Just one of the reasons I’m grateful for my mom. Check out the other three parts to this series if you like this one.

Just wheat

My mom wasn’t very tolerant of  me and my sisters treating each other poorly. We never had the chance to get into big fights because if my mom heard one whisper of pinching, biting, pulling hair, name calling, or dirty looks going on, she’d whip us into shape pretty quickly.

One of my least favorite consequences for this type of behavior was to write sentences. Yes, I love to write, but I love to write what I WANT to write. Writing sentences was awful. She’d sit us down at the table with a pencil and notebook and order us to write, “I love my sister, and I will treat her with respect,” 500 times. Without taking a break. The monotony was awful, but the actual content of the sentence was worse. Who wants to write about love and respect 500 times after getting into an epic battle over skates or…

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Movie time

Thank you, Henry Petty, for writing today’s blog post!

I haven’t seen “The Hunger Games” but have heard it doesn’t have any of my favorite foods featured in it:  pizza, watermelon, oatmeal.  Perhaps the movie is designed to make movie-goers hungry so they can buy the overpriced snacks.  I digress.

As I covet a banana sitting near my cup of tea, I’m reminded of the blessing that the movies bring to our lives.  How awesome is it that a large team of actors, producers, directors, film editors, musical composers, make-up artists and costume designers all put in months, maybe years, of work and effort just to put on a show for us?  Millions was spent to put a movie together just for our entertainment in exchange for a fraction of our income (or dollar bills if you go to redbox). 

Movies engage us to escape reality, suspend disbelief, and let go even for a couple of hours.  Some make us laugh; others make us squirm, scream and cry.  Some leave us asking more questions than we started out with.  Some even inspire us to completely change our outlook on life.

Movies also create long-lasting memories.  Most people’s first dates are at movies. I can recall a girl calling me up asking to see “Air Bud”, which I turned down because the concept of a dog playing basketball made my stomach turn.  Immediately afterwards, I realized she actually wanted to DATE me, so I compromised by suggesting “Air Force One.”

I was cracking up recently watching my girlfriend experience “The Hangover” for the very first time.  Even though I had seen the movie numerous times, this was even more hilarious as it was on cable TV and heavily censored. 

Sometimes, the audience reactions are more memorable than the movie itself.  I can recall going to see “Toy Story” and marveling at how the kids were reacting to things in the movie I just didn’t find amusing.  Another experience is taking in “Paranormal Activity” with a live audience jumping around from the scary parts, and finding myself with my hands over my face, cracking two fingers slightly over my right eye just to take a peek.

Most importantly, movies give us the opportunity to spend time with the ones we love in a world that has gotten itself in a big hurry.

For more from Henry, check out his blog.

Between who you are and who you could be

Thank you, Henry Petty, for stepping in as today’s guest writer. You are a lifesaver!

One of my favorite songs by Switchfoot is entitled, “Dare You To Move.” My favorite line in the song is:

The tension is here
Between who you are and who you could be
Between how it is and how it should be

Since Lent started, I’ve done a complete 180° on how I handle being approached by the homeless and giving to the needy.  There is a lot of tension when you’re being approached by a homeless person or drifter on your way to lunch or just trying to get by.  I previously had the mindset that they need to seek shelter or that they’re using donations for drugs and alcohol. My normal response is either to ignore them, or tell them, “I don’t have any cash on me.”  This was often met by angry stares or grumbles, and I’d carry on as I was. 

Now, I carry extra $1 bills in my pocket just in case somebody asks for help.  I also carry change in case somebody’s parking meter has run out of time, to help them avoid a ticket. While the drivers are most likely not homeless, I just don’t like how the meter lady looks at me with those glares and don’t want them to get ticketed either, and it’s just something nice to do.

It’s not my place to judge whether homeless people are using the money for drugs & alcohol or if they legitimately need it.  It has been more gratifying (and easier) for me to just give a couple of dollars when it’s asked of me than to ignore them or tell them a fib so they’ll leave me alone.

This new outlook has resulted in some interesting exchanges.  One person told me, “That’s what I love about McDonald’s; two dollars still buys you a good meal.”  Another gentleman asked me for 50 cents, but I gave them a dollar.  He asked me, “Why’d you give me a dollar if I asked for fifty cents?”  I replied, “Because I don’t have change.”  His eyes welled up, and he said, “You’re crazy, man!” 

