Sometimes it takes a Turkey

Tom Kettleman article

Tom Kettleman started showing up last Spring in my hometown of Lodi, California. No one seemed to know where he came from. People learned to watch out for him because he didn’t always use the cross walk, but sometimes he did. Wherever he was, he created a stir. Sometimes he would chase ambulances and patrol cars. I guess they didn’t know whose turf they were on. More often than not he could be found at one of his resting places, behind the parking lot of Lowe’s or hanging out at Panera’s strutting his stuff. Every now and then you could find him behind Wal-Mart. Kettleman Lane and Lower Sacramento road was where you could usually always see him.

People started looking for him and then posting their pictures of where he was that day. Kids and parents alike fell in love with Tom. He became a very popular guy. He never asked for the notoriety, he was just being himself. But something about Tom seemed to bring people of all different walks of life together. It was a curious phenomenon. People who might never have otherwise met started talking about Tom and where they saw him.

Then came the Facebook fan page which swelled to over 3000 members.

The usual trip to the store was somehow brightened by Tom’s antics, especially when he was show-boating, puffing all his feathers up in grand turkey style, it was really something to see.

People might wonder about how this could happen, but the reason is very simple. Tom gave people something to smile about. He gave me something to smile about all the way in Arizona. He gave a little bit of hope to a weary world. A world worn down by work, stress, horrific events in the news. Tom gave people something of a sense of community that is hard to find these days. I guess you could say that Tom was a little bit of an ambassador in that regard.

Sometimes I find that animals and babies have a way of being much more effective at building bridges between people of all faiths, colors, and economic statures.

Or course, there were the naysayers and the haters of Tom as well. There were cruel comments on Facebook, and those who felt that he was a nuisance, a danger to the community. Wherever good and innocence gather, the minions of negativity always seem to spring up as well. Human nature I suppose.

Now Tom is gone and people are saddened. Others don’t understand the sadness. He was just a turkey after all. But I can say that I will truly miss my brother’s pictures and texts about Tom and where he was that day. I will miss the idea of Tom and how he brought my hometown together. Growing up in Lodi was truly a blessing. We had community, we had closeness. It was a safe place where we could walk the streets at just about any time of day or night without fear.

And yet, this thing with Tom makes me realize that community still exists in Lodi. I can already see the good coming out of it on the Friends of Tom page on Facebook. (which is now open only to invitation from other members.)

You see, sometimes it takes something as silly as a turkey to make people believe in each other and their community again. To see something that was there all along. Sometimes God uses turkeys.

The spirit that brought people together while Tom was here has not left. Let it continue to inspire us all to do something good for each other today and everyday. We love and miss you Tom. Inspire on…….

Tom Kettleman, Ron

One thousand (plus one) love letters to God


 Then those whose lives honored God got together and talked it over. God saw what they were doing and listened in. A book was opened in God’s presence and minutes were taken of the meeting, with the names of the God-fearers written down, all the names of those who honored God’s name. Malachi 3:16, The Message

When I glanced up at the number of posts I thought, “It can’t be. How could I have passed 1000 posts and not have known?”

One thousand thoughts, one thousand meanderings, one thousand words I have set free to see what God would do. One thousand dreams, one thousand hopes, one thousand love letters to God.

One thousand ways I can share my faith, as well as my victories, things God and I and you did together……….One thousand times I have failed to love, and one thousand fears set free. It’s amazing really, what He has done with these words. Like bread cast upon the waters, He has carried them further than I ever thought possible.

I stare at the shore and wonder at my own words that have washed up from somewhere I never suspected. Only God can do that. When God stirs words they have a way of coming back full circle. I think of how they’ve come back from people I never dreamed would read them. I think of the ones who sowed the Word into me when I was young in all those Sunday school classes and sermons. To those that first sparked life and hope into my heart I would say this:

“It was the seeds of your own kindness and love for God that caused these words to grow.”

One thousand mornings of entering prayer like a sealed jar, my hope flickering like the candle, I sit back down and wait on Him to find He has already been there. It’s always Him who waits for me. Sometimes I’m not even sure where to start so I don’t. And it’s okay, for the waiting itself is Holy.

