OLD PHOTO: Posing with Gov. Engler at bill signing to raise speed limit to 70 mph


Raising the speed limit to 70 mph more than two decades ago started as a whim with Sen. Doug Carl who I worked for at the time.  He drove back and forth to his legislative district everyday in Macomb County on the northeast side of Detroit.

During Senate sessions when I sat with him on the floor, he would grumble about the speed limit and how hypocritical it was, especially around Detroit because nobody observed it.  That resulted in him introducing a bill to raise it.

One memory of this time stands out.  His supporters to raise the speed limit organized an event where they would drive the speed limit on one of the Detroit areas busiest expressways.  With a long string of cars observing the letter of the law and with Detroit television crews following traffic on the freeway was slowed to a crawl.  The point was made.  The bill passed and was signed by Gov. Engler.

Great quote from Kara Tippetts who wrote "The Hardest Peace, Expecting Grace In The Midst of Life's Hard


I just found a great reason to share your story about what you're experiencing in life and about how you have faced it.  Kara Tippetts who writes the blog Mundane Faithfullness and who recently wrote the book, "The Hardes Peace, Expecting Grace In The Midst Of Life's Hard."

She wrote:

I have this story, I have this one story to live and to share. It’s my great privilege to share the grace I know. It is my honor to share who Jesus is with anyone who will listen. But I’m no hero.

Everybody has a story and this is a great reason to share it.

I am a radically-flawed person

This is me in my office chair.

As I get ready to celebrate 68 years of life next year, I have been doing an inventory of my past six decades plus and I have come to some conclusions.  I see more clearly that I am a radically-flawed person and that I can't do anything about it.

This flawed nature has affected every part of my life.  I knew this before, but I have been slow in understanding what this has meant for me and where I have put my priorities.  With way more life behind me than ahead, I see this more clearly than ever.

What's the answer?  I have been saved from myself and next year, I want God's help to reflect back to others the love I have been given.

The video below if from my church and its service yesterday.  It's the whole service.  Check the sermon which is a clear explanation of where my hope comes from.  I just want to share it with others who looking.   To get to the start of the service, move the slider beyond the first six minutes of slides.

Can a blog help you sort through the stages of your life?

This blog has been part of my life for more than nine years and I've used it to write more than 2,500 posts.  I started it on a whim as a place where I could do a brain dump on any topic that tickled by fancy.

In that period of time it has become a repository for my personal history.  I've written about transitioning from the work world to being retired.  I've written about my family, my wife, kids and grandkids.  There are posts about my late mother and about my wayward late father.  There are bits and pieces about a lot of different topics.

My blog platform is Typepad.com which was state of the art when I started almost a decade ago.  Since then, it has become rusty and archaic.  I've tried to transfer it to WordPress.org, but it didn't work.  Next month, my subscription to Typepad comes due.  Do I hold a funeral for this blog or do I keep it going?

As a member of the first class of baby-boomers, I'm nudging up to a whole host of issues that I haven't faced before.  Writing about them might be able to help me and to help others. What will I do?  I'd like to continue.  But, I'm not sure.

Baby-boomers: Do you pray with your grandchildren at their bedtime?

Are you a baby-boomer and do you have grandchildren? Do you pray with them, especially at their bedtime?  

  1. What do you pray for?  
  2. Is it one of the standard bedtime prayers, like "Now I lay me down to sleep?" 
  3. Is this important?

I faced these questions this past spring when we visited our daughter and family and our grandson who was about 20-months old.  He had his own room in their home in Bosnia where one night I had the chance to put him to bed.  

After putting his pajamas on and brushing his teeth and saying his good nights, we read a story and then I put him in his crib.  As an almost two-year-old, he was still filled with energy and moving in his crib.

What should I do, I thought?  Pray?  What prayer?  I grew-up with "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep and if I should die before I wake I pray the Lord my soul to take. And this I ask for Jesus sake. Amen."

His attention span wasn't there.  It was maybe four words wide.  I grabbed his little hands and prayed, "Thank-you Jesus for a great day."  

I know that my daughter and son-in-law pray with him.  

