Citizenship U.S. Civics Test

The test contains a bank of 100 questions. They are in the areas of government, history, and integrated civics. The test questions follow.

American Government (Questions 1-57)

American History (Questions 58-87)

Integrated Civics (Questions 88-100)


  1. What is the supreme law of the land?

The Constitution

  1. What does the Constitution do?

Sets Up The Government

Defines The Government

Protects Basic Rights Of Americans

  1. The idea of self-government is in the first three words of the Constitution. What are these words?

We The People

  1. What is an amendment?

A Change (To The Constitution)

An Addition (To The Constitution)

  1. What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution?

The Bill Of Rights

  1. What is one right or freedom from the First Amendment?





Petition The Government

  1. How many amendments does the Constitution have?

Twenty-Seven (27)

  1. What did the Declaration of Independence do?

Announced Our Independence (From Great Britain)

Declared Our Independence (From Great Britain)

Said That The United States Is Free (From Great Britain)

  1. What are two rights in the Declaration of Independence?



Pursuit Of Happiness

  1. What is freedom of religion?

You Can Practice Any Religion, Or Not Practice A Religion

  1. What is the economic system in the United States?

Capitalist Economy

Market Economy

  1. What is the “rule of law”?

Everyone Must Follow The Law

Leaders Must Obey The Law

Government Must Obey The Law

No One Is Above The Law

  1. Name one branch or part of the government.





The Courts



  1. What stops one branch of government from becoming too powerful?

Checks And Balances

Separation Of Powers

  1. Who is in charge of the executive branch?

The President

  1. Who makes federal laws?


Senate And House (Of Representatives)

(U.S. Or National) Legislature

  1. What are the two parts of the U.S. Congress?

The Senate And House (Of Representatives)

  1. How many U.S. Senators are there?

One Hundred (100)

  1. We elect a U.S. Senator for how many years?

Six (6)

  1. Who is one of your state’s U.S. Senators now?

Gary Peters

  1. The House of Representatives has how many voting members?

Four Hundred Thirty-Five (435)

  1. We elect a U.S. Representative for how many years?

Two (2)

  1. Name your U.S. Representative.

Bill Huizenga

  1. Who does a U.S. Senator represent?

All People Of The State

  1. Why do some states have more Representatives than other states?

(Because Of) The State’s Population

(Because) They Have More People

(Because) Some States Have More People

  1. We elect a President for how many years?

Four (4)

  1. In what month do we vote for President?


  1. What is the name of the President of the United States now?

Donald Trump

  1. What is the name of the Vice President of the United States now?

Mike Pence

  1. If the President can no longer serve, who becomes President?

The Vice President

  1. If both the President and the Vice President can no longer serve, who becomes President?

The Speaker Of The House

  1. Who is the Commander in Chief of the military?

The President

  1. Who signs bills to become laws?

The President

  1. Who vetoes bills?

The President

  1. What does the President’s Cabinet do?

Advises The President

  1. What are two Cabinet-level positions?

Attorney General

Vice President

Secretary Of Agriculture

Secretary Of Commerce

Secretary Of Defense

Secretary Of Education

Secretary Of Energy

Secretary Of Health And Human Services

Secretary Of The Interior

Secretary Of Labor

Secretary Of State

Secretary Of Transportation

Secretary Of The Treasury

Secretary Of Veterans Affairs

Secretary Of Homeland Security

Secretary Of Housing And Urban Development

  1. What does the judicial branch do?

Reviews Laws

Explains Laws

Resolves Disputes (Disagreements)

Decides If A Law Goes Against The Constitution

  1. What is the highest court in the United States?

The Supreme Court

  1. How many justices are on the Supreme Court?

Nine (9)

  1. Who is the Chief Justice of the United States now?

John Roberts

  1. Under our Constitution, some powers belong to the federal government. What is one power of the federal government?

To Print Money

To Declare War

To Create An Army

To Make Treaties

  1. Under our Constitution, some powers belong to the states. What is one power of the states?

Provide Schooling And Education

Provide Protection (Police)

Provide Safety (Fire Departments)

Give A Driver’s License

Approve Zoning And Land Use

43. Who is the Governor of your state now?

Rick Snyder

  1. What is the capital of your state?


  1. What are the two major political parties in the United States?

Democratic And Republican

  1. What is the political party of the President now?


  1. What is the name of the Speaker of the House of Representatives now?

Paul Ryan

  1. There are four amendments to the Constitution about who can vote. Describe one of them.

Citizens Eighteen (18) And Older (Can Vote)

You Don’t Have To Pay (A Poll Tax) To Vote

Any Citizen Can Vote. (Women And Men Can Vote.)