Once the words start tumbling out I experience a resurrection that I can no longer keep to myself. I find that God is not scared of what tumbles or flies out of this jar, whether black unnamed thing or brightly colored butterfly, and it seems that neither are you, dear reader. Many of you are still here.

The most important thing I have learned is how much He loves me, and that is what I want you to know.

And what He has taught me through all of you. I have learned that when I harness my words to prayer, miracles happen and when we join our words together it feels much like communion. I could never repay the friendships, the community of love I have found through writing. Your comments never fail to humble me.

Every now and then I think I might just seal this jar and keep the lid screwed on tight, who wants to see this mess anyway? But I thank God that never lasts, that feeling. The love I feel for God is so strong this flesh cannot contain it.

So here’s to 1000 more love letters to God.

And you…..

I thank you for hanging in with me this far.


Love one another

I had no sound on my IPhone for half a day (and a night) yesterday. I got it damp and the speakers died. It spent the night submerged in rice, which seemed to do the trick since this morning it seems fine. If I didn’t know it before, I know now. I am too dependant on it. On a gadget. I never thought I would be one of those people.

I admit it, I like when I hear the little chime that tells me I have a text. It’s almost a Pavlovian response with me, I instinctively reach for my phone. And last night the non-noise was almost deafening. Not that I get that many, mind you.

I even like the other little warble that tells me I have an email, even if it is FTD again telling me I need to order flowers.

The truth is, my phone is just the vehicle that connects me to others in my little community. The people I care about are in my phone……not literally but you know what I mean. I have a voice memo of my Dad and my niece talking. He’s 84 and someday after He’s gone to Heaven I will let her listen to it. I haven’t gotten around to saving that somewhere else yet, and I would be very sad to lose it.

This morning as I was checking my Facebook news feed over coffee, the thought came to me:

Facebook is like church. A community of like-minded people gathering together to encourage, enlighten, strengthen, humor, help and support each other.

But this visiting is what we used to do over the back fence, or on the front porch swing.

In my Mom’s day none of the women worked so they would all gather at one house or yard and bring their kids. They didn’t have Facebook back then, they didn’t need it. They had their own community.

And while people are still meeting  at backyard barbeques, front yard garage sales, neighborhood Bible studies, and yes, over the back fence and the porch swing and the neighborhood pub…… 

…… they’re communing over coffee, twitter and Facebook too.

Even churches are using social media in a big way. Just about every church has a “Like” option. Does yours? And shame on you if you haven’t “Liked” your church!

The world may change, but people never will. We are hard-wired by God to live, thrive and work in community.

My phone is happily ringing, dinging, and playing music and every time it chimes with life today, it makes me smile.

Because I know my peeps are in there.

****Note: I had to change the title of my post which was going to be The Church of Facebook, but someone already wrote a book by that title……I had no idea!

God sized opportunities


We get our pizza and start to eat when I mention my Mom’s tooth problem which in turn leads her to saying she needs to get her front tooth redone before she starts looking like Nanny McPhee. I laugh and mention how crowded my bottom teeth are and that I think it may be pushing a crown out of whack.

She says, “Maybe they should just pull one and they would straighten out.” I say, “With my luck the gap wouldn’t close and I would be left with one tooth missing in front like Si from Duck Dynasty.” That mental image gets me laughing so hard I am afraid to take a drink. It’s the times we laugh like that over nothing that I see something like God-light in her eyes.

It’s a pure and holy laughter and it flows like living water when two people of like mind gather.

Sitting there at the Pizza place, I thought of how our lives intersected all those years ago and how it was all so arranged by God. We were to be rescuers to each other yet at the time we didn’t know it. We were too busy each carrying our separate loads of super-sized grief.

She had just courageously left behind the only life she had ever known. It was either that or die. She was searching for life, and hope.  And I was busy trying to convince everyone and myself that I didn’t need anyone. The only friend I wanted was my husband and he had died.

At night I would sit alone and write letters to him that he would never see, except from Heaven.

