When God says “No”

The setting is all too familiar: a loved one falls ill, or is injured, or is otherwise in immediate risk of dying. The family turns to prayer. Other loved ones and friends join in petitioning God. It is hoped that “storming heaven” will cause the Lord to intervene and turn around the dire circumstances.

We pray because we trust the Lord to hear and answer our prayers. We pray because the Lord has taught us to pray. We pray because we trust Him, because we know He loves us and has the power and desire to do good things for us. We pray because we are mere creatures and He is the Creator; we the children and He our Father.

In several places and parables, the Lord Jesus teaches us about prayer, beginning with the Lord’s Prayer. He told us about the widow who pestered the unjust judge until he caved in and gave her justice. He told us about the friend, who went to another friend at night for some bread to feed a traveling friend who arrived late at his house, and the guy got his bread because he persisted. And He told us about the father who would not trick his son, say with a snake instead of a fish, and if an earthly father will do right by his child then, of course, God will do right by us.

The Lord Jesus told us to ask, to seek, to knock: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened (Matthew 7:7-8).”

Finally, Christ promises: “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son (John 14:13).”

We trust these promises as we pray. We count on these promises to result in prayers answered with “yes.”

And God says “no.” And the person dies.

What in heaven happened? Is God not to be trusted? Are we a bunch of fools for placing our faith in Him, for wasting our time in prayer?

What happened is that the person paid the price every human pays, because we come into the world under the curse of the first sinner, Adam. We all die.

God is to be trusted. We are not fools for placing our faith in Him, and we did not waste our time in prayer.

To show this, first we must cover a few things that folks often erroneously believe.

  • “God punished him for a sin,” or, “This is a punishment to his family.” Wrong. God punished His Son on the cross and we have His promise: “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them” (2 Corinthians 5:19).”
  • “God needed her in heaven.” Wrong. One often hears parents telling their young children that grandma died because God needed another good cook in heaven. No, God needs nothing from us, including grandmas to cook for Him.
  • “God saw that he would one day lose his faith, so He took him now so that would not happen.” Wrong. The Lord Jesus vows: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand (John 10:28).”

That’s a good start, but this question fills the air: “Why does God let bad things happen?” When I had to bury a young mother of four who had been murdered, I needed to answer this as clearly as ever. I came up with this.

When our children hit the teenage years, because we love them and we don’t want anything bad to happen to them, and we don’t want them to do anything wrong, we lock them in the basement. That’s what love does, right? It protects at all costs.


While we long to protect our loved ones, taking away freedom is not love. We rear our children well, then we send them into the world. We hope for good things. We pray for them. But they are free, and the world is filled with accidents and evildoers and temptation and you-name-it, all of which might bring us down.

As it is with us, so it is with God. He loves us so thoroughly that He gives us lives in which we get to exercise freedom. Indeed, His love is so profound that if we don’t return His love, He still lets us live and enjoy life.

But He does not remove every obstacle, every possible bad thing from our path. If He did—if this were His job, to stop every last thing which is not good—He also would zap us when we gossip, and slap our hand when we put it where it does not belong, and on and on to where He would constantly be on our case, to where we would have no freedom at all.

He might as well lock us in a basement.

Freedom comes at great cost. This takes us directly to the Father’s gift of His Son, whom He did not keep locked up in heaven but sent Him to earth, into our very flesh, so that He could give up His life, so that not only might we take ours up again on the Last Day but also know the depths of the Father’s love now, every day, so that when things go horribly wrong we can remember that Christ has made all things perfectly right.

Recall this promise of Christ already quoted: “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son (John 14:13).” When God says “no” to our prayer, how can this promise be true?

When we pray, it is not our goal to get God’s will to line up with ours, but to get our will to be in agreement with His.

It is easy to glorify God when things go right. The player gets the winning hit and he points to heaven. The parents welcome the beautiful child and praise God for this gift. The farmer brings in the plentiful harvest and pauses to thank the Lord for the bounty.

It is challenging to glorify God when things go wrong. When the ball does not drop in. When the child miscarries. When drought chokes puny plants.

Yet, as children of the heavenly Father through faith in Christ, we are to glorify Him in bad times equal to the good ones. Why? Because we know that Jesus Christ’s death on the cross, His resurrection from the dead, and His ascension into heaven means that He is King over this creation, that He is Lord of the living and the dead, that He has the power to fulfill His final task, that of returning in glory.