When I got up last night for the second pee of the night, I prayed for him and his pre-born sister that they would come to depend talking to Jesus and learn the power that comes from that conversation with the Creator.

That night in Bosnia will go down in my list of top memories.  It was me, my grandson and God.



A gift for my grandson and his pre-born sister from the U.S. Army

There's not much positive I can say about my experience in the U.S. Army during the seventies.  All I can say is that I did my part and that I never had to serve in Vietnam.

But, there was one positive thing from the Army that has stuck with me during all those years.

I was sitting in an outdoor assembly with several hundred other soldier types.  We were listening to a whole line-up of officers talk about the rules.  One stands out and I've never forgotten him.  He was a colonel and a West Point graduate.

As he was going up the steps to the platform, he tripped and fell.  A bunch of guys laughed.  This was in basic training meaning that we were slick-sleeve privates and under their total control.

Instead of an angry response, he used it as a teaching moment.  He told everybody with the voice of a teacher and an Army leader that the issue is not about falling, but how you get up.  And he went on to explain that everybody would fall and make mistakes.  The secret is how you recover and what you learn.  It's how you get up.

I've made plenty of mistakes.  I thought of that day and what that colonel said.  I've tried to learn from them.  It was all a matter of getting back up.

My grandson is two-years-old plus a couple of months.  His sister will be born in the late fall.  

I pass this story and its lesson on to them.

Check out this quote from Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz, about the power of a story

When I was on the adjunct faculty of the Michigan State University School of Journalism, I had a newswriting exercise for students just starting in the field.  

The assignment was to interview a class member and then write a news story about the information they were able to get during an interview.

During the three hour evening class, I tried to drill into their head that everybody has an interesting story to tell about their life.   It was just a matter of taking the time and interest to find it.  My students did not disappoint me.

I still remember the story about a female student from New York City who had been born in the backseat of a taxi cab.  Then there was the student who told this amazing story about how she was the reigning Miss Michigan and was getting ready to be part of the Miss America Pageant.

As they heard about the individuals in their class, students were transfixed by their fellow students and what they had experienced in life.

My experience with the class really connects to this Donald Miller quote about stories:

"Never underestimate the power of one great story."  

This is from his Facebook page a few days ago.  He's the author of Blue Like Jazz, a New York Times bestseller from a few years ago.  It was recently released as a movie.  It's a story about his life and it has connected with thousands who are his age.

Does your story have power?  How about mine?  Can mine help some readers gain insights about themselves or others they care about?

Do I have the skills to tell it?

I'm anxious to see.

I almost hesitate to say this about the Lutheran church

I appreciate a comment on my Facebook page about a series of posts I'm writing to tell my story.  

I wrote a post on my personal blog DailyGrit about how I feel that my faith in God survived my sixty-plus years in the Lutheran church.  I was born and raised in the church, went to Sunday School, went to services every Sunday, went to a Lutheran grade school, married a Lutheran school teacher in a Lutheran Church, served on many committees and boards.

My struggle was trying to find the relevance of God to everyday living.  I got the great news about what happens when you die and go to heaven.  But, what about everyday life.  

Pastors never seemed to preach about the everyday stuff of life, like when the bottom seems to fall out of everything, you lose somebody or the bad guy seems to win in every situation.  Then there's everything else like relationships, marriage, jobs and stuff like that.

My Facebook commenter said, it's not the job of the Lutheran church to connect the dots from God's Word to everyday life.  The relevance is supposed to come from reading the Word during the liturgy and from taking the Lord's Supper.  He seems to be saying that's all you need.  

Because of this lack of connection to everyday life, I started take notes from sermons at a very young age.  I found myself asking at the end of a sermon, so what?  What is this guy saying?  Why is it important to me?  Every Sunday, it was always the same.  I heard the Gospel which is the source of all hope.  Amen!

But, the Gospel got stuck at Gologotha and was not tied to life in Bay City or whever?  What would it look like to live out the Gospel in northern Michigan?  How would it affect in the way I relate to the circumstances of my life as a student, as an adult, as a married person, as a dad and as a son?

The Lutheran church seems to be telling only part of the story.  The Word of God is relevant to everything.  I'm learning that and I see more of the light than I did before.

