HATRED and GUNS: Just thinking in BLOG

 There is a a new anti-democracy pandemic in our nation.  It is HATRED. This HATRED is a festering disease.  This disease, like cancer, has been lying dormant in the souls of many in our nation for many, many years.  I believe our last President triggered the outward manifestation of this disease.  Let me be clear.  HATRED by itself isn’t deadly.  

Put a weapon, like a gun, in the hands of a hater and there is the potential of DEADLY VIOLENCE. Put millions of guns in the hands of HATERS and the potential for deadly results that can become explosive.  HATRED by itself doesn’t kill. A gun by itself is not the cause of this pandemic.  The gun in the hand of a HATER alone is only part of the pandemic.  Put a gun in the hand of a HATER who also has some mental challenges and there is an extreme potential for gun violence — and death.  HATRED without weaponization doesn’t kill.  GUNS without hatred doesn’t kill.  

What cures HATRED?  Love is at the top of my list and the need for more blogging!

I know there will be those who will find many holes in this logic. What I know for sure is that there are many ways we can CONTROL the violence that causes the high rate of gun related deaths.   

Consider this short list of gun related safeguards.  This list does not violate the second amendment right to bare arms.  

  1. Background checks
  2. Age restrictions on gun ownership
  3. Eliminate manufacturers’ immunity from liability
  4. Ban assault weapons 
  5. Ban high-capacity magazines
  6. Ban ghost guns
  7. Gun liability insurance (not unlike car insurance requirements)
  8. Weapon training (not unlike driving training)
  9. Red-flag laws
  10. Gun storage/lock requirements

Just thinking in blog.   

An Easter Experience from Years Ago

I’ll never forget the Holy Saturday night, many years ago, receiving a late night call that my mother had a stroke.  She was in Lincoln, Nebraska, 800 miles away from where I lived in Saginaw, Michigan.  Easter worship in the church where I was pastor was just a few hours away.

How could I lead worship and preach on Easter?  I held in my heart both my mom and my family and the congregation I was called to serve.  Words can’t describe the emotion, the pain, the questions. Seminary didn’t teach us how to live through personal  crisis like these!  God leads us through these experiences.  What I remember:  

1) I did my best to lead Easter worship.  I was numb. God did most of the work!

2)  I was honest with the congregation sharing my situation.

3) I asked for prayers. 

Following worship I got into my car and drove to Nebraska—easier for me to drive than fly.  My family couldn’t join me.  Driving was good.  I had time on the road with my thoughts and prayers and God. 

Finally, with my mom and sister we talked and prayed.   All mom could do is look at me with searching eyes and very slight movement with her hand.  I had not seen her for several years.  I could only try to imagine what she was trying to say. I thank God I had this time with mom before her death.  My sister was also with me.  

I remained in Lincoln several days, along with my sister and her family, to conduct memorial service in the nursing home where she lived. I remember asking my church secretary to fax materials from Saginaw that I would need to conduct this service.  In the service I sang a favorite, “His Eye is on the Sparrow”. We had ice cream and cake—something mom would have enjoyed.

 My wife and brother and other family members couldn’t be with me.  Another service would be planned so other members of the family could attend.  

My point in writing this:  

I thank God, through the RISEN CHRIST, for the strength to get me through what all families in a host of contexts in our congregations, experience every day.  With all the painful things that befall us, God is always with us!  With Gods help, through faith, we can get through anything.  Jesus lives!  God is with us!  ALL THE TIME!



 “We belong to God” – An Ash Wednesday message in preparing for a journey through Lent 2023. This blog is an update of what I originally delivered to the Presbytery of Lake Huron in 2011.

