Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Do you want more wisdom? Here is an idea

This is a post from 2009. I have been reading the book of Proverbs lately and I thought of reposting this story. Thanks for reading. Of course comments are always appreciated. 

Mrs. Tornquist (not her real name) held the heavy maple yard stick in her right hand pointing at the spelling words on the black board. The little boy and the little girl were her subjects and she was determined that they would learn their spelling words. The rest of the class was up two stories higher in the library searching the long shelves for that one special book they could take home for the week. Tap, tap, tap, the long yard stick hit the black board a little harder with each tap. “Spell the word! - Spell the word!” each directive louder than the previous. She now had her full attention focused on the little boy. The harder she tapped and the louder her voice the less Grayquill was able to comply. Mrs. Tornquist’s frustration was effecting the placement of her tapping and there were at least three words the yard stick had come close to. Which one was he supposed to spell? He guessed About was the intended word, “A” he hesitated was it a d or a b? They both were so much alike. Which side of the line was the circle? He guessed “d - - o - - ….” Mrs. Tronquist turned in her frustration, with the yard stick high, she brought it down hard. The yard stick caught Grayquill in the throat and knocked him out of his chair onto the floor. The little girl screamed and began crying. Grayquill gasped for air and curled up his legs close to his chest. He felt like his neck was caved in. He laid there hysterically sobbing for several minutes. 
Grayquill’s neck eventually recovered but his spirit was damaged more than his neck. Second grade ended having two more teachers that year. There was Mrs. Bush whose arm mesmerized Grayquill when the bottom flopped side to side as she wrote on the black board. He stared in awe of the swaying blubberish mass. He wanted to touch it see how far his finger would disappear into the soft pale tissue. But, of course he never did, even a second grader, he knew not to call attention to such anomalies. Grayquill has no memory of third, fourth or fifth grade. 
School work had not gotten any easier and he did not read very well. But then sixth grade came and Mrs. Iverson was his teacher. She was mature. Her face had deep wrinkles that Grayquill thought were very interesting. She wore bright flowered dresses; her hair was bluish silver and a pair of her many colorful bright horn rimmed glasses always hung from the silver chain across her chest. Mrs. Iverson liked Grayquill and he knew it – that made all the difference. She always smiled and Grayquill thought she must be an angel with wrinkles. Mrs. Iverson was one of the significant people in Grayquill’s young life. Looking back she spoke hope into Grayquill. She always believed the best and he remembers her telling him he could do better – not in a shaming way but in a certainty way. One day she told him that a book in the bible was written just for him. The book had 31 chapters one chapter for each day of the month. She said it was written for teenagers which Grayquill was going to be just that next year, and if he would read one chapter each day. She said, if reading a whole chapter was to much then he could try to reading just 10 verses, then she promised him it would help him with his reading. She said the book would also help him be wiser and help him make good choices in life because the book was all about wisdom. Grayquill believed her – why wouldn’t he? She had earned the right to speak like that to him. So, he did just that for the next 6 years and Mrs. Iverson was right it helped him. The book was Proverbs. Everyone should have an Angel with Wrinkles at least once, don’t you think?

Friday, September 4, 2020

My Mom

My mom was killed this last Saturday when a car crashed into her bedroom at 2:00 am. Below is a link to the news story. Below that is a link to a post that I posted back in 2009.  I am re-posting here until I can write a proper post. I hope you enjoy the piece and get a flavor of my incredible mother.



