Friday, December 27, 2013

Nod to the boys of Stephens Street

It has begun.

Doug was born 12.12.53
making him the first
to cross the imaginary line.
The rest of us were ’54.
I think I’m next.
Mid-march, eighteenth to be exact,
about two weeks before Steve.
Denny follows on April fifth.
Donnie may have been the youngest,
maybe a summer birthday.

And Lee Ann, she was the only girl,
and I don’t remember her DOB.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Logic? I’ll take football.

Here is my piece in the current catapult magazine:

Logic? I'll take football.

My heart can be pulled and tears called forth in numerous settings. Books, movies, songs and, I might as well admit, TV shows and commercials can all overwhelm me. A heartfelt conversation, whether with a friend or someone I have just met, can lead to a place of wonder.

I’m drawn in and it happens. Something whispers of something deeper: life as I hope and dream it could or should be; forgiveness, grace, reconciliation, second chances, unbelievable tenacity and peace; taste of the holy, of something more.

I think I’ve always had a sensitive side and I think it may be growing in intensity with age. Maybe I am more aware of it and have no interest in holding it back...

Follow this link for the rest of the story:

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Tradition transitions

Holiday reflections from the current catapult magazine (including my piece):

Tradition transitions

Growing up, Thanksgiving was an annual trip from our home in the southeast suburbs on180th to mom’s parents’ in the northeast suburbs on 69th. My mom, dad, brother John, Grandpa and Grandma Goodson and my Uncle Ed would crowd around the small table in a corner of the kitchen. The meal was a mix of country simplicity, my grandmother’s influence and some unpredictable flare from my grandfather. His stuffing and pumpkin pie are legendary and we still use his recipes. It was a fun, somewhat quiet day of visiting, maybe playing outside if the weather allowed.

The family tradeoff was an annual trip to southeast 76th for Christmas Eve at my dad’s parents’ home. We’d join Grandpa and Grandma Schmotzer, Uncle Virgil, Aunt Faye and our cousins David and Diane, Uncle Joe and his wife (he had quite a few over the years). The meal was in the dining room with “good” china and all that went with it. Liquor flowed before, during and after the meal. There was loud music and louder conversation.  Sometimes arguments would break out and result in an early departure or two...

Follow this link for the rest of the story:

Friday, November 15, 2013

Just say no! But: why?

I have a piece in the new catapult magazine:

Just say no! But: why?

There’s danger in heeding the demand to “just say no!”

Christians (you know, “those Christians”) love jumping on various bandwagons that affirm their convictions and prove that their clan is the right one.

The convictions generally tell us the world is bad, we are bad and they are bad. Essentially everything is bad. If we buy in, we (oops, I just lumped myself in with “them”) see so much evil it is amazing anyone gets out of bed in the morning and risks a breath. We love evidence that our list of “forbiddens” is the correct one. And we love any time the beast of culture sees the light, and agrees with us.

The problem is that our lists are usually a muddled mix of fears, discomforts and leftover things we were taught or assumed. Seems the more conservative (I know it’s a loaded word, but what else works?), the longer the list.  Or maybe not.

here's the link to continue reading:

 catapult magazine

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


@ Uisce Irish Pub, Bellingham, WA

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Sherman's gift

The way Sherman told it, he was born before the first big war and grew up in the desert southwest. Home was on a piece of land that may have once been — or at some time wanted to be — a farm. But like most of the area it was dry, hard dirt and scraggly, if not dead, trees and brush. A house of rough, weather-beaten boards offered little protection from the sun, wind or rain.

As the oldest of four, Sherman knew his role. He watched out for the others — like the day they came home from school and found the note on the kitchen table. It was from their mom. It said she loved them but that she had to go away. She told them to watch out for each other and listen to their father. It said they would be okay. Years later, Sherman would learn she had run off with the preacher, causing a distancing from God that lasted most of his lifetime.

To read the rest of this story follow this link to catapult magazine: 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Nurturing community

"Let's get together" is the theme of the current catapult magazine. Following is my contribution.

As a child, community was defined first by family, then my parents’ circle of friends. Over the years there was a strong sense of community in our post-WWII suburban neighborhood. Eventually, friends became my community of choice as school became the focus of my time. Church was layered in there somewhere.