Reflecting on first words of the Brief Statement of Faith, guiding me in preparing this message—from the Heidelberg Catechism:
“I belong—body and soul, in life and death—not to myself
but to my faithful savior Jesus Christ”



First, a glimpse into my personal story. Before moving to California, I went to the same family doctor for over 30 years. Dr. Caroline Scott is an active Episcopalian worshipping in a church just a few blocks from the church I served. When I went in for an office visit, we would typically spend time talking about our common interest in doing Christ’s work, personally and as a church, in downtown Saginaw Michigan. I am fortunate to have found this doctor who is as passionate about God’s work in the city as in taking care of her patients. I recall she used to provide free health screenings and counsel to members of her inner-city parish.
I mention Dr. Scott because her medical practice has been appropriately named the PHOENIX FAMILY PHYSICIANS. The Phoenix is a majestic mythical bird, a fire spirit that can live for 500 to a 1000 years.  Near the end of life the Phoenix builds a nest of twigs that then ignites;  both nest and bird burn and are reduced to ashes, from which a new young Phoenix emerges, reborn, to live again.
My family and friends and church have helped me rise like a Phoenix from the flames of a heart attack over 30 years ago.  Take note, my young friends and family, you can have a heart attack at the age of 35! At the age of 50 I had double knee replacement that ended with a septic infection that almost took my life.  My family and friends gathered thinking this might be the end.  It took me more weeks to recover than I can remember.  The Phoenix rose again just a few years later when another infection shut down my kidneys…..I escaped meeting St. Peter one more time!  My wife Nancy was out of town.  The Lake Huron Presbytery Executive got me to the Emergency Room.  The church and Lake Huron Presbytery had my back! Through the years I’ve had to deal with arthritis, heart disease, lymphedema — now retired and disabled often using a walker or wheel chair. Like the Phoenix, I have been given several opportunities to emerge from the ashes. 

I have been blessed. Good things have come from these experiences. Retirement and moving with my always supportive wife Nancy to California to live close to our daughter and her family has been good. I have a collection of excellent doctors and many-many good friends.


On a church level, the congregation I served from 1985-2013 has become a major part of my story. I can’t avoid knitting my personal health experiences with the experiences of this congregation. We lived through these experiences together.  Just as I walked with members of the congregation as a pastor through challenging times, this congregation walked with me through my health challenges.  We struggled, together, to emerge from the flames of crisis and ashes to discover again and again and again, as Joel says, that the “Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” 
Literally, the church established in 1867 burned on January 2, 1898.  Ten months later the church emerged from the ashes, rebuilt and rededicated under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. Joseph Tewell.  This pastor then died a few years later from a heart-attack at a relatively young.
Throughout the years the church has had to adapt and change and re-tool how it did ministry. The church grew to 1400 members in the 1950’s and closed in 2018 with around 60 faithful members — always and consistently pouring resources into the community. As pastor and congregation, we spent many years re-inventing  ourselves in how we did things—as a spiritual island in a city devastated with crime and blight and poverty—always focused on ways we could share God’s “abounding and steadfast love” with others—always striving to rise like a Phoenix.
Some of our re-tooling through the years of my pastorate involved discovering that we couldn’t do ministry alone. We ran our own in-house programs for children and youth. We ran a summer program for inner-city youth called “Summer Magic”. In recent years we had partnered with the East Side Soup Kitchen, that used the church gym and professional kitchen, to serve the homeless and hungry poor.  The church also had a mobile health clinic, the Naussau Clinic and converted a garage into a huge walk-in freezer for food rescue program called Hidden Harvest. Creating a playground for neighborhood children was another major church development. The Soup Kitchen and Hidden Harvest eventually moved into a new building called the Hunger Solution Center.

Also, after several years of intense planning in partnership with Healthy Community Partners, St. Mary’s Hospital, Neighborhood Renewal Services and the First Ward Community Center….the church opened its doors, rent free, to the Mark Neumeyer Cathdral District Youth Center. The late Mark Neumeyer was the man who called up one day and said:  ‘Let’s talk about ways we can partner together in serving  children in the community, As many as 40-50 children would come to this after-school program every day. It didn’t hurt that the church had a gymnasium. Women of Colors working specifically with neighborhood women and children came into the church and evolved into a huge community program. I absolutely LOVE sharing stories filled with these programs evolving from a church helping people rise from ashes of poverty and despair.

There is one short sentence in the Presbyterian Church Constitution that has been central in helping the church rise from ashes of inner city despair in defining her mission: “The church is called to undertake this mission even at the risk of losing its life, trusting in God alone as the author and giver of life….” A similar affirmation is found in the church constitutional, “Christ gives to the Church all the gifts necessary to be his body……..a community of faith, entrusting itself to God alone, even at the risk of losing its life.”
When I have been ill, there is no denying my fear in not knowing about the future.  The same is true in the church.  In various different contexts, we fear what is going to happen to us if we continue to do things the ways we have always done them before. The church did her work until she had no more resources to maintain programs in a huge and expensive building. I invested as much as I could until health and disability took me into retirement. Yet we still search for ways to rise from the ashes in new contexts as the vibrant, living body of Christ.

So this question: Post COVID, in what new ways is God leading?  What is going to emerge from the flames of all the “unknowns” before the church in discerning God’s calling?    

In our personal lives, what are we going to change in discerning ways we can be more faithful to God in sharing our lives with others?

We must re-set this Lent in carrying with us this affirmation:  Whatever happens in our respective contexts, personally or as families or communities and a church, there must always be knowledge that we are not alone.  God binds is together and builds us up in love. God is always with us.  God has our back. 
As we enter into another season called Lent: rise from the ashes of change to experience, again:   WE BELONG TO GOD.   IN LIFE AND IN DEATH….I BELONG TO GOD….WE BELONG TO GOD!


        Joel 2: 1-2, 12-17
2Blow the trumpet in Zion;   sound the alarm on my holy mountain!Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,   for the day of the Lord is coming, it is near— 2 a day of darkness and gloom,   a day of clouds and thick darkness!Like blackness spread upon the mountains   a great and powerful army comes;their like has never been from of old,   nor will be again after them   in ages to come.
12 Yet even now, says the Lord,   return to me with all your heart,with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; 13   rend your hearts and not your clothing.Return to the Lord, your God,   for he is gracious and merciful,slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love,   and relents from punishing. 14 Who knows whether he will not turn and relent,   and leave a blessing behind him,a grain-offering and a drink-offering   for the Lord, your God?
15 Blow the trumpet in Zion;   sanctify a fast;call a solemn assembly; 16   gather the people.Sanctify the congregation;   assemble the aged;gather the children,   even infants at the breast.Let the bridegroom leave his room,   and the bride her canopy.
17 Between the vestibule and the altar   let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep.Let them say, ‘Spare your people, O Lord,   and do not make your heritage a mockery,   a byword among the nations.Why should it be said among the peoples,   “Where is their God?” ’
Matthew 6:  1-4  NRVS
Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.         


In grieving the needless death of five souls in Colorado Springs on November 20, 2022.

It is reported that there have been over 600 mass shootings in this country this year (2022). This doesn’t include ‘single victim’ shooting victims! There are more guns in this country than citizens.

I don’t want to take away the constitutional right to own guns. For me, background checks, red tag laws and restrictions on high power assault weapon ownership sound rational and constitutionally allowable. Personally, I think ‘open carry laws’, without proper training or insurance on high powered weapons are dangerous and can potentially put law enforcement officers at risk in responding to shooting incidents. Speaking as a non gun owner-novice, two or more people holding a gun on each other in a shooting incident? Does a law enforcement officer always know how to distinguish between a victim and citizen lawfully garnishing a gun?

Yes, these are my thoughts as a non-gun owner! One more thought: why is it so easy for some government entities in some states to create laws against certain books, than creating laws to protect innocent citizens who become, along with families and friends, victims of gun violence?

When Much is Required?

(Journal entry written Jan 28, 2022)

To whom much is given much will be required Luke 12:48

This scripture from the gospel of Luke came to my attention after seeing a FaceBook post about a ‘members only luxury club’ opening in the Transamerica Pyramid in downtown San Francisco.  To join this exclusive club will cost roughly $100,000.  See below:


A friend and colleague, shared this scriptural text in response to a comment reminding readers that a lot of growth in our nation and around the world come from the minds and within the hearts  of the wealthiest of people.   This creates for me images of the disparity between the haves and have-nots in this world—with extreme wealth for some and agonizing poverty for others.  The point of one of the comments on the Facebook page: Haven’t the wealthy in our world earned the right to enjoy the luxuries life offers, ie expensive mansions, yachts — even trips into space?  

