Monday, May 6, 2019

Remembering Rachel Held Evans

A photo recently popped up on my phone
I’m not sure if it was a Facebook memory or something else
A picture from six years ago
of a dinner I attended
with other folks from church
and Rachel Held Evans
I’d read Rachel’s book, Evolving in Monkey Town
and I connected with many of her thoughts about growing up in a Christian environment
She was an engaging storyteller
and, in person, a woman of genuine warmth
The dinner was memorable, and the discussion was lively
Here are a few things I noticed about Rachel that night:
She showed grit and a deep faith
She was keenly interested in helping others
She spoke with a strong, clear voice
and she listened
I was sad to read about Rachel’s passing this weekend
and I was reminded again of the years where I’d missed hearing the voices of spiritual women
because I was a member of churches where women could not speak
I’m glad I opened the door in time to hear Rachel Held Evans
and many others like her.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Elementary Spanish

A scene from the sixth grade Spanish play

In 1st grade we learned French











About once a week, or maybe once a month

the high school French teacher would come to our classroom

and write funny-looking words on the chalkboard

Did you know that a chapeau is a hat and a chateau is a castle?

Be sure not to mix those up!

You don’t want to wear a castle on your head, do you?!

Would we—a bunch of kids from Arkansas—be talking to French people about castles?

I guess you never knew

Then, one year, our elementary French lessons changed to Spanish

How confusing!

Now we had to learn a whole new 1 to 10











And we had to memorize the days and months and colors too!

Years of worksheets and drawing lines from words to pictures

making me think that foreign languages were




They felt like doing chores on a Saturday morning

like eating oatmeal for breakfast

until 6th grade, that is

In 6th grade we had a teacher who loved Spanish words AND music

at least that’s how I remember her

And at the end of a Spanish lesson, she’d pull out a record to play

and we’d all sing along

at the top of our voices

swaying from side to side

to songs that were, in a word



Songs like Eres Tu and Guantanamera

songs which—even today—if I’m in just the right mood

you might find me humming around the house.

Top photo from Harding College Petit Jean 1977-1978. Retrieved from

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The pledge

A couple looked out the window
She sat in a wheelchair
and he stood behind a walker

Outside, it was gray and cold
A flag hung limply on a pole in the parking lot

The woman began
I pledge allegiance to the Flag
and the man joined in
of the United States of America
and to the Republic
for which it stands
One Nation under God
with liberty and justice for all

They fell silent for a time
staring through the glass and mist
and then the man rummaged around in a pouch
pulling out a harmonica

He began playing the national anthem
halting and beautiful
from start to finish

When it was over
the woman turned to the man
She smiled and said
We should do this again sometime. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2018


As a kid I used to enjoy looking through encyclopedias
and old Harding College yearbooks
I’m not sure why

This was always one of my favorite photos of Dad
from the 1950 Petit Jean
(He’s the jumper on the right)
I would ask him about it
and he would say
It looks like we’re battling for the ball
but actually, my opponent has already tipped it
He’s on the way down
and I’m on the way up
He’s tipped it away from me

25 years after the fact
Dad still remembered that night
that game
that tip-off


* Photograph courtesy of Harding College. Petit Jean 1949-1950. Retrieved from

Monday, October 22, 2018

Mom would sing

Mom would sing to me
     You are my sunshine
     my only sunshine
     You make me happy
     when skies are gray …

And on the days I got mad, she’d start in on
     Angry words!
     O let them never
     From the tongue unbridled slip …

And when she was happy—
when we were happy together—
sitting at the kitchen table
a plate of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies between us
she might break out
a sweet soprano version of
     Oh, the Lord’s been good to me
     And so I thank the Lord
     For giving me the things I need:
     The sun and the rain and the apple seed;
     The Lord’s been good to me.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Old Friends

A new song has come along
planting itself in my heart
making me feel sentimental, every time it pops up on my playlist ...

It reminds me of old friends—
like my Little League teammate who recently passed away—
how we used to laugh in the dugout
and talk about comic book heroes.

Monday, August 13, 2018

I got first pick

Standing at a boat dock in Norway
waiting for the ferry which will take us to our next destination
Cheryl and I visit with a couple from Los Angeles
They’ve been married for 57 years
57 years, the wife says again
just in case we missed it the first time
How’d you two meet? asks Cheryl
The wife smiles and says
We had summer jobs together.  There was a big group of us young people working in a factory.  Several of us found our spouses there
Now it’s the husband’s turn
I got first pick, he says with a smile
It’s an old joke, you can tell
but his wife’s face still lights up
and we all laugh together.

Riding the ferry with my first pick