Everyday Miracles

There is a story in the Bible about the prophet Elijah and a penniless widow he encountered. The short version is this- Elijah persuaded the widow to use her last resources to prepare a meal, and after she did this, Elijah became the conductor of a miraculous bounty of flour and oil which provided for the widow and her son.

We see miracles in that passage of the Bible- incredible workings of God through Elijah. Elijah extended the flour and oil in the widow’s home in a miraculous fashion. Elijah himself had recently been the recipient of a miracle when he had been sustained by God day-to-day when he was in the wilderness. He had been supplied with food by ravens in the wilderness, and now by a poor widow.

God, through Elijah, had provided for the widow and her son miraculously, yet the woman seemed to become accustomed to it, and maybe even took it for granted. Then, when her son became ill, (then later dying) she questioned whether God was really there, whether Elijah really cared, or was even on her side. It was only after her son was raised back to life that the widow again saw God’s provision- another miracle! Isn’t it interesting that we can so easily lose sight of the miracles that God has shown us all around? The widow was not alone in this. We see the same thing in others frequently, and, if we are honest, we see it in ourselves every day!

Can you name a miracle – an everyday miracle in your life – that you may take for granted? Or perhaps an event that happened in your life that was God’s great gift, but over time has lost its power and awe?

I see God’s miracles even as I write this. My immune system right this moment is probably fighting off some invasive little microbes or viruses as part of a wonderful self-sustaining life system built into us. I have sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste – the gifts of the senses.  I have an incredible wife, children, and grandchildren, blessed beyond measure. I see the amazing scientific laws of the universe which did not just invent themselves, but rather show the Designer in His glory. Yet, I take these miracles for granted.

For the widow, it was only when her son was raised from the dead that she agreed that Elijah was the “real deal”. What does it take for us?

Lessons from Rehab

I am now 9 days post knee replacement surgery, and the healing progress is real, but, in my thinking, interminably slow. Such thinking is undoubtedly formed by excess hubris on the part of the patient, painful but true. However, there have been many lessons already in this process, even though that process is quite new. Time indeed is relative, even though in a different sense than Albert Einstein explained it.

I am struck first by the fact that the struggles of rehabilitation from a surgery are much more mental than physical. It goes without saying that there are significant physical struggles, but the will to do the hard work of rehab, to force oneself time and again to engage pain because you know it is good for you, takes a certain amount of faith. I trust that the principle of “no pain, no gain” is true, however, that does not make me want to engage it. That is a moment by moment battle to “just do a little more”.

There is also an immutable law of nature which is paradoxical. In order for new life to happen, there must be a death somewhere. The renewal of our bodies, and indeed that of all nature, only takes place by the old cells which have died being replaced by new cells. Muscles which have been damaged by surgery must be rebuilt and strengthened. In the words of the Bible, (John 12:24) “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels–a plentiful harvest of new lives.” (New Living Translation)

Another lesson from rehab is that “use it or lose it” is proven once again as another universal truth. Lay off using muscles for a few days and they believe that their owner has died, or decided to die, so they might as well retire. They start to atrophy right after we stop using them for a while. The point here is that the sooner we use every muscle we can, the sooner we heal.

Finally, one must decide to be well. I know that just because we decide to be well that such decision alone does not make us well. However, if we do not choose to be well, we cannot be well. There is a certain despair that hits everyone at various times- that self-defeating part of all of us, which tells us that this healing is never going to happen.  “Just give up and stay in bed” it tells us. I suggest that this happens to everyone, regardless of surgery or anything else. There are times we just want to give up and go to bed. I think it is reasonable to visit this place in our head, and even entertain it for a very short while. However, we can only visit this place, we cannot live there.

I write this as self-healing, so thank you for indulging that. However, the much higher purpose is to engage the reader to think about some laws of nature and how we deal with them. Healing is a great gift, but it comes with cost. We need to allow others to help us in this process, and we need to push ourselves to do the work of healing. I am learning on that journey, and it is good for me. We learn from pain and we better understand the wonderful plan of how healing really works.


I have a great deal to be thankful for. “Blessed beyond what I deserve” is a phrase many people use, and it is certainly true for me. However that phrase, as apt as it may be, better describes “grace”, which is a subject of another blog down the road.

I am sitting on the veranda of a condo in Maui as I write. My wife and I are here due to the generosity of dear friends, whose condo we have for this week. I am most grateful for that! While Hawai’i is a gorgeous paradise and we are loving the visit, it is not what I am most grateful for. The greatest gifts- my wife, my children, my grandchildren, my siblings, my friends, my health are all gifts beyond measure- and I am so grateful for them all.

I have a home, a car, meaningful work. I live in a country that is, while imperfect, the most generous, freedom loving nation on earth (I believe). All this to say- I understand what I have and I cannot adequately explain why I have it. However, that is not necessary. My job is to be thankful for all that I have and to live in a posture of gratitude, not entitlement.

It is easy to fall into a mindset whereby we compare our gifts to what others possess.  This focus nearly always leads to a negative place- unless we are correctly seeing that we have so much more than so many others. I sometimes tell my clients that about 90% of the world would literally risk their life to have what we have in America. It is not an indictment of those clients, but merely a way of  positing a different way to look at where we are in our life.

Many people are suffering in many ways as I write this. We can and should, to the extent that we are able, help alleviate that suffering. Sometimes we can be of help, and sometimes we cannot. However, I believe that we are responsible to have gratitude for what we have, and to never take it for granted. Such a mindset helps us to see how blessed we are, and that makes us better able to respond to those who could benefit from what we are able to share.


I went to Speedway to grab a hot chocolate as I was out for church this morning. I noted that the hot chocolate machine produced plenty of hot water, but essentially zero hot chocolate mix. I poured out the mixture and opted for a coffee instead. When I spoke to the clerk, I mentioned to her that the dispensing machine must be out of chocolate mix since I got a cup of hot water.

She looked up at me with a little surprise and said, “Most people are pretty mean when that happens.” I told her that I thought that she should be aware of the fact, but that I was not upset with her or the machine for that malfunction. She thanked me with a smile and I went on to church.

I later thought about this little interaction, and I was dismayed that courtesy seemed to be in somewhat rare supply these days. I share this not to say that I am such a thoughtful person. What I did was, in my opinion, a normal response to the situation. What concerned me was that this poor clerk had to put up with a number of customers who take out their frustrations upon her. My simple (and expected) courtesy was an exception to this clerk and, evidently, far from the rule from her perception.

Is courtesy a value that has become outdated? Have the simple virtues we once cherished been overtaken by a mean spirited age? I think that social media has produced a large amount of intolerance; or maybe it has just given voice to long held resentments by providing a platform for people to shout their anger to the world.

I am not unaware of the irony that this blog is a social media platform, and that I too am voicing my concerns. My hope is that by ringing a bell for a return to some long held virtues such as courtesy and kindness, the norm may once again be caring about our neighbors- the ones with whom we share the planet.


I have been around for a while. I was born during the presidency of Harry S. Truman. My first recollection of an inaugural address was January 20, 1957 which I watched on TV when I happened to be home from school sick with pneumonia. I listened to Dwight D. Eisenhower as he was sworn in for a second term. Perhaps that made an impression on me because I was lying on the couch at home, sick. Or perhaps it registered on me because my parents revered Dwight Eisenhower who was a war hero, president, and “presidential” in his demeanor. He was the leader, revered by the nation and my parents as the leader of the free world. He was like George Washington to me, and the only president I would know in my early, formative years.

Later, I would be enthralled by the charismatic, young Catholic president, John F. Kennedy. Again, my parents adored this president because he was Catholic, a democrat, and because he was NOT Richard Nixon. Of course, I loved this president too, and I grieved deeply when he was cut down by an assassin in his prime.

We moved on to Lyndon B. Johnson, JFK’s forlorn successor and the torch bearer for the slain Kennedy. His unfortunate legacy was a destructive Vietnam war which overshadowed his domestic achievements.

Then, Richard M. Nixon, for whom I am proud to say I never voted!

Then Gerald S. Ford, for whom I DID vote- the undervalued man of courage who ultimately lost his only election to Jimmy Carter, largely because he had the courage to do the unpopular but healing act of pardoning Nixon.

Jimmy Carter was (is) a good man, but he was generally a failure as president because he could not appeal to a public who wanted hope. Carter was a dignified man who also embodied the word “presidential”.

We then go to Ronald Reagan, a giant of leadership because he was able to galvanize Americans to embrace that bright future that we had somehow lost sight of. He could appeal to people in both parties, and he demonstrated a humanity to which people could easily relate . He was “presidential”.

George H. W. Bush followed. George H. W. Bush was another (and the last) of those World War II heroes whom we elected to our highest office. He was an honorable man, a “presidential” man. He was underappreciated in his influence and performance, perhaps because he ultimately got tired and could not hold off the energetic and charismatic William Jefferson Clinton in a bid for a second term.

After Clinton, we elected another Bush, George W. Bush, “W”, whose legacy was an entanglement in Iraq and Afghanistan for which we continue to pay a price. However, he was, and is, and honorable man. Flawed, (as we all are), he did not besmirch the dignity of the office of President of the United States.

Barack H. Obama, our first African-American President, had his flaws as well. However, he conducted himself uprightly and with dignity. Perhaps he did not use his “bully pulpit” as well as he could have to smooth racial relations, however, we could count on him to be dignified, and proud that he respected the office he served.

Being President is not the only role that a President must fulfill. He or she must be “presidential”- that is, the President must respect the office, and to use its vast power to heal and not to separate or demean. The above named Presidents, some more successful than others, some more popular than others, mostly fulfilled the role of “presidential”.

Then, unfortunately, we come to Donald J. Trump…

The Lessons of Baseball

The Lessons of Baseball

 Baseball is a game best enjoyed by fathers and sons together. Indeed, that is how the game has thrived for over 140 years- passed down from fathers to sons. My dad taught me to love the game from about age 6. I remember his rapt attention to the radio when he listened to Waite Hoyt and Jack Moran describe the 1956 pennant race. The Reds had not been good for many years, but that particular summer, they were in the pennant race until the last week of the season. My dad taught me to get excited about baseball, and the Cincinnati Reds in particular.

He related to me that as a young boy, he could get into Crosley Field free if he were accompanied by another paying customer. So, all the young boys would tag along after men who were walking through the gate, and they were able to get in free. That concept, unfortunately, has been lost on the present generation of short-sighted baseball owners who see only present financial gains, and do not have the vision for the long-term stability for the game.

As I began teaching my son about baseball, it was apparent to me that the teaching was not just about the fundamentals of the game. It is about life experience. The player who makes a diving catch at the end of the year in a meaningless game is practicing the value of doing one’s best regardless of the outcome.

The player who is cut from the team learns that he has two options- go out (or go to the minor league) and play hard, get better, and get back on the big team- or feel sorry for himself, blame the manager for his poor decision, become resentful and quit.

Injuries, losses, bad umpiring decisions, etc. are part of the game, and the young ballplayer learns how to face adversity. He will learn that unfairness in life will happen, but the game will endure. Quitting is not an option.

There is no timekeeping in baseball, so you are not playing against the clock. If you are losing the game, the only thing that will limit the possibility of a comeback is the skill of the other team, or the lack of production by the team playing from behind..

Baseball is a great vehicle for communication between fathers and sons. As we know, men talk better, usually, side-to-side than face-to-face. There is a lot of communication (and teaching) going on as dad throws the ball to his son in the batting cage, or simply “has a toss” with him. A quick glance at the “Field of Dreams” movie will make that very clear.

Dad tries to stretch his son just beyond his current skills in an effort to improve him. The wise dad will use encouragement rather than screaming and shaming to produce growth in the young ballplayer. And so it goes. The time spent together is the stuff of later memories.-memories which will be shared by the sons with their sons.

Baseball then has become a medium for conveying the love of father to son by the analogy of the love of baseball. If it works out the way it should, the son will grow to love baseball, but more importantly, he will know that dad loves him.


My wife and I recently visited Springfield, Illinois as we meandered down old Route 66 on vacation. We visited a lot of the Lincoln spots in Springfield- the Lincoln museum, the Lincoln Library, his old residence, and his burial memorial site. We were moved by these visits. Abraham Lincoln was a study in moral leadership, statesmanship, courage, and a forgiving spirit.

Indeed, I have always been touched by his second inaugural address, delivered just weeks before he was assassinated. In that marvel of a speech, Lincoln stated that the nation needed to begin “binding the wounds” that four years of Civil War had wrought on the nation.

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Lincoln’s rhetoric here was a classic example of moral leadership. This speech was delivered on March 21, 1865, nineteen days before the surrender at Appomattox Court House which effectively ended the Civil War. The nation was still at war, in the most bitter confrontation this country has experienced. People on both sides were NOT in a mood of reconciliation and forgiveness. Lincoln’s bold proclamation may have even shortened his life since one of the attendees of that speech was John Wilkes Booth. This may have solidified for Booth that Lincoln must die for his belief about binding wounds and finding a way to move ahead with “charity, not malice”.

I was saddened again in visiting this great man’s grave, wondering how things may have been different had he lived to oversee a reconstruction that looked very different than what later happened under Andrew Johnson.

I also pondered the power of moral leadership and how it helps to shape a national psyche.