A salute to two special fathers
Self-esteem? Excellence? Let's get both into our kids
Graduation is a big accomplishment
Sounds of silence--I can still hear them in Kearney
Kearney police officer on trial--for what?
Finding Worthy Role Models
In the midst of chaos is nature--and hope
Program about courts not all Bull
People make a difference when disaster strikes
When cold hits, remember Spring
Small Actions Add up to Big Differences
Why I Celebrate Christmas
Check suitability of movies
Flag, anthem stand for what's good in our nation
Voting Choice, A Responsibility
Embracing the Seasons of Life
Welch--More Than a Teacher
YRTC Picnic--Regular People
Property Valuation Protest--Not so Scary
Snakes slither back into my life again
You're a hero, Madison, my hero
The Lessons we learn from kids
The value of silence
Even imperfect moms make a difference
My most wonderful discovery: the library
Age isn't excuse to act like fools
Easter more than a holiday
Time, Talent, Taxes and Thanks
Carly's Valentine Project of Love
When the Bullied Become the Bullies
Real Love Blesses Others
The Real Planned Parenthood
What are You Worth?
The Restaurant Difference and Respect for Others
Rooting out Snakes in our Lives
Promise 'All will be OK' Unrealistic in Shows
Books without Endings Leave only Frustration
Is Jesus True?
Liar, Lunatic or Lord
All my life, I looked up to my father--Reverend William Fredrickson. He was a medic in World War II who became a pastor once
he got back to the states after the war ended. He cared about people both their physical bodies (he was into the health scene
long before it became a popular trend) and their spiritual well-being. He lived, every day, the faith he preached about on
When he pastored a small church in Wyoming, he’d often travel deep into ranch country to visit ranchers who never made
it all the way to town on Sundays, or, when they did, it was infrequent. I had been so excited to move to Wyoming. I loved
everything about the west, ranches and horses. I loved it when dad took me with him on some of these visits. We forded creeks
that had never seen a bridge and spent the whole day away. Dad cared.
He cared about his family as well. He took time and listened to his daughter who liked to question everything. If I was quiet,
I could sit in his office while he prepared his sermons. He even allowed me to peck out stories on his typewriter. He was
a quiet man who, nevertheless, was not ashamed nor afraid to stand up for his faith. Then he was bold and strong.
He helped me see what God and faith were all about and I appreciated my father--even the times he had to discipline his headstrong,
independent daughter. He’s been gone for many years. I will think of him and miss him this Father’s Day.
But God put another father into my life as well. I look up to my father-in-law Lavern (Jiggs) Scheidies. He, too, was in World
War II. He returned home, married and started his family. He farmed, but farming did not define him. He clerked sales and
had other enterprises along the way. He’s a man of principle and faith who worked hard, but did not neglect his family.
Along with his wife, my mother-in-law Roberta, whom we lost a year ago last Spring, he raised five strong, independent children
who have children of their own. In fact, at our recent Spring Scheidies gathering, Jiggs got to meet his newest great-granddaughter,
our daughter Cassie’s 2 ½ month old daughter.
Those of us who’ve married into the family know Jiggs cares about his family. He’s accomplished much in his life
and I admire him so much. When we celebrate Father’s Day, I am thankful when I lost my dad, God gave me another special
man in his place.
Even though this will be published after Father’s Day, I salute these two fathers in my life. Happy Father’s Day!
Our public schools claim they strive for excellence. However, too often, another factor works directly opposite this idea
of excellence worth striving for and goals worth achieving. Everything in the schools and in the culture seems geared to building
up the self-esteem of our kids, without considering whether or not the methods used are good for the children.
While many schools do a credible job, all are hampered by a cultural attitude that one student should not excel over another.
This attitude started way back when I was in grade school.
At a 4-H fair, everyone who didn’t receive a red, blue or yellow ribbon got a white. I knew that the white ribbon signified
nothing. It wasn’t for achievement. It was so I wouldn’t feel bad. It only made me feel worse. I would rather
have received nothing.
Instead of building self-esteem, we actually reinforce the idea that a child is a loser who is given a reward not earned or
deserved. Kids know exactly what adults are doing. It also creates children who have to be rewarded simply for showing up,
rather than for something done or achieved. (This is now reflected in college students, many who act more like hothouse fragile
flowers than young adults.)
Schools were created to educate children on the basics of reading, writing and math--skills that help them achieve success.
Schools fail when they are afraid to tell Jane and Johnny that they flunked a test, haven’t learned the material and
are in danger of not moving on with their classmates. Parents can be part of the problem if they pressure schools to not let
their kids ever fail.
Some advocate that teachers not use red ink because the red denotes failure and may make the child feel bad. The grading system
of the Omaha schools was changed a few years ago, making it more difficult for the achievers to receive the grades needed
to get into the college of their choice. Some schools no longer honor those who work hard and maintain good grades. Other
grading systems are merely pass/fail. The problem with this scenario is that those who do well end up being penalized. Why
try when hard work is not rewarded? Why try when everyone is rewarded equally regardless of effort? This philosophy promotes
the very opposite of self-esteem.
Self-esteem and self-confidence aren’t built through artificial rewards or by keeping high achievers from receiving
what they’ve earned. Long-term confidence and esteem comes from accomplishments--regardless of how small or large and
from the satisfaction of a job well done.
Encouraging and rewarding anything less creates either an artificial ego that will be dashed by reality or a sense that a
person is being rewarded because he/she is not considered good enough, smart enough or talented enough to achieve anything
on her/his own. Coddling kids is not the same as motivating them, undermining the natural desire to achieve produces weak,
vulnerable individuals. .
If we want our students to have the self-confidence to achieve great things, we need to allow kids to learn from failure as
well as from achievement. Don’t insult the intelligence of our students through unmerited praise and reward. Celebrate
good work and achievements. Self-confidence will follow.
Then maybe we’ll build up confident, self-reliant young people, willing to work hard, sacrifice and make a difference
in their world.
There are years when graduations take center stage. These often happen when our own children are graduating because most of
their friends are also graduating. It is hard to figure out how to have a reception and go to all the receptions for which
invitations have been received.
As the children leave home and move on to college, it seems those invitations slow with each year. College graduations never
seem to have the same mass impact as high school graduations. Though, since we have a university in Kearney, there have been
a few years when we’ve known two or three of the graduates. That, too, has all but disappeared over the years.
Some years, Keith and I have no graduations to celebrate at all. Other years, we receive an invitation for one or two. This
year caught us by surprise. Yes, we knew of a couple of graduations, but we tend to lose track of where some young people
we know are in school. Yet, we’ve are celebrating with more graduates this year than we have in many years.
I knew our nephew’s oldest son was graduating. He’d already been taking college classes. We wouldn’t be
making the trip to Kansas, so I ordered a gift and had it sent to my sister who’ll make sure the graduate receives the
gift. We also had a niece graduating from college in theater. She’s gone through a lot to get this far and we’re
proud of her. It is exciting to think where life and work will take her now.
Closer to home we received invitations from several Kearney High graduates. These ranged from children of church friends to
one of Keith’s co-workers to one young man we pick up, along with his two siblings, each Sunday morning for church.
Along with birthdays and anniversaries, graduations from high school and college should be celebrated and applauded. It isn’t
easy these days to navigate all the ins and outs of our education system and come through it with that coveted certificate
We celebrate because we know what it takes to make it through. We celebrate because we see graduation as a right of passage
to the next step to maturity. We celebrate positives in our lives and this is a good one. Parents, relatives and friends are
happy be part of the affirmation, cheering on the person for a job well done.
Graduation is a big step to into life. Graduation releases the graduate to work toward dreams and goals, not just hope for
them. Graduation releases our graduates to light their fire and move forward into adulthood.
Let’s affirm them with celebration and encouragement.
I awoke to silence. Yes, in Kearney, NE, I woke up to silence. I like silence. I can think and dream and doze without screams,
loud music or the roars of vehicles whose owners think our street by the park is a race track. I know this won’t last.
The weather warms, which brings kids and families outside and to the park. During the summer--despite posts as to when the
park is open--middle school kids and teens can be found at the park at all hours. I hear the laughter, the music. Even so,
while sounds from the park are loud and sometimes overwhelming during daylight hours--especially during baseball games, even
if some linger in the park, at night the sounds become low, muted.
Still most days, as the day ends, traffic slows and by morning, for a time, all is silent. This in a town that bustles with
activity most of the time.
When I grew up, our family often travelled to Minneapolis, MN. My parents actually grew up in the twin cities of Minneapolis/St.
Paul. They met and married in the city. My mother celebrated the end of World War II with those thronging the streets when
they heard the news. Of course, Mom and her friends celebrated. Their husbands were coming home. Even then, the city was never
Years later, our family of five stayed with Gramma and Mom’s half sister, my Aunt Esther who lived together in first
large apartments and, finally, in a house Esther purchased. I remember one of those apartments, an large old Victorian house,
restructured to create apartments on each floor. It was late at night. My sister Karin was asleep. I couldn’t sleep.
Instead, I got up and sat by the window. From the second story bedroom, I gazed down upon a light show of cars, a never-ending
stream of cars, moving below, I heard honks and the growl of engines interspersed with sirens. I found it fascinating, but
the constant sounds did not soothe me to sleep. Eventually, I lay back down in bed and slept with the background noises of
the city filling my dreams.
Kearney is growing, sometimes it seems, at a much-too-fast rate. Often, Keith and I will be driving in Kearney, look out and
then at each other. “What is going up there?” or “When did that go up?” or simply “What is that?”
Kearney is a much different place than the town I moved to with my family so I could go to college in the early 1970s. Though
Kearney is no longer a sleepy little town and is growing into a small city, some things haven’t changed.
Most who live here like living in Kearney, they are hardworking individuals and families who care and reach out to friends,
neighbors and even strangers. Most of all, Kearney hasn’t forgotten to slow down. I am glad that in a bustling, growing
community, I can still wake up to silence. In a world of busy schedules and technology, we need to encourage in ourselves,
our children and others times of silence to watch clouds, ponder and dream.
As I wake in the silence on a morning in Kearney, my response is thankfulness.
I am gratified Derek Payton was acquitted at his trial. What bothers me is that he was brought to trial at all. From what
I've read, heard and seen, Derek is a good and conscientious man and cop. He was well trained and not given to going off half-cocked.
The incident for which he was on trial was little different--an incident in which he used both his training and best judgement.
I don’t begin to know what went into the decision to try Derek for doing his job, but that decision continues to make
me question those who did so. From my understanding, he did his job. He pursued the suspect. He followed protocol. He gave
ample warning and did not shoot to kill. Yet while the person of interest got off with little more than a slap on the wrist,
a good cop was dragged into court and faced a possible 20 years--yes, twenty years--in prison. For what? For doing his job
to the best of his abilities and training.
