I long for a kinder, gentler nation and world.

I want to see HUMANITY shown toward man.

I long to see open recognition of good works done, even small works.

MSNBC Nightly News often devotes its last few minutes to a report on something uplifting. When I hear those reports, I feel good…and I want to hear more.  

That leads my thoughts to prisoners.

Is credit ever given to prisoners who turn their lives around while they are serving their sentences? One would think that the MDOC would jump at the chance to claim results from their efforts as evidence of solid programming. Positive reinforcement – that is, praise – for a job well done is highly effective in improving behavior. But positive reinforcement seems to be in short supply. Prisoners have to wait…for meals, for medical care, for everything, it seems, except praise. From stories I have been told, it is often through an individual’s determined effort to bring about change in his or her life that transformations often occur. Since 95% of those currently serving time in prison will at some point be released from prison, it would simply make sense to make use of positive reinforcement in prisons.

“Good time” is a term used to describe exactly that – a reward to prisoners for good behavior. Michigan does not do that any longer. There seems to be, in fact, little recognition behind those bars of anything done well.

I long for a kinder, gentler state. I long for a kinder, gentler MDOC. In my world, prisoners would serve their time receiving instruction from Day 1. At first, they might be required to work through anger issues, or to break an addiction. Positive reinforcement would be very effective here. Once they began to have respect for themselves and for those around them, there could be a focus on the future. How wonderful if fresh starts could begin with new careers! Vocational training would provide a “leg up.” In fairness, Michigan’s Vocational Villages are a start to this…but they are not available to everyone. A skill would give so many a fighting chance to succeed in very competitive and prejudicial environments. Given a viable chance to succeed, I believe there would be more enthusiasm and drive, and there would likely be less recidivism. 

Everyone needs to feel valued! Sadly, prisoners wait, often feeling ignored or overlooked while they serve their time, while they wait to hear from the Parole Board, or while they hope for the recognition of a commutation.

Sadly, too, what about those who are ill, or aging within prisons? Couldn’t there be a more compassionate plan for such folks?

And finally, how terrible to die alone in prison, without anyone to care?    

I don’t have the bully pulpit that my friend, Doug, has at Humanity for Prisoners, but recently I voiced my thoughts to him, wishing that we could somehow institute a statewide memorial service for prisoners who died in the previous year. I would like to see this recur annually. Not only would it give value to lives that have been forgotten, but it might just provide some healing for those left behind, who couldn’t say goodbye. Today’s technology could allow such a service to be viewed in all Michigan prisons by all prisoners.

Each of us is unique. Each of us has value. I strongly believe that no matter how off track our behavior has been at one time or another, there is something good in each of us. Think about it:  what if each of us reading this valued, complimented, or affirmed someone today? What a nicer place this world would be! If we did this daily…we could absolutely turn this world – and maybe even MDOC upside down!


I’d wanted to write something profound to begin the new year…but profundity seems beyond me.

Hope is uppermost in my mind. Hope for the future. As I read posts on Facebook and elsewhere, I am hopeful and encouraged by the number of words of encouragement. Indeed, everyone is tired – of the pandemic and the impositions it has posed, of politics, of every kind of evidence of greed and exploitation, and of the problems within our country becoming worse because no one can agree, on anything it seems.

Today as I scrolled through entries on Facebook, I was encouraged by many wonderful tributes to Betty White. I saw a post that mocked an uneducated person’s spelling, and I was proud of those who commented, speaking up to say that, basically, the person was doing the best he or she could.

Isn’t that the sometimes-elusive goal for which we all strive?

I marvel at the diversity that surrounds us all – from physical characteristics, to cognitive abilities, to the ways in which people choose to live and interact with one another. Just as when one studies nature, or the workings of the human body, I find it overwhelming to recognize the intricacies of nature and how very perfectly one aspect interacts with and, indeed, complements the other.

No, everyone is not born highly intelligent. Nor do we all have smoking hot bodies. Some are cranky, some are kind no matter what crosses their path. And yet, we all get the privilege of living here, to commune with a Higher Power, and to experience nature and life – as best as we each are able.

Thus, I return to hope. Over the last few years, I think we have come very close to seeing the worst we can imagine. We have floundered. We have lost faith in one another. We have come close to giving up. Yes, we are tired. But, friends, we are all better than this! In fact, there are many out there who do, and will continue to, stand up against adversity. We have not lost the goodness in our natures. We have not lost hope. We have only turned down a rocky path.

My hope for 2022 is that there will be many who recognize the goodness around us. My hope is that they have the courage to speak up and to act as they truly believe. I look forward to new leaders to help us find our way. I look forward to experiencing new solutions to old problems, and to those who have the ability to use those solutions to further better our country. Heaven knows there is much waiting to be done! May we look upon one another as treasures who, no matter our abilities, have something to offer, and may we always strive to make those offerings our very best.  

Where are the Leaders?

I miss my country. It has become unrecognizable. Rampant racism. Hatred from every corner. Violence, sadly, has become a household word.

