Monthly Archives: November 2016

November 24 – A Thanksgiving Day Proclamation


Americans have been observing a National Day of Thanksgiving on the last Thursday in November since 1863.  When the nation paused to give thanks that first Thanksgiving Day, the guns at Gettysburg and Vicksburg had been silent for less than five months. President Abraham Lincoln, already anticipating a tough reelection campaign, had spoken at the dedication of the national cemetery at Gettysburg only a week earlier.

In his brief remarks at Gettysburg, Lincoln reminded his listeners that the nation was dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal. He named those who had died defending that cause ones who had given their “last full measure of devotion” to the nation and its cause. He called those listening who met on that great battlefield to “highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Continue reading

November 18 – Why the Search for Baby Kitten Matters


Becky and I will be in Sturgis, Michigan, for Thanksgiving. Hoping to avoid some of the day-before traffic on the Turnpikes (Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana, in that order), we will leave early Tuesday morning and hope to arrive late in the afternoon. Our son-in-law, Ryan, has to work on Wednesday, and Katharine, our daughter, has a bit of at-home work to do, as well. “I’m sure you won’t mind playing with the girls for a while,” Katharine wrote a couple of days ago. Her confidence is not misplaced.

Lena will be five in February and Ada was two in September. We won’t mind playing with the girls for a while. Becky will bring books to read and crafts to do. The girls will delight in what Grandma brings in her bag. I will be down on the floor, my specialty is to provide the voice for whichever stuffed animal I’m assigned in the drama that unfolds throughout the weekend. At nearly five, Lena will undoubtedly provide the story line. Two-year old Ada will not be far behind. My guess is that the story told will have something to do with baby kittens.

I love Thanksgiving. I love this best of all holidays. I love being with family. Continue reading

November 11 – What cancer taught me about the election results


My cancer diagnosis came all at once. There was no waiting for test results, no need for a biopsy. It hit hard, a sledgehammer destroying in one blow a wall of good health that had always kept storms and danger at bay. Surgery was scheduled before we left the doctor’s office. There had been no symptoms, no concerns, just a routine test. We were stunned, dazed.

We went home and had lunch, and sometime that afternoon I went to the file cabinet next to the desk in the family room. I found the life insurance policy and for the first time ever, and never since, I read the entire thing.

When I tell that story, other cancer survivors often say, “Oh, you too.”

You have to do something, and reading the fine print in a life insurance policy is something to do. You may weep or you may rage or you may get out a bottle. Some people pretend it isn’t happening. You have to do something. Reading the fine print in a life insurance policy is probably a better thing to do than raging or drinking or denying. Continue reading

November 4 – Why I won’t be watching the election returns


The North Light, Green Bay, Menominee, Michigan

Sam is a friend of the sort whose friendship you cherish. His friendship is one of a handful of friendships God has used to shape and sustain me, to fill my life with joy. In some ways Sam and I are as different as night and day, but he is that Proverbs friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Becky and I met Sam and Debbie the day we were introduced to the congregation of First Presbyterian Church, Menominee, Michigan, as the new pastor and his wife. We had no idea how much time we would spend with Sam and Debbie over the course of the next five years. The four of us built a youth ministry; First Presbyterian had never seen such a youth group, and, yes, our own kids were a part of its success. Continue reading