My heart is fuller of joy than it ever has been, and I don’t miss those dollars or cents at all.  I can still have that surgery if I need it.  Since this change, I’ve become a person I could be and perhaps should be.

For more from Henry, check out his blog!

That’s a really nice tie!

“That’s a really nice tie!”

Before delivering a speech to the largest live audience I’ve ever had of over 3,000, someone paid a compliment on the red necktie I was wearing with my suit.  In the midst of my anxiety, nervousness, and heart palpitations, this put me at at ease.  Other people wished me well, and someone even said they had prayed for me the night before.

As far as my speech went, I blew through it with ease and only stumbled over a couple of words.

I wasn’t fishing for the kind gestures, but they certainly put me at ease.  There’s something to getting that nod of acceptance that goes a long way.  I would much rather receive a hand shake and a pat on the back than some trinket, plaque, or monetary award (although the latter certainly helps).  In what ways have you been comforted by compliments or paid one to someone else?  They may have had more impact on that person than you think.

For some odd reason, I replied to the one who complimented me on my necktie,”Thanks, I got it from JCPenney.”


Some people have it made

Special thanks to Henry Petty, guest writer, for today’s blog post.

Last week we were at the Jack Stephens Center cheering on the UALR Lady Trojans in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.  Immediately, I noticed a 6’5” player from the opposing team, Delaware, who pretty much did everything you don’t expect a woman of her height in a basketball game to do:  run the point, shoot the three, and score 40 points in one game.  Her name is Elena Della Don, and she currently leads the NCAA women’s division with most points scored by a player.

Sitting back and watching the action on the court, I couldn’t help but envy her.  I kept thinking to myself, “This girl has it made.  Her life is so simple.  22 years old.  Go to college, play awesome basketball on a full-ride scholarship, make truckloads of money in the WNBA in the future or maybe a coaching job, being in ads, Olympics, and probably be a doctor.  The end.”

I know, it’s not good to sulk, but I was rationalizing and assuming a college athlete’s life was a fast-track to simplistic success compared to the constant uphill battle I find myself in on a daily basis just to achieve mediocre success inside a cubicle.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

From her Wikipedia page:

“Following an outstanding prep career during which she became the most highly touted women’s basketball recruit since Candace Parker, Delle Donne received a basketball scholarship from the University of Connecticut. However, in early June 2008 Delle Donne abruptly dropped out of Connecticut’s summer school program after just two days in Storrs. Delle Donne was very close to her family, especially her sister Lizzy, who has cerebral palsy, and is blind and deaf. She wasn’t ready to be separated from her family.

A week after leaving Connecticut, Delle Donne said by telephone from her home in Wilmington that she has “a lot of personal issues to fix. Only my family understands what’s going on. Right now I am going to take a long personal break.”

I personally have much more respect for her after reading this than I did when she single-handedly knocked off the UALR Trojans.  In fact, it makes me feel almost like I’ve walked in her footsteps as I dealt with a similar situation growing up.  Perhaps we’re kindred spirits, and there’s some advice I could pitch her way.

In turn, maybe she can help me with my hook shot.

For more from Henry, check out his blog.

Cool Hand Liz

*Today’s blog is written by my friend, former professor, and talented author, Dr. Teresa Murphy, for her sister Liz. Happy birthday, Liz!*

Today is my sister’s birthday.  I won’t say how old Liz is, but she’s two years older than I am.  Consequently, just about the time I was making my debut, Liz was hitting the terrible twos.  Luckily for our parents, Liz was an unflappable and take-charge kind of girl.  Though I’m sure she initially regarded me with a healthy measure of contempt, she quickly realized that I was someone she could (ahem) mold.  Liz’s careful attention to my character manifested itself in all manner of situations, and I think it’s safe to say had it not been for Liz I would not be the person I am today.  In fact, I might not have survived childhood at all!