I grew up being proud of an immigrant history. Dogged determination and amazing craftsmanship were among the things I admired. Elected officials, while not always agreeing with one another, were civil, willing to have meaningful discussions, committed to goals of compromise.

So many individuals stood out because they fearlessly spoke their mind and defended moral principles.

Where have those principles gone? How have we reached such starkly-opposed-and-unwilling-to-talk positions that we cannot even attempt to work with those with whom we disagree?

John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr. come to mind. They were my generation’s leaders. But where are the leaders today? Why is it hatred, discrimination, and violence are being so loudly promoted – by those for whom we have lost respect? And why is it that people listen?

I hear the cries of the masses that do not want it the way that it is. But where are the leaders? We need someone who can fearlessly stand against current rhetoric. We need someone who can speak for what I hope and pray is still the majority of America.

America is floundering. We need courage. Commitment. Charisma. We need someone who is willing to speak out against what America has become. We need someone who has a vision for America. I, for one, choose not to promote white supremacy. And yes, ALL lives matter. We need to take care of our veterans, our homeless, our hungry, our own children, our aging parents. There is no lack for those in need in America. What happened to the Land of Plenty? America, we are better than this!

Please. Someone. Step up to the plate and lead us back to the melting pot from which we came. Irish are no better than Asian. Polish are no better than Spanish. WE are America. We need someone who can help us back to an appreciation of all we inherited, but who can also lead us to grow and become much, much better than we currently are. Where are you, leaders? I know you’re there. America needs you desperately.


Awareness. Sometimes, it takes a while to get there.  We require time…for seasoning. Maybe you have needed time to heal, regroup, and embark upon a new and different path. Maybe you needed time to decompress, or to find a new direction. And maybe you simply haven’t wanted to look closely at your life and are just now realizing that you cannot go on as you are. Awareness.

The past year has been difficult. Covid has caused us to be alone, possibly more than ever before. It has placed us in less active environments than our usual routines took us. The past year has gotten us to think about the things that really matter, as well as those which we should discard. What has this past year brought to light for you?

Thankfully, we are heading into spring. For me, spring has always been a time of renewal, a brief glimpse into the wonders of new life. As suddenly as the buds on trees burst forth their leaves, we are surrounded with a barrage of beauty wherever we look. I am looking forward to warmer temperatures and at least the ability to be outside, to feeling less confined, and to be able to enjoy a front row seat to watch God’s handiwork.

I have been noticing, and am a bit amused by the fact that the things I am doing lately seem to be reflecting a desire for change – changing bland to color, moving from being sedentary to needing activity. Through some small changes, my living room is getting a pop of color. My new watch is recording the number of steps I’m taking and I am actually paying attention.

My conclusion? I need to come alive. After a year of sitting far too much, looking at the same furniture, and feeling as though life is going nowhere, I find myself longing for change, for renewal, for a new outlook on life. I have decided to embark upon a journey to awareness. The world can be a pretty overwhelming place these days. Change is needed…everywhere. Action is preceded by becoming informed. Of what have you become aware this year? What things in your life require change? What do you need to know to make those changes? May your newly aroused awareness lead to greater knowledge, a plan of action, and may you “be the change you wish to see.”   

Get Out and VOTE!

Whether you consider yourself a Republican, Democrat, or Independent, please, please, exercise your right to vote this year.  The stakes are HUGE – for you, for your children, and for your grandchildren.

I am awed by Greta Thunberg who, at such a young age, has the ability to lead the world in climate change. I am impressed by survivors of mass shootings who are taking control, fighting against the availability of and lack of restrictions against guns, and fighting back against the oppressive thumb of the NRA. We are approaching an election where each candidate is passionate, and where each candidate has something vital to offer. Today we are faced with burgeoning prison populations, hungry, homeless, and a crumbling infrastructure. Long after I thought our country had healed, racism seems to have resurfaced. Prejudice and exclusion seem to be running rampant. Our country needs help. We need action. We need solution. We need a LEADER.

The upcoming election has pushed me toward taking a harder look at each candidate. Each has particular strengths and I find I like something about every single one of them. However, in order to choose who it is that I will support prior to the Democratic nomination, I feel I must define my choice to reflect my own values. I will ultimately support the person receiving the nomination, but I hope for a president whose values – at least in part – reflect mine. The Bible tells us to love one another, and to be strong in doing what is right, regardless of the evil around us. I see people who are hurting and in need everywhere I turn. My presidential choice will be for someone who understands these needs and wants to see that things change.

Yes, prisoners’ lives are important to me, but I am writing today to urge you to research the candidates, examine your priorities, and get out to vote! The need for action is critical. We can’t wait. Our climate will not wait. Together we can save our country, the climate, and make a difference in the lives of many – but only if we act now. Whatever your focus is, make the choice and step up to do your part. Commit. Act. Get involved. We need a united effort to save these United States! We cannot delay.

Price Alert, Price Alert!

