Short Stories

Short stories that will inspire, encourage, educate and even change the way you see everyday life.

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.  Behind all the noise, all we could see were 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, ph...

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Take care of yourself

Wouldn’t it be sad if you had to wait until the people you love died before you began to take care of yourself?

I met a 65-year-old lady named Pat this week who said that is what happened to her. She has lost 680 pounds in the last seven years and 280 of that in the previous two years.

“Wow, that is a lot of weight, I told her. What made you decide to lose the weight, and how did you do it”.

“Well, when my second husband died, I thought it was time to take care of myself, she said. I took care of...

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A Different Perspective

Have you ever traveled down a road one way and noticed that things looked very different when you come back from another direction? Sometimes, when we change our routine, our world opens up a little more, and we see from a different perspective.

This time of the year, I have a morning routine that seldom changes. I leave the window by my bed open just a little to hear the dawn chorus that starts in late April to early June. Our backyard fills up with all kinds of birds. Their beautiful chorus sometimes begins as early as 4:30 ...

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DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME

I had just started to play the introduction to the closing hymn at church when the sanctuary door opened and one of the members walked in.

Beautiful voices filled the small church as adults and children sang the sweet old hymn, Amazing Grace.

Everyone was standing, so he stepped inside the back pew, smiled, and nodded at those around him.When the song ended, the pastor stepped up to the pulpit and said the closing prayer.

The man started to sit down as others began to move out of their seats, and I saw the confu...

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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 VALENTINE STORY

Standing at the sink with suds dripping down onto their bare feet was the fun way to wash dishes for my children when they were little.

I would pull a chair up to the sink for them to stand in and then fill the sink with warm, sudsy water. I provided little things they could wash to entertain themselves.

While I did the rest of the housework, bubbles and giggles were everywhere. And, yes, I had to clean that up too.

However, as they got older, the game became a chore, and their enthusiasm disappeared. My husband ...

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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. I looked around to see if any 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. It just became very still as I slid my hand under its little body and lifted it to my chest.

I checked to see if a wing or leg was broken, but it wa...

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A Snow Day

Our 12-year-old granddaughter, Jayne, texted me every hour or so during the six-hour drive from south Georgia to our house in Virginia a few days after Christmas.

"Hey Nana, can you put some snow in the freezer? That way, we can feel Virginia snow when we get there." she wrote. "Yes, I will, I said, but there is still some snow on the ground." I sent her some photos of about an inch or so still lingering in our yard.

I was hoping it would be there when they got here because they had not seen snow before, and I wanted so...

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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, and 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 my 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 f...

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Overcoming fear

There are a lot of spooky things going on in our world right now. I mean, other than ghosts and goblins appearing out of nowhere on Halloween to scare us. We might be startled when someone plays a trick on us or jumps out to scare us, but it will go away after all the trick or treat bags have been opened, and we put away the scary costumes.I did my Halloween prank accidentally this week when I walked into one of our small local businesses. There weren't many people in the store, and there was no one behind the counter. I needed a particula...

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Detecting Breast Cancer

If you are thinking about skipping your mammogram this year I suggest you don't. Why? Because by the time you can feel a cancerous lump in your breast, the cancer has been in your body for two to five years.

I didn't have a mammogram last year and almost didn't have one this year. I was just tired of the yearly uncomfortable squeezing and mashing of my breasts.

However, when I told my doctor that I would skip the yearly procedure, she asked me about my sister, who had died ten years ago, only days after she was diagnosed with ...

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Trail Walking

When morning came, I felt the trail calling me and daring me to see how different each day was. Sometimes the voice came from inside me, and other times it came from my husband telling me we needed to get going.

Either way, I got up, got dressed, put on my shoes, a jacket that could be tied around my waist when the sun began to warm my back, some food and water in my pocket, and off we'd go.

We were living in West Virginia at the time. The trail was one long stretch one way until we reached half the amount of our walking time, ...

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Dangers in the garden

"Please, God, don't let my Papa die this week. That's all I got to say. Amen." That was my 9-year-old grandson's prayer when he had to go home early because my husband was admitted to the hospital.

It started late one night a few weeks ago when I woke up and heard my husband stumbling through the dark hallway. I got up quickly and went to him. He didn't seem to know where he was, and when I tried to help him, I realized his skin was hot, and he didn't seem to know who I was.

I took his temperature. It was 100.2, and by the tim...

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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 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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Laughter

My daughter reminded me one morning of the importance of laughter in our lives. She was sitting on the floor, playing and laughing out loud with her six-month-old daughter.