There are some cops around this country that are not what we want them to be. Some cops are bullies, are prejudiced and are
not persons of integrity or honor. None of those definitions seem to define Derek Payton. Still he was put on trial for seeking
to stop persons who refused to stop, refused to listen, refused to heed rational orders, and who possibly put the lives of
citizens Derek had sworn to protect in harm’s way.
With the turtle speed of our court system, Derek had to wait months for his trial. The stress of that alone on Derek and his
family had to be difficult enough, but the realization you are on trial for doing your job has to take its toll.
Why should a cop put his life on the line when a good cop, even in a conservative city and state, can lose everything if his
actions are called into question? Trials such as this one had a positive outcome, but such outcomes are certainly not guaranteed.
Why would anyone even want to become a cop at a time when cops are viewed with more disfavor by the persecuting agencies than
the criminals thumbing their noses at the law?
As for me, I am ticked my taxes went to pay for a trial I don't believe should have happened.
The outcome showed common sense. The trial did not. Time to take a look at those who made it happen and put in place restrictions
so it doesn’t happen to another good cop doing his job.
Who are today's role models? Are they police or firefighters, doctors who've saved lives or other men and women who value
and stand for life? Are they individuals who live life to the fullest with honesty and integrity and who keep their word and
When I grew up my parents wanted us kids to grow up with role models that lived out the values, principles and life-styles
they wanted for us. One of those was Jim Elliot, a Christian who was one of five missionaries killed while attempting to reach
the Huaorani people of Ecuador. I was even more intrigued by his wife, Elisabeth Elliot, who went down to that tribe, after
they murdered her husband and four other men, loved them and helped them to know a life with Christ that did not include murder
and fear. She modeled integrity, incredible love rather than revenge, and made a difference in the lives of so many.
How do today's role models compare to Jesus Christ? Not very well. So many of today's "heroes" are little more than shallow
"fluff." Adults and many, many young people are caught up in the world of celebrity. Role models are not men and women of
integrity, intelligence, honesty and caring, but musicians, actors and other celebrities of one sort or the other who are
not leading us to be better versions of ourselves or better people. In fact, many celebrities promote drug or alcohol use,
and sexual expression without boundaries of caring, faithfulness even within marriage.
Other celebrities take up causes about with they are abysmally ignorant and drag followers down their particular rabbit hole.
Yet, even some government officials take them seriously because, well, they played a role in a movie. As though that provides
Who do you or your children look up to and wish to listen to, imitate and follow? Make a list. Do these individuals stand
for your values and do you want to imitate their words, lifestyle? What about your children? Who are they following? This
includes those in the music industry whose lyrics are like a siren call to the young? Do you know what the lyrics contain?
Do you approve?
If you want to be the best you can be and want that even more for your children, find role models worthy of being followed.
Look beyond the shallow pretensions of the media and explore what a true hero is, who might fit that role and help your children--and
yourself--find good role models. What you do matters as you also provide a role model to your children.
The Bible in Philippians 4:8 states, "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just,
whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and
if there be any praise, think on these things."
Those who strive for these things are true role models worth following. Of course, the best role model of all is Jesus Christ.
What better time to study who He is and start following His example than at Easter when we celebrate His resurrection and
Even in Kearney here, I look across the street and see the park. Every season brings a new view from the colorful gold, yellow
and brown leaves of fall to the beautiful ice sculptures created by winter cold on tall trees pointing high into the sky.
Spring thaw offers greening grass, unfurling leaves and flowers. Summer is greener and more colorful.
I’d rather do my writing and work at the dining room table where I can look out across the street, than stuffed up in
my office where windows look out on the neighbor’s house and makes me feel cramped and claustrophobic. I like being
able to stare out the window whether the weather is sunny and bright, overcast, windy or snowing. There is something calming
about nature even in an artificially created park.
We can visualize magnificent scenes of majestic mountains rising high, often covered in snow as though to point our gaze upward.
There is something about the mountains that speak of strength. Scenes of rivers and streams meandering through grassy meadows
filled with red, pink, and yellow flowers entices us to sit and rest a spell from our cares. The oceans rise and fall in foamy
waves, powerful and enduring, drawing us in. Nature bursts with an amazing color array of a variety of plants of all heights
and shapes. Birds chirp and sing, small animals rustle through the underbrush, large animals rut and roar. All add to the
depth and wonder of nature.
We live in a world of unrest, tragedy, chaos and danger. Many worry what tomorrow will bring. Others drown themselves in games,
activities, work--anything to silence the fear factor in the world. But the more we focus on the bad things, the less we remember
the good. Such a focus makes us forget that this is a world of beauty and hope.
When the world clamors and fear rises, why not search for the good, the beautiful in God’s creation? Find a place of
nature and walk, canoe, ride. Watch nature movies or thumb through pictures. Let nature soothe that restlessness within. Force
back fears and hopelessness by filling your mind and soul with the calming natural beauty all around us.
About creation, King David, the Psalmist, said it best in Psalm 19:1-4 (GW), "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the
sky displays what his hands have made. One day tells a story to the next. One night shares knowledge with the next without
talking, without words, without their voices being heard. Yet, their sound has gone out into the entire world, their message
to the ends of the earth."
I watch the new TV series on CBS with a mixture of intrigue, fascination and with a sinking feeling in my stomach. The series
has drama, with the good guys winning. This series is derived from the actual early career of Dr. Phil McGraw as a trial consultant.
The main character, Bull, influences the outcome of trials with a mixture of psychology, technology, experience and intuition.
Lawyers become merely puppets following his lead as he and his team wade into the very recesses of the minds and behavior
of the jurists. Their research helps them to tailor what is said and done to impact the outcomes in favor of their client.
That is what is frightening about this show.
Members of the jury are supposed to be the most impartial individuals that can be found who will decide a case not on prejudice,
but on the merits of the case. Jury consultants turn this whole idea on its head. These consultants spend much time and effort
figuring out what makes the members of the jury tick and then uses those factors to swing the jury in their favor. How?
What the person on trial wears matters, how they act, sit, etc. matters. They are coached. What the lawyers wears, says or
does matters as good lawyers have known for many, many years. A jury consultant knows the jury hot buttons, knows favorite
colors, places, values and can weave those into the lawyer’s presentation of the case until the facts become little
more than the background for show and tell, emotion and manipulation.
While in the TV show, Bull is on the side of the angels, for the most part, jury consultants are hired by either side--guilty
or not guilty. Income, not the guilt or innocence of the defendant, is what matters when this isn’t a crusade for justice,
but a career path. What this boils down to is if you have enough money to hire a jury consultant, and they don’t come
cheap, you gain the means to, very likely, alter the outcome of the trial. What’s more, the jurors never know they’ve
been had. They’ve been manipulated.
Our system of trial by jury has been inspected, investigated, and manipulated into a travesty of what an American trial is
all about--a fair and impartial jury. Do jurists come with their own set of views? Of course, but for those with the means,
the system now has another component our founders never considered--a means to game the system by using a juror’s own
likes, dislikes and values against him/her. While I am intrigued by the show, the reality is less satisfying. I have no answers,
just a sense that in this world of jury consultants, once more, the little guy, the average American loses.
Before Christmas we had trouble with our phones. Time to buy a new system. Our microwave decided it was tired of heating,
so a we shopped for both a new microwave and new phones. Close to Christmas, we called them our gifts to each other.
By the time Christmas arrived, our kitchen stove also decided to quit. The burners still worked, but the oven didn’t
heat. We bought the stove when we moved into our house in 1979--a house built specific to my needs. Since then the heating
element had been replaced twice. This time we needed a new oven. We managed without an oven until after Christmas.
One business couldn’t help this time, but offered great suggestions where to find what we needed, because not any stove
would do. It had to have the controls in the front and a oven door lightweight enough for me to open and close. Finding one
took some time and effort, since I needed to actually see and check it out before purchasing. I looked online and talked to
several business. All tried to be helpful. Finally, we found what we needed and had it delivered. We were set. Or so we thought.
The same week as we installed the stove, we woke up to a very cool house. Too cool for comfort. Turning up the heat made no
difference. Only air came out of the vents. I called Fiddelke. They had someone out very quickly. The young repairman checked
out the furnace and got it going again. The heat felt so good.
Later that day we discovered we had no hot water. Another call. Again a repairman was quickly sent to our house. This repairman
had been here before maintaining the furnace and AC and was acquainted with our system. He got the hot water heater going,
but noted another problem. He told us both had gone off at the same time. He checked the gas meter, saying it was the oldest
one he’d seen. Yup! It was also original to the house. He said if this happened again to call the gas company. It happened
and we did. On a Sunday. They dispatched a repairman. (We even had to wait in the car until the house was checked for any
gas leak. There wasn’t any.) We did get a new gas meter and the furnace was once more in operation.
Still the hot water heater wasn’t working. But later that afternoon, beyond the call of duty, a sympathetic repair person
fixed it as well. We now have heat and hot water along with new phones, new stove and a new microwave.
Instead of focusing on how much went wrong over the holidays, I now recall the positives of good people who were there when
we needed it. I am thankful for businesses who immediately sent out help and repair persons who went the extra mile with help,
repairs and suggestions.
I heard predictions of a bad winter. I hoped we didn’t have anything approximating the ice winter a few years ago that
blacked out heat and electricity in much of the region. Many didn’t have electricity for days, weeks, even months. North
Kearney seemed harder hit than South Kearney. In fact, we only lost power for a few short periods over the period of time
that ice and cold reigned supreme.
We’d been given a powerful lantern that ran on batteries, which we loaned to Jeff and Gloria, friends in North Kearney.
That Winter, missionary friends returned for a furlong from a much warmer climate. We sat around the diningroom table of our
friends Jeff and Gloria with our missionary friends, Al and Dee, who we’d known since college days. We ate, played games,
and listened as our friends talked about their work.
In the center of the table sat our lantern, powerful enough to light up the table. Keith and I were able to help out friends
by providing light. It was a good evening with long-term friends.
One never knew during that time when the lights might go out. One time, Keith and I were looking for something. I do not remember
what, but it was something for the house. We drove north to a business we thought would have the item. The building was huge
and lit only with electricity. There were no windows, except across the front of the store.
We were in the far reaches of the building when the lights blinked once, twice… Suddenly everything went dark. I knew
there was no danger, but the darkness was scary nonetheless. The glow from the front windows guided us back to the front.
Cash registers didn’t work so the clerk had to find paper and pen and do everything the old fashion way--by hand. When
we drove away, we noticed most of North Kearney had gone dark--in the middle of the afternoon.
Many during that time bought home generators they used to ensure their homes had both heat and light. Some, with fireplaces,
kept them going day and night and, pretty much, camped out in front of them. Others packed up and moved in with friends or
For all the inconveniences and hardships inside, outside was a wonderland. Ice crystals covered branches and leaves and stalks
still in the field. All was a frozen wonderland, taking away the breath with the intricate patterns of ice. Eventually, the
temperatures rose and the ice melted. Electricity returned to homes and businesses, leaving but memories behind.
