Category Archives: education

Going deep? or wide?


measurement-1476919_1920I know what I’m good at. I offer a confident yes to things I know I can nail.

I also know where I’m challenged. But, unfortunately, being a people-pleaser makes it really hard to say no to someone who needs another volunteer.

Besides, it feels like the right thing to do. It shows Audrey and Asher how important it is to be selfless and flexible.

But, I wonder… Is this the legacy we want to leave? That doing something just because it “has to” be done is admirable? Or are we lifting our children up to become masters of what they love and do really well?

Don’t we want them to be a mile deep – instead of a mile wide?

We say Find yourself … Be yourself… Don’t let anyone take away or diminish what only you can offer the world. We encourage them to take piano lessons, learn code on the computer or volunteer at the hospital. We nurture the artist and provide the supplies. We attend every recital, game, show, and bee.

But when the artist gets a “C” in social studies, or the athlete “does not meet” in math? Ye gods! The world as we know it may very well end if we don’t right this ship – and quickly.


Because we have allowed a blind and rigid and neutralizing system to take over and make the rules. A system in which success is pre-determined in every skill, for every age. If your child is this age, they should be reading at this level and should know all of these math facts and should do them this fast. And should do this many push-ups, run this fast, draw this, sing that and join this many clubs and teams.

“Ok, Ms. SmartyPants,” I hear you saying. “Just what do you think would happen if we didn’t have those standards? How would we measure success? We would surely end up in chaos and failure. Our children would never be ready for the real world.”

To which I would say… “And I should clean up the kitchen right after dinner every night. I should keep the bathrooms shiny and the clothes clean, folded, and ready. I should read my Bible every day, and take vitamins, and exercise. I should always be on time and never lose my patience.”

Good golly, Miss Molly.

I’ll go on. “The standard in my kitchen is a reasonable level of order and clean enough. Bathrooms? Ditto. Laundry? We always have something appropriate to wear. Bible reading? When I miss a day, I ask forgiveness and get busy. Vitamins? Exercise? Who are you…the boss of me? On time and always in control? Once again, forgiveness is freely accepted and success is measured minute by minute.”

(Didja hear Boom!!?)

But when I write or praise or read or love my family you better believe that, if I’m not going 100 miles per hour straight to the core, there is something dreadfully wrong. These are the things God has asked me to do well, with all of my heart and strength and skill. These are the gifts I have been given – and they most likely bear no resemblance to your skill set — or yours or yours.

So I’m putting “should” in the 4-letter-word category. I’ll say yes to what I do well and no to what I stink at. And I’ll help Asher and Audrey find their deepest selves in a world that’s a mile wide.


I’m putting “should” in the 4-letter-word category. ClicktoTweet


J.T. and Uncle Doyne


In the dream, I was judging a baked-goods contest at our home in Plymouth, Wisconsin. There were two or three people who, although unnamed, I knew were famous. And, as they left, I was thanking them on behalf of someone for something. Very dreamlike and

I’m always quite positive that I’ll remember what I dream. However, it never fails: by the time I come back from the bathroom, it’s dust in the wind.

But this one I wrote down – at least as much as I could remember. And, as strange as that first part seemed, here’s the crazy…

I think Batman was hosting the baked goods contest. The crazier?

Batman turned into James Taylor. Good golly, Miss Molly!

But then it turned serious. And James Taylor, a younger J.T. with longer hair, asked me: Should I change my musical style?

He told me, right there in the kitchen with the big picture window, that many people were very vocal and mostly very harsh. I could see it was hard on him. We just stood there, chatting, leaning against the counters as if old friends who did this every day. As if he had just stopped by for a minute on his way somewhere more important. Very puzzling indeed…

In the real world, we’ve had some tough days. Tim’s Uncle Doyne died in February. He lived in the Phoenix area with Aunt Cindy – one of the sweetest people you’ll ever know. We gathered last Friday for his memorial, when I met his two daughters, two sisters, a nephew, two grandchildren, and a lot of people I’ll probably remember only by their hair and where they were sitting.

There aren’t enough words or time to tell you how fine he was. Doyne walked his talk – he was a strong Believer: a kind and devoted man with a servant’s heart. He could run a master’s class on Being a Husband and owned a prosperous business that he kept small on purpose. I challenge you to find one person that had a bad word to say.

Uncle Doyne served in Viet Nam. Agent orange. Death and chaos. Horrible conditions – the kind of horrible described as “causing or likely to cause horror.” I can’t even imagine.

He almost never spoke of the war. And when he did, it was only to find an example of good overcoming evil. Or something that he turned into humor.

When we talked to his sisters and a nephew at dinner one night, they told us amusing war stories he had shared. The soldiers’ reaction to an over-due shower. Or eating a long-awaited hot dinner – even if it was liver and onions. And I could hear Doyne’s voice as they spoke.

But I could barely smile.

And I think that’s why I told James Taylor about being a freshman at the University of Illinois when “Kent State” happened. That’s what we called it: Kent State – where National Guardsmen opened fire on a crowd, killing four students who were protesting the U.S. invasion of Cambodia in May, 1970. Colleges all over the country were disrupted classroom-824120_1280by the event. Classes were cancelled, protestors took to the streets. Families and friends were at odds.

And young girls who came from conservative, suburban homes stood on the U. of I. Quad, surrounded by Guardsmen called in to keep the peace – and curfew. Young girls who had not yet formed their own views about war, love, religion, or the future. Girls who almost missed what was happening in the world because we couldn’t see beyond the walls of Stratford House or the classroom.

In my dream, I told James Taylor that when Kent State happened, I was learning about life and listening to his music. I cried as I recalled the memories. Not to convince him to stay the same, but to let him know what he meant to our generation. How his songs linger, like our experiences and memories.

And he said it is important not to forget those times, even if we could.

And that was it. The dream didn’t really end. I just woke up. I woke up rattled but determined not to let that dream slip away.

As I wrote down what I remembered, I looked for a moral or lesson that I couldn’t find. I thought maybe it was all about changing, even when others are against it. Was is about me? Very puzzling indeed …

Then I heard about the attacks in Brussels.

Maybe there is no connection at all. I’ve never had a prophetic dream – and I’m pretty sure I never want to experience one.

But I keep thinking: It never really stops. We study history as a series of wars, skirmishes and police actions. We dissect the causes and influences of each one. We deliberate the structure and world-wide ramifications. We argue the merit of military decisions and strategies. This current horror is driven by ideology I cannot fathom. It strikes randomly across the world, unlike anything we’ve ever seen. But the horror of war is and always has been with us.

I thought my dream was about making changes and giving advice. And maybe someday it will be.

But today, it’s about remembering. And praying a lot. There are just too many soldiers and travelers, workers and party-goers whose lives are taken all because of evil in the world.