Monthly Archives: April 2013


I listed to Matthew’s well thought out and just a bit emotional reasons as to why it was incredibly wrong for Greta to leave her nice “church” socks on the front porch. He proceeded to say that if he were the parent that if she continued to ruin her good socks he would have her pay for the next pair of socks.

I simply had one question for Matthew in response – “Just like I make you pay for all of your new pair of jeans because you wear holes in the knees?”

He said he couldn’t help it, he was forced to do it at school. I responded that Greta doesn’t come home with holes in the knees of her pants. Well she’s not in 5th grade! My response, she is in 4th grade as you were last year and you got holes in your knees last year too. There wasn’t much else to say after that.

It seems that Matthew was having trouble with grace and application. Kids are kids. Matthew plays hard and gets holes in the knees of his pants. If I stifle that, what else might I stifle? So we have to iron on some patches, it’s not the end of the world. Greta has a personality of friendliness and giving – so much so that she doesn’t take time to put things away properly before the next act of giving and friendliness. If I stifle that, what else might I stifle?

But to Matthew, he saw the rules in his mind as only applying to Greta. He didn’t see how his judgmental rules would apply to himself as well. I suppose it is the same with adults. We also struggle with grace and application. We only want the rules to apply to others, but we want grace for ourselves. Perhaps Matthew will figure it out eventually. In the meantime, I tell myself that holes in knees and misplaced socks are not the end of the world. At some point in time, Matthew will outgrow wearing out the holes in the knees of his jeans. At some point Greta will “catch on” to the instructions of neatness and tidiness that so far haven’t had the impact we have hoped for. I will keep giving instruction and I will keep giving grace, as God gives it to me.

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Political Courtesy

I am coming clean – I am no fan of “Political Correctness.” There, I’ve said it.

I’m taking it a step further and trying to figure out why it annoys me so much. I’ve finally settled on the reason. Common courtesy is being legislated. At first glance, it would seem that we would all be in favor of common courtesy. If that’s the case, then why do we have to have so many books on manners and classes at places of business? Ask anyone born before 1950 and most likely they will tell you that there is a severe lack of common courtesy.

Now you are scratching your head thinking, but I thought you said political correctness is legislated common courtesy. How can there be no common courtesy anymore if it is being legislated? That’s just it – whose version of common courtesy and exactly what are we legislating? Back in the day, my mom said it wasn’t nice to pick on kids that were different, you were supposed to befriend them. It was called get out of your pathetic comfort zone and learn something about someone else. What is legislated today is if the kid that is different does something mean to you – you have no recourse because you have to be nice to them – it’s the law.

Think about it for a moment. You are an employer that needs tall people for the job because they have to reach tall things (assuming ladders will not work). You can’t discriminate against shorter people because that’s against the law, but you like short people. You just need tall people for this particular job. It’s nothing personal. But thanks to political correctness, everything is personal and everything can be fined now.

Wouldn’t it have been so much easier if we listened to our parents and grandparents when they taught us about common courtesy? You would know not to pick on someone that was different, but if you needed a small person to reach into a small opening, you asked them, without fear of hurting the taller and bigger people. You were nice to everyone, so when it came time for a job to be done, no one took it personal if you didn’t choose them. I believe it is time to get rid of political courtesy and bring it back to common courtesy, taught in the home and spread to the community.

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Stand Up?

A fellow pastor spoke with us about concern he had for our boys. Evidently he heard the appeal at the end of a special week of prayer emphasis at school and didn’t see my boys stand up. Perhaps we should talk to them about it. Hmmm.

First of all, we’ve never encouraged our kids to stand up for an appeal just because it was there. Don’t lie to God. If it’s not in your heart don’t try to look like everyone else so you can pass some sort of people are so judgmental test. Only stand up if you feel God is leading you to do so.

