Monday, July 6, 2009

Change of Address!

Hello, friends! Sorry I haven't been around much lately. I've moved. You can find my Coffee Talk articles at this address:

And if you have a few minutes, stop by my new author site - still in the works. But I think you'll like what we're doing over there:

Or if you've a hankerin' for some down-to-earth, plain-talkin' Bible Study, come on over and join me for coffee at

I look forward to seeing each of you around the web!



Friday, June 19, 2009

Just Like Daddy

I have a new yardman. He is blonde, tan, strong and handsome. The other day, as he mowed my lawn, I snapped pictures of him.

Did I mention he is seven years old?

From the time he could walk, Foster has “helped” his daddy mow our lawn. He faithfully pushed his Little Tykes mower behind Mark, trying to follow in his father’s footsteps. For years now, he has dreamt of the day when he could do his daddy’s work. And now, with supervision, he can.


And he does a great job, too! Mark has patiently taken the time to teach him how to start the mower, how to mow in a straight line, and how to overlap the edges so stray pieces of grass aren’t missed. Foster is proud to be doing a man’s work. And Mark is proud to have a son who wants to be like his daddy. As he watched Foster mow our lawn the other day, he smiled and said, “That’s my boy!”

But the Daddy imitation doesn’t stop with the lawn. Foster wants to hunt like his daddy, fish like his daddy. We’ve even caught him preaching sermons like his daddy on more than one occasion. He admires his daddy, and he wants to be just like him. I think that’s probably about the biggest compliment a child can give a parent, don’t you?

It’s natural for a child to want to be like the parent. I can remember longing for the day I could wear lipstick and high-heeled shoes, like my mama. I can remember wanting to touch the sky like my daddy. (Yes, in my mind, he could touch the sky.) I hope I turned out with some of their wonderful qualities.

As much as it brings joy to my heart to see Foster imitating his daddy, it also brings a question.

Am I imitating my Father?

Oh, I say I want to be godly and compassionate and merciful and kind. But all too often, I find I am just the opposite. I find I am ungodly. I gossip. I judge people. I respond harshly, instead of with patience and compassion. Though I want to imitate my heavenly Father, I often fail.

But then, I remember the years when Foster followed Mark with that Little Tykes mower. I remember he often lost interest after a few minutes. Sometimes, he would trip and fall. Though he wanted to imitate his daddy, he didn’t do it perfectly. It took him a while to learn. He’s still learning. And though Foster wasn’t a perfect replica of his daddy, it still brought joy to Mark’s heart, just to know that Foster was trying, just to know that he wanted to be like his dad. Mark has patiently taught him what he needs to know, and now Foster shows great promise as a lawn boy.

I think God must be that way, too. He knows we aren’t perfect. He knows we are going to get distracted and make mistakes and fall down sometimes. But He sees our hearts, and when He sees that we truly want to be like Him, it makes Him smile. He patiently picks us up, sets us back on the right path, and continues to teach us. And somehow, miracle of all miracles, He looks at a heart that longs to imitate Him and He sees promise. He sees potential.

I want to be like my Father. I really do. And I hope that someday, somehow, I will be able to make Him proud as He says, “That’s my girl!”

“And He said to them, ‘Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?’” Luke 2:49

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Deadly Weapon

Today, I experienced one of the most terrifying moments of my life. I survived, but just barely. And I am certain that the moment will live on in my memory for decades to come.

As I write this, I am sitting in a dorm room at a camp for girls. Just in case you are considering becoming a camp counselor, I must warn you. It isn’t a job for the faint of heart. Or for anyone over the age of forty. The hours are long. The noise level, at times, will break the sound barrier. And sleep?

What’s that?

But honestly, I think I could live with the long hours and the noise and the lack of sleep. After all, I knew what I was getting into when I agreed to serve as a counselor. But then, this afternoon came, and I am almost afraid to tell you what I saw, what I took part in.

But I’m going to tell you anyway.

Today, I watched a bunch of eight to twelve year-old girls practice their rifling skills. Yes, you read correctly. A bunch of rosey-cheeked, pigtailed little girls with BB guns in their hands, target shooting. And more than once, I had to do some fancy footwork as one of those girls accidentally swung her gun barrel in my direction like a quail-hunting vice president. It’s the stuff nightmares are made of, I’m telling you.


Now, don’t get me wrong. I think it’s great that an expert in the rifling field took the time to teach these girls gun safety, and how to handle guns correctly. It is a life skill every true Texan needs to have, after all. You never know when the bad guys are gonna ride up on their black horses with bandanas tied around their faces. If that happens, I won’t need to fear. I feel safe. My twelve-year-old daughter can protect me.

I’ve heard it said that guns are the most dangerous of all weapons. After all, they are easily accessible, and they can greatly injure or kill a person. And while I agree that guns are extremely dangerous, I know of one weapon that is even more accessible. In fact, everyone I know has one.

The weapon I’m thinking of has the potential to destroy lives. And yes, it has even killed people, or at least caused their deaths. To me, this weapon is more frightening than any gun, for I’ve been the victim of its power more than once. You probably have, too.

I’m talking about the tongue.

Our words have the power to give life, or to destroy lives. All too often, we use that power for evil instead of good. And while most of us would never dream of handling a gun without using the proper safety precautions, many of us aim our words carelessly, leaving a bleeding, broken path of victims in our wake.

Remember that saying, Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me? That’s wrong. Words hurt a lot worse than sticks or stones. And they take longer to heal, too.

But the great news is that the same power that can be used for evil can also be used for good. Words have the power to destroy, but they also have the power to build up, to encourage, to give life. We just have to learn to exercise a little “tongue safety.”

Easier said than done, I know. But if we try, we can all control our tongues better. We just need to remember that we carry a dangerous weapon. Before we speak, we need to ask ourselves a few questions. Is what I’m going to say positive or negative? Do my words have the power to hurt someone? Am I building others up, or am I tearing them down?

If we can’t think of something kind and loving and encouraging to say, we really do need to put our tongues into safety mode, and remain silent. And though this is difficult at first, we’ll find that before long, our words are more positive. More loving. And before we know it, those lovely words will become a lovely habit.

Pretty soon, everyone around us will feel safe. And that’s a pretty good feeling.

James 3:5 – 6 “Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire . . .”

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Green Machine

Is it just me, or does it seem that everyone is becoming obsessed with being “green”? You know what I mean. Everyone recycles. Everyone uses chemical-free pesticides. Everyone eats tofu. Save our planet and all that.

And though I’m all in favor of saving our planet, I’m often the last one to jump on any wagon. Call it my stubborn nature, or laziness, or whatever you want. The truth is, I’m just forgetful.


I want to remember to throw my soda cans into the special blue plastic box. But I forget and put them in the regular trash, and by the time I remember, the can is beneath yesterday’s leftover peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich and this morning’s coffee grounds. And sometimes, praying for forgiveness is just easier than digging to the bottom of the trashbag. And a whole lot cleaner, too.

So, my friends, now you know the truth. I’m not always as “green” as I should be. The earth is going to pot, and it’s probably my fault.

That’s why I was so thrilled when I recently had a great recycling opportunity. It seems that my daughter’s camp will have theme days. As in, dress up to fit the theme. And one day the theme is, “Finding Your Place in the Past.” Yep. That means dressing in really old fashions.

And it just so happens that I have a poodle skirt. Now stop trying to figure out my age! I’m not that old. But in 1980, I was in a musical. And the musical was set in the 1950’s.

I knew that thing was in the attic somewhere, so Mark and I went poking around up there, trying to find it. Of course, after opening nearly every box and hefting every overstuffed suitcase, we found it. Along with my teal prom dress and a pink southern-belle Scarlett O’Hara creation that is comical now, but that made me feel like a princess back when I actually wore it.

We hauled the loot out of the attic, and my daughter tried on every item, modeling them for us. Amazingly, they fit her. Man, I forgot how skinny I was.

All this to tell you that, yes, I am a recycler. I recycled a poodle skirt from 1980, which was made from a recycled fashion from the 1950’s. And the recycling doesn’t stop there.

She needed a petticoat. I went to Goodwill to buy an old prom dress and rip the petticoat out of it. (You didn’t think I’d actually rip the one from my own Scarlett O’Hara dress, did you?) But there was nothing floofy enough. (Is floofy a word?)

So instead, I bought a little slip for $1.99. Then I went to Wal-Mart and spent another $1.68 on netting. And with a little snipping and sewing, she had herself a petticoat. A really, really floofy one. Now that, my friends, is what recycling is all about.

You can just call me the Green Machine.

As I was working on that petticoat, I recalled some other things that have been recycled through the years. Things that have been passed on to me from my parents, and their parents before them, and back and back to long before I can trace my family lineage. And I had to smile.

You see, I am blessed to have parents who taught me good things, things like honesty and integrity and the value of hard work. Things like kindness and generosity and compassion. Things like faith in a God who loves me more than life itself.

Some may think those values are old, recycled ideals from yesteryear. But I’ve learned that the value of such lessons never decreases. Each time they are passed on to another generation, they become new again, like a breath of fresh air. And isn’t that what recycling is all about? Bringing the value of something old, and creating something new and fresh?

I’m so grateful to have had lessons of love and faith passed onto me. And I pray that, as my daughter wears her recycled poodle skirt, she’ll carry those lessons with her, too.

Deuteronomy 4:9 “Be very careful. Don't forget the things your eyes have seen. As long as you live, don't let them slip from your mind. Teach them to your children and their children after them.”

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Breakthrough Discovery

I have made a breakthrough discovery, which, if marketed correctly, could earn me countless millions. I have discovered why men and women don’t understand each other.

If I were smart, I’d hang onto this information and sell it only to those who are willing to pay an obscene amount of money. But have I ever claimed to be smart?

No comments, please.

Because I am more concerned about the common good of mankind (and womankind) than I am about becoming wealthy, I’m going to share my little secret. You might want to make sure you have a pen and paper handy, so you can take notes. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Are you ready? Here goes.

Many people feel that the reason men and women don’t communicate well is because they speak different languages. You know, men speak Martian. Women speak Venution. But actually, that’s not the cause of our miscommunications. The reason that men and women don’t understand one another isn’t because we speak different languages. It’s because we use different dictionaries.

Take, for example, the question, “How do you feel?”

Any woman will answer that question with an emotion. Happy. Sad. Frustrated. Peaceful. Content.

A man, on the other hand, will reply, “I feel hungry. Let’s eat.”

When a woman says, “Let’s talk,” she means, “Let’s reveal our innermost thoughts, discuss our loftiest dreams, share our deepest fears.”

When a man says, “Let’s talk,” he means, “What’s for dinner?”

Her definition of entertainment includes anything that requires her to wear her prettiest dress.

His definition of entertainment includes anything that allows him to watch other men clobber each other.

Like I said. Different dictionaries.

It is my belief that these dictionaries are somehow implanted into the male and female brains at conception. Little girls get the amplified, expanded, unabridged variety. Little boys? Well . . . they get the trimline version.


The good news is, if we can learn each others’ definitions, we’ll have a lot less male/female conflict. So, in an effort to test my theory, I have been studying manspeak, and comparing it with womanspeak. And I think I’ve become pretty fluent. Here are just a few examples:

Make-up (female): the stuff you wear on your face, so you’ll look pretty.
Make-up (male): the thing you have to do before she’ll let you kiss her.

Tight (female): an adjective used to describe last year’s clothes.
Tight (male): an adjective used to describe a really small parking space. Seen by most men as a challenge.

Sale (female): An excuse to buy new shoes.
Sale (male): An excuse to buy ten boxes of powdered sugar donuts.

I’m telling you, the more I learn, the more excited I get. I recently shared my excitement with Mark. I went on and on, recalling various disagreements we’ve had in the past, and revealing the why’s and how’s and what-if’s which would prevent such disagreements in the future. I explained the subtle differences in our languages, and how to interpret various words and phrases. He listened intently, and I knew. I knew this was a breakthrough moment in our relationship. I was close to tears, I was so thrilled with the possibilities of our future. No more misunderstandings. No more hurt feelings. No more arguments.

Nearly choked with emotion, I asked him, “Honey, how do you feel about all of this?”

His reply?

“I feel hungry. Wanna stop for a burger?”

Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Last week, I attended a writer’s retreat in the beautiful Colorado Rockies. I didn’t say much while I was there. After all, I’m not a real writer, and I didn’t want to give away my secret. I don’t think humor columnists count, do they?

As I sat around listening to the real writers discuss things like characterization and dangling participles and POV (what in the world is POV, anyway?) I gazed longingly at the snow-capped mountains, and wondered if I could rent some skis and sneak away for a day.

But then, I thought better of it. I could just see Mark, picking me up from the airport in my wheelchair. Casts on both arms. And both legs.


Mark: Honey, what happened?

Me: Oh, those writers are a rough bunch. I got bounced.

Mark: What are you talking about?

Me: They had bouncers and everything. To make sure we didn’t break any grammar rules. I accidentally broke four, and this is what they did to me.

Needless to say, I stayed at the retreat. And I’m glad I did, because I met some really nice people there. It was a little intimidating at first, hob-knobbing with all of those published authors. People like Stephen King.

No, Stephen King wasn’t there. I said people like Stephen King.

But as I talked with other writers, I learned that we all have our own special gifts and talents. We all have a unique perspective, and that perspective, when used well, can bring encouragement and joy and hope to someone who needs it. I learned that I don’t have to try to be like anybody else. I just need to be the best little humor columnist that I can be.

And try not to break any grammar rules in the process.

Isn’t it silly that we compare ourselves to others? After all, if we were all the same, this would be a pretty dull place. So what if someone else can do something better than I can? I’ll bet that I have something to contribute that no one else can. And if we’d all stop worrying about trying to be like everybody else, and just concentrate on offering the very best of ourselves to those around us, the world would be a much better place, don’t you think?

The truth is, nobody is really keeping score. In real life, nobody cares if you’re a multiply published author, or if you won the blue ribbon at the county fair for the past twelve years, or if you can sing better than anyone else. There are no bouncers waiting to pounce on you as soon as you make a mistake, proving that you’re not as qualified as those around you. What people really want to know is whether or not you care about them. And you can quickly become the most popular person around, simply by using your gifts to bless others.

So, my friend, what do you do well? Are you a great cook? Perhaps you can garden, or play the piano, or hot-wire a car. (If it’s the latter, please don’t tell the police that I’m the one who encouraged you to use your gifts . . .) Find what you do well, and do your best at it. Then use that gift to bless somebody else.

Even if it’s as silly as writing a little humor column for your local paper.

Romans 12:6, 8 “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. . . if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.”

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Keep Going

Don’t you just love to watch people run? Whether they’re running a race, or a marathon, or just trying to get into shape, there’s something inspiring about seeing a person running. Every time I see a runner, I just want to cheer and encourage him or her to keep going.

Well, with one possible exception. If the person is wearing a ski mask and carrying a gun, I probably won’t cheer.

Just saying.

But any other kind of runner inspires me. The sight tends to stir up memories of the theme song from “Chariots of Fire.” It makes me want to go lace up my own running shoes, and give it a go.

Woman Jogging Blur

As a matter of fact, I have started running recently. Now, don’t be too impressed. I can run about .2 miles without stopping. That’s point two. Then, I walk a few steps, catch my breath, and run about .2 more. And on it continues, until I reach my goal.

Or until I collapse in the grass. Whichever comes first.

But here’s the good news: When I keep going, I eventually reach my goal. It may take a while, but I get there. As a matter of fact, last week I racked up a whopping 3.6 miles a day! Jog a little. Walk a little. Jog a little. Walk a little.

I may not win any races except my own. But in the end, isn’t that the only race that matters?

My little jogging victories remind me of the importance of continuing on in the pursuit of other goals. Like the twenty pounds I want to lose. Sure, I’d like to lose it all in a week. But even if I lose a half pound a week . . . I’ll get there. So what if it takes nearly a year? That year will pass by, anyway. If I give up, I won’t be any better off then than I am now. So I’ll just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Most of us have goals. Hard goals, or they wouldn’t be worth having as a goal in the first place. And often, we are tempted to just collapse in the grass before we get there.

Goals like finishing that college degree. One class at a time. Or getting that garage cleaned out. One square foot at a time. It may take a while. But if we just keep taking tiny little steps, we’ll get there.

Our journeys of faith can seem that way, too. Sometimes, having faith in God is hard. When things happen that we don’t understand, or things don’t go our way, we often want to just quit. We want to say, “Never mind, God. This is too hard. I’ll do this on my own, without you.”

And then we collapse in the grass. And we stay there. And a day passes, then a week, then a year, then a decade passes . . . and we’re not any further along in our journeys toward becoming who He created us to be than we were when we first gave up.

Oh, the failure doesn’t come in collapsing. We all want to give up now and again. The failure comes when we refuse to get back up, when we refuse to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

I don’t know about you, but I plan to keep moving forward. One little step at a time. Point two miles at a time. Half a pound at a time. And eventually, I’ll be stronger, and healthier and skinnier. And then, it really won’t matter how long it took me to get there.

1 John 2:28 “And now, dear children, continue in Him . . .”