A Male Citizen Of Any Race (Can Vote)

  1. What is one responsibility that is only for United States citizens?

Serve On A Jury

Vote In A Federal Election

  1. Name one right only for United States citizens.

Vote In A Federal Election

Run For Federal Office

  1. What are two rights of everyone living in the United States?

Freedom Of Expression

Freedom Of Speech

Freedom Of Assembly

Freedom To Petition The Government

Freedom Of Religion

The Right To Bear Arms

  1. What do we show loyalty to when we say the Pledge of Allegiance?

The United States

The Flag

  1. What is one promise you make when you become a United States citizen?

Give Up Loyalty To Other Countries

Defend The Constitution And Laws Of The United States

Obey The Laws Of The United States

Serve In The U.S. Military (If Needed)

Serve (Do Important Work For) The Nation (If Needed)

Be Loyal To The United States

  1. How old do citizens have to be to vote for President?

Eighteen (18) And Older

  1. What are two ways that Americans can participate in their democracy?


Join A Political Party

Help With A Campaign

Join A Civic Group

Join A Community Group

Give An Elected Official Your Opinion on Issue

Call Senators And Representatives

Publicly Support Or Oppose An Issue Or Policy

Run For Office

Write To A Newspaper

  1. When is the last day you can send in federal income tax forms?

April 15

  1. When must all men register for the Selective Service?

At Age Eighteen (18)

Between Eighteen (18) And Twenty-Six (26)


  1. What is one reason colonists came to America?


Political Liberty

Religious Freedom

Economic Opportunity

Practice Their Religion

Escape Persecution

  1. Who lived in America before the Europeans arrived?

American Indians

Native Americans

  1. What group of people was taken to America and sold as slaves?


People From Africa

  1. Why did the colonists fight the British?

Because Of High Taxes (Taxation Without Representation)

Because The British Army Stayed In Their Houses (Boarding, Quartering)

Because They Didn’t Have Self-Government

  1. Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?

Thomas Jefferson

  1. When was the Declaration of Independence adopted?

July 4, 1776

  1. There were 13 original states. Name three.

New Hampshire


Rhode Island


New York

New Jersey





North Carolina

South Carolina


  1. What happened at the Constitutional Convention?

The Constitution Was Written

The Founding Fathers Wrote The Constitution

  1. When was the Constitution written?


  1. The Federalist Papers supported the passage of the U.S. Constitution. Name one of the writers.

James Madison

Alexander Hamilton

John Jay


  1. What is one thing Benjamin Franklin is famous for?

U.S. Diplomat

Oldest Member Of The Constitutional Convention

First Postmaster General Of The United States

Writer Of “Poor Richard’s Almanac”

Started The First Free Libraries

  1. Who is the “Father of Our Country”?

George Washington

  1. Who was the first President?

George Washington

  1. What territory did the United States buy from France in 1803?

The Louisiana Territory


  1. Name one war fought by the United States in the 1800s.

War Of 1812

Mexican-American War

Civil War

Spanish-American War

  1. Name the U.S. war between the North and the South.

The Civil War

The War Between The States

  1. Name one problem that led to the Civil War.


Economic Reasons

States’ Rights

  1. What was one important thing that Abraham Lincoln did?

Freed The Slaves (Emancipation Proclamation)

Saved (Or Preserved) The Union

Led The United States During The Civil War

  1. What did the Emancipation Proclamation do?

Freed The Slaves

Freed Slaves In The Confederacy

Freed Slaves In The Confederate States

Freed Slaves In Most Southern States

  1. What did Susan B. Anthony do?

Fought For Women’s Rights

Fought For Civil Rights

  1. Name one war fought by the United States in the 1900s.

World War I

World War II

Korean War

Vietnam War

(Persian) Gulf War

  1. Who was President during World War I?

Woodrow Wilson

  1. Who was President during the Great Depression and World War II?

Franklin Roosevelt

  1. Who did the United States fight in World War II?

Japan, Germany, And Italy

  1. Before he was President, Eisenhower was a general. What war was he in?

World War II

  1. During the Cold War, what was the main concern of the United States?


  1. What movement tried to end racial discrimination?

Civil Rights (Movement)

  1. What did Martin Luther King, Jr. do?

Fought For Civil Rights

Worked For Equality For All Americans

  1. What major event happened on September 11, 2001, in the United States?

Terrorists Attacked The United States

  1. Name one American Indian tribe in the United States.
























  1. Name one of the two longest rivers in the United States.

Missouri River

Mississippi River

  1. What ocean is on the West Coast of the United States?

Pacific Ocean

  1. What ocean is on the East Coast of the United States?

Atlantic Ocean

  1. Name one U.S. territory.

Puerto Rico

U.S. Virgin Islands

American Samoa

Northern Mariana Islands


  1. Name one state that borders Canada.


New Hampshire


New York





North Dakota





  1. Name one state that borders Mexico.



New Mexico


  1. What is the capital of the United States?

Washington, D.C

  1. Where is the Statue of Liberty?

New York (Harbor)

