IT TAKES TWO

Ok, here goes; I am dipping my pen in the inkwell of the abortion debate, but not the way you may think.  I don’t believe we will ever agree on that issue, so it seems useless to voice another opinion.

Years (I do mean eons) ago, I returned to college.  I decided to change my career path from interior design to become a Health and Physical Education student.  I was a wee bit athletic, yet I wasn’t leaning toward teaching physical education but instead educating others about health.  Especially women who lived in poverty and did not have access to or the means to obtain good healthcare.

Some women at the time knew little regarding birth control, breast cancer, or warning signs that they were in unhealthy, unchartered territory.  Many were not knowledgeable about the value of good nutrition, exercise, mental health, and weight management for themselves or their children. 

My dreams were lofty, but I believed we could change the future of women’s healthcare through education and prevention. 

A good theory

I did not finish the degree and became that Interior Designer, providing for my children’s health and well-being.  But I still believe my theory was a good one.

With all the shouting matches between the Pro-Life and Pro-Choice movements, there seems to be little dialogue regarding prevention or responsibility.  Few discuss what men should do to help women not to face life-changing decisions.  It takes two to create a child; if the pair do not want an unplanned pregnancy, they must prevent one.  Seems simple, right?

We all know about “surprise babies.”  I have a physician friend who found she was expecting her third child soon after her second was born.  “I just don’t know how that happened!” She exclaimed after she told me the news.  I sarcastically replied, “I guess you skipped the classes regarding reproduction in med school, right?”  Then we both laughed till we cried.  I, to this day, have no idea how my last child came into my world.

However, she and I welcomed our baby boys with open arms.  We struggled, but now we can’t imagine our life without them.   

Dire circumstances

However, we don’t live in the dire situations some women do.  There are so many today who still do not understand the value of prevention economically or physically.  Plus, many men still walk away unscathed when they learn their partner is carrying their child.  The truth is both consenting adults must step up to the plate when difficulty is placed on the table.  They need to accept the commitment of parenthood or be responsible enough to avoid becoming a parent.

As I was nearing graduation from high school, I learned a friend was pregnant.  When she told her boyfriend, he literally ran away.  At the time, an out-of-wedlock baby still produced demeaning, judgmental reactions from folks.  Many would declare, “How could SHE do this to her parents?”    My mother said the opposite, “How dare HE simply run away!”   She continued, “Women have always been both victims and villains when it involves an unplanned pregnancy.  In many cases, they become their child’s sole support while their partner is somewhere unfound.”

This slanted behavior is not reasonable or fair and has been going on forever. 

Here are a few facts as of 2022:

.  10 billion dollars in child support payments go uncollected.  More than 30% of support payments are never paid, and more than 43% do not receive the total amount due.

. 80% of single-parent families are headed by mothers, and the number is rising.

. 12.7 million children are being raised without a father.

. So, I ask you, where is the other part of the “two?”

Fostering fatherhood

Even though years have passed, there is very little change in attitudes.  Women must know that if they are not going to protect themselves from an unplanned pregnancy, they will more than likely be responsible for their actions for the rest of their life.

There are many good, righteous men in the world, and you are loved.  But for those men who feel they are not economically or physically responsible for the child they produced,  they are the epitome of a coward.  These men are present throughout every segment of our society, and the courts can do little to ease the suffering their behavior creates.

Women must help each other educate our sisters with the knowledge and compassion to prevent heartache and destitution and provide them with hope and education.

And good, decent men should foster responsibility, denounce “good ole’ boy behavior, and put fatherhood at the head of the table as it should be.

The Tragedies of Hopelessness

As I write this column, it is a beautiful Monday, Memorial Day morning.  The birds sing while American flags proudly display their colors around our neighborhoods across America.   Folks prepare for cookouts or a day at the lake and relish time away from work.  It is a happy picture of American life, yet there is undeniable grief amid such joy.

Twenty-one white crosses rise from Texas soil, memorializing the children and teachers who died in an explosion of gunfire.  A white supremacist killed 10 innocents in a grocery store in New York.  Violence injured teens in Tennessee, and an intoxicated boat driver killed a family on a river in Georgia.  This is just a brief synopsis of a few weeks in the life of a saddened America. 

Why do we seem at a crossroads of either rising above our pain or just giving up?  Some events seem too much to bear.  Suicides, violence, racism, division, bullying, and complex mental health concerns increase every minute.  Why?

The danger

I am no minister, scientist, doctor, or counselor, but just a person who believes one thing to be true…. Rising hopelessness is killing our spirits and is a danger to our country.

When people feel hope is gone, there is no one to listen to them, no escape from poverty, and God is missing, evil breeds, and light becomes darkness.  Violence is born of hopelessness.  Suicide is giving up hope.  When people are bigots, they breed division and bullying.  People who cause anguish to swell in our society bring us all despair.

Conspiracies, bogus theories, and errant information have contributed to a lack of faith in each other, thus creating more uncertainty and confusion.  Too many are so enthused to locate others who agree with their beliefs that they refuse to check the facts before spreading falsehoods.  

When our elected officials cannot reach a consensus for the betterment of all Americans, they contribute to the falling spirit of our country.  Some politicians are frantically trying to keep their jobs instead of doing their jobs to give others hope in our democracy.  I believe, perhaps, the uncompromising two-party system, lack of Congressional term or age limits, and the special interest groups today are becoming destructive to society.

Spread joy not anger

Each week I post my column on my website and on Facebook.  While I am on social media, I will scroll to view pictures, read quotes, or see what my pals are doing.  One friend posted that because nasty opinions made her so sad, she would instead share poetry to calm her and others down.  Another pal from Tennessee always posts images of cool cars or old scenes of American culture.  A new grandmother displays her chubby, precious little grandboy with his sparkling blue eyes and a big smile.  These shared images bring us joy and harmony because we can identify with each one.

Yet, others are posting rants over policy, collusions, or tirades against anything too liberal or too conservative.  Hate groups attempt to topple each other while children also read the ire, filth, and misinformation.  So, one gets a like or a love emoji for their diatribe, but do they not understand how words can affect those on the brink of hopelessness?  Do they not understand that words can kill? 

To defend their actions, they may say, “Oh, I am just trying to help America because I love her!”   Do they not love America’s people, or do they just love those who share their views?  How does hate aid our nation?

Putting God first

The answer to all hopelessness is God.  Perhaps He is letting us see what division, hypocrisy, defiance, bigotry, disease, and war will create in real-time.  Don’t we know they all produce pure agony?

Before we spread vitriol, put God first, and soon hopelessness will wither, and faith will rise. 

A belief in tomorrow is why soldiers go to war.  Our defenders are black, white, Latino, Asian, Republicans, and Democrats who fight together to protect our freedoms.    Many give their lives for us to have a sunny day filled with flags flying.  Perhaps, before we decide to cause more separation, remember that unity saved America from enemies.

Before we spread more doubt, lend a hand to hope.  Help God to build faith not only in Him but in each other.  Urge members of Congress to promote goodwill for our citizens so that our children will continue to live in a tolerant democracy.

Let’s try new endeavors, compromise, and respect to give hope a chance.  We will continue to live amid darkness where crosses rise from the earth bearing sorrow without us doing our part.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord.  They are plans for good and not for evil.  To give you a future and hope.”  Jerimiah 29:11

Salute the Vietnam Warriors

While recently thumbing through my old Tennessee and Georgia high school yearbooks, tears pooled in my eyes.  Yes, they were all there, young men with hope in their eyes and their youth on the edge of disappearing. I wonder what they would have accomplished in their lives if they had the promise of a future.

 Would they laugh as I do at the silly antics of a grandchild?  Would they still possess the impish grin the camera caught in the 60s? Maybe Howard would have made it onto the big screen with his good looks.  Perhaps Bobby would be a renowned physician today, and Larry would have climbed up the ranks in his beloved army before retiring to Florida. 

However, the maybe’s left when they all boarded a military bus to serve our nation while a war escalated in Vietnam.  They, like so many, returned only to be laid to rest in their hometown cemeteries before they had a chance to see what could have been.

Bearing a scar

These young men joined the service as so many do to become soldiers of war.  They are the elite among us who, I believe, God anoints with an extra dose or more of courage.  These soldiers go blindly into battle to defend the land they love.  They steadfastly look out for each other and often give their lives to save their comrades.

The Vietnam warriors were no different in character and honor as those who bravely fought for our Independence.  They held the same gritty spirit as those who battled before them in the Revolutionary War or World War I and II, as well as all other conflicts.  Thousands of soldiers have responded to the call to serve, but the warriors of Vietnam bear a scar.

By the time our troops were pulled from Vietnam in 1973, over 52,000 young soldiers had perished.  Between 1964 and 1975, 2,709,918 men and women wore an American military uniform in Nam.  240 of them were awarded the Medal of Honor as Bobby Ray was for saving many lives, except his own. Of those killed in combat, 61% were younger than 21. Just out of school, just beginning to dream, just starting a future.   

Also, in 1973, America’s electorate was deeply divided, and some say the military was demoralized.  So, for those who returned from the rice paddies and trenches, ships, the skies, and prisons of Vietnam, there were no homecoming parades or bands of screaming, happy folks in Times Square to greet them. Instead, Vietnam was simply over for America.

Never blame the warrior

Today, those fallen Vietnam soldiers are immortalized on a wall in Washington, D.C.  For those who lost friends or loved ones whose names are etched in this wall, the war is not forgotten, nor is the sacrifice.   We are the older generation now, and our young faces are alongside those in the yearbooks who remain ageless. 

Today, 610,000 courageous Vietnam Veterans are still walking among us.  Of those who risked their lives in Southeast Asia, 97% were honorable discharged even though many were drafted for service.

Even after hearing countless stories of the heroism and bravery shown by our American troops during the second-longest war in our history, they returned home to be treated harshly by many for just doing what they were asked to do. Unfortunately, this response created a loss of self-esteem and grief for many young soldiers, leading to future deep-seated problems.  

Our worst divisive behavior is the scar of Vietnam.  The wound was not caused by the soldiers.  The injury was inflicted by the free citizens who remained on American soil that turned their anger toward those sent to battle.  

We can fairly charge those in government or politics for most anything but not the bravest, best, and the most elite among us. So we should never blame the warrior, nor the ones who suffer and give the most.  Nor the over 150,000 who were wounded in Vietnam, or the prisoners of war, or those missing in action.

Take the time to notice the brave soldiers

I look into the eyes of my framed Vietnamese doll my brother sent me in 1965.  She has my POW/MIA bracelet around her waist to remember another pilot whose remains were finally located a few years ago.   My brother lived until 1998, but his time spent in Vietnam was always fresh in his heart.  I, too, vow to honor those who gave so much to receive so little.  

Memorial Days will come and go, but this year stop for a moment, look around, and notice the brave soldiers of long ago and celebrate them.

Maybe it will help heal the scar a divided nation caused and remind us never to produce such a wound again.  

“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.  Rather, we should thank God that such men lived.”  General George S. Patton, Jr.

THE HEALING POWER OF A HOMEMADE PIE

Comic strips often entertain us with not only a funny moment but occasionally the cartoonist will introduce a bit of insight within their colorful panels. Such was the case when Jan Eliot provided such wisdom in her comic strip called, “Stone Soup.”

One of the characters is Alix, a nine-year-old precocious girl who is sitting at the kitchen table watching her Grandmother rolling the dough for a homemade pie.

Alix asks, “Gramma, why do you like to make pies so much?”

Her Gramma explains that when she was a young mother, they did not have much money, but she and her husband had an orchard abundant with pears, apples, and peaches. So, when they could afford only rice and beans for dinner, what lifted the spirits of her family, was a delicious homemade pie for dessert.

After hearing her Gramma’s explanation, Alix replies, “In other words… before Prozac, there was pie.”

Gramma ends the story with this statement, “That’s what’s wrong with everyone! Not enough pie!!”

Growing up, I recall my Grandmother making pies to deliver to folks who were physically ailing or mentally going through a difficult time. She regularly baked my brother his favorite chocolate pie and would always make a blackberry cobbler for my mother when the berries were in season. I don’t think I ever visited her when she didn’t bake a pie out of love or compassion for someone.

I remember one summer day, my grandmother’s friend, Mrs. Harris, was ill. First thing on a Saturday morning, we visited Mrs. Harris bearing an apple pie full of concern and affection. Before we left, Mrs. Harris was giggling with her friend before hugging me goodbye.

The tradition of pie giving was passed down from those ancestors who resided in the Southern hills to hearts who needed a pie’s restorative power. Aunts, mothers. grandmothers, a few uncles, and even some grandpas inherited the gift of producing a mouthful of joy. My Granddaddy couldn’t make a pie, but he sure could mend a mortal soul with his homemade peanut brittle.

My mom could roll out the best pie crust on the planet. Plus, she had the artistic talent to create the perfect lattice top over her delicious fruit pies. She would serve them warm with a dollop of ice cream. Mom could dry tears and melt hearts with her delicious creations. I once dubbed her the “Queen of Pies,” and to this day, I believe she undoubtedly was.

Friends and family frequently question me, “Lynn, why do you insist on baking homemade desserts? You can go to Publix and get a great pie or cake and not have to go through the trouble!”

My answer is the same, “It’s not the same!”

Generosity, compassion, and joy are only found in the work you go through to create them. Not everyone knows how to bake a pie, but they sure know how to gather flowers, write a sweet note, or hold a hand. When we use extra energy to lift another’s spirit, whether it is through baking a pie or going for a visit, we deliver healing. When we go to the trouble to love, we give hate trouble.

Our world is a busy place where texting emoji hearts, sad or smiling faces, makes it simple to share our emotions. We are “convenient” happy. Whatever makes our lives easier is becoming the norm. However, our days will become more comfortable only when our society becomes a less hateful place.

A peaceful world can exist only through loving each other enough to create a pie made of sincere compassion, prayer, and understanding. Comforting another is not about easy, it is about sacrifice and empathy. There is no emoji in the technological world that shows the recipe for genuine kindness.

“Before Prozac, there was pie,” Alix declared. I suffer from clinical depression, and I understand needing medications for this illness. However, if my family and friends had been too busy to hug me, pray with me, or cook my kids’ dinner through some of those wicked dark hours, would I have made it? When those compassionate souls took the time to physically aid me, they helped me see a sunny day was on the horizon.

“That’s what’s wrong with everyone! Not enough pie!” Gramma happily tells her grandchildren as she holds her beautiful baked pie above her head. What if we brought a homemade pie of kindness to the table of hate and calmed anger with a dose of warmed goodness?

Then our Grandchildren would learn just like I did from my Grandmother; when we take the time to create love, we might just witness healing our hurts one pie at a time.

HER NAME WAS “GRANDPA”

How do you love a child? How do you become the memory that makes someone smile forever?  Does your life exemplify your ethical beliefs and encourage children to follow you? 

There is no better honor than to answer the above questions with a, “Yes.”   The greatest gift we have as adults is children.  It doesn’t matter if we are a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or a friend of a child. To love a child and have the love returned is the blessing that is beyond all the riches in the world. Period.

John was three and watching his favorite grandmother make biscuits.  He watched as the flour hit the dough board and dusted the air.  She was talking to him the whole time and laughed as the white powder settled on his eyelashes.

John had been having a lot of trouble with the name “Grandma.”  Since he was born with six grandmothers, he would get them confused easily.  Two great, great-grandmothers, two great-grandmothers, and two grandmothers all living in the same town!  He was the first grandchild.  It was asking too much to remember them all. Out of all those grandmothers he only had one living grandfather.

Suddenly, while standing beside his grandmother in her kitchen, he came up with a solution.

His coal brown eyes opened wide as he tugged his grandmother’s apron, “You gonna be Grandpa!”

 “John, I am Grandma, and he is your Granddaddy.”, she replied as she pointed to her husband.

“You Grandpa and he Granddaddy!” he emphatically stated again.  Then he walked away.

From that moment on, nine grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren would forever call her Grandpa.

The name would also be representative of unconditional love.  A love that allowed her to be called whatever these children wanted to call her. 

Many people have crossed my path in life, but without question, I have never known anyone quite like her.   

She didn’t just say, “I love you,” she showed it in countless ways.

There was nothing she loved more than children.  For those of us who were in her life, we all knew that to be fact.  When she played or talked with us, she became our age.

She even let us play with the wrinkles on her hand, and make fun of her false teeth until she got new ones.  She laughed at herself and was never embarrassed by any of us.

I can recall many of my cousins and me being in her small home at one time.  She would play games with us all day, fish with us, tell us stories, and stay up way past her bedtime.

Then right before she went to her room to join my sleeping grandfather, she would sit at the end of the hall and read her Bible.

That is how she made us understand the concept of priorities.

When she played games, she would never let any of us undeservedly win. By doing so, she taught us to have the grace to lose and understand the word fairness.

We all stayed with Grandpa many times in our lives.  She would make sure she had everyone’s favorite food in the house.  She would cook until her old apron was soiled and dark.  She taught us that in someone’s eyes we were each special.

Her garden bloomed in July with white gladiolas that reached up to the sun.  She always wanted white because they were pure and heavenly.  She taught us that out of dirt, toil, and care comes beauty.

It is hard for me to write all that she was and did in her 97 years on earth.  I could fill the whole book with words and stories about this remarkable, kind human being.

Grandpa’s laughter continues to fill my heart today.  Her hands calm my soul while her spirit still wraps me in unconditional love and comfort.  


We bring children into our world hoping they will be perfect and amazing.  I think instead we need to be as close as we can to amazing and perfect for them.  To make a child feel loved unconditionally, feel special, feel like we would rather be with them than anything else, is honoring the gift that God gave us in the first place. 

Years ago, I could not decide what to give Grandpa for Christmas.  She had a history of gifts going in her hope chest to save for a rainy day. 

I decided to write a column about her and send it to her county paper in Tennessee.  The newspaper printed the story using an entire page. The title in bold lettering was, “MERRY CHRISTMAS GRANDPA!”

The name my brother gave her all those years ago was now a bold headline, and that was as it should be.

For a child to grow up making us a headline in their heart, a love that will never die long after we are gone, is the best blessing we will give them and ourselves.

“And her children will arise up and call her blessed,” were the words on a cross-stitched sampler hanging above Grandpa’s bed when she left this earth.  No truer words were ever written.