I listened as her laughter, and my granddaughter's giggles filled all the space around me. She said she wanted to feel this kind of joy always and see the world through her child’s merry eyes.

We talked about the carefree laughter of childhood before we had bills to pay and so many responsibilities.

I asked my daughter, "So w...

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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 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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Eye Contact

My friend laughed when I told her how persistent my dad was about making eye contact when speaking to or listening to someone.

I hated it when he said, “Look at me when I’m speaking to you.” The rule wasn’t just when he needed my attention. It was when anyone was talking to me.

“You know, Deana, when babies are born, making eye contact with them is their first connection with the people who love them, ” my friend said.

She’s right. Eye gaze is one of the most exciting mil...

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Happy Mother’s Day Rosie

Rosie knelt, felt the pecans in the grass, and then crawled around on the ground, collecting them and depositing them in her bucket.

She is legally blind and couldn't see the nuts when she was standing. Her vision, which had been damaged by scar tissue as a child, was clear enough to make out objects, but she had to get very close to see the details.

When she held the pecans in her hand, she used her sense of touch to tell the difference between good and bad ones.

She could feel if there was a tiny insect hole or...

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Dear Mr. President

My husband is a quiet man, the kind that when the storms come, outside or inside, he's steady as a rock. While trying to figure out how to fix everything and everyone, he usually has three things to say. Deana, leave it alone; this to will pass. There's a reason why things happen, or what are you going to do about it?

I think the quarantining is getting to him, and like everyone else, he is ready for it to end. He sometimes edits my columns, checks my grammar, and reminds me to check the facts.

However, I think he may be stress...

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Changing the way we do education

My daughter asked me if I wanted to participate in our grandson's Zoom Video classroom assignment. I said, "Yes, but what can I do?"

At 10:AM each morning, he participates with his classmates and teacher in their online classes.

"I would like for you to have a 25-minute class at 9:30 AM to prepare him for his school morning," she said.

I thought for a moment, and she continued. "The children usually have guidance counselors in their schools, but they are not a part of the online class."

Elementary guidance counsel...

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How Not To Pick Your Nose During the Coronavirus

An entire country has been shut down for almost two months because of a virus that is transmitted through the very things mothers have been trying to teach their children for centuries: Wash your hands, keep your social distance and for goodness sake(a southern term), get your thumb out of your mouth and stop picking your nose!

The nagging that made our children roll their eyes in the past may not be necessary in the future, especially if parents are talking to their children about how and why this virus, and all viruses, spread so fa...

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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, turns on gospel music to its highest vol...

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Our family and social distancing

Our children live in three different states, and we are hours away from each of them. This week our youngest son needed some medical supplies, and we offered to drive them to him.

He was worried about our travel and being in contact with us because he is still working around many people.

After a lot of conversation, we finally decided to meet halfway because he knew if we drove to his city that I would need to see our grandchildren. Like other grandparents right now, we are not doing that during this time of social distancing.<...

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Uniting against the Coronavirus

"It’s time to shake off this sadness, and recover your spirit," said Miguel de Unamuno in the poem, Throw Yourself Like a Seed.

These may be the words we need right now to stop analyzing whether it's true or not, stop complaining about our discomfort, and come together as a family, as neighbors, as communities, and as a nation to get through a difficult time in our world.

This morning I listened to sermons all over the country being streamed live to lift and encourage us, and it didn't feel bad at all not to be in...

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Prayer and the Coronavirus

My husband and I were eating dinner in a local restaurant enjoying a nice Sunday meal a few years ago. There were several couples from the church present. Two tables over, one couple was having trouble with their small child.

The father asks, "Do I need to take you to the bathroom?" "No," the toddler replied. However, the little boy continued to behave unruly.

Finally, the father politely picked the child up and headed for the bathroom. Immediately, everyone in the restaurant heard a small voice, pleading, "pray, people, pray."...

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Peace during the Coronavirus Pandemic

I've seen and felt all sorts of emotions since the pandemic has begun, from confusion, fear, anger, panic to love, laughter, and peace.

Just like all disasters in our life, there is always confusion, "Is this really happening? Is what they are saying is true?" And then the fear begins to creep into our hearts and minds; "What should we do?"

The anger builds and swells in our minds from listening to the news media blowing things out of proportion and realizing they are using fear to promote their political agendas instead of g...

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Do You Need to Self Quarantine During The Coronavirus?

If you or your family member have been exposed to the coronavirus you need to self quarantine yourself.

I recently published "I'm Not Afraid of the Coronavirus, and You Shouldn't be Either" on my Morning Coffee Beans website.

In the story, I tried to cover everything about what the coronavirus is, how to protect ourselves, and what to do if exposed to the virus.

My point was to help people not to be afraid but instead to be informed.

However, a reader sent me another perspective of why people are still afr...

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I am not afraid of the Coronavirus

I am not afraid of the Coronavirus, and you shouldn't be either. When we overreact to epidemics and other perceived risks in our lives, we become less attentive to the other threats that are far more likely to harm us, like the flu.

Fear is like being in a dark room and hearing a noise that frightens us. The way we remove that fear is to turn the light on or, in this case–get the facts.

When we understand what the Coronavirus is and learn how to protect ourselves and our families and what to do if we have been inf...

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Things Everybody Should Know

"It’s important that Everybody knows how to eat French Fries with ketchup and nuggets, and people should know not to bang their head," said Orlando.

I like to partner with teachers who hear these words of wisdom from their students often.  I hope you enjoy these responses from children in Kindergarten to third grade who participated in a local school writing project, which asked the question:

"What does everybody need to know?"

The letters reminded me of one of my favorite books.  All I Really Need to Know I Learn...

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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, which 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 l...

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National Wear Red Heart awareness

My sister called and told me she was having some symptoms that felt like a heart attack. "What are you feeling?" I asked her. "I don't know, ” she said. “Something doesn't feel right. I feel anxious, and my jaw is aching a little." I suggested she go to the emergency room. She argued, "But I don't feel any chest pain. I just wanted to talk to you about it."

"Sis, please trust me. Go to the hospital. We can talk after you get checked out," I pleaded. She said OK, and a few hours later, my niece called to say that sh...

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75th Holocaust Remembrance

“The time will come when we will be people again and not just Jews!” – 11 April 1944.

More than one million children under the age of 16 died in the Holocaust during World War II. Anne Frank was one of them.

This written excerpt came from her diary written while hiding in the secret annex of her father’s business. She wasn’t writing a book or an important document–just a journal that kept her occupied and helped her to cope with a difficult time in her life. However, in 1947 her diary, saved ...

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My Christmas tree is still up

My Christmas tree is still up. I know — Christmas is over, and it's time to take the decorations and lights down and get on with life.

But Christmas isn't really over until after January 6th, the day when many Christians celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany from December 25th until January 6th. These days are a collection of 12 feast days, beginning with Christmas day and ending after the wise men’s revelation. The revelation is called Epiphany or the unveiling or finding God in the flesh (the baby Jesus in the manger).

...

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Having Fun at the Mediavine Conference 2019

“Blogging is so much more than writing,” the woman told me when I introduced myself as a writer at the Mediavine conference I recently attended. Her words were a meer peek into what I was going to learn in the next three days.

I have been a professional freelance writer for 30 years. I am a retired nurse and health educator, so I have written for many health venues, but, as a Christian writer and speaker, my passion is to write stories that educate and encourage my readers.

The difference between writers and...

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Please Read Me a Story

One of the best memories I have from my childhood is the time my mother read to me. When it was cold outside, we sat on the couch late at night with the fire blazing in the fireplace. I leaned against her shoulder and watched the lines on her face disappear as she used her voice to mimic the characters in the book.

She laughed and pretended to cry to make the story come to life, and sometimes in those moments, she looked younger to me. It was our particular time together to read and talk about books.

It could have b...

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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 bustling bus station on Peachtree s...

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My Vietnam Soldier’s Story

My husband was a cook in the Vietnam war.  One morning after praying for God's protection for himself and his comrades, he felt he should go into the mess hall early to prepare his baking duties.  He had to convince the head cook to do his work during the evening meal time. Normally, he started his baking after dinner and worked late while the soldiers stayed in the lighted building to do their letter writing and play cards. However, they all had to leave early when he closed the building for the night.

Next to the Mess Hall w...

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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 struggle or want to feel my children’s strength.

T...

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What would the world be without color?

What a wonderful time of the year! Color is everywhere, and everything has color, especially during these beautiful Autumn and Fall days. The variety of colors are endless, and it fills our world with beauty.

What would the world be without color? As an educational writer, that's the question I sent to an elementary school recently. The answers ranged from no changing leaves, no beautiful flowers, no rainbows, and no jelly beans! What an awful thought!

"I think that the world would be depressing because you wouldn't see the bea...

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What are the things that really matter?

