Saturday, May 28, 2011


My Memorial Day weekend garage sale is kind of puny. But that's okay... it means I have much less junk lying around. I gave my den a quick once-over early this morning to see if there's anything I might have missed that needs to go. I must say, I'm down to the bare essentials. Oh sure, I still have a massive collection of Old Time Radio collectibles and phonographs, but that's my one worldly joy. I'll lay it all down if God asks me to.

It's all the other "stuff" that needs to go. My wife and I have never been wealthy. Far from it, in fact. We live paycheck to paycheck, and the bills are paid. Barely. We live simply, and we like it that way. But it still amazes me how much junk has piled up over the years. What amazes me even more is how easy it has been to let most of it go.

Three out of the last four years, I've been too tired to bother with all the outdoor Christmas decorations. So why hang on to something I don't use? Here's hoping another Christmas junkie will take it off our hands. We need the room... I would actually like to store the lawnmower in the shed this summer. My collection of Coke bottles just collects dust in my den. Good-bye! Why am I holding on to those collector's plates when I don't have a place to display them? Where did I get two big boxes of... well, we won't go there. (Stop by the sale if you wanna know. ;)

So here's hoping I can clean house this weekend, and maybe make a few dollars in the process. You see, there's this radio down at the antique shop I've had my eye on...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Four Year Old Reporter

It's funny how math works sometimes. Glancing at the calendar today, I just realized that it was 25 years ago today that I covered my very first City Council meeting as part of a radio internship for WPHM Radio in Port Huron, Michigan. 25 years. That would mean I was a reporter at... wow! Just 4 years old!

Well, the first part is true, anyway. It was Marysville City Council. The Mayor was a man named Dave Wright. I interviewed him after the meeting, went back to the radio station and wrote the story, and then called the mayor to confirm my facts. Somehow, some way, I still managed to screw it up. I don't remember the details, but I didn't get the story right. But they still used me at the station, and I ended up staying there for 5 years. I was the station's News Director when I left.

About the only recurring dream I have (other than not being able to find my locker while I roam my High School hallways in my undies) is being back at the radio station again. I never dream about the other 3 stations I worked for... only WPHM. Today, I'm no longer in the radio business except for some commercials I produce in my own home studio. I'm still in journalism very part-time as a freelancer for a couple local papers. My full-time job and obsession is as a Pastor. And I'm loving it.

For someone who is determined to keep looking forward and not back, that dream is a mystery to me. Sometimes in the dream I'm relieved to be back again in familiar territory, but most times I regret coming back. In my dream, I'm wondering what it was in my life that failed and brought me "home" again. We live 160 miles away from my first real job. I have memories, but I don't want to go back again. Northern Michigan is my home now.

Maybe it's a fear of failing. That's logical. We all face that fear from time to time. Maybe those first few years in radio, part of 25 year stretch on on-air shenanigans are so ingrained that I keep re-visiting for old times sake. Who knows? But I'll say this... it is fun to be four again in that dream.

Okay, okay. Four and a half. With a beard.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Good-bye, Mordecai

My rabbit is dying.

This won't be lighthearted or fun, so you might want to stop reading right now. I'm just getting my pain and frustration out. I've had Mordecai for about 5 or 6 years... I've lost count. He's old for a rabbit, to be sure. I've known this day was coming for some time. But he's my favorite pet, and it hurts.

Years ago, I had a little blue canary I kept in my den. He was a messy pet, but a lot of fun. When my father passed away, we had to pack up and head downstate in a hurry. We took the dog to a kennel, but forgot about the bird. We came home a week later, and there lay Hermie... dead of starvation at the bottom of his cage. I totally lost it, as you might imagine. Just a dumb bird, but it was my fault.

Pam and I didn't have our son until we were 9 years into our marriage. So our dog Rascal was our kid for those early years. Having Rascal put to sleep when she was too sick to go on was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I held her for those last moments, and gently pet her, trying to put her at ease. But it won't be as easy for Mordecai. I can't afford to do anything but let nature take its course. He can't get up and walk, and it looked like he was having seizures last night.

