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Putting Pen to Paper – One Man’s Thoughts…

Seasons

The middle of winter is here.  That time of the year when the remains of the holidays are waning and the tug of spring is gripping your heart.  It is a rather melancholic time – full of remembering, forgetting, and hoping.  I don’t much care for this time of the year. You kind of feel…

Boxed In

Identity is a tricky thing to understand. We all want to be someone; to be important or have a place to belong.  We all search for our place in the world we live in. We take cues from those around us about how we behave or what we are good at doing and assume this…

Just Breathe…

This may date me a bit…but Lord Almighty, Please…

An Open Door

This is my family: me and my wife and the two young ones. This was taken about 9 years ago during one of our camping trips with Lake Huron in the background just south of Alpena, Michigan. Time goes by so quickly – life goes on and events become memories and the pace of living…

Don’t Give Up

Often when we hear people talk of peace, we think in terms of not fighting.  We think that if there are no wars or struggles or arguments between people then we would have peace.  The idea of peace that Jesus is talking about in John 14:27 has more to do with an inner calmness and…

Nothing New

The world we live in is in chaos…or so it would seem. We have riots, wars, and weather; tribalism, factions, and foes among friends. Everywhere you look someone is offended and others are oppressed, while committees argue over what to do when and where. The rich need to pay more and the poor need to…

Lamplight

There is so much we do not know…so much we do not understand. I wish I could sit here on December 31st, 2020 and tell you what 2021 would look like. I could make some guesses, that that is the best I could do…that is the best any of us can really do… We are…

First Christmas

We always had a freshly cut Christmas tree. As a kid growing up on a farm with a lot of land in the U.P. of Michigan, trees were plentiful.  Of course, the chosen tree was never perfect and was often one-good-sided but that didn’t matter because the not-so-perfect side would be against a wall or…

Moments Matter

Moments are fleeting and finite. Most we let pass by without too much notice as the hands on the clock sweep into history the minutes and seconds. We are passing through this current of time and most often do not pay any attention, other than to look back and wonder where it all went and…

Your Choice

The shepherds were amazed at the angels in the sky. The three wise men read about him in a book and were curious. Herod was unwilling to give up his power. The innkeeper didn’t have room for him. Elizabeth was overjoyed while John in her womb was excited. Zechariah laughed in disbelief that his son…

Rest For The Weary

No one in the house knew what would happen that night. The whole town was rife with activity as people from all over came to the little village. There had been a decree that a census be taken and that meant each person had to travel to the town of their birth to be counted.…

Christmas Morning

Nestled beneath the branches of the big blue spruce were packages and presents of all shapes and sizes. Some were wrapped in shiny foil and others in brown paper tied with brightly colored ribbons of red and green and gold. Scattered among the gifts were baggies with tissue spilling out the top and smaller trinket…

Truth Be Told

There is a phrase that has become quite common in today’s culture when people talk about their experiences. It usually ends with something like, “…this is my truth” or “…they spoke their truth” or “…they have the right to own their truth”. Their truth…hmm…as if truth is relative to the one experiencing it and is…

All I Want For Christmas

Back in the spring of 1980 I spent a week at 6th grade camp. It was a ritual in our school for all 6th graders…a sign of maturity so to speak or accomplishment. It was meant to teach outdoor skills, teamwork building, safety, and camaraderie…along with all the shenanigans from the high school counselors –…

The World Has Changed

There are changes that alter our view – a devastating storm, someone close passing away, a new baby or marriage or move to a new place. All of these are common to most and while they may be disruptive for a while, we eventually find a way through or around to a place where we…

One Gift

If you had one gift to give, what would it be? A new car…new house…vacation…or something else tangible? Maybe kindness or forgiveness or understanding…something more ethereal and thoughtful? Perhaps you’d go with the proverbial socks or mittens or fruitcake – you know, that thing you pick up at the corner store on your way because…

That Is Where He Is

The fact is, we have all fallen away at one time or another to one degree or another. Some may hide it better than others but bravado is not bravery and denial does not bring healing. We have all been like Thomas, needing to not just see the wounds but touch the scars and still…

Storms

I love rain and just about anything to do with it; thunder, lightning, wind, puddles – they all add to the experience. I can be a happy camper listening to the rain on the canvas roof, or a wanna-be storm chaser following the clouds across the land. I have stood on a mountain top arms…

Forgiveness

I’ve got scars all over my body from many cuts and scrapes have never healed the way they were supposed to. When I was a kid I was a horrible scab picker. I know that sounds kind of gross but it is the truth…and I know I’m not the only one out there…you know who…

