Untamed Emotions, Nasty Manipulators and Michael J. Fox–Why we must guard our hearts.


back to the future

I grew up with three sisters and two brothers. The youngest one barely survived because the rest of us

  • messed with his mind.
  • played his emotions like he was some kind of computer game.

Oh, I’m sorry. Maybe you were an angel growing up. Perhaps your halo is glowing with virtuous pride this very moment.

Well, think about this. Maybe those fancy wings on your back knocked a few old grannies in the face when you walked down the street.

Come on. Get real. We all do stuff we regret.

Now, about my brother. I must refer to him by his fake name -Michael J. Fox. That way, his privacy is protected and his love for Back to the Future movies is acknowledged.

And, seriously, I’d love to say that say that anything and everything I’m about to relate to you is utter nonsense made up in the middle of the night after watching Nacho Libre.

But, it’s not. Made up, that is.

When my brother was barely school-age we bossed him around all the time. 

“Michael J. Fox, go get my book off the shelf,” I often said as I lounged on my bed.

“Buy me a candy bar at the corner store,” one of us would demand when we had some spare change.

It was Michael J. Fox do this and Michael J. Fox do that.

But, that’s not the worst of it. One evening, I  decided to make him cry. 

“Hey, J.,” I yelled from the living room, “Get in here. I want to tell you a story.”

Michael J. Fox ran into the room and plopped onto the couch. His fine blonde hair shone like the golden ticket from the book Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. His eyes blazed with wonder and anticipation. 

“It was the war of the worlds,” I explained to Michael J., “Every town everywhere was a battleground. Soldiers came and took your whole family away. You were playing the back yard. When you came in for a drink of water, they were gone.”

As M. J’s eyes got bigger and bigger I described how he searched for his family. Day after day. I told him about how he fought in the final battle. His team won. 

“When the smoke cleared,” I said as Michael J. now leaned against me in a state of emotional exhaustion, “You climbed the hill when your family was supposed to be waiting for you. There, you looked around. Everyone was gone. You were all alone. Forever alone.”

My brother cried.

For just a second, I felt powerful. Then, I looked away. Even a kid like me knew when she had crossed the line.

Emotions are a powerful force. When reason fails to convince us, an appeal to our emotions can sway us.

The question is, how can we keep our head on straight in an emotional world?

“Above all else,” said the author of Psalms 4:23, “guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”

We must consciously protect what we know to be  true by questioning our feelings to see if they are in line with God’s truth.

Knowing God


bible reading

I practically grew up in His house. Cut my first teeth on His belongings.

  • The pews.
  • Hymn books.
  • Nursery toys.

I remember chasing my brothers and sisters through His sanctuary on rainy afternoons. We pushed an old Hoover over His carpets on  Saturday nights.

Every once in a while some old  saint would grab me by the scruff of my neck and tell me slow down.  Or maybe they would catch me giggling in the middle of church.

“This is God’s House,” he or she would hiss in my ear, “Don’t you be misbehaving.”

All those angry looks, reprimands and hints of disapproval eventually formed the face of God.

  1. Disapproving.
  2. Disappointed.
  3. Not much into kids.

I figured that If I made Him mad enough He would squash me like a bug.

I thought I knew God but I was wrong.

What I heaped together was just a pile of other people’s misinterpretations, ignorance and fears.

The Bible is where we find out who God really is. Not opinions, random impressions or what somebody else feels.

Read the Word. Speak it out loud. Think about it all day long.

Sometimes You’ve Just Got To Laugh–It’s healing and refreshing and just plain fun.

go on

Funny. Really, really funny.

That’s my impression of the pilot show I watched tonight.  It’s called Go On. All about support groups and grieving and loss.

I know. I know. Death is no laughing matter. But, hey, I’ve cried myself to sleep plenty of times. Faced the darkness.  Alone. Never once did a light shine down from heaven. No warm cloud of peace spun around me until I decided that pain was kind of cool.

It hurt. All night and then all day and the day after that and the day after that. Agonizing weeks, months and years that I really don’t want to live through again.

But, that’s life. The

  • confusion.
  • anger.
  • denial.

After you’ve been through it, you don’t want some I’ve-never-really-suffered-loss kind of guy making fun of the whole process.

It takes the gritty grin of a survivor to make me see humor in situations  that once tore me apart.

Makes me wonder who wrote Go On.

The main character is Matthew Perry. Love him or hate him, he is hilarious.

I know as sure as the Bible was translated into the King James version, some of you are going to tear this show apart. Theological blooper by theological blooper.

For once, don’t get all pious. Don’t shake your haloed head at it’s irreverence to grieving.

Actually, we all pretty much know that

  1. life can suck.
  2. Hearts can break.
  3. Worlds can shatter.
  4. Joy can be just a memory.
  5. Laughter can be a language we forget how to speak.

But, when you remember again, go ahead and smile.

Tonight, I laughed harder than the time my grandma wore welding goggles for eyeglasses.

And, trust me, that was funny.

The Wild West, Biting the Dust and Going Gun Free–How one little Oklahoma Law is getting me down. To the Ground. Literally


136my husband and I at my son’s graduation in Arkansas.

This little gypsy gets around. It started with

  1. My son’s graduation in Arkansas. 
  2. Then, an Alaskan cruise with my mom.
  3. Followed by a trip to Mexico with my husband
  4. Then, a journey to Idaho for my nephew’s wedding.

It was all fun. No guns.

Well, that’s all about to change.

At the end of October, I’ll fly to visit this graduated son of mine. He lives in Stillwater. Works fulltime as a certified tattletale. I know. I’ve read his stuff.

  • Somebody got put in jail.
  • Somebody got a blue ribbon at the fair.
  • Some body started a fire and burned a forest down.

Somebody did this and somebody did that. I mean the guy’s just waiting for anything to happen so he can write it down and let the world know all about it.

You should see the kid. He writes like pencil lead is sprouting from his fingernails. His cellphone is almost a permanent fixture on the side of his head. He’s a Ripley’s Believe it or Not wannabe in the making.

But, that’s not what this blog is all about. It’s really about

  1. packing heat
  2. walking heavy
  3. holding iron
  4. toting buckshot.

By the time I visit my son, everyone in Oklahoma will be allowed to carry a gun.

Just read the Stillwater Press. That’s where my son tells all he knows.  November 1st is when the law goes into effect. 

So, I’ve been thinking. Maybe if  I

  • wear a bullet proof vest,
  • never look anyone in the eye
  • and stay out of Wal-mart on the weekends

I won’t have to carry a sweet little piece or haul around some little metal baby. 

I’ll be OK.

You see, I’m just not given to violence. Certainly not shoot-outs. My modus operandi is more like

  • “please and thank you”
  • than “stop or I’ll shoot you full of holes”.

I am part Canadian after all.

It does come in handy. This politeness of ours.

You know, Buckshot Billy or Leadbottom Pete could start trouble down by the Rib Crib or the Chick-fil-A at any time. 

Me? I’ll just politely step aside.  Out of the way.  Of course, everyone else in the vicinity certainly will fire their legally permitted guns.

At the bad guy.

And, possibly all shoot each other. 

Imagine me, the last man standing. Or, should I say, laying down? Out of the line of fire.

Fact is,

  1. I’m not going rogue with Sarah Palin any time soon
  2. or coming out of the redneck closet  just to visit one little town.

I’m gun free.

This works as long as I hit the dirt at any sign of trouble. Face down. Low to the ground.

Come to think of it, that was how the West was won.

Building Utopia With Your Bare Hands- a cautionary tale


lab expereiment

My oldest child. 

I should have donned a lab coat the minute he was born. He was my  great parental experiment.

“No way is evil going to taint your soul,” I proposed as I wrapped a Pamper diaper around his little bum. I considered myself well qualified to conduct this test case. Had I not grown up in churches that forbade

  1. rock music,
  2. mixed bathing,
  3. and watching movies at the theatre?

If someone gave him one of those soft baby books,  I screened it for witches and violence. On Saturday, I analyzed cartons for subversive content.

Bible stories and Winnie the Pooh made the cut. Not much else.

Basically, I tried to achieve the impossible. Shielding my son from all the hurt and evil in the world.

Some days I fell asleep on the couch during comatose-inducing shows like Little House on the Prairie and Blues Clues. When I awoke, I found he and his siblings mesmerized by the lurid twists and turns of daytime soaps and  action flicks.

I tried. I plotted and measured and theorized that I could somehow create utopia with my bare hands.  A place where my son would never face evil, pain, rejection or disappointment.

End the end, all I had to offer was an apartment featuring

  1. windows with a privacy coating made of sticky finger prints,
  2. and an overstuffed sofa with enough crumbs inside to provide rations for a small army.

There were not too many occurrences of gentle conversations with praise songs playing in the background.

Fact is, we can not create a bubble of protection around our children. Not even around their hearts.

To think we can is actually dangerous.


Because when we don’t get what we want we sometimes go ahead and pretend that we did.

  • That our children never struggle.
  • That they are never damaged by this fallen world.

The result is tragic –often more tragic than the initial situation. Our denial forces children to walk through the darkness confused. Angry. Frightened. Alone.

