Birthday Reflections

Today, on this anniversary of his birth, I am celebrating Father’s Day. Though he has been gone for too many years, and was ripped from my life way too soon, my father made a huge impact upon my life, one that continues today, more than fifty years later.

If anyone reading this is a father, I am speaking to you today. What you say, what you do, and how you live your life, makes a major impression on the child you raise.

I knew the impact my dad had upon me, but when I met prisoners the impact a father has became even more apparent. So many of the men I talked with either had had no father figure at all in their lives, or they had been treated poorly by one. Often, though, that father had been absent from their lives for a very long time.

When I was little, my father read to me and told me bedtime stories. He took me horseback “riding” around a corral. I remember walking through a field where he pointed out a snakeskin that had been shed. He would comfort me when I woke from a bad dream. Together we looked at the stars and made up stories of life on other lands. He encouraged my creativity. He challenged me with our very own spelling bees.

Fathers, I want you to know how extraordinary you are to that precious child of yours! Guide him, encourage him, challenge him, love him. You will be remembered forever if you do!

Happy birthday, Daddy! You are my hero.

People, Wake Up!

Our nation is in a dire state. Evil seems to run rampant. I hate and am appalled by a blatant disregard for life, even for that of our precious earth. The nation in which I grew up was one of compassion. It was welcoming. We knew respect and dignity. Most alarming is the lack of those who are willing to speak out against the current atmosphere and lead. We need a leader! Where are those who would speak out and take the high ground? I am haunted by a disrespect for life that seems to abound in too many venues.  It surrounds us in so many ways! Too often, it seems that greed and materialism have become most important. Too often, those we once admired, now leave us open-mouthed and speechless, wondering whatever happened to self-respect? We have recently witnessed glimmers of a rising revolution with the #MeToo movement. These voices have come from out of the shadows, from those who have not previously spoken out.


I must believe that they are in our midst. They are you and I. We mustn’t let the hate, intolerance, and disrespect for life – which we are witnessing far too often – become our own identity. We must not allow common decency and respect for one another to fail. We must take our country back from those who would attempt to hijack it. We must save ourselves and we must save the land on which we live. Ours is a country built on freedom. Our forefathers fled intolerance such as that which we are witnessing today. We have so much for which to be grateful, and yet we denigrate it and take it for granted.

We can still salvage the country we used to love, but we must stand true and strong to those things that once made this country great – to decency, to morality. We must be true to ourselves, stand up, and do the right thing. We must love this very earth. Let us love one another with the passion we need to resurrect our country from its current malaise. Let us love one another with the passion required to rebuild us into a diverse nation of individuals who stand for respect of one another and humanity to man.

Love one another. Do good to those who hate you. And may God have mercy on our endeavors!


I am home.

The last year has been a time for both a thoughtful retreat from my previous life and an unfettered time to make decisions on moving forward.

My downstate haven came at just the right time. The haven itself was rather secluded, but it was surrounded by “city,” something I had left behind many years before. The pace was faster, and I missed the very private spaces I’d become accustomed to for “thinking.”

After serious soul searching, some decisions gradually became clear. Most importantly, I realized how I did – and did not – want to spend the rest of my life.

I have hurt and had time to heal.While I suspect there will always be a part of me that continues to hurt, for the most part, I now feel able to move forward. I have returned to what I now consider my “forever home,” Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I am surrounded by nature. Whether near or far, my life has been made much fuller by supportive friends, friends who have become my family over the years. I feel blessed, hopeful, and am ready to move ahead.

As they often do, my thoughts turn toward prisoners – those I know who remain incarcerated, and those who have been released but who struggle to survive on their own. If we have family and friends, appreciate them. Too often, families do not remain in touch with loved ones who are sent to prison. Too often, friends drift away. Because felons are not allowed to associate with other felons upon release, any positive bonds achieved over their time of incarceration are severed.

How devastating it would be to have no one!

Take some time today to consider your blessings. You probably have more than you think you do. Perhaps there is someone to whom you’ve been intending to reach out. Consider especially those who have no one. Reach! Life is short. We ALL need SOMEONE. Surely, you have enough in your life to be the one to show that care!

Where Indeed Are the Heroes?

It dawned on me recently, after watching a medley of old westerns, that I grew up in a special time. I grew up when Good Guys fought for the Right Thing and won. While there were fist fights, they were nothing like the violence we see today. Those shows had morals to them. Each one taught a lesson of some kind. THOSE were the morals with which my generation grew up. And it is those kinds of morals that impress me still today.