Once the weather turned cold this Winter, I’ve heard comments and complaints. I don’t care to go out in cold either.
Yet I try to keep things in perspective. We’ve had a mild winter with little snow until mid-December. What do I reply
to the comments about the cold? “Be thankful.”
Sometimes, when things aren’t the way we like, we need to remember--both during bad weather and during bad times in
life that there is still good, God is still near and tomorrow will come. And so will Spring.
Often we believe that what we do doesn't matter. Only those with money and power or those with incredible skills or talent
can make a real difference. Not true. Each of us can make a difference. Sometimes we don't even realize how one small action
or word brightens up the life of another bringing joy, encouragement or might challenge someone to keep going, keep persevering.
At church my sister-in-law noticed my eyes light up when I checked out her pen/stylus. With a grin, she pulled out another
and handed it to me. I love paper and pens. As a child, I was thrilled when given notebooks and journals along with pens to
write out my thoughts, experiences, poems and stories. Even now, I still love pens. This pen was not only a pen and a stylus,
it was also a pen with my brother's business text on it. Such a small thing. Yet it brought a smile. With one small gift,
she brightened up my day.
With my limitations, I am more concerned how practical the clothing, rather than how fashionable. In the Winter, I wear
a hat to warm my head. These have small, soft brims. Not many hats fill my requirements. That Sunday I sported a new white/black
hat I'd purchased.
When the black knit hat I'd worn for years needed replacing, my friend Gloria found me a similar, but blue hat which I've
been wearing the last couple of winters. On a shopping trip, she saw that hat and thought of me. I was humbled. A simple hat
showed the heart of my friend.
My new hat would be kept for more dress up situations and when the blue hat wouldn't go with what I chose to wear. While
some of us talked, another church member joined our group. She glanced at my hat and told me that I carried hats well. That
never occurred to me. For me, hats were merely practical. Her comment really made me feel good inside. A compliment may seem
like a small thing, but reaps benefits for both the one who offers and who receives it.
Husker football is a Nebraska obsession. But for all the competitiveness of the fans, they are known as fans who treat
the other team with respect. Husker fans cheer when an injured player on the opposing team is able to get up and saddened
when one is hauled off the field.
What I've seen in many Husker games, even those we lost, were Husker players that did not start taking out their frustration
on the other team. More than once I watched a Husker reach out a hand to help up a player from the other team.
Small things really do matter, whether with a gift, a compliment or a hand up. Peace in the world doesn't start with treaties.
Peace starts with you and me caring enough to reach out with decency and respect to those around us.
How about starting the New Year with a commitment to, even in small ways, lift up those around us through our attitudes,
our words and going that second mile to brighten up someone's day?
I read an article outlining reasons the author no longer celebrated Christmas. The author pointed out that some Christmas
celebrations have roots in paganism. He reasoned that because the holiday was tainted, Christians should not celebrate Christmas.
As an author, I have also researched this holiday and, no surprise, there are pagan influences. At times, the church tried
to refocus pagan celebrations with Christian rituals. Is that all bad? Romans 14:5-6 (GW) states, "One person decides that
one day is holier than another. Another person decides that all days are the same. Every person must make his own decision.
When people observe a special day, they observe it to honor the Lord."
Jesus may well have been born in December or not. The date may be accurate or may stem from an early attempt to override a
pagan celebration. Whether or not Jesus was born in December, and a case can be made for that, what is wrong with celebrating
His birth in December? His is the greatest birth in history.
What about the Christmas tree? Trees play a part in the rituals of many religions. Does that mean we should forgo the fun
of a decorated tree? There is a legend that Martin Luther became so awed by seeing stars shining through the tall trees, he
brought a tree inside and decorated it with candles. What a lovely way to appreciate God's creation.
Has the holiday been commercialized? Certainly. Forces of evil always seek ways to destroy good. Should we not celebrate the
wonder of Jesus’ birth, because some don't like it or make it commercial or...the reasons go on and on? Consider the
spirit of goodwill and generosity that characterize the season. This good should be encouraged, not discouraged. Because as
James 1:17 KJV states, "Every good gift and perfect gift is from above."
This spirit of goodwill also creates a desire to worship. No wonder there are such desperate attempts to stamp out mentions
and the celebration of Christ, Christmas, the displays of the Nativity scene or the singing of Christmas carols. These symbols
of celebration shows God is present in our world and in our lives.
If the Puritans outlawed the celebration, shouldn't we? They also believed marriage ceremonies were merely a function of the
state. Should we stop holding church weddings because some Christians have had issues? People make choices based not only
on faith, but also on their experiences and culture. If God doesn't forbid a celebration, why should we?
As for fat, jolly Santa Claus, he is a potent Christmas figure. What an opportunity to share the story about the real St.
Nicholas, his faith and kindness, especially to the less fortunate. Christmas is a perfect time to follow his example of generosity
God delights in celebration. The Bible is filled with God instituted feasts and celebrations. God is much more interested
in our hearts than in forbidding celebrations, especially those that focus on Him. Hearts are open at Christmas. What better
time to share God’s love story than at Christmas.
Is Christmas tainted by pagan practices? Yes and no, both then and now. My questions for those with reservations about celebrating
Christmas. Why should I not celebrate? Doesn’t that let evil win? Why should I lose even one opportunity to share God’s
Jesus offers joy. What better time to share His joy than at Christmas. That is why I celebrate Christmas.
When friend Rachel and I decided to see a movie a few months ago, we chose "The Secret Life of Pets." I'd seen
the previews and they made me wince, especially when a dog with a cart to help him get around was jerked down a drain. Still,
the previews for the animated feature looked cute.
However, another friend had a different take on the movie. She'd taken her young grandchildren and wasn't too happy. She
warned that the previews weren't representative of the movie. Umm. What did that mean? I found out.
While my friend Rachel and I enjoyed the movie that was colorful, fun, producing a balance of chuckles and sentiment,
after watching the movie I understood the concerns of my friend who'd taken her grandchildren to the feature. Though this
was an animated movie many scenes were intense, frightening, and scary. Rachel and I agreed, this was not a movie suitable
for young children. In fact, a mature 8-year-old would be the youngest we'd want to take to see the movie and even then it
But when previews look fun and cute and are obviously geared to the younger set, what's a parent or grandparent to do--especially
during the holiday season with lots of movies offered? Where can a parent go to find out more about a movie and its suitability
for family, kids or adults before heading to the movie theater? Years ago, I found and used two sites that helped me steer
away from certain disasters that would have made me want to leave the theater.
The first of these was created for parents concerned about what their kids viewed. http://www.kids-in-mind.com rates
movies on several levels: Sex & Nudity, Violence & Gore, and Profanity. This site takes the viewer through the movie
pretty much step by step. While it may give away too much of the plot, it is a way parents and families can find movies that
won't offend or be too much for the little ones. The site delineates each instance of violence, etc. so there will be no surprises.
This is a factual and balanced website for parents. There is now also an app for iPad or iPhones.
The other site I often use is the the Christian-based Focus on Family's http://www.pluggedin.com movie review site. While
not as specific as the Kids in Mind site, it does review in general terms the Positive Elements, Spiritual Content, Sexual
Content, Violent Content, Crude or Profane Language, Drugs & Alcohol Content, and Other Negative Elements present in the
movies. This site also reviews music, books, TV and games.
Kids in Mind is more specific and on point while Pluggedin is not only more general, but because reviewer differ, reviews
are not always consistent. I have found if I check both sites, I have a pretty good idea whether or not I want to see a film.
Both also help guide my choices for kids and grandkids.
Previews only whet the appetite for a movie. Is it suitable for you or your family? Check online to choose your movies--especially
your holiday movies--with confidence.
Pilgrims and Puritans, escaping, abuse for who they were as people of faith, sought to find a land where they could be
free to worship Jesus without restraint or persecution. They came to America.
America was a land built by a high percentage of God-fearing persons who codified the right to live and worship without
abuse or restraint. The new nation grew strong because of a belief in and a reliance of God's guidance.
However, the British decided the new nation needed to be taken down. September 1914 the British fleet with Francis Scott
Key aboard to negotiate the release of a friend found himself watching as the fleet bombarded Fort McHenry. All the fort had
to do was lower the flag and the barrage would cease. But they knew to do so would also herald the beginning of the end for
the new country. Throughout the night the barrage continued. The British wanted that flag torn to pieces, but it kept flying.
It tilted but never went down.
Seeing that flag, inspired Key to pen the words of The Star Spangled Banner, the song that became our national anthem.
Men were wounded and died during the burrage protecting the flag representing their new nation.
The American flag inspired soldiers to take up the cause of America to stop the South from setting up their own nation
with slavery as a key component. America fought and many suffered loss to stop the awful practice of owning other human beings.
In World War II, soldiers risked their lives to plant the American flag at Iwo Jima. Men and woman have died defending the
American flag--the symbol of hope, faith and freedom.
Today many do not understand the flag and anthem are not symbols of oppression. They are symbols of what is good and noble
about America--and there is much that is good. The anthem and flag represent the ideal, the best America can be and often
is. They represent freedom for millions around the globe who still come here for what America offers. The flag represents
a country founded by those who sought the right to worship. These are things to stand up for, not sit down against.
This trend to scorn the anthem and flag, I believe, comes from several factors--believing news stories that are not balanced
in presentation and, often, not even accurate, and an ignorance of history. Not honoring the flag does nothing to stand against
problems. Instead, it signals that these individuals, whatever their intent, are standing against all the good America represents.
It also incites disrespect toward police, people and property. They stand against the brave individuals who died to hold
up the flag at Fort McHenry and hurts all the families who have members who've served in the military. Especially it causes
pain for those who've lost loved ones in service of their country. This silent protest against the flag further divides this
nation because doing so causes deep, deep pain..
The flag and anthem represent the positives about America. Those who protest and those who condone this action are both
off the mark. Too many are hurt by these protests. There are other ways to protest. There are ways to get involved not in
protests, but in actual ways that make a difference. Instead of either putting down or condoning the protest of the symbols
of faith and freedom that divide, hurt and anger, we need to encourage positive action.
That starts with caring, communication and working together for the good of all.
We have a contentious election cycle. While we can put this down to politics as usual, there is a difference this year.
This year votes count not just to put another person into office, but the direction of this nation for decades to come. Votes
There is the pro and anti Hillary crowds and the same for Trump. But anger and frustration fuel all segments of the voting
populace. And for good reason.
Hillary has been around for 30 years or so and she has a record of what she and Bill have done in the political and personal
arena. She was an early proponent of what later became Obamacare. She made bad decisions regarding Benghazi--resulting in
the loss of life. Then she and others in the administration lied about the cause, though emails showed she knew the truth.