Liberty Island

  1. Why does the flag have 13 stripes?

Because There Were 13 Original Colonies

Because The Stripes Represent The Original Colonies

  1. Why does the flag have 50 stars?

Because There Is One Star For Each State

Because Each Star Represents A State

Because There Are 50 States

  1. What is the name of the national anthem?

The Star-Spangled Banner

  1. When do we celebrate Independence Day?

July 4 

  1. Name two national U.S. holidays

New Year’s Day

Presidents’ Day

Memorial Day

Independence Day

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Labor Day

Columbus Day

Veterans Day




Citizenship Reading and Writing Vocabulary Lists

Reading Vocabulary List

People: Places: Holidays: Question words:
Abraham Lincoln

George Washington


United States


Presidents’ Day

Memorial Day

Flag Day

Independence Day

Labor Day

Columbus Day









Civics: Verbs: Other (function): Other (content):
American flag

Bill of Rights






Father of Our Country






White House























dollar bill










Sample Reading Sentences

Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves.

Alaska is the largest U.S. state.

Citizens can vote.

George Washington was the first president.

Lincoln was the President during the Civil War.

The President lives in the White House.

The President of the United States is elected by the people.

The White House is in Washington D.C.

There are 100 senators in the US Senate.

Washington is on the dollar bill.

Washington is the father of our Nation.

Writing Vocabulary List

People: Places: Months: Holidays:








New York City

United States


Washington, D.C.








Presidents’ Day

Memorial Day

Flag Day

Independence Day

Labor Day

Columbus Day



Civics: Verbs: Other (function): Other (content):
American Indians



Civil War


Father of Our Country



freedom of speech





White House






















dollar bill







one hundred/100







Sample Writing Sentences

Alaska is the largest U.S. state.

Citizens can vote.

Columbus Day is in October.

Washington was the first president.

Independence Day is in July.

Lincoln was the President during the Civil War.

Thanksgiving is in November.

The White House is in Washington D.C.

Washington is on the dollar bill.

Washington is the father of our Nation.


Getting Started with Becoming a Citizen

Getting Started

Begin with resources from the following web site:

This site provides the N-400, Application for Naturalization and other forms

Three additional links will help to prepare for questions during the naturalization interview. The text from these links is below.

What To Expect at Your Naturalization Interview

  1. You will meet with a USCIS [United States Citizenship and Immigration Services] officer and answer questions about your Form N-400.
  1. You will take the English and Civics Tests (unless exempt).


Reading Vocabulary List + Sample Reading Sentences; Writing Vocabulary List + Sample Writing Sentences

Civics Test Questions

American Government

American History

Integrated Civics

  1. USCIS will provide you with a notice of interview results following your interview.

Note: In some cases, the USCIS officer will not be able to make a decision on your Form N-400 the day of your naturalization interview. In those cases, the USCIS officer will continue your case. This may include a request for you to provide additional evidence or require a second interview.



La La Leadership

If it does anything, La La Land (the movie) boldly promotes dreaming and foolishness in pursuing life-direction.

Mia’s audition song, The Fools Who Dream (excerpts below) reminds me of the many wild and wonderful ministry leaders I have known over the years and the crazy things they (and sometimes we) have done in seeking to advance the cause of Christ and His Kingdom.

Parts of The Fools Who Dream go like this.

Here’s to the ones who dream.

Foolish, as they may seem.

Here’s to the hearts that ache.

Here’s to the mess we make…  

So bring on the rebels.

The ripples from pebbles.

The painters, and poets, and plays.

And here’s to the fools who dream.

Crazy, as they may seem .

Here’s to the hearts that break.

Here’s to the mess we make.

For a YouTube sample, click here.

From the perspective of having a biblical rational for a unique style of ministry leadership, we can even identify “foolishness” and “dreaming” Bible passages on which to dwell.

“I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams… (Acts 2:17)

“God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe…” (1 Cor. 1:21),

“We are fools for Christ’s sake… (1 Cor. 4:10),

There are many characteristics to look for in ministry leaders, including such things as passion, love, integrity, persistence, and flexibility. I vote for adding dreaming and foolishness to the list.

Travel Maxims

We recently returned from a Caribbean cruise. Incredible, as usual. The ship was the Royal Princess. There were many fascinating features to this craft. One that captured our attention was the sayings or maxims on the floor mats in the elevators.

