Moral Stories

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 such 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, at the same ti...

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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 who ...

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Turn on the light

My nine-year-old grandson understands what the Coronavirus Pandemic is, where it started and how it has affected his world.  Recently when we had our Zoom visit, he said that most of the people dying from the virus are older people. 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 that we are 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, whe...

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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 important 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 goes into the kitchen and turns on gospel music to its highest vo...

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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 and you've had a lot of gray days lately," he said. He was right. The winter days have been rainy, dark and cold and it has definitely affected my mood.

I have to admit, I have a love hate relationship with winter. I love the cold air when I breathe it in and out of my lungs. I love...

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The Best is Yet To Come

As I watched the second candle (the candle of peace) of the Advent season being lit in church on Sunday, I thought of the fork my friend gave me at the very beginning of this Christmas season.

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

It seems there was a woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. As she was "gett...

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A Different Kind of Turkey Dinner

There was a reason why suggesting a clambake for Thanksgiving in place of the traditional turkey and dressing did not go over very well with our children. I think it brought back memories of another Thanksgiving meal that caught them off guard.

Our three children were elementary school age when we spent our first Thanksgiving with their grandparents in Missouri. They lived in a big brick house surrounded by 10 acres of rocky land on a rural road at the foothills of the Ozark Mountains.

My father-in-law had two ponds sto...

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The Power of Sharing our Family Stories

I had never traveled anywhere alone. Riding a bus from Macon to Atlanta, Georgia with strangers was not a long distance, I know, 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 stories of my mom and get to know what she was like when she was a young girl.

The bus arrived late that night at a very busy bus station on Peachtree st...

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STANDING YOUR GROUND

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 I 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 this close to me and read it when I am struggling or just want to feel the strength of my children....

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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 she gave birth to their seventh child. Frances was born with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome(LGS), a rare and severe type of epilepsy that starts 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 ...

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It is never too early to talk to your children

The subject was drugs. My son was telling 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 with him, and reminded him that we did the same thing 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 exactly he meant. "By the time you asked me about drugs, Mom, I had already tried them," he said as gently as...

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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.

At a time when parents are worrying 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 und...

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Take time to enjoy mornings

One morning I was getting the children ready for school. It was the usual too busy morning with the kids running around trying 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 just know it was fast. The children were unusually slothful this particular morning, not moving as quickly as I thought they should. This was making me irrita...

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How Sports Teach Young People To Never Give up

It was the last 45 seconds of the game, and the basketball had been pushed into her hands. 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 basket below, closed her eyes, and threw the ball toward the goal as hard as she could.

Relieved that the discarded ...

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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 over and over while we lured these short, hairy insects from their homes in the warm Georgia sand when we were children, using only a 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...

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Children Remember so Much

One weekend I traveled to Tennessee to visit our grandchildren without my husband, who was not able to 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. “...

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Happiness is How We Treat Our Families

Think for a moment 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 they are talking to us. In the workplace, 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 out of the view of people who admire us?

Last wee...

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Why it’s Important to Show Kindness

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

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

They insisted that their policy was to “not vacuum the trunk....

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How to Move Forward in Life

Streams are plentiful in East Tennessee. They trickle down the sides of 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 de...

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Friday the 13th

When you woke up this morning and realized it was Friday the 13th, did you hesitate for a moment and think, “Oh no, everything is going to go wrong today!” Many people do. Some people don’t get out of bed all day or leave their houses. There are hotels that do not have a 13th floor and streets that go 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 t...

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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 students at Fort Worth 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.

As I walked 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 tal...

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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 is a hearing a...

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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 make ready 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 corn...

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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 extremely 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 m...

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Be careful what you wish for

My photo fantasy, while on a road trip to Alaska, 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 to get a better look at you and possibly to 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 d...

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Looking in the Mirror

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

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

As he left the tent, he came upon another mouse. “Guess what?” he excl...

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The Power of Touch

It is hard to go to sleep at night when you are angry with your spouse, especially if you are trying to stay on your side of the bed. I’ve tried it occasionally.

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

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 mus...

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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 her 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 that the seat next to me on the plane would be empty. As I opened my magazine, I thought how comfortable it would be to spread my personal things out a little and relax without having to talk to anyone.

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

Her hair was pulled back in a tight ponytail and her face looked tired. Sh...

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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, a flower shop, a bank, a minute market and a family owned restaurant and, of course, 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, who was always zipping around the neighborhood on his red bicycle. First thing every morning during the summer he would get dressed and off he would go for his morning ride. In his travels he often ...

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He That Endures to the End

From a distance you could barely make out the blurred image of two people moving down the road.  A police car with its headlights on low beam followed close behind them.

All of the other runners had already completed the 10K run and were sitting around the outdoor tables set up 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 standing beside me said.  But they said no; they wanted to finish the run.”

I looked back down the road and ...

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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.

While we were having dinner, like most moms, 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 Tennessee. Even ...

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Are We Teaching Our Children to Lie?

One day after school, our youngest son, Jay, 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 Jay had not been turning in his...

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Connecting With Our Children in the Kitchen

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

As a little girl, I would sit and talk with my mother or watch her move about the kitchen with flour on the front of her dress and at the edge of her hairline where she wiped her forehead with the back of her hands when she was making bread.

Some mornings I stepped down into the kitchen and sat on the stool beside the butter ch...

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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

Sometimes our minds are like computers.  When we are trying to enjoy those special moments in life, a message appears, “No more room. Temporary files too big, need to delete.”

When I complained to my friend about not having enough room on my computer, she showed me how to delete and transfer files to free up room for the important things I needed most.

The phrase, “There is no room in the Inn,” became very real to me when I was invited to a friend's home in south Texas to share in their family’s C...

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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 all night for the last child to arrive for the Thanksgiving holidays at the cabin we rented in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

I was thankful indeed, as I lay completely peaceful knowing that once again all of 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 that we found nestled in the Tennessee Mountains, surroun...

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Children Do As They See

The old man was small and stooped over.  His steps were careful as he carried his tray to the table in the restaurant 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 very 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 ver...

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