When Jesus Christ will do this: “And this is the will of Him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those He has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day (John 6:39-40).”

Eternally living in the resurrection, we look forward to this wonderful life: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away . . . And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away’ (Revelation 21:1-4).”

When God says “no” to our prayers, He has the best “yes” in mind. Whether we live a day, or eighteen years, or one hundred, for the Christian this lovely promise is always true: “If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord (Romans 14:8).”

By grace through faith in Christ, we belong to the Lord. Not even death can snatch away the gift of eternal life, for Jesus Christ beat death with His resurrection from the grave.

May you be comforted and strengthened by these precious promises from the Word of God, all which are rooted in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Lord be with you!


Mind your dogs!

This is my fortieth year as a jogger. I’ve finally been frightened enough by dogs chasing me into the street that I am doing something to protect myself.

Small dogs don’t scare me. Though they never belong in the street, I figure if they get too close I can kick them. I don’t want to kick them, but I will if I have to protect myself.

Most of the dogs leaving their yards are small ones, which happens virtually every week. But twice this summer large dogs have come running at me, at full speed, barking fiercely. And both were showing their teeth.

I always stop and turn to the dog. I holler as loud as I can. “Stop! Go home!” I holler toward the house: “Get your dog! Your dog doesn’t belong in the street!”

These two times this summer the dogs have been large, I had never seen them before, so I wasn’t surprised their owners immediately appeared from behind their homes. I guess the dogs either got out by mistake or they were taken by surprise that they took off into the street. Thus, on the one hand, I don’t think it is the owners’ practice to allow their dogs to run free, but, on the other hand, they allowed them to get loose and, when they did, they ran into the street and after me.

Thankfully, in both cases, two positive things happened at once. When I turned and hollered, the dogs slowed down. They didn’t stop, and they kept barking and showing their teeth, but I felt more in control. Secondly, as their owners called for them, both dogs retreated.

I hollered to both owners: “Please mind your dogs. They don’t belong in the street.” One responded with his apology. The other did not. As I turned and continued my run, I shook from what could have occurred.

So, I’ve been thinking: at any given time, a dog could come at me, not back down, not have an owner there to call it, and attack me. And I could be in a world of hurt. I could even be killed.

I read of the attacks, every year: joggers who lost their lives at the mouths of vicious dogs. In my forty years of running, I’ve arrived home under my own steam every single time. I desire to continue my winning streak.

I told Julie of my fear. I asked her if, the next time she placed an online order, she might purchase me some pepper spray. I checked and, yes, it is legal to carry it and use it on human or animal in self defense.

Bless Julie’s researching heart, she came back to me after a bit with another suggestion: a horn.

The concern with pepper spray is twofold. First, the human or animal has to get close before you can spray at them. Second, you have to aim well, to hit them in the eyes.

With the horn, you can begin to blow it immediately. And you don’t have to aim it. And it could alert others to possible trouble.

The horn is on order. By the end of this week, I will be clipping it to my waist next to my phone, which is my constant jogging companion.

How long will it be before I find myself in need of using it?

Indelible memories

When I was a kid, the indelible memory of the adults was Pearl Harbor. My parents were teenagers in 1941. They recalled exactly where they were when they heard the news of the raid by the Japanese.

The next one was President Kennedy. Everyone older than me can quickly tell you where they were, and usually exactly what they were doing, when they heard the awful news of his assassination.

I was only six. I don’t have a memory of hearing of President Kennedy’s death, but one of the earliest memories of my life remains, sitting in front of our living room’s black and white Zenith console television as I watched the caisson carrying his casket in the funeral march.

This fiftieth anniversary of the moon landing, everyone who is from my generation and older is recalling where they were when they watched this amazing event. I was twelve when it happened. My memory is indelibly stamped.

We Eilers were in our living room. I was standing in front of that same Zenith television. Was I standing because there were no seats left, my folks and other five siblings occupying the available space? Or was it because I was so excited?

I suspect it was the latter. I could hardly stand myself for the nervous energy that was coursing through me, a twelve-year-old boy who would look at the moon in awe that these men were there.

I don’t have much else to say about that day, so this got me thinking about other events and the indelible memory stamped in answer to the where were you question.