I took pictures of most of them, sometimes including the feet of others in the elevator. To spare you from looking as cruisers’ feet and awkward photo angles, here they are.

Those that travel far know much.

There are seven seas but infinite possibilities.

It’s not just where you look, it’s what you see.

A great voyage is a journey that never ends.

Until you’ve traveled, you haven’t lived.

Even the shortest journey expands the world.

Whatever you pack, there’s always room for memories.

Measure a journey by the friends you discover.

No matter what happens, travel gives you a story to tell.

The value of travel is the baggage you leave behind.

You return from a trip, but not from a true journey.

Reflecting on these sayings leads me to reflect on some Bible quotes that are worth taking with us on our journeys. Here are a few.

The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. Psalm 121:8 ESV

If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. Psalm 139:9-10 ESV

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 ESV

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” Isaiah 6:8 ESV

Planning a Cruise

Occasionally friends ask me for advice about planning a cruise. Because it is one of our favorite ways to vacation, I’ve summarized the process below.

Pick an approximate date, length of cruise, location, departure/return port

Check ship options and prices on at least two sites. I often use: Vacations to Go: they have a 90 day ticker and Travelocity:

Contact a travel agent. When we have a pretty good idea of the cruise for which we are looking, I contact our travel agent and ask her to check it out and give us pricing and stateroom options, or suggest a different cruise. We are almost always looking for the best price on a stateroom with a balcony. Our travel agent is Elaine Braunius, my sister in law , Directravel – 201-847-2303-office direct line, 1-800-223-0599 Ext. 14117.

Related issues. After deciding on the cruise, I discuss some of the remaining options with Elaine. These may include:

Stateroom location: I Google the name of the ship and the words “deck plans.”

Trip insurance: I almost always get it through the travel agency.

Transfers from the airport to the ship and from the ship to the airport. We most often travel a day in advance and stay at a hotel that provides free shuttle service from the airport to the hotel and (when possible) from the hotel to the ship. At the end of the cruise, we buy a transfer from the ship to the airport. The transfers issue is a matter of preference. I often make my own arrangements.

Air travel: I make our reservations myself.

Hotel: We arrive the day before the cruise. I make the reservation myself.

Shore excursions: We usually make reservations online several weeks before the cruise. This is because the most popular ones can fill up fast.

Dining: Totally a matter of preference. We like to request a table for 2 with early seating. It is often necessary to go to the dining room soon after getting on board to confirm or request the desired table size.

Psalm for a New Year

In preparation for leading a family devotional time, I wrote the following paraphrase of Psalm 23.

Jesus Christ is the Lord of my life and as one of his followers I have everything that I need.

He leads me into pleasant places, gives me an indescribable sense of peace, and guides me through each step of life’s journey.

Even though I may experience times of loss, brokenness, and darkness, I will not be afraid or allow it to cause me to deviate from the direction of life that God desires for me.

As in the past, I know that you are with me. Your word and spirit and the encouragement of other Christ-followers brings me comfort and hope.

You, Lord, provide refreshment and renewal, right before my eyes.

Even though I may be in the surrounded by those who would drag me down or even abuse me. I am blessed with strength and resources that are far beyond what I would ever have asked or imagined.

With assurance I can say that your goodness, faithfulness and love will be with me during each day of the coming year, and even beyond that, you have promised to be with me forever. Amen.


GED Science Curriculum

Minnesota Literacy Council GED Science Curriculum

The curriculum features 47 lessons divided into three units which represent the areas of scientific study covered in the GED Science subject test (Earth and Space Science, Life Science and Physical Science). Another small unit includes a lesson on the Scientific Method and corresponding classroom experiment lesson.  An overview of the curriculum and extra lesson on probability and scientific notation on the GED Science exam are also provided, along with this menu of videos included in the lessons outlined in the grid below.

1.2 Atmosphere Greenhouse Effect Video
1.5 Earth and Its Structure Earth Structure Video
1.7 The Structure of the Cosmos Evidence for the Big Bang Theory Video
2.1 Physical Science Introduction What Is Matter? Video
2.2 Atoms and Molecules Basic Atomic Structure Video
2.16 Energy Transfer Transfer of Energy Video
2.17 Law of Conservation of Energy Law of Conservation of Energy Video
3.1 Scientific Method Scientific Method Video
4.3 Reproduction and Meiosis Reproduction and Meiosis Video
4.4 Mitosis and DNA DNA Extraction Experiment Video
4.5 Traits and Genes Using a Punnett Square Video
4.8 Darwin and Evolution Evolution Video
4.11 Photosynthesis and Respiration Photosynthesis and Respiration Video
4.12 Nitrogen and Water Cycles Nitrogen Cycle Video

The above content is from the Minnesota Literacy Council web site.






