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  “I’m sorry I’m running behind,” my doctor apologized as she rushed in. I assured her it was fine. Since I was only her second appointment of the day it didn’t bode well for the rest of her busy day ahead. She added, “We just don’t have enough MA’s (Medical Assistants). It seems like no one wants to work anymore.” She sighed and sat down. So, those who are working, work harder because they’re having to cover for those not working. I went to a coffeeshop to get a gift card for a friend. The sign said: Sorry, we’re closed due to lack of employees.  No gift card and no business at a time when sales matter. A walk downtown revealed more Help Wanted signs, and another store with shorter business hours due to lack of workers. A reader board announced job openings at our local school. How can we help students catch up if we can’t fill staff positions? You’ve probably seen signs like this: Please be patient, we’re understaffed . I hope industry comes back to America—I’m not just

Climbing Slower

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Mountains have a way of calling to me. When I was younger, I summited some decent peaks, but now I prefer easier ones— those in my neighboring Olympic Mountains. My husband has been a willing hiking buddy—bless his loving heart. He’d probably prefer biking—but you can’t bike up a mountain. I typically bribe him with my homemade hiking cookies that I dispense like doggy treats along the harder parts of the climb.  I admit, I’m an aggravating hiking partner because I’m so fixated on getting to the top that I set a pace that isn’t fun. So, on our last climb of the season, I wanted to follow his lead. Sure, it took longer, but I also had time to take more photos, and even appreciate the changes in the landscape as we climbed. There was time to pull out the binoculars and find landmarks miles away. I also had time to think about the goodness of where I was and who was with me. Climbing slower gave me a greater appreciation for the one who finally got me to slow down enough to enjoy th

Mentored out of Mischief

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It seemed to begin as a random incident—paint spilled on the highway. But when it began happening more frequently and appearing for the morning commute—and for those coming home after dark, it was no longer random. It was malicious. Wet paint splatters your car as you drive through the sloppy mess on the highway.  In the spectrum of crime—this is mild. But it reminds me of what my dad once said: “Someone doing mischief needs a mentor.”  Back when I was a child, there was a Christmas season when a rash of outdoor Christmas light bulbs were stolen after folks had gone to bed. Alas, the culprits were eventually caught, and one of the teens came to our front door to apologize and replace our missing outdoor Christmas lights. I watched from the kitchen window as he gently put each one back. My dad was outside with him, and they talked. After the boy was finished they shook hands. But it didn’t end there. Dad kept track of him, and in his role as an Air Force recruiter, he called him

Senior Year is Here

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It’s here—my grandson’s final year of high school. He captured my heart long ago. We went from building Lego cities together to having adult conversations.  He’s one of a kind and I like to imagine where he’ll be in a decade. But even with all of his computer savvy, math, and science knowledge, the thing that impresses me most is his kind heart.  He has been the kid on the lookout for the one sitting alone in the lunchroom. He’s the one who takes an extra half-minute, as he’s rushing to get out the door to school, to stop and hug his little sister and tell her he loves her. Teachers have prepared him academically; his parents have prepared his heart. I suppose in this hectic school year ahead he will be asked dozens of times about his future plans. He’ll be deciding about college and a career path. But first, I hope he’ll enjoy all the final high school events. Yes, I want him to be successful in his future. But I’m praying that his caring heart will continue to grow right along with h

Honoring our Labor

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One of the first chores I was given at my grandparent’s farm was drawing water from the well. First, I’d fill burlap-wrapped gallon jugs for the workmen and take them to their trucks. Then I’d fill a couple water buckets for the chickens. Then I’d haul a bucket over to the barn for the cats that lived there. It required ample arm pumping to draw water up from the depths. Especially when it had been a hot dry summer. I’d had chores at home, but this was work. I might have been young, but I was learning to respect the hard work I saw everyone doing. There were meal time breaks and evening rest, but work came first.    Grandma was fond of quoting Scripture as she sent me out to gather eggs or dig up potatoes— “Whoever doesn’t work should not eat.” We were always well-fed, but we also knew we were sharing the work load.   I thank those who came before me who set the bar high for my work life. It’s a bar worth setting high—because it’s our work that really helps build our lives and the

School Lunch Box

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The boy who owned the old metal lunchbox had scratched his name into the green paint. I imagined little Robert Warwick carrying his lunchbox to school. I wondered what it was like for him. Was he a bit frightened about what the kids would say? Was he thinking about the money problems at home? How did he feel when he scratched out his last name on his lunchbox? Did he miss his father?   These are questions I wish I could have asked my dad, Robert Warwick. While going through paperwork in his desk, I found his old lunchbox. Why had he saved something that was probably a painful reminder from childhood? Another question without an answer. Nowadays, we’d explain that my dad suffered childhood trauma. But he was just like many of the children of divorce—they can’t help but bring their wounds to school. But sometimes school is the place where children find a bit of security, they find a place to rebuild their own life. Several teachers helped Robert develop his love of science—and it

Preschool Jail Time

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  This is a picture of me doing jail time. Yes, it was a playground jail. Anyone who has played with preschoolers knows that the rules are fluid, and it's easy to error on the wrong side. As for me, I was sent to jail.   Here’s my side of the story. My granddaughter and I had the playground to ourselves and after a rousing game of tag, we were playing follow the leader.   That is when things went awry. Watch out when following pint-sized leaders. I diligently went up the ladder to a platform with three different sized slides. She chose the little one—and as follow the leader directs, I had to go down the little slide. Unfortunately, I didn’t duck my head low enough to miss the metal bar at the top.   “Ouch!” I muttered as I slid down to the bottom. My granddaughter was sensitive to my pain but insisted we do it again.    This is when I got in trouble. Once we were back in place to slide down—I didn’t follow the leader. Instead, I chose the bigger slide. Arriving at the bottom, havi