What can we do?

  • Face reality.
  • Seek healing.
  • Embrace redemption.

God is with us. When the keys get locked in the car and the kids are crying. When classmates laugh at our children. When someone hurts them in ways we never thought would happen, God is there.

He cares. He is good.

The Road Between Two Worlds



Tomorrow’s the wedding. (See Monday through Thursday blogs for details.)

Then, we wind our way out of the hills. Head back to the city.

My husband is glad. He stayed home to

  • Work.
  • Eat Costco casseroles.
  • Watch TV with Molly at night. (Molly’s our dog and sort of practice grandchild.)

But, I’ll miss the woods and the lake. ( I took this picture with one of those ancient pre I-phone cellphones. Not bad, eh?)


I’ll miss my extended family.

Sorry, no pictures. They must remain incognito, legends that they are.

  • Ruler of the trees.
  • Riders of the four wheelers and mud-spattered vehicles.
  • Masters of the woodstove and stockpiles of chopped up logs heaped outside their homes.

I’ll even miss the stories of bizarre encounters with wild animals.

moose dog fightpicture by Lynn Cole of Ponderosa Estates Idaho.

Look closely.

Tucker is the dog. The moose is the moose. My sister is the one behind the lens.

Now, I ask you, was it

  1. temporality insanity
  2. or Hillbilly bravery

that inspired sister to shoot this scene?

By the time you figure it out, I’ll be half way back to

  • rush hour traffic,
  • strip malls
  • and the emergency vehicle sirens that rip through the night.

Absolutely can’t wait.

In the words of Dorothy, there’s no place like home.

Road Kill, Buck Teeth and the Silence of Creation.


silent of the woods

All week I’ve been writing about my exploits in the mountains of the Idaho panhandle.

It’s been a Hillbilly adventure.

I must confess- it was not my idea to introduce the term Hillbilly. I blame that on the Canadian/US border.

“Where you headed?” asked the guard when I came through.

“To my nephew’s wedding,” I responded, “In Idaho.”

“Where in Idaho?”

“Well,” I paused as I tried to retrieve the name of the obscure town from my already overloaded memory bank, “It’s..uh…close to Sandpoint. Up in the hills.”

“So,” he said with a grin, “It’s a Hillbilly wedding.”

The guard made a motion as if he were reloading a shotgun.

“That kind of wedding?” he asked.

Who was I to argue? I could see the open road just beyond the wicket. And, I was ready to roll.

“Shot gun..ah..yeah..” I said. He waved me through.

The rest was history. My spiraling descent into what some would term Hillbilly hell. One of my own making. I morphed into some kind of laptop maniac bent on making my  relatives sound like they were

  1. mixing moonshine like cupcakes for a bake sale.
  2. sprouting buck teeth that would make a beaver proud.
  3. spiting chewing tobacco and watermelon seeds faster than a slot machine. 
  4. snatching up road kill just in time for those special dinners like Valentines and Thanksgiving.

With great dignity,  my brother-in-law informed me that if I was going to make fun of Hillbillies he would prefer I use the formal term HillWillams.

Duly noted, brother-in-law.

Truth is,  these Hillbillies (or HillWilliams) are not so backwards as they seem. They’ve got 

  • Costco cards,
  • Satellite TV,
  • Electricity.

Of course, I wasn’t kidding about the road kill and the moose roaming around my sister’s yard. Yes, eating her apples. I guess she’s running some kind of backwater drive-through.

Let me tell you about their skies at night. The stars light up the sky without the competition of

  • street lights,
  • passing cars,
  • or shopping malls.

Ogling the constellations as they show their stuff against  the night sky?


Walking down the hill in the morning.  Alone. Not a sound except the chirp of a sparrow, the rustle of leaves or the hum of a bee. My favorite part.


The kind that makes you listen from inside your soul instead of from inside your head.  The kind that lets you hear that low steady beat of creation. 

That’s when everything falls into place. No clutter to hide it.

God is God.

I need to be reminded of that more. Thanks to these hills and the folks who allow me to wander through them, I am. 

Tune in tomorrow for the last and final adventure. 

The end of the day at the edge of civilization

evening at lake ponderey

That’s right. I’m still in Idaho.

Right now, I’m being serenaded by my grand nephew. He warms up his voice by pinching his finger in the screen door. Helps him hit those high notes. Pretty good considering he’s barely two.

My other grand nephew  has a promising career as a kitty whisperer. Watch out, Cesar Millar.  A four year old from the back woods of Idaho just may take your place.

Well, I only have internet down in the low parts of these woods. And the sun is starting to set. Got to head up to the trailer on the top of the mountain.

Not much to tell today. Tomorrow is a literal foodie hoedown.

  • Pulled Pork
  • Baked Beans
  • Pickled veggies
  • Macaroni Salad
  • Iced Tea

Could have some Moose stew, but the meat in question is still running the back roads. No joke. He’s been eating apples off my sister’s tree.

Oh, by the way, I ascertained something very profound.

  1. Folks in these hills consider themselves civilized.
  2. Referring to them as hillbillies makes them mad.

I’ve got the bite marks to prove it.

Better run. Grandma just fell asleep in an old man’s leather chair. Gotta wake her up and take her back up the hill.

Wish you were here. You could sit on a stump and get to know the locals.

Maybe some day.

Hillbilly Heaven–that’s where I’m spending my last bit of vacation before the summer’s over.


hillbilly shack


I’m here.

Hillbilly heaven.

  1. Pine trees and parts of the roads sliding down into the gulley.
  2. Junk cars and a big jar of juice sitting by the edge of the trees.

Mighty neighborly of the locals. Considering it was pitch dark and I only saw the jar because of my high beams, I didn’t stop.

Before we headed into the never never land of red necks, Mom warned me –

  • Watch out for deer
  • Watch out for mudslides
  • Watch out for hillbillies in big vehicles with tangled seat belts and sweaty bodies.

Live bodies, that is. This is the mountains. Not the Mexican border.

Take note.  There’s no moonshine in these hills.  My hillbilly brother is a preacher man.  My brother in law a song leader and pillar of the church. Kind of hard on the womenfolk.  They need a snort now and then just to survive. 

Not happening.

They will have to settle for a few trips to paradise every once in a while. I think you city folk know it by another name. Wal-Mart.

Good news.

I called Dennis. That’s my husband. Told him I made it here safely.

Now, safe in these parts can be translated as  –

  1. No tires shot off vehicles while turning off the highway (Not a fun experience. Ask my preacher brother.)
  2. No horses dropping dead in the mid-stride while being ridden down the back roads. (Who would want to remember that day?)
  3. No windows blown out by artillery on the final approach to the Favor ranch. (Don’t even ask for details on that one.)

Now, I have to end this record of my arrival to Ponderosa Terrace Estates. Motto – if there is running water around it’s gotta have feet.

But, hey, don’t cry for me.

I’ve got

  • fresh air.
  • stunning lakes.
  • opportunity to chew the fat (that means conversations, Richard Simmons) with my extended family that I have not seen in two years.

Whoo Hoo!

Forget Wal-Mart. I’m in paradise.

See you tomorrow!

No matter how damaged the soul or annoying the song, Jesus still loves the little children of the world.


An old song from my childhood took over my brain space today. No, it wasn’t The Wheels On The Bus Go Round and Round.


Enough kids sing that song from the backseats of mini vans and our society will die. One brain cell at a time. 

Mine was more of a theologically intellectual tune called Jesus Loves the Little Children.

Yeah, yeah, maybe not so much for a woman my age. Simple song. Foundational truth. But, I absolutely love the line that says “they are precious in His sight”. Because they really are. You know, all the little children of the world.

Made me think of the movie Precious.

It’s about an overweight, illiterate teenage girl. Clareece "Precious" Jones.

  • Beaten by her mother.
  • Raped twice by her own father.
  • Resulting in pregnancy. Both times.
  • Tormented by classmates.

She has everything and seemingly everyone against her. Even herself.

Precious. An ironic name for someone who seems to have never been cherished by any intelligent being.


Maybe not.

A social worker and a teacher enter her life. They help the best they can. But, they have their own struggles and limitations.

As in real life, not all the pieces quite fit together.

  • School is still rough.
  • Mom still tries to hurt her.
  • Dad is still a nasty piece of work.

But, there’s more to Precious than the pain. She has hopes and dreams. Fantasies of being loved and admired like other human beings.

Actually, far, far from fantasy.

We are all precious in God’s sight.  Each and every one of us.

No secret abuse or public humiliation can change that.

We are loved.

By God.

The question is, will we in turn, love our selves?

That’s where the plot turns to a place most movies dare not go. Away from dramatic rescue scenes. To a quiet revolution inside Precious. A growing determination.

That’s when Precious simply decides to take responsibility for her own life.

  1. Say how she feels.
  2. Choose how she will live.
  3. Take care of her kids.
  4. Get her education.

Yes, yes, I know about the pit falls ahead. Insurmountable odds. Overwhelming roadblocks.

But, courage and motivation is a beginning. An awareness of personal worth and strength is a big step.

Not just for Clareece "Precious" Jones.

For all of us.