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Wednesday, November 19th 2008

9:37 PM

French for Song

Whoopie Goldberg called it the What the Hell? moment. That's what she said when she found out that the CEOs of the three top auto industries had taken private jets into DC this week to whine and beg for public funds.

I wrote about this on my other blog over at the newspaper, http://blogs.fayobserver.com/editorial/2008/11/19/whiners-beggars/

And believe it or not, a fellow from Michigan who works in the industry said that it's unreasonable to expect CEOs to travel commercially, like all of us other taxpayers, because, by golly, commercial flights don't go into Kokomo and we can't expect CEOs to fly commercial because they could rub shoulders with the very riff-raff public whose tax dollars they are currently begging for.

I think they ought to be given prison terms. Not our tax dollars.

Call it highway robbery.

If that isn't news enough to send a girl reaching for the ibuprofren, I got a call today from a fellow who said he couldn't get anyone else to listen to him. (Funny, I've had that problem).

Then he began to explain to me why Jeffrey McDonald is not guilty of murdering his wife and how he knows that: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_R._MacDonald

Listen. Over the past six months there have been several spousal murders in this town. I can't keep up with the ones happening today, much less the ones that happened back when even I sported a Farrah Fawcett hair cut.

The fellow went on, unabated, without pausing for a breath, for so long that I finally put the phone receiver down next to the computer and let him rant for a good 15 mintues. He never took a breath.

I'm telling you what. Some people have too much time on their hands.

I visited a new dentist today. Changing dentists is a real committment. I've been seeing the same one for so long, he's more faithful about sending me a birthday card than my own mother.

But he's in Oregon and I'm in North Carolina.

So the gal who welcomed me said, "Hi, I'm Shantel."

I about cracked up laughing.

When I was 15, I read a book, a story, something about a girl named Shantel. I thought it was such a beautiful name that I decided right then and there that if I ever had a girl I was going to name her Shantel.

Shantel Love.

I told the dental assistant that.

"Was it a Reader's Digest story?" she asked.

"I'm not sure. Could've been."

"That's where my mother got the name. From a Reader's Digest story," she said.

"How old is your mother?"


"I'm 52. I bet we read the same story."

Only thing is I outgrew the name. And Shantel's mother didn't. (Girls, you can send me a Starbuck's card and thank you notes.)

"Everytime I call to make an hair appointment they ask me if I'm African-American," Shantel said.

She's not.

Her married name is Shantel Leigh Lizzer.

When she was in school the kids would drawl out that vowel sound to a "Shantel Lay." Then giggle hysterically.

But most of her friends just call her Shan now.

"Unless they are mad with me. I can always tell when my husband is mad with me. He'll yell out SHANTEL! and I know, uh-oh, I'm in trouble again."

It's the American version of the French name for Song.

Shantel Love.

Definitely reminiscent of the 1970s hippie and Volkswagon Bug days, huh?  



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Monday, November 17th 2008

6:00 PM













It's official. Jon and Konnie are now engaged. He had his grandmother's ring reset and took Konnie on a picnic down at the river where the two of them fished a lot this summer. She's happy. He's happy. They were both so happy they cried. So then they called me and I cried.

Of course, I asked if Konnie had told him about the southern tradition.

"What tradition is that?" Jon asked.

"The one where you get me a ring just like the one you got her," I said. "It's an old tradition. Only true southeners practice it."

Jon laughed and said, "Big party next summer."

"Right," I said. 

Hold that Sept. date open. I'll let you know what it is as soon as I know.



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Monday, November 17th 2008

5:23 AM

A word to ponder

I read this earlier today. Thought it was a word that might be of encouragement to you as well:

"Many are saying, 'Oh, that we might see better times!' Lift up the light of your countenance upon us, Lord. You have put gladness in my heart, more than when grain and wine and oil increase."  Ps. 4: 6 & 7.


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Sunday, November 16th 2008

8:10 PM

My neighbor Jesse

Jesse lives in the loft next door.

That's a good thing. Jesse's a decent fellow. He let me hang out in his loft tonight after I locked myself out of mine. I got home from Atlanta. Unload the car, including my bags and the groceries. Went to take out the kitchen trash, pulling the door to, locking myself out and the car keys, cell phone and house key inside. ARGGGHHH!!!

I borrowed Jesse's phone & called Bob a dozen times. I tried Harper too. Nobody was answering their phones. Jesse and I watched some television -- CNN's report on Jonestown. Then I called every number Jesse had for the folks who own our lofts. Nobody was answering their phones.

"Good thing I have a futon," Jesse said. He offered to make me some chicken nuggets. I tired to call Tim. He didn't answer either.

8 o'clock came and went.

Then 9.

Then 10.

Finally, at 10:30 Bob showed up, wearing his Boy Scout shirt (what else?) and unlocked the door.


The Ben & Jerry's had melted but the lentil soup was good. 

"I had so much to get done tonight," I whined to Jesse.

"Yeah, but hey, it wasn' t so bad. You got hang with me," he said.

"Yeah. That's right. I'm glad you're not weirdo."

We laughed.

Jesse is headed to Afghanistan soon. I have to find a new place to live. I don't think I can handle sharing a loft stairwell with anyone but Jesse. Besides I need a place with a window I can crawl into when I lock my keys inside.

Oh. I almost forgot. While sitting in Jesse place, we both heard a woman screaming bloody murder. Three loud piercing screams. Like somebody was being assaulted. It was startling. Jesse turned to me, "What's that?" he asked, peering out the window.

"I don't know," i replied. "But it doesn't sound good."

Out across the parking lot, across the street, into the next parking lot, came more screams.

There were several police cars. And a lot of cops, several who were trying to arrest a woman.

She was screaming.

Bloody murder.

"This is the most violent place I've ever lived," I said to Jesse.

"Me too," he said.

And Jesse's been on tours  to Iraq and Afgahnistan.

Okay. Now for some good news.

The talk in Atlanta went great.

Between the time I finished at the podium and walked to the book signing table, they'd completely sold of out After the Flag has been Folded and half of the Where's Your Jesus Now? books had sold as well.




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Friday, November 14th 2008

11:43 AM

Taking God's name in Vain

I was in a Christian bookstore recently to pick up a copy of the Nov/Dec. issue of Today's Christian Woman. There's an excerpt in it from Where's Your Jesus Now? and as I wandered around the store -- one of those chain stores geared toward Christians -- I thought how out of place I felt in there.

There was a time when my children were younger when I made frequent trips to Christian bookstores. But now I feel like a fish out of water. I don't know if it's the trinkets with all those pithy sayings. Or the cult-like tone that the sales clerk mimic, but something about those chain stores bugs the tar out of me. Maybe it's just the marketing of all things Jesus that troubles me.

I left there feeling unsettled. It's the same feeling I had after a friend sent me the following email from a pastor's wife. Her husband pastors a large church, one of those mega-churches, in a southern city. This is an educated woman. She dresses as well as Beth Moore and has a lot of influence in her community. So don't dismiss this as just another backwood country ramble:

Dear Family

 I woke up this morning, as we all did, to the news that our next President of the United States is a man who hates God, believes in the murder of unborn, unprotected children, and promises to return the right to a woman to murder her child until the moment before that baby comes out of her body.


I know that he hates God because God’s Word says, “if you love Me you will obey Me.”  This man does not obey God, and promotes the works of his father, the devil.


I know his father is the devil because God’s Word says, “a man cannot serve two masters, he will love one and hate the other.”


With all that said, I went to God today for His guidance and direction as to what He wants me to allow out of my mouth.  The safest place in the world for a believer to live is to mimic our Savior, Jesus the Christ, because He mimics our Father God.  His words are always the opposite of the world’s/our flesh. 


Here are His words that bring peace, love and joy in the midst of it all.  I pray they will bring peace to you, my beloved family, and the most important people in the world to me, that all is well.  No matter what others do, all is well, according to the choices we make as individuals.


Blessed are (this means spiritual well-being, having the approval of God, and thus a great destiny)


Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

(those of us who perceive our need of and depend on God alone)


Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

(those of us who pray over the failure of mankind to give proper glory and honor to God)


Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

(those of us who submit to the will of our Father, as Jesus did & does, we become the “heirs of the world”)


Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

(those of us who make God first in our lives and obey His Word, we receive everything we desire)


Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

(those of us who are thankful for the mercy we have been given and desire it for all those who are lost, we will receive all the mercy that Heaven can give)


Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

(those of us who are true believers (do what He tells us to do) we will “see” God now through the insight of faith, in heaven we will see Him as He really is)


Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

(those of us who have made peace with God, heard His word, and chosen to obey it alone to the end)


Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

(those of us who do not conform, cave in, when others try to turn us away from the one true living God, heaven is secured for us)



I know that God loves this man who will be the next President of the United States, because He sent His Son, Jesus, to the Cross to die a horrible death and then to be raised up so this man could be saved from his sin. 


I know this man was created by God to bring glory and honor to God. 


So I choose to pray for this man’s soul as though he were my own son.


The Word says we cannot speak blessing and cursing out of the same mouth, so I choose to never curse this man, to pray for his soul, and pray blessing on his life, as God’s Word commands.


This goes against everything in my flesh, which proves it stands for who God is.  So I put my flesh to death in the midst of the pain I feel today about our country.  I lay down the flesh and walk by the Spirit.  I trust God completely with all of our lives, and know that He is our only source, not any man.  I choose the love, peace and joy that our Father desires for us, and I refuse doubt, fear or unbelief about our future.


I love you, my family, and I will be found faithful in the coming days, walking by the Spirit and not the flesh, on behalf of all our children / generations coming along behind us.  It is a choice to love rather than to hate, and I am making it today.






Is anyone else out there as offended by this letter as I am?


She labels Barack Obama a Satanist, then covers her hatefulness under a cloak of self-righteousness.


Oh, brother.


So my friend who passed this along to me said she's uncomfortable calling herself a Christian because if this is what it means to be a Christian, why would she want to associate herself as one?


I agree.


How does a woman who holds such a place of influence convince herself that it's perfectly acceptable to call into question Barack Obama's faith?


Listen, if we were to use her standard -- If you love me, you will obey me -- then by golly all of us are doomed for hell. (Which I think is the point of redeemption through Christ.)


I am reminded again, for the upteenth time, that Scot Peck got it exactly right in his book "People of the Lie" when he noted that religious people are the ones most susceptible to deceit -- their own, especially.


I imagine God must be totally baffled by the line of reasoning we come up with -- in his name.


There is more than one way to take God's name in vain.


As this letter clearly proves.



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Thursday, November 13th 2008

2:48 PM

Birthday thoughts from Billy Graham

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Thursday, November 13th 2008

12:26 PM

Tidbits from DC

Three of the four kids grew up learning to read the phonetics way. One grew up learning to read the Whole Language way. Instead of learning to sound words out, she learned to guess at the word based upon the context. A silly notion when you consider a child learning to read doesn't have context, other than the pictures in the story.

So, as I've mentioned before, our lovely daughter Konnie often comes up with the most inventive word choice. Like when she referred to Mormons as members of the Church of Christ of Saturday Laints.

This week she delighted me with more.

-- Driving past the Marine Memorial in DC with her father at the wheel and her brother in the front seat, Konnie turned and exclaimed, "Look! It's the Ema-Jima!"

--After playing one of those triangle games at Cracker Barrel in which the goal is to eliminate as many of the spindles as possible, Konnie and I left four standing. "What does that say about us?" I asked, while Konnie read off that if we'd had only one left standing we'd be geniuses. Instead, she noted, "That means we are Egg-No-Mooses."

"Egg-No-Mooses?" I repeated trying to figure out what she meant. Then doubling over the table, I laughed, "You mean Ignoramus?"

Later while trying to tell her sister her goofy enunciation Konnie said, "I said Egg-No-Moose but what I meant to say was Rigor-Mortis."



They call it inventive language and it is certainly that.

Other sights and sounds from DC:

Tim and I walked out of the hotel on Monday morning on our way to the Mall. In front of us was a lady on crutches. One foot was wrapped in a cast. On the other was the prettiest red ballet-type shoe. Patent leather red.

"If you have to wear just one shoe, I'm glad it's a red one," I said.

Tim ran into the same lady after 9 p.m. that evening outside the Capital Hilton, at K and 16th Street. Quite a hike from where we'd last seen her at 22nd and M Street. We hope it didn't take her all day long to hobble that route.

Spotted at the round-about near Washington's statue -- a pair of whitey-tidies and socks -- hung across a chain fence. Hung out to dry the DC way.

Highlight of storytelling at the Memorial -- Hearing Gen. Pat Foote sing the ditty she and fellow gals crafted and put to the tune of the Green Berets.

Konnie and I participated in Story Corps for the Library of Congress. Her first question?

"What was your biggest fear about being a mom?"

Nice way to warm up before hitting me with the hard stuff, Konnie.

Most annoying moment of the trip. Taking Konnie to try on wedding dresses and having the gal tell Konnie, "As soon as you get busy with the wedding plans you'll slim down."

Second most annoying -- trying to figure out the right code to type in to get the garage door to open for the hotel. Whatever happend to just saying Abracadabra?

Hardest part? Saying goodbye to everyone until the next reunion. Missing Gordon & Pam. Backing the car into the parking spaces in order to change America one parking space at a time, the way Tim, the Driver's Ed teacher, insists upon.   

Guess what we found this weekend?

Gas for a buck-eighty-nine in Williamsburg, VA. Now that really did harken us back to former times.




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Wednesday, November 12th 2008

8:29 PM

Birthday wishes

There 31 minutes of birthday left. Most of it was spent in the car, driving back from DC. Konnie leaves out in the a.m. Tim is already in Spokane, driving home. Konnie and I took Stephan back to Williamsburg earlier today.

Bob had an ice cream cake waiting for me when we  got back to town tonight. He and the waiting staff sang Happy Birthday to me. They weren't the first. Ann called me from Boston and sang it. Ashley called me from Washington State and sang it. Linda threatened too. My brother and my editor sent me similiar email cards, making mention of how old I'm getting.

The thing is, I know they are right. When I went to blow out the three candles Bob put on the cake  -- "Red, white and blue," he said -- I couldn't even dream up anything to wish for.

So I settled on good health for the coming year.

I would have never wished for such a thing in my 30s.

But then back then so many wishes had gone unfullfilled, whereas now there are so blessings I never imagined have come true.

Take this Veterans Day for instance.

There was this one moment when I was standing in the Caucus Room at the Senate Bldg. taking in the scene that had just unfolded before me.

My father's assistant gunner, Doug Johnson and his wife, Dee, had come in from Hastings, Nebraska to surprise me. They certainly did that. This was Doug's first trip to the Wall. He had no idea that I'd worked with the board of directors of the Women's Memorial for the past year planning a reception at the Senate Bldg. Doug didn't know that this was done in conjunction with Senator Chuck Hagel and his staff. He didn't know that his own Senator would be at the reception, along with hundreds of others.

I never imagined when I was planning the details of this event that I'd have the opportunity to introduce Doug to Senator Hagel. Afterwards, when the reception as the reception was wrapping up, I looked over to see Konnie with tears in her eyes, Tim with tears in his eyes,, and Stephan, misty-eyed. I took a deep breath and prayed a prayer of thanks. God's vision for my life has always been so much bigger than I could ever imagine.

Ten years ago I'd never imagined spending one hour at the Wall much less days in DC. I didn't know the name of the man who founded the Wall -- Jan Scruggs -- or the woman who founded the women's memorial -- Diane Carlson Evans.

I did not know the name of the man from Hastings, Nebraska who had only been a kid of 19 when he served under my father. Or the name of the man who stood behind my father, next to a gun, in the last photo taken just weeks before my father was killed. Now I know them both by name and have heard their stories. Like the one Dave McIntyre told this weekend about how my father had to have coffee every morning. How he would dig around for any firewood he could find to make a pot.

Ten years ago, I never imagined the time our family would spend in DC. The friends we'd make there. The reunions we'd share. I never thought that Georgetown would become a familiar haunt, but it was there that Konnie and I found the wedding dress she has to have. Now if only she can find a way to pay for it.

Ten years ago, I never imagined the stories I would collect from military veterans and their families. I never imagined that when I walked from the west end of the Wall to the east end, the names and the stories those names now evoke.

So you know what I whispered to Senator Hagel as we both stood in front of that reception hall?

"I am hoping Obama gives you a cabinet post."

He laughed and said, "Thank you."

I could tell he hopes so, too.

Maybe that's what I should have wished for instead of good health.

Either way, I'm sure that many of you feel the say way I do -- that God's vision for your life has been so much bigger than your own.

There are seven minutes left of this Birth-day.

I'm hoping that God's vision includes a special place of honor for Senator Hagel.

He's earned it.


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Monday, November 10th 2008

1:58 PM

Monday Column

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Sunday, November 9th 2008

4:40 AM

Memorial Honors Women

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