One of Liz’s greatest accomplishments was helping me become more patient.  An early lesson in patience occurred when Liz was five and I was three.  Liz was a fearless kid, and she’d been a tree climber pretty much her whole life.  I was a nervous Nellie and preferred to keep my feet firmly planted on the ground.  When Liz decided it was time for me to branch out, she chose a very tall tree in our backyard.  Reluctantly, I agreed that it might be time for me to brave up a bit and at least try to climb that tree.  Liz was lithe and lean.  I was more Winnie-the-Pooh shaped, and it took a lot of coaxing and tugging to get my tubby little cubby body into the upper branches of the tree.

When we finally got to a branch we could sit on, Liz proudly exclaimed, “Look how high up we are!”

I was not aware that I had acrophobia until I looked down and indeed saw how high up we were.  It didn’t take long for my nervous Nellie nature to kick in, and I started to cry.

Always the optimist, Liz went to work immediately trying to convince me that I could climb back down. “Just grab the tree branch and turn around.  Then put your foot on the lower branch.”

“I caaaaaan’t!” I wailed.  “I’m stuck!”

Initially, Liz was calm. “Sure you can.  Just try.”

Eventually, she realized I was not going to budge and went inside to fetch my grandmother.  It wasn’t long before my grandmother came bustling out of our house, taking up where Liz left off and trying hard to convince me that she’d be there to catch me if I slipped – which she was sure I wouldn’t –  but just in case.  Unfortunately, my grandmother was around five feet tall, and there was about a three-foot gap between her outstretched arms and me. That was way more space than I could imagine navigating.

After spending some time pleading with me to come down, my grandmother finally realized I wasn’t going to and said, “Hon, you’ll just have to wait until your dad gets home.”

I assured her I could wait.  My dad was much taller than my grandmother, and he got me down when he got home from work.  Liz, I believe, received a talking-to about how things might seem like a good idea at the time, but often require further thought.

In addition to patience, I learned other lessons from Liz.  When she noticed that I was singing a bit too enthusiastically at church, she leaned toward me and whispered, “Don’t open your mouth so wide when you sing!”  Back then, I was insulted.  I now realize she was merely trying to save me from the humiliation of looking like a big-mouthed Muppet.  Without Liz’s constant admonition, “Don’t be so stupid,” I’m pretty sure I would never have made it out of elementary school.

There were other times that had Liz not been nearby, I quite likely would have perished.  One such incident took place a year or so after the tree-climbing debacle.  Liz and I were playing our game of crawling through our dad’s spacious Ford sedan.  We found it great fun to hoist ourselves up to the open window on the passenger’s side, scramble into the car, crawl across the front seat, and finally vault out the driver’s side window.  This was during those loosey-goosey days of car-making when seat belts and airbags were considered superfluous, and gears could be shifted quite easily even though the engine was turned off.  As I was scrambling across the front seat, I managed to kick the gear shift into reverse, sending the car rolling down our steep driveway.  Luckily, cool hand Liz was close on my heels and put the gear shift back in park.  Once I started breathing again, we resumed our game.

So, here’s to big sisters everywhere who have taught their little sisters so much and have occasionally saved their hides.  I’m certainly grateful to mine.  After all, Liz could have easily jumped out of the car as it lurched toward the busy street in front of our house leaving her scared stiff sister hurtling down the hill alone.  Instead, she stood by me.   For this and a million other reasons, I’d like to wish Liz a very happy birthday and many happy returns!


*To check out more by author Dr. Teresa Murphy, check  out her website.*


The baby pictures made me laugh, but there really is some great food for thought here. What if every time we thought about saying something negative, we took a moment to think of something positive to say instead? The world would be a better place.


It may be because I’m a small town girl, but I wonder sometimes when people began to be so callous with each other and what happened to courtesy and kindness. Television sitcoms and “reality” shows seem to prove that conversation has become all about one-upmanship, flinging smart remarks back and forth, and ridiculing others. I’m so grateful to have friends who build each other up and encourage one another. It’s refreshing to be able to give and receive a breath of life through an encouraging word. Everyone needs inspiration now and again. We all need to be reminded that we’re doing well, that we will survive whatever we may be going through, and that we can laugh at ourselves and with each other often because it brings healing. My husband won’t leave a checkout line until the clerk is laughing. I experiment with what happens when I am the only…

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