This post is a record of the emails and posts from 2015 about the discovery and treatment of my colon cancer. As I write this, we thank God that I have been in remission for a little over a year.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


This is the month when we celebrate Thanksgiving Day, and today for Marlene and me is a special day for giving thanks. We met with Dr. Batts, our oncologist, this morning for the results of my CT scan, which followed my final regimen of chemotherapy. His words included phrases like: “the scan showed nothing suspicious,” “there is no evidence of cancer,” and “the cancer is in remission.” We thank God for this good news and thank you for your prayers and other expressions of support.

The next steps are to get lab work done in three month intervals and have a CT scan in six months.

We share the following devotional from Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) as an expression of our thanksgiving.

“I will praise thee, O Lord.” 

Psalms 9:1

Praise should always follow answered prayer; as the mist of earth’s gratitude rises when the sun of heaven’s love warms the ground. Hath the Lord been gracious to thee, and inclined his ear to the voice of thy supplication? Then praise him as long as thou livest. Let the ripe fruit drop upon the fertile soil from which it drew its life. Deny not a song to him who hath answered thy prayer and given thee the desire of thy heart. To be silent over God’s mercies is to incur the guilt of ingratitude; it is to act as basely as the nine lepers, who after they had been cured of their leprosy, returned not to give thanks unto the healing Lord. To forget to praise God is to refuse to benefit ourselves; for praise, like prayer, is one great means of promoting the growth of the spiritual life. It helps to remove our burdens, to excite our hope, to increase our faith.

It is a healthful and invigorating exercise which quickens the pulse of the believer, and nerves him for fresh enterprises in his Master’s service. To bless God for mercies received is also the way to benefit our fellow-men; “the humble shall hear thereof and be glad.” Others who have been in like circumstances shall take comfort if we can say, “Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together; this poor man cried, and the Lord heard him.” Weak hearts will be strengthened, and drooping saints will be revived as they listen to our “songs of deliverance.” Their doubts and fears will be rebuked, as we teach and admonish one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. They too shall “sing in the ways of the Lord” when they hear us magnify his holy name. Praise is the most heavenly of Christian duties. The angels pray not, but they cease not to praise both day and night; and the redeemed, clothed in white robes, with palm-branches in their hands, are never weary of singing the new song, “Worthy is the Lamb.”

1) Psalm 34:2

2) Psalm 34:3, 6

3) Psalm 32:7

4) Psalm 138:5

5) Revelation 5:17



Monday, October 12, 2015


I’ve been blessed by having two weeks off from chemotherapy treatments. And, they have been a great two weeks, especially the second week. There were very few side effects during the second week, only a little fatigue. During week two, we traveled to New Jersey for the wedding of our nephew Greg Braunius and to Chicago for a Commissioned Pastor Advisory Team meeting. In addition, my appetite has been good and I’ve been able to be active in some Church Leadership Center meetings and a variety of projects around the house.

While thankful for the blessings of travel and work, I’m especially blessed by a caring family, church, and medical community. Tomorrow begins what is planned to be the final three weeks of chemotherapy.  The chemo should be followed by a CT scan. Our hope is that the CT scan will show no evidence of cancer. I look forward to updating you in about four weeks.

The song “Blessings” by Laura Story has been good for me recently. The words are below. Click on the following link for the Youtube video.

We pray for blessings

We pray for peace

Comfort for family, protection while we sleep

We pray for healing, for prosperity

We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering

All the while, You hear each spoken need

Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops

What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom

Your voice to hear

And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near

We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love

As if every promise from Your Word is not enough

All the while, You hear each desperate plea

And long that we’d have faith to believe

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops

What if Your healing comes through tears

What if a thousand sleepless nights

Are what it takes to know You’re near

And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us

When darkness seems to win

We know the pain reminds this heart

That this is not, this is not our home

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops

What if Your healing comes through tears

And what if a thousand sleepless nights

Are what it takes to know You’re near

What if my greatest disappointments

Or the aching of this life

Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy

And what if trials of this life

The rain, the storms, the hardest nights

Are Your mercies in disguise



Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Next Steps: From Glory to Glory

We had a consultation with Dr. Batts yesterday. This followed a week in which I was receiving hydration and potassium infusions every day, either at the Cancer Center or Holland Hospital. Our conversation with Dr. Batts focused on next steps for my cancer treatment. Because I was only able to tolerate 3 of the 6 scheduled chemo treatments, the final two treatments have been cancelled.

We will now take two weeks off for recuperation before resuming treatments: 3 weeks on, 2 weeks off, 3 weeks on. That tentative schedule begins on September 8 and ends on October 26.

