Bones, Dem Bones

bones pic backgrnd framed

Strange feeling!  Since 1962, one or more books have been constantly in my head or on my desk. How many titles? I lost track; 30 maybe, with several publishers. Now my final print book is on its way—cover photo above.

But you just can’t quit writing cold turkey. We’re going digital, guided by webmaster Jackie, with as a holding tank.  Take a look now and then.

As probably you know, we give away Wordshed Mission books—30,000-plus to date. Over $100,000 have come from somewhere to cover costs. Occasional book table sales have fed the kitty. Tech help, printing, and distribution for How Do Know That’s a Tooth? will eat about $5,000—1,000 copies. The bill will come due in about three weeks.

Thanks to many already onboard, we have about $1,000. Visa and MasterCard drool in the wings. You can help disappoint them. Ten bucks will get you a signed copy, postpaid. If you request several, I’ll be pleased. Send money on delivery. Email requests: mattson.lloyd1 at (we don’t list e-links). Include mail address. My snail mail: 127 E Calvary Road, Duluth MN 55803.

Sunday evening, November 9, 6:30, we’ll introduce the book at a campmeeting sing. Emmanuel Baptist, 1505 Eklund Ave, Duluth. Accordions, fiddle, Kevin and his 12-string, a country chorus, and Grandpa Lloyd’s Heavenly Harmonica. We’ll pass the hat for the book and give a copy to every family attending. Coffee and goodies? Of course.

The wooly mammoth tooth that gave the book its name appears in the lower left of the cover photo. Ancient bones framing my father’s old Bible pictures God’s two books.

How Do Know That’s a Tooth? closes out my 52-year book-producing career. Thanks for your prayers and help.

Old Grandpa Lloyd


Getting or Growing Old?

Some speak sadly of growing old. Some get mad about it. That is because they aren’t growing old; they are merely getting old. Growing old is an oxymoronic term. How can less mobility, more dependency, failing eyes and ears, and a clouded mind be called growth?

The difference is not a matter of semantics, or choosing a euphemism to soften the thought that decomposition begins before death. Getting old is the end of a careless life. Growing old is the fruit of thoughtful living. People getting old grieve the loss of youthfulness, while those growing old smile that youth is often wasted on the young.

I wrote once about demented Mary Ann who spent her waning life in a twisted body, reclining in a special wheelchair, able only to make nonsense sounds. Once, she granted me a few seconds of lucidity, and then returned to her private world. One reader living with the ailment that will eventually kill her commented that becoming like Mary Ann is her greatest fear.

My “real” moment with aged Mary Ann taught me that she was happy, that where she was it was pleasant. She lived happy memories made more so by a clouded mind. I like to think she rehearsed poems and stories read to her at bedtime. I wish she could have told me specifics.

One way to tell whether we have gotten or grown old is how we think of wheelchairs, walkers, canes, portable oxygen, and handicapped access ramps. We all will need them if we live long enough. Grow old and they are wings allowing us to fly. Get old and they are harnesses dragging heavy loads. Fly or plow, it’s up to you.

Young Grandpa Keith


Though my nights contain sleepless holes I still claim sunrise as mine. Out my Florida window the sun rises above a line of tress beyond the golf course fairway, beyond the pond that supplies water for irrigation, filtered through wispy clouds that change colors in reverse order of the sunset. This morning one of Florida’s towering cumulus thunderheads delayed the sun’s appearance until it reached the required altitude only to fade behind more clouds.

I didn’t notice that the Sand Hill Cranes flew in until they danced and sang at the edge of the pond. The cat came to the sliding doors wanting out on the lanai. I left my chair to accommodate her. The eagle-eyed Cranes saw the movement and half flew/half ran the 200 yards for the first cornfall of the new day. Then I sprinkled some seed, the kind with nuts and bits of dried fruit, on the window ledge for the Blue Jays, Mourning Doves, and a lone Red-bellied Woodpecker who come to dine. That being done, I took a picture.


Now, should I make coffee, go back to my chair, or maybe both?
Young Grandpa Keith

You Gotta Be Kidding

Recently, a co-worker told a friend of mine about the discovery of wooly mammoth fossils in an eroding river bank in southern Iowa—a rare event. Marine fossils abound in the northeast part of the state but no wooly mammoth bones. The co-worker told how he was reporting the find when a listener stopped him. “Those weren’t mammoth bones. There are railroad tracks nearby. Years ago, a circus train stopped to get rid of an old, sick elephant, which wandered to the riverside and died. Those were elephant bones.”

I reconstructed the quote, but the story is true. The elephant isn’t. How do I know?  First, the bones were buried deep, concealed until the river slowly eroded the bank. That took a long time. Second, circus trains began in Ohio in1872.  Iowa’s major city, Des Moines, was incorporated in 1851. How long it took for any Iowa town to attract a major circus is anyone’s guess. Third, University of Iowa paleontologists called to the scene would hardly mistake mammoth bones for an elephant’s maybe a hundred years old.

