“The Slap Seen Around the World”

635658161629637683-Screen-Shot-2015-04-28-at-11.09.01-AMIn the contest for Mother of the Year, we have a winner. A woman caught on video, who has been identified as a mother disciplining her son, is the hero of the Baltimore riots.

There is more positive news coming out of the recent unrest in that U.S. city, where — in multiple days of rioting — protesters smashed windows, looted stores, set fires, destroyed property, and attacked police officers with rocks and bricks. What started as public anger over the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, whose spinal cord was nearly severed while in the custody of the Baltimore Police Department, has morphed into a free-for-all where roving gangs seem intent on creating chaos and taking control of parts of the city.

Yet, amid all the violence and mayhem, there was one thing to feel good about: Hero Mom. Toya Graham has become an instant celebrity. She has even been held up as a model by Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Watts, who said he wished more of the city’s residents took their responsibility to control their children as seriously as this woman does.

So what did Graham do that has everyone buzzing? What could be that extraordinary? It’s called tough love parenting. Good ol’ fashioned, no-nonsense, no-excuses parenting. This is what it looks like. The sad part is that we see so little of it these days that we no longer recognize it.

According to news reports, Graham was home watching television coverage of the riot Monday night when she saw a young man in a black hoodie, throwing rocks at police officers. And although his face was covered, she recognized him. It was her 16 year-old son. She ran out the door and into the street, and she found the young man. And that’s where his troubles began.

The video shows Graham furiously grabbing her son’s sweater, yelling at him, and shoving him away from the crowd. It also shows her slapping him in the head and ripping off his hoodie and mask, as if to say: “I’m your mother! You’re not going to hide from me!” The same young man who — just a few minutes earlier — hadn’t been afraid to hurl rocks at police was frantically trying to get away from his mother.

Scenes like these warm my heart. I’d like to see more of them. Where were the parents or guardians for the rest of these kids? They need to step up, too. No more tolerating lawlessness, or making excuses, or blaming misbehavior on societal ills. Normally, this young man might be arrested, put in a cell, and hauled into court. In this case, Hero Mom was the police, prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner — all rolled into one.

Many have a message for Graham: “Good for you, ma’am. You did the right thing. Because of how these things can escalate, you might even have saved your son’s life. You also did a public service by reminding other parents that they have a duty to control their children. Parenting is our most important job. Thank you for doing it well.”

When people catch a whiff of anarchy, and think they can misbehave without consequences, all is lost. I have been surprised how smoothly things have gone in Baltimore so far. It could have been much worse, and still could be. But I think this mom standing up for her son sent a powerful message. I believe she probably changed his life, saved his life, and set him on a better path. I hope the kids at school will allow him the room to be the son his mom wants him to become.

Consequences many times take different forms. And sometimes, it’s not the authorities that a young person needs to worry about. Sometimes the most effective arbiter of justice is much closer to home. Sometimes it is MOM!!!

Now, when their own child misbehaves, other parents need to do the same thing. I know for sure had this been me back in the day… my mom would have been right there hauling me home for even more detailed discussion.

Prayers for Napal & the United States

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Today I am simply befuddled at the happenings of our world. On one side of the world in a place of relative poverty on Saturday a 7.8 earthquake in Napal has claimed the lives of over 4,000 people. This old country is in shambles because, even though it has been near the top of the list for an expected devastating earthquake (not one in 80 years), the infrastructure of the country simply could not provide its people with the safety of earthquake proof buildings.

Nepal’s Home Ministry said the country’s death toll had risen to 4,010. Another 61 were killed in neighboring India, and China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported 25 dead in Tibet. At least 18 of the dead were killed at Mount Everest as the quake unleashed an avalanche that buried part of the base camp packed with foreign climbers preparing to make their summit attempts.

At least 7,180 people were injured in the quake, police said. Tens of thousands are estimated to be left homeless.

Rescue workers and medical teams from at least a dozen countries were helping police and army troops in Kathmandu and surrounding areas, said Maj. Gen. Binod Basnyat, a Nepal army spokesman. Contributions came from large countries like India and China — but also from Nepal’s tiny Himalayan neighbor of Bhutan, which dispatched a medical team.

Two teams of U.S. Army Green Beret soldiers happened to be in Nepal when the quake struck, and the 26 Americans — who were training with the Nepalese army — are staying to help with search-and-relief efforts. The 11-member crew of a C-130 cargo plane that brought them also will remain to evacuate any American citizens if needed, said Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman. A second U.S. cargo plane carrying members of a Los Angeles urban search-and-rescue team was due to arrive Tuesday, he said.

As the death toll from Nepal’s devastating earthquake climbed past 4,000, aid workers and officials in remote, shattered villages near the epicenter pleaded Monday for food, shelter and medicine.

Help poured in after Saturday’s magnitude-7.8 quake, with countries large and small sending medical and rescue teams, aircraft and basic supplies. The small airport in the capital of Kathmandu was congested and chaotic, with some flights forced to turn back early in the day.

Buildings in parts of the city were reduced to rubble, and there were shortages of food, fuel, electricity and shelter. As bodies were recovered, relatives cremated the dead along the Bagmati River, and at least a dozen pyres burned late into the night.

Conditions were far worse in the countryside, with rescue workers still struggling to reach mountain villages two days after the earthquake.

Some roads and trails to the Gorkha district, where the quake was centered, were blocked by landslides — but also by traffic jams that regularly clog the route north of Kathmandu.

Truly these people are in desperate need. What can we do to help our brothers and sisters around the world?

The news turns from this great need to the insanity going on in Baltimore. It is true that our country is being awakend to the policies of injustice toward black people in our country. But we need to recognize that a small portion of law enforcement are involved in this. Yes, there are people who have been killed and harmed who should not have been treated in this fashion. But to kill the police, to burn police cars, to burn and loot places of business is NOT the answer. In fact, it is making the point that some people respond in the wrong manner and make things worse.

I believe there is an orderly way to bring about change… It is the Martin Luther King way of NON-VIOLENCE… not the Malcom X way of violence. Martin’s way brought the change we have… Malcom X would have us still involved in a black and white war.

I pray for peace and healing in our land and in the land of the great quake. I pray that while thousands upon thousands die underneath the rubble of a shaking world, here in the U.S. we wake up to and participate in being peacemakers who finally do actually care for one another.


a Grieving HeartYou will notice at the bottom of the header (above) are a list of my books. I have added the last one so you can order The Grieving Heart in paperback form. All the other books are eBooks. I hope that you will take the opportunity to read these and I hope they will help to bring you comfort and grace in time of need.

Please also take the time to leave a good review with Amazon. After today, these books have been published in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Japan.

No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service

20150409_152142~2_resizedThursday I visited with Mark at the prison. I try to do that once a month because I don’t ever want him to feel that the church has turned its back on him. Sure he made a mistake… we all have… but we don’t throw him away because he made that mistake. No, we gather together to love, support and care for him in his time of great need. Thanks to all in his relationship circle, family and friends, who continue to send those cards and letters. They mean the world to him and give him the courage he needs every day. You are making a difference. Keep up this good work.

Well, this Thursday was one of those days I believe could only happen to me. The first problem was that I decided to go over the top dressing in DUKE championship apparel to rib Mark – an avid UNC fan. I wore a Championship Tee shirt, a long sleeve white DUKE shirt under that, and a DUKE visor to complete the look. One of the guards was a UNC fan and the other pulled for Kentucky. I was lucky I didn’t get locked up. When they learned that I got my Master of Divinity at DUKE the UNC fan said he would cut me some slack. No quarters from the Kentucky fan… I think it is still the Laettner fall out… love to hate Laettner bunch from Kentucky. Finally the UNC fan – the nice one – said the Duke thing is the least of your problems… there is an even bigger issue.

You see, it was such a nice day outside that I decided to wear sandals. Little did I know that sandals and visiting inmates at Piedmont is a No No. You’ve seen that sign on the door of businesses that reads “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service.” Well at Piedmont Correctional there should be a sign that reads no open toed shoes – no visit. They said I could not visit Mark. Wow, an hour’s drive, Mark is waiting, and I am standing there talking with the guard about how we can make this visit happen. Do you have any shoes or socks in your car?” No, I don’t think so. “Can you just put duck tape on my toes?” The guard’s strange response was a humorous “No, we can’t go that far.” We talk some more as I ask him if I can improvise with stuff I find in the car? He said “Go try. Come back and the Lieutenant will make a decision.”

I go to the car, look through all the stuff, and find only a box of clothes brought back from a consignment sale. I find a pair of black knit shorts and my little pea brain says… ugh, pockets can cover up toes. I find the pocket knife in the center console and cut out both pockets. Sure did!!!

I walk back to the entrance, go inside, sit down, and put on my pocket-socks and sandals. The Lieutenant comes over and says he will let me in this time – he likes to give the benefit of the doubt to ministers. But, he says, next time wear closed toed shoes. I thanked him and visited with Mark.

I do want to thank these guards for allowing me to visit with Mark even though my attire did not fall within the lines of proper protocol. Mark and I got a good laugh out of this. I am glad we were able to adapt, improvise and complete the mission (old USMC proverb). We got to visit, pray with one another and be the church in action.

Adapt, improvise, be the church… take the love of Christ with you to people in all conditions and circumstances and places.


a Grieving HeartYou will notice at the bottom of the header (above) are a list of my books. I have added the last one so you can order The Grieving Heart in paperback form. All the other books are eBooks. I hope that you will take the opportunity to read these and I hope they will help to bring you comfort and grace in time of need.

Please also take the time to leave a good review with Amazon. After today, these books have been published in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Japan.

Some One Up There Loves Me!

Somebody_up_there_moviepA couple of weeks ago our dishwasher (not Shirley) went out… stopped working mid-cycle. We didn’t realize that it had not finished the cycle until we tried to unload it and found the dish washer powder still in the little containers and the dishes still unclean.

We twirled the knob to no avail. Nothing worked.

Shirley led me to our favorite Lowe’s store and we purchased a new Bosch dishwasher. The electrician came out in a few days only to find that the electrical hook ups for the Bosch and the old Whirlpool were different. So it was back to the store to order the additional parts to meet the codes for this machine.

Finally, today the electricians came back out and guess what… at three o’clock this morning there was a wreck on Wendover at Battleground and all the electricity is out in this area. So our guy is working in the (so-called) dark using battery powered tools. We just have to let him know when/if the power comes back on before he gets the voltage.

Here is the scary part of this story. He takes off the front of the old Whirlpool and discovers that the electrical parts were fried. He said; “It could have caused a fire.” Wow! The best we can recall is that Shirley started the dish washer running around 2:00pm as we left to go take care of the kids. When we returned around 5:00pm the machine was not running. We didn’t think much of it… it had just finished its cycle.

Just think, this thing could have burned the house down. Shirley and I were very lucky. It made me think of an old time movie line: “Some One Up There Likes Me.” Well, being a pastor for 40 years, I know there is some One up there who loves us all… and today – Good Friday – is proof positive. And even if the house had burned down I still believe he loves me and you… and all the rest of us. His death on Good Friday was the assurance of the love of God made real to all of us through Jesus Christ.

Today, we all can say: “Some One Up There Loves Me” and know that it is the Gospel.


a Grieving Heart

You will notice at the bottom of the header (above) are a list of my books. I have added the last one so you can order The Grieving Heart in paperback form. All the other books are eBooks. I hope that you will take the opportunity to read these and I hope they will help to bring you comfort and grace in time of need.