The doctor said that he feels that Burt’s cancer was pretty aggressive, and without any further treatment it could easily recur. Hopefully, the next two weeks will result in increasing stamina and appetite, with lessening of the side effects of the latest chemo buildup.

That’s the latest at this point in our journey. We continue to be grateful for the medical community and the faith community, who are our staunch companions on the way! In fact, the level of care that I have been receiving has caused me to focus on the biblical phrase, “from glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18). The full Scripture verse reads, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

Being hooked up to IV bags, pumps, and heart monitors does not seem very glorious. But there is even a beauty to the experiences of this life. There is a glory to cleanliness, compassionate nurses and doctors, caring family and friends, and treatments that fight sickness, brokenness, and discomfort.

There is great hope in knowing that this glory of the present is a foundation and preparation for an even greater glory that is to come. Though we may struggle with some aspects of the present, join me in celebrating lives that are moving from glory to glory.



Monday, July 20, 2015

Moving Forward With Confidence

This is a brief update to my last blog. That blog talked about dealing with conflicting recommendations from our medical oncologists. We have decided to move forward with the course prescribed by our local oncologist, Dr. Batts. This will involve weekly chemotherapy infusions for six weeks, then two weeks off, and then six more weekly treatments.

Even though there are pros and cons for differing approaches, we proceed with confidence. Note however, our hope and confidence transcends that which is offered by the medical community. Following is my paraphrase of the writing of Thomas a Kempis on the topic of confidence.

In you, O Lord God, I place my whole hope and refuge; on you I rest my suffering and sorrow; for I find my life to be frail and fragile; however, I continue to hold on to you.  

Many have offered to help: loyal friends, caring councilors, and compassionate pastors. However, unless you assist, help, strengthen, counsel, instruct, and guard; everyone’s good intentions will fall far short.

You, O Lord, are the culmination of all that is good, the height of life, the depth of all that can be spoken. To hope in you is my strongest comfort. 

To you, therefore, I lift up my eyes; in you, the Father of mercies, do I put my trust. Protect and keep me from the dangers, difficulties, and diseases of this corruptible life. 

By your grace, direct me along the way of hope and peace in this life and in the journey toward being at home with you in the place of everlasting brightness and joy.



Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Certainty of Uncertainty

Some may remember that today was our scheduled visit to the University of Michigan Cancer Center. We had appointments with two doctors. The first was with my surgeon, Dr. Nathan, for a one month surgery follow-up. The second was with Dr. Veenstra, a medical oncologist, to discuss chemotherapy options.

Dr. Nathan affirmed good progress with post-surgery healing. I can now drive, and I did so for most of the way home from Ann Arbor. I like being in the driver’s seat. It is necessary to wait the normal two more weeks before lifting objects over five pounds. In all areas of life, I like heavy lifting, and I look forward to the physical stuff.

Dr. Veenstra discussed chemotherapy options with us. She first reviewed the recommended approach of our Holland doctor, Dr. Batts. Then she laid out four different protocols and described the rationale for her own preference. Her approach seems more intense than that of Dr. Batts. Because of the differences between the two doctors, we need further discussion with Dr. Batts. I will update this blog after we meet with Dr. Batts on Monday.

Experiencing the differences between the two doctors has helped us to appreciate the importance of being able to live with uncertainty. The norm should be: accept uncertainty while being certain about who God is, who we are, and how we should live. There is strength for facing an uncertain future in the words of Jesus:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:25-34 [NIV]).



Monday, June 22, 2015

I Don’t Care !?!

I don’t care. There seem to be experiences, feelings, and thoughts about which, to a degree, I don’t care…. and yet, at the same time, to a degree, I do care. And, there are moments when caring and not caring appear to be present, side by side, overlapped, and paradoxically integrated.

Before going further, the BIG news is that I was discharged from University of Michigan Hospital Cancer Center today. Whoo! Hoo! We left at around 11:30 AM and Marlene got us home by 2:30 PM. How sweet!

While the surgery was major (liver resection and gall bladder removal), God was with us in so many ways, making this an amazingly successful process. I am still in the early stages of recovery and ask for your continued prayers dealing with nausea, fatigue, and the return of normal digestive functions. Thank you for caring about these things as Marlene and I continue on this journey.

Now for a few thoughts about caring and not caring.

There were a couple of days when I felt so badly that I didn’t care that family members and work colleagues had driven three hours to visit me. I just wanted them to leave, and I told them so. How strange… not caring about the caring of caring family and friends. And yet, deep down, I did care but I couldn’t bring myself to accept their expressions of caring. Thank you, friends, for loving me in spite of my weakness.

