YELLED AT (at the dentist part 1)

I see my dentist twice a year and brush and floss every day.   My cleanings have been a breeze, and I’ve only had a handful of cavities during my lifetime.  I have been accustomed to hearing compliments such as, “You have awesome teeth!” and, “You’re doing a great job.” That is, until my last visit.

Six months ago, the hygienist seemed to labor to get my teeth clean and spent far too long scraping and digging at the outside of my lower left molar.  It was painful.  The young lady then asked me if anything has changed because I had more tartar than usual.  “No,”  I answered, only to be asked, “Have you been flossing every day?”  Beginning to feel insulted, I assured her that I have.  She proceeded to explain the proper way to floss and asked if I floss beyond the last tooth.  Feeling a little like a scolded child, I admitted that I usually don’t (isn’t floss for between teeth?), but would start.  The dentist came in, took a look, and said “Everything looks good.”

I went home with a sore mouth and my nose out of joint.  It made more sense to me now that my husband calls a hygienist from his past Attila the Hun.  I understood why my mom dreads going to the dentist.  They’re used to getting yelled at in the office.  Yelled at? Well, I wasn’t exactly yelled at .  In fact, the young lady was politely informing me that I should work a little harder at keeping my mouth healthy. I couldn’t deny that she found tartar, and I have been diligent since then to reach all the way back with the floss and to brush that area more carefully. Thinking back, I may have been more embarrassed than insulted.

A bit of introspection reveals that by saying I was yelled at, I’ve managed to shift the blame to her. We consider yelling to be a negative behavior.  I wonder how many times a student has claimed that a teacher yelled at him when the interaction was calm, but critical. Most of us don’t like to be corrected, whether we’re children or adults.  Sometimes, rather than admitting there’s room for improvement, we accuse the other person of yelling or judging.

One of the Winners Walk Tall lessons that I take to First Graders is called, “Try to Compliment, Not to Criticize.” When I presented it this year, I used my dentist’s office experience to make a point.  We first explored the positive action of complimenting.  We discussed being kind and keeping negative opinions about others to ourselves. Importance was placed on considering the other person’s feelings when we speak.  I then related being chewed out about my teeth and told them that it made me feel bad.   Had the hygienist been wrong in pointing out my flaw? They quickly shook their heads and said, “No, because she was trying to help you.” Lesson understood.

My hope is that these young students can take instruction and critique well, enabling them to improve skills, increase knowledge, and have respect for their advisors.  And yet, my own pride sometimes threatens my ability to accept helpful advice without feeling a bit defensive. Considering the source helps.  When the correction comes from someone I’m paying to help me be healthy, turning a deaf ear wouldn’t be wise.  Should someone who loves me point out a concern about my behavior or attitude, humility will enable me to resist taking offense and to carefully examine my life.

 Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Proverbs 19:20

I have three more “at the dentist” experiences to write about.  My next visit is coming up in a couple of weeks. If there is criticism, I’m expecting it to be about abrasion from brushing too hard. The series could be extended…




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Did you see the video?

On Easter Sunday, a videotaped murder was visible on Facebook for about two hours.  My title, though, is not referencing that video, but recorded interview segments with adult children of the shooting victim.

As anyone would expect, the family is deeply grieved from learning that their 74-year-old father was murdered shortly after their Easter celebration. Interviewed prior to the killer’s suicide two days later, a son expressed that he is angry and hurt and wants the killer to be brought to justice.  A daughter who was given the chance to speak a message to the killer said, “Turn yourself in…when you break the law, there’s a penalty for breaking the law.  And this man broke the law by taking my father’s life.”

What took the news anchor and, I suspect, many people by surprise was the additional statement made by all of the children interviewed, “I forgive him.”  The son who also said, “A boy needs his father, and I’ve lost mine”, went on to say, “I forgive him because we’re all sinners and we need the shed blood of Jesus Christ to save us, and I’m so grateful for that.  Turn yourself in.” A daughter stated that if presented with the opportunity, “God would give me the grace to embrace this man…I would want him to know that even in his worst state, he’s loved, you know, by God.”

How can this be? One said, and the others agreed, that they have no animosity in their hearts, but sadness for a man who was overtaken by evil and sympathy for his family.  This attitude is a testimony to the legacy that the deceased father and grandfather left behind.  As they were growing up, the children were taught by word and example to forgive those who do you wrong.  A daughter admitted that she could not do that now if she didn’t know God as her savior.  Even in this tragedy, she believes that her dad would quote Jesus, saying, “Tonya, forgive them because they know not what they do.” The Godwin family has made the choice to not merely listen to God’s word, but to do it.  They have chosen to live as their father did and, more importantly, to model Jesus.

In a world where evil and pain are prevalent and violence can be instantly viewed by the world via social media and news agencies, one can become fearful and love can grow cold.  Last night, as my husband and I were walking to our vehicle in a parking lot, a white car slowly approached and passed us. We admitted to each other that the thought crossed our minds, “We could be shot.”