The truth of the matter, I have actually applauded my oldest son for NOT standing up. That’s right. A whole bunch of kids in his class at church, years ago, decided it was time to get baptized. So the pastor called all of them down front, and Michael was the only one who didn’t go, because he hadn’t made that decision yet. So I did what any caring parent should. I told Michael how proud I was of him for not feeling like he had to go down there just because everyone else did. When he did come to that decision, it was amazing. It was in God’s timing and when Michael was ready, not because he felt he had to follow the crowd.

God wants your heart, 100% of the time. An emotional appeal that gets you to make a half hearted commitment – that’s just not what God is looking for. Can He use it? Sure He can, He’s God after all. You can make a somewhat commitment and He can lead you the rest of the way, but it might take longer. Why not just make a full decision for God – when you are ready? Is there any pressure? Well, the way things look, the world can’t put up with too much of the craziness going on, so you might want to think about getting ready a little faster. Just sayin.

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For the Weak

Have you heard this before? “Religion is for the weak.” Or how about this one? “God is for wimps.”

My personal opinion is that people who speak such things do so out of ignorance. Evidently they haven’t taken the time to read the Bible and see whether the God described there is wimpy or weak. A few passages in Revelation talks about Jesus coming back a conquering King with His robe dipped in blood. Sounds like a mighty warrior, not a wimp.

In the Old Testament there are numerous references to God’s mighty right arm. In the book of First Kings, Elijah encounters God in a still small voice. Of course, this was after the mighty wind (think tornado), earthquake and fire that passed by first. One of my favorite verses is in the book of Micah. Chapter 7 verse 8 says, “Do  not rejoice over me, my enemy; When I fall, I will arise; When I sit in darkness, The Lord will be a light to me.” In other words, you haven’t seen the last of me because God never gives up and neither do I. You have been warned.

My new favorite among this caliber of verses is Amos 3:8. “A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken! Who can but prophesy?” I remember being at the Oklahoma City Zoo as a kid and everyone there freezing for an instant. We knew it was safely enclosed, but when that lion roared, you could hear it through the entire zoo and it made the hair stand up on the back of your neck.

Is God loving and merciful? Of course! There are countless stories in the Bible of His great love for us and that is an understatement. Does God show mercy? Of course He does or you and I wouldn’t be here today breathing and taking up oxygen. As Christians, we are called to share the love of God with others. If you’re not sure about whether or not God is strong enough for you, read more about Him. You just might be surprised.


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Earth Domination

Every year on April 22nd, our country celebrates “Earth Day.” At first it seemed like it was a day only for fanatical environmentalists who insisted on uprooting hundreds of native species to save one species that “might” be using that area as a habitat.

Thankfully, most people see Earth Day for what it really is, a day to remember that we have a responsibility to take care of this planet that we call home. Yes, I know, every day is Earth Day. If we only take care of things once a year, we are already doomed. But that doesn’t stop us from having Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day. Yes, it is only one day out of the year, but I sure hope we all call our parents (if still living) more than once a year!

When it comes to taking care of Planet Earth, we have often gotten hung up on the definitions of dominion and domination, or so it seems to me. Dominion refers to a realm, province or kingdom where the leader(s) of that entity was responsible for all who were within its perimeters. It was a responsibility taken seriously. Then there is the way we often view domination – where we are at the top and we got there by climbing over top of everything else that just didn’t measure up and we will do whatever it takes to stay here because on top you have it all and you can do whatever you want. For some strange reason – a lot of people took God’s command in Genesis that man should have dominion over the Earth – to tend it and care for it – for domination – to get whatever we can out of it because we are at the top!

I hope with each passing Earth Day we lean more toward dominion instead of domination. I hope we learn to take care of what there is and what there could be. Does this mean there could be some hard choices ahead? Yes! Everyone knows just about that you can feed many more people by planting a field with produce than you can be using it as pasture to raise meat for consumption. But we don’t use Earth resources wisely – we are on top and we don’t care how we got there we just care about our preferences and staying on top so if I want to raise meat instead of produce than that’s what I’m going to do. This is just one example. There are many tough choices ahead if we are going to practice responsible dominion instead of greedy domination.

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April 19th

I started off this morning googling today’s date in history and then calling my mom. April 19th has a lot of meaning for us.