She lied to the faces of the victims’ families.
Hillary has also doubled-down on her support of Planned Parenthood, which is being investigated for criminal actions,
and in her support of taking the life of unborn children all the way to birth. She is anything but pro-life. She has made
it clear she will nominate judges to the Supreme Court who share her extreme views of abortion. She prefers judges who legislate
from the bench and do not follow the basics of the Constitution.
Then you have Trump. He is not a politician and has had to learn to tone down his rhetoric. He is a no-nonsense guy who
tells it like he sees it. While over the years, Hillary has moved left, Trump has moved right. For those who dislike him,
it is easy not to look beyond the words to the man and the businessman who surrounds himself with the best and brightest,
and listens. I see him doing something similar in this campaign, listening to advice from those such as Ben Carson, his VP
Pence and even James Dobson. As to his temperament, he has done business deals around the world and knows how to negotiate
In case you think I was all in for Trump. No. He wasn’t either my first or even second choice. I listen. I research
and dig beyond many of the twisted stories coming out of those media sources who are all-in for Hillary. (Sometimes, Trump
has made this easy, but the spin gets out of control with some media sources.) For all the flaws in both candidates, this
election is about one thing--the direction and even preservation of this nation. Hillary has revealed her desire to seat judges
who do not hold to a value for life or the Constitution. Trump, on the other hand, has shown his short list of judges who
believe in American values and seek to follow the Constitution, This election is about the judges.
A vote for Hillary will send the country in one direction. A vote for Trump will, at the very least, put someone into
office who values life, values America and values small businessmen and women.
When you consider your vote, like or dislike the candidates, this election is about more than personalities. It’s
about who will nominate the judges who will guide this nation for decades to come.
We all know about the seasons. Spring, summer, autumn, winter. Every season has holidays, celebrations and events specific
to that season. Spring is a time of planting, growing, and the start of baseball practice across the street at the park. Summer
is blinding heat, lots of baseball, swimming, vacations and a break from school. Fall is colored, falling leaves, cooler days,
crickets--ugh!--and Thanksgiving. Winter is cold and snow and a blizzard or two. Winter brings the joy of Christmas and renewal
in seeing in a new year. But seasons are not just tied to the time of year. There are many types of seasons.
Fall is not only about weather or the time of year. Fall also brings on the season football. For those of us in Nebraska,
that means Husker football with most of us listening via radio or glued to the television on game day. Shopping during a game
is almost humorous. Have you tried to find a salesperson during the game, at least one who doesn't have one ear--and most
of the attention--on the game?
Parenting, too, is a season. We grow up, find that special someone, make a commitment and start a family. Parenting brings
with it little sleep, wondering about sanity and doubts about raising one child, two, more...; Children are so different from
our fanciful ideas of sweet kids. It is nights pacing the floor both when the kids are babies and when they are teens. We
deal with all ages babies, toddlers, school age, teens, adults. Parenting has many different seasons, requiring us to learn
and grow in order to help our children become caring, responsible adults. Sometimes I wondered if we'd ever get to the adult
stage, but we did.
Grandparenting is also a season. It has been exciting to be part of the lives of our three grandchildren, two years apart
in age, and to watch them grow into caring young people, now 16--getting into driving, 14--into music, and 12--ready for those
teenage years. Scary how fast they are growing up. Seems just yesterday, Chris was that age. Soon we'll start over as our
daughter is expecting. Grandparenting is a challenging and exciting season.
The four seasons of the year are only the beginning of the seasons we deal with throughout our lives. In fact, life is
seldom static as one season of life morphs into another. As kids, time stretches out before us and five minutes seems like
forever. What parent travelling hasn't heard the endless question, "Are we there yet?"; Yet, life doesn't wait and
time begins to travel faster through each of life's seasons--teens, young adult, marriage, family,.... There are seasons of
joy and anticipation as well as seasons of grief and pain. In my 60s now--and that is hard to wrap my head around--time zips
instead of dawdles and often disappears before I have a chance to fully embrace it.
What I have learned through all of life's seasons is to be grateful for each moment, each day, to be thankful for family
and friends, to embrace today and to live life to the fullest. Most of all, I have learned to say "Thanks!"
In 1969, my parents chose to move to Kearney for one good reason--the college. Before ADA requirements, then Kearney State
College was willing to see I got to classes. That concession was pretty important because, back then, I was in a wheelchair
I could not wheel myself and campus was filled with curbs, steps and stairs. (We won’t even talk about the old administration
building with its flights of stairs. Took three strong persons to grab my chair and get me up those stairs.) For the most
part, with some big exceptions, this worked out as teachers and students helped get me from class to class. (One teacher even
changed the location of his class because of me.)
One of the classes I signed up for was a poetry class. After all, I was a writer and planned to write as my career. When
the teacher, Don Welch, walked into class, I sat up. He entered with a smile and took in each student. My wheelchair didn’t
bother him one bit. What was important to him was what he could stuff into our brains, challenge us and how he could help
us enjoy that journey.
One of my most vivid memories came on a Friday afternoon when everyone was tired and waiting for the week to end. Mr.
Welch entered the classroom arms piled high with our assigned work he’d already graded. He took one look at our
dull, spaced out stares and lifted an eyebrow. A moment later, everyone blinked and sat up as he threw the entire stack of
papers into the air. As the papers plopped back to the ground exhaustion disappeared, as Don knew it would, and we were ready
for the class.
His classes were fun, innovative and challenging. He taught me how to consider words carefully, use them wisely and sparingly
to share my ideas in unique ways.
After college, we bumped into each other now again at college, city events or conferences. He was excited to know surgery
had allowed me to leave the wheelchair behind. There were times I called with questions. I counted him as a friend. When I
coordinated seminars and conferences through the years, I knew they were always better with him in them and he was more than
willing to be a guest speaker or to lead a workshop.
Don Welch was unfailingly real, humble, yet as a teacher, willing to inform and challenge. He will be greatly missed.
Now...if only we could clone him.
Sometimes we start believing those who work with at-risk or incarcerated youth are somehow different from the rest of
us. But those who work at facilities, like YRTC, for those who've broken the law are regular people. They have dreams and
goals. They have spouses and families. They laugh, get frustrated and cry. Often work isolates them.
Years ago when Keith and I were starting our family, he had already been working up at the "hill"; as many still
call the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center (YRTC) for several years. The facility held get-togethers, some formal
and some informal, where men talked shop, football or something else, while we women asked and gave suggestions and advice
about pregnancy and raising our kids. In other words, we were friends.
But things changed, the program changed and staff left until few of the original group remained. Our children grew up
and left home. When meeting old friends at the grocery store or other store, we'd reminisce about the time when we were a
group of friends who, at times, hung out together.
This summer, the new Facility Administrator, Mark LaBouchardiere decided a picnic was in order. One Saturday, many of
the staff got together at Cottonmill Park for hot dogs, hamburgers, beans, chips and condiments. It was simple and practical
and fun--especially since many of us chose to remain inside the stone cabin to enjoy food, fellowship and air conditioning.
Others chose the picnic tables outside where they could enjoy the scene of a placid lake, fishermen and the gentle breeze
whispering through the trees.
But this wasn't only staff. Hearkening back to those long ago days, the picnic was for families. We got introduced to
spouses and children and even grandchildren. There was laughter and conversation and playing peekaboo with a toddler. It was
regular people taking time away from work, bonding and enjoying the summer, food, casual interaction with friends and co-workers.
After we ate, Keith introduced me to the new Facility Administrator, Mark LaBouchardiere. I asked him how he felt about
his new job. He said the goals of the places he has worked are basically the same so he isn't finding a steep learning curve
in learning the job at the Kearney facility. What he has found disconcerting is the depth of the political side of the job.
He made it clear, he wanted to be open and transparent about the operations at YRTC. I like that. I also like that he
brought back an opportunity for staff to get to know one another better outside of the stress of the work environment.
I hope this picnic and LaBouchardiere's approach is only the beginning of making YRTC a place that works with the community,
enables and encourages staff to reach the goal of the facility--to seek to help young men become law-abiding citizens.
I love our house. It is a one level, no stairs house south of Collins Park built to accommodate my limitations. We live
in a quiet neighborhood with houses similar to ours, as well as houses that have been moved in and renovated. Close by are
In the last couple of years, there has been no particular upswing in building or renovations. (In fact, our house needs
some repainting and refurbishing.) Every year, we put money aside from each paycheck to pay for our property tax. Last year
we received a shock. The valuation of our house increased by a whooping $28,020---jumping from $81, 320 to $109,340 in one
year. The tax increase also took a swallow or two.
However, my brother, a contractor, mentioned that Kearney property values had been undervalued for years and many properties
were being adjusted to correct valuation. While there were those last year, and rightly so in some cases, who protested their
property valuation increases, we did not.
This year our property valuation increased to $131,005. That's another $21,665 increase. Are you kidding me! In two years
our property valuation increased a total of $49,685--more than we originally paid for our house in 1979. This year we protested.
Protesting was a bit scary. I am not a fan of forms and paperwork. But I downloaded the form and began to fill it out.
Some things were not obvious. Thankfully, a friend and neighbor was also protesting her valuation so we worked together to
dig up the information we needed about valuations and selling prices of other houses in our area. It didn't hurt that her
brother had already been looking at houses a couple of streets away.
Once I filled out the form, I did what I do best, write up the reasons why I believed our valuation should be decreased
significantly. Keith took the paperwork in before the deadline and we waited notice of when to attend a hearing. I tried not
to think about it. Then we received our notice. I was a bit nervous when we showed up at the courthouse, found the boardroom,
entered and took a seat.
At the front of the room was a long, high, intimidating desk-like structure behind which sat those who would decide our
case. The tension eased when one of those turned out to be a friend from long-ago college days.
We scarcely sat down when we were called up. I'd brought my folder and was ready to answer questions. Instead there was
silence. I glanced up to see them going over what we'd submitted earlier. The next words were that they agreed and lowered
the valuation to what I’d suggested. We were in and out within five minutes. They agreed. We won. Almost in shock,
I walked to the car.
I am thankful for local representatives who listen and act. Protesting turned out not to be so scary after all.
Snakes have their place
and were created to function in this environment. As long as that is outside. Unfortunately, sometimes these less-than-cuddly
creatures find their way into buildings. A barn, a garage, maybe that’s not so bad, but in the house? No way!
I’ve had my battles with snakes getting into our house. I’ve found snakes sneaking
in the front door. I’ve found them along the wall and even discovered a little one escorting me down the hallway--at
night. But we’ve tried had hard to find entry places and plug them up. The era of snakes in this house was over--or
so I thought.
Recently, while I made waffles in the kitchen, I began hearing sounds.
Some sort of bug, I guessed, since the sound wasn’t all that loud. I glanced around abit,but saw nothing out of the ordinary.