Chronologically, the next one that comes to mind is the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. This shuttle liftoff was special, with Christa McAuliffe on board as the first teacher going into space. In those days, working at MasterTag only five minutes away and having an hour for lunch, I went home at midday. On January 28, 1986, I took off a half hour early so that I wouldn’t miss the liftoff.

If I had come home at noon, I would have missed everything.

Liftoff came at 11:38. Once again, I was in the living room in front of the TV. This time, I was with my first wife Kim and the house was our place on the south side of Montague. The television was another Zenith console, but now in color.

Seventy-three quick seconds after liftoff came the explosion. With the rest of the country, we sat in horror, especially as the cameras continued to show the bewildered faces of Christa’s parents.

The final noteworthy event, which all adult Americans surely have indelibly stamped in memory where they were when they heard or saw the news: 9/11. In those days when I was a pastor I didn’t listen to the news when in my office. At 9:00, I got into my car to head across Michigan’s Thumb for our second-Tuesday-of-the-month pastor’s meeting.

I turned on WJR Detroit as I was passing the Port Hope Community School and heading out of the village. The second jet had just hit the twin towers. The announcers still had no idea what was going on at that time. I, with the rest of the country, remained riveted to the news for days.

I have one other indelible memory that’s noteworthy, this of a personal nature. I recall where I was the first time I realized I was mortal. I was in my mid teens. In our garage, I was standing on our back porch, leaning under the track for the garage door. Too quickly, I stood up straight.

Or tried to. I smacked my head, catching a sharp edge. I thought I was going to bleed to death.

I muttered, “This is how these things happen. People can die, at any given time, in freaky ways. I could have killed myself just now.”

Memories indelibly stamped. We all have them. Where we were. What we were doing.

Where were you when . . . ?

Whirlwind reviews for “Hurricane”

My book has now received twenty-three reviews online. 22 of 23 have given it five stars. The screenshot, below, shows my rating and the latest review . . . and the photo of the hand—thanks, Sue!—shows where I grew up in Michigan (it’s a book reference).

The review might be too small to read. Here it is: This is a book that educates people about being transgender. I loved it! As a Christian, I appreciate the author’s sincerity and honesty in relating his experiences while maintaining and expressing his Christian faith. This book should be read by everyone, especially those who condemn transgender people based on their Christian beliefs.

To read the rest of the reviews, click on the book, below. Even better, you may purchase it today, either as a paperback or an ebook.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

While I hope to sell many books, there are some folks I can’t ask to shell out bucks for it. On July 7, Julie and I attended the annual Eilers family reunion. I took a bunch of books with me to Michigan. Indeed, as I toted a handful to the reunion’s picnic area, I inadvertently snapped a pic:

Announcing that I would be honored if anyone took my book, I set a stack on an end table. After we ate, folks began to grab them. I continued to refill the stack. I was pleased that fifteen were taken . . . and many folks asked me sign theirs.

One cousin zipped through it in a few days. Before you read her reaction, know that when she asked me to sign her copy she requested I note how she’s my best, most wonderful cousin. After her review, I’m not arguing.

She posted on Facebook: You two are amazing and I love you both and admire you so much! Sooo who will play you guys in the movie? Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow?

I have a call in to Matt’s people. I’ll let you know how that goes.

LCMS 2019 convention resolution on gender identity

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod holds its triennial convention beginning July 20. Among the proposed resolutions is this one:

I have included the entire text, below, or you may find it here: https://files.lcms.org/wl/?id=KuJNmMBOaTz54nqcyjk0Hbx1eVuOXTmt

I appreciate what is behind this proposal, the desire is to help, to educate, to display compassion. Because I continue to find the leaders of the LCMS have not thoroughly educated themselves regarding gender identity issues, I find this proposal lacking. Thus, if it were ratified by the convention, it would only serve to extend the lack of understanding and the large amount of misunderstanding regarding gender dysphoria and being transgender.

I have placed in italics the text of the proposal. My thoughts are placed between the sections on which I comment.

