Sunday, June 16, 2013

Daddy's Lessons

          My daddy was a quiet, gentle man. He was fairly patient most of the time. He did all the things you would expect a good daddy to do. He provided faithfully for his family, and he spent time with his kids. I think he really wanted me to win the pinewood derby. He acted like he really enjoyed making those race cars.  He was always proud when ever I caught a fish, no matter how small. He also taught his kids important lessons. To his credit, he was pragmatic in his teaching style. He used whatever method worked. He role modeled and demonstrated virtues he thought were important. He talked if he thought that was sufficient to get his point across. And on an occasion or two, he would refer some matter to the "board" of education. Three lessons by three methods are memorable to me now as an adult.

     One winter morning in 1961,  I was awaken by some unusual commotion in the house. Daddy always got up and went to work while I was still asleep. This particular morning, he was going through his normal routine when he suddenly "blacked out." What woke me was the ambulance crew. My mamma had found him lying on the bathroom floor and had called for help. When I arrived on the scene, I saw my daddy was lying on an ambulance stretcher. He was awake and talking to the emergency attendants. They were telling him they suspected he had had a heart attack and were planning on taking him to the hospital. He politely thanked them for coming to check on him, but he said, "I'll be alright. I have to go to work." With that pronouncement, the discussion was over. I saw him get up off the stretcher and go to work. I remember thinking in my five year old logic, that going to work must be pretty important. I didn't worry about it anymore, cause daddy was strong. 

     In 1966, I told my daddy I need two cents. Naturally, he wanted to know why. I explained that I had an overdue library book and the fine was two pennies. Oh my gosh, the lecture that followed! You would have thought I had joined the mafia. I tried reasoning with him that it was "only two cents. What's the big deal?" He explained that it wasn't the amount of money that bothered him, but that fines were for punishing people who broke the law. He said, "I've never paid a fine for anything in my life." That's the line that made me understand the concept he was trying to teach. I felt proud that he could claim such a record. He is eighty-seven years old today, and has still never paid so much as an overdue library book fine. 

     In 1973 I was seventeen years old. I was at the zenith of worldly knowledge and was testing my limits with these two "old people" who were my parents. I was bucking authority. After all, I knew everything, and I didn't need them telling me how to live my life. Well, if there were two things that tested my daddy's patience,  it was causing a scene at the supper table and back talking. I was in violation of both this day. I have absolutely no recollection of what the disagreement was about, but I do remember talking very disrespectfully  to my mamma as we sat down to eat supper. I sat next to my daddy at the table, but was completely focused on the tongue lashing I was dishing out to mamma.  Suddenly, with a speed that would have impressed Mohammad Ali, my daddy reached over and shoved me on my left shoulder, causing me to nearly fall out of the chair. As I regained focus (now definitively on him,) he asked one simple question. "Do you want to go outside?" Being as smart as I was and understanding exactly what he meant, I declined. I've never regained the level of intelligence I thought I had, and ironically, daddy seemed to get  much smarter afterwards.

     Could you think of three better lessons to have learned from your daddy? Work hard, follow the rules, and show respect for others, especially your mamma and elders. They have served me well.  Today, I am a nursing home administrator, where I work hard and respect those I take care of. I don't have a criminal record, unless you count the speeding ticket I got a few years ago, that I never bothered mentioning to my daddy. I did have to miss work a few days because of a minor heart ailment. But note this: I have never had another overdue library book. 

    Thank you to my daddy and others like him. We honor you. Happy Father's Day!

     Until next time.........Steve ( )

Sunday, May 12, 2013

My Mom's Parting Words

     If you read this one way, it might be seen as a sad story; I want you to read it for the joy that comes at the end of the story. It is my Mother's Day tribute.

     December 10, 2004 was the day. I was just ending my "shift" of sitting with my mamma at St. Mary Hospital in Port Arthur, Texas. She had been hospitalized the Saturday before because she had broken her back. Actually, it's more accurate to say her back just broke. She had osteoporosis (brittle bones) to such an extent that just a routine movement while watching television caused the bones to crack. She was enduring tremendous pain, so my time with her consisted of trying to find some position that offered even slight relief. My brother and sister were each taking their turns at sitting with her, and they had the same problem. The doctors were offering no hope of a recovery this time. We had seen her very sick on several occasions, but she had always managed to bounce back somehow. When we realized that this time would be different, our goal became to keep her as comfortable as possible, so we allowed the medical staff to give her the strongest pain killer they had. 

     My sister had arrived to relieve me, and we were sitting in the hospital room visiting quietly. Mamma had settled into a light sleep, but at least it was a few moments of relative relief for her. After a few minutes, we heard our mamma begin to pray. We couldn't understand every word, because it was obviously a private situation between her and God. I heard her say, "Jesus, you know I've always loved you." As I stood next to her bed, her eyes fluttered open and she had a confused look on her face as she spoke to me. She asked, "Oh, son. Have you already crossed over?" 

     "No mamma. We're still in the hospital, but it's okay if you need to go."

     Then the conversation took me by surprise, as mamma said, "Well, I've seen  all the family." I immediately understood that she was referring to getting glimpses into heaven. She then said, "You know I've loved you since the day you were born?"

     "Yes, mamma. I know that." I felt my throat closing and couldn't speak without my voice cracking. 

     "Well, I have just one more question for you."

     "What is it mamma?
     "Are you sure you're saved?"

     "Yes mamma, I'm sure."

     "Then, I don't want you to cry too much, because I'm going to see you again." After a pause, "Where's Kristi?"

     "I'm here mamma." She was standing on the other side of the bed. 

     Turning her head slowly in the direction of my sister's voice, "Oh, there's my sweet baby girl! You have been such a joy to me." 

     At this point, tears were flowing freely down my face, and I was trying to process all this. Is my mamma really telling us good-bye?

     Talking to both of us now, she told us, "Ya'll make sure you tell your daddy, thank you for all the wonderful years we had together."  Then she said to me, "go call your brother. Don't let me go until he gets here."

     My brother arrived about 45 minutes later, and she told him her good-byes. My heart was breaking as I was trying to handle this, so my memory is cloudy on some of the specifics she told him, but I remember it being very tender, and her last words to him were something like, "always trust God, son." 

     Shortly after these conversations, mamma slipped into a comma and went to be with the Jesus that she loved in the wee hours of the morning on December 11th. As time has marched forward, and life somehow slowly began to return to the new normal, I have thought about this gripping scene many times. As hard as it was at the time, I wouldn't go back and change it at all. The peace that she left us with her dying words is strong. The confidence that we will see her again is real. 

     Somehow, God gave my mother the strength and wisdom to know what I needed to hear. It's also amazing that even on her death bed, her main concern was for her family. To me, that is a characteristic God has instilled in mothers. So, if your mom has already "crossed over" may the memory of her make you happy today, not sad. She wouldn't want you to be sad. If you are blessed with having your mom still in your life, get past the commercial aspect of mother's day and celebrate the Love that is Motherhood. 

Happy Mother's Day!

Until next time.......Steve ( )

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Children of Dreams by Lorilyn Roberts- A Review

     Adoption has always been important to Lorilyn Roberts. She herself has been adopted twice. The first time was by her earthly parents and then by God. Ms. Roberts is the mother of two adopted daughters. Her book, Children of Dreams is the story of all those adoptions, but mostly about the adoption of her daughters. She begins the gripping story at about the time she was thirty years old.

     At the age of thirty, Ms. Roberts' world was torn apart by an unfaithful husband and the subsequent divorce. Her dream of being a mom seemed to be on the burn pile. With no husband, how could she ever hope to have children of her own? Then, the idea for adoption. And, while that sounds simple enough, she chose to move forward with an international adoption. The story takes us to Nepal where she encountered life in a third-world country. Her writing style is warm and personal, so the reader experiences in some small measure the fear, doubts, and other emotions she went through. The international adoption process is full of reasons to generate a multitude of emotions. She recounts her relationship with God during this turbulent ordeal. Ms. Roberts never holds herself out to be some "super Christian." In fact, I thought she was rather forthcoming in expressing her spiritual doubts.

     After some years, life seemed to be at a point where she could consider adopting a second child. Then her daughter developed some serious health problems. If you've ever wondered if its possible for an adoptive parent to feel the same love for their child as biological parents do, read about the terror Ms. Roberts went through. Read how God prevailed and made it possible for her to go to Vietnam to adopt her youngest daughter. Vietnam was another place where the reader gets to take a white-knuckle ride. 

     Through all her "adventures," Ms. Roberts comes to parallel the story to God's adoption process. She finds her faith at the critical moments, but not before the reader either wants to give her a comforting hug or shake her and say "get a grip on yourself." In the end, God prevails and the reader is uplifted. I think you will enjoy getting to know Lorilyn's heart and those of her two "children of dreams."


