Thursday, December 17, 2009


We sit in our pews, carefully holding our candles and singing Silent Night. Emotions of the evening are private as each of us brings our own thoughts of Christmas pasts prayerfully into the present. After the prayer the choir begins the Hallelujah Chorus, joined by those in the congregation who wish to do so. Everyone else stands in silent celebration as the sanctuary is overwhelmed with the joy of the birth of the new born king.

It’s the night before Christmas and all through Cobb County, as it is at the First Presbyterian Church Marietta service described above, there are voices joined in resounding joy. The secular traditions of the holiday, the frazzled days of shopping and decorating, are secondary to those of the religious celebration.

One of my Face Book friends recently asked folks to tell her about their Christmas traditions that they shared with their children. Along with several others, I began by talking about our tradition of going to the Christmas Eve service at our church. I have an idea that Christmas, more than most holidays, is one in which the traditions of our childhoods play a major role in how we celebrate as adults.

I grew up as a member of a small Southern Baptist church that didn’t have a Christmas Eve service. After I married a Presbyterian, the Eve service became a part of our own family tradition. Before children and when they were very young, we were members of the First Presbyterian Church in St. Marys, Georgia, a small historic church near the intercoastal waterway. The first Christmas after our daughter Katie was born, we set out for the church in freezing cold weather. Looking back, I am amazed that, the overprotective mother that I was, I agreed to take our little baby and her toddler-aged brother out in record setting cold – minus three or so. But it was a beautiful service and the tradition has continued no matter what the weather.

Now we are members of First Presbyterian Marietta, a much larger historic church near the Square. But the size of the church doesn’t determine the experience of the Christmas Eve service. It is the worship experience; the celebration of the birth of Christ that repeats the message of the season.

This year, making the service extra special, I will be joined in the congregation by our son, Peter, and his wife Ann-Bailey and our daughter, Katie, and her husband Drew. Allan will be in the tenor section of the choir. We will join folks all over the world participating in the celebration of Christmas, our one truly international holiday.

Saturday, July 4, 2009



July 4th! Independence Day! This is our uniquely American holiday when we honor our freedom and American heritage. We hold parades, display fireworks and wave flags. We celebrate the 4th as a day to let the world know we continue to stand for freedom for all of our citizens.

I’m proud to be an American, not only when a particular party in is power in Washington, but all of the time. I’m proud of the citizens of our country, that we can elect our leaders without bloodshed or riot. I’m proud of my ancestors who fought valiantly to preserve the freedoms that we have today. I’m proud of every American who continues to fight for our country today to ensure that our freedoms continue.

Rather than July 4th, we could be celebrating on the 2nd. The second day of July in 1776 was the legal separation of the colonies from Great Britain. It was on that day that the Second Continental Congress approved a resolution of independence. The final approval, however, took place on July 4, 1776. It was not until August 2 of that year that the first signature was placed on the Declaration of Independence.

John Adams, who later became our second President, wrote to his wife Abigail: “The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

We continue to fulfill Adams’ prophecy, although not on the exact day he suggested. But how blessed we are to live in a country which for more than 200 years has continued a celebration of freedom; a country whose citizens have continually cherished the ideals of our founding fathers.

America is a youngster compared to many countries of the world. I pray that we will be a civilization that will endure, aging gracefully, growing in wisdom, and forever protecting the ideals of our founding fathers. The freedoms that we enjoy are not to be taken for granted. It behooves all of us to continue to study our history, to read the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution; to elect leaders who are proud of our country; and to be proud ourselves that we are an independent nation of free people.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Take a few minutes this July 4, or perhaps July 2, to re-read the Declaration of Independence. Think about the tyrannies of oppression from which our founding fathers were separating. Let us vow not to become a nation that forces that same type of oppression upon her citizens.

