalks in front of my boyhood home shoveled and free from snow. I was thinking about my fairly new snowblower and how doing our driveway was tiring and then I thought of my mom with her well-used snow shovel.
When it snowed in Bay City she was always out there shoveling or sweeping. She looked with disdain on neighbors who waited to clean theirs. She'd be out there early in the morning and late at night.
This whole business of being "driven" to do something made me think about the year ahead and about what drives me. I mean really drives me. Not the kind that gets me to the dinner table. But what do I have a passion about.
As I get older--beyond 70--I find my passion waning. I can still carry on about the election and then it fades. I'm "driven" by being involved with our family.
Another area would have to be health. I need to turn up the fire on staying healthy.
Then there's my relationship to Jesus. I need to be "driven" to expand and maintain that.
I felt like I couldn't talk. The words were in my head but they were coming out of my mouth. It happened just before Labor Day in Lansing as Gladys and I walked into a neighborhood bar for lunch and a craft beer.
It’s been that kind of year with lots of life-changing moments that touched our hearts in extraordinary ways. It included two hurried runs to hospitals in two different states and experiences that almost got me to bust out in song.
We had just finished our Meals on Wheels route in south Lansing when we decided to catch lunch at a nearby craft brewery, Eagle Monk. They have a somewhat healthy thin crust pizza and beer that you can split with another person.
My eyes were adjusting to going from really bright sun to a darker bar when I felt the tug at my leg. I heard this little voice excitedly saying “Bubba, bubba, bubba.” It was my two year old grandson Miles. I looked over and saw my kids, Krista and Justin and spouses and their kids.
They surprised me big time for my 70th birthday. They wore special t-shirts with my picture, including my two new grandchildren. The picture of me they took shows the shocked look on my face.
Other top tier highlights include the birth of our two new grand babies.
Krista and family are back in the states
Krista and Adam have returned to Indiana from five years in Bosnia. She came home pregnant with her third child. That’s why we got an early morning call and went to the hospital on the north side of Indy.
Their son—Jacob Wesley—came into this world quickly. The nurses delivered him before the doctor arrived. Yes, they took my name for his middle name. Again, I was caught without words. Really honored.
Justin and Lauren added Eloise Martha
After the weather warmed this spring, we got a call from Justin in St. Louis. Lauren was ready to deliver their second a daughter, Eloise Martha. We had the honor of being able to share the first day experience with them.
And again, the name is special. Little Eloise’s middle name Martha is my mom’s middle name.
In the course of all this, I developed a severe case of “smile ache.” It comes from holding and looking at new grandchildren for an extended period of time.
Drones, reading, puzzles and selfies
The older grandkids: Xavier is in first grade who has a big heart and an insatiable curiosity. He’s developing into a real reader. Gretchen is four who has a rock solid sense of her own identity. She’s smart and she’s charming. Justin’s son Miles is two and knows how to take a selfie. He’s very mobile and very social. He calls me “bubba” and Gladys “amma.”
I love looking at You Tube videos with Xavier about drones and listening to him read. Gretchen loves puzzles and has a delicate voice she uses when she says, "Grandap will you play puzzles with me?" Miles who is two-plus knows how to take a selfie and how to use Face Time.
Gladys is still in the classroom
Gladys is now a student teacher supervisor for two universities. She gets into different grade school classrooms several times a month. She’s guiding these new teachers through the cauldron of educational changes.
This past year, we’ve spent more time at the local Goodwill than usual. We takeover stuff as we empty our house to put it on the market. It’s time. Someone with kids can make better use of the space.
We are looking at condos in the outlying area. Our goal is to have it on the market in early spring.
That’s a longish, but quick summary of our past year. We invite you to let us know about happenings in your life.
Grab onto the hope of Jesus
Times right now seem to be getting more chaotic in our country and in the world. It’s hard to cut through all the noise of the times and to know which leaders to believe. Our God, at times, seems to be farther and farther away.
But, at this Christmas, we will be basking in the reality of His coming to earth. With his birth, death on the cross and his rising from the dead, we have real hope in the real God who will never leave us.
May the joy of His birth be real to you in a special way this year.
Those are the highlights. Please stay in touch. We'd love to hear from you.
Were you born between 1946 and 1964? If so, then you're a baby-boomer. I was born in the first class of boomers in the year after my dad came home from World War II where he served in the South Pacific.
I was raised by my mom during a period in this country when social services were non-existent and where many still had vivid memories of the Great Depression and WWII. Growing up I was always hearing stories from my mom and her siblings about what they experienced during this period.