I needed to leave for a moment. That’s when I heard a sound I recognized.
I heard the scrape of a plastic ant trap, I knew it was in the corner by the door to the garage. I didn’t see any ants.
Nope. I watched asnakestretch out, all foot and a half, in front of the garage door. It appeared
to wriggle out from under the baseboard.
Before I could do anything, it slithered behind the frig to behind
the stove. Okay then. Nowwhat?
I have learned snakes don’t much like salt. I grabbed salt and poured a heavy line down in front of the stove. I opened
the garage door a little bit, there is a small step down. Then I poured more salt this side of the door. This gave the snake
a way out without encountering the irritating salt barrier.
I finished in the kitchen and
took my nap. Two hours later, I returned.Nosign that anything, much less a snake had crossed the
salt barrier. I hoped it found it’s way into the garage.
cleaned up most of the salt, though I left some behind the fridge. So far, no disturbance. I’m hoping this snake is
gone. If not, I’ll be getting another surprise one of these days.
beginning to think my summers aren’t complete without at least one snake adventure. After I got the courage last
year to throw one out with one of my hooks, I no longer panic. Guess that’s a good thing.
I’m getting more creative. Still, I hope one snake adventure is it for me this year.
You’re a hero, Madison, my hero Published in the Kearney Hub 7/4/16 (C) 2016 Carolyn R Scheidies
Today, many, including political candidates, champion
the cause of abortion. Women are told a preborn child is little more than a blob of tissue.Yet, early in the development stage,
preborn babies have a beating heart and a functioning brain. They move, look like babies and hear the voice of their mothers.
Very early on they also feel pain.
Other than cases of rape, babies come to be because of the mother's choices. Yet once the
little one is on the way, some woman think twice about having a baby. Freedom to them means doing what they wish without considering
consequences to themselves or to the little one growing inside. One reason given is convenience. Sorry, but there is never
a convenient time to have a child.
Others think it is ok to rid themselves of a child because it isn't the right gender or for
other nebulous reasons. The one reason heard most often is the one dealing with disability. Shouldn't a person be able to
get rid of a less than perfect child? Wouldn't the child be better off? Since when is being ripped to pieces in the
womb better off than living the best life of which they’re capable? This isn't kindness. This is either ignorance, selfishness
Those who abort these less than perfect little ones miss so much. They miss discovering how very special these little
ones are. They miss the smiles, the hugs and kisses. They miss the innate kindness and sensitivity.
Recently my family
got together at Yanny Heritage Park. My sister Karin arrived from Kansas with her daughter in law Deanna and her five little
girls. The oldest, Madison at eleven, flashes an amazing smile that warms the room.
Deanna and Jeremy fought
for this little girl's life from the very beginning. She was not only delicate healthwise, but also a Downs Syndrome baby.
Legally, they could have terminated her life before birth. Instead they welcomed her.
That evening at the Mitzi Pavilion,
Madison came up to me and asked, "Are you OK?"
Karin explained that two years ago when I was hospitalized for a long time, she
and Madison prayed for me. This time I'd fallen and my arm was in a sling. I smiled. "Yes. I am fine."
Every little while
throughout the evening, Madison asked the same question. Each time, I smiled back and repeated my answer. Later I stayed out
of the way while others cleaned up. All I wanted to do was go home.
At that point, Madison stopped in front of me. This time, she cocked her head
and softly asked, "Are you in pain?"
I nodded. "Yes." She nodded back and did not ask again. The acknowledgement made me blink
back tears. Of all the adults and children in that room, only one sensed my pain.
That one is considered
"less than" by medical persons, politicians and many others. Yet Madison showed me caring, concern and sensitivity.
Madison is one of
my heroes. How many blessings our family would have missed out on without her. How much many others miss out because they
chose to terminate a child, often leaving scars that never heal?
Time we rethink the rush to terminate the most innocent and vulnerable among us.
The most inconvenient and imperfect among us teach us to be less self-centered and more caring as individuals and as a culture.
Most of all they teach us to embrace the wonder of life.
I saw interviews where some Trump rally "protesters"--many in late teens or early twenties-- were paid $2,500
dollars to disrupt the rally. That is sad enough. Later I watched children screaming obscenities at Trump, backed up with
hand gestures. I wonder about the parents of such out of control children.
Too often, the media captures the worst in behaviors, while much of what is good about America and this generation seldom
gets into the news. There is another side to America's next generations.
Mid April, I did it again. I tripped. This time my shoe caught on the carpet and I had no way to stop myself. My shoulder
showed my descent by slamming against the edge of the dining room table. I tried to lever myself back to my feet, but could
not get my feet under me.. I ended up under the table, my glasses askew, my arm useless, trying to use my phone without seeing
Eventually, my brother Paul and sister-in-law Lorene came to my rescue and called the ambulance. Before long, I was on
my way to the hospital. Only this time I didn’t have to stay. By the time the x rays showed a broken shoulder, my
husband Keith had arrived after Lorene called him at work.
Surgery is risky in my case so that was off the table. Instead, I was fitted with a sling and, after a couple of hours,
sent home to recover. That came slow. After all, I have lots of limitations and I generally use both arms to accomplish things.
I was one short and it was my right arm.
The Kearney Hub is delivered to our door. I always ask that it be as close to the door as possible. Since I cannot bend
down, I often kick the paper inside and use a long hook to grab the rubber band so I can lift it up. That takes some manipulation.
One afternoon I went out to get the paper. Nothing was going well. Neither trying to get a purchase to kick it without
tripping or using my hook was working. Before I gave up, an elementary-age boy, riding by on his bike, ditched his bike near
the curb. He didn't know me and I didn't know him, but he came right up, asked to help and picked up the paper for me.
Before I could respond with more than a smile and a "Thank you." the young man was back on his bike, riding
away. He expected nothing for his quick, decisive kindness. He saw a need and did something, something positive.
The national media often shows us the worst, but America doesn't exist because of media stories. America is about regular
people who raise their kids with the values that stand the test of time--one of which is teaching kindness that reaches out
to a stranger in need. I am grateful for young people like the one who helped me.
Maybe there is hope for America after all.
The value of silence
Kearney Hub title: Silence is unheard of--mostly (Publ. 6/6/16)
It scarcely registered when my husband got out of bed during the night. It was a small sound.
I heard, and knew, but it didn’t disturb my sleep. It was too small on the sound radar.
We live across from a busy park that is well into the softball season. Our bedroom faces the park and lights and
sound filter across the street into the house. At times, games go on after we’re in bed. During games, cars clog the
road in front of the house. Because of the park, it is awell usedroad. I hear children laughing, talking, calling
to one another as they play at the park. Dogs bark. Those are good sounds and I smile.
time of year, I also hear birds chirping, and frown at the buzz of the flies. Grr. I am not looking forward to ants, flies
and other assorted insects that seek entrance during the warmer months. Many of them having their own ways to vocalize.
My world is filled with sound, not just from outside and not only from insects. But we miss
some sounds that surround us on a regular basis. It happened that night. As my eyes closed and I snuggled under the covers,
they suddenly flew open again. What? What was that? What did I hear?
it dawned. I heard nothing. I peeked at the large face clock by the window. It was dark. Everything was dark. No light shone
in the window from park lights. Everything was dark...and quiet. It was as though the world fell away. The house was eerily
There it was. Athundercrash,but even these were few. For some reason, the electricity
had gone off. It doesn’t happen often, not even during winter storms. For us, no electricity means no phone. I got up
to get my cell and turn it on, just in case. I glanced outside windows front and back. Darkness. Stillness.
I listened more closely. Gone the slight buzz from technology in the house. The TV box, Keith’s
laptop setup, thefreezerand refrigerator, even lights. Lights off on equipment signalled their “off”
position. And silence. I revelled in that silence. While most don’t seem to hear those low sounds, sometimes I
am unable to screen them out and they bother me. But that night, in the darkness all was quiet.
We surround ourselves with activities, work, and technology, always staying in contact until we have no time to think,
to dream, to be. Is it any wonder stress is up and satisfaction with life hard to come by? The electricity would soon be back
on, along with all the usual sounds and sights of the neighborhood and our house. A relief in many ways.
Yet, silence is not a bad thing. We need more it. Maybe it is time to sometimes clear the
schedule, close down the computer and phone. Letting go technology time stealers frees us to hear the birds chirp and the
joy of children’s laughter. Frees us to read, to think, to dream, to pray--and simply to be still and listen.
As moms, as much as we might wish otherwise, we’re not perfect. Some days,
we’d like to bury our heads in our hands or run away because we feel so overwhelmed and with a so-not-doing-this-right
feeling. Where’s the book that deals with those very real situations that come up in parenting? You know, the ones that
seem out of the Twilight Zone.
Those books on parenting never shared how difficult the task of mothering
can be. The books are good for basics of care, but I don’t recall reading I wouldn’t get a decent night’s
sleep for two years after Chris was born or that Cassie would want to nurse and cuddle far beyond the time Chris waved a hand,
at 18 months, and let me know he was done.
Books didn’t tell me some kids ignore any discipline and do
what theywant,while another sibling starts sobbing if you look at them sideways. For all the
frustrations, motherhood is filled with those moments when that little one wraps arms around your neck and gives a slobbery
kiss. “I love you.” Thosemomentmake everything worthwhile, as dowatchingchildren grow up to succeed in life. They do
so even though moms are imperfect and parents areimperfect,because human beings are imperfect.
I sometimes look back and wish I’d done some things differently. Still, our two turned
out despite my mistakes and imperfections.
I loved and respected my parents, but my mother really struggled with
discipline. She could threaten, but not carry out that threat. She let dad do that. I took advantage of that weakness. Only
later did I discover what I thought of as a weakness in my mother to be exploited, stemmed from childhood trauma fromover-the-topdiscipline that slipped into abuse at times. That made me sick to my stomach.
Still, I don’t think I truly learned that parents are peoplefirst,until we had our own kids. That sure
turned on the light for me. I realized how far from the perfect parent I was and how far from perfect my parents were as well.
Yet, for all the dysfunction in her home as a child, my mother didn’t dwell on her past. Instead, she loved us, taught
us about faith, hard work, family--and music. She was a musician who often accompanied my pastor father with piano, autoharp
or accordion. That music found its way down to my son and grandchildren, all of whom are into music.
My mother showed her love in gifts she sewed, candles she created, and poems she wrote to
let us know she loved us. She used her abilities to show love and care.
tried to teach our two they were loved, not just by family, but also by the God who created them. However imperfect, letting
our children know they are loved is the best gift we can give them. As children and as long as our parents live, we can reflect
that love back in visits, calls, cards--care and prayer. We can also show that love to those around us who may not have family
I remember the first time I got to take a book home from the small library in
our first grade class. I wassoooexcited to be a “reader.” Our folks read
to us early on and I wanted to know what those black marks on the page meant. I learned the alphabet before entering school
and even knew how to go down the letters rhyming with “at”-- bat, cat,sat,,….