    As a special treat for my readers, I am going to ask Ms. Roberts to join me and about half a dozen of my closest friends in a Google Hangout session in the very near future to discuss her books.  If you want to be on the invitation list, send me an email to:  If you aren't familiar with this, it's a new video chat service that is high quality and free of charge. They limit the number of people to nine at a time, so get your name on the list early! 

     Until next  time......Steve ( )

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Taste and See

     I recently had the privilege of becoming associated with a group of Christian authors. We call it the John 3:16 Marketing Network. For those of you who like books with a Christian approach, I thought you would be interested to know how to tap into a group of great Christian authors. The founder of our group, a best-selling author in her own right, is Lorilyn Roberts. (I can personally recommend her book, Children of Dreams because I've read it. See my amazon review.) She has edited a FREE e-book called, Taste and See First Chapters- a Sampling by John 3:16 Network Authors. I think the name pretty much sums up what the book is. It is a great way to "browse" before you buy, kind of like what you do when you go into a brick-and-mortar bookstore. This collection has fiction, non-fiction, children's books, poetry, etc. A true sampling of our group. Again. it's FREE.

     For those of you who read my posts regularly, by now you know I am an aspiring author. Many of you supported me by purchasing my first book, Professor Tidwinkle and the Case of the Memory Pill.  Again thank you very much. Writing that book was a snap compared to trying to market it. The John 3:16 Marketing Network is about helping Christian writers get their books to the public. Some of our authors have books published by traditional publishers, while others, like me are self-published. 

     Each month or so, our group also participates in launching new books. It is an exciting few days and is a win-win for the reader and the author. There is ALWAYS "bang for the buck." Just like a business that has a grand opening has specials and give-a-ways, so you will find at launch time. Below, you will see a countdown widget. That's how many days and hours to go until the next book launch begins. Click here to go to the launch page.

     I hope you will download the free e-book and visit the sites above that have hyperlinks. I think you will find the time well-spent. 

     Until next time.......Steve ( )


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Looking for Stories

I have felt under conviction for quite a long while that God wants me to write about people who have had their lives changed because someone showed them unconditional love. If you read my post called "Love is Not an Emotion," you may get a better idea of what I am talking about. This conviction started several years ago after hearing a sermon on agape love. I didn't really follow through, and then another sermon, from a different pastor, on the same subject. The conviction was renewed. I have been praying that the Lord would send me the stories, but they never came. I know they are out there. After continuing to pray, the Lord led me to think He wants me to seek out the stories.

This is a step of faith in that direction. I'm reaching out through this blog, asking my readers to share any stories with me about someone they know (maybe yourself) who has been radically transformed through God using other people to reveal His unconditional love. I'm not sure whether it will end up being a detailed story about one person, or several short stories about multiple people. 

I don't think this will end up being an academic theological work. I'm not qualified for that. I envision it being more practical in nature, perhaps to teach and/or inspire others to love unconditionally as God would lead them. 

Thank you in advance for any support and thank you for reading my blogs. 

See ya next time.........Steve  ( )

Sunday, March 31, 2013


In my first post I introduced you to Fred. If you will recall, he was the elderly man in the neighborhood whose grass I mowed. This story is about how my mamma and Fred worked together to teach me a lesson about work ethics. I was sixteen years old, and almost at the pinnacle of knowledge and wisdom. In other words, I was a teenage boy who thought he knew everything. You couldn't tell me anything. Being somewhat  of a typical teen, I had developed quite a habit of procrastination.

I had agreed to mow Fred's yard once a week. It was summer time, so the days were pretty long and for the most part care free. About the middle of one week, mamma asked me, "son, are you planning on doing Fred's yard today?" I told her that it was not in my plans for that particular day, and she let it drop. Good. I went along my merry way. But like a gnat usually returns to torment its victim, mamma asked the same question the next day. She got the same response. I thought I detected just a bit of irritation in her voice, but again, she didn't persist on the subject.

This went on for the next two or three days. Same question. Same response. However, with each passing day, I could tell she was getting more and more aggravated with me. You have to understand one thing about  my mamma. She had several non-negotiable rules, and one of them was that you didn't do anything, and I do mean anything, to show disrespect to an elderly person. (This has served me well, being a nursing home administrator.) To mamma, "putting Fred off, " as she called it was on the verge of crossing that line. Once a week, meant once a week. Period.