Not caring, took on another face on Saturday night: this one was a beautiful and blessed surprise. I was walking the halls, doing my exercise laps. Off in the distance was the music of a group singing the hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” Was I imagining this? Was this the sound of Jesus calling me home? I had to know.

As I got closer to the music, it was coming from a patient’s room. About 10 individuals were squeezed in the room singing… nice looking people, men in suits and ties, women in finery. A young man (early 20’s) saw me, stepped out of the room, and said, “We sing to people. Would you like us to come and sing to you?”

This hit me like a tsunami. Of course I’d love you to sing for me. (Is the Pope Catholic?). Moments later they were in my room, singing “Great is they Faithfulness” and having a word of prayer. I cried a little, sang a little, and praised God a lot.

This is where the, “I don’t care” part comes in. On that Saturday night, I didn’t care about the denominational orientation of this group. Their historical, theological characteristics didn’t matter to me. All that mattered was that they loved Jesus and chose to minister to the sick through song and prayer. They were not like people in the churches that I’ve served and, you know, I don’t care.



Tuesday, June 16, 2015

He Did Good

The doctor’s first words to Marlene and Stephen were, “He did good.”  We know that God guided the surgery and the “good” is also in response to the prayers of many.

The surgeon reported that the spot on the liver way very small, so small that he would have missed it if he hadn’t known it was there. The tissue surrounding the spot was all healthy, and an ultrasound of the liver and the rest of the abdomen revealed no additional concerns. The gall bladder was also removed. The previous colon incision showed no scar tissue to cause bowel blockage.

I am already up and walking and freely moving from bed to chair. Pain is very minimal. I am sleeping well and have started on clear liquids.

Many thanks for your continued encouragement and prayers. God did good.



Saturday, June 13, 2015

Ann Arbor and the Promised Land

We now have specific information about my upcoming surgery this coming Monday, the 15th. Our schedule looks like this:

11:30 AM – Check-in at the University of Michigan Cancer Center,

1:30 PM – Surgery for removal of spot on the liver and removal of the gall bladder.

This is a new experience for us. It feels very different to be going out of town for surgery. This is likely because of our lack of familiarity with Ann Arbor and being hours away from supportive family and friends. Our son Stephen will be in the waiting room with Marlene during the surgery. While I’m in the hospital, Marlene is staying at a nearby hotel that provides shuttle service to and from the Cancer Center.

When thinking about going to a new place, I am reminded of the story in Numbers 13. Moses sends twelve spies to explore the promised land of Canaan. When the spies return, all agree that it is a land of milk and honey, a beautiful and bountiful place. However, they are significantly divided in whether or not to possess the land.

Most of the spies said no: “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are… all the people we saw there are of great size… we seemed like grasshoppers” (31-33). Caleb said, yes we can, or in his words, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it” (30).

The story of the spies and the Promised Land reminds me that there are contrasting ways of viewing the challenges that are before us. We can approach these situations from the perspective of fear or of faith. We can see opposition or opportunity. Put me down as a faithful follower of Jesus who is looking forward to a new opportunity for healing and strength.

Many thanks to all who read this for your continued encouragement and prayers.



Friday, June 5, 2015

Working the Plan

This week involved two significant meetings with doctors. The first was on Tuesday, June 2 with Dr. Batts, our oncologist in Holland. We will not be doing anything further with chemotherapy until after liver surgery, and then it is anticipated that the chemo mixture will be adjusted.

The second meeting was yesterday, June 4 with Dr. Nathan, the surgeon at University of Michigan Cancer Center. We have scheduled surgery (removal of a small spot of colon cancer on the liver, as well as removal of the gall bladder) for Monday, June 15 at 10:45 am. This will involve a 5 -8 day stay at the hospital in Ann Arbor.

The plan between now and June 15 is for me to exercise, eat well, rest, and generally build up strength in preparation for the surgery. Talking about eating well, when in Ann Arbor, you should visit Zingermans Deli (422 Detroit Street). They have some of the world’s best sandwiches. We had a Ruben, described as “voted as best in the nation.” It is without peer.

It is wonderful to begin enjoying food again. My taste for Starbucks is also coming back (What would they do without me?!).

This blog seems to be lacking in drama. Perhaps my situation, at this stage, is referred to by the medical community as “unremarkable.” Nonetheless, what I am experiencing is remarkable. And it includes:
-A closer walk with God through Jesus Christ, the Great Physician.
-Deeper relationships with family and friends. Marlene and I celebrate our 49th anniversary on June 9. Our love for one another has grown in ways that were previously unimagined.
-Having a greater understanding of what it means to live one day at a time.
-Appreciation for colleagues who have stepped up to cover areas of responsibility with Church Leadership Center.
-Many evidences of progress and a plan, God willing, for becoming cancer free.