But to actually read a whole book. I sat on my dad’s lap with
that first book and read it to him-- twice.
At the time, we lived in the Siren, Wisconsin where my dad, a pastor,
had a church. That church was not far from downtown and not far from the small white building with the words LIBRARY on the
front. One day my older sister Karin told me to come with her. Usually, she didn’t voluntarily let me tag along with
her. I could tell from her demeanor a surprise was in store. And it was.
led me up the stairs and into that sacred place called “Library.” The sight and smell of all those bookswasheady
indeed. Everywhere I looked were shelves and shelves of books from floor to ceiling, or almost.
Karin whispered, “Be quiet”. She need not have issued the warning. I was already awed. Slowly I walked
around. She pointed out books for my age and I looked and looked. Reverently, I fingered spines and sometimes carefully pulled
out a book.
Karin let me know I needed to choose a book. I did, a colorful, oversized
book with the princess and the pea story. After Karin showed me how to check it out, I tucked it under my arm, threw back
my shoulders and all but floated home. Even more exciting, Karin told me that when I finished this book, I could take out
When we lived in a very small oil town in Wyoming, the library was
30 miles away. I was such a quick read and we lived so far away, the librarians allowed me to check out twice as many books
as usually allowed. I finished them all long before we again headed to the library. Books were my friends. Books challenged
me, taught me, entertained me.
When my family first arrived in Kearney I was in a wheelchair. The
city library then had narrow steps inside that my father negotiated to get me into that magical place. Later, after I had
all the reconstructive surgery to walk again and was married, Keith and I spent many afternoons in the, then, new accessible
library. Back then, I did much of my book/article research during those long afternoons.
I love using the Internet for information and, now, I do most of my research using online sources. Still, nothing
can replace the wonder of the library. In thelibraryyou don’t have to know precisely for what
you search. You can wander and look and find a new topic, a new author, new information to enrich your life. Yet, today, libraries
offer books and more for the whole family. I
I am thankful not only forlibraries,but also for staff and volunteers
that keep libraries special places to visit. If you haven’t, check out your local library and find a whole new wonderful
world of reading, seeing and adventure.
More and more on social media,
I find graphics posted with pictures and text about what those of us getting up in years should be able to do. These range
from sweet and sentimental to somewhat off color to downright risqué. I don’t mind those about loving, even spoiling,
our grandkids. But I do take issue with others.
According to some graphics, at a certainageit
is alright to say whatever it is you want to say--that includes language my mother would have threatened a mouth full of soap
if I used such words in her hearing. It is alright to dress and look however you want to look, whether this is sloppy or like
some twenty-something gone badly wrong. It is even alright to behave in ways youspentyour
life raising children NOT to do.
In other words, seniors have some sort of “right” to do, say and behave in ways
they themselves would have found irresponsible and destructive when they were younger, raising children or in the workforce.
One of these graphics shows an older couple jumping off a pier in the all-together. I don’t remember the text with this,
but the image is imprinted in my mind.
The implication is that throwing off all restraints is somehow freeing and fun. Maybe it is
a thumbing-the-nose gesture to a culture thatworshipall that is young.
Billions are spent helping Americans look young. But we do age. The example we set doesn’t stop because we’ve
reached a certain age. We can’t be five-years-old again.
Just as with any other time in our lives, our choices matter. Not
just to ourselves, to also to our children and grandchildren, other family and friends. Many seniors have done wonderful things.
Instead of focusing inward, they focused outward--starting businesses--ie Colonel Sanders, going on missionary trips, assisting
in schools, reading to children in the library, even greeting customers in stores.
One thing I admired in researching Native American populations was
the respect they showed their elders. As they aged, others sought out the wealth of their experiences and knowledge. They
were the wise ones of the tribe and afforded due respect. As a culture, we do not respect our seniors. We place them in a
category of senile, old fashion or not worth listening.
Why should we buy into this image by our actions? The attitude that
I have the right to do anything I wish no matter what, highlights the worst, not the best, of who we are. It is an attitude
of selfishness. At every age, how I present myself, how I behave and what I say has consequences for good or ill. Is it fun
if others watch me and follow an example I don’t wish them to follow? The result can be tragedy, loss of respect and
I’d rather leave a legacy of wisdom, rather than foolishness--a legacy of a life well-lived, of a positive
outlook on life, wisdom,faithand hope. I want my children and grandchildren
to know Gramma loved them well, prayed for them daily and offered words of wisdom,encouragementand
Easter has become a
big holiday. The amount of candy purchased probably rivals that of Halloween. Easter baskets have become a mainstay of the
holiday--the bigger the better. Add to the baskets, Easter eggs hunts, with those plastic eggs filled with, what else--candy.
Cadbury Egg ads fill the airways during the Easter season with the Cadbury bunny. Don’t see many ads for them the rest
of the year. Why eggs at Easter?
Easter is also the time stores show off their clothing, knowing that
Easter often means new outfits for the whole family. The purchase of new clotheswereoriginally
meant for the Easter churchservice,but has become another
Easter tradition--even for those not attending Easter services. Stores love showing off new dresses, shirts, slacks and shoes.
Why Easter for a new outfit?
While Easter has become little more than another day of fashion, food
and family, Easter is rich in meaning and traditions and is appropriately celebrated in the spring. Easter is about life,
about new life, renewal and resurrection.
Easter is the joyous celebration that there is a God who created each
of us and who loves us so much--even when we mess up--that his son, Jesus, entered our reality. He gave up everything to live
like his creation. Even the writings of the secular scribes of the day make note that Jesus existed. He cared about others.
He healed and preached a message of forgiveness, hope and salvation.
not everyone liked his popularity with the common people or his message. The church leaders, along with the Roman overlords,
lied about him and incited the crowd against him. Good Friday commemorates the day Jesus was tried, found guilty, sentenced,
tortured and hung on a cross to die. He explained he died to take the place of all those wrong things we do. He didn’t
have to die.
That’s what Easter is about--life. It is a day of celebration
because Jesus, as he and Old Testament prophets predicted, rose again. He’s alive! God is not dead. He is here, near
to hear and help His own. Many witnessed the living Lord. Even the secular government could not deny that truth. Jesus chose
to die and live again for you and me, to offer forgiveness and new life for those who ask.
Though lost in tradition, new clothes symbolize the putting on a new person, and those eggs symbolize the resurrection.
For all the fun family memories of the Easter, let’s also remember God’s sacrifice and rejoice. We’re never
truly alone for Jesus is alive and only a prayer away--not just at Easter, but on every day of the year.
When I was little, I loved January.
I went sledding or skating. I built snow forts, snowmen and made snow angels. Most of all, I loved January because it was
my birth month. My parents, especially mom, made a big deal out of birthdays. She baked a cake and I had birthday parties.
I always got to choose my favorite meal for supper.
Then I grew up and there were taxes. As
in other years, I started the new year with some trepidation. As a writer, the first thing I need to deal with is my sales
tax form. As the new year starts, I start going through my records to figure out what I owe the state in sales tax. I don’t
like deadlines hanging over me. Too much stress. This year, for the first time, I filled out sales tax form and was confident
enough to send it out without calling first and having someone from the Nebraska Department of Revenue go over it with me
to make sure I did it correctly.
Once that was done, I am already knee deep into the process. After all, I want
to get our taxes done as soon as possible. Over the years, I’ve developed a file system that works with instead of against
me and that helps. It also helps I can call all our doctors, dentists, specialists and medical facilities to get an account
of what we paid out. Big help!
I've developed two forms to input information--one for family and one for my writing.
This helps lay everything out. In a folder, I place required documentation. Things went pretty smoothly this year. By my birthday
on the 24th, I had most information needed. I could relax a bit and enjoy my birthday until the rest of the documentation
came through first part of February.
Once I have all the information, I do not do our taxes. Years ago, I used Turbo
Tax, which is an excellent program, but I came up with questions no one has ever heard before. Stress levels were up and over
the moon. That was it. My talents do not include MATH! Calculator please. For the next years, we used several professional
sources for our taxes. But doing so got more expensive every year, considering what we got back. One did not balance out the
That’s when our daughter stepped up. She actually likes doing taxes, a change of pace
from her counseling practice. She does our taxes. I am so glad she actually enjoys the process. I am thankful that though
I have to spend time putting all the records together, I don’t have to actually DO the taxes, nor do I have to take
them to someone who doesn’t know us.
For the first time in many years, getting things together went smoothly
and January was more than stress. I am grateful for our daughter. But, from someone who is NOT a math or tax wizard, I also
give thanks to all who take the burden of taxes from the rest of us. Thanks!
Carly’s Valentine Project of Love
Hub Title: Teaching the value of reaching
out Published 2/15/16
Glomstad, from near Minneapolis, MN, busily found sponsors and stuffed goody bags for Valentine’s Day. She spent weeks
making contacts and putting things together. She takes goody bags to the elderly, the developmentally disabled and many more.
She brings not only a Valentinetreat,but also conversation
and a hug.
Last year she raised almost $6,000 she used for 640 goody bags and,
with what she received above what is needed for her basic bags, she provided critical supplies to several non-profits. She
visits child care centers, a residence for cancer patients who need to be close to treatment, several assisted living residences,
and a residence for the developmentally disabled.
Carly didn’t come up with
this outreach this year. She has been expanding her Valentine project every year for eight years. Eight years. Her mother
Tina told me that each year she and her husband ask her if she still wants to continue. Every year she is ready to go, even
though this outreach takes lots of time, effort, and coordination that starts weeks before Valentine’s Day.
Eight years ago, on her fourth birthday, she received a copy of the book, "Love, Ruby Valentine"
by Laurie B. Friedman. Tina read her the story of a little girl who makes Valentine goody bags for those in her town as a
way to tell them, “I love you.” At the end of the story, Carly asked her mom if she could do that, too.
Her mother said she could, but that they lived in a large city and would have to figure out
where to go. Tina was sure what with Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, her daughter would forget all about her idea.
But little Carly did not forget and kept bringing up the idea until her parents took her seriously. They started figuring
out how to make her idea happen.
Goody bags they could do. Where could they go? Carly herself suggested
a place like where they visited her grandma--an assisted living facility. Tina called a nearby facility and found skepticism.
A four-year-old? The facility suggested that TinabringCarlyin tomeet
a resident or two and see how she did. To everyone’s surprise, the little four-year-old walked right up to the residents,conversedand
gave hugs. Those doors swung wide open and so began Carly’s project of bringing not just the gift of a goody bag, but
also her warmth,smileand hugs.
Little Carly quickly became a fixture at assisted living facilities. Tina said that some of the long-time residents
keep her picture up in their rooms and even write her notes.
As the project grew from the
savings in Carly’s piggy bank, family and friends started donating to the project. When the work of stuffing the bags
grew, Carly’s school class, girl scouttroupand
others stepped in to assist.