Wouldn’t it be neat to rent the Royal Suite  in the tallest building in the world, the  Burj Khalif in Dubai  at $24,000+ a night?

There is no arguing the fact that the wealthy of the world have earned the right to use the ‘fruits of the vines’ they have planted?  This is where the scriptural text from the gospel of Luke comes in:

To whom much is given

much will be required.  Luke 12:48

Who am I to judge the wealthiest people in the world? Many if not most of those we call wealthy do a lot of really good things to make this a better world in which to live. I’m thinking specifically of people like Elon Musk, Tim Cook, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Opra Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg…to mention a few—all who do good things with their wealth.   There is no doubt in my mind that many of the super wealthy in our world  are doing significant things with their wealth—also deserving of upscale clubs and huge castles.   Much is required of these wealthy people. How much is enough for a billionaire? and who am i to judge the person who chooses space travel over anything else.

I consider myself wealthy—more spiritual than financial. I am blessed with what I need to support my family.  I know I can’t afford to join the club that just opened in the San Francisco Transamerica Pyramid.  I can, however, afford to live in a reasonably priced 55+ gated community in Northern California using what my wife and I have earned doing normal things with better than average jobs for the last 40 years.  

But am I doing enough to support the food pantry

just down the road from where we live?  

There is ‘much required’ from all of us with what God has entrusted our care.

Back to billionaires:

 I wonder how many billionaires there are in the world? Google says we have over 2700 billionaires worth over 13 Trillion dollars.  

Question: how many billions would it take to solve the issue of homelessness in a city like San Francisco.  I honestly believe this problem could be solved by all of us who live in the Bay Area if we had the  gumption and resolve to pool our many resources (not just money) into the solving of this complex issue.  The problem as I see it is the reality that the combined wealth of the rich and poor will not solve this problem if there isn’t a significant amount of collective resolve. Do we have to wait for the homeless to show up on the doorsteps of our homes in order to take this issue seriously?  the homeless are already on the streets all around us.  Or can we isolate ourselves from facing difficult issues like homelessness by living in gated communities that help separate us from the poverty that exists outside the walls.  Having lived my entire life in a city house, now livng in retirement in a gated community is a bit uncomfortable.  At the same time I know my family is safe.

We don’t live in a a perfect world.  i am not perfect with my stewardship of what I have  been blessed to recieve. And I believe collective use of resources (time, talents, money, advocacy)  used to solve some of these complex issues is within our reach — especially if there was more  fairness in the distribution of wealth.

  A good first step would be for zillionaires to place more resolve and non-monetary  resources into programs/policies that would help the bottom tier people of in earning higher life-sustaining wages or reasonable social benefits.  A good second step would be to require the super-wealthy to pay taxes at the same rate as lower tier tax payers. 

This gets into a topic I love to preach.  I believe we are called to place our wealth next to things we truly value.  Does our use of time and talent and resources and advocacy reflect this aspiration?  I believe that God calls us to pin our resources next to those things we personally value —and this is always going to be a personal choice. I assume there are many wealthy people who do just that — serve others by placing their wealth next to what they value.  

Unfortunately getting wealthier is a value held by some. Getting wealthier is enough. Thus the need for equitable taxes.

Simply, this is a scriptural text that needs to be proclaimed globally from many platforms:  

To whom much is given

much will be required.  Luke 12:48

This is a text that requires  serious reflection. 

This is a text that needs a faithful response from those who wish to share their wealth with the helpless and poor.

Enough said—for now!