Tough financial times come and go for most families. The creativity that facilitates getting through those times, often require outside of the box thinking and risk taking. Growing up as one of six children, laundry was a big part of keeping our family smelling clean and everyone dressed up for school and church. There was a time when my mother had run out of laundry soap and money. The laundry was stacking up and the smell was turning from gray to blue. Being the good ex Mennonite she was, she prayed for laundry soap. Why wouldn’t she? God answered her prayer with a 25lb box of laundry soap and it was a miracle. Now wait, there are a couple of ways to look at this miracle and how God answered her prayer. You tell me where the miracle came into play. Mom, listening to the radio and praying about the finances, the lack of laundry soap, heard an advertisement by a local appliance store. This store was so proud of their washing machines that they would even do a load of laundry for you and those who brought in a load of laundry would be entered into a drawing for a 25 lb. box of laundry soap. Now before I go any further – I should say this is a true story. My mom of course being frugal as they come, packed up the most critical laundry needs and headed to the store about five miles away. The sales person true to the advertisement did mom’s load of laundry but was unsuccessful in selling her a new washing machine. Mom was entered into the drawing and won the laundry soap – It was a miracle. Now who was the marketing genius behind this promotion? I mean seriously how many people other than my mother brought in dirty laundry to the appliance store? Think about it. How many other people were in the drawing? I think there is more than one miracle here. The first one of course is the award winning marketing campaign of doing dirty laundry. I am not positive but I have the feeling a professional advertising company was left out of this great plan. For someone to actually think this could work is a miracle. The second miracle is that my mother had the courage to load up her laundry and lug it into the local appliance store. Her most critical laundry needs were met that day. A miracle? The third miracle was that someone actually paid money for radio time to run such an ad and they probably paid to have it run more than once for my mom to hear it. Then of course there is the miracle of the drawing – imagine the staggering odds. Now when I reflect on this story I think there is one more miracle. And, that is that God cared about a woman with six kids who needed some laundry soap and that makes me smile with gratitude. One thing I have learned –when you are His whatever it is you are going through – It’s from Him.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Hunkered Down Typing

How does one write a blog post after how many years? I am at home. Tonight starts a government stay put order for the next couple of weeks. So, I will be home tomorrow just like I have been since my retirement February 29th. I am into week four of said golden years.
Before my retirement, when I was not at home, many asked me, “so, what are your big plans?” Hmmm..... Big Plans? Plans and they have to be big? That question seemed a bit daunting and in the middle of the night, there its nasty head surfaced – I started losing sleep. I did not want to be weird, I should come up with something. After all I needed an answer that made me not look like some kind of weirdo, I need something that made me look intentional, retirement worthy! It did not take to long but after some thinking and scrambling for a plan...a big plan...I remembered that I have always kind of wanted to travel across the United States. It was not a deep heart felt goal just something I thought about now and then. It was just an idea. I figured that was as good of a big plan as most. So, over Christmas break I bought a well used minivan with 122,000 miles on it. That purchase was after considering, hoteling – to expensive, tenting – to much work, couch surfing...as my relatives called it Mennoniting across America. The trouble with that last idea, I am not a Mennonite. So, I came up with the van idea. Like all of my great plans, there is never a down side.

So here I come YouTube – Pinterest – Google – and deep thoughts. A minivan camper build out! How fun will that be? Needless to say I got excited. I soon realized I was way more excited about a van build out than the actual trip. Five days went by, I got no more than 2 hours sleep each night. My brain would not stop spinning. Two weeks went by, I got on the scale and I had lost 11 lbs – Yikes!!! Am I sick? Or could I really be that excited? Just to be sure I wasn't sick I pounded ice cream for the next few days and to my relief I gained back three pounds. Yahoo....I am healthy!!!

I am just about finished with the build out and now here I sit with this Shelter in Place thing and no where to go. What's a fellow to do? I guess I can show you some pictures of my work.

   Slide out bed frame

  Couch and Bed

  Cabinet for clothes and storage

Kitchen area

  Table - lifts out, folds up and stores under bed

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Christmas Prayer - Soft as a Whisper

This post is one from the past that touched you as well as me - I hope it is meaningful again. Thanks for reading. 