Eight years later, Carly still goes around offering time, hugs and
goody bags to let, often forgotten individuals, know she loves them. Tina says though the Valentine project takes time and
effort for the whole family, Carly has taught them the value of reaching out with that personal connection.
Who knew that a book read to a four-year-old would become a long-term project from a little
girl who responded to a needwithlove. Carly isn’t some Internet story
I read. Carly is the granddaughter of my first cousin Nancy. Each year, I am privileged, by way of a donation, to help Carly
with her project. I am proud to call her “family.” (For more about Carly and her project: www.carlyvalentine.com
Bullying is ahot buttonissue.
No one wants to be the target of bullying. However,those most bullied todayare
not always the segment of the population you hear about in the news.
face it, the prevailing lifestyles have become a “thou shalt not question” issue. Despite tradition, all sorts
of life experience and studies to the contrary, no discussion is allowed. Those who question are intimidated, persecuted and
made to feel “less than.” If it happens in a work environment, those who do not go along with the prevailingacceptance,may find themselves forced to apologize for an opinion and to take “sensitivity”
training. Businesses are fined or even shut down if owners do not wish to cater certain wedding events due to Biblical values.
Those holding traditional and Biblical values are, in effect, bullied into silence, into losing business, into not being able
to provide for their families.
This is also the case for those who do not buy into the alarmist environmental
concerns about humans being the problem rather than the solution. Those who disagree, those who believe in a young earth and
cycles of weather change, including dissenting scientists, are bullied into silence. They are called outrageous names and
shamed, if possible, into changing their tune. In essence, they are bullied.
what isbullying.According to About.com, “Bullying is intentional aggressive behavior. It
can take the form of physical or verbal harassment…” The World English Dictionary at Dictionary.com defines a
bully as, “a person who hurts, persecutes, or intimidates weaker people."
defines those who will not accept another point of view. Tolerance is accepting someone even when one disagrees with them.
This word was hijacked by those who declare anyone who disagrees with their position are “intolerant” as opposed
to simply holding a different opinion or worldview.
These days often conservatives
and Christians come under fire. A few years ago, Duck Dynasty almost lost their show because one of the family members, a
Christian, declared his views on sexuality and marriage? David and Jason Benham lost their opportunity to expand what they
do--help deserving families get a home--with their own HGTV show. (http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/08/showbiz/tv/benham-brothers-hgtv/index.html)
The two brothers help families to buy and fix up homes. Yet HGTV was bullied by the homosexuallobby,because the brothers hold a Biblical perspective on sex and marriage. There was
no concern about the families who would have benefitted from the show.
video on Youtube showed Dan Savage, a supposed anti-bullying promoter, bullying Christian students attending the seminar to
the point many walked out at his vicious language and attacks. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ao0k9qDsOvs&feature=player_embedded)
School administrators have punished Christian students for holding a Biblical viewpoint. (I’ve
written about this in the past.) We need to be careful about getting on any bandwagon that sounds good until we know what
is truly being promoted. Unfortunately, today’s bully campaigns are often against those who believe in Creation, believe
in God, believe in marriage between a man anda womenand actually follow
what the Bible teaches. That said, whoever is being bullied, it is not ok and it is not ok to respond in kind.
We can make sure we do not act in hate and hurt others. We can, instead, set an example of
standing for our rights, without name calling, without seeking to tear others down and by reaching out to all people with
caring and kindness and truth.
February is the month we celebrate Valentine’s Day, the holiday
of love and romance. The ads start weeks before the holiday on February 14th. There are ads for getaways, coupons for special
dinners at restaurants. There are ads for those gifts--usually red, pink and white--to give to that special someone in your
life. Ads for flower arrangements abound as well as the chocolate ads--large chocolate hearts and small, exclusive chocolates
in fancy boxes. The gifts, we’re told, will show our love--to partner, spouse, child, parents or other special people
in our lives.
But flowers fade and chocolates add frustrating pounds that must then be worked off through diet and exercise. Romance
is a momentary feeling, all about fluttering eyelashes and flowers, but love is more than romance. Love is more than showing
up on a holiday with a present--however lovely or desired. Love is even more than physical intimacy.
Real love makes a commitment
to invest in the relationship with time and effort. Love is sharing, caring and being there for the long-term. Love is hanging
in there and working things through when there are problems, illnesses, loss of physical attractiveness through age or accident.
It is seeing beyond the surface to the individual beneath. (For clarification, I am not talking about clear abuse situations.)
What we say and do matters.
Screaming and cursing at our spouse, kids family or friends is not caring, is not kindness and is not love. Selfishness is
not love. Love is not all about me or manipulation.
Instead, love sees the best in the other person and does whatever
is possible to lift up and show support. A loving parent encourages a child in their talents and abilities and assists them
to work on those things they are not as quick to pick up. A spouse and good friends encourage rather than discourage. Sometimes
love means challenging someone who is off track. It can mean helping them accomplish dreams, but doing so with consideration
of family, budget and reality.
Real love stands up forright, while listening and being willing to compromise, working together toward solutions.
Love doesn’t turn and walk away because things are difficult. Love is the very essence of who Jesus is.
The passage from 1 Corinthians
13:4-8a (GW version) says it best. “Love is patient. Love is kind. Love isn’t jealous. It doesn’t sing
its own praises. It isn’t arrogant. It isn’t rude. It doesn’t think about itself. It isn’t irritable.
It doesn’t keep track of wrongs. It isn’t happy when injustice is done, but it is happy with the truth. Love never
stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, never gives up. Love never comes to an end..”
As we celebrate this month,
let’s strive not for that perfect gift, but to be a person who loves well through our attitude, our words and
Click picture to go to National Right to Life Web Site
Almost everyone has heard of Planned Parenthood (PP). This organization,
which is supposed to be a non-profit, touts itself as a place organizations, schools and individuals can go to find information
and help with reproductive, maternal and child health services. They maintain an image of caring, kindness and a place to
help women with needs. The truth is far different.
Though a “non-profit, Planned Parenthood raked in, according
to a recent ACLJ fact sheet, “$127 million in excess revenue and $1.4 billion in net assets.”
Planned Parenthood (PP) talks
about how they provide care for women, and they do provide some other services, but these pale in comparison to their fundamental
core purpose--abortion. For all their claims to the contrary, these “other” services make up a mere 6% of the
services provided. What services make up the major portion, a whopping 94% of services provided? Abortion! Abortion is the
main business of Planned Parenthood.
PP will refer for adoption on occasion. However, every single adoption referral is followed
by 174 abortions. This means that Planned Parenthood dispenses one abortion every 95 seconds and they do so around the clock.
Consider how many pre-born babies lose their lives due to PP every day, every month, every year.
According to Lifesite News,
“Planned Parenthood performed 323,999 abortions and received $553.7 million from U.S. taxpayers during the 2014-2015
fiscal year, according to its most recent annual report.”
These aborted babies are little human beings who could grow up to
contribute to society, find cures for diseases, and help ease the suffering of others. But these little ones will never grow
up, thousands and thousands of lives thrown away in the name of "business as usual." PP’s president, Cecile Richards
says, “We’re proud.”
She is proud of an organization that provides abortion by the thousands. She is proud of heading
up an organization that supports the gruesome process of partial-birth abortion in which a viable baby is delivered backward
until only the head remains inside. The child is then stabbed in the back of the head with scissors to open a hole.The
baby’s brain is suctioned out, killing the little one. These little ones are alive and feel pain during this procedure.
Yet the head of PP is proud.
PP supports gender and race selection abortion. It even supports killing a baby accidentally
born alive after an abortion. PP parenthood stands for absolutely unlimited abortion.
Why does this matter to you
or me? Because PP forces you and me to partner with them in their gruesome death business. Did you realize they receive over
41% of their funds from us--the US taxpayer? We help fund this business to the tune of $553.7 million. This breaks down to
over $1.4 million each and every day.
So what can we do? Contact your elected leaders and ask them to stop funding an organization
that deals in death and that certainly should not be supported by the hard-earn money of the American taxpayer. Also, support
those places, such as Crisis Pregnancy Centers, that support life not death and do so with love and compassion.
What type of society do we have when we applaud individuals and groups that take or advocate the taking of the lives
of those unable to defend themselves?
What type of culture applauds the woman who chooses to destroy her
preborn child; applauds parents who choose death for their disabled infant or severely disabled child? What kind of peoplehavewe
become to stand by while relatives and guardians of severely injured or elderly patients get court approval to withdraw from
their ‟loved ones” the basic elements of nutrition and water, relegating these helpless individuals to slow, painful
deaths by starvation and deprivation?
As we stand apathetically by while the innocent and helpless are systematically
terminated, we herald the belief that not only are some lives worth more thanothers,but
also that the worth of each individual is not inherent. The value of human life depends, then, on the valuation placed on
us by a fickle society. Is the cost to keep one alive more than an arbitrary valuation placed upon that person by society?
Is the cost of keeping them alive and comfortable more than they are worth?
If society places the
valuation, what about you and I? Do we contribute enough to pay our dues to society? For how long? Is economic criteria the
best, the only, deciding factor in the decision whether or not to allow a person to live?
innocent are sacrificed on the altar of selfishness and the greed of materialism and personal lifestyle, where is the loving,
self-sacrifice of accommodating to changing circumstances of birth or illness. Where is love, compassion, the joy of giving?
Where is growth through adversity? Where is the inherent worth of a soul?
This is not the time
for apathy, but for action. It is the time to cry out against crimes against the most vulnerable among us through letters,
votes, action and prayer.
It is time to once more rejoice in the worth and dignity of each human life, that
of the preborn, the disabled, the elderly, mine...yours.
The restaurant difference and respect for
Hub title: As restaurant customer,
my special order matters to me Published 1/4/16
The second of every month since we got married in 1974, my husband
and I celebrate.Usuallythat means eating out. One second a
few months ago, Keith who usually gets off at 8:30 pm and home by 9, was able to take a bit of time off. He picked me up around
7 pm. and drove across town to a newer restaurant in north Kearney.
could see there were empty tables, yet some people still waited. The place wasn’t overly crowded, but there was a steady
stream of individuals and families who desired to enjoy the food. We were soon seated in a booth.
As I have a list of food sensitivities, I try to think of food that will not be a hassle for the chef. Their gluten-free
pasta with white sauce isdelicious,but takes loads
of time. I usually call ahead to let them know when we’ll arrive. I wasn’t going for pasta. I thought in terms
of quick and easy.
I ordered mashed potatoes with peas and cheese on it. I figured, all
would be ready to go for other meals and it would not be difficult to create this for me. Wrong. The waitress returned. She
looked uncomfortable. The chef, she said, needed to feed the other people first, before he did a special order. Did I wish
to wait---maybe an hour?
Are you kidding me? Potatoes, peas and cheese. No, I said, forget
Keith needed to eat and we were already there. He’d already
ordered. I shrugged. “You eat. I’ll find something at home.” Keith hesitated, but I insisted. Later at home,
I fixed myself something I enjoyed.
December 2nd, we chose Ruby Tuesdays. I like them because they have
not just a gluten-free menu, but several others as well, including nuts. What I wanted was listed as sides or extras. I ordered
mashed potatoes topped not only with peas andcheese,but
also ham, black olives (I love black olives), diced egg and all with olive oil. Not a problem. All gluten-free and my other
sensitivities-free. It was delicious and there was so much, I took a whole lot home.
service was great and quick--something I found sadly lacking in that other Kearney establishment. There, I felt I didn’t
matter. I hadn’t asked for something outlandish. Even a busy chef should have been able to provide my request. I would
have been a grateful, paying customer. Now, I have little desire to ever go to that other restaurant again.
What happened helped me realize things like waiting an unreasonable time for service for an
easy-to-prepare dish hurts. How we treat one another matters. Regardless of size, health, race, disability...or allergies,
everyone deserves more than a throw-away “Chef wants to feed everyone else first.” I won’t be a second-tier
I tried for an easy meal and found rejection. Another place, I found overwhelming
acceptance. Guess where our eating out dollars will go? Most of all, in this new year, let us remember to treat allpersons
in the same waywe’d like to be treated--with dignity and respect.
For several years, I wrote about my experiences with snakes around the house during the warmer months of the year.
I am glad my experiences didn’t stretch back to when my brother Paul Fredrickson built our house to accommodate my limitations
before the birth of our first child April 1980. We moved into our house the end of 1979.
run in with snakes on a regular basis began long after our children grew up and left home. The house required a new roof and
siding because of one of Kearney’s favorite type of storms that takes out cars and trucks and does damage to houses.
The contractor hated snakes. What did he find when replacing siding? Snakes that crawled up behind the siding. Yikes! He killed
After that, I found a big, bloated snake along the wall just inside the front doorway. Another
time, I caught a snake halfway in and halfway out. One night, late, I walked down our hallway from our bedroom to the rest
of the house. I didn’t turn on a light. I got this uneasy sense that I was not alone and something was beside me. Reaching
over, I flicked on the light and glanced down at a small snake, staring up at me. It was almost cute, but how did it get in
the hallway? I greatly dislike snakes and, always, called on someone else to rid the house of those that crossed my path--inside
Last year, after the weather cooled and I figured the danger of snakes
had passed, I breathed a sigh of relief. No snakes inside the house for once. That thought came too soon. Not long afterward,
I found a snake, just inside the front door. It was average size. I froze--at first. There was no one to call.
Because of my limitations, I keep tongs in many rooms and hooked sticks I use for so many
things. I saw my hook hanging from the wall. I surveyed the snake. Images of snake handlers flashed into my mind, including
how they managed the snakes--with hooks not that different from mine. This time, I also got mad. Enough already.
I reached for my stick and slowly opened the door that swung over the snake’s head.
The snake didn’t see it coming. With a sigh, a prayer and a shudder, I scooped up the snake and heaved it as far down
the sidewalk as I could. Not far, but enough to get that snake out of my house. Finally, I took charge, overcoming my fear.
I felt great. This year, no snakes.
I thought about this scenario and how snakes wriggle into our lives.
We allow snakes of hurt, hatred and revenge to take the place of understanding, true tolerance--accepting different points
of view, agreeing to disagree without trying to force compliance or destroy those who differ, Fear and anger causes us to
make choices that hurt ourselves and others. They are snakes that we need to eliminate from our lives not pet and nurture
All lives do matter. Only as we get rid of the snakes in our lives will we move
beyond the anger and a desire to hurt others in some way because they disagree with us to caring, acceptance and fighting
together for what really matters--faith, family and freedom.
Then we can truly understand
the joy of the Christmas season is love.
I was watching an old episode
of JAG, about military lawyers, when it came. I rolled my eyes and shook my head. The phrase was a response to a client. “I
promise everything will be all right.”
Television shows and movies have used some version of this promise in dramatic shows since
the beginning of the media. It is especially prevalent with doctors and lawyers, though it also comes out of the mouths of
characters playing detectives, military and other medical personnel.
The scene is set with soft music. The person in trouble has been a
victim of some sort. The person may be facing a stalker, been hurt by crime or facing a court system as a witness. The character
may be accused of a crime not committed by his/her hand or the person may be trying to protect a loved one. The victim may
be a patient in the hospital after a crime or accident and may fear for life itself. Serious surgery might be involved with
the concern for survival or worry about facing a life-long chronic illness.
Script-writers, producers, directors and others with authority seem
to think they have to have their character make promises of health, wellness and safety.
“I promise, I’ll
win this case for you.”
“We will find out who did this.”
“We promise to keep you safe.”
“I promise the surgery will go well.”
“I promise to save you,
your spouse, your child...sometimes even your pet.”
The setting is always sentimental and tear-jerking. The promises sound
so right in the circumstances and give the victim hope--don’t they? Not really. If military, medical personnel or lawyers
made these promises and reality happens, they open themselves up to lawsuits.
No one can promise to win a case. Court cases, even those that seem
a slam-dunk, can go south. No court case judgment, short of fixing the outcome, is a given. Exoneration cannot be promised.
A criminal may not go to jail. An innocent person might. That’s reality.
In a war setting, things are even more unsettled and even a promise
given in all sincerity may not be fulfilled. The individual is subject to orders from higher up the chain that may change
everything. A promise of safety or protection would, in reality, be a cruel joke.
As for doctors, I’d wonder about doctors who would make the
sort of promises TV and movie doctors make on a regular bases. No one can know what will happen in surgery, how well someone
will handle medications or what a body will do under different sets of circumstances.
Promises may draw a tear in
a melodramatic moment, but in the real world, such promises do more harm than good. Those who make such promises may find
things going very bad. Those who rely on such promises will find, if things do not go as planned, those promises are nothing
but wishes that dissolve in the mists of life. Broken promises lead to distrust, anger, hurt, depression--and lawsuits.
While these promises are a standard
technique used in movies and television, it breaks credibility and reveals the fiction of the show. Most of all, don’t
expect your doctor or lawyer to smile, pat your hand and promise, “It will be all right.” Part of real life is
its unpredictability, which is both a challenge and a great hope--for, many times, things really do come right.
Recently, I finished my third book in a
row that had no real ending. This last book could have had a solid ending. There wasplacewhere
the main story came to a positive conclusion. But the next page dragged the reader into a whole new situation of danger. I
can not tell you how frustrated it makes meto
spenda lot of time and effort reading a book of fiction, only to get
to the last page and find a new critical situation, but--nothing more. There are no more pages. No conclusion, nowrap up,justenticement to purchase the next
book, which also would not end.
I know why many books don’t end with a satisfying conclusion.
Book publishers push their authors to write series instead of stand alone books. This gets readers hooked and reading three
instead of one book, particularly if they like the characters. Don’t get me wrong. I like to read more about characters
that capture my heart and mind.
In fact, I’ve even written book series. My Barrington Saga of
four books was published by TrebleHeart books several years ago and my Regency series for the Harlequin Heartsong Presents
line was released a couple of years ago. The publisher for the Barrington Saga called it quits in the last few years and turned
rights for the books back to me. I’ve updated, reformatted and recently released new editions--both print and Kindle
of the Barrington Saga. The Harlequin series is still selling for the company.
or not, I believe each book should have a beginning, middle and an end. There are authors, like me, who do not leave the reader
hanging. We have a thread that ties the book series together, but make sure each book is complete in and of itself. I always
consider the long-term for books. Those who buy books second-hand or at a garage sale, may not be able to find the rest of
the series and will be left frustrated if the book they purchase leaves the plot hanging.
Unfortunately, publishers encourage authors to write books that, like soap operas, always leave the audience hanging.
These books without proper endingsrequiresthe reader to purchase all the books in the series to get one satisfying story.
They call it strategic planning. I call it something else. Years ago, a friend of mine purchased a book. She paid good money
was anything but satisfied. The book wasn’t what she was used to from that author, which usually offered an entertaining
sweet romance. This book offered only the start of a story. She felt she’d wasted her money. That’s the way I
feel when I get to the end of the book, but the story hasn’t ended.
than reading the ending of the book before buying, I have no good solution to this problem. For me, I’ll keep taking
chances on the endings, because the great books I read are worth the ones that frustrate. Despite occasional frustration,
I still believe there is nothing like a good book to lower stress, entertain and brighten up the day.
Jesus answered him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one
goes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 GW
This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth,
but you shall meditate on it by day and by night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.
For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall act wisely. Joshua 1:8 MKJV
Jesus doesn't speak truth, He
is the embodiment of truth His Word is also truth. Scripture doesn't contain truth, it is truth. “Sanctify them through
Your truth . Your Word is truth.” John 17:17 MKJV
But to receive that truth we need to be in tune with
Jesus, not trying to prove our beliefs through the Bible, but allowing God to speak to us through His Word. 2 Timothy 2:15
MKJV “Study earnestly to present yourself approved to God, a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing
the Word of Truth.”
That makes all the difference. The only way we can know God's Word is through
intensive, systematic and continual study.
Millennium of persons have testified to the redemptive
power of Jesus and His Word to change lives. However we try to subvert His Word, God is God, who makes sure His Word is truth.
If He can't,
He isn't all powerful. If He won't, He is deceptive, neither good or righteous, which makes Him a liar and not worth our time
Jesus can't simply be a good man, because He claimed to be God. Jesus is either a con
artist and liar, or exactly whom He said He was. If He is God we need to get to know Him. The way is through prayer (communicating
with God) and through His revealed Word. Reading the Bible through cover to cover is a start.
Many believe Jesus is a good
man, but not God. Yet, we have three options. Either he was a liar, a lunatic or, exactly what he claimed, Lord. A good man
would not try to deceive people by saying, “"I am the way and the truth and
the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 NIV That would make him a liar.
He could have been a lunatic, except his message was simple and clear. He said he had the answer to people’s
need for acceptance, forgiveness and hope. He died for his belief. If he deceived himself as well as others, he was tragic,
but certainly not worthy of our admiration.
If he was neither a lunatic nor a liar, we have one choice. Jesus was who he said he was, God. We’ve all done
those things for which we’re ashamed and for which we deserve punishment. Because he had done no wrong, Jesus was able
to do what no one else could do, take on himself the punishment we deserve for the wrongs we’ve done. He died for our
wrongs, but more, he rose again, conquering death and hell and sin. Because he lives Jesus can offer us hope. All we need
do is to recognize we can’t make it on our own and accept his offer of forgiveness, a new start, a new life with Christ
as our friend, our savior, our guide.
Jesus said it best. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke
upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew