Do Gerbils Go to Heaven?

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(c) Can Stock Photo / zsv3207

Our Pastor told a story in his recent sermon, and in it, a little boy’s hamster had died and he asked his father (a fellow Pastor) if “Timmy” had gone to heaven. The boy was told in no uncertain terms by his father that nothing that has not professed faith in Jesus Christ shall enter the gates of heaven. I am paraphrasing, but you get the gist.

We were all a bit appalled to hear that blunt and dismissive statement from a father to a grieving son, and our Pastor said that he took the little boy aside on his way out and told him that Timmy sounded like a great hamster and he was sure that he was now playing in heaven.

Sounds like a platitude, doesn’t it? Continue reading

A “Dad-Shaped Hole” in My Heart

Father’s Day approaches, and although I rejoice in the wonderful Dad that my daughters have, I take no such joy in my own.

He was an unsolvable mystery to me. He married my mother when she was seventeen and they had me when she was nearly nineteen. My only impressions of him as I grew up came from family members who shared stories of his selfish, immature treatment of Mom during their short marriage. He seemed unable to connect emotionally with others, and from an adult perspective, I wonder if he may have been somewhere on the autism spectrum.

Soon after my birth, my mother divorced him and married her next husband. He was the one I would think of as “Dad” until that marriage dissolved when I was about six or seven years old.

My father checked back in briefly when I was fifteen; traveling from Memphis to Tulsa to sue for my custody when my mother temporarily gave my guardianship to my manager. I was a professional singer living in Oklahoma with my manager while my family stayed in Washington.

He strode into the courtroom, acting as his own attorney, and seemed totally oblivious to the realities of the situation (no, my mother was not giving me away) or any emotions I might have about meeting him for the first time. He lost his case, but my manager graciously invited him to her home to meet with me. I sang for him for the first and last time in my life, and tears came to his eyes.

Silly me; I thought we might have connected. Continue reading

The “Year of YES!”

Woman Says Yes

(c) Can Stock Photo /studiostoks

I recently wrote a piece for a women’s collective giving circle blog. It was an interview with one of its many interesting and philanthropic women. You can see it at Impact Austin if you are curious. There was something she said that caught my attention and wouldn’t let go. She said that she had decided this past year was the “Year of YES!”

In her case, what she had decided to say yes to was travel. If an opportunity came her way, she took it and found herself with family and friends in places all over the world, having a blast!

What would your “Year of YES!” focus on? We all know we can’t possibly say yes to everything, but what if we decided for a year, or even just a month, to say yes to a certain neglected interest area in our lives?

I think our world might change. Continue reading

Want to Think Young? Mentor!

canstockphoto28358255I am sure I echo many members of my generation who express the feeling, “I don’t feel as old as I am!” 

We look in the mirror and see the inevitable downward slide of gravity’s toll, the wrinkles or fine lines that our frolics in the sun have left us as souvenirs, and sometimes we see the fatigue that lingers in eyes that have seen pain, sadness, and struggle. But when we look away from that mirror and assess ourselves, we are often shocked by the mismatch between the image we have seen and the way we feel inside. I don’t know about you, but I am enjoying that immensely!

I have found the secret to the fountain of youth and it may be available to you wherever you are and whatever you are doing. It is thinking young. Continue reading

Birthday Celebration With a Mission

DSC_9386SmMy husband turned 60 today. He woke at 5 a.m., slipped out of bed without waking me and dressed for his run. Every other day he hits the trail for varying mileage, depending on whether he is training for a half-marathon ( I believe he has done 14…so far!) or just doing his usual workout routine.

We are blessed to reach this time in our lives without serious health issues, and both of us invest time and resources in maintaining our functional fitness. We don’t take these or any of our blessings for granted, and so when my husband realized this milestone birthday was approaching, he said,

“I am thinking about throwing a party.” Continue reading