It’s tough to know how much to care. Moms run into this problem; dads do too. How much comfort do you give your teenager when she’s having a tough time before she feels like you’re smothering her and treating her like “a baby?” You can get a serious tongue-lashing from a kid who feels like you’re caring too much for their good. But be careful you don’t show enough caring.… Read More »IN THROUGH THE OUT DOOR


It’s tough to figure out what we’re worth. Have you ever thought ofsomeone, someone famous, a sports figure or actor or businessperson, andgoogled how much so-and-so is worth? You can find out, for example, thatSteven Spielberg is supposedly worth $2.7 billion. Then again, he did directJaws, ET, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Indiana Jones trilogy,Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, Forrest Gump, etc., etc. He’s worth alot.As far as you… Read More »IDENTITY POLITICS


Sometimes I use mulch around my plants outside. Mulch can have afertilizer that helps the plants to grow. One of the main ingredients of somemulch is manure. It smells bad. For a couple of days, you can hardly walkoutside. Our kids say, “Dad, what happened out here? It stinks”. But if youcome back after several days the odor goes away. If you wait a week or two,the plants start to… Read More »FROM MANURE TO MATURE


I did spring and summer study abroad semesters in Spain when I was in college. Winter/Spring was in Alicante and summer in Toledo. Maria Hope was the study abroad advisor at the University of Iowa. She kept that position for thirty years as it turned out. Working with my mom, she was the one who got me all set up to go to Alicante in 1986, and when I told… Read More »NOT SO TRIVIAL PURSUIT


The third Sunday of Advent is traditionally known as Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is Latin for “rejoice.” We moved it this year, however, to the fourth Sunday because, well, joy and children go hand in hand! I mean, especially at Christmas time. For example, children’s Christmas jokes are a hoot! What does Mrs. Claus say to Santa when there are clouds in the sky? It looks like rain, deer. What did… Read More »JOY


Many Christmases there’s one toy everyone wants, creating craziness on top of craziness. In 1983, it was the Cabbage Patch Doll. The infamous 1983 Cabbage Patch smackdown in Pennsylvania culminated with a store manager warding off crazed parents with an aluminum baseball bat. To date over 100 million dolls have been sold. In 1996, the must-have Christmas toy was Tickle Me Elmo. In Canada, a Walmart clerk almost met his… Read More »LOVE


I worked Monday this past week and took off Tuesday because Elise was in two performances at the Kravis Center. Dreyfoos School of the Arts’ annual Prism Holiday music concert is not to be missed, if you can get tickets. Tuesday was about the performances. I put away my church work and went to hear and see the concerts. Between them, I went home and did some shopping for household… Read More »PEACE


In the movie “Talladega Nights,” actor Will Ferrell plays a NASCAR driver named Ricky Bobby. Before sharing a meal with family and friends, he clasps his hands, bows his head, and begins his prayer, “Dear 8-pound, 6-ounce newborn infant Jesus.” When his wife questions his prayer, Ricky Bobby replies, “Well, I like the Christmas Jesus best.” The prayer is meant to be funny, with over-the-top descriptions, but there’s a note… Read More »HUGE HOPE!


Years ago, there was toxic waste that needed to be discarded, but nobody knew what to do with it. They never had to get rid of something this dangerous. After study, a company built big metal containers like you see on a ship and put the toxic waste in them. They went to great lengths to make sure it was sealed tightly and wouldn’t get out. Then they buried them… Read More »LOST AND FOUND


There are times God asks us to do things that are hard, things that don’t make sense: to give something to others when we need it more than they; to take a step of faith when we don’t have the experience; to forgive someone that doesn’t deserve it. Our reason tells us, “This isn’t right. That’s too much. It’s not fair.” You’re being asked to go the extra mile. Do… Read More »A FOR EFFORT