But as I watched the interviews with the Godwin children today and considered their sincere words of forgiveness even as they grieve over the sudden and violent death of their dad, I have a sense of happiness for them.  The days ahead will be hard for all of them, but their hearts will be free from hatred and a poisonous desire for revenge.  They know and believe Jesus and are, no doubt, passing along the legacy of their father to his grandchildren. Tonya told the world via CNN, “The thing I would take away the most from my father is he taught us about God…how to fear God, how to love God, and how to forgive.”

The wisest man on earth penned, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 9:10) We fear God because he is holy and just, the judge who is “able to save and to destroy” (James 4:12).  We love God because he loved us first and gave his son Jesus as a ransom to set us free from sin and death.  When random crimes are committed, we are, as we should be, angered.  Many seek revenge.  However, God, through Jesus, has taught and shown that forgiveness is his way.  His grace makes it possible, and forgiveness is rewarded with a peacefulness that transcends all understanding.  I believe the Godwins are experiencing that peace as they sadly bid their father farewell.

Tragically, the killer gave way to the evil desires that reside in each human heart and came to his ruin. Regarding wisdom, the writer of Proverbs also said, “For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord.  But whoever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death.”  (Proverbs 8:35-36)

I believe that, in an instant, Mr. Godwin left this world of sin and pain and was ushered into the presence of his Lord and Savior.  What a glorious ending to his Easter celebration on earth!  My hope is that the firm faith displayed by his family will inspire many in their city and all over the world to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”  Psalm 116:15

You can watch and listen to the Godwins HERE and HERE.


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I worked on two different blog posts yesterday, one entitled “Transformation” and one with the working title “Am I Addicted?” This is neither of those.  They’ve been shelved for possible revision and posting at a later date.  To alleviate any concern about the second title, it refers to my first intentional fast from e-mail and the internet, which occurred yesterday.  Had it not been for the fast, I would have added one of the two writings to Thoughts Collected.  I’m glad I didn’t. 

With some new insights about my use of connected devices, I resumed reading an on-line Lenten devotional this morning, scrolled through Facebook (looks like most of what I missed yesterday was pictures of pets), and opened my e-mail inbox to find 48 messages, 43 of which I deleted without opening.  I share below someone else’s words which made the cut, impacted me, and I now pass along to you.  If you are interested in the source of this writing, please follow this link to Words of Hope.

In Remembrance of Me
April 12, 2017

Read: Luke 22:14-20

This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. (v. 19)

Ask someone to talk about their happiest memories, and see how quickly they mention food. The smell of home-baked bread, Thanksgiving dinner, the chocolate chip cookies your mom used to make when you were a child—it’s remarkable how many of our best memories revolve around eating.

Think about the role food plays in the story of salvation. Manna from heaven, the Passover meal, the feeding of the 5,000, the fatted calf slain when the prodigal son returned home, the disciples sitting on the beach, by the Sea of Galilee, eating baked fish with the resurrected Jesus—again and again God’s people experience God’s grace when partaking of food.

The most significant meal in the story of salvation is the Last Supper. Down through the centuries Christian writers and preachers have used countless words to try to explain the meaning and significance of this meal. Yet Luke’s telling of the story is elegant in its simplicity: “This is my body,” said Jesus, “which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me . . . This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (vv. 19-20).

I have served and partaken of the elements countless times. But those words still stop me in my tracks, and put a lump in my throat: “given for you . . . poured out for you.” Sometimes, it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. —Lou Lotz

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the gift of salvation.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry,
and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35


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…and he brought her to the man.

We’re celebrating the April 1 wedding of our son Eric to sweet Amanda.  Adding to the joy is the appreciation of how our family and hers have easily connected in friendship.  We look forward to the future that the newlyweds have together.

As Providence would have it, this wedding was completely unforeseen, for it is the second time Eric has been a groom.  I have great admiration for Eric and profound thanksgiving to God as I remember the dark tunnel that my son passed through on his way to the glorious celebration of today.  By God’s grace, truest friends and precious family members have supported and prayed for Eric and now rejoice with us in the love he has found.

Here we are with our new daughter-in-law and two sons in the spot where the couple made their vows to each other.  I took this photo along today as I visited a 1st Grade Class with a Winners Walk Tall lesson.  Earlier in the year, I illustrated the  lesson on Reaching Goals With a Plan by sharing Eric’s life story of working hard at school to graduate from high school and college, of practicing instruments to reach his goal of a music career, and of making friends at church and school who helped him become the man he wanted to be.  Now, I wanted to share this marriage milestone, but felt that if I left out the heartbreak of his life I could miss an opportunity to acknowledge sadness that some surely live in. The Lord gave me these words to truthfully fill in the gap:

This picture is from a happy day, but there are times when life’s not that way.

Eric got married once before, but the two had trouble and got a divorce.

It made us and Eric oh so sad.  But he didn’t give up;  lots of faith Eric had.

Then Eric met Amanda and friendship grew.  They fell in love and soon they knew

that they never wanted to be apart – that they loved each other with all their hearts.

So they became husband and wife, and promised to love for the rest of their life. 


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