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7 posts from September 2017

My father’s abandonment of me and my mom shaped every part of my life



It was 42 years ago tomorrow that I walked up the steps to my father’s house in southern Florida, rang his doorbell and told him that I was his son.  It was the boldest thing I had ever done in my life.  

I had to summon courage that I never knew I had.  When he answered the door, it was the answer to a request I made to God ever since I was a little boy. I just wanted to meet my dad.  And there he was.

In the spring of 1948 in Bay City, Michigan, he got ready for work, said goodbye to my mom and me and supposedly left for his woodworking shop, except he never made it.

He vanished.  He left no messages.  He never called.  He never followed up in any way, shape or form.  My mom was left with a 18-month old toddler, me and no way to support either of us.  

I prayed the “Now I lay me down to sleep” prayer every night as long as I can remember and I’d tack onto the end the request that God would “give me a message from my dad.”  

That prayer was answered when I was 29-years-old after I had graduated MSU as a newspaper reporter.  I stumbled into his location and to details about his new life and family.  The day after I found the information, I was on my way to Florida where he lived.

When I confronted him at his doorstep, he refused to talk.  He had completely disowned me.

This is just one piece of my journey that was started when my father disappeared.  His actions affected the whole trajectory of my life.  I became a protector of my mother who was my early savior and protector.  My career choice was affected by my desire to protect women and kids who are affected by wayward fathers.

I was left with a big chasm in my heart and in my personal identity.  I was left with personal uncertainty about my ability to have a loving relationship with a wife and my ability to love kids.

Yes, the scars have healed for the most part.  Looking ahead, I can see that I will take many of them to heaven.

Why share all this?  Although, I’ve not always seen it, I have always had hope.  I’ve had to kick over rocks and look behind trees to find it, it’s been there.

I have been married for 36 years to the same woman, a person who loves me unconditionally and has made doing life together a real joy.  And I have two adult kids who are married to wonderful spouses and who have given us five grandkids who add a new purpose to life.

There are lots of dads out there who have given up on their families and their kids.  They need to know their actions can take a heavy toll.

Can God use my story or parts of it to rethink what they’re doing?  

I hope so.  That’s my prayer.

If it can be used to provide hope, then I will feel encouraged that God can use my experience to help others.

Has President Trump "taken a knee" to Jesus Christ?


President Trump photo

President Trump points to NFL players who kneel during the playing of the National Anthem as SOBs who should be fired immediately by their teams.

Check this story from the New York Post where he totally disregards freedom of expression and wants to limit people who disagree with him.

He used some serious vulgarity to describe these protesting professional athletes.  It's part of a continuing pattern he has of referring to people who are different from him.

Is a person less for refusing to sing the National Anthem, even a football player?  Trump has made a habit of lying and putting people down.  By doing that is he taking a knee to Jesus?  Shouldn't Trump be really worried when he does that?

A weekend taking care of three of our grandkids in Dearborn


My youngest grandson got up early enough this morning to be part of the action in the kitchen where Tony Tiger was napping on the floor.  While their parents are out of town at a conference, my wife and I are babysitting Jacob along with his brother and sister.

That means pure grandparent joy.  We picked up our oldest grandson from second grade and our oldest granddaughter from pre-school.  

It's kind of like rewinding the clock when our kids were that age where you get the full assortment of parental duties that comes with young children.

I thank God for my iPhone with its great camera.  There's no more dropping of film and picking up prints.  Now it's instantaneous.

Unloading the dishwasher together.
Our toddler grandson helps grandma unload with dishwasher.



Bed time prayers.
Saying night time prayers together.


Going through my sermon notes about "Choosing Joy--Under Pressure"

Pastor Jeff Manion
Pastor Jeff Manion during last night"s sermon on Choosing Joy

I know that I need to burn the message of Philippians from the Bible firmly into my heart.  As I get older, I know the life challenges will increase.  They seem to be bombarding us from all directions, the world around us and personally from the challenges of aging.

That's why my wife Gladys and I decided to check in at Ada Bible Church last night for the beginning of a new sermon series--"Choosing Joy Under Pressure."  Pastor Jeff Manion presented part one.  He laid the groundwork from Acts 16: 13-25.

I took notes and I'm transcribing them with the goal of reviewing them and this text during coming week.

The sermon video will be online in the next day or two and I hope to watch again.  

Here's my rough notes.  I hope to refine them as we get into the week.

  1. Joy under pressure-how do you pull it off?
  2. Why would you want to?
  3. Examples of where needed: Ninth grade student nervous about high school has two girlfriends who unfriend her on Facebook.  Others.
  4. How do you choose joy?
  5. Don’t underestimate the challenge of choosing joy.
  6. Have I ever experienced a closed door?
  7. Acts 16:7—it’s about slammed door and then it opens.
  8. Acts 16: 13-25:  This text has three encounters.
  9. One encounter is with a businesswoman; the Lord opened her heart.
  10. Prayer for myself and others should be “God open my heart.”
  11. What if I can be relieved of the threat of perfection?
  12. Encounter #2 is with a slave girl.  Verses 16 a - 17.
  13. This all demonstrates that you don’t need to become nasty when something nasty happens to you.
  14. Does Jesus make a difference when you face a crisis?
  15. Definition of Joy:  Focus on generosity of God that expresses itself through gratitude and praise even in a season of pain and disappointment .
  16. We focus on the bad stuff when bad happens to us.  Verses 16, 31-32.
  17. Where is my focus today.
  18. Could a closed door lead to an open door?
  19. Where is my focus?
  20. I need to look for the open door in my life.

Early Sunday morning: Are you watching Hurricane Irma on television?


Hurricane Irma
It's 5:30 a.m., Sunday and we are watching Hurricane Irma


When I got up to pee overnight, I couldn't help think about the great carpet I was walking on.  It was beautifully warm and dry, unlike those in Florida this morning as Hurricane Irma roars through.

It also make me think about watching the storm on CNN.  I finally gave in at 5:30 a.m.  The bad part is still coming.  My wife and I are up.  We are watching and praying for people who need lots of protection right now and in the days ahead.

Pastor Jeff Manion of Ada Bible Church gives his definition of "joy"


Worship at Ada Bible.
One of the worship songs tonight makes the point.



On the way home from church tonight, my wife and I talked about the meaning of joy and whether we have it in our lives.  I'm happy, but do I have joy.  I usually think of joy as being so happy that you want to dance down the middle of the road smiling big, waving your arms and skipping.

Pastor Jeff Manion at Ada started a series of sermons about "Choosing Joy Under Pressure."  These come at a time when the world seems to be tottering of the edge.  The world is watching a monster hurricane in Florida.  Last week, it was Texas.  There's uncertainty with North Korea and Washington, D.C.

We did take notes and we both feel motivated to study the Bible book it is based on Philippians, written by the Apostle Paul while he was in prison.  First, what's the definition of joy?  Manion gave this definition:

It's a focus on the generosity of God that expresses itself through gratitude and praise even in a season of pain and deep disappointment.

I'll be meditating on this and the rest of the sermon this week.


Pastor Jeff Manion
Pastor Jeff Manion of Ada Bible talks about "joy" as seen on one of the video monitors.



CNN's Casey Neistat does Beme News video showing Texas flood

Take a look at Casey Neistat's video about the Texas flood and how it touched one family.  He's part of a CNN effort to develop a new paradigm to tell the news with an emphasis on video stories.  

Casey's reporter got an immersive look at how one family was touched and how they see the future.  It's news for millennials where video is king.  The story is compelling.  What do you think?  Does it work?