Yeah, I know. It's a rabbit. A stupid rabbit. But he was still my companion when I needed a laugh. Holding my bunny when I was having a bad day somehow made it better. I'll miss him.

So I'm through with pets. The pain of saying goodbye over and over again is just too much. I'll just stick with my fish tank from now on.

I have a really hard time getting attached to a guppy.

UPDATE: I couldn't stand watching Mordi suffer anymore. I took him to the vet and had him "put to sleep" this morning. Couldn't afford to do it, but couldn't afford not to. My little friend is out of his misery, and that's what counts.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

An Open Letter to My Lawn

Dear Lawn,

It's nice to see you again. I've missed you this past winter. Really, I have. When you began to peek through all that nasty white stuff to expose your brown leaf ridden self, I was truly happy. When you greened up so nicely these past few weeks, I was close to giddy. Sorry about those dead patches on the front lawn. The dog kept meeting me at the front door. I knew at the time I should have taken her out the back.

But let's get down to business. We need to have a serious talk. You see, you're growing just a bit too fast for me. Truth be told, you're growing way too fast. We had our first cut of the year last Sunday. You looked good. We even began to fill in that low patch caused by mole tunnels. Remember those? A few years ago you were spotted with dozens of holes that I painstakingly patched, repaired, and patched up again. I spent a small fortune on mole poison. Those pesky grubs that keep itching your underside? I took care of them, didn't I? I have another bag of bug killer ready to go this Spring, too!

The fact is, I've taken good care of you. So could you do me this one simple favor, and stop growing so doggone fast? You see, the problem can be summed up in one word: Gas. That little red machine I push all over you to give you a trim? It takes gas to run that self-propelled beauty. And that gas can that sits in the garage? It costs more than 8 bucks to fill! You are getting just too expensive to cut! I can control my other gas usage. I can leave the car sitting in the driveway. But you... every time you get too high, I have to run the mower. We did it again today, after just a week! You were looking downright shaggy!

So you see, as much as I appreciate you, I can't afford to keep cutting you this often. After all, I'm not 23 anymore. Heck, I'm not even 33. This tired old body can't keep up with you forever. And if you don't stop growing so fast, I'll have to find another way to keep you under control... like buying goats.

And believe me... they'll do more to you than keep you trim, if you know what I mean.


Your Owner.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

No Regrets

I'm blessed. Some might say I'm lucky, but I stopped believing in luck a very long time ago. It's been said that a real man makes his own luck, but I believe a real man relies on someone bigger than himself. I thank God that this Mother's Day, although I am without my mom, I am blessed. I have no regrets.

When she died, everything that needed to be said between me and my mom was already said. She was sorry for the pain she caused me, I was sorry for the pain I caused her back. We took a long walk and got over it. We talked. We became friends. We shared stories about our jobs. She told me how her boss got after her for hitting the wrong button on the cash register and messing up the day's receipts. "Sorry," she told the boss, "But I was leaning over the register and my boob hit the button." You have to understand, my mother could be frank. But who shares a story like that with their teenage kid?

We argued a little bit the last time we really spoke. No biggie... we weren't angry. In fact, our final conversation later that day was pretty one-sided, because she was asleep the last time I saw her alive. She grumbled a bit to acknowledge me, and that was it. June 30, 1984. The next evening, she died.

I've lived without her far longer than I did with her. I've been married to my lovely bride longer than I knew my mom. Milestones pass, and we move on. I can listen to "The Old Rugged Cross" now. I can enjoy fireworks and picnics again. I'm over the fact that someone else is enjoying the cool country air on the front porch where I last spoke to her. I have a family of my own. Nothing was left unsaid, no hurt feelings remained the day she went to heaven. A few still pictures remain to remind me of her smile. I'm blessed.

Do I miss her? Sure. But there are no regrets. She molded and shaped me the best she could, and sent me into the world like she was supposed to. A job well done, mom.