Monday, April 27, 2009


I have been watching the updates on the concern over the Swine Flu. Will it be an epidemic? Will it become a pandemic? It's too early to tell, but it is time to continue the practical steps that we should be taking anyway: washing hands often, keeping hands away from the face, and staying home when sick.

At the same time that the national health care professionals and the news media are encouraging folks to stay home when sick, many of our schools are still in the mandatory testing that is a part of No Child Left Behind. One component of this national rating of our schools is attendance. I know we must encourage attendance for our school children. As a school board member years ago, I remember being shocked at the large number of absences of some of our students. However, the No Child Left Behind rating will score a school as not meeting progress if even one sub-group fails to meet the attendance requirement on the day of testing - not all year; but just on that testing day.

With this pressure to succeed, teachers push parents to send their child to school for testing despite illness, fever, flu. There are no excuses for not taking the tests. Will we be helping to spread the flu to entire schools so that sick students can help make an arbitrary goal set by politicians?

I think we need more realistic ways to rate our schools. Yes, many of our schools need improving, but many more are doing an excellent job of educating students from diverse backgrounds and ability levels. We need to have schools that students come to with eager enthusiasm, ready to learn, well disciplined, to be taught by teachers who are well prepared and also enthusiastic. We need a way to evaluate schools by total performance in a realistic way. We are not giving teachers, students, parents or the community a realistic picture of their educational system when, as part of the evaluation for an entire school and district, we rate a school as failing because that school has one too many sick children in a sub-group during testing.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


The other day I saw a dollar bill blowing in the wind as I was driving near home. I stopped the car and watched it for a minute. In a bold move for me, I pulled into the near-by parking lot, went up the hill to the road and there was the dollar, just waiting for me. It was an exciting adventure for the day.

I have decided to take this incident as an indicator that better days are ahead for our entire economy. Never mind that this was such an extremely windy day that the dollar could easily have escaped from someone who didn’t want to lose it and that it could have traveled for miles along the gusty current before settling near me.
Many years ago my mother told me that when the economy is good, there will be more change, especially pennies, to be found on the ground. Folks aren’t as fast to pick them up when money is flowing. Well, not only have I recently found the dollar bill, but I have found a good many pennies on the ground.

My friend, Kathy, in Kentucky, on hearing my dollar story, said she still stoops over to pick up pennies. “That’s 100 stoops,” she said. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who will bend over for a penny. I like to think of them as good luck coins.

Not that long ago, I would look at the stock market report in the newspaper or at the end of the evening news, not really bothered by the ups and downs that were a normal part of the market flow. Lately, however, like many others, I have become obsessed with keeping up with the daily Dow. Okay, perhaps obsessed is too strong a term, but I do keep up with it on a daily basis.

The stock market fluctuates, gross retail sales are unpredictable, unemployment numbers continue to rise, and the television pundits and government economist seem equally lacking in understanding. With all that uncertainty in mind, why shouldn’t my penny theory be just as credible as any other?

With dollar bills flying through the air and pennies littering the ground, I will stay optimistic that there is hope for an economic recovery. Now, if only the government officials would stop saying we want to help the middle class and small businesses and actually find a way to do it.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I can't help thinking the solutions our national leaders have offered for our economic crisis are an elaborate April Fool's Joke. In that vain, I am hopeful that, once the first of April has passed, we will regain our economic sanity and be offered a truthful, workable solution. How wonderful if we can wake up on April 2 and find that market based economics are once again in place; and that a government take-over of our economy has been merely a terrifying bad dream. We will find on that beautiful morning that there is no move to socialized medicine; that the banks and major industries have not been nationalized; and that the tax rates are not being used to penalize the productive. Let's hope that the reality of the past few months is merely a myth and that the true reality is a sound economy, a healthy stock market, and citizens free from the tyranny of big government.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Trying to understand the stimulus