The word and idea of community is having a trendy run these days. Trying to identify true community might be akin to clarifying the line between friends and acquaintances. We commonly call almost anyone we have an ongoing relationship with a friend. I think it would be more accurate to realize most of us have many acquaintances and some friends. In a similar way we can call any group of people we have connections with a community — or better yet “our” community. I think our definition of community may be weak or we may be fooling ourselves in evaluation. Simply put, I question how many of us actually experience community on a level that changes and sustains us.

follow this link for the rest of the piece:

Friday, July 26, 2013

Books that stick

Books that stick is the current theme in catapult magazine. following is the intro to my contribution:

Thirty-some years ago, I was the program director at a conference center. Calvin Miller was the week’s speaker and one day we were sharing lunch with Calvin and his wife Barbara. Calvin was one of those larger than life characters, a preacher, poet, painter and more. He could possibly sing and dance, too, I don’t remember. For a short time after we met, I was on his Christmas card list, meaning that I received a card with a hand-painted picture — hand-painted by him!

Calvin was going on about some popular movie he had recently watched (this was around the dawn of the VCR era — ask your parents if you don’t know what a VCR is) and how the actual story of the movie, if you knew how to watch it, was all about Jesus. At some point he took a breath. Barbara gently moved her hand in front of Calvin’s, maybe a sign to let him know it was her turn...

follow this link for the rest of the piece:

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Fundraising 101

I have spent most of my near-forty career years in non-profits. That translates to nearly forty years of fundraising. I have been a part of everything from nickel and dime begging to multi-million dollar organizational relocation, from passing the plate to pledges, from campaigns to coffee and lunch meetings, from banquets to car washes. I’ve been a staff member, board member and donor for more organizations than I can list or remember without extensive brain stretching.

At one point I was hired to help an organization with a focused, short-term funding project. In a few months we outraised our goal. Guess what? Some people thought I was a fundraising genius — not a perception I was anxious to live up to.

Follow this link to read the rest of this piece from the current catapult magazine:

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I finally wrote a book today

I finally wrote a book today
You know, the one
I keep thinking about
But am afraid to talk about
For fear I’ll jinx it
The same one people
Keep telling me I should write
I’ve started plenty
Each with a different slant
Probably sounding like little more
Than a pitiful version of something
My momentary favorite author would pen
But now, it’s done
No more to haunt me
Nagging for time and affection

I finally wrote a book today
Or, at least, thought about it

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Trying to convince you
I don’t care about money
would be about as disingenuous
as saying I don’t know
who’s winning the
peewee soccer game that
my granddaughter is currently playing.

This poem is from the new edition of catapult magazine with the theme, "Call That Profit." Follow this link for the entire edition:

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I can’t bear to consider

I like to think
what they don’t know
can’t hurt them.

But then, I think,
everything can hurt them.
But they don’t know it,
so it doesn’t.

At least, until it does.
But then, again,
I’m not sure they are aware
enough to really be hurt.

All of which I choose to believe,
because I can’t bear to
consider the alternatives.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Do you wanna dance?

Here is the intro to my new piece in catapult magazine

Q: Why are Baptists against sexual intercourse?
A: Because they heard it can lead to dancing.
The joke works because it catches you by surprise. And because you know proper people don’t talk about Baptists and sex in the same setting. It hovers on the razor edge of being ridiculous, while revealing something of reality...

follow this link for the rest of the piece:

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Backward Movement

Following is a piece I have in the current issue of catapult magazine:

What's the real issue here?

 It’s too easy to identify progress as evil, as the problem. However, progress is an extension of human drive, desires, passions, creativity, exploration and who knows what else that can work for good or for evil. Progress in the form of hell-bent efficiency has destroyed, maimed and killed. Progress driven by greed is a beast. Blind progress has led us to destroy much of value, including the extreme of annihilating people groups. At the same time, staying put or going backwards can also result in the growth of evil.

follow this link to read the rest of the piece:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

New ones

Here is the intro to a new piece I have in the current edition of catapult magazine:

Another call from another teacher. The kid’s only in middle school and I’m wondering if I’ll live through six more years of this. It’s never real trouble. Yet I’ve heard an unending parade of exasperated teachers say, “He just doesn’t get it!” I’m betting the principal has us on speed dial.

for the rest of the story click here:

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Lent, again (annual post for the season of Lent)

Small Baptist church
Edge of the city
Family farms were gone
Ever widening streets
Car lots and early stage
Of strip malls
Good people
Almost "country folk"
My mom's people