I guess the rest is up to me.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bin Laden's First Five Minutes in Hell

Osama Bin Laden is in Hell. And I'm not very happy about it.

Let me be clear. I celebrate with other Americans today that this horrible monster has been removed. I congratulate our soldiers, intelligence agencies, our President, and everyone who had a hand in bringing this murderer to justice. You've done your country proud. I'm truly resting easier tonight. Yet I can't help but thinking about Jesus' story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke Chapter 16.

The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.

Hell is a very real place, reserved for those who reject the one true God. The Bible makes it clear that this is a gruesome place of everlasting punishment. It is a pit of fire, darkness and separation from God. I can't imagine anything worse, because there is no worse place to be. Bin Laden chose to murder and terrorize the country I love. He chose to persecute Christians. A soldier's bullet did not send Bin Laden to Hell. His own choices sent him there. His fate was sealed before a shot was fired.

But I can imagine this: That after five minutes in Hell, Bin Laden had a change of heart. After just 5 minutes in that terrible hole, I imagine he was crying out for water to cool his tongue; for another chance to live life again - to tell his family that he was wrong! Jehovah is the one true God. Hell is very real. Yet his chances are gone. His fate is sealed. He alone made his choice. His torment will never end.

I can't wrap my mind around that, and I can't celebrate it.

Proverbs 24:17 warns us, "Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice." Take this for what it's worth, but I believe that if we gloat over the fact that Bin Laden is burning in Hell, then we allow hate to rule the day. The Bible goes on to say in verse 19 that, "the evildoer has no future hope, and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out." It's enough to know that God is just, and he will not let evil go unpunished. But the same God who desires that none should be lost, and that all men should be saved, takes no delight in consigning anyone to everlasting punishment.

The U.S.A. has done what needed to be done. We were justified in protecting our freedom. The President absolutely made the right call. Bin Laden is no longer a threat to our freedom, and for that reason, we should all be grateful.

But we should also be reminded that sin isn't always ugly. Sometimes it's the nice old man who lives down the street who has chosen to reject his Savior. It could be that 7th grade science teacher who was so helpful to you, but believes that Creationism and the idea of a God is pure nonsense. That nice cashier at the grocery store who always greets you with a smile? She forsook God when her husband died of cancer. She cursed her Creator and walked away, vowing never to come back.

My point is this. If as Christians, we are moved with even an iota of sadness that a mass murdering terrorist is spending eternity in Hell, how much more should we be moved to action for the people we meet every day? What are we doing to save them from an eternity of darkness and help show them the love of our Savior?

It's something to think about.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Unfinished Business

I don't put much stock in my dreams. Now I'm not talking about dreams as they relate to vision for my life or ministry. I'm talking about the dreams that come to visit while I'm sound asleep. For one thing, I don't sleep much. Secondly, I can generally trace my dreams back to something specific that happened during the day. But last night... well, that was different. Although my memory is foggy at best, I know that I dreamed twice that I went back to college and got my Bachelor's Degree. The second time I woke up from the dream, I was convinced that I had to do it, and soon.

I'm still convinced.

For reasons that aren't important right now, I left Eastern Michigan University when I was 18 years old after just one semester. After months of wondering what to do next, I enrolled at the local Community College, and on a whim took some courses in radio. My radio internship turned into a 5 year long job, which led to a 25 year career in broadcasting. I got my Associate's Degree, but the fact that I never got my Bachelor's has always been a thorn in my side.

This week, I'm wrapping up my final report for my Ordination Internship. It's the final course of study that allows me to apply for the 3rd and highest level of ministry for Pastors in our fellowship. I'm glad to have it done. But I want to do more. Completing my studies for ordination was something I needed to do for my church. This time however, it's personal.

I've learned that I may be able to transfer up to 96 credits of previous study and life experience toward my degree. It probably won't be that much, but certainly I'll have a great start. Eventually, I'll have a Bachelor of Arts in Bible and Theology. And I can finally put this heavy load that's been on my shoulders all of these years to rest.

Now. About that student loan...