I wish I would have learned this earlier in my life, but as I get ready to turn 66, I'm glad that I've recalibrated my thinking and my focus.  

It would be great if my old denomination did the same.  It would be wonderful to see Lutheran churches packed out on Sunday mornings and Saturday nights.

Back to my Facebook commenter, yes, I firmly believe it's the church's job to connect the dots between the Word of God and everyday life and beyond.


My faith survived the Lutheran church

Baby-boomers, what would you tell your grandkids about your experience with the local church?

Should they go?  Valuable?  It really strengthened your faith in God?  It helped make Jesus Christ real to you?  Other believers made a real positive difference in your life?

I found my faith there.  It grew for awhile and then I went through many years where it eroded like the shoreline on a Michigan lake during a really hot summer like this one.

A lot of good things happened to me in the Lutheran church.  I was baptized there.  I went to school for eight years there.  I was introduced to Jesus Christ and then I became a teenager and then an adult and my faith started to slip through my fingers like Jello.

If you had asked me a couple of years ago if I had a mature faith, I would have confidently said, yes. Then I got older and I started to look over my shoulder at my life.  

My wife and I talk often about serious life questions, including faith in God.  I recounted where I was at and she suggested that perhaps I never grew out of my baby-faith.  Do you know this term?  I was baptized and confirmed.  In between, I memorized all the verse in the Lutheran Catechism.  I went to church every Sunday.

I was never taught how it was relevant to my everyday life.  As a result, my faith would slide in an out and around.  One day, it was there and then it was over there.  I had trouble grabbling hold of it.

I got involved in local church politics and that only made it worse.  Sunday School classes were pro-forma and seemed more focused on filling blanks on a page than helping people respond to the Word of God for real change in their lives.

We finally got up the nerve to leave.  We tried another and that didn't work.  We've been going to another that seems to connect the dots between God and his word and life.  He's now taken a seat at our table.  

I feel I'm growing spiritually.

The day I cursed out the trap beneath my kitchen sink

The problem

I really thought I could fix the pvc pipe that became disconnected from the trap underneath my sink. I have absolutely no-confidence in myself as a do-it-yourselfer.  But, we needed to use the sink and it looked as simple as sticking the two pieces back-together.

My background includes nothing of this sort.  I had no dad around to show me and my uncles, well, they had their own kids.  I felt left behind with that kind of thing.

Kept coming apart

When I emptied out the cupboard beneath the sink, I crawled under.  I looked at each piece and tried to size up the situation.  It didn't seem complicated.  I kept asking myself what I'm missing.  I would join the two pieces and they would come apart again.  Keep in mind that they had been joined together for the more than ten years we had lived there.

I used every neuron in my brain that had been developing over six decades.  The two would not stick together.  I've tried home repairs before and I seemed to have a similar outcome.  

You are stupid

That's when the tapes started playing in my head.  I could hear them plainly.  "You're stupid.  You're a shithead.  I'm an asshole.  This shit should be simple and I can't even do that."

Then I started to vocalize my feelings about what I tried and failed at.  The air started to turn blue.

The problem was that my son was in the living room and he heard me.  This added to my personal humiliation over something that anybody should be able to do.  I made myself look smaller in my grown son's eyes.

I'm sure he doesn't know how to do it either.  I never showed him because I never learned.  He has a pretty good self-concept though and he knows where his strengths are.  

He loves me, I know, regardless of whether I can hook two pipes together.  He's a great guy who loves unconditionally.

There's a lesson here

A lesson for all the do-it-yourself guys and dads out there:  Pass it on to your sons and other young guys.  What a great project for guys in a church.  In my church where I went every Sunday with my mom, I don't think the adult guys even knew my name.

For my grandson, learn everything you can from your dad and your other grandfather.  Make use of their knowledge. I know they want to share it.  

I want my grandson and his sister to know who I am

I sat dumbfounded on my front steps listening on the phone to somebody who said he was my nephew and he was trying to learn about his grandfather, my dad.  It happened just about a year ago and I found myself trying to catch my breath.

Why is this important?  

Having a nephew means I had a sister who had the same father as me.  We had different moms.  She had died a few years earlier in the country of Cyprus.  In the process, I learned about two other siblings, brothers, both who had died.