Life for my mom and her 11 siblings on a farm in the Thumb of Michigan was a saga that was made for either television or John Steinbeck. When I was a young child I heard the stories all the time. During that time, I'd dutifully listen and not pay attention to details. If it happened now, I'd have an iPhone camera and shoot constant video. I come from people who were driven to survive and thrive. Life for them was never uneventful or easy.
How about you? Have you had a similar experience? Do you remember any of the old stories? Do you have kids or grandkids who might love to hear those stories someday?
Now that I'm a little past 70-years-old, I find many of those stories getting really fuzzy. The details are either lost or they're uncertain. I feel like my grandkids have been cheated out of knowing the people who partially made them who they are.
What important memories do you still have? Are you writing them down?
Do you have a blog? If not, have you ever thought about starting one?
I started this blog 12 years ago before social media became a thing and during a time when people thought it was a funny four-letter word. I first read about them in the Detroit Free Press when a reporter did a story describing what they were and how they were different from ordinary websites of the time. I was also intrigued by the first person writing.
When I was 58 I decided to play with it. Now I'm 70 and I have almost 3,000 blog posts on this blog. I'm trying to evaluate why I should continue it.
Back when I started it, I was just finishing a career in and around politics. All my jobs involved writing whether writing news stories, news releases or speeches for politicians. My taste for politics has lessened greatly.
During the intervening years, I got married, had two great kids who gave us five really wonderful grandkids. I love being a husband and a grandfather, but . . .
I have to fill in the spaces of my life. I keep asking myself "with what?"
The above quote seems to say it well. Writing blog posts can help me figure that out. The sand in my hourglass is moving quickly. I need to get more of this sorted out.
I get it. I need to write this blog for me to help me better understand myself. It's way cheaper than going to a $200 an hour therapists who asks a lot of questions. I ask myself questions all the time. If nobody else reads this, I feel comfortable in saying I'm writing this for me.
As I was talking with my many cousins at the funeral home, I could have missed a very important part of my Aunt Aileen Anderson's legacy to her kids and her nieces and nephews. It was a celebration of the life she left and the one she just entered.
During her 91 years of life and her more than 70 years of marriage she had many curve balls thrown at her. Like her other five sisters, including my mother, she faced what would have been impenetrable obstacles and surmounted them. Life for her got real hard at times.
The she and her husband Ron entered their nineties. Their bodies got frail and their health became a challenge. Ron died and Aunt Aileen had a case of diabetes which left her without one leg.
She knew she was living in the bonus period of her life.
She never showed any fear about death. But she wasn't going to volunteer before her time was up. She was the resident leader of her retirement community and she was even interviewed on a local television station. Aunt Aileen was adamant about being able to vote. She didn't stop living and was part of life.
Then her day came. Holding her daughter Colleen's hand she passed from this life to the next.
She never had any doubt about where her next home would be. It would be in heaven with her brothers and sisters and her husband and her son.
She left us the lesson of how to die. She left with no regret and only looked forward. Thank-you for that example.
These are me and my cousins who were at Aunt Aileen's funeral in Bay City today.
I was 13-years-old when it first happened to me. I was getting a haircut at my uncle's house and, as we usually did we talked politics and about how the pope would move into the White House if John F. Kennedy was elected.
This is all true. It was a time when there was serious suspicion between Protestants and Roman Catholics. Many Protestant parents would question the wisdom of their dating age kids getting involved with a Catholic. And for many of them the symbol of all this was the pope.
In many Lutheran circles, there were plenty of publications about room being made in the White House for the head of the Catholic church. It was assumed that this country would be run from the Vatican City.
This all happened before the web and it's hundreds of "news" sites. Back then, it was all newspapers and radio news and a little television news.
Now it's fake news sites pretending to be real news. Readers are taking them for truth. What about the recent disclosures that President-elect Trumps National Security Adviser found to be the purveyors of the falsehoods.
What have I learned to help?
One of my professors at the MSU School of Journalism, Bud Meyer, taught us: Never Assume Anything.
It was pounded into our heads. Citizens need need now more than ever. The future of our country depends having confidence in reading what is being thrown out as news.
Did you ever buy gas at a Gulf oil station? These matches bring back memories from my boyhood in Bay City, Michigan, where I grew up and where the Gulf station was a regular stop. Part of our loyalty to Gulf could be because of my Uncle Wes Moll who owned one at Cass and Lincoln streets in my hometown.
Those were the days when every business advertised through book matches that it had readily available at its cash register for those who smoked. Cigarette smokers were common. They were everywhere. So smokers needed matches.
Is Gulf Oil still around or did it merge and go out of business?