They knew the Bible
They loved it
They tried to live it
No creeds of rituals so
They believed

Lent was bad, almost evil
Empty routine of
False religion
Catholics and Lutherans
Maybe some others so
Far from faith

Home is not so distant
Four or five hours down the freeway
Decades later, now about four

Yearly ashes to my forehead
The joy of sorrow
The smudge of death
The touch of some pastor
I hardly know

What was once forbidden
Now is my food, my life

I worry for a moment that I may later see
Someone I know at the
Store who won't understand

Six weeks Wednesday at noon
Sitting with Glenn
Sometimes others join us
A hymn or two
Short sermon
Some good, some not

Lunch in the basement
Church cookbook casserole
Creamy salad
Water or tea
Neither of us drink coffee

Talk of family and sports
Maybe the sermon
Church friends and politics
Work updates
We say our goodbyes

Giving up something, maybe
Remembering, anything to help

Holy Week, the beginning with
Sword ferns posing as palms
Maundy Thursday
It took a long time to
Understand the "Maundy"
Good Friday
It's trite,
But who ever thought to
Call it "good?"
The dark, quiet and waiting

Easter and
It's over
Day of joy
Get my life back, again
Not sure I want it
At this cost
The seasons end

I hope it will come again
Next year
Or maybe, I hope
I'll be here next year
To remember that
It happened
Jesus suffered
And I live

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Oregon my Oregon

You want to talk about Oregon?  I’m glad you asked.

Oh, you didn’t ask.

Well, let me tell you anyway. Oregon, the thirty-ninth state, entered the Union on February 14, 1859, shortly before the start of the Civil War. Remember it was the “Oregon Trail” that drew settlers west to the “Oregon Territory.” And it was the Oregon Territory that grew out of that great American adventure, the journey of Lewis and Clark. And it was the land sought after by both British and American business interests and political forces.*  And it was where, like my father, I was born...

You can read the rest of this piece by following this link to catapult magazine: 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The clothes make the man?

Here is the opening to a piece I have a piece in the current edition of catapult magazine. 

As if I didn’t have enough to do or enough variety in my life, this past fall I became a basketball referee. I joined the association that officiates high school and middle school girl’s games for a four county region.

At the first meeting I attended, I was given a whistle (a real whistle, I was informed, not one of those cheap things with a pea that gets wet and sticks) and a very specific list of clothing expectations. Shoes, black, all black. If they happen to have a logo or something of another color, cover it with black marker ink. Black crew socks. Black ref pants, generally the polyester, elastic-waist, pleated-front gems you get at an athletic specialty store (and absolutely nothing like pants I would choose to wear). An official shirt that is obtained from the association, gray with black accents and an official official’s patch. And, optionally, a jacket. But if all referees at a specific game do not have official jackets, no one wears a jacket.

Within a few weeks, I had the uniform, had attended some training sessions and practice games, been given passwords into the web-based assigning system, read the rule books, taken and passed the online tests. I was officially a member of the association and had a schedule of assigned games. Officially, I was an official...

follow this link for the rest of the article

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Impossible and unending

I arrived
During the homily
And gladly found
A place in the last row

Thought of you
And prayed for you
For all this week
Has brought your way

But more,
For daily life and fear and pain
That must seem
Impossible and unending

Afterward I went forward
Past those
Making their way home
Or to a favorite lunch place

And lit a candle
Thinking of you
And hoping for something better,
Anything, better

I lit a second
And quickly a third
Soon realizing I would run out of candles
Before I ran out of people and prayers

So I quit,
Quit lighting candles,
That is, not prayers,
And left

Friday, January 4, 2013

Ten things I experienced in 2012

following are my year-end reflections from catapult magazine:

2011 was a year of drastic change for me. Some family members and friends were also caught in the fall out, some by choice, others by proximity. I tried to gather my thoughts when I wrote “Ten things I didn’t expect in 2011” for catapult a year ago.

Part of the uniqueness of my transition was moving away from “full-time ministry.” For over thirty years, some ministry paid me. Camp, church and campus setting were all part of my career path. Ministries have full, specific calendars. The lines between work and personal are often blurred, at times disappearing. Now I look back on a full year in this new place. All significant dates and events have been passed at least once.

So, here are some of my thoughts after a full year on this side of my most recent life upheaval.

follow this link for the rest of the story: