Moral Stories

Consider The Lillies

Our daughter, Carol, died on July 3rd, 1980. She was 19 months old. It was devastating for us.

We adorned her small casket with beautiful white daisies. Our family and friends filled the church with arrangements and lots of daisies.

We decorated the church with daisies, my favorite flower when we were married. Our niece and nephew threw daisy petals down the aisles before I walked to unite with my husband.

The flower is beautiful yet stunningly simple, and I have always admired it.

Everyone that knew us we...

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Lessons From Papa’s Garden

Lessons From Papa’s Garden

Our children and grandchildren were visiting for the weekend, and they all love mashed potatoes. So I told my husband we needed some more potatoes for dinner.

He said he would get some. Then, he asked our grandson, Donovan, to come with him as he walked out the door.

Going to the store with their Papa is always fun because they know he will buy them a treat.

So he jumped up and ran to the car while my husband was walking around the back of the house. When he realized he was walking...

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What is Your Love Language?

It only took 40 years for my husband to realize that bringing me coffee in bed was one of the ways that I felt loved. But, of course, he’s not a coffee drinker, so the smell and taste of freshly brewed coffee in the morning is not a big deal for him.

After we retired, we bought a 26 foot RV and traveled out West to Alaska. It had a small table, a chair, a bathroom, and a tiny kitchen area next to the bed. So, only one of us could be at the cooking area at a time.

One morning while I was still sleeping, he woke me ...

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Memorial Day

For seventeen days and seventeen nights, John McCrae, a soldier in World War 1 and a surgeon during the second battle of Ypres in Belgium, said that he and his comrades never took their clothes off or boots, except occasionally.

"In all that time while I was awake, gunfire and rifle fire never ceased for sixty seconds, he said. Yet, behind all the noise, we could see sights of the dead, the wounded, the maimed, and the terrible anxiety lest the line should give way."

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae was a soldier, physici...

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Making Real Connections

My niece called me recently and said, “Hey, I want to make a new year’s resolution.” “Ok, I said. And you want to share it with me?”

“Yes, she said. I want us to call each other more.” I reminded her that we text often. “I know, she said, but I need to hear your voice.”

Wanting to call each other more had a lot to do with what happened between us this last year.

My sister-in-law called to tell me that something I had said that upset my niece. I immediately tex...

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A Helping Hand

One day I was coming out my front door and looked down on the walkway in front of me to see a little Sparrow lying on the pavement, flapping its wings, trying to get up. So I looked around to see if other birds might be a part of this little creature’s life.

I saw nothing and leaned down to see if I could pick it up. I waited to see if it would try to get away, but it didn’t. Instead, it became very still as I slid my hand under its little body and lifted it to my chest.

I checked to see if it broke a leg or wing, b...

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Things work out

The phone rang at 8 AM. My son, Jay, said, "Hi, mom; I wanted to let you know I will be praying for you and dad today. I'd like to have coffee with you." I said, "Thank you, son. We'll have coffee together soon." He said, "Well if you will open your front door, we can have coffee now."

On the first day of radiation treatment for breast cancer, he decided to surprise me and drove two hours to be at my house in time to have coffee with me.

While we were having coffee, I told him that the morning before he came, I felt anx...

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Capturing the Moments

We were getting ready to leave our daughter’s house after the holidays. I walked into the room as my daughter and husband were talking to each other. She was seated at the piano, and he was standing tall and lovingly beside her.  

The window light from behind them was soft and very complimentary. It was an endearing scene, and I thought I would get one more great photo before we left.   

My husband started to walk away, and I said, “Stop, let me take a photo!” Each of them looked at me and, simultaneously, sai...

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Recovering Hope

For a moment, it all came unbalanced. The sad and the angry became heavier than the happy and good I gave in. The tears came, the anger raged, and my heart pounded.

Then someone asked for my help. I heard them and moved dutifully toward them. They sounded anxious, and I reached out to assure them.

With that gesture, I felt a shift in my heart. The sadness and anger lightened. The happy and good became stronger. The balance hesitated a moment, and then it became equal.

In fact, by the time I finished talking to a friend w...

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Turn on the light

My nine-year-old grandson understands the Coronavirus pandemic, where it started, and how it has affected his world. Recently, when we had our Zoom visit, he said that most people dying from the virus are older. I remembered once when he asked me if his Papa and I were old. So, I thought I’d find a way to assure him we were OK.

“I’m writing a story on how light helps us to see better in the dark,” I told him. “Are you afraid of the dark?”

“Sometimes, when I think I see something...

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Everything is Going to Be Alright

It’s Palm Sunday as I write this story, and my husband walks in the room and says, “Hey, aren’t we going to church,” I look up at him for a moment, and he says, “Oh, right, I forgot.”

He is a retired minister and always goes to church, even if we are on vacation. He believes it is essential to visit the house of God on Sundays, but our churches are closed today as we practice social distancing due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.

He enters the kitchen, turns on gospel music to its highest volume,...

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Winter Blues

I found a plush, warm, gray sweater that seemed to wrap itself around me with deep pockets and tried it on. It felt so good, but when I looked into the mirror, I saw my husband behind me shake his head no. “No?” I asked. “Why not?”

“Because it’s gray. Choose a colorful one. You’ve had a lot of gray days lately,” he said. He was right. I loved watching the snow falling this week and the beautiful, mysterious mounds it creates, but not getting outside enough affects my mood.

I have ...

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The Best is Yet To Come

As I watched the second candle (the candle of Peace) of the Advent season lit in church on Sunday, I thought about a fork my friend gave me to start the Christmas season.

It was something no one had ever given me- a silverware set, but not just one fork. However, with the dainty fork that I could wear as a pendant, she gave me a beautiful story to go with it.

It seems a woman had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and was given three months to live. As she was “getting her affairs in order,” she contacted her pa...

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A Different Kind of Turkey Dinner

One year our children and grandchildren joined us in St. Augustin, Florida, to celebrate Thanksgiving. Our daughter suggested we have a different kind of Thanksgiving dinner that year. “A clambake,” she said.

Her suggestion didn’t go over well with her brothers because it brought back memories of a traumatic Thanksgiving meal that caught them off when they were children.

Our three children were in elementary school when we spent our first Thanksgiving...

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The Power of Sharing our Family Stories

I had never traveled anywhere alone. I know riding a bus from Macon to Atlanta, Georgia, with strangers was not long-distance, but it was frightening and exciting for an 18-year-old.

My mom died when I was 13, and I lived with my brother and sister-in-law. The trip was a graduation gift to visit my aunts, who I hardly knew. They thought it would be good for me to hear my mom’s stories and learn what she was like as a young girl.

The bus arrived late that night at a bustling bus station on Peachtree street, but no ...

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When I noticed the two women getting out of the convertible in front of the hotel, I had a feeling there was going to be an awkward moment. My husband spotted them the same time I did and proceeded to do exactly what I was hoping he wouldn’t do.

“Excuse me, ma’am,“ he called out. The two women looked up curiously as they stepped out of the car. “Are you aware that you’re parking in a handicapped parking place?” he asked. I was sure everyone in the parking lot and possibly all of those on South...

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You’re Almost There….

"When it was over, I lay spent and exhausted on the cold, hard earth…never to be ranked with the average and mediocre..." This is a quote from one of our late presidents; my daughter sent me when I was toiling with one of life's many problems.

She continued with, "In essence…I am a winner and will not say it's over until I have given everything. Until there is nothing left in me to give. That makes me special and unique." I keep these words close to my heart and remember them when I struggle or want to feel my childrenR...

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My Sister is My Hero

My sister Juanell is my hero; I called her Nell. Her name was never in the newspaper, and she was never on television. She didn’t finish school because she was a wife and mother by age 16. When she was 26, her husband walked out on her after giving birth to their seventh child. Frances was born with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome(LGS), a rare and severe type of epilepsy in childhood.

I was a child when Nell was an adult. I watched her go through many hard times. Some of those times, she was angry because life was hard on her, b...

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It is never too early to talk to your children

The subject was drugs. My son told me he thought his children would receive good information about drugs in their schools, but it was still the parent’s responsibility to talk about it at home.

