International Refugee Day – Have we forgotten so quickly?

It was just two years ago that the world was riveted by a the sight of a little boy face down on a beach, one of millions who were rushing to flee terror, bedlam and war in the Middle East. From Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and others they banged on Europe’s door, lining up against the barbed wire fence, braving treacherous seas. Perhaps they read about freedom in a book. Or they saw it in a movie. Or heard it... Read more

Don’t Waste Your Trial: 6 Truths That Can Change Your Life

Eventually, it comes to everyone. You can’t really plan for it, because it sneaks up in the middle of the night, or it raids your happiest moments in life, or destroys the ending to the perfect story. If you’re human, you will have some sort of trial come your way. It’s a guarantee. You may lose a job, have a spouse walk away from you, or contract a life-threatening disease. There are smaller trials – like an relenting boss, a... Read more

Straight Lines: Why Order Matters in a Crazy World

He used a device on a tripod and I had no idea how in the world it worked. That was his department. And someone else was hauling the fence posts. Someone else was mixing concrete. My job was to dig the holes centered where the stakes had been meticulously placed. Digging holes isn’t precise work. There are hidden rocks, impacted pockets of soil, and tree roots to work around. Still, the hold needed to be centered. I groused and grumbled... Read more

Who says you can’t? (Breaking the rules)

Since the overthrow of the government in 1979, The Islamic Republic of Iran has a number of restrictive laws. Women can go to the gym, but they must stay in their Hijab. They can sit in restaurants and cafes, but they cannot smoke in public. There are more than 100 offenses that carry the death penalty. And executions are often public. A curious restriction concerns live music performances on television. The imagery of instruments being played has been banned. The... Read more

The Legacy Our Moms Left Behind (It’s All Up to Us Now)

I remember the strange feeling that the key to the front door was in the hands of strangers. Mom died that year. Dad 10 months prior.  The little yellow house in the woods kept the reality of their passing at bay. But when the house went away, so did a piece of the memory. But what about the legacy? The house had sold. Soon after that moving boxes would stack outside, ready to be sorted. And the new owners would be thinking... Read more

The Fear of Being Offended – Making Something out of Nothing

“I can’t believe you said that!” She looked at me like I had committed the worst of atrocities. I used the word, “Gal” when referring to a female who had just waited on me. It’s an old term. Probably a hold-over from my mother, who used it constantly, an easy, generic name for every woman she didn’t know the name. But now those darting eyes from this gal – I mean woman —  told me her opinion of this term.... Read more

Eat Your Okra: What to do When Life Tastes Bad

My mother used to put okra in the stew. And I hated it. It was slimy and green — two things that most little boys avoid with every fiber of their being. And never should those two ingredients be presented as food.  No way was I going to buy it. To a ten-year old, okra isn’t food. I could eat the other parts of the stew, but leaving the okra until the bottom of the bowl only meant that I would have to take... Read more

The rope that holds you back

Elephants are now a thing of the past in the circus. But I remember being fascinated as a boy, watching these lumbering beasts walk in meek compliance. The trainer, if he wanted to keep them in one area, simply tied a weak rope to a pole and walked away. It’s crazy. These massive creatures could break just about anything humans could engineer. Why don’t they just run?  This is accomplished through careful training. The trainers first secure them as babies, tying... Read more

Do you really need a bucket list?

Fly fish in New Zealand. Kayak in the San Juan Islands. Eat lunch in Istanbul. I have a list of things that I want to do — one day. The Jack Nicholson – Morgan Freeman movie, The Bucket List was about two men with terminal cancer nearing the end of their days. They escaped their hospital rooms so they could finally pursue things they had delayed their whole lives. Their list had things they wanted to die before they “kicked... Read more

How Greta Spent Her Spring Break

Greta Van Susteren, host of MSNBC For the Record, traveled over Spring Break. Like millions of other Americans, she took a trip. But she didn’t soak in the waters of the Caribbean or play on the beaches of Cancun. She went to Northern Iraq and documented the travails of Christians rebuilding their communities. She saw “ISIS devastation with my own eyes,” and it’s heart-wrenching. It brought back many memories for me. Last year, I interviewed dozens of Iraqi refugees, those... Read more