Loosening anger’s grip

Listen when I talk...I opened the email and immediately felt my temperature rise.  Someone had stirred up a situation I thought had been settled.

“Oh, that makes me angry!” I uttered out loud.  (To confess, my language was a little stronger than that.)

My irritation boiled the remainder of the day.  I craved the instant gratification of calling the person and unloading my feelings.  Equally as powerful, I fought the urge to run to a third-party to vent my frustration.

The voice of wisdom and experience whispered inside my head, “don’t do eitheryou’ll regret it later.”

Still battling these temptations, I went to bed smoldering, bypassing the counsel of Ephesians 4:26, which advises, “do not let the sun go down on your anger . . .” (NRSV) Continue reading

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Breaking my white bubble

NOTE: This post was written in 2016 during the time our nation was reeling over the police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.  I have re-posted it in on Facebook in June 2020 as our country reacts to the death of George Floyd.


A few weeks ago I was stuck behind a slow truck on my way to work.  When the truck finally turned off, the road opened up and I accelerated to make up a little time.  As I zoomed towards the railroad tracks, I glimpsed a police car out of the corner of my eye.  It was too late to slow down.  I knew I was busted.

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The patrol car’s lights began flashing the moment I whizzed by, and I dutifully pulled over to the shoulder. While the cruiser crept up behind me, I reached for my purse, preparing to pull out my driver’s license.  The officer approached my car and I rolled down my window.

The imposing man in blue bent over and said, “Oh, it’s you!”

“Hi,” I said sheepishly, recognizing him, too.  I knew the officer from when I had worked for the City several years earlier.

I reached for my driver’s license.  “Oh, put that away,” he said casually.  We chatted for a while and in what seemed like almost an afterthought, he said “and slow down.”

I drove off without a ticket, realizing I had been shown favor (he had said more than once that if an officer who didn’t know me had made the stop, I probably would have gotten a ticket.)

A few days later I was driving home from work and saw someone else stopped by a police car, not far from where I was pulled over.  It was a young black man, and two police officers were sitting in the patrol car behind him.

In light of recent national events, I couldn’t help but wonder—were both the driver and the officers on heightened alert and concerned for their safety?

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15 Things I Learned From My Dad

Janie & Dad -whip cream 1961

I originally wrote this post in 2015, the year my dad turned 93. Little did I know at that time it would be my dad’s last birthday. As the years pass without him, the life-lessons and principles he taught me are as relevant as ever. Here are fifteen things I learned from my dad.

1. Commit your heart to Jesus. My dad’s faith began forming when he was a young farm boy searching for a lost cow. As he went from field to field looking for the wayward beast, he eventually became disoriented and panicked. In that moment, dad asked God to help him, and he instantaneously remembered that he could tell the direction home by looking at the sun. The seeds of faith sown that day on the prairie came to fruition at age 15 when a traveling evangelist came to town. When the altar call came, dad felt a burning in his heart to respond. “I practically ran to the front,” dad recalled. He says he knew that it was time to “get off the fence” and make a commitment to Christ. My father called it the most important decision he ever made—and one he never regretted to his final breath.

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Baby-faced dad in WWII

2. Worrying is worthless. One of the hallmarks of my dad’s faith was how it dissolved fear. As a soldier in WWII, his fellow Army buddies asked him why he didn’t share their fear of dying on the battlefield. He responded, “My life is in God’s hands, and I know that if I die, I will go to heaven.” My dad consistently turned to prayer during trying times, leaving the matters in God’s hands. He was famous for saying, “we’ll take it one day at a time,” a philosophy that focused on the present rather than fearing the future. As the frailties and challenges of old age crept in, dad often said, “I’ll sleep well tonight; I don’t have anything to worry about. What good would it do, anyway?”

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15 Things I Learned From My Mom

17380_1241132102235_5613963_n[1]This time of year causes most of us to pause and think about motherhood. For me, Mother’s Day is a bittersweet time, not only because I’ve never had the privilege of being a mom, but because my own mother is in heaven. Her birthday always falls close to (and sometimes on) Mother’s Day, making May a month I find myself missing my sweet mama more intensely. But this time of year also provides a great opportunity to remember the tremendous influence she had on my life. In a spirit of celebration and gratefulness, here are fifteen things I learned from my mom.

1. Pray often. My mom believed in the power of prayer, and I am confident that her intercession helped make me who I am today.   Knowing that she continually prayed for me provided peace during many stressful moments. If I was taking a final exam, mom was praying. If I was struggling with a life decision, I knew she was joining with me in seeking God’s will.  I have no doubt her prayers for my safety kept me from many unseen calamities, and I  believe some of her requests are still being answered today.  Her example of “praying without ceasing” inspires me to do the same.

2. Value education.  As the eldest of 13 children in a farming family, my mom was forced to drop out of school in seventh grade. Even with little formal education and having to learn English as a second language, her aptitude to learn was obvious.  In her forties, she finally had the opportunity to obtain her G.E.D.  Although she never had the chance to pursue higher education, mom wanted all of her children to do so.  She was a key part of my education, teaching me to read by the time I entered kindergarten. She continued to encourage my education all the way through college, when she not only sacrificed financially, but even helped me study sometimes.  Perhaps it’s a fitting tribute to her that I work at a college today, helping others achieve their educational dreams. Continue reading

Let Your Heart be Loved

th8W3L5V25I’ve recently been intrigued by a new reality show, “The Sisterhood,” that chronicles the journey of several young women on a quest to determine whether they are called to be nuns. In one of the episodes, a wise, older sister shared something she heard directly from Mother Teresa herself. She said that the key to finding God’s will is simple: spend 10 minutes every day letting Jesus love your heart.

I was struck by the profoundness of this suggestion. In my rush through life (which was compounded during the holiday season) I can’t remember the last time I came quietly before Jesus to simply receive his affection for me. Oh, I have included quick readings of Christian devotional books or passages of Scripture virtually daily, but these have been squeezed in while eating breakfast and glancing sideways at my watch to make sure I’m not late for work.   I’ve also spent regular time in prayer, but these moments have typically focused on talking to God about the practical needs in my life or the lives of those whom I care about. I’ve attended worship services most Sundays, but my spiritual receptors have frequently felt numb. Continue reading