So Close!

As I approach year 96, I reflect on God’s providence over the years. There were several occasions when I came really close to death. I guess the closest was that afternoon at Lake Ellen Camp in Upper Michigan when I was serving as interim director.

The offices occupied a multipurpose building with a hot water heating system. The boiler was under the office section. As fall approached, our head maintenance man Mike Wilig brought in a heating guy to check the boiler—the U.P gets really cold. He worked an hour or so and declared all was well.

A day or so later, my office grew chilly and I went downstairs to turn on the boiler. I flipped the switch but nothing happened. Then a Propane smell hit me.  The boiler guy had failed to complete the gas line connection! When I flipped the switch, gas flowed freely into the basement. Stupidly, rather than evacuating the building and shutting off the gas at the tank, I connected the open coupling, hand-tightening it with Propane drifted through the furnace room. The slightest spark would have blown the building and everyone in it to kingdom come.

I reported the incident to Mike, suggesting he check my work. He said No way! and phoned the boiler guy. He came in a hurry. I didn’t catch Mike’s conversation with him, but it was heated.

So I lived to fight another day.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Oh Happy Day

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. Psalm 16:5-6

My life is so good it’s almost wicked. I just honked out O Happy Day! on my harmonica. Never mind its 2:40 A.M. I nap when I want.

Yes, my balance is shot, but my faithful 4-wheel horse Old Red gets me where I need to go. Distant travel is no more; local trips grow fewer and fewer; but twice a month a bus hauls us to shopping centers–free to us geezers. STRIDE gets me to appointments. Both have elevating ramps.

A laundry/cleaning lady comes every other week and a health aid assists with showering and my belly bag weekly. The mailman brings my meds—two prescriptions. Woodland Garden maintenance guys fix anything I want.

The girl from 313 cooks suppers with left overs for lunch–I’m a Micro Wave grand master. Breakfasts even: sausage and eggs. Mr. Coffee serves the beverage. Frequent socials and dinners for residents welcome me.

I live mostly pain-free; no pending surgeries. Excellent medical and dental professionals serve me. Pension and Social Security cover expenses with a little over. HUD Section 8 provides a cozy apartment in a wooded setting a duck pond—six duckling survived thus far. Edmond’s Realty takes marvelous care of Woodland Garden. I call the 64-resident mix Sociology 101—one of every kind.

Best of all, dear Norma, the girl from 313. She calls herself my S.O., Superior Officer. With no viable family nearby, she’s my go-to gal, shopper, and companion. I am blessed beyond measure. My soul is at ease. My blog and Facebook reach lands near and far. My family are kind. What more could a guy ask for? On August 29 I turn 96.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

No Dirge at Kenwood Lutheran

Only once in my life did I march to a funeral dirge. I was pastor in Michigan’s U.P. The soldier son of a community member had died of a highly contagious disease. Handsome in his officer’s uniform, the son laid under the sealed glass cover of mahogany casket. I was asked to conduct the Christian rites at the gravesite service. Mourners gathered at the funeral home to march to the cometary.

I marched with aging legionnaires who wore bits of ill-fitting uniform. A make-up band with tarnished horns and a bass drum struck up a funeral dirge. We moved out following the casket on an open farm wagon pulled by a pickup. It was a bleak affair.

In contrast, there was no dirge at Kenwood Lutheran as smiling, hugging family and friends gathered to remember Ruth Hansen, older sister to Norma, my special friend from 313, who had suffered a debilitating stroke. Norma’s brief tribute set the tone. She said:

The past days are what Ruth and I have talked about for a long time—the final phase of our lives. As per her funeral directive, Norma will talk.

I was with Ruth almost 80 years. We were a formidable pair. But she didn’t always want me. I came home, a new- born and Ruth hid under the kitchen table. She had had the undivided attention of our grandparents, parents, and older brothers and sisters. The new interloper wasn’t needed.

When old enough to tag along, I’d beg to go with Ruth to cousin Lorraine’s. She would say to Mother, do I have to take here with me? But fast forward 20 years. Ruth would call: Do you want to come with me?

Ruth took good care of me. We shared a bed. I suffered from growing pains and she’d come home late from a date to find me crying. She would rub my legs until we both fell asleep. Two weeks ago Ruth was crying–her leg ached. And there was nothing I could do.

We talked often of the time we could have become a semi sandwich. We were in Kansas City heading south in the left lane with a huge semi on our right just outside my window. Another semi came down the ramp, horn blowing. Ruth gripped the steering wheel: Norma, this is it!  Then we were tooling along; no semi in front or back. It wasn’t our time. We had things yet to do, quilts to make.

Others envied our relationship. We even finished each other’s sentences! Five years ago, when her stroke took Ruth’s spoken word away, she would write it and I could finish the story.

Ruth’s daughter Pat spoke the words that will sustain me until my turn comes. She said, after Ruth’s last breath, Mom, now you are breathing in heaven.

Old Grandpa Lloyd



Rehashing Rehash

My theological stance will lead some to think I have low regard for the local church. Not so! I was a parish pastor for many years, serving small churches. I loved my people and most of them loved me—I was Baptist. But I refused to get tied in a knot over which brand of church was closest to the truth.

Church life is vital to spiritual health, but it represents a small fraction of what Jesus is doing in our big world. When I say it’s just as important how we play as how we pray, I mean it with all my heart. Evidence shows up in my life day by day.

Look no farther than the New Testament to observe the guts of church life. All religion is of human origin. God doesn’t give a hoot how we worship, nor does he pick favorites among worship approaches, whether high liturgy or pep rally. Not a line of scripture tells us to being people to church to find God.

But all this is old hat. Those who know me know about my mosaic of providence. I can’t change the big world, though human schemes to do so seek my help (mostly money). But I can change my tiny world simply by putting to work the gifts God gave me. Our words—written, spoken, or sung–may fly around the world–or across the street, touching a life here and there. Mass evangelism! Doesn’t exist. If only people would only listen to me!

Am I dead sure my take on the ways of faith is right?  Of course not. But it works for me.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Obit Short, Obit Sweet

Been thinking as year 96 creeps on:  What would I like my obit to say?  I’ve had an exceptional life filled with memories and friends. While I don’t plan to die any time soon, DNR is writ large on my papers. One by one, qualities essentials to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness grow more distant. Life is still good and I love it, but my bag is packed and I’m ready to go.

The girl from 313 suggested I write my obit. Here it is: Been there, done that. So be it.

If you must have a text: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-8.

Really Old Grandpa Lloyd

So There

Last post for a while

This quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. US jurist (1841 – 1935) identifies the force behind tribal bigotry: We are all tattooed in our cradles with the beliefs of our tribe; the record may seem superficial, but it is indelible. You cannot educate a man wholly out of superstitious fears which were implanted in his imagination, no matter how utterly his reason may reject them.

All religions in history are of human origin. A leader organizes the Bible into defined doctrines (teachings) Roman Catholic fathers, Luther, Calvin, Knox, Arminius, Joseph Smith, John Wesley, etc. Then they gather a tribe (flock) loyal to tribal teaching. Bingo: a denomination.

Tribal members spend their lives fiercely defending what they have been taught. I recall from my youth a pamphlet called The Trail of Blood that proved beyond a doubt that Baptist teachings went straight back to Jesus. But Jesus came not to found a religion but a guide to everyday life, a life that fulfills Creator God’s purpose for the individual and humanity. Of that I am sure.

Aha! You’re sure: right and all others’ viewpoints are wrong! Well, I lean on Jesus’ claim: I am the way, the truth, and the life. And on the divine assertion: All authority has been granted unto me.

Sure I could be wrong; but we’ll see how it works out.

Old Grandpa Lloyd, long-time religious professional

Jesus First

Put God first! I hear that often. But how?  Religious exercises? They consume ten percent of our time, at best. Does nothing else count?

Bob Snyder offers insights in his July 11 Lessons Learned on the Journey. He discusses what Jesus says about multi-tasking—life’s ordinary essentials: A debate is in progress in academic circles about the dangers of multi-tasking—is it harmful to my well-being, to my productivity and to my tranquility? As an emergency physician, my ability to perform my duties required multi-tasking. However, there were times in the ER when focusing on just one task was crucial.

I do not think mono-tasking or multi-tasking can be looked at from the perspective of either/or. Although a great multi-tasker himself, Jesus knew that at times only one thing mattered. In Luke 10:42 (NLT) He said to Martha: “There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken from her.” Dinner, hospitality, and hard work, of course, matter, but in that moment, time with Jesus mattered more.

Life is full of activities, pressures, and distractions. Yet, there are times when my focus should be on one thing only—Jesus. So we come full circle: Christian mystics great and small talk about focusing on God but never tell us how. Should I hide away, grunt, and repeat Jesus, Jesus, Jesus over and over? Maybe read the Bible. Devotional times are vital, but are they spiritual in contrast with action/duty times? I go with what works, now that I’m old and feedback comes from friends encountered over the years.

My play times touched more lives than pray times!  I don’t think one Woodland Garden resident sees me as a retired religious professional. I lead no Bible studies, hold no prayer meetings yet I often spend soul-searching moments with individuals in times of personal need. I conclude putting Jesus first has nothing to do with religion. Some of the meanest people I know sit in church every Sunday.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Anniversary Sunday

Today is anniversary Sunday. I began life at Woodland Garden on July 7, 2013. For the story, read Epilogue at

I closed out year six by recruiting son-in-law Dale to drive Norma (girl from 313) to Port Wing, Wisconsin for her 60th high school anniversary celebration. Daughter Sally and I explored while Norma partied. It was a sweet/sad day. Sally slips slowly into dementia.

I love my life at Woodland Garden–and the girl from 313.

Old Grandpa Lloyd


Anniversary Sunday

Today is anniversary Sunday. I began life at Woodland Garden on July 7, 2013. For the story, read Epilogue at

I closed out year six by recruiting son-in-law Dale to drive Norma (girl from 313) to Port Wing, Wisconsin for her 60th high school anniversary celebration. Daughter Sally and I explored while Norma partied. It was a sweet/sad day. Sally slips slowly into dementia.

I love my life at Woodland Garden–and the girl from 313.

Old Grandpa Lloyd


Neighboring: the Pure Gospel

For a long time I have yammered away on one theme–Christ following is not religion but living; serving folks around us. You don’t need a building or program to do that. Here’s a prime example:

From: Joel Mattson <>
Date: Tue, Jul 2, 2019 at 4:23 PM
Subject: Curse of neighboring
To: David Casson <>

Hi again. First, I volunteered to help Steve across the street load a sofa into a rental truck, and ended up emptying his house. Then yesterday, a neighbor lady failed to show up for pinochle. I usually would not have followed up, but because of your emphasis on neighboring, I phoned and got no answer. Uncharacteristically, I  went to her house and knocked on the door, only to hear a faint, desperate cry: help, help! All doors and windows were locked so I called 911. EMTs arrived, broke in, and found Val on the floor. She lives alone. It could have ended badly.

She’s elderly and not doing well, but at least she now has a chance. You do more good than you may know, Pastor.

Old Grandpa Lloyd