Biden or Trump……Political Journal Entry

(I don’t usually post political statements. I felt the need to go public with this journal entry)

There is no denying the fact that former President Donald Trump finds himself in the news almost every day. I find it amazing that most of the news portrays Donald Trump as a man who has a lot of STUFF going on in his life that is being investigated by congress, courts, or a host of political and non-political institutions — entities that suggest much of what Trump has and is doing is (allegedly) criminal.  In short I don’t see a lot of people giving Donald Trump awards for being a model citizen or a champion in business. For many he is a popular politician.  He is also known globally as a twice-impeached former lover of golf-President.  So why does the GOP continue to support him?   why do thousands love him? Because he is all they have?  Do people really long to be like him? For me, Donald Trump divides us.  He creates CHAOS wherever he goes.  He has a militant, vocal following.  He wants to be President again — but why?  WHY? WHY?

There is no denying that Joseph Biden finds himself in the news almost every day.  He has a lot of STUFF going on with COVID, inflation, crisis, natural disasters, global warming, a host of domestic and global issues. As far as I can tell Joseph Biden doesn’t spend a lot of time golfing.  He is not being investigated for any crimes.  He is a popular, loved life-long politician.  FACT: he won the last election! Joseph Biden has devoted his life in defending the constitution without the need to be announcing in every speech — “I am the greatest, smartest, richest leader America (or world) has ever seen!”  Bidens love for this nation is palpable.  He has a dozen major projects designed to improve the lives of all Americans—rich or poor regardless of race or creed or social standing.  He isn’t building walls.  He longs to heal divisions between people and nations.  He works for unity and peace…even with those in whom he disagrees…even trying to work with republicans and democrats.

These are some of my thoughts as a citizen and Democrat.  While I don’t know who I will support the next time we have a Presidential election,  I know for a fact I will be looking for a woman or man who governs with a smile and outstretched arms and open hands longing to embody the great affirmation that “WE ARE ONE NATION UNDER GOD”.  I don’t need or want a divisive, authoritarian King.  I want a President who will help me once again proud to be an American. 

Risky Children’s Messages in Worship

Now retired, I have an opportunity to listen to worship services from churches large and small in a variety of communities. One thing I have noticed is how nervous or unprepared preachers or worship leaders seem to be in talking with the children. You can easily tell when the children ‘connect’ with the worship leader or sit wondering when this time on the steps of the church would come an end. This time with children is the most valuable contact many preachers have with the children of church members. I want to share an easy idea on how to do children’s messages to put in your worship toolbox in working with children.

One of the riskiest things I did in worship, back in the 90s, was asking children and their families to bring specific objects into worship that I could use to create a children’s message. Simply, I would ask a child and her/his family to put an object in a bag and bring it to me the next Sunday.

No cheating. I would not give families any help in what they would put in the bag.

On Sunday morning, during the designated time for the Children’s Message, I would open the bag and see for he first time the object. With whatever was placed in the bag, I would spontaneously create a message. These were not deep, well-organized messages.

I could sometimes find a way to connect the object lesson with my sermon or a hymn or something else going on in the world or the life of the church. While I would often find a scriptural text that could relate to the object, I would mostly pull on my own personal experiences with theological concepts that might be relevant–hopefully memorable. This is not unlike talking with someone about an every-day experience.

The most difficult challenge in doing this type of children’s message was in sharing some thoughts that would be relevant at a level that children could understand.

A neat thing about this type of message was the excitement in children getting involved during the week in finding an object to share. Parents would often search for an object that might have some deep meaning, i.e. a candle, cross, bible or juice on a communion Sunday. Children would search for a ‘stump-the-pastor’ type of object.

Some examples of what children brought me in a bag on Sunday morning: A baseball bat, spatula, a soccer ball, a rose, fingernail clippers, lipstick, a penny, newspaper, marshmallow, apple. The list can be endless!

Could you create an object lesson around these items? You might surprise yourself.

A toothpick was one of my greatest challenges. I only had a few seconds to decide what I could say about this small object. I found myself talking about working on picking or choosing how we would take care of of our teeth and our bodies…..and our neighbors……like caring for our teeth? Lame? A real stretch with the object? It worked. Something to think about when we brush our teeth in the morning–what we pick or choose what to do during the day to share Jesus’ love with someone else.