A Place To Rest

In an old park on the corner of an old street where few travel any more sits an old iron bench. Not like the factory made benches you see in some more modern parks, but a sturdy old wrought iron one, weathered and wearied by years but still beautiful with swirled feet and gently curved…

Sweet Aroma

Doing chores for my kids means something very different than what I think of. For them it is getting the dishes done and vacuuming and keeping their rooms cleaned. It also means taking care of the pets, taking the garbage out, and shoveling snow. When I was growing up on the farm, ‘chores’ were something…

The Cost

While goals are good and should be a part of our lives, often we set goals that are completely unattainable.  We set goals based on what we want to look like or who we want to be or what career we’d like to pursue.  These are all good and noble ideas but we forget to…

Rain In Heaven

Those that know me well know I would much prefer a rainy day over a sunny day any day.  I know this is a bit strange but there are some reasons behind it.  First and foremost, I was saved on a rainy day…well, it didn’t start out raining but after I prayed my prayer and…

Legacy

I never really knew these men. I have heard stories about their lives and tried to imagine how they lived and where…and what they lived for. Were their lives hard? Coming over from Finland and settling in Northern Michigan could not have been an easy life. Having to learn a new language and a new…

The Tools We Have

I remember when I began building things. When I was about 12 or 13 there was an old shack in our back yard. I’m not sure why it was there or what its original use was, but over the years it had become nothing more than a storage shed filled with useless artifacts that no…

Turning Pages

“Turning, turning, turning through the years…minutes into hours, hours into years…” This lyric from Les Misérables has been gnawing at me for some time. It was just after the last fight was lost at the barricades and the women were cleaning up the debris, remembering what was lost, trying to find hope to hold on…

Home

There could not be a more perfect place to watch the sun set on a cool autumn evening. With a hot cup of coffee in one hand and the other wrapped in the hand of your best friend we sat staring at the horizon as our kids skipped stones across the water…wondering why we had…

Little Leaves

I love the fall – windy, rainy, cool and crisp with the autumn smell of a hot summer day giving in to the cold winter night. I remember growing up on the farm with the fields of dried grasses bordered with trees bursting forth in a kaleidoscope of orange and red and gold and brown.…

Touch The Sky

Do you not know? Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary,…

Man With A Plan

Over the past 15 years or so I have become a builder or sorts. I haven’t built a whole house from the ground up…not yet…but I have renovated 3 and learned a great deal. I’ve also built some furniture and smaller stuff like birdhouses and boxes of various kinds. I really enjoy working with wood…

Journey On

They say that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. While this may be true if you’re a crow flying, it is rarely the case for us terrestrial bound wanderers. I can’t just drive in a straight line from my house to the local Home Depot, or anywhere else for that matter.…

First Vacation (two)

While the air between us was much clearer, the Southern August air was not. Driving through North and South Carolina was sweltering. The cooler mountain air of the Smokies had given way to the humid coastal Carolinas. We drove for hours watching the canopy of maples and evergreens turn to moss covered live oak and…

First Vacation (one)

We had been married for just over a year and had recently found out that we were expecting our first child in the spring. It was mid-August and we had just set out on our first vacation as part of our first anniversary. The truck was packed with the necessary camping gear and we were…

The Climb

I’ve never climbed a mountain…at least not one without stairs that was in a park somewhere. You know the kind, where there is a lookout of some sort built on top but to get to it you have to climb many, many stairs and when you finally gasp your way to the top you marvel…

When The Spinning Stops

When we are young we feel we have the world on a string. We have everything and everyone we know on a string and we fling them back and forth, in and out, like a yoyo whenever we want. We believe we are the center of the universe and all we do is right and…

Try

I have never been a fan of the phrase, “Failure is not an option!”  Or in the words of the wise and wrinkled puppet Yoda, “Do, or do not. There is no try.” With all due respect to little green men and Gene Kranz, the flight director for the Apollo 11 moon landing, I happen…

Frozen Moments

There are times when life seems to be rush right by like a river tumbling down a ravine, leaving us overwhelmed and caught in eddies of emotion and confusion. Other times is seems to just meander and wind its way on like a lazy river, when all there is to do is watch the tiny…

Mackinac Island – Another World

This trip was long overdue. I grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the Keweenaw Peninsula to be exact, almost as far north as you can get. I now live in the middle of the Lower Peninsula and have crossed the Mackinac Bridge more times than I can count and always looked over the railing to…