I was a radio station news director in college when the Branch Davidian Siege is Waco turned deadly. It was on April 19th. My parents came to visit Karl and I a few years later in Illinois to celebrate our big announcement of a coming baby. They decided to stay longer by a day and rearranged some of their doctor appointments they had for April 19th in Oklahoma City. Instead of being in the middle of it, they heard about it on their drive home from our house. Sources linked some of the motive to retaliation for the Waco incident by the bombing of the Federal Building in OKC, which reportedly held some of the ATF records.

April 19th became a day that for a few years after that 1995 explosion, people took extra precautions.

Nothing could prepare us for April 19th, 2003. Dad was far too young to die of brain cancer, but he had put himself through radiation and other treatments to try to stay alive until I could have my third and final child and come to visit. He got to hold baby Greta in his hospice bed. She never got to know him and what an incredible person he was.

So I called my mom today. Told her I was thinking of her and both of us looking forward to seeing Dad again someday. I don’t think we’ll worry about April 19th anymore.

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Of Spirit and Letter

My personal opinion: unless all of your children have the exact same gender and personality – there is no way you can treat your children the same. You may try, but the children will suffer because you aren’t meeting their specific needs. Is it easy? How many ways can I say NO!

Greta would gladly give everything in her lunch just to have the admiration of her friends. If she eats her lunch, she only eats enough until her desire to play at recess takes over.  She would rather not ride her bike in a bike-a-thon and walk beside a friend with a broken chain than go on without the friend. Greta’s world revolves around friends. The boys don’t have that personality. Greta’s lunch has been an issue that we even had to bring up to the teacher. Please don’t let her give away everything in her lunch. She comes home starved. We had to assure Greta that true friends would still be true friends even if she didn’t give them cool things from her lunch. If they are hungry, by all means share and let the teacher know that there is a child with no lunch.

We came up with a simple guideline to help Greta. Pack at least 5 things in your lunch and try to eat your entire lunch. Leave nothing behind. Don’t give it away. Don’t trade wholesome stuff for junk food. Today, Greta saw Matthew with only 4 things in his lunch. She cried unfair. How come he only has 4 things in his lunch. Isn’t he supposed to have 5 things? That guideline was never given to Matthew, because it wasn’t necessary for him.

Greta got tangled up in the letter of the law instead of the spirit of the law. She focused on checking off her list, do I have 5 things in my lunch, instead of the fact that her parents love her very much and want to make sure that she has a nutritious lunch that will help her finish out the day at school.

This is nothing new. Jesus ran into the same problem. He dealt with a bunch of folks more concerned with checking items off of the list than getting to the heart of the matter. They couldn’t see that God created us to have abundant lives and that’s exactly what He wants for us. He gives guidelines to help us get to that understanding.

Greta is off to school and I will pray that God gives us guidance on how to communicate to this ADEM child that the real issue is we love her and want her to have a nutritious lunch that will benefit her.

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Mom’s Beauty

I saw a clip from Dove’s campaign on real beauty sketches. When it became clear that women were being asked to describe their features to a sketch artist – I knew what would happen. For some reason we women like to pick out our worst features and dwell on them as if we are some horrible beastly representations of humanity.

I had a huge gap between my two front teeth. Once in high school a guy told me he could stick a pencil between my two front teeth, so I’m not exaggerating here. But at church one day, I got a letter from a woman who was visiting for a few weeks and only spoke Spanish. She had someone help her write the letter and she basically said she knew we couldn’t talk to each other, but each week she looked forward to my smile. She said I always treated her with a smile and friendliness  even though we couldn’t speak each others’ language. I still had a huge gap between my two front teeth, but this woman saw the real me.

I’ll admit, my own mother has a hard time seeing her inner and outer beauty. Is she a fashion model? No, she doesn’t airbrush herself. Does she wear a business suit? No, she comes in casual clothes, like the ones she wore to clean the private school my kids attended – to help pay their tuition. She has warm welcoming eyes so you know she means it when she says come on in. Her smile can sometimes be mischievous, so you know that she isn’t afraid to have fun. She has an ample bosom to comfort even the most fussy child – she has held the babies of complete strangers who needed a hand and mom quickly volunteered. That’s who she is.

My mom is beautiful!

Enjoy the link below


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Just When You Think

My two youngest children are participating in a bike-a-thon for their school today. We are trying to train them to do some of their own fundraising and I suggested a particular name to Matthew. He asked for the phone number and I dialed it for him then handed him the phone. I heard the sweetest thing from him.

Mrs. T., this is Matthew. I was wondering if you would sponsor me and my sister for the bike-a-thon tomorrow.

Just when you think that your kids will never learn to work together, play together or figure out a way to get along before they are adults, this happens. Me and my sister. At the family breakfast table this morning, I shared the story with my husband who had been at a board meeting last night. The story melted his heart too.

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The Squeeze

Greta has shoes. This should come as no surprise since she is a “foo foo” loving girl who resides in fun country with friends because there is no better place to be. Greta’s shoes are like the crumbs of Hansel and Gretel. They tell where all she  has been, including the neighbor’s trampoline across the street and the dip in our driveway that fills with water when it rains. She finds puddles irresistible.

Her brothers find some hope – that she still plays with squishy toy animals, including lizards, snakes (one of her favs) and marine creatures. She even has a plastic cockroach she cannot part with. But the shoes! The shoes drive the boys nuts because they are everywhere, except where they are supposed to be – on the shoe shelf.

There was a clear and distinct plan. The top shelf was for Michael, the middle shelf was for Greta and the floor level was for Matthew. Each child had a place to store their shoes that was close to the front door. This made getting out the door for school so much easier as shoes got lost in their rooms, and still do. But Greta’s shoes were never where they were supposed to be and always in the way. One morning, we even had to walk across the still moist grass to the neighbor’s yard to retrieve shoes from under the trampoline.

I grabbed a pair of Greta’s shoes yesterday and determined to put them where they belong with a greater resolve to get her to follow the plan! When I took her little pink floral slip-ons to the shelf, I discovered there was no room. This has happened before and we ask Greta to put just the shoes she wears most on the shelf. I looked for a pair of shoes to switch them with and found none. The boys’ shoes had squeezed Greta’s right off of the shelf. This was part of the reason why her shoes were everywhere!

Michael’s work boots, two pair of sneakers plus a set of cleats. Matthew’s moccasins and sneakers. The boys also each had a nice polished pair of shoes for church. My boys have big feet and they had put the squeeze on Greta’s dainty shoes. All this time we were all blaming Greta for not putting her shoes on the shelf, but the reality was the boys and their shoes had squeezed her out!

I lured Michael into admitting that Greta’s shoe situation was out of control and told him to look at how silly it all was on the shoe shelf. He went, expecting to be vindicated about girls and shoes, but came away with an oops on his face. He admitted that boy shoes had obviously taken over. Lesson learned. It is obviously time for a shoe rack just for Greta. It is also time to check commonly held stereotypes and personally investigate a situation. I’m glad I took the time to see what it was like for Greta to fulfill the expectations we had for her and her shoes. I saw for myself the struggle she has had. It’s time for change.

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In the safety meetings I present to the guys at work – I talk about all kinds of stuff from proper ways of doing things to watch out for these common practices that are dangerous. I’ve also thrown in look what is coming down the line in new safety laws and see this group over here – they did something stupid and all got fired because it wasn’t safe and they put their company in a precarious position.

One of the areas discussed in the last few months was the importance of proper trenching and shoring techniques and knowing which ones to use for the type of job you are doing. Our company safety manual even has diagrams showing the proper techniques for the various soils and needs. The guys listened, half heartedly, but they listened. The boss asked for those diagrams to be kept in an accessible place on the main work truck. Done.