To be honest, I used to be afraid of children’s messages. This way of doing a children’s message took away some of that fear. I often surprised even myself in what I could come up with on the fly. This type of message helped me create some bonds with the children and congregation in showing how pastors are called to ‘think on their feet’–and often on short notice. I reached a point of actually enjoying the possibility of doing this type of Children’s message.

I would note that this was not the way I would do a children’s message during seasons of Advent or Lent or on special days like the ‘Fourth of July’.

This is a great way of getting children and families involved in the worship experience, regardless how a specific object is discussed.

Something to try when doing on-line or ZOOM services: Have a child simply pick an object in the room around them? Just an idea.

Bottom line? Have some fun in working with children in the church.

Destroying COVID-19

This is a Facebook post on August 7, 2020.  I found it helpful, worth sharing, and something I want to save.
“The following is from Irene Ken physician, whose daughter is an Asst. Prof in infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins University, quite informative.
 * The virus is not a living organism, but a protein molecule (DNA) covered by a protective layer of lipid (fat), which, when absorbed by the cells of the ocular, nasal or buccal mucosa, changes their genetic code.  (mutation) and convert them into aggressor and multiplier cells.
 * Since the virus is not a living organism but a protein molecule, it is not killed, but decays on its own.  The disintegration time depends on the temperature, humidity and type of material where it lies.
 * The virus is very fragile;  the only thing that protects it is a thin outer layer of fat.  That is why any soap or detergent is the best remedy, because the foam CUTS the FAT (that is why you have to rub so much: for 20 seconds or more, to make a lot of foam).
By dissolving the fat layer, the protein molecule disperses and breaks down on its own.
 * HEAT melts fat;  this is why it is so good to use water above 25 degrees Celsius for washing hands, clothes and everything.  In addition, hot water makes more foam and that makes it even more useful.
 * Alcohol or any mixture with alcohol over 65% DISSOLVES ANY FAT, especially the external lipid layer of the virus.
 * Any mix with 1 part bleach and 5 parts water directly dissolves the protein, breaks it down from the inside.
 * Oxygenated water helps long after soap, alcohol and chlorine, because peroxide dissolves the virus protein, but you have to use it pure and it hurts your skin.
 * NO BACTERICIDE OR ANTIBIOTIC SERVES.  The virus is not a living organism like bacteria;  antibodies cannot kill what is not alive.
 * NEVER shake used or unused clothing, sheets or cloth.  While it is glued to a porous surface, it is very inert and disintegrates only
-between 3 hours (fabric and porous),
-4 hours (copper and wood)
-24 hours (cardboard),
– 42 hours (metal) and
-72 hours (plastic).
But if you shake it or use a feather duster, the virus molecules float in the air for up to 3 hours, and can lodge in your nose.
 * The virus molecules remain very stable in external cold, or artificial as air conditioners in houses and cars.
They also need moisture to stay stable, and especially darkness.  Therefore, dehumidified, dry, warm and bright environments will degrade it faster.
 * UV LIGHT on any object that may contain it breaks down the virus protein.  For example, to disinfect and reuse a mask is perfect.  Be careful, it also breaks down collagen (which is protein) in the skin.
 * The virus CANNOT go through healthy skin.
 * Vinegar is NOT useful because it does not break down the protective layer of fat.
 * NO SPIRITS, NOR VODKA, serve.  The strongest vodka is 40% alcohol, and you need 65%.
 * LISTERINE IF IT SERVES!  It is 65% alcohol.
 * The more confined the space, the more concentration of the virus there can be.  The more open or naturally ventilated, the less.
 * You have to wash your hands before and after touching mucosa, food, locks, knobs, switches, remote control, cell phone, watches, computers, desks, TV, etc.  And when using the bathroom.
 * You have to HUMIDIFY HANDS DRY from so much washing them, because the molecules can hide in the micro cracks.  The thicker the moisturizer, the better.
* Also keep your NAILS SHORT so that the virus does not hide there.“

MOTHER’S DAY– or for me: DAUGHTER’S DAY 2020

A few weeks ago our daughter reflected on Facebook all the wonderful places she has had the opportunity to live.   She now lives in Now she lives in the San Francisco Bay area in Concord.   She is married to a wonderful, caring man, Ken.  They have an energy-driven, smiling, laughing, playful seven year old son, Thomas.   On my grandson’s  behalf I say:  HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY.  HAPPPY DAUGHTER’S DAY!