I don’t know if the kids growing up today have any such television shows to watch. Who are their idols? What do they value? Is there anyone they want to emulate?

As I consider my childhood and look back on my experiences to date, I appreciate and treasure those years. Having participated in prison ministry, I see how values shape individuals, how very important parents are, and how people who stand up for good STAND OUT.

My prayer is for our country today. We so need those values. The influence of those we consider role models is vital to our future.

Men I have met who have been prisoners often have a deep sense of honor – which sometimes surprises me…yet when I see it, it warms my heart. I have observed that people are amazingly resilient, but the tragic horrors that have been, and are being inflicted upon our brothers and sisters need to stop. I know there are good people out there – somewhere. Now is the time for them to shine! To those of you who are strongly convicted, who know right from wrong, who want to make a difference, I say “Now is the time.” Now is the time to stand up for this country that has served us well for over two hundred years. The Constitution defends our freedoms. Don’t let those freedoms be taken away! Too often we take freedom and the many blessings in our lives for granted. Whatever good has been instilled in you, now is the time to let it shine forth. We need you. This country needs YOU.

Yes, we all need more heroes.

And Yet, Another Inequity

I received a letter recently from a prisoner friend who had ordered items from SecurePak. He ordered two drink mixes, that were indicated online to be 12.2 oz. each. He received two smaller packs of 6 oz. each, but he was charged for two larger packages! 6 oz. packages are not listed online at all for items he can order. His receipt indicates two 12 oz. packages and he was billed same. They have told him “too bad” – because the bag was opened! 

It’s Time to Look Within

As we enter into this new year, it appears that we will be dealing with many entities we have not known before now. Since we have not experienced these things before, I for one, feel trepidation, anxiety, and a certain hesitation at how we will move forward in these next years. It feels as though much that I consider to be good could soon be undone.

I hope I will be pleasantly surprised…but if I am not, I need to make the following assessment. What is most important to me? What do I not want to lose? What do I value? How do I measure that value? We here in America have been blessed with wealth (as compared with other countries), a reasonable amount of security, the freedom to say what we think, the freedom to worship as we choose. From recent rhetoric we have heard, one has to wonder if those things will be threatened in the years to come? There is no other country that I especially want to live in. But I want those things that I have come to take for granted. Certainly, there will always be differences between Republicans, Democrats, and members of other smaller parties. Nevertheless, basic assumptions have been made by all parties about how we choose to live in this country. I, for one, feel that those basic qualities our country has struggled so long to maintain now hang in the balance.

Americans, I implore you to take a very close look at your values, your hopes, your dreams – for yourself and for generations to come. If, after serious soul searching, introspectively determining that which you alone treasure, I urge you to stand up for those beliefs. Be strong, be either proud or dismayed with your country, but be firm. Move forward prayerfully in this New Year of 2017, in peace and with resolve, with confidence, and with hope.

After the Vote

I feel very sad today. For the record numbers that voted in this election, I am glad and proud. Still, I am sad. I understand that many, many people are tired of inequities and want change.

Election results this morning prompted me to look at Canadian laws regarding immigration. Escape was, indeed, about my first thought.

I suppose, however, that the nominee deserves a chance. For as much difficulty I have finding any reason to respect the man, I concede that he should be given a chance. I think America has chosen unwisely. Sadly, our country may pay for this error in ways we cannot even now conceive. Still, America was built by people – my ancestors – who decided to take a chance.

I happen to believe that one of the many things we need in this country are major prison reforms. I also believe in second, and sometimes even third chances. If what I believe is to mean anything, I have to live up to my own standards. Just as I cannot give up on rooting for prisoners who are desperately trying to succeed, I cannot give up on America because I don’t like one man. It may require a significant amount of self-control, but I will give him some time. Perhaps – somehow – some good will ultimately come from this.

Since the Vietnam War, our country has been dissatisfied with presidents. I cite the Vietnam era because I was a child growing up in the 60’s then. I really can’t address what it was like for presidential terms prior to that time. I have memories of war protesters, and flower children campaigning for peace and love. I remember prejudice and hatred and riots. I had thought that we, the people, had finally gotten past all that hatred and anger, but it seems this election has brought it to the forefront of our country once again.

There is one powerful thing we still have as a country, though. It is our belief in freedom – most especially, freedom of speech. No matter how strongly we may disagree with each other, we retain the right to continue to disagree and to speak about it.