One of the first things that struck me about her was her contagious laugh. And even though she was hurting she still tried to open the door to friendship.

And I did my level best to keep that door shut.

But there was something she saw in me that made her keep trying.

Somehow enough of Jesus shined through my dysfunction and sadness because she wondered where I got my peace.

And when I finally let down the wall and invited her in, it was almost like we were getting reaquainted after a long absence instead of starting a new friendship. And then she met Jesus and it only got better.

And 22 years later all I can see is the joy and laughter and wonder I would have missed out on had she not opened that door, had I not walked through it.

How many people have I dismissed that I should have embraced? How many sparks of life have I extinguished rather than rekindled? How many times have I refused the invitation to join God in his supernatural work? Margaret Feinberg

What draws us together is a mystery and a wonder. What makes total strangers click and feel they’ve known each other all their lives? It’s a connection that can’t be fully explained but that’s part of the beauty of it. What I do know is that it’s what God wants for us and what He made us for.

He calls us friends first and Disciples second, and I believe He sees not only the person we are, but the person we will become.

When we connect here in this place, I don’t see Bloggers, or Facebookers. I see friends.  I see brothers and sisters. I see family.

And I am thankful for every one of you and what you bring to my life.


A few years back the Pastor of the church I was attending was giving a message on confession. In the sanctuary strategically placed were four huge wooden crosses. I didn’t pay them much attention figuring that they must be part of the set for the upcoming Easter celebration. At one point during the sermon we were told that if we had anything that we needed to confess to God, anything at all, we should write it down on a small piece of paper. “By the cross,” he said, “you will find a hammer, just nail your confession to the cross and leave it with Jesus.” People started going forward with their scraps of paper. At first there was some tentative tapping from the first few. A little ping here, a gentle tap there. As it went on though, the tapping turned into what sounded more like angry pounding. It began to sound like a construction site as the hammer blows echoed off the walls!

It was there that my very strange sense of humor betrayed me and I let out a muffled giggle. I was instantly elbowed. I couldn’t help it. I was positive I was going to hear an electric drill fire up next. Maybe it was nervous laughter. After the service I found out that some people were extremely moved to tears as they heard the pounding of the nails and were relieved of their burden. The next Sunday the crosses were still there, the confessions plastered all over them. I suppressed a morbid urge to go up and read them. Is it because I want to know that others struggle with the same things I struggle with?

With all church practices, we need to go to the Bible to get our rules about Christian conduct, for that is our “rule book” per se. So I did. I came up with 53 references in the New Testament and 51 references in the Old Testament, right off the bat.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

So according to Scripture and all the references I found, it would seem that God cares a great deal about confession, both confession to Him and one another. What is it about confession that is SO difficult? We try to stuff it down and it just gets bigger, like a self inflatable mattress in our soul. We think maybe we will ignore it. It takes on a life of it’s own and begins to affect everything else in our lives.

It used to be a common practice to stand in front of the entire church body and confess. Could we even imagine that happening now?

Satan knows that confession makes us free and he will try to do everything he can to keep us from unloading our burdens. He whispers all kinds of scary scenarios to us to keep us from being free. He wants us to think we can fight the battle alone in isolation. Confession is the beginning of restoration, and there are times we need to confess to God, and there are times we need to confess to one another. There is tremendous power in it!

I confess with tears today:

Forgive me Lord for lying.
I tossed out what I thought was a
harmless lie, but I know that no lie
is truly harmless, it hurts You and it
hurts me and the one I lied to.

When I told that man that I would look
at his petition at the library “on the way
out” I knew that I had no intention of
stopping. Why didn’t I just say I was
not interested?

Forgive me also Lord for wondering why
certain individuals are still on the

Who made me God? What makes me think that
my days are any more important than theirs?
You number all of our days, Lord. You hold
them all in Your hand. If they are still
living, breathing, then there must be a
reason, for it is by Your great mercy
that we all still live.

Their time is no less precious than mine.

Help my heart be open to see and address
needs of others in my path….

In Jesus name, Amen

Ezekiel 11:19 “And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh….