Monday, March 31, 2014

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

I've been at work for less than an hour and I've already heard a lot of chatter about the movie Noah, which apparently everyone but I saw over the weekend. The concensus seems to be it was a great action movie, and actually a pretty good story, but the movie took some liberties with and departure from the Bible's account of Noah.

Well, not to seem derisive, but duh. First of all, it's Hollywood. A liberal lot to be sure. Yeah, they're going to take liberties. I'm just kind of excited that they're making movies like Noah, Son of God, and the upcoming Heaven is For Real, and Exodus. Secondly, the Bible's story concerning Noah is, at best, 20-30 minutes. A movie is roughly 120 minutes, in comparison. So, they had to fill the time with something.

As with most things, there's a happy medium. It's a fantastic place to be. With Noah, I think it's somewhere between this:

and this:

Bottom line:  If it gets anyone, believer or not, to pick up a Bible and read the actual story, chalk it up under "win."

And as much of an animal lover as I am, my favorite part of the story of Noah is this:

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him:  "I now establish my covenant with you...Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood"...And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant...I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth."
Genesis 9:8-17

Friday, March 28, 2014

Honk if you...spite?

I used to be an extremely offensive driver. I wouldn't hesitate to tailgate someone driving slowly, pass someone on either side going more slowly than I, or even honk if I felt someone had erred. This has gotten better with age and often having at least one little person in the car with me whose life I value even more than my own. 

My habits were also softened one day, 10+ years ago, when I was sitting at a red light. I looked over and the woman driving the car next to me was openly sobbing. Trying not to stare, I felt such compassion for her. What happened today to cause her such pain? I wondered to myself. And then it struck me...what if I had been behind her, deemed her driving unacceptable, and had honked at her. How would that have made her feel? And I realized, while sitting at that light, the power that I, and the center of my steering wheel, held, and vowed to try to not make anyone's day worse.

Hey, I've gotten better. I didn't say I was the Mother Teresa of the open road. My child's first word was "GO!" followed by "Dada," "Get over!" "Dog" and "Turn your blinker off!" (OK, I made up the last one.) But I do try, on any given day, to be more defensive than offensive.

That brings us to this past Wednesday. After work, I ran to the grocery and was on my way home. I got behind a woman who was preoccupied with her cell phone. In bumper-to-bumper traffic, she was slow to move up and close the gap when traffic moved. I was irritated but held it in. 

Then we get to our first light. The light turned green and all the other lanes began to move and we didn't. I see that she's looking down instead of ahead. I take a breath, count to five in my head and, when we're still not moving, I decided to prompt her with two quick beeps. Beep-Beep. Not a blast. Not an alarm. Just a nudge. She looks up, sees the light is green and that our neighbors are all moving, but still throws her arms up in feigned apology and then proceeds.

 As we travel to the next light, she goes out of her way to change lanes, slow down, and get behind me. Again, we're at a red light. I'm the first in our lane and, for whatever reason, my neighbor who was first in his lane and I both hesitate when the light turns green but for just a half-second. She sees her opportunity and grabs it. H-O-N-K!!!!!!! She sits on the horn, even after we've begun moving. I look in my rear view mirror to see her face full of, well, spite. She's proud of herself. And all I can do is chuckle and think "whatever floats your boat, lady."

Thursday, March 27, 2014

I Got Your Crazy

A few years ago, a councilman in Ohio made the news and became a YouTube sensation because of a speech he gave while running for office. Regardless of what side of the aisle you’re on, there’s no doubt this guy is a nut. He was energetic while delivering his speech and that’s a grave understatement. He didn’t win whatever seat or position he was seeking, however, he did go on, probably unintentionally, to be an example of what not to do while publically speaking. I remember sitting in a professional development class and a snippet of his video was shown under the “what not to do” section of the program.

Yesterday, I listened to a speaker at a seminar at work and he referenced this guy and this video and, again, I cried watching it. Seriously…tears rolling down my cheeks. Bless him. His heart was in the right place, but there is a difference in being impassioned and being a lunatic.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Hippity Hoppin'

Peter Cottontail by Gene Autry

Here comes Peter Cottontail
Hoppin' down the bunny trail
Hippity hoppin', Easter's on its way
Bringin' every girl and boy
Baskets full of Easter joy
Things to make your Easter bright and gay
He's got jelly beans for Tommy
Colored eggs for sister Sue
There's an orchid for your mommy
And an Easter bonnet too
Oh! here comes Peter Cottontail
Hoppin' down the bunny trail
Hippity hoppity, happy Easter Day
Here comes Peter Cottontail
Hoppin' down the bunny trail
Hippity hoppin', Easter's on its way
Try to do the things you should
Maybe if you're extra good
He'll roll lots of Easter eggs your way
You'll wake up on Easter mornin'
And you'll know that he was there
When you find those chocolate bunnies
That he's hiding everywhere
Oh! here comes Peter Cottontail
Hoppin' down the bunny trail
Hippity hoppity, happy Easter Day
Hippity hoppity, happy Easter Day

Chatting with my sister-in-law yesterday about the upcoming Easter season and the need to buy our daughters dresses, it struck me how far we've come in just a few decades. These days, the girls are shopping at Old Navy and Justice. We both fondly reminisced about our own memories of our mothers dragging us through a department store and not emerging until we had a complete ensemble including:  itchy/fancy dress, dress coat, hat, white gloves, white patent leather shoes, and a fancy little purse. I'm afraid those days are gone.

I still enjoy Easter and the whole season around it. Here are my seven favorite things about Easter.

1. Chocolate. More than Christmas or even Halloween, this holiday is a free pass to graze, delight, or just binge on chocolate. Hey, you can hit that swim suit diet hard in May.

2.  A new outfit. Even though I don't do the whole get up anymore, I do still try to buy a new dress for Easter. 

3.  If Spring is not here already, it will be soon.

4.  Egg Hunts. I enjoy watching the kids almost as much as they enjoy hunting.

5.  Family. Gone are the days of regularly scheduled family reunions so this is a good  time of year (and, sadly, one of just a couple) when you get to see extended family.

6.  A feeling of rebirth. Birds are chirping, you start hearing crickets at night. Flowers bloom. The days are longer. You hear lawn mowers in your neighborhood.

7.  Easter is a reminder to all - regardless of their belief - that we, as Christians, serve and love a living God. He's alive!

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, bringing the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened that while they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling apparel; and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, "Why do you seek the living One among the dead? "He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again." And they remembered His words, and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles. And these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them. But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at that which had happened.

Luke 24:1-12

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What Makes Me Uncomfortable

Scott Walker (R), the governor of Wisconsin, is under fire for a Tweet he posted over a week ago. Here it is:

Atheists and representatives from the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation came out swinging. Declaring Governor Walker had "made them uncomfortable," they accused the governor of misusing his authority to “promote not just religion over non-religion, but one religion over another in a manner that makes many Wisconsin citizens uncomfortable.”

Well, here are a few things that I don't agree with, but I'm not insisting that anyone changes their ways:

1. Teaching kids to cover their coughs and sneezes in their hands.

It's gross. If I had my druthers, people would excuse themselves for a cough or sneeze in the same manner they would to pass gas. In my mind, there's no difference. It's gross. And people get a false sense of "doing the right thing" but all they've really done is transfer their germs to the one place on their body that touches more objects than anything else. BUT, you don't see me telling anyone (other than my immediate family) that it makes me uncomfortable.

2. Allowing men to wear flip flops, or really any kind of sandal.

Boy feet are not pretty. They're hairy, scaly, and the toes are inconsistent in length. The nails are rarely neatly trimmed and guys have a wanton disregard for sizes so you see them in shoes two sizes off in either direction as though they just strolled in a store and grabbed the first pair they saw. BUT, I'm not pushing for legislation banning dudes from enjoying a nice mandal.

3. Smoking

It's a filthy habit. It's proven to be detrimental to your health. It's expensive. It turns your teeth, your hands, and your skin yellow. It kills your sense of taste and smell. It makes you stand outside when it's hot, freezing, snowing, or raining. You don't get as much for your car when you sell it if you've smoked in it. You can't sell things on Craigslist and say the item is from a "smoke free home." You won't live as long and your last days will be spent in doctors' offices, in labs, and dragging an oxygen tank behind you like Marley's chains in A Christmas Carol. My Daddy smoked, as did my grandfathers, and probably their grandfathers. I tried it. I wanted to be cool and quickly found out that wasn't the way. It made my clothes smell and made my tongue feel furry. BUT, I'm OK if you want to smoke.

4. Gratuitous swearing (especially in movies).

If you know me, you know I like rap and hip-hop music. I like many forms of music and respect the trade. It's art and with art comes artistic freedom. If it's too vulgar, I turn it off.

Something that really irritates me, though, is going to a movie that is a perfectly fine movie but the actors toss in unnecessary cursing. It's as if they wrapped filming and the producers were told that the movie only qualified as a PG-13 and, if they wanted the desired "R" rating, they'd have to go back and add 27 additional curse words.  BUT guess what, if I don't like it, I grin and bear it, or walk out, or don't recommend it to friends, or don't buy the DVD when it comes out. I don't call up Hollywood and demand change.

These are just a few examples of things I don't particularly like but I understand something my Momma taught me a long time ago:  your rights end where mine begin.  Just because I don't agree with you, doesn't make me right or you wrong.

But here's one thing I know:  atheists are bullies. The freedoms they desire are the same ones they are so quick to snatch from those with whom they don't agree. Bullies.

Monday, March 24, 2014

No Regrets

Mr. Frank Sinatra - and, more memorably for me, Elvis - sang about regrets in the song "My Way:"

Regrets, I've had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption
I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way.

A hospice nurse wrote an article a few years back, sharing the common sentiments that her dying patients shared with her. She summed it up in an essay entitled "Top 5 Regrets of the Dying." Here is a portion of that article:

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people have had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn't work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness."

Choose happiness. Indeed. And always, always do it your way.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Things We've Handed Down

While on Spring Break vacation over this past week, my husband and I both noticed distinctive traits in our daughter which we identified, not with either of us per se, but with one or more of her grandparents. For instance, my sweet father-in-law, my husband’s Dad, is notorious for making up answers to questions to which he may or may not actually know the answer. On several occasions, our sweet girl would share a story about a native plant or offer a suggestion to something of which she was hardly an expert and we’d laugh and say “well, there’s Poppa.” 

Not a social butterfly myself, I was struck by her friendliness and chattiness while waiting in lines as she struck up conversations with those around her, seemingly unphased by gender, age, or even ethnicity. “Where are y’all staying?” I heard her inquire of one lady. There’s my mother-in-law. She’s never met a stranger and shares seemingly specific and not-interesting family facts with everyone she encounters. 

Our resort was a sprawling layout of twisting sidewalks and circuitous, meandering paths connecting one building or area to the next. When she would insist on a certain trajectory and scoff at the notion of stopping and asking for directions, I saw my own Daddy. More often than not, though, in both of their stubbornness, we actually would find our desired target. 

These observations led me to consider other genetic inheritances which led me to this:

"The Things We've Handed Down" by Marc Cohn

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Gift of Connie

We just returned from Spring Break vacation. If there was anything more enjoyable than the sunny weather, the exotic Bahamian locale, the fun water park, or the frosty/fruity poolside beverages, it was the people watching.  Certainly, there's terrific people-watching at the airports. I had an encounter at the very start of our trip, though, that left an impression which lasted throughout the trip and to this brutal day of returning to the office. It was with an employee at the Nashville Airport, whom I'll call Connie, but I never saw her name tag.

Our flight was early in the morning. We arrived at the airport at the recommended one-and-a-half hours prior to our flight for domestic flights. Fueled with caffeine and excitement and anticipation, we threw ourselves into the crowd of people waiting to check in at their designated airline's desk. We found our airline and assumed our place in line. It was then that I first noticed Connie. I'm not sure if Connie worked for a specific airline or the airport, in general, but her job, the best that I could tell, was to make sure that airport guests were in the right place at the right time. Not an easy task in and of itself. Throw in cranky morning people, crying kids, non-English speaking guests, and just the plain dumb, rude, or the variety which is both dumb and rude. Connie's job is not an easy one.

When she approached us, we had boarding passes and passports in one hand, and the other hand on our luggage, as the overhead announcement instructed. She asked two questions of us:  which airline are you travelling on and when is your flight? We answered both questions correctly, politely, and quickly. Sadly, we were not the norm. 

I witnessed person after person in line fumble one or both of these questions.

Connie: M'am, which airline are you travelling today? 
Clueless Lady #1: [Pause] Hmm? 
Connie: Which airline are you on this morning? 
Clueless: American? 
Connie: [Looking at woman's boarding pass] M'am, you're on Delta and this is the US Air line, anyway. Delta is on down there. 
Clueless: Oh...ok...[ambles away like a bear awakened from hibernation early].

Connie: Sir, what time is your flight this morning? 
Rude and Clueless Man #1: [Bothered] Um...I don't know...9:45. 
Connie: [Looking at boarding pass] Sir, your flight is at 7:20. That's in 15 minutes. We need to get you through the line. Come with me and I'll have someone help you. 
Rude: [Bothered] Ok...whatever. [Tries to hand his bag to Connie even though that's not her job to take his bag.]

I watched person after person after person not know where they were, where they were going, or when they were supposed to be there. All the while, Connie was guiding people to the right place and with a smile on her face. I said a prayer for Connie while I stood there. That God would bless her and shine His light upon her and that I could be more like Connie.

The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.                                                                                  -Tolstoy

Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.                                                                                                   1 Thessalonians 5:13-15

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Grocery Store Fun Facts

The average apple you see in the supermarket is 14 months old.

The mist that’s sprayed on your fruits & veggies may make them look fresh but it can make them rot faster and weigh more at check out, so shake them off before you bag them up.

Beware of the “10 for $10” promotion. Stores are known to mark an $0.89 item up for this promotion.

If you see something in the meat department or bakery that is expiring tomorrow, ask if they are going to mark it down. A lot of times, they’ll mark it down for you because you’re doing them the favor of not having to throw it out.

Don’t buy a cake from the grocery on the day you need it. If you grab one from the shelf, it’s been there a day or two where one you pre-order is made that day for you.

The carts never get cleaned. Babies lick and sneeze on the handle. They pee and poop in the seat (where you put your purse). Use the anti-bacterial wipes most stores provide now.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Valerie's Favorite "Little Bit o' Every-" Things List

Vera Wang pulled an Oprah, albeit on a smaller scale. In an article in Allure magazine, Vera shared her top 10 list of favorite must-have items. Unlike O, she didn’t share her favorites with anyone that I’m aware of, and she didn’t buy everyone a car. I found her list a bit elitist and snobby as it included an $80 candle and a $700 knit hat. Never mind the Hermes scarf, this list is obviously not for the average Jane.

So, for a more down-to-earth favorites list, I’ll share a few of mine. Ready?

1    10. Eucerin Intensive Repair Extra-Enriched Hand Crème
             Great to keep a tube in your purse, glove box, or at work. A little dab'll do you, softens and soothes but soaks in fast so you're able to get back to doing whatever it is you're doing.
$5.79, Walgreens
      9.  Stash Double Spice Chai Black Tea
Just a really good cup of tea without the hassle of a tea ball. Smells divine. And you don't have to order it from England.
$18.30/18 tea bags, Wal-Mart

      8. [Tie] Burt’s Bees Replenishing Lip Balm and Burt’s Bee Natural Lip Shimmer     in Rhubarb.
I put the former on at night or just as a touch up during the day. The Latter is a great mix of moisturizing and color. The best of both worlds.

 $5.49/2-pack, Target

 $4.99, Target
     6.  Yellow Box Flip Flops
A bit of a splurge, for me, but look at your department and online stores and you can find them on sale for under $30. I've had a pair for 5+ years and they still look brand new. I toss them in the washing machine with towels and let them air dry and they're good to go. Great quality thong and a very cushion-y "I feel like I'm walking on a cloud" sole.

$29.00, Belk

      5.  Funky, multi-strand necklace.
I'm not a jewelry girl, per se, but I do love a great statement necklace. Do not pay more than $30 for one. If you do, you have extra money. Find a charity.
$16.99, Target

     4. Tank with built in bra
Sleep in them, layer them, run errands in them. I've done all three with the same one on the same day. :/
$11.94, Express

     3.  Fuzzy sleep socks
I have poor circulation. Just ask my husband.
$6 Target

     2.  Gap Perfect Boot Cut Jeans
This is one of those things you have to find for yourself...a good fitting pair of jeans. My best advice is try, try again. Look in the fitting room mirror from every angle. Sit in them. Roll them up if you're into that kind of thing. Go walk around in them. Experiment with what size and angle of back pocket makes your backside look better. DO NOT feel you have to have the "it" style every day. I mean, if your jeans look like they came from the costume department of the "Three's Company" set, then maybe it's time to look into a new pair. I know a mild boot cut is most flattering for my shape, so I rode out the stick- straight, "skinny" jean era.
$69.95 reg., $30.00 sale, Gap

     1. Moroccan Oil Intense Hydrating Mask
Yes, I'm a normal girl and I have a splurge item here and there. This is one. It's a lot for a pot of conditioner, I'll grant you that. However, the pot of conditioner that I have in my shower...I'm pretty sure Bush was in office when it was purchased. I use it once/week as a deep conditioning mask. After a good washing, I scoop out a little, slather it on, comb it through, then I shave everything I have and, as time allows, I might even scrub down the interior of the shower. Hair is left soft, shiny, and healthy-looking.
 $35, Cosmetic Market

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Quiz: TV Show Kitchens

How well do you know your TV kitchens?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Not Forgotten

Last night, we watched the premiere of the ABC drama Resurrection and I enjoyed it. It reminded me of the qualities I enjoyed in shows like Lost, Joan of Arcadia, Ghost Whisperer, and Under the Dome. The premise:  people who have been dead for some time return to their hometown at the same age as they were when they died but their friends and family have continued with their lives and aging process.

This made me miss those in my own life who have gone on and long for the opportunity to see them again. I know I will.  But I still fantasized about seeing them sooner and wondered what I would do and say. I know I'd give each one a big hug. And, hopefully, be able to articulate something like this:

PaPa Bennett – It’s been 30 years and I miss you still. I miss that constant swirl of smoke from your BelAir cigarette over your head and, when I hugged you, how your overalls were soft but the metal from the buckles was hard and cool. I miss hanging out with you in your garden and workshop. And I’ll never smell fresh cut grass, freshly chopped wood, or a pair of work gloves and not think of you.

Pop Eagan – It’s been 23 years and I miss you and think of you often. I wish I had your fudge recipe. And I still enjoy and reminisce every time I smell cigar or pipe smoke.

MeMa Bennett – It’s been 14 years. Thank you for teaching me to sew. And how did you thread needles well into your 70s and I’m already having trouble seeing?

Poopaw Mangrum - It's been almost 9 years. I miss your big smile and your even bigger hugs. Your greetings and hospitality were positively contagious. 

Pawpaw Anderson - It's been 10 years. I miss your generic yet heartfelt greetings of "hey, girl" and realized after the fact of how clever you were to greet people like this so you didn't have to keep up with the names of your ever-expanding family. I'll always picture you sitting at your kitchen table with Mawmaw at one side and your beloved Chihuahua, Cocoa, at the other. When Cocoa would get excited about something and start yipping, all it would take would be a gentle stroke of her head and a quiet "hush, Cocoa" to calm her down. At least for a minute.

Mom – It will be 10 years this summer. I miss you…every day. And I love you. It wasn’t until I was a mother myself that I knew how much I had for which to be grateful. Thank you.

Mawmaw Anderson – It will be six years this summer and I miss you calling me on my birthday and singing. I miss your sweet smile. I miss your soft-spoken voice and standing or sitting next to you and not realizing immediately that you had been talking to me for some time.

Harry – It’s been one year and I still haven’t accepted that you’re gone. I look for you when our families gather and, when I don’t see you, I tell myself you’ve just gone outside to smoke. I have to stop myself from saying the phrase “Kay and Harry” because, for the first 38 years of my life, that’s all I knew. It wasn’t two people. You were an entity.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Daylight Saving Time - Yay!

P.S.  Don't put an "s" on the end of "Saving." It's not a bank account. :)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Tomorrow Will Worry About Itself

I snapped this photo this morning on my way to work. Don't worry...I was at a red light. This whole mountainside was covered in a curtain of beautiful, little icicles, like one gigantic chandelier. As I sat there, I thought how pretty it was but yearned for spring and warmer days. They're just around the corner, you know. And before we know it, it will be oppressively hot and these icicles will be a distant, melted memory.

This thought path led to one of my favorite pieces of Scripture. Matthew 6:25-34:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Yes, it was a long light. What can I say? I can tell you this:  each day has enough trouble that you don't need to skip ahead and worry about tomorrow. Cross that bridge when you get to it, friend.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Servant's Heart

In case you missed it…

On Sunday, an 8-kilometer charity race was held in California for the Pat Tillman Foundation.

Pat Tillman was a high school football player who rose to play on the collegiate level, with Arizona State, and went on to the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals. Shortly after 9/11, he quit football to become an Army Ranger, serving several tours before being killed in Afghanistan in 2004.

At the race Sunday, 95-year-old Joe Bell, a World War II veteran, donned his uniform and walked out to the sidewalk to cheer on and show support for the participants of the race. One by one, nearly half of the runners detoured to run by Joe, shaking his hand, and thanking him for his service to our country.

Good people still exist. And Mr. Bell is a testament to the name The Greatest Generation.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What Did You Say?

“Netiquette” is defined as “the do’s and don’ts of online communication.” Simply put, it’s not being a toot when you email someone. I have recently been exposed to two violations of netiquette. Neither were directly aimed at me, but it got me to thinking about this practice and the times I’ve surely made an electronic faux pas myself.

The first instance happened over the weekend in a group email between several mothers from school. One felt slighted by another and sent an email to that fact. The alleged offender then shot back a response and copied several others. It was clearly a defensive move.

Last week, I sent an email to several colleagues on behalf of my boss. Waiting for me this morning was a somewhat curt reply from one recipient, expressing his dissatisfaction both with the content of the message and that my boss had chosen to convey it via email. Ironic, I realize. You’re complaining – via email – about having received a message by, well, email? OK…

Since I did not have the proverbial dog in either of these fights, I was purely an innocent bystander. From the comfort and safety of my armchair, I was able to clearly see where the various players took a misstep and what they should have done instead. Easy for me to say, right?

My mother had good advice often and great advice on a couple of occasions. One of her gems was simple:  “don’t put into writing what you wouldn’t say to someone or what you wouldn’t want someone to see.” Plain and simple. Especially with email, once it’s been uttered, it’s out there and without the benefit of facial expressions, vocal intonations, or an instant filter provided by the heart and mind. Too much can be read between those electronic lines.

Best Practices of Email Etiquette, from an article on

1.      Decide if you should send the email. Ask yourself: Why am I sending the email, and can I better achieve my goal in person or on the phone?

2.      Decide who should receive the email. Only send emails to those who should get them. Before adding any name to the "cc" list, ask yourself: Does this person really need to read this email?

3.      Consider the tone of the email. People cannot detect subtleties in an email, so avoid sarcasm and most humor. SENDING A MESSAGE IN ALL UPPERCASE LETTERS is perceived as shouting. Avoid long, rambling messages (they sound argumentative or whiny) and very brief messages (like “No”), which are seen as cold and unfriendly. Read the email out loud to determine if you sound condescending or angry.

4.      Do not fight with emails. Resolve conflicts that arise in emails in person. Do not respond to an angry or insulting email message immediately. Instead, compose a reply, save it for 24 hours, and then reread it. If it still reflects the way you feel, send it. Never send important e-mail messages when you are tired or angry.

5.      Compose every e-mail message as if it will be on the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper. You can never retrieve a sent message. Sending an email message saying you are retracting an earlier e-mail message will not repair any damage done by the first email. Remember, some issues are not suited for email.