On the eve of seeing Emily and her family, the first time while we have been quarantined in our homes with the current pandemic, I’m awake at four in the morning excited to see them from a “socially appropriate distance”.   We will visit in the court yard at our home in Rio Vista, about 35 minutes from their home.  My chair will be inside the Casita that has an entrance into the courtyard–and I will be wearing my mask.   Emily and her family will be seated with masks six feet away in the corners of the court yard.   We’re going to order burgers from a local restaurant that delivers.  Nancy has made cup cakes for the occasion.

—– —– —–

During this pandemic,  Emily has been 500% involved with her husband in caring for their active seven year old son and young puppy Pike— a beautiful Boxer.  While it hasn’t been easy, time has gone pretty fast with all the activities Emily plans for Tommy.  We also spend time on Facetime and a neat interactive program called Caribu.

Emily has shared with us how happy they have been, amid the tragedy of a society closed down, to have been blessed with so much quality time together as a family.  My reflections take me to how much my wife and I have been blessed to watch our daughter (mom and wife) grow through the years–especially during these weeks/months confined to home.

Some background on Emily:  Readers of this blog may need to know that Emily is a PK = preachers kid.  Her life has taken her to many cities through the years.  She was born in 1980 and baptized in Davenport, Iowa.  As a baby, I spent a lot of time with Nancy and me and our church youth group.  I especially remember long work trips with the youth with a baby in tow.  We had a lot of teenagers willing to help us with babysitting.  Emily’s youngest years were at my second Call as an Associate Pastor in Evanston Illinois. Her playground was the back yard of the manse next door to the church in sharing this sacred play-space with the church day care.  Happy, social Emily was always surrounded with lots of children.

Our move to a Saginaw Michigan in 1987 put her Emily in a school system that would take her from Kindercare, Kempton Elementary Scool, South Middle School until she graduated from Arthur Hill High School in 1999.  I’ll never forget crying that rainy night at her graduation from High school.

Emily moves quickly through Delta College and Michigan State University with a wonderful internship in Washington DC working for Senator Debbie Stabenow. She had the chance to ‘rub shoulders’ with Hillary Clinton.   (Sorry for dropping names!)  She worked for the Whirlpool Corporation that took her professionally, to Nashville Tennessee, Charleston North Carolina and then to the San Francisco Bay area where she currently lives.  Health issues, another story, has caused Emily to go on disability.  Nothing she has encountered has kept her from being a strong woman in caring for her family!  That’s why I am writing this short  essay.

I firmly believe, as parents, we’ve been called to be trustees of of our children.  Emily is first and foremost a Child of God.   Along with her family, she is a precious  soul God has given us.  I can’t imagine the world without her.

There will always be ups and downs.  I know that Emily and her family will be able to work through anything  the world throws their way.  As I’ve said before, next to her mother she is the strongest women I know!

On Mother’s Day our journey continues.    We will be safe from the dangerous virus that lurks all around us. I know Emily will weather the storms in always finding the God-filled sunny days ahead as shed grows as a woman and MOTHER.

This year of our Lord, 2020, I pray that our journey together will continue in marvelous ways. God only knows.

May God continue to bless Emily and her family.

Happy Mother’s Day–daughter day!

Retirement on Sacramento DELTA

Three years ago Nancy and I made the decision to move from Saginaw, Michigan to Rio Vista, California.  The decision was easy.  For health reasons, it was becoming obvious that I could not make regular trips to California to visit our daughter and her family.  We wanted to live close to Emily, Ken and our young grandson Thomas.  Emily, Ken and Thomas live about 45 minutes from Rio Vista.

It was also important that we find a home we could afford.  California is an expensive state.  It was impossible for us to find affordable housing near San Francisco.  Then Nancy and Emily, on a trip through the Sacramento Delta, found the gated community named TRILOGY.  This is a 55+ community with beautiful homes, an 18 hole golf course and lots of other amenities.  The HOA fees are reasonable.  There are roughly 6000 residents in this affordable gated community of seniors.  TRILOGY is part of the city of Rio Vista, population roughly 10,000, located on he shore of he Sacramento River–and the Sacramento DELTA.  Rio Vista is halfway between San Francisco and Sacramento.   We love our home on Riviera Drive complete with a casita (pictured) my study and man-cave with private entrance.

I’m still getting used to life in a small town.  We have no doctors.  One good grocery store, a pharmacy and hardware store take care of our immediate needs.  The fire department comes to the house once a year to change smoke detector batteries.  I have a great barber who comes outside to help me and my walker in and out of my car.  McDonalds and KFC/Taco Bell are the only fast-food outlets on highway 12 that runs through our small town.   Main Street and Front Street have a number of good restaurants, bars, small shops–all great for tourists.  Several small churches can be found in Rio Vista–no Methodist, Lutheran or Presbyterian churches in Rio Vista.  We travel once or twice w week the 20-30 miles to do major shopping, visit doctors.  We pass by Travis Air Force Base on our trips to Fairfield, about 15 minutes from our home.  NAPA and several wineries are within thirty minutes of our home.   Nancy has found several groups she thoroughly loves–quilting with friends on Wednesdays, playing cards, a couple of service projects including making pillow cases for children with Cancer.  This takes her to Sacramento once or twice a month to deliver what she and her friends make.  She loves having Wednesday nights out with her friends–and trips once or twice a week to Concord to visit Emily and her family.   We love taking our lunch to a couple of places along the shore of the Sacramento River.  I always look forward to visits from the ‘kids’ — especially Tommy who is now seven.  I’d have to say playing with Legos is our favorite activity.   While we still miss all that was available when living in Saginaw, Michigan, our home for 30 years, nothing can replace quality time we can now spend with our California family and friends.


A triangle of land just east and inland from the San Francisco Bay Area, the Sacramento DELTA provides drinking water for more than 20 million Californians  (2008 statistic).   The Delta is an expansive inland river delta and estuary formed by the confluence of the Sacrament and San Joaquin rivers–just east of where the rivers enter the Suisun Bay.  The Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers are major shipping channels–depth of over 30 feet.  The DELTA is also a major boating, fishing, camping, touring wonderland offering many attactions for tourists.

Because of these rivers, we cross several bridges to get just about ANYWHERE!   Nothing is worse than trying to cross the Rio Vista Bridge when a big ship is traveling to or from Sacramento.  We can be held up in traffic for up to thirty minutes.   Because all we have are two-lane roads in and out of town, one accident can tie up traffic for hours.

There is much to learn as we continue adjusting to Delta living.  I hope this brief introduction will help friends and family understand where we now live.


Rio Vista is also known as  one of the largest natural gas fields in the nation.  Spanning portions of three counties and covering over 29,000 acres, it is the largest natural gas field in California.  –fifteenth largest in the United States.  Driving through TRILOGY and the 3000 homes and parks and golf course, one will also see several locations where this gas field has active outlets.  One cannot avoid seeing on the horizon, leaving the gates of TRILOGY, the hundreds of wind turbines.   The delta is also known for the low-elevation hills and brisk breezes allowing for this source of natural energy–the future in California.   Also o note, after we made our move to California, are all the solar panels on home roofs that capture energy from the sun.  So far, we have not made he decision to install solar panels on our house.

Wind is a ‘big deal’ for us on the Delta.  With the winds come the threat of fires.  Power outages are also common throughout the Delta.  We’ve been lucky so far when it comes to the fires.  The new normal for people living in California are these threats of fire and power outages.  This will be a topic to address at another time.

I thought it was time to write a few things about life in Rio Vista and the Sacramento Delta.  Take a close look at the map of the Delta–lots of things to see and do.  Enjoy.