Page 162: 43 WHEREAS, Our society includes persons who are uncertain whether they are “truly” male or female (this does not
44 include intersex individuals, see excursus in Commission on Theology and Church Relations [CTCR], Gender Identity
45 Disorder or Gender Dysphoria in Christian Perspective), others who present themselves as a member of the opposite sex
Page 162, 2019 Today’s Business, 1st Edition—Proposed Resolutions
34 WHEREAS, In the beginning God created man in his own image, “male and female, he created them” (Gen. 1:27); and
35 WHEREAS, As the Small Catechism (SC) teaches, “I believe that God has made me and all creatures. He has given me
36 my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members …” (SC II, First Article); and
37 WHEREAS, After humanity’s fall into sin, Jesus again affirmed God’s continuing work: that from the beginning he
38 created them “male and female” (Matt. 19:4); and
39 WHEREAS, Gender is now considered by many in our culture as a social construct rather than a physical reality created
40 by God; and

Do not assume that those who suffer gender dysphoria believe that gender is a social construct. Even more, those Christians in the LCMS who suffer gender dysphoria know that the Lord created sex and gender as male and female, and they have no argument that the Lord’s intention was that males be men and females be women. Their trouble is not that they despise that the Lord created them male or female, but that they have a physical condition which does not allow them to be at peace with their birth sex.

In the secular world, many ideas are held that are not in agreement with God’s Word. I know several transgender Christians of the LCMS and none of them believe gender is a social construct. They do not debate the Lord’s intention for males and females. They look forward to their resurrection from the dead on the Last Day, when they will be made whole, with no more conflict with their birth sex.

41 WHEREAS, The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that marriages may be contracted between two persons
42 of the same sex; and
Page 163
1 in dress and physical appearance, and others who participate in hormonal and/or surgical procedures in an attempt to
2 modify their anatomy from male to female or from female to male; and

The CTCR’s definition of intersex is narrow, confined to the genitals and reproductive system. It ignores the many variations of intersex hormonal and chromosomal conditions which cannot be seen with the naked eye.

As there are conditions that are acknowledged as real—for one, autism—yet we do not know what causes them, so there are conditions that cause gender conflict that are real but so far cannot be proven. As with autism, just because the source cannot be absolutely determined does not negate the physical reality of the malady.

The CTCR allows for those to medically and socially address their condition when it can be viewed with the eye. For all others who suffer? The CTCR only allows for confessing as sin their gender identity conflict. Their suffering could be just as physical as the person who has a cancerous tumor, yet the CTCR, and this proposed resolution, makes no provision for them by the church other than spiritual care.

3 WHEREAS, The Christian church is not without fault and has too often failed to minister compassionately to those who
4 experience sexual orientation and gender identity issues, and has too often failed to address the sins of heterosexual
5 members; and
6 WHEREAS, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) parochial schools, congregations, seminaries, the
7 Concordia University System, and individuals in our Synod are experiencing mounting pressure as a result of cultural and
8 legal changes; and
9 WHEREAS, LCMS church workers and laity have asked for guidance in pastoral care for individuals and families
10 struggling with matters of same-sex orientation and gender identity issues; and
11 WHEREAS, The LCMS has produced resources such as the following CTCR reports: Gender
12 Identity Disorder or Gender Dysphoria in Christian Perspective (adopted Sept. 2014); Human Sexuality: A Theological
13 Perspective (adopted September 1981); Response to Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust (adopted April 2012); and The
14 Creator’s Tapestry: Scriptural Perspectives on Man-Woman Relationships in Marriage and the Church (adopted
15 December 2009); therefore be it
16 Resolved, That the LCMS in convention affirm and faithfully confess the biblical truth that God created humanity as
17 male and female; and be it further
18 Resolved, That we regard all those who struggle with sexual orientation and gender identity issues as our neighbors,
19 beloved of God, and therefore condemn acts of abuse committed against them; and be it further
20 Resolved, That pastors and congregations of the Synod be encouraged to minister compassionately to those who
21 experience sexual orientation and gender identity issues through prayer, the proclamation of Law and Gospel, the
22 Sacrament of Holy Baptism, corporate and individual confession and absolution, the proper administration of the Lord’s
23 Supper, the mutual conversation and consolation of the brothers and sisters, and pastoral care; and be it further
24 Resolved, That pastors and congregations of the Synod be encouraged to minister compassionately to the families,
25 friends, and all others impacted by those who struggle with same-sex attraction, those involved in same-sex relationships,
26 and those whose sexual self-understanding is shaped by a distressing conflict between their biological sex and their gender
27 identity through prayer, the proclamation of Law and Gospel, the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, corporate and individual
28 confession and absolution, the proper administration of the Lord’s Supper, the mutual conversation and consolation of the
29 brothers and sisters, and pastoral care; and be it further

Does this mean that the Christian who transitions, if he or she does not confess it as sinning and cease, will have Matthew 18:15ff carried out on them, and that if they do not repent they will be excommunicated?