Saturday comes. Its been one week since the last time I mowed Fred's grass. For those of you who aren't familiar with southeast Texas, it was not uncommon for people to mow more than once a week during the rainy, hot summer time. But, since Fred was relatively content with once a week, so was I. Sure enough, I got up Saturday morning, and the inquisition began anew. However, this time I told her that I was indeed planning on mowing the yard. My plan was to wait until the early evening hours, when it would still be light, but not as hot. 

This is where things go from bad, to a bit worse. After lunch a couple of my buddies showed up unexpectedly and announced they were going to the island to play golf, and did I want to come along. What do you think? Of course I wanted to go. So, I go in the house and tell mamma, "I'm going to Pleasure Island to play golf." Her immediate objection, as you could have predicted, was that I needed to go mow Fred's grass. I explained that we were going to play only the front nine, and I would be home in plenty of time to get the job done before dark.

Her response was brief, but firm. "You are going to mow that yard, TODAY." 

Now we go from bad to really worse. I had a wristwatch that was flopping around bothering me every time I swung the golf club, so I asked one of my trusted friends to put it in his pocket, as I was not so equipped that day. We played nine holes, and I began to tell them I had to get home to do my work. One of them said, "it's still real early," and he showed me my very own watch to prove it. What a little dummy. I fell for it and off we went to play the back nine holes. I do remember thinking that it sure felt like we had been there longer, but I dismissed the notion, until it started getting dark. I think it was 4:30 pm by my watch.

I hit the back door pleading my case. "Mamma, they played a joke on me." 

"Well," she said, "I'm sure sorry about that, but you are going to mow that yard."

"But it's dark outside."

"I'll at least loan you a flashlight. Get the one from the kitchen drawer."

So off I went, in the dark, to mow Fred's grass with a flashlight and a 50 watt light bulb hanging over Fred's garage door. It was miserable. The mosquitoes were out in full force. They all found me. I couldn't swat at them, because I was holding the flashlight with one hand and pushing the lawnmower with the other hand. I tried putting the flashlight in my mouth, but it was too big. I just had to suffer through it. I remember thinking at the time that my mamma had lost her mind.

Today, I understand what she did. She called ahead and told Fred for him not to take pity on me as she was, "teaching that boy a lesson." I'm sure now that they both felt a little sorry for me, but they believed that that life lesson was critical. And to be sure, it was well learned. Today, I never mow the grass after dark without mosquito repellent.

Steve ( )

Sunday, March 24, 2013


I was driving home from San Jacinto College yesterday afternoon, listening to the oldies station. "Smoke on the Water" started playing, and I was immediately transported back in time and started reminiscing about how my best friend and I would play the air guitar when we heard that familiar intro. Come on now, you know it: bum bum buuum, bum bum bum buuum, bum bum buuum, bum buuum. It made me feel good to think about that, so I started to thing about other things, like watching Bonanza with my grandma on Saturday nights and eating Sunday lunch (we called it dinner back then) after church. Since I was in an analytic mode, I thought about why these memories were among my favorites and why were they capable of producing such soothing emotions. 

I came to the following conclusion: We need simplicity in our lives. Each of the above examples, and I could go on with dozens more, represent a time in life when things were much easier and simple. Since I grew up in the TV generation, several old shows came to mind. Can you remember wishing you lived in Mayberry, or Mayfield, or Hooterville? It's because they were safe, predictable places where family and friends actually counted for something. Of course they were just fantasies, but they did serve a purpose, at least for me. 

Here are some of my other old favorite things: home made ice cream, going to a fish fry picnics on Easter, Double Bubble chewing gum, playing dodge ball, junior high dances (which were horribly awkward feeling at the time,) going to Fred Miller's toy store with daddy and my $2 allowance, and on and on and on.

I hope you will take a few minutes and do some reminiscing of your own. Please feel free to share some of your old favorites in the comments section. I'm going cut this one short. I have some daydreaming to catch up on.

See you next time..........Steve ( ) 

Sunday, March 17, 2013


To say that we use the word love to the point of making it cliche, is ironically cliched itself. But, it is true, and it's worth thinking about again. My job here is to convey a fresh perspective on that by getting us to stop and think about what real love is. I love my wife; I love to go out and eat; I love my car; I love football; I love, I love, I love, ad nauseum. We each understand in our everyday usage that the above examples all  use the word "love" in different ways. The only one that truly conveys emotion is "I love my wife." So it would be fair to say that love can be associated with emotions in that case. However, I want to focus on the idea that love is NOT an emotion, at least in its highest form.