So where did to story originate? No doubt in the mind of an earnest person seeking to refute evidence for an ancient creation—a blind guess. But maybe I missed something. If anyone can document the elephant story, the Hole News will gladly print it, and I will apologize for doubting.

Bones are on my mind these days. The next Hole News will display the covers of memoir book six. You’ll see the tooth that got me in trouble along with huge mammoth fossils framing my father’s old Bible. How Do You Know That’s a Tooth? goes to Arrow Printing on Monday.

Northlanders, mark your calendar. Sunday evening, November 9, at 6:30,  Emmanuel Baptist, Duluth, will host a raucous campmeeting sing led by Kevin and his twelve string backed by accordions, fiddles, singers, and Grandpa Lloyd’s heavenly harmonica. Every family present will get the new book.

My next Hole News will tell you how to get your copy.

Old Grandpa Lloyd



Humble and Proud

Hooray for Evolution! I did it again. My September 17 Hole News title unsettled some readers. By now you should know I do that on purpose. We need unsettling. You should also know I don’t hew to the party line for “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day” (1 Timothy 1:12).

With all my heart I believe in God Jesus, who died, rose, and ever lives to make intercession for me. He alone holds authority. He did not delegate his authority to any person, church, or assemblage of doctrines; not even to the Bible, which inevitably is filtered through translators and interpreters.

In my early years I dared not questions my immediate Church Fathers, not even when they disagreed substantially with ancient Church Fathers. I am grateful God gave me a brain to ponder with, to weigh evidence, and reach conclusions. I am also grateful for the fairly recent gift of humility; proud of it. Proud because I no longer have to be right, but I do have to be honest.

My creed begins with mystery and moves to utter dependence on the sovereign grace of Creator God. Tradition and rebuke no longer intimidate me. I am brother to all earnest seekers after truth and a listening friend to all, especially those who hold views contrary to mine. I only ask them to extend the same spirit to me.

I deplore the mindset that assumes its viewpoint to be absolute truth then builds its defense on that viewpoint.  “Well, God could to that,” says nothing. The issue is: what did God do based on evidence at hand.

I am an old-earth creationist. Time is of no consequence to Eternal God. Got created all there is from the energy of his power and glory. Science studies what God did; Christians ponder who God is. Creation is ongoing, moving toward the consummation when God Jesus returns to usher in a new heaven and earth on his schedule and in his manner of working.

I believe the Bible records God’s dealings with mankind. He gave the story; man gave the words. Their meaning is what they meant to the first readers. The spiritual principles are timeless.

Jesus is God’s story, his Inerrant Word interpreted to our hearts by the Holy Spirit as we ponder the written word. If you think otherwise, God bless you. You may be right.

Old Grandpa Lloyd


Morning Has Broken

Why say morning has broken? You’d think it burst into being at the flip of a switch. I’ve witnessed the arrival of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of mornings and everyone has oozed into being, except when I dozed off briefly and the sun snuck above the horizon while my eyes were closed. Perhaps the idea of morning breaking so abruptly originated with a fellow that lived behind heavily draped windows who slept well past sunrise and then threw the curtains aside letting in light already hours old. That is daybreak of a sort, but it’s an illusion, albeit a nice one.

I don’t wish to take away from the wonderful hymn, Morning is Broken, by Eleanor Farjeon. It demands to be sung with all the joy we can muster. The fact that morning emerges gradually from darkness doesn’t diminish those special moments when it seems the world has, indeed, suddenly awakened.

Once in Greek class the professor was explaining the subtle difference between two verb tenses. He knew I was missing the point because he asked me. No one else was in the dark, so he walked up to me, looked me in the eye and reviewed the relevant material. He asked again. I still didn’t have it. He went over it again and again until I understood. It felt like light had suddenly dawned and I could see. Finally, morning had broken.

So, I was wrong. Morning does, after all, break; not with the first hint of eastern light but when I finally throw back the drapes or, better, step outside and enjoy it. 

Young Grandpa Keith

No iPhone, Yet

I don’t know what to think about iPhones. I don’t have one yet. I’m not bragging. I just don’t see the point. I’m already the object of pity for those close to me for the time I spend at my computer. At least I don’t carry one around with me and look at it every time it makes a noise and, like Pavlov’s dog who just heard a bell ring, look to see the latest tweet someone sent.

I just watched a video of the line queued up in New York to buy the newest iPhone. It took the cameraman more than six minutes to walk to the end. I have no idea how many hundreds of people were there. They looked joyless though determined, like heroin addicts lined up for methadone shots. Nearly all of them already clutched a smart phone, probably the “old” version of the iPhone, in their permanently curled fingers.