Matthew 18:15ff wasn’t carried out with my wife and me, when I lived as a transgender woman. The LCMS church that took us in was only threatened with expulsion should we remain members. No one, at that time, called any of us to repent. To calm the storm and save our pastors and congregation, Julie and I resigned our membership.

I have met other LCMS Christians who have been treated similarly, who in their suffering finally transitioned in order to regain their emotional health. Matthew 18:15ff was not utilized; they simply were shown the door.

Is this how the church wants to minister to these people, who love the Lord, who have no desire to offend Him or their fellow Christians, who are only trying to find relief from their suffering?

Pastors have told me, “You wouldn’t tell an anorexic person that it’s okay not to eat.” No, you would not. But, if I were the pastor of an anorexic person who could not find the strength to eat sufficiently, I would not simply proclaim this one’s sin. And I certainly would not kick out of my church this suffering child of God.

Is there no way to extend the same compassion to Christians who reach the point where they need to see if transitioning will help them, to ease their tremendous distress that likely includes their suffering thoughts of killing themselves?

30 Resolved, That church workers and congregations in the Synod be encouraged to utilize the following CTCR reports:
31 Human Sexuality: A Theological Perspective; Response to Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust; The Creator’s Tapestry:
32 Scriptural Perspectives on Man-Woman Relationships in Marriage and the Church; and Gender Identity Disorder or
33 Gender Dysphoria in Christian Perspective; and be it further
34 Resolved, That the CTCR be directed to prioritize the updating of the 1981 study, “Human Sexuality”; and be it finally
35 Resolved, That the Synod in convention direct the Office of National Mission, Concordia Publishing House, the
36 seminaries, and the Concordia University System to continue to provide resources that enable the church to confess the
37 truth boldly and minister compassionately both to those who struggle with sexual orientation and gender identity issues
38 and those who care for them.

Based on my experience with the LCMS when I was transgender, and with those transgender persons who are or were in LCMS congregations, indeed there is a need for education regarding gender identity issues. To this end, I am writing a book, “Ministering to Transgender Christians.”

In this book, I will address what gender dysphoria is, the suffering it causes, theological concerns, and how to provide pastoral care to those who suffer gender conflict. I will introduce a number of LCMS folks who experience gender dysphoria, some of whom have transitioned.

The book is now in the editing process. My hope is to have it published by the end of the summer.

My garden: 7.11.19

I’ve posted little about my garden this year. With this spring’s heavy, constant rains, I planted late and things grew slowly. I was frustrated, and even more so because last year was as good a growing season as ever.

Yet, I kept telling myself that my trouble was but a blip compared with our farmers, so don’t be a whiner, Eilers. Indeed, as Julie and I drove north to Michigan last week, we saw field after field with no crops—a heartbreaking sight—or corn and beans that are a month behind.

Finally, the rains stopped in Indianapolis. (Completely stopped. I’ve had to water the garden twice this week.) The air warmed. The garden has grown. We are harvesting crops. And I’m grateful.

Last year, on July 12 I picked the first eleven ears of corn. This year, the cobs are right now in the early stages of forming. During all of my years gardening in Michigan, I never had corn bear cobs in mid-July, a fact I need to continue to remember!

The fence (front right, above) covers Swis chard. For the first time in our four years in this house, deer have eaten in our garden. Even with this fence, they got into the side and killed off those plants. What else might they pester? I’m on edge, every day I check the garden.

The tomatoes (front) are doing well, with many fruits on every plant. Green peppers are behind them, and also bearing. Next comes broccoli, which are beginning to form heads. Then row are the green beans, now blossoming. At the back (far left, below) is my second planting of potatoes, now in blossom.

If the photo, above, captured the final edge of the garden, you would see three hills of watermelons, which have gotten off to a terribly slow start. Last year at this time, the first fruits were baseball-sized. This year, the plants are just beginning to send out vines.