Good morning Lord. This past week has been full of pressures and it has been hard to feel you at all.  If you were in it – I missed it. So here I sit this morning. The lights of the Christmas tree shining bright speaking of holiday, rejoicing and happiness; but I am weary.
Is this how it has always been? Is this what you expected and wanted? I know these questions I asked are stupid. But, what has happened? To shift my thoughts toward you I find it hard and uncomfortable, even scary. To even talk to you is uncomfortable and I feel afraid to come up close. Is it because of my smallness next to your vastness or your infiniteness next to my finiteness? Or my unavoidable death and your forever? Or is it you being all powerful and I being fragile and weak? There is also your complete and unlimited knowledge and then my lack of understanding and the questions that haunt me. And of course, there is always your holiness lighting up my sinfulness and then I want to hide.
I would have expected you to come in thunder or lightening or maybe even riding an asteroid, for after all you are God, the all powerful One. But no, you came softly in less than a whisper, as a baby, small, helpless, weak, fragile, in an obscure stable of all places.  Did you come in this manner so I would not be frightened and not run and hide? I wonder…..
I am trying to not hide, and I am thankful for the story, so sweet and I begin to inch close to you. But to read on, later the story turns sad, horrible, and I want to hide again. I read of your grief, your suffering, the tears you shed, the loneliness you felt, the rejection by those close to you, and then of course comes the real horror, a cross.
If that was the end, the story would have no meaning. But, then the story changes and lifts the sadness - the power of death is torn down by your resurrection. If I continue to hide and miss the story, it does not change its power does it? If I hide and ignore the story, it does not change the fact you came.  And that whisper, if I am not careful or quite, I will miss it and the story will have no effect.
Now that the rush is over, now that the presents have been place under the tree, help me be quiet, help me not miss hearing your whisper….

Monday, December 8, 2014


The wife says – lets take a road trip

I say, that sounds great – where?

She says, anywhere lets just go.

I say, east – How about Thursday?

She says, yes

Here's the problem. As the week came closer to Thursday we thought how much better it would be to leave early – Wednesday night. Sounded like such a good idea at the time. I just want to say right now, leaving at 12:10 am Thursday morning is not Wednesday!! Right? Come on agree with me.

So here we are Thursday, early, in the car going where? We don't really know but I do know its east - 30 minutes into the drive she's asleep. Thanks for the conversation, it was short but it was sweet. Who knew the seat of a car is so much more comfortable than a real bed - GEEEEZ...

A MacDonald's is up ahead, I stop and get coffee – nothing else is going to keep me awake. 
Back on the freeway heading east, swing in behind a huge semi I start drafting – saves gas for those who are asking WHY? WHY? Its what I do – accept it. Two hours later I am about done and my coffee is gone. I can maybe make ½ hour more. Up ahead is a town large enough to have a hotel where they actually use fitted sheets (that is another story).

BTW – is it wrong to throw water melon rinds over the top of a car in the wee-morning hours into a bar pit? Just a moral dilemma that is kind of bugging me.

So here I sit typing this stupid blog post waiting for the woman of my dreams to wake up and I'm wondering – this is a road trip? And, where am I anyway? Oh yeah – east.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sleeping in Chruch

The idea of going to church usually makes me groan but once I am there I rather like it......well except for the music. For years I get irritated when the music starts. I found the solution, and it works well; I don't even go into the sanctuary until the singing is over – it is awesome. Of course that might have something to do with my grandson keeping me company while we hang out in the foyer. Once I started getting grandpa duty during church I told him, “Don't worry Benjamin, Grandpa will not take you into the service until that devil music is over. Your young ears are way to tender for such noise.” Sometimes I worry that I am just being negative about the music. Last week the scripture. “make a joyful noise unto the Lord” came to mind and I wondered. Hmmmm....what if the music I'm hating God actually likes...that kinda puts me in a bad spot. So now I just try to increase my denial that the music is even happening by not thinking about it. Us men can do such things so I have been told. Heck, if God gave me that ability who am I not to use it? That's logical right?
That aside, the last two weeks I am wondering if maybe I am being a bad influence on my grandson. I know what you are thinking, 'only the last two weeks?' Stop those kind of thoughts right now....I am a good grandpa. Back to my conundrum, you see for the second week in a row while I am holding little Benjamin – right in the middle of the sermon, when my eye lids might be drooping just a bit, Benjamin goes to sleep. Now I am his grandpa, far be it from me to deny him what he wants. And, I know this is not about me (Hah!) but I get the best feeling all over when that little guy snugs into my shoulder and falls asleep.
Well, that's all I got. My whole reason for writing anything at all was so I had an excuse to post a couple of pictures of my grandson.