Tonight (having had the entire day to process the results of this election) it is my hope and prayer that, as our country treads new ground, we renew an appreciation for freedom and equality. I pray that all of us in this country really begin now to unite and work toward the real democracy for which we stand. But we will truly have to work at it. We must realize our own value, and that of our neighbor – differences and all. We need to respect one another. If we value honesty and decency, we need to stand up for those things. Our goal should be a common ground that will be a testimony to freedom and decency, as well as an example and a legacy to and for our children. There is much to do…and the time to begin is now.

Peaceful Revolution

I grew up in the fifties and sixties. I remember discrimination, war, assassinations, and riots. Somehow, through all of it, I had thought we, as a country, had gotten past all the hatred, anger, and fear. For me, those years were impressionable years where emotions ran high and sorrow and loss seemed to affect everyone in similar ways. Yet, I look around me today and I see worse than I remember from back then.

To be fair, young people today didn’t experience those times. Youth growing up today have witnessed a culture of violence where heroes of movies seem to be those who are most destructive, not save-the-day heroes like Superman or The Lone Ranger. Video games are not worth buying if they don’t include sex, explosions, or some ghoulish aberration like skulls to flaunt. Hatred and intolerance surround us once again, but now we have expanded our discriminatory tendencies to gays, lesbians, and transgender individuals.

When will it all stop? I do not see more hatred and more anger as being solutions. Okay, I admit it:  I also grew up when hippies spoke out for peace and love. It was, in my opinion, a far better way to live, and a far better time in which to live. If history truly repeats itself, I’m hoping and praying for a peaceful revolution where peace, love and non-violence reign.

Peace…love…harmony…. Can’t we all just get along??? I long for that day.


My observation to share with you today is that expectations can change a life. If your reaction to this statement is disbelief, simply think about it. Words alone can empower a person, or defeat them. I bet every one of you remember at least one comment that was made while you were growing up. It may have been something like, “You’re fat,” or, “How I wish you could be more like ____ (fill in the blank).” Worse yet, “You’ll never amount to anything!” These, often cruel, taunts (often by peers) remain with us for life. They surface when we are tired, depressed, or feeling defeated. From somewhere deep inside, we can hear a little voice from the past reminding us that we are still that same person. When we hear negatives like the comments above, especially when we hear them again and again, we begin to believe it to be true. We begin to believe the worst about ourselves.

Again, think back. If you were fortunate enough to have someone in your life who encouraged you, who spoke positive things about you, aren’t those the voices you want to remember when life seems at its worst? It doesn’t matter what color you are – this is a universal truth, the world over.

It is my opinion that there is a huge need within the prison system for a focus on rehabilitation. Too often, I hear comments like “They deserve it” or “Just throw away the key.” Sadly, people often live up to our expectations of them. If we constantly expect the worse, too often that is exactly what we receive. There are some, unfortunately, who won’t allow themselves to receive good things. But I urge you to keep encouraging them. Human nature responds to encouragement. Through our words alone, we have the power to make the world a much better place. Let us use that power. Today. Today, throw someone a lifeline and save them! It can happen.


Adversity affects each of us differently. There is no correct or incorrect way to respond to things that happen to us. How we deal with our problems is a reflection of the person we have become.

I have been gone from this blog for much too long. However, for me, I just “shut down” for awhile. There was more energy going out than coming back in, and I gradually curled up into my very own safe cocoon – until, finally, I made a decision.

Not quite yet a year ago, my twelve-year old canine companion was beginning to fail and finally died. Almost six months later, my warm and friendly feline who was sixteen also died. The person who should have been closest to me also failed me. Knowing I had dug myself into a hole, a series of events led to a decision to move – away. Away from sadness, and away from adversity. Not that the distance has taken either out of my life, but it has made things somewhat easier to bear. It has allowed me to think. It has made it helped me to move forward.

Not all of us respond similarly. Some respond with anger and never move beyond that point, pushing everyone they meet away. Others cry uncontrollably and live much of the rest of their lives as victims, defeated. I refuse to live a life of anger – it only reaps greater adversity. While I may still shed some tears as time goes on, I will not be a victim. I am taking my power back with the written word – a magnificent privilege in which I have always believed.

I would like to take this moment to thank my closest friends and relatives for their support and understanding as I have worked my way through this transition. I know that my solution may not be what you may have chosen, but know that – at least for now – it was the right one for me. The wonderful thing about this world in which we live is that we CAN change things. We CAN allow ourselves to CHANGE. We have only NOW. Let us live the rest of our lives strongly, formidably, and without regrets. Let us appreciate the gift of life. Let us use the talents we have been given.