This week, I dug the first potatoes and have picked three zucchini. I fried these potatoes with onions and these zucchini. The other zucchini was sauteed on its own. A second digging of potatoes became a cheesy casserole.

For the rest of the summer, I will be planning my meals around what is ready to harvest. What a wonderful task that is, to wander the garden, find the latest ripe and ready gems, and turn them into supper!

Montague three-reunion vacation

Julie and I went to my hometown—Montague, Michigan—for five days, spanning Independence Day.

The vacation began as a get-together with my immediate family on the 4th. Then I learned the annual Eilers reunion would be on Sunday. Along the way, an impromptu gathering happened with some of my mom’s side of the family.

I wish I had taken more photos. Here are the better ones I snapped, in chronological order.

Our first morning in town, I headed out for a run, a favorite thing to do wherever I go. Along my route, I passed my first school. I attended Oehrli Elementary until we moved to Hart in November 1964, when I was in second grade. My first three children were students here, before we moved away in 1992. Now, two of my grandchildren attend here.

Independence Day began with another run. I was on the rail trail, heading toward downtown. It was almost parade time, so I looked for family. My first wife Kim was settled in with three of our grandkids: Maggie, Charlie, and Margot.

Montague boasts the world’s largest weathervane. Yes, it works. And, yes, couples get married under it!

On the 4th, we gathered at my son and daughter-in-law’s place, two miles north of Montague. In this pic, from left: grandson Oliver, daughter-in-law Tara, sister-in-law Jo, sister-in-law Debbie, granddaughter Margot, brother Dave, brother Tom, son Addison, and my first wife Kim.

Friday morning, I contacted Rhonda Bogner, who was one of my good buddies during our Hart years, when we were ages 7 to 11. Rhonda became a good friend again through Facebook, and I saw her in 2013, but had never been to her house. She lives outside of Muskegon, only twenty minutes from Montague. She was home and gladly welcomed our stopping by, and she finally met Julie. We had a lovely visit!

Friday afternoon, Julie and I drove to Lake Michigan, where the channel connects White Lake to the big lake. The boat traffic was heavy, as it should be on July 5, with sunny skies and temps in the 80s.

Lake Michigan’s water level in June measured a few inches short of its all-time high. Everyone had told me, “There’s no beach left.” As you can see, there is, but … see the man at left, standing in the water? I suspect in a typical year he would be on dry land.

My folks are buried in the Montague cemetery. I don’t have the need to visit often, but we had a few minutes when we returned from the lake and it popped into my mind to stop. Mom’s stone is more dull than Dad’s because she’s been there 24 years longer.

I had posted on Facebook that Julie and I were in Montague. Cousin Kim Wiegold (far right) saw the post and said that a bunch of my mom’s side of the family would be in Muskegon for the weekend. Friday evening, we gathered at Rebel Pies, which just happens to be co-owned by my son Addison.

I had not seen my uncle Ky, who is my Godfather, since his wife, Aunt Ginger’s, funeral in 1994. He’s the gentleman in front of me. With us are his three daughters and some other dandy folks from the Vogel side of the family.

While Indianapolis has been a blessing for Julie and me, I am a small town kid at heart. I miss the wide open spaces of Montague. On Saturday, I jogged the rail trail to the west of town.

The trail became a reality because of my uncle Bill Field: https://eilerspizza.wordpress.com/2016/05/13/rail-trailblazer/

Saturday afternoon, Julie and I made a quick trip to Hart, a half-hour north of Montague, where I lived from 1964-68. Julie gazed at the lake from a spot that is a block from where we lived.

When I go home, I most often stay at what I lovingly call the Todd B & B. I’m even more welcome when I bring Julie with me! Saturday evening, Grace “Mom” and Tim, who’s been my best friend since 1975, and Julie and I enjoyed a meal at the Old Channel Inn, on Lake Michigan.

Our five days were capped off by the annual Eilers reunion, twenty minutes northwest of Montague at Claybanks Township Park, which sits on Lake Michigan and is only a couple of miles west of the family farm: https://eilerspizza.wordpress.com/2016/09/09/meet-the-eilers-farm/

It was only the second one I’ve been able to attend since leaving Montague in 1992. 45 were in attendance, including all three of my dad’s living siblings: Betty, Pat, and Margaret.

We departed the reunion for the long drive south on US-31, our hearts filled with joy for our week chock-filled with family and friends.