Okay. It is my own fault. My book is, and has been, available on Amazon since it became available. The cost of my book is SUPPOSED TO BE $12.95. I rarely go onto the Amazon site to look up my own book, but I did recently. That day, the price was $273 plus change! REALLY?????? How does this happen? Today I checked and there were prices ranging from $19.97 to $265.27! Well, sure, I would love to sell one for $265.27…but THAT IS NOT THE CORRECT PRICE, NOR HAS IT EVER BEEN.

This really is a lesson to ALL of those of us who have something on the market:  keep watch! I slacked off, and it is no wonder my sales have been down! Good grief! My publisher has been notified, and they “are working on it,” but I am writing this to let you all know that my book, The Prisoner’s Prayer Book, is still available, is still $12.95 and you can contact me directly (at if you don’t believe me.

This book is a book of simply written prayers, written from the point of view of prisoners, illustrated by prisoners. It is a perfect gift for that person you care about who is in prison – just as soon as the price information gets corrected! Fellow authors, stay alert.

Recognize ME!

Recently, I was blessed with an opportunity to speak to a group of prisoners. Finishing a little ahead of time, I opened it to questions or comments. Phrased in a variety of ways, I heard the same question over and over. How do we change society’s perception of us? What can we do to make a difference? What can we do from “inside?”

As a society, we tend to become judgmental when it comes to those who break the law. Too often we hear “Lock him up and throw away the key!” If that offender were a member of your family or someone you cared a great deal about, would you be as certain that they should be doomed to a life of confinement, leaving no possibility for an opportunity to try again? Haven’t we ourselves changed over the years? Remember that candy bar you stole when you were fifteen? I bet you don’t steal candy bars now! Your hairstyle, your looks, your likes and your dislikes have changed over time. Some opinions change over the years. How many times have you had “a drink or two” and gotten behind the wheel to drive? You were just fortunate enough not to harm anyone, and not to get caught.

People change. They grow. They learn. WE ALL DO. Often, they become better individuals. How then can we deny a person the chance to change? Every single person behind bars is a unique individual. He, or she, hurts, struggles, and hopes – just like you and me. So, when a soul wants to know “how can I let society know the Real Me?” I believe we should give pause…and listen…and work toward hearing every voice that has something to say.

What’s in YOUR Mailbox?

I’m probably dating myself by asking the question “do you remember the thrill of receiving a letter in the mailbox?” It was a moment that held excitement, anticipation and curiosity. That seldom happens – at least for me – any longer. Usually it is junk mail or bills that appear in my mailbox. But there are prisoners who never receive mail. There are prisoners who long to hear from loved ones who don’t write. There are prisoners who treasure every single piece of mail that comes from “the outside.” And there are lonely people at home or in nursing homes who feel abandoned and alone, who would love to be remembered.

Michigan prisoners do have access to an e-mail system. It is something of a deterrent to having to inspect incoming mail for contraband. But because of that contraband, greater restrictions have been placed on mail that comes into the prisons. In my opinion, commercial cards often don’t say the things I would like to say. Additionally, many are decorated with sparkles and sequins, items that are now prohibited. (To see the Michigan’s mail policy, go to:,4551,7-119–428401–,00.html) Also, no matter how hard I try, e-mail never seems personal enough.

In addition to the Prisoner’s Prayer Book, a book of prayers for prisoners, The Prisoner’s Prayer Book now has note cards which meet current state requirements. They are available with or without an “ID” box on the back, and the best part is that you can write what YOU wish to say. The wildlife drawings on each design were drawn by a prisoner. Ordering information can be found on the Prisoner’s Prayer Book website:  

Part of the enjoyment that comes from receiving a card in the mail is that it is tangible. It is personal. It can be looked at again and again, and doesn’t disappear after a certain amount of time as e-mails often do.

Make someone happy today by remembering them and sending a bit of yourself!


New Product: Note Cards

The Prisoner’s Prayer Book has a new product. Note cards!

I have had growing frustration over the years whenever I look for a card to send to a prisoner. Some are just stupid, some are romantic, and most just don’t say what you need them to say. Our prisons now refuse multiple fold cards, sparkles, and other commercial decorations. Due to the additional restrictions on what can be sent into prisons, I am suggesting prisoner art with space to say what you want to say.

A prisoner friend who draws very well volunteered some of his drawings. I have had his sketches printed on singlefold cards that measure just over 5 inches by 7 inches. They are blank on the inside and even have a box in which to put the prisoner’s name and number along with your address (another requirement). I also have cards without the identification box if one desires to use them for general correspondence with friends who are not in prison. They sell in packages of 6 for $10.00 (which includes shipping), and currently display a bear, deer, moose, wolf, bird, and orangutan.

My book, The Prisoner’s Prayer Book, is also still available and can be purchased via Amazon for $12.95. I am currently offering a special for anyone interested in purchasing the cards. Buy one package of cards and one book for a total price of $20 (that includes shipping). Orders can be sent to me at . Please be sure to specify cards with or without the identification box. (Sorry, but I do not accept credit or debit cards.) Please pass the word!

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.