I’d be more than a little embarrassed to be seen in such a line. I don’t go anywhere near the stores on Black Friday either. I admit to browsing covetously online for the latest updated version of my camera. But, unless I experience an improbable streak of affluence I’ll go on coveting.

iPhone owners should not care what I think. I suspect that by not having one, or any of its cousins, I only prove that I am old, or a pathological loner who waits until he gets home to find that he has no messages.

Young Grandpa Keith

Watch Your Mouth

Welcome to Susan Kline, today’s guest writer. Susan contributes regularly to my favorite morning devotional, Fresh Start.  To get the daily email, contact tracy at oakwoodnow dot org.  (To foil phishers, we no long print links.) I tightened Susan’s copy a tad to fit Hole News space.”Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person” Colossians 4:6 (NIV).Growing up, did you ever hear your mother say, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”? Wise woman! I think in our culture’s pursuit of “freedom of speech,” we’ve let go of that old adage. Our words can be soothing balm or stabbing pain. Like toothpaste, once out of the tube, words can never be put back!

Proverbs teaches a lot about words. When used appropriately, they can be pleasant as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and healing to the bone. When aptly spoken, they are like apples of gold in settings of silver. We are also told a gentle answer turns away wrath and the tongue of the wise commends knowledge. However, Scripture also warns: misused words can pierce like a sword or stir up anger; the Lord detests lying lips; the mouth of a fool gushes folly; a gossip betrays a confidence. We are to avoid one who talks too much.

James thought the tongue of such importance that he devoted most of his book’s third chapter to it. He validates that none of us is perfect, that we all stumble with words. He compares our tongue with a horse’s bit and a ship’s rudder. Though small, the bit controls the whole horse and the rudder steers the whole ship. Likewise the tongue. If used improperly, it can corrupt the whole person, or set the whole course of life on fire.

So how are we to avoid the calamity of loose lips or stinging words? By guarding our tongues. First by taking each thought captive to see if it is pure or poison; then by being slow to speak. Generally, when we speak too quickly, we get ourselves into big trouble.

Let’s practice our mother’s advice and use our words to build each other up. Then we will bring glory and honor to our Heavenly Father.

Thanks, Susan; and thanks for blessing me often in Fresh Bread.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Free Blueberry Danish

In seminary my Old Testament professor assigned a 900 word paper on a topic I don’t remember. I did the research and wrote the paper without regard to any set number of words. I was generally aware that a double-spaced typed page with one inch margins contains about 300 words. My effort was just over two and a half pages, but it was all I knew on the subject. I might have widened the margins a bit or gone back and replaced some of the unnecessary words I crossed out of the original draft, or used my old upright pica typewriter rather than my elite type portable to make it appear longer, but it was by then the wee hours of the morning and the paper was due by 8:00 AM.

When I got the paper back there were small red marks throughout and tally marks in the margins. The professor had counted and found 904 words. He wrote at the bottom of the third page that my paper barely met the assignment’s requirements and gave me an A-. Later in the coffee shop (Coffee Shop was my major.) I sidled up to the professor who was studying the selection of pastries. I asked him if I brought in the 150 or so words I had eliminated from my first draft would he change my grade to an A. He said no and bought me a blueberry Danish to have with my coffee.

Young Grandpa Keith

Hooray for Evolution

Some people consider evolution a dirty word associated with Charles Darwin, about whom they know little. I never met a vocal anti-evolutionist who had read The Origin of Species or a serious account of Darwin’s life. I’m here to defend evolution, because I am evolving, undergoing gradual change. That’s all the word means.

Physically, I’m devolving. Ninety-one years will do that. Mentally and spiritually, I’m  growing and changing day by day, evolving.

The seeds of my evolution sprouted early. “A Kid’s-Eye View of the Bible” (new memoir book) tells about that. I’m slower of step when I walk to the store, but my mind is agile as ever when I hunt out the library. The mind doesn’t age, providing the brain remains sound same with the soul, our forever part. How do mind and soul relate? I’ll bring that up next time I coffee with the Sage of Juniata Street.

My  theology keeps devolving, growing simpler and simpler. I know much less than I used to. Once I had answers to questions not yet asked, and woe to those who disagreed with me. Then, from somewhere, the thought slipped in: What made me so cocksure I was right? The answer disturbed me. I had simply bought my tribe’s beliefs, equating them with Bible truth. One day I dared to sneak out my box and consider to the world beyond. I read books without our popes’ imprimatur (we had several). Fresh encounters jarred me from theological my footings and I found fresh air outside.

I not anchored my soul not in dogma but in Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith. I swapped for-sures for what-ifs and rewrote my credo with Mystery heading the list. Utter reliance of the sovereign grace of Creator God comes second. My model: Jesus of Nazareth.  My kingdom assignment: the next person I meet.

But God did not whoosh me to my new life; it evolved over 91 years. And God did not whoosh the universe into its present form. It took shape step by step, following the Creator’s built-in plan. That’s what the Genesis story teaches.

Hooray for evolution, God’s modus operandi.

Old Grandpa Lloyd