Again, why is this important?

My dad abandoned my mom and me in 1948 by walking out one morning and never coming back. He never called, wrote or anything to indicate that he was alive.  This was during a period when social services were less than basic.  My mom dug her heels in and took on her responsbility with full force.  She was a fighter and she knew how to love without condition.

My dad had an invisible presence that made him a reality everyday.  Life for my mom as a single-mom was crushingly hard.  She talked about my dad and what he did a lot.  To me as a kid, at times, it seemed to be constant.  She would get angry and she would cry.  She had a hurt that never left her. She carrie it to the day she died.

My nephew put flesh on a family that I never knew.  We talked for more than an hour.  He had searched to learn about his grandfather, my dad, and for a long time found nothing.  He was told that my dad had been killed in a plane crash.  His mom, my sister, did not want to talk about him.  

Then he Googled my dad's name and found posts I've written on this blog about him and then he emailed me and we talked on the phone within minutes.

So what?

The veil had been lifted a little and for a short time.  I saw a little of my family on my dad's side.  

It's a couple more pieces of a giant jigsaw puzzle that covers my life.  Fewer pieces are left in the puzzle box.  I'm starting to see more of the whole picture.  It's been a lifetime of trying to fill a giant-sized hole in my identity.  

I've learned that I want my grandchildren, right now, it's just my grandson Xavier and soon to be sister, to know who I am.  I want them to know my part of who they came from.  It can range from the simple of why  Xavier and his mom's chins come in two part.  Same with his uncle Justin.  It can be the more complex family traits like a temper.  

I want him and the others to know.  God has laid some unique challenges in my lap.  I was never sure how it would turn out.  But, I'm getting a sense.  Can he and others learn from my story?  Can they find something to identify with?

I think so.  At least, that is my prayer, God willing.

I've changed the name of my father on my birth certificate

How many of you have never known one of your parents?  

Perhaps your mom or dad just flew the coop and never came back.  They didn't call nor did they write.  Nothing.  Maybe you got your last name from that person.  Maybe you got a dimple in your chin.  There might be a few facts from the left behind parent or from an aunt and uncle and that's it.

It could have been a divorce where your parents split and you hear from your dad once a year and then it's a very short visit.  That's it.  There's so much you would like to talk about with your dad about growing up and living life, but there's nothing.  Your mom is busy working and making ends meet and she does her best.  She has nobody to go to either.

You are left to fend for yourself and you do it.  But there's always a void there that's left by your missing parent.

Continue reading "I've changed the name of my father on my birth certificate" »

God answered my prayer by introducing me to a group of Christian guys in prison

I prayed that God would give me a group of Christian guys to hang out with.  I was looking for friends who would share a common belief in God and in Jesus Christ and wanted to live a life that reflected those values.  For much of my life that prayer went unanswered.

Growing up I found that church was not the place to find friends.  Most of the guys who were active in attending seemed more interested in the busyness of the church.  They ushered, maybe attended an adult Sunday School class and sat with their families during the services.  Before and after church, conversations centered around politics, sports and cars.

There were the guys who ushered every Sunday and who lit the candles on the altar.  They were interested mainly in that narrow sliver of their spiritual life.

But they were not interested in talking about their faith and how it applied to their everyday life. There was no sense of mission or purpose.

I found it hard to work in very secular environments and to maintain my faith in a God who loved me and who wanted me to reflect that love in my everyday life.  The distance between my God and me grew wider and wider.

Then through some incredible circumstances I ran into a guy named Ken.  I was in my forties.  We were in a Bible study together when I heard his story.  As a young newspaper reporter, I covered a crime he had committed.  For him, it was the beginning of a period that saw him going to prison as a teenager and getting out as a full-fledged man.  Inside a prison cell, he accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior.

When I heard his story and remembered who he was I was truly amazed by the change in him.  I was also somewhat skeptical.  He and I spent the next couple of years having breakfast together once a week.  I spent a lot of time trying to determine if he was real.  And he was.

He was asked to share his story with guys in the prison where he did his time and he invited me to go with him.  

It was hard to say no to a friend and it was an attractive offer to do something that would provide fodder for coffeeshop conversation the next day.  

We went to a chapel service at one of the most challenged prisons in the state of Michigan.  I was expecting to find a bunch of knuckle-dragging guys who had a chromosome or two twisted the wrong way.  I found guys not unlike me, but who had sinned in a way that got them into prison.

It was the beginning of a life-changing journey that saw me going into prisons all over our state and making friends with guys who had numbers behind their names, rather than designations for college degrees earned or for professional certifications.

There were no pretenses in my prison experiences as we sang "Victory In Jesus."  We talked about everything involved in daily and eternal living.  And we looked to the Bible and to Jesus for the answers.

This was a key piece in my growing closer to God.

I wonder what God has to say to single-moms in heaven

Does God talk to people when they are in heaven?

If they do, I hope my mom gets an atta-girl from the Almighty who put everything together and who keeps it going and who will come back to earth at some point in history.

The toughest job in the world is not being president of the United States, it's being a single-mom.  I know that some will shake their heads and raise their eyebrows.  Moms are only human and make mistakes.  Mine did.  

But she devoted her life to sacrificing her own well-being for mine.  She taught me unconditional love. It was constant.  There were moments when the pressures of being a single-parent could get to her and she could get angry about her circumstances and about what my father did to us.

I remember my mom making heroic efforts to find my father.  She called our local police department which sent out a detective.  He agreed to help if my mom slept with him.  Her reaction was swift and volcanic.  It served to sour her on the process.

It seemed like she had to recalibrate to get back to the place where she got her strength.  That usually happened on Sunday in the solace of a worship service.  She took comfort from the liturgy that included hmyns, Bible readings and a sermon.  It connected her to God.

When the service was over, it was back to real life and all its demands.  But her batteries were filled with power that you get from no other source.

Think about all the single moms in the past and in the present.  It has to be one of the loneliest jobs in the world and one of the most important.  

I hope that the Heavenly Father is giving my mom some much deserved recognition.  And I hope that single-moms everywhere are lifted up and helped.

I owe my life to one very special single-mom. 



My favorite teachers: Brewster Peasley, Louie Doll, Gerry Faverman and Bud Meyer

I think some of the most powerful people in the world are teachers.  The good ones know where to find the switch in a student's head to turn on the desire to learn and they make learning exciting.

It was that way for me as I went through grade school and high school, then our community college and then the university.  My grades didn't always reflect the quanity and quality of what I learned and my desire to learn more.  I had four teachers throughout my academic career who really knew how to push my learning buttons.

They left an indelible mark on who I am today, what interests me and my curiosity about a wide-variety of things.

There's one I owe my career to and that is my high school journalism teacher Brewster Peasley.  I took his class in place of regular English where you learn literature and grammar.  It was a pure gamble.  I never liked reading fiction and I was never very good at trying to figure out symbols in a story and what they meant.  I still don't.

But my journalism class was different.  I could see that from the first class where Mr. Peasley talked about how he had been involved in some pretty important stuff during the Eisenhower years.  That got my attention.  My memory of his story that day is a little hazy, but he told about how he played a role in the Republican National Convention in Chicago that nominated Ike.  At first blush, I was really impressed.  Then he shared how he had intentionally mislead us.  He didn't lie, but he didn't tell the whole story.

Journalism opened the world to me.  As a reporter, I could learn about anything about anybody on any given day and that turned me on.  I found a career.  Until then I said I wanted to be a lawyer.  I don't know if I had the intellectual firepower to be an attorney.  Without that class, I'd probably still be living in the small northern Michigan town where I was born and raised.

Dr. Louis Doll was a history professor at the community college that I attended.  He was tall, tolerably arrogant and had a passion for going back to original documents in history.  But, he also had an insatiable desire to debunk the Bible.  Students had to buy a paper he wrote showing that God's Word was nothing more than myth.  Some of my fellow students were really changed.  I just got more stubborn in my beliefs.  

Another professor at my community college was Dr. Gerry Faverman.  I took a Russian history class from him.  He was a huge man, had an imposing voice and seemed to have the ability to recall passages from any of thousands of his favorite books.

He had a booming voice that matched his provocative style.  I'd read through an extra armful of books just to prove him wrong.  And then I realized what he was doing.  He was helping me think and explore stuff that really interested me.  Back then that was politics, particularly as it related to the old Soviet Union.  Our paths crossed again in Lansing where I spent most of my working career.

I owe a lot to Dr. Bud Myer who taught at the journalism school at Michigan State.  I was part of a regular line-up of students outside his office door who waited a couple hours or more just to talk to him.  I took every class he taught.  He helped me take a person or an issue and lift it up and look at it from all sides.  I always wanted to learn more as a result of his class.

He the reason that I have the question "so what" burned in my mind.  After his class, I could never read or hear anything without asking, so what?  

A couple of years ago, we went to an Easter Service where the title of the sermon was "The Easter Story: So what?"  That made me listen and it made me think of Bud.

There were other teachers who impressed me, but it was these four who really left their stamp on me and who I am today.


I am counting on Jeff Manion being right

I listened in the auditorium as Jeff Manion talked about a passage from Ephesians 1 that says we have been adopted by God.  We have become part of his family.  We are his beloved sons and daughters.

He went through a whole litany of places and positions where people get their identity.  For many it is their jobs and their position in the community.  It can be athletic skill.  Musical skill.  For many it can come from being a parent.

And then he got to my part of the list where he said many get their identity from having been abandoned by someone.  He talked figuratively about being thrown off the train by a parent who just plain walks out and never comes back.  He had my attention.

As long as I can remember my identity had been calibrated from that point where my dad made a statement by just walking out on my mom and me.  I wasn't important enough for him to stick around, hence, I always felt I wasn't that important.  This is a feeling that would come and go.

It was like a monkey on my back that would ride there for weeks and then one day kick me in my side with big spurs on its feet and I would be reminded of who I really was.  I was the person that my dad wanted my mother to abort when she was pregnant.  

Then I found him in my late twenties and he totally disowned me.  I went to his door on the other end of the country expecting at the very least that he would at the very least acknowledge me as his son. He threatened me if I didn't leave.  Not knowing what he would do I left.  I was devastated.

His reaction to me was another big piece in the puzzle that went into the make-up of my identity.

I've gone through periods where I would mentally call myself a loser, shithead, stupid and all other kinds of stuff.  

This didn't stop me from living life, but it took some of the quality and the confidence that you need in daily living.  I did stuff.  I worked at some really neat jobs and knew a bunch of important people.

But there was always the dad piece in my identity.  And then last October, Jeff Manion, the pastor where we attend church started talking about how we got our primary identity.  This is the one that really counts.  

It came from being adopted into God's family and this happened through what Jesus did on the cross to pay for all the crap of mankind.  

Jeff kept saying, "Remember who you are.  Remember who you are.  Remember who you are."  He said that I was adopted. paid a price for and firmly sealed into God's family.

I really need to hear that everyday and today is no exception.  So do my kids and my grandson and grandchildren to come.

I had heard pastors say this kind of thing before, but it always came across as a bunch of spiritual blah, blah, blah.  I could never wrap my hands or my heart around it.  This spiritual truth seemed unreachable and unreal.

Maybe I need to have it tatooed on my arm or on my hand so I can constantly see it.

I'm counting on this being the truth.




I don't know why this stuff still bothers me

Do you remember the poem from the Antionne Fisher movie where he talks about the little boy still inside of him?  He had been abandoned by his mom, never knew his dad and grew up in some pretty bad foster homes.

Sometimes, I can really relate to that poem and I remember showing that movie to guys inside of the prison where I volunteered and watching their reaction.  Many had tears in their eyes.

I still feel that way when I see movies or stories about fathers and sons.  There are tears just beneath the surface waiting to come out.  

I felt that way when I saw a picture of my son-in-law and my toddler grandson walking hand-in-hand around a track carrying a basketball.  You could see it in their eyes.  They enjoyed being with each other.  I want that picture hanging in my family picture shrine in my study.  

It's the same with two pictures of my son and me taken on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol.  The first was taken fifteen years ago at Stand In The Gap where  a million guys got together for a Promise Keepers event.  A few weeks ago, we took another picture in the same spot.  In the first, he was a newly-minted teenager and in this one he's a married man.  And I'm really proud of him.

I can't change what happened to me.

But I can encourage my son, my son-in-law, my grandson, grandchildren to come and other guys with kids.  

The real payback in life will come from those moments together where you are talking and caring for each other.  It doesn't take a lot, but the effort can change somebody's world.

I wonder if my dad got much attention from his father

I often wonder how well my dad knew his father.  Did they spend time together?  Did my dad understand what made his father tick?  Did my dad ever get an atta-boy from his father?  Did they talk about life?  Politics?  God?  Girls?

My dad grew up somewhere in New York.  I've heard Millerton mentioned.  I think he came from a small town environment and somehwere along the line moved to New York City.

I think my biological grandmother on my dad's side died when he was a child and that my dad had a step mother.  

But, the big question is who did he have as male role models.  Was it his dad?  What was my grandfather like?  My mom met some of these people and shared some of this with me when I was very young.  But, I was too young to be really interested.  Because of the intense emotion involved in talking about my father, I remember more of the strong feelings and less of what she learned.

Did I ever have a male role model who took an interest in what I did and what I was thinking?  In a way, in a kind of, sort of way I did.  I had some uncles who took some time with me occasionally.  And I'm thankful for that.  

I will wonder about my Grandpa Thorp.  Did he spend much time with his kids?  Did he take an interest? My guess is that he didn't.  Did my dad show more interest in his other kids than he did with me?  I got none.

What's the cost of this lack of "daddy-interest" through the generations?  It has to be huge.  I still look for that older guy to say atta-boy.  That's becoming less of a desire as I get older and as my perspective changes.

That started to happen last October.  I was told to "remember who you are."  My real identity doesn't come from being my father's son.  What do I mean?  Do I really buy that?  Do I understand what that means?  

There's more to worshipping God than page five and fifteen

I grew up believing that real worship of God meant going to church on Sunday and using an order of service from the hymn book that started on either page five or 15.  It was always the same.  The hymns were always in the same place.  The readings were done in the same order and there was always just one place for the sermon.

There was the Lord's Prayer, the Apostle's Creed and the Nicene Creed and they always had a reserved spot in the service.  

When I got to a certain age I could recite all these without thinking and I could run through most of the liturgy in a way where my mouth would say the right thing, but my head would be someplace else.  I'd leave church thinking that was worship.

It was something that you never questioned while going to a parochial school and my aunts and uncles would rarely talk about it.  My uncles would shrug their shoulders and then change the subject and a few of my aunts would move into a mini-sermon about the holiness of what was done during the sermon.

In my teen years, I started to raise questions revolving around the service, particularly sermons.  I had to be among the first in my denomination to take notes to try and understand.  I tried to outline what pastors said.  I would ask.  I grew up feeling that my faith hadn't evolved enough to truly understand how it applied to my life or that I was just slow in the head to understand.


My mom always had a Portals of Prayer under her pillow

After my dad left, I know that there were days when my mom was not sure about where the next meal would come from.  She always had a small notebook on the kitchen table with literally every penny she spent carefully listed.

Next to her notebook, she always had her church envelopes which she was very diligent about using every week.  I remember lots of weeks where she had nothing more than a coin or two to put in the offering for the week.  She never looked to get anything in return, but wanted to give back a share of what she had been given.

Another constant in her life was a copy of the Portals of Prayer was always under her pillow.  It was a devotional book published by her church denomination.  I know that she would use it and I know that she would say the prayers in the back.  There was a prayer for each day of the week and ones for special occasions.

I know she prayed.  But in the denomination I grew up in prayer was something that lay people didn't talk about a whole lot.  Prayers were either written in a book or booklet and others were usually said by a pastor.

Just sitting down and praying together was unheard of at least in my experience.  

My mom would listen to me say a "Now I lay me down to sleep" prayer every night."  It was the same prayer every night for years.  I'd always tack on the phrase at the end where I'd ask God to "bring a message from my daddy."  It never happened.  But, I did find him when I was in my late twenties.

He did give me a message when I knocked on his door.

He wasn't happy to see me.