Thanksgiving Memories

Remembering my mom and dad

I’m thankful for my mom and dad,
for all the special times we had
around a table playing games
and watching Lawrence Welk.

I’m grateful for those times of prayer
and godly wisdom they would share
to guide me on the path of life
as I pursued my dreams.

Their discipline was tough to take
when I would pound a willful stake.
But I, in time, could clearly see
they had my good in mind.

I’m in their debt for what they did
when I was quite a clumsy kid.
They recognized where I excelled
and heralded my worth.

I’m guessing you had folks like me
who took the time to help you see
how much they loved you (warts and all)
because of who you are.

So on this day for gratitude,
embrace a melancholy mood
and thank God for the folks you had
imperfect as they were.

And even though they may be gone,
the shoulders you are standing on
will always be a cause for thanks.
God bless their memory!

More Than the White House

What happens inside our houses is what matters most

Our eyes have been focused on that place in D.C.
where the head of our nation resides.
That mansion with pillars near Capitol Hill
is a place some fear tyranny hides.

We’ve come to believe what takes place there is huge.
That the President takes precedent
over every day doings and choices we make
and the dollars we’ve saved or we’ve spent.

But it’s more than the White House, it’s also your home.
Who lives there determines much more
than Trump or Obama or Clinton or Bush,
McCain, Edwards, Romney or Gore.

The hope of our country cannot be defined
by one President’s goodness or sin.
What dictates our future are those in our house
and the values we nurture within.

Our attitudes, actions, reactions and talk
reveal what exists in our hearts.
The Savior insisted the fruit of a tree
is the proof if it’s sweet or it’s tart.

And if we are seeking to live as God asks,
the impact is sure to be known.
The virtues and righteousness practiced by most
can’t be trumped by one leader alone.

The strength of our nation consists (as it were)
through the prayers and the faith of its folk.
The gauge of a people is not in one man
or the promises candidates spoke.

We’re called to contend on our knees for the one
who’s elected, appointed or crowned.
The prayers of God’s people will prompt those who lead
to remember they’re on holy ground.

And more than just praying God calls us to live
in such a way so as to love
the ones who disgust us (who bully and boast)
whose tactics we’re embarrassed of.

We are called to be loving, forgiving and kind
and model what Jesus would do.
Giving our enemies chances to change
in spite of the goals they eschew.

We’re invited to practice the presence of God
every day and in every place.
We serve Him by helping the lost and the least
and extending “unlovables” grace.

And though not elected, we’re ambassadors
and our homes are the Lord’s embassy.
The Kingdom of Heaven is modeled on earth
in a way that our neighbors can see.

We’re creating a culture that can’t be contained
by the walls of the homes where we live.
It’s a culture of kindness where peace is pursued
and where those who have plenty will give.

And yet in the meantime, let’s pray for the one
who has just been elected to lead.
Let’s ask God Almighty to bless Donald Trump
and provide him the help that he needs.

*based on these words from St. Paul: “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people? 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people…” (1 Timothy 2:1-6)

A Prayer for the President-Elect

A new hymn text to a time-honored tune

God, bless our President and those elected
who seek to lead one nation under You.
Give them the grace to lead while serving others
denying self in everything they do.
Grant them the courage to stand up to terror
protecting both the masses and the few.

God, bless our President and bless his family
who recognize the spotlight they now face.
Grant them protection from those who oppose them.
Help them to rest from such a grueling race.
Give them the will to model godly standards
and help them trust in Your amazing grace.

God, bless our President with needed wisdom
as he considers options far and near.
Infuse him with uncanny comprehension
that he might calm us from the things we fear.
Give him the confidence to pray believing
that when he seeks Your face You always hear.

* the above text can be sung to the familiar hymn tune “FINLANDIA”

Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Cubs Win!

Spiritual lessons from my team’s World Series victory

‘Twas a World Series win for the ages.
Down three games to one, they came back.
Game seven then went extra innings.
Both players and fans were a wreck.

A weather delay added tension.
The rain was a portent it seemed.
The Cubs’ drought from ’08 had ended.
‘Twas the storybook ending we dreamed.

Just wait ’til next year we’ve been sayin’.
And I’m thinking it’s no time to stop.
Our Lovable Losers are winners
and they plan to remain at the top.

A repeat as champions suits us.
Our young team has talent galore.
With Rizzo and Russell and Bryant,
there’s bound to be much more in store.

And likewise in life we keep hoping
that what God has promised is true.
The Cubs are a lesson in patience.
Don’t give up! Don’t despair. God comes through!

So keep trusting and keep on believing.
The droughts that we face fuel our faith.
Perseverance in time is rewarded.
Like the Cubs, we’ll be blest if we wait!

* This poem is dedicated to my dad who died eight years ago today (November 4, 2008). He played catch with me when I was a kid. He faithfully came to my little league games. He took me to my first major league baseball game. A week before he died I lay down next to my dad on his bed as we watched the World Series together on the TV in my folks’ bedroom. (Curiously, Joe Maddon’s team Tampa Bay Rays lost in five games that year.) How I wish I could share in the joy of the Cubs win with him this year (now that Joe Maddon is Chicago’s manager). But like the poem suggests, I will just have to wait for that ultimate family reunion to come. I miss you, Dad.