Sunday, May 24, 2015

Up My Nose With A Rubber Hose

“Up My Nose With A Rubber Hose” is one way of thinking about this past week. A more medically correct phrase would be to say that I have been connected to a “nasal – gastric tube.” since Monday night.

Following is an overview of the last several weeks..
– a. Third chemo treatment was administered, May 4 – 6.
– b. When we went in for the fourth chemo treatment on May 18 – 20, I was severely dehydrated and had significant nausea issues. Chemo was cancelled, hydration administered, with directions for continuing hydration. The situation only got worse throughout the day.
– c. At 9:00 PM, Monday evening, the on-call Doctor told us to go directly to the Emergency Room of Holland Hospital. We were  immediately admitted, sent to intensive care, and fitted with a nasal – gastric tube. The tube rapidly released over 3 liters of fluid and I have remained connected.
– d. Since admission on May 18, I have been hooked up to hydration, nutriment, and other “meds in bags.”

Good progress has been made, overall. It is possible that I will have the nasal – gastric tube removed tomorrow and be released.

The next steps are for consultation with the liver surgeon on June 4 and surgery on June 15, both at U-M Cancer Center, Ann Arbor.

We are blessed by your prayers. Remember: The God of the mountains is also the God of the valleys!


Email of April 3, 2015

The email shares with family and friends that an MRI test identifies a liver spot. After a biopsy, the spot is found to be cancerous.

Email of March 17, 2015

We met with my surgeon yesterday. While he affirmed that the surgery went well and I am making a strong and quick recovery, there is the matter of two of the lymph nodes being cancerous. His recommendation was that I see an oncologist. The oncologist had an opening this morning. So, we grabbed the appointment. The results are as follows.
Assuming that all of the cancer has been removed, the doctor would like to follow a plan that, as best as they can determine, ensures that I remain cancer free. If blood work results and a CT scan show that there is no other cancer, I will be on a 6-month chemotherapy regimen every two weeks for a total of 12 treatments starting on March 30. Each treatment will entail one 4-hour in-office treatment, followed by two days of infusion with a pump through a port at home. There is always uncertainty about side effects. We trust that they will be minimal.
I know that God has good things in store for the coming days, weeks, and months and am committed to living and serving faithfully and joyfully as the journey continues.
With thanksgiving,
Email of March 6, 2015
Sincere thanks for your thoughts and prayers during my recent colon surgery. I have experienced God’s healing mercies throughout the process.
The surgery went well. They removed about a third of the colon and 26 related lymph nodes. Lab results show minimal evidence of cancer in the polyp and in two of the lymph nodes that were removed. We are grateful to have caught this development in the very early stages.
My digestive system is beginning to function as it should. It is anticipated that I will be discharged tomorrow, Saturday.
I look forward to phasing back into the fullness and richness of life and service.
With thanksgiving,


Email of January 26, 2015

My Colonoscopy Results


You may recall that I had a colonoscopy screening last week. Dr. Fletter discovered a polyp that was flat and too large to remove during the screening. He biopsied it and met with us this afternoon to discuss the results. It turns out that cancer cells were found to be in the polyp. Responding to this finding requires laparoscopic surgical to remove the polyp, along with a section of the colon. The intent is that if the cancer is spread beyond the polyp to the colon or lymph glands, it will be extracted.

We’ve scheduled the procedure for Tuesday, March 3. It will involve 3 – 5 days of hospitalization at Holland Hospital. Dr. Fletter does about 50 of these a year. We appreciate being able to have him as the surgeon.

Thank you for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers. I am feeling good and plan to continue at full speed. Looking ahead, this does mean that we will not be as able to be as supportive of Dad during the week of March 2 – 7. And, Lord willing, we are still on schedule for enjoying a cruise with Stephen, Lisa, Petra, and James before the surgery (February 14 – 21).

In His hands,




Getting Started


General Learning Guidelines**
1. Find as much joy in the journey as in the destination
2. Create a personal support and accountability group: friends, family, someone who has earned a GED
3. Develop computer literacy: internet search, keyboarding, and word processing skills
4. Sharpen study skills: time and place to study, note taking tools and methods, organizational processes
5. Write down goals and strategies (including a timeline) for completing the GED

Specific GED Guidelines
1. Take diagnostic pretests and identify learning gaps
2. Create a learning plan to fill the gaps
3. Implement the plan until it is completed (take notes about strengths and challenges)
4. Take practice tests
5. Make arrangements at a GED center to take the tests (May be done at the beginning in order to take pretests and practice tests online

Creating a Learning Plan


*Click here to download above as a Word document getting-started

**From the GED Orientation Student Guide of the Minnesota Literacy Council