Hiking Isle Royale

When I was in my mid 20’s I spent 7 days on Isle Royale.  A buddy and I hiked the length – 45 miles end to end.  For those of you who don’t know, Isle Royal is a U.S. National Park in the west end of Lake Superior between Upper Michigan and Canada.  It is…

Scars

I was having a conversation with a friend a while ago. It was not a particularly unique day…just an ordinary autumn morning – crisp but not cold, damp but not soggy.  The kind of morning when you can feel winter’s chill just around the corner but summer is still holding on for every last ray…

Tree Of Life

A leaf fell to the ground today. It had been feeling the chill in the air for some weeks and the last few nights of frost were just too much to bear. The life of this little leaf had been short, but wonderful. Back when the first few rays of warm spring sunlight hit its…

Open Road

I’ve done a lot of driving for two very simple reasons: I hate boats and I hate planes. They both occupy that place in my psyche ruled by fear and fueled by a lack of control. Who really knows what lurks in the deep dark depths and we all know what happens when a flying…

Bravado Is Not Bravery

“David didn’t kill Goliath because he set out to slay giants. He set out to give sandwiches to his brothers, and Goliath got in the way.” -Rich Mullins Often we think we have to fight the ‘big’ fight. We have to get in there and duke it out and strive for victory over a foe…

Campfire Story

The air was silent and the wind still as we arrived in this new land…and we were not alone. We could see evidence of others who had chosen this place as well to call home for a while, looking for some peace and quiet and a respite from their long journeys. There were little fabric…

Fishers Of Men

I have never been a fan of fishing and probably never will. I just don’t get it; spend all your day sitting in a boat or standing on a shoreline waiting for that one moment when you get a bite and can reel in that monster you’ve had your eye on for years – you…

We Are All Prodigals

I have done a fair amount of hiking and bushwhacking on trails and beaches and side roads. I’ve hiked and canoed Pictured Rocks twice, spent some time traversing the Boundary Waters, and walked the length of Isle Royale.  My feet have trod countless other trails and ridges in my native Upper Peninsula of Michigan. As…

Let The Master Work

I am not who I was 10 years ago and I am not who I will be 10 years from now.  Neither are you. I am not the man my wife married 24 years ago and I am not the man she will grow old with.  This is one of the fundamental lessons for everyone…

What Friends Are For

Friendship is a difficult thing…and something that I have not quite figured out. I have someone whom I consider my “best friend”…my wife…and I would have a hard time spending a day without her.  She is never far from my thoughts and influences everything I do.  I have had others whom I have called “best…

Willing to Wait

Waiting has never been one of my best abilities.  I can quickly get irritated waiting in the grocery store line or at the DMV or at the doctor’s office.  The frustration is often rewarded with unpleasant experiences – paying the cashier or the DMV clerk, hearing the doctor tell you news you did not want…

Abundance

Life is about balance, keeping an even keel on a constantly changing sea of circumstances and emotions. The up then down, back then forth nature of life can be exciting and unnerving at the same time, and not being able to see over the next wave can be terrifying. We are all bobbers on the…

Providence

After 11 years of commuting about an hour one way to work, we decided to put our house up for sale last November. We didn’t have much hope of it selling very quickly being the beginning of winter in Michigan but we thought we’d test the market and at least get an idea of what…

We Are All Followers

We all stand on the shoulders of those who have made the difficult choices and chosen the narrow way. We have all learned from someone the right way and the wrong way. We all come after those who went before and build on their achievements. Not one of us is self-made. No matter how much…

Walk Humbly

The word humble can be used in many ways: to be small in stature; not arrogant; to be put down or made less than; to be aware of one’s place in a hierarchy…there are several other ways it can be described but all have this sense of being less than something else. This is not…

Love Mercy

We all have someone who has wronged us. Someone who has lied to us, cheated us, taken advantage of us, or hurt our feelings. You could probably think of that someone right now and it would stir up all kinds of resentment and pain and maybe even anger. You have likely even spoken the words,…

Do Justly

When Micah says, “do justly” he is opening a whole can of worms. While it seems straight forward, in reality it can be quite complicated… (at least we make it so…we do this often). We consider justice as something doled out in payment for a wrong committed. You did this to me, so I will…

Missing Pieces

Sometimes life can change on a dime…other times it is a long build up to a quiet but significant transition. 24 years ago my wife and I had planned our wedding for just over a year before it actually happened. We have had two children that we used about nine months each to prepare for.…

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