At the big safety conference I went to this week, I saw a presentation by one of the regional directors for OSHA. He showed an inspector who just happened to go by a trenching job and didn’t like the looks of it. He wasn’t sent there, he just saw it on his way down the road. He told the guys to get out because he didn’t think it was safe. They listened. Five minutes later the trench caved in. He saved lives that day. I saw pictures of the trench before and after the cave in. Impactful. I also saw a picture of a man covered in mud being pulled out of a caved in trench. I think he was still alive, but not by much. Again, impactful.

It reminded me that there is a reason I do these safety meetings on a regular basis and a reason why we have these practices in place – to make sure workers can go home to their families at night. I’m glad to be a part of Bulldog Contractors LLC in Jefferson, Texas, that takes the safety of their workers seriously enough to have these regular safety meetings. I think I can go to bed at night with a clear conscience.

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Video Tears & Community

I got an email today asking me to review my application process for the special summer camp we have applied for – regarding Greta’s ADEM. It seems 40 families (it is a family camp) have signed up and they only have room for 30 families – unless some smaller families double in up in the units. In the email, they included a video of introduction to the facility – the Center for Courageous Kids.

Maybe it’s just because I’m a mom. Maybe it is just because Greta is still so young and we are still discovering what all lifelong issues ADEM will leave her to deal with. Whatever the reason, I couldn’t keep my eyes dry while watching that video.

There is a saying that unless you’ve been there, you just can’t understand. That’s what is so great about community. When we get together – we are stronger. When we get together – we find understanding and share ways to cope. I’m looking forward to attending this camp and meeting other ADEM families and sharing stories and practical day to day tips. Each child experiences ADEM differently, depending on where the lesions were located, how large they were and how many there were, as well as how long it took to get properly diagnosed and treated. So many variables, yet at the same time there are still classic ADEM leftovers that almost every patient, especially the children have to deal with.

What would we do without community? What would we do if we always thought we were the only one in the entire world that suffered the way we suffer? Take the time to be open about yourself and what you are going through – whatever it is. Look for support groups or fundraisers that help create awareness or contribute to vital research. You may have a handle on your situation yourself and think you don’t need community. I’m not going to congratulate you. I’m going to tell you that out there is someone who doesn’t have it figured out and they would be thrilled to talk to someone who has been through it and knows some of the ropes.

We need each other. We need community. Just google center for courageous kids and watch their introduction video. It just might change how you feel about community.


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I admit it, one of the favorite parts of my job is being a woman getting to tell a group of grown men to watch themselves and pay attention to safety concerns. It must be the mom in me, but as a safety assistant for a small general contractor outfit, I take my job seriously.

We cover OSHA requirements, staying in compliance with our clients and seasonal issues such as the recent rains we’ve had leaving pools of stagnant water around that can breed mosquitoes. Since some pretty scary stuff has been creeping into East Texas via these little insects, the guys needed to be reminded to be on the lookout for mosquito breeding grounds on the job site.

I often bring up common safety violations, such as climbing a ladder with stuff in your hands (because it causes accidents and even fatalities), but today we talked about distractions. Even if you are following all of the safety rules – you can still get distracted. Number 1? Mental distractions. What happened over the weekend, at breakfast that morning or the talk you know you’re going to have to have with your kid after school; all of these things can weigh on a person’s mind and lead to distraction. In the construction and general contractor industries – distractions can put yourself and others at risk.

What about you in your work? Distractions are dangerous and can even be deadly. Are you taking care of issues at home so you can focus on work at the office? Have you managed to lasso that runaway calendar and make it work for you so you don’t get distracted by how thin you are spread instead of paying attention to the job at hand?

Now flip it around and ask yourself the same questions. Have you left work at the office so you can focus on your family when you come home? Have you practiced good time management at work so that when you come home you are home and not bringing work home with you?

Distractions are dangerous on the job, but they are also dangerous at home. Stop and take a deep breath and ask yourself am I distracted at work? Am I distracted at home? Am I distracted in my relationship with God? Be honest and then be intentional as you go about staying connected in daily life to what matters most.

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What If?

