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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…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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From Coach to Author!

A few years ago, I began visiting a couple of 1st grade classrooms in our public elementary school to share “Winners Walk Tall” lessons with the boys and girls.  “Winners Walk Tall” is a character education program that was developed by a Cincinnati area grandfather whose desire was to help students succeed and avoid being drawn into gangs.

Since I have a soft spot for kids and their futures, my heart was quickly drawn to WWT.  When the timing was right, I worked up the lessons adding my personal touch and began encouraging the 6 and 7 year old students to be honest, respectful, and responsible and to work hard toward worthy goals.

I had no idea that being a “Winners Walk Tall” coach would lead me to writing books!  During the 2014-15 school year, I put together a book for the classrooms called “All Done…Unless” that reminds kids to clean up after themselves.  The process and product were so rewarding that I followed up in 2015-16 with “Words That Win”.  Incorporating many of the goals of WWT, my poetry informs kids that our tongues should be used for good manners, kindness, good sportsmanship, telling the truth and the like.

Here’s the first page:


Here’s the last page, p. 20:


Production of “Words That Win” is very limited, but I have a few hard cover copies and have now done a paperback version that’s a little less costly.  It really gives me joy to provide an engaging, positive book that teachers, parents, and grandparents can share with children.  And, I am extremely blessed to know that a couple of school counselors have embraced “Words That Win”!


“From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things as surely as the work of his hands rewards him.”  Proverbs 12:14

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