I agreed and reminded him that we did the same for him and his brother and sister. “I know, Mom,” he said carefully. “But you were too late.”

Trying not to show how dumbfounded I was, I asked him what he meant. “By the time you asked me about drugs, Mom, I had already tried them,” he said as gent...

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The worries of our children

We often use the expression: “I feel as carefree as a child.” But children are not always carefree. In fact, children have many worries, and one of them might be unanswered questions and fears about the Coronavirus.

When parents are worried about the many impacts this viral epidemic is having on their lives, their jobs, and maybe even their health, children are listening and worrying too.

According to legend, Guatemalan children tell one worry to each of their hand-made Worry Dolls, placing them under their ...

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Take time to enjoy mornings

One morning I was getting the children ready for school. It was the usual busy morning with the kids running around to find their socks and school books. I was late for work, and the bus was due soon. I felt my job as a mom was to make sure everyone was nicely dressed, fed, and thoroughly prepared for the day ahead.

I’m not even sure what I was making for breakfast. I know it was fast. The children were not moving as quickly as I thought they should, making me irritable. As many mothers do, I gave orders left and right.Read More

How Sports Teach Young People To Never Give up

It was the last 45 seconds of the game when suddenly a teammate passed the ball into her hands. A Chest Pass is a two-handed pass from chest to the chest without touching the ground in a basketball game.

For a second, she stood there numb, bouncing the ball on the polished hardwood floor. The seconds ticked by until she was jerked into action by the shouting on the sideline. “Throw it, throw the ball!”

A tall guard loomed in front of her face. She moved to her right side, glanced at the round metal ring with the bas...

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Slowing Down and Paying Attention

“Doodlebug, doodlebug, come out tonight, doodlebug, doodlebug, your house is on fire.” The little chant still echoes in my head when I see a familiar cone-shaped track spiraling downward into the soft, warm sand.

My brother and I sang this tune repeatedly while we lured these short, hairy insects from their homes in the warm Georgia sand when we were children, using only straw or a small stick. We placed the stick in the middle of the soft cone-like entrance to their pits and wiggled it around.

After a while, a litt...

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Children Remember so Much

One weekend I traveled to Tennessee to visit our grandchildren without my husband, who could not get off work. Alex, our oldest, and I went to the grocery store together to pick up something for lunch.

We were getting ready to get out of the car when he said, “Nana, are you and Papa sorry?” Startled, I said, “Sorry for what, Alex?” “Sorry for taking my Grinch toys away from me,” he said. “What Grinch toys,” I asked him. I couldn’t remember that he had any Grinch toys. “The on...

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Happiness is How We Treat Our Families

Think for a moment about how we treat our friends. We laugh with them, share good times, listen to them, and always try to be fair. We comfort them when things are going bad, and we would never interrupt them or allow ourselves to be distracted while talking to them.

We treat our coworkers with respect and would not dare tell them to shut up or accept a kind gesture without saying thank you.

But how do we treat our spouses and children when we get home away from the view of people who admire us?

Recently, I went ...

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Why it’s Important to Show Kindness

I recently read a story about a man who bought a brand-new car with an area in the back to accommodate his large, furry dog. Then, not too long after purchasing the car, he had it washed in an upscale, expensive car wash.

Afterward, however, the man noticed that the back portion of the car was still filled with dog hair. He felt ripped off because he had paid a significant sum for the wash and became upset. He complained to the staff but to no avail.

They restated their policy was to “not vacuum the trunk.” Obv...

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How to Move Forward in Life

Streams are plentiful in East Tennessee. They trickle down the mountains, run beside the shaded rural roads, and flow joyfully into the rivers. If you sit quietly in a wooded area, you can hear the water spilling over rocks that have become smooth due to the water’s consistency.

Occasionally something huge, like a rock or fallen tree, will trap the busy water and stop it from flowing. It can’t go around; it can’t go over or under its obstacle. The water feeding the little stream feels the sudden halt and detours arou...

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Friday the 13th

When you woke up this morning and realized it was Friday the 13th, did you hesitate and think, “Oh no, everything is going to go wrong today!” Many people do.

Some people don’t get out of bed or leave their houses all day. Some hotels do not have a 13th floor and streets from 12 or 12A to 14 to avoid using the number 13.

The reasons for ducking out of sight on Friday the 13th can range from battles between mythological gods to Adam and Eve being cast out of the Garden of Eden on Friday.

Even to the Last...

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There is More to His Story

When I was a writer in South Texas, one of my first assignments was to accompany Fort Worth students to cover the International Science Fair. Each day, with my laptop, slung over my shoulder, I walked to the convention center to observe and interact with the students to write about their reactions to being a part of an international event.

Walking by the park near the convention center, I noticed a homeless man lying on a bench. I couldn’t help but gaze longer than I should, and feel a need to sit down next to him and talk.


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Do You Hear What I Hear?

The first time my husband received a cross-over hearing aid, he was astonished when we stepped outside the doctor’s office. “Do you hear that,” he asks? “What?” I asked. “The wind,” he said. “I can hear the sound of the wind.”

Most people take hearing for granted until they lose it. My husband is deaf in his left ear due to a severe injury he sustained as a child. He lost much of the hearing in his right ear when he served in Viet Nam.

A crossover hearing aid on your deaf e...

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In My Corner of the Field

I grew up on a farm. At the end of each summer or harvest year, my dad set fire to the fields to prepare them for seeding the following spring. My brothers and I helped him by containing the fire in our corner of the fields. We didn’t have vast fields, but this was a low-cost alternative to tilling in the previous year’s crops, and my dad also believed it killed unwanted insects.

Our job was to stand in our designated section of the field with a large wet cloth or a wet broom and make sure the fire did not go beyond our co...

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One Thing At a Time

When my husband asks, “Are you trying to bake that cake again!” I know it is my cue to slow down and concentrate on one thing at a time. It is a gentle reminder that started between us many years ago when our children were small, and our life was full of people and activities.

Right before guests would arrive for dinner, regardless of what a wonderful meal I had prepared, I would inevitably decide to add something else, which often made the moments before their arrival stressful.

Trying to do too many things...

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Be careful what you wish for

While on a road trip to Alaska, my photo fantasy was a big black bear standing on his hind legs looking directly into my camera lens.

According to the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game, black bears rarely attack humans unprovoked. Usually, when they stand erect, it is better to look at you and show their size as a warning not to get too close.  I had no intention of getting too close or feeding or petting a bear. I just wanted a great photo.

Black bears and their cubs were plentiful on the side of the road as we drove our RV throug...

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Looking in the Mirror

A curious mouse visited a carnival that was in town. Some tents contained attractions the likes of which he had never seen. The mouse entered one tent filled with thousands of mirrors in various shapes and sizes.

He ran from one to another, fascinated by all the curious mice smiling back at him. Finally, he thought, “This is a wonderful place, full of many happy mice. I will come here as often as possible.”

As he left the tent, he came upon another mouse. “Guess what?” he exclaimed. “I’m not ...

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The Power of Touch

It is hard to sleep at night when you are angry with your spouse, especially if you are trying to stay on your side of the bed.

Recently, I had an idea for a column about touch–the importance of feeling human touch. Then, while I was having a massage to help relieve some taut muscles in my neck, the idea came to me.

I was lying on my stomach with my face resting downward in a doughnut hole pillow. My shoulders began to relax as skilled hands targeted the muscles running from my neck to my shoulde...

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Threatening our Children Causes Many Problems

The little girl ran from one side of the waiting room to the other, almost tripping the adult walking by. Her mother tried to stop her, but the three-year-old ran out of her reach. When she finally got back to her seat, she stood up and began jumping up and down dangerously close to the edge of the chair.

The frantic mother told the child to sit down or she would not get a treat when they left. It didn’t work. When all other negotiations failed, the mother seemed to have had enough. She said to the child with exasperation, ̶...

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We Are More Than Occupants

I was hoping the plane seat next to me would be empty. But, as I opened my magazine, I thought how comfortable it would be to spread my things out and relax without talking to anyone.

However, the voice that made me look up told me that would not happen. The petite young girl standing before me wore brown baggy shorts too large for her and an equally baggy gray shirt with a guy’s name on it.

She had pulled her hair back in a tight ponytail, and her face looked tired. She already had headphones hanging around her neck, and...

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A Child and a Flower

The little town where we lived outside of Augusta, Georgia, was very small. There was an elementary school, flower shop, bank, minute market, family-owned restaurant, and many churches. We knew just about everyone in the community, and everyone knew our youngest son.

He was a friendly child with whitish blonde hair, always zipping around the neighborhood on his red bicycle. Every morning during the summer, he would get dressed, and off he would go for his morning ride. In his travels, he often stopped and talked with our neighbors.

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He That Endures to the End

I could barely distinguish the blurred image of two people moving down the road from a distance. A police car with its headlights on low beam followed close behind them.

All the other runners had completed the 10K run and sat around the outdoor tables at the Valley Race Park, eating lunch and drinking cold drinks.

“We asked them if they wanted to ride to the finish line, ” the officer beside me said. But they said no; they wanted to finish the run.”

Looking down the road, I could see two people persiste...

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If You Love Me, Buckle Your Seat Belt

I hated to start our evening with nagging, but when our daughter drove up in front of the restaurant, I noticed she wasn’t wearing her seat belt. “Sweetheart, you should wear your seat belt,” I said. “Sure, mom,” she laughed.

Like most moms, while we were having dinner, I felt compelled to give my usual lecture about the danger of not wearing seat belts.

When we started to leave, it was raining, and I felt anxious about her driving back to her college dorm on the wet, winding roads of East Tennesse...

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Are We Teaching Our Children to Lie?

One day after school, our youngest son seemed fidgety. I could tell something was wrong, but when I asked him, he said it was nothing.  Finally, after staring at the TV for an hour or so, he meekly said, “Mom, I have to tell you something.” His face was tense, and his eyes were sad.

I put everything aside and gave him my full attention while he stuttered out his words. “The teacher sent you a note home,” he said. I asked to see the note. The teacher had written that he had not turned in his homework, bu...

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Connecting With Our Children in the Kitchen

Our kitchen was two steps down from the rest of the house. You took two steps down into the kitchen when you walked through the living and dining rooms. My favorite place to sit was on those steps.

When I was a little girl, I sat on those steps and watched my mother working in the kitchen. She always had flour on the front of her dress and around her beautiful auburn hairline, where she wiped her forehead with the back of her hands.

Some mornings I sat on the stool beside the butter churn with a wood plunger in both hands. I pu...

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Taking Care of Yourself

The flight attendant stood at the front of the plane mechanically, giving safety instructions for the flight. It was apparent that she could probably give those same instructions in her sleep because she had done it many times.

 I had heard them many times before, but something she said caught my attention this time. “In the event of an emergency, the oxygen mask will drop from overhead. Put the mask over your nose and mouth. If you are traveling with a small child or an infant, put your mask on first, then help the child.”...

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Making Room For the Important Things

Recently I heard a beautiful song called “Is There Room.” It made me think of a time when we were invited to a friend’s home in south Texas to share in their family’s Christmas Posada.

Posada is the Spanish word for “inn,” and the Posadas Navideñas recalls the events leading up to the Nativity of Jesus. Las Posadas is a nine-day religious festival celebrated throughout Mexico. It begins on December 16 and ends on Christmas Eve.

It is a way Christian families commemorate Joseph and Mary’...

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Feeling Safe As A Family

At 4:am, my head finally sank into the overly soft pillow in the attic bedroom. I had been waiting for the last child to arrive at the cabin we rented for the holidays.

I was thankful as I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that, once again, our children were under one roof. If I listened intently, I could almost hear each of them breathe, though they were sleeping on different levels of the three-story cabin surrounded by tall gold and red trees.

It was a feeling every Mother longs to feel with her children. If they ar...

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Children Do As They See

The older man was small and stooped over. His steps were careful as he carried his tray to the restaurant table where I was having dinner. I could see relief in his face and muscles as he reached his destination, set his load down, and eased his weak body into a chair. The woman sitting down beside him was his daughter.

When the man had difficulty cutting his meat, she patiently took the knife from his hand and cut the large portion into small pieces, perhaps the same way he did for her when she was a child. It is always very touching...

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