It is not my goal to have this blog entry to be an academic treatise in theology, but we do have to start with a bit of it. The Bible tells us, "God is love." It goes on to describe a form of love known in the Greek language as agape. Many hundreds of thousands of writers, most a great deal smarter than me, have written on the subject, so perhaps it is a bit arrogant of me to think I can contribute anything of significance. However, I will just share my thoughts and you the reader can take or leave what you will. Agape love, in my elementary understanding of it, simply means a form of love that is given unconditionally and in a self-sacrificing way.  In other words, it puts your needs before my own, whether you deserve it or not and whether I  "feel" like it or not. Therein lies my premise that love is not an emotion.

The Bible makes several demands on me in terms of love. Some of them are: "Love one another," "Love your neighbor as yourself," "husbands love your wives." Notice that it doesn't say, "husbands love your wives, if you feel like it, " or "husbands love your wives if she's in a good mood." The meaning is more like, "husbands love your wives even if she's in the crankiest mood ever and you had a horrible day at work." When you consider it that way, its easy to see that a warm emotion may be hard to generate at the moment. 

If love isn't an emotion, what must it be then? I maintain agape love is intentionally chosen behaviors. It means I'm called upon to be kind and do something to meet another person's needs. That's not always easy to do, even when it's a person that is usually easy to like. The greater challenge is to behave that way toward a stranger or a quarrelsome neighbor. It doesn't come naturally to us to be that way. But as I understand the instructions Jesus left me, I have to CHOOSE to behave that way toward even my enemies! Hard? Yes. Worth it? It must be, because God uses agape love as the strongest transforming power in the universe.

Have a great week. See you next time........Steve ( )

Sunday, March 10, 2013

     The last time we talked about building walls between people. As promised, here are my thoughts on building bridges between people. In the physical sense, what does a bridge do? It simply allows two areas that have an obstacle between them, such as a river or valley, to be connected and accessible to each other. They have to be made of sturdy material such as steel and iron. Bridges between people allow them to connect and be accessible to each other, just like our real world bridge. What are the building materials of "people bridges?"

     The building materials of our people bridges are actually pretty intuitive, but I suspect we don't spend much time thinking about them. It seems to me that the first and basic one is communication. We talk to people all day. Notice I said "talk to" and not "talk with." There is a big difference. Good communicators learn that almost everyone's favorite subject is himself or herself. They seek to allow that person to talk about themselves and are truly interested in hearing the information. They use what is called reflective listening skills,   meaning they ask questions along the way to insure they are truly understanding, and not just hearing, what the person is saying. At the end of a conversation with a good listener, the person feels they are understood.

     The next "steel beam" on my list is kindness. How many times did our mothers admonish us that if we didn't have anything good to say, don't say anything at all. That's the first basic point of kindness. In our society, we are somewhat geared to think of ourselves first and then the other fellow. It okay to intentionally give up our number one position and put the other person's needs and feelings first. A simple example of this happened to me recently at the grocery store. I ran in just to get a gallon of milk. I arrived at the checkout stand at the same time (or a second or two later) than this man who had a whole basket full of groceries. He saw that I only had the one thing, and graciously allowed me to go ahead of him. I felt blessed and thanked him. He had every right to not do that, but he chose to be kind. It's sort of contagious, because as I was leaving the store, I got to the door at about the same time as someone who had a large load she was struggling with to get to her car. In my moment of largess, just moments before inspired in me, I helped her get her basket to the car. I know that's no big deal, but just used to make a point. One of the shortest, but most profound scriptures in the Bible is, "be ye kind to one another." (Ephesians 4:32) Just as real world bridges need paint to keep from rusting or rotting, people bridges need to be kept painted regularly with kindness.

Some may not agree with me on this, but I think a great bridge material between people is laughter. Its hard to not feel connected to someone when you share a good, hearty belly-laugh with them. Conversely, sharing moments of grief with someone builds strong bridges as well. The Bible puts it like this is Romans 12:15, "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." We don't always feel as comfortable in sharing sorrow as we do in laughing, but if you practice both, you will have more bridges built that you can imagine.

So that's it for this entry. This by no means is a comprehensive list of bridge building materials, but only a good start. Go get some construction materials of you own, and start building more bridges today! See ya next time............Steve (