My sweet little one is 10 this weekend. In planning her birthday party, she decided for a large all out bash – where both boys and girls would be welcome. Greta’s love language is fun times with friends. So naturally she would be thrilled to see all of her friends having a great time and everyone smiling like crazy!

One of the adjustments we have had after ADEM is emotional outbursts. Greta gets angrily easy and it takes about half an hour usually for her to settle down, unless we have an awesome, bright & shiny, fun type distraction for her. Her reaction when we try to gently guide/scold/discipline her is as if we were banishing her from the house and family. The psychologist said this isn’t a surprising reaction after all she has been through with the brain lesions.

What broke my heart this week was her sincere question: what if I get angry at my party? She knows she struggles with anger issues, as do a lot of kids and adults suffering with ADEM. She knows it could mess things up and her desire to have fun at her party is so great, but it is almost as if she recognized that this is something that is sometimes beyond her control.

What if? We may not have been through ADEM, but most of us have gone through bad choices or consequences from others close to us and their bad choices. When we are all set to have a good time and enjoy life, we wonder – what if that springs up again and ruins everything? What if these things that I don’t always have control over come back and really get in the way?

I appreciate the way Greta knew that getting angry isn’t who she wants to be and sometimes it just can’t be controlled. Bad choices isn’t who I want to be either. I think I’ll spend some time talking to God about it and asking Him to help me make better choices, so I don’t have to ask – what if. I’m also going to spend some time praying for His blessings on Greta, so she can have a great party and not let ADEM outbursts get in the way.

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What is your definition of intentionality?

Every once in a while a miracle day is dropped from heaven into your laps. Later this morning is one of those days. We had two things on the calendar that conflicted with each other and so we had to postpone one of them. At the last minute, the other meeting we were scheduled for was also cancelled. It was too late to bring back the first meeting, too many folks already made other plans. So the miracle? We have a day with a huge chunk blocked off that is now free. If you’ve been in the scheduling rat race long enough, you know what a miracle it is to have a huge block of time freed up!

My husband quickly said, we’ll spend that time alone together today. Sounds nice, but I know how that goes. He’ll be on his cell phone and computer answering important messages and so forth from church members and people in need – and they have real needs. Then my husband showed me his definition of intentionality. His plan is when that time frame comes (after we drop our oldest son off for a weekend choir trip), he is turning off his cell phone and computer and dedicating the time to me – to us – to our relationship.

That is called intentionality. That is how you stay connected in relationships. That’s how you make them real – by making them a priority. So I will soon join him in turning off cell phones and computers and enjoy a miracle of free time. What is your definition of intentionality? Do your family members know that you are making your relationship with them a priority?

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The 20 To 1 Grass Roots Revolution

One of the many things I learned during my days in radio is that you will get twenty complaints before you get a single compliment. That’s not a reflection on your work per se, as it is a reflection on society. What it is saying is that people are twenty times more likely to call in with a complaint than they are with a compliment.

Now let’s look at it from the practical side. If what we want the most to encourage us are compliments, but we are 20 times more likely to get complaints instead. As Mark Gungor would say, you have yourself a math problem.

So I’ve decided to be intentional about making a difference. Yesterday I had lunch with my mom and I saw something in the menu that looked great, but I would need to change one thing. Eating out with Crohn’s Disease isn’t always easy. I asked the waitress if it could be done an she said yes. Later on the manager of the restaurant was making his rounds of speaking to the lunch guests. He came to our table and asked how everything was. We could have easily just said a non committal fine and let him go on by, but I chose to take part in the 20 to 1 Grass Roots Revolution. I told the manager about asking for the change on the menu item and that it was done for me and it was delicious and I really appreciated it. It cost me nothing to give that honest compliment.

We all know what it is like to need a bit of encouragement now and then. And with the 20 to 1 odds, we aren’t likely to get it. So let’s start our own odds. Let’s be intentional about giving honest, sincere compliments and words of encouragement! The 20 to 1 Grass Roots Revolution is this: knowing the odds of how people are more likely to give a complaint than a compliment, we purpose to be intentional about giving honest and sincere compliments and words of encouragement. Let the revolution begin!


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