I ran across a good illustration this week that paints an excellent picture of how important it is to stop and think about what we do with the hours in our day. It was about a philosophy professor who wanted to teach his students a lesson beyond the classroom.

When his students begin to arrive for his class noisily, the professor stood patiently at his desk with just a few items in front of him.

After the bell rang and the young men and women settle down, he wordless picked up a large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill ...

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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 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 possibl...

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How Not to Order Mexican Food

My husband loves Mexican food. When we lived in south Texas, he worked very hard to learn Spanish. As a hospital chaplain and a nurse, we needed to know how to speak and understand Spanish to better communicate with our patients.

One afternoon, not long after we had completed our Spanish classes, he picked me up from work early. He said he wanted to go to Mexico for some Mexican food. We only lived about 20 miles north of Progreso, a Mexican border town.

I pointed out the fact that we had great Mexican restaurants right...

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Breast Cancer Awareness

If you find a lump in your breast or underarm area, you should see your doctor immediately.  The good news is that most lumps are noncancerous.  Sometimes they will go away on their own, which is why your doctor may schedule a return visit for three to six months.

However, sometimes the lump or change in breast tissue may be cancer.  You must go to your follow up visit.  If, at any time, you feel like you need a second opinion, you should probably get one. My friend, Jill, did, and she is alive today 21 years later. My sister, Juanita...

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Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

It was just a small, round gold loop placed in his left ear, like the one many of his friends wore, but it bothered me. Why? I am not sure. It was probably because it represented a rebellion against the norm in our family; girls wore earrings, and guys didn’t.

It could have been the main concern that our friends might think our parenting skills were weak or the fear that he would reject other rules we thought were important.  So, I did what frustrated mothers do; I scolded him, nagged him, and finally pleaded with him to take it...

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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 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 know it was fast. The children were unusually slothful this particular morning, not moving as quickly as I thought they should. This made me irritable, and as man...

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Going Back to School at 54!

When I retired from nursing and decided to return to college when I was age 54, my brain had to open a folder I had put away a long time ago.

Algebra has always been like electrical wires in my brain, connecting the positives and negatives at the right time. However, it may be true that repetition helps, much like giving allergy injections to build up immunity.

My fears began to subside a little. I mean, I didn't feel like I was going in...

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The Power of Compassion

Sympathy looks in and says, "I'm sorry.”Compassion goes in and says, "I’m with you.“

Sympathy looks in and says, "I would like to help."Compassion goes in and says, "I am here to help."

Sympathy says, "I wish I could carry your burden."Compassion says, "Cast your burden on me."

Sympathy often irritates with many words.Compassion helps and hears in quietness and understanding.

-Author Unknown

There is a difference between sympathy and compassion that demonstrates the critical effect of ...

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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 repeatedly 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 li...

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How to Deal With Telemarketers

I am not always friendly to telemarketers. I am ashamed to say that occasionally, I have slammed the phone down and been rather short-tempered about the times they call my house. However, all that changed a few years ago when I decided it was time to reclaim control of my telephone calls.

Like most people, we receive so many annoying telemarketing calls each day–for credit card offers, vacation packages, pledges to various charities and insurance companies–that I spend a good part of my evenings complaining about those irr...

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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 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. 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 week I went to a banq...

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Wiggly Messes and Tasty Memories

All the students in the room wore full aprons to protect their clothing. They needed to because they were a group of wiggly 2 and 3-year-olds in a cooking class. My daughter scheduled the class at the local community center for my granddaughter and me when she knew I was coming to help her during their second child’s arrival.

“You’ll love it, mom,” she said. “You and Clare can have some fun together and make cookies.”

Eight little squirming bodies stood on chairs around two long tables with s...

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Our Crafty Gift Moments

Crafty gifts are usually unique because the person receiving the gift knows that the giver makes an extra effort to show how much they care. My youngest son still has a quilt that his grandmother made him when he was 8 years old. He was so excited when he woke up one morning at her house and found it lying on his bed. She sat up all night to finish it so he could take it home.

When my daughter was expecting our new grandson in September, she painted his room a bright blue with red trim and had drawn animal characters on the walls. I t...

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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 to no avail.

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

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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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What’s the Best Thing That Happened Today?

“I had a bad day, Nana,” my grandson, Donovan, said to me on the phone once when I called him after school. He was only four years old at the time, and he went to Head Start.

“Why did you have a bad day,” I asked him. “Cause I couldn’t do nothing right at school,” he answered as though it had been on his mind all evening. “What did you do wrong, Donovan?” “I couldn’t do good on my speech,” he said.

I reminded him of all the incredible things about h...

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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. 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 Supper,...

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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.

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 talk.Read More

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 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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Trails, like rules, are there for a reason

“Trails are there for a reason; my husband always told me when we were hiking.  The high grass and wooded areas can be dangerous”. His warnings were usually confirmed by the posted signs that instructed people to stay on the trails.

The problem was that I had a hard time staying on the trail.  My curiosity about what I couldn’t see compelled me to follow sounds that I couldn’t identify.  Often I went off the trails to get photos of birds, such as the Painted Bunting and the Scarlet Tanager soaring out of my cam...

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Cats, Predators or Pets

I didn't notice the big black and brown cat perched on the other side of the fence peering into our backyard.  I was busy watching the gray and white mocking bird with a long black tail dipping its beak into the cool water inside the birdbath.

It is a sight I can see most any time of the day, because our yard is usually filled with birds. We have Sparrows that build nests in the eave of our back porch, doves that nest in the big tree that shade the bird feeders, Woodpeckers hammering away at all hours of the day, and red-winge...

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Fishing On The Fly

I watched with interest as my husband worked on his casting technique with his new fly rod. Fly-fishing has always been an appealing sport to me because it requires more activity than just standing and waiting for a fish to pull your floater underwater.

I was assigned to watch over the other four fishing poles he had brought with us.  They were baited with live shrimp and had bright green, orange, and yellow floaters bobbing on top of the water. I wanted to try my hand at casting the line too, but it was his pole, and I figured I woul...

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Learning How to Help Your Child With ADHD

“When I was in the first grade, I had trouble concentrating and doing my work, and what added to this problem is that I have a disorder called ADHD (Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder), and I didn't know it.  I was always hyper, out of control, and always getting in trouble. I also had a temper problem. Because of this, I set a goal to improve. The school put me in a program called 504 (to receive extra help), and I also started to take a medication. I finally got to the point where I reached my goal. Now I'm in Pre-AP (honor c...

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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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Armed Forces Day in May

When we lived in Harlingen, Texas, I loved visiting the Armed Forces Appreciation Day at the Texas Air Museum.  The last time I was there, it was hot, Texas, hot! I might go in, look around, and say hello to my friends, John and Jeanette Houston, and then leave. But I ended up staying three hours, and I hardly noticed how hot it was because of all the interesting things I saw and learned. Volunteers served food, cleaned up, listened and told stories, and heartily involved in recreating history for the Independence Day celebration.

The...

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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 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 exclaimed. R...

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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. 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 ...

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Twas the Night Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, and everything was going wrong. There was no heat to warm the small trailer where we lived. That was because the butane tank that held the gas was empty.

We called the gas company, but they refused to come out on holiday to fill the tank, even though the temperature would only reach 15 degrees. My husband’s job had brought us to the small Georgia town. He was the new pastor of a small missionary church.

It was so cold in the trailer that the children had to wear their coats and glo...

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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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Health Fears are Often Unexplained and Overblown

Our daughter was always afraid of the dark when she was little. She would see these monsters looming over her bed or swaying in the dark and cry out to us. Her dad or I would go into her room and turn the light on to show her that the monsters were just pieces of furniture or the curtain moving in the wind of an open window.  “See, if you turn on the light, it’s not so scary, is it?” he would tell her.

Just like the scare we’ve had with the coronavirus this last year, she had a scare during her second p...

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Hope and Determination are Important Tools in Life

When we lived in Texas, I had a friend who needed to write a paper about Hispanic Heritage Month for an English assignment. She asked me what I thought was the most important thing young people in the Rio Grande Valley needed to succeed in life.

While I was thinking about the answer, she said everyone else had told her the answer was education. I agreed that education was definitely the answer for success in any person’s life, young or old, but we must have even to reach that goal. It is hope.

Even parents with li...

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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 talking 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. She alre...

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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, 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 tal...

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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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An Educational Gift for My Children

The older gentleman standing in the hall outside the classroom was dressed very nicely.  He wore a brown tweed jacket, dark brown trousers, a striped shirt, and a sharp-looking tie.  His hair was gray, and his glasses made him look very wise. I figured he must be the professor of the class I was about to enter.

When the door opened, 25-30 college students, dressed in an array of youthful outfits, funneled in and sat down, ready to start the new semester.

I took a seat in the middle near the wall just if I changed my mind and de...

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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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Till Death Do Us Part

They were married for 61 years. He told us about their life together. He said he had to wait till he turned 18 before they could be married, but they had been together ever since, except for the 33 months he spent overseas during World War II.

There was another time when he had to take a job away from home, but he always came home on the weekends to be with his family. He worked and brought his money home, and told her where he thought it should go, and she took care of the their home and three boys.

They traveled together. He ...

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Enjoy the Journey

“Stand still,” my husband whispered. “I think I've got it.” I tried not to move, even though something was scratching my feet. I glanced down to see prickly little bushes pressing against my legs.

He moved in closer, aimed, and clicked, but not quickly enough.  The fickle little orange butterfly fluttered out of the camera's view to another blossom a few feet away. We tried to follow it, but we were waist-deep in yellow wildflowers and losing sight of our feet altogether.

“Wait, I told him. Here's ...

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Reacting Without Thinking

He was just a man sitting in a crowd watching a baseball game. His face and clothes blended in with all the other faces in the crowd at the Wrigley Field baseball stadium. The Chicago Cubs were holding a 3-0 lead in the eighth inning of Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, and suddenly the ball was hit to left field directly in the path of the man sitting in the front row.

Without hesitation or thought he stood up and reached his left hand out and literally caught the ball inches above the hands of the Chicago Cubs' left...

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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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Happy Meal Toys

Before the holidays began, I spoke with my 5-year-old grandson on the telephone.  He and his two little brothers live in Knoxville, Tenn.  I told him we would meet him in Washington, D.C., at his aunt’s house for the Thanksgiving holidays.

He was so excited about being able to see us.  He said, “Oh, Nana, will you be bringing me “Happy Meal” toys?” It seems that I have become the grandparent who gives him the little things in life.

When our youngest son was little, his favorite toys were happy mea...

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The Fireworks In A Veteran’s Mind

We were hypnotized by what seemed like millions of colors drizzling down into the reflection of the lake as the crowds applauded the Veterans Day extravagant fireworks display paired with a musical salute to our nation’s veterans.  The town lit up around us after a beautiful Veteran’s day parade. My daughter said it looked like a box of Crayola crayons shot out of a cannon into the sky.

We had hurried with our two children to get the best spot near the lake. We were lying on our backs on a thick plaid blanket. I br...

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Under The Same Sky

One summer in a different country seemed to have changed how our daughter saw the stars at night.

During her freshman year at college, she and seven other students from Lee University were invited to Russia to help set up the first Christian education department at Poltava University in the Ukraine.

When she came home, she tried to give us a visual picture of how different the people’s lives were in Russia.

"The food was very different," she said. The main staple was hard bread and a fatty sausage. Large families s...

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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, surro...

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Crying Child

Being in a plane with a child screaming to the top of their lungs is hard on the parents and those around them. “She’s just throwing a tantrum, said the man sitting near me.  It’s her mother’s fault.” He said it loud enough for the young mother to hear the comment, too.

The little girl making all the noise was about 18 months old, and no amount of consoling from her frazzled mother would soothe her.

I was flying home from a conference in Atlanta and feeling really sorry for the young woman trying t...

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Embarrassing the Kids

When our children were teenagers, one of the things they hated most was when I used coupons to buy groceries or when I would count out change from my purse instead of handing over dollar bills or a credit card.

Little things embarrassed them, like when I cut a coupon from the newspaper for a bucket of chicken.  I stopped at the intercom of the fast-food drive-in sign and ordered the fried chicken, but failed to tell them I had a coupon.

When I drove up to the window, I showed them my discount coupon, but they said they couldn&#...

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Separation Anxiety Not Just Kids Stuff

The first day of college was pretty much the same as the first day of grammar school in our family. There was anxiety, fear of the unknown, tears, and a slight longing to retreat into that comfortable place at home called the nest.

It is called separation anxiety. We understand it completely when our children cling to us the first time we are separated from them.

But what do we call it when it happens to the parents? It is labeled the “empty nest” syndrome. I experienced symptoms with each child as we packed up the ...

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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 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 very to...

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Sarcasm Can Leave Emotional Scars

When my friend walked by my desk looking sharp in her stylish, black suit, I remarked how great she looked. She said she had just come out of a senior management meeting. “Is that your senior management suit?” I asked. We laughed, and she said something funny to me about my casual dress.

We were a little sarcastic, and it was funny. It lightened up our day because we’re friends and wouldn’t do anything to hurt each other.

But there are times when sarcasm hurts. Even the word itself can leave a ba...

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