Sleep Deprived Life

Emily’s alarm is set for 4:35 AM. That gives her enough time to pack four lunches and start a load of clothes so they can be put in the dryer before she heads out. Folding clothes will wait. 
She sets the crock pot out and puts in all the ingredients she prepared last night before bed—which came after three hours of monitoring the kid’s homework, doing dishes, and getting them ready for bed.

By 5:30 AM, the baby is up, fed, clothed, and readied for day care. By 6:30, her other kids wander out, one by one, sleepy-eyed and in various states of readiness for the pending school day. Breakfast is fixed and she cajoles her slowest eaters to hurry.
She gulps down her now cold coffee, then rushes to make sure everyone has their backpacks, lunches, and knows where they are heading after school. 
Hustling out the door she narrowly catches her own bus while making sure her kids are on theirs. She gets off near the babysitter’s, drops off her youngest, then jogs to another bus stop so she can barely …

In an Ocean of Bloggers

There are 600 million blogs in the world and 2 billion blog posts published every year. 
That’s trillions of words on the worldwide web. 
So celebrating my 500th blog post seems like a drop of rain in the ocean. 
Looking back, the most popular posts were the stories of painful loss that resulted in courage and hope. 

Like Betsy Schultz—and how she’s turning her 1910-era bed and breakfast into a respite home for grieving Gold Star families. She knows that grief after losing her only child to a road side bomb in Afghanistan. She's using her grief to help others deal with theirs.

I cried for Dana, an amazing new mom. The doctors told her that her beautiful baby girl had the terminal genetic disease, spinal muscular atrophy. She remained courageous, holding her own life together while losing her first child. She has since raised thousands of dollars for other families coping with SMA.

Then there was Cynthia, the twenty-five year-old I met in the cancer center waiting room. She’d exhausted a…

Dream Big

I saw the sun gleaming off something bouncing along the shoreline. Intrigued, I walked closer and realized it was just a balloon. 
I grabbed the ribbon before the wind picked it up and carried it out into the sea.
Dream Big! This must have been from someone’s recent celebratory party—maybe graduation, or a new promotion. 
Dream Big. 
I smiled and thought of Rudy. Those were always his parting words to me every time we met. That was a lifetime ago.....

I looked at the piece of paper with the office number the college advisor had given me. She’d said, “Go see Rudy, he’ll set you up for next quarter.” Now, as I walked past faculty offices, I heard him before I saw him. Uproarious laughter echoed down the hall. 
Peeking in the open door, a large arm waved me in and pointed to a seat that was surrounded by stacks of books. He was on the phone and enjoying the call immensely from the sound of it. 
I looked at floor to ceiling bookshelves crammed full. I wondered if he’d read them all. Rudy hung up…

Labor of Love

New research claims that 80% of adults are dissatisfied at work. Since we spend 90,000 hours of our lives at work, that’s discouraging news. 

But Clyde was hard at work long before researchers researched things like this. Clyde was a simple man doing what some might call simple work—he fixed household appliances.
Customers would bring in a faulty toaster or a favorite griddle and he’d find the offending part or wire connection causing trouble. Or he'd travel the winding farm roads with his tool kit if need be. He never charged more than he should. 
His small shop was lined with uniform metal bins that held screws and whatever odd assortment of parts he needed. He could look at something with his good eye (his only eye) and usually make a diagnosis.
This was back when people fixed what they had, and Clyde could do it. His shop wasn’t on Main Street, but one block east. His rotary phone hung on the wall in between his metal bins. 

The long counter served as both an operating table and a …

Be That Teacher

It was more of a pathway in the woods than a road. Overhanging limbs brushed the windshield and scraped the side of the truck. The road meandered upwards with no end in sight. 
But I followed it anyway. Recent rains had filled all the potholes, effectively disguising just how deep they were. My truck bounced mercilessly.
Coming up a final incline, a curl of smoke and the top of a metal chimney pipe came into view. Then I saw a woodshed that somehow had become a home.  Knocking on the door, I could hear whispering, then the door cracked open to reveal a woman staring at me with bloodshot eyes. “Yeah?”
Her question was all the greeting I’d get. I explained I was her son’s teacher and that I missed seeing him at school. What I didn’t say, is that his absences had led to his being held back last year, and so far, he was on pace to fall behind again, unless he came to school more regularly.
I could see her son standing at the far end of the small room. He was tall for a 10-year-old. He was wea…

Golden Opportunity

Dear Pam & Ed,
Congratulations on your Golden Anniversary! Fifty years is a long time, and you two have written quite a love story. I haven’t told you just how much your marriage has inspired my own. 
I’ve seen how your God-honoring choices often meant personal sacrifice—you did what was best for those you loved. Family and faith were always above personal gain. 
The love you shared extended far and wide—even into the classrooms where you both taught hundreds of children.
Pam spent tireless hours making certain kids could read and helped struggling students learn math. Ed was often paired with the toughest kids. 
I still marvel how he found the road into their hearts, melted through their tough exteriors, and showed them that their education was their future.
When retirement came it wasn’t the end of classrooms, but the start of after school Good News Clubs that encouraged young kids in more incredible ways. At a time when God was being removed from schools, Ed found a gentle way to br…

Cedar and Gold

1979: While college newlyweds, Tom and I cut downed cedar logs into bolt-sized sections for roof shakes. It paid our bills.
So when Mom needed cedar shakes for her cabin, we went hunting for cedar on her land. Her property covered nearly ten acres with deep valleys and steep bluffs.

We finally found a huge one. It was buried with moss and debris, but when Tom cut into it the wood, it still smelled fresh and the grain was perfect for shakes.

We teamed up. Tom chainsawed and I carried the bolts out to a clearing where there was a trail to the cabin. As we worked, neither of us noticed the time.

It was just the two of us in the woods, working together, which is what we loved most.

At dusk,  Tom noticed his gold watch was missing. We searched the area where we’d been cutting and hauling. We sifted through piles of chainsaw chips, moss, leaves, and limbs, but no watch. 
We walked back to the cabin. Mom had fixed dinner for us all—my grandparents were there too. I told them Tom’s watch had…