So much about this stimulus bill makes no sense. But tonight I heard the most puzzling information of all. Our President said we must get the federal deficit under control - at the same time he is saying that he will be signing this un-stimulating stimulus bill. How can a bill that will cost taxpayers almost a trillion dollars help to get the federal deficit under control. How can legislation that causes the USA to borrow billions of dollars be good for us? How can legislation that bloats the size of the federal government be good for us? How can legislation that takes away freedoms be good for us? Does anyone even know what is actually in the bill and what affect it will have on our country? Does it make sense to add massive debt and then insist that we must get the deficit under control? Is this leadership or politics? Is it change we can believe in or change we should fear?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Political Overload

I need an intervention to counter my addiction to news coverage. Between watching the stock market bounce up and down and keeping up with the action on the over-spending bill, I am saturated with news. Yesterday, I even tuned in to C-Span while the super bill was being debated. It was like watching a sports event where the teams are totally unmatched; you know who is going to win; but you keep hoping you are wrong. My team lost yesterday - and so did our country. Hopefully, some sanity will prevail when the bill goes to the Senate. The more details I hear about the specific spending detains in the House bill, the angrier I become. The only people for whom this is a stimulus bill are those in the special interests groups who are being paid back. I will keep watching Fox News and C-Span as the bill goes to the Senate. Let's all hope that the final version is a Stimulus Bill rather than a Spending Bill.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I thought my handbag felt lighter as I went into our Smyrna office today. I think it was a psychological lightness, an omen of something missing. Alas, I had left my cell phone at home. Not being as technologically adept as I need to be, I also don't know how to access my cell voice mail remotely. Of course some days I have no calls at all on it. But not today. Fortunately, one person trying to call had also e-mailed to ask if I could introduce the speaker at today's Rotary meeting. Not only did I not have my cell, the phone in my office is working only for outgoing calls. The office suites manager is calling our phone company on that one. It is amazing how quickly we can feel out of touch without our simple luxuries. Looking back, I marvel that we could publish a weekly newspaper for so many years with no cell phone, no fax machine, no personal computers, no digital cameras, no e-mail and no internet. Put into that perspective, I can work today with no in-coming calls and no cell phone. Perhaps that's how I have time to update my blog.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


It's the day after inauguration and the country still functions. The sun is shining and the stock market, after a terrible day yesterday, is once again rallying. Yesterday was a day of pomp and circumstance; a day when masses of people stood in the bitter cold to see a new president sworn in. Although not my choice, he will be my President. And now I, like many others wait to see if he will choose to be our President. Will he be the leader of all, or only for those of color? Will he be the President for all, or only for those who are on the lower rungs of society (and those who are Hollywood celebrities)? Will he support small business owners, or will he, as he did with Joe the Plumber, belittle those who try to succeed as entrepreneurs? Will he increase employment through more government or through private enterprise? Will he realize that lower taxes for all (not just for those who pay no taxes) can bring in more long-term revenue or will he be the stereotype tax and spend liberal? Since it's only been a day, I'll wait optimistically to discover how the new President will lead.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I've found that starting a blog is much easier than actually continually updating a blog. Since my original post was written last year, I knew it was time to add a something new. I have made many changes to my blog since its inception, changing the template about a dozen times. This is the latest, although perhaps not the last, template change. But now, in addition to template change, I have actually written something new.

I discovered that I can add a photo, which presents a whole new set of changes yet to come. If you're reading this soon after it's posted and before I make future changes, you are seeing a photo I took at Hilton Head Island on our last whole family vacation the summer of 2004. At the end of our time on the island, Katie headed back to Davidson to begin her senior year and Peter went along with Allan and me to Savannah, where we were making a presentation on working with the news media to the Georgia Association of Community Services Board Association. Peter had just finished working with Dylan Glenn's congressional campaign, one that ended in a disappointing loss. Soon after the Hilton Head trip, however, Peter was still headed to D.C. where he would soon began his career with Koch Industries. Those few days at the beach were a relaxing time of being together as a family before we once again went off to different cities.