Friday, August 21, 2015

Brain Gain

"Learn everything you can, anytime you can, from anyone you can--there will always come a time you will be grateful you did."~Sarah Caldwell

This quote crossed my path today. It got me to thinking about just how much we learn over a lifetime. So much information crammed into our heads! 

We learn to tie our shoes. We learn our ABC's. We learn multiplication tables and algebraic equations. We learn how to play the piano, or the tambourine. We learn where babies come from and how to balance a checkbook. We learn to ride a bike, drive a car, and parallel park. We learn how to cook, how to speak a foreign language, put air in a tire, braid hair, swim, surf, and take a photograph. We learn how to play charades and backgammon and we learn how to work that infuriating TV remote control! 

We learn how to communicate with others. 
We learn how to love. 
We learn how to grieve. 
We learn how to live.

I used to think the most useless thing I ever learned was algebra. I mean, really? I prefer my x's and y's in sentences, not in equations. Then a good friend and former co-worker told me I should think of algebra as calisthenics for my brain. That put a different spin on it. But, I'd still rather exercise my brain in another way!

The most important thing I learned how to do is to read. Reading opened up the world to me and led to a curiosity about life and to a love affair with words... and that led to a career as a journalist, author and speaker. Reading also keeps the learning cycle spinning... more words, more knowledge! 

One of the most unusual things I've ever learned is how to sing the books of the Bible. My grandmother taught me when I was two. I can still do it. Don't believe me? Click here and I'll sing them for you! Was I ever grateful for learning that? Absolutely! The first time is when I used this knowledge by singing the "Bible Song" to quieten a rowdy group of 3rd grade Sunday School kids! Now, I sing the song to entertain adults! 

One of the most fun things I learned how to do is fish! In learning this, I also learned that I don't love fishing enough to do it in January. Lesson learned.

On the bucket list of things I still want to learn:

 How to juggle. How to speak Italian. How to play the drums. How to paint. How to arrange flowers. I want to learn more about artistic masterpieces and the brilliant painters who created them. I want to learn how to work that infuriating TV remote control! ;) 

What's the most interesting thing you've learned, or learned to do, in your lifetime? Or the most fun? Or the most useless? What's the most unusual thing you learned that you ended up becoming grateful that you knew?

Think about it. Make a list of what you know, what you don't, and what you want to learn.Be grateful for the people who helped you learn. Be grateful for the knowledge that is crammed into your brain... and promise yourself to continue---as Ms. Caldwell advises--- learning everything you can, anytime you can, from anyone you can. Let it become "learned behavior."

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Upper Hand

I recently went with 9 members of our Sunday School class on a weekend retreat. We stayed in one member's beautiful lake house. It was a weekend to get away, get to know each other better, and to share our faith. There was a really nice balance between frivolity and faith-sharing. We had a blast cruising the lake on a pontoon boat, learning how to paddle board, eating Krispy Kreme doughnuts, racing each other to the hammock, and cannon-balling into the lake. (Yes, we can----and will---do those things, even at "our age!")

When Sunday morning came, it was time to bring it all indoors and talk... about hands.

Have you ever really looked at your hands? Have you ever thought about what those hands, whether they are opened or closed, represent? We talked about that. We decided these things about hands:

An open palm receives

An open palm indicates "come to me."

A closed palm may indicate protectiveness... keeping what is tucked inside the hand from danger.

A closed palm can also be turned into a fist... not to harm, but to indicate strength and the willingness to fight for someone or something that is important or beloved.

When linked with someone else's hand, the palm communicates intimacy, love, trust and compassion.

The lake is a peaceful place. It's a place where you don't have to work too hard to let go of your fierce, white-knuckled grip on life.It's a place where the beauty of creation draws your thoughts to the wonder of the Creator. It's a place where you can remember that the same Creator whose hands paint the landscape with orange, blue and pink sunrises and with magnificent "blue moon" night skies... is the Creator who reaches those hands to you. Hands that receive you, hands that reach out to you, hands that protect you and hands that fight for you. Hands that have my name, Drexel, and your name, too, tattooed on their palms. (Isaiah 49:16)

I'll admit it's not often that I like it when someone other than me has the "upper hand." This time, I do. In fact, I think I'll just put my hand in that "upper" hand and take a stroll...through the days... through the nights... through life.
WOW! (Women on the Word!) Sunday School Class Summer Retreat


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Bartender, The First Lady, and The Bloopers

I met a lot of people, had a lot of fun, and made my share of boo-boos in 30 years of TV news. Last time I was at the speaker's podium, I talked a little bit about all those years in TV news... the high points... and the lows. Some of the low points were not very funny at all.. but some of them were! I may just share a few of them when I take to the stage again this Saturday. Meantime, if you have 49 seconds to kill, copy and paste the link below. Allow me to let one of my goofball bloopers bring a smile to your face! Always happy to serve!

You can check out a few other videos if you'd like by heading to and clicking on the WATCH link!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Scaredy Cat

What are you afraid of? 

You know.. the kind of fear that makes your legs turn to jelly, drains the blood from your face, and sends your heart on a bungee jump to the pit of your stomach.

There are many scary things in the world. But only two make me lose all sense of logic, strength and composure. Just two things make me want to yell, "I want my mommy!"


The dentist.

I stared both of those fears in the face this week. Tuesday morning, I sat in the dentist's chair. Actually, I cowered in the dentist's chair. Yes, I know technology has improved and dentistry is not as painful as it was when I was 5 years old and some crotchety old-man dentist gave me a shot with a needle as big around as a garden hose. But it smells the same. And it sounds the same. And that creepy bluish light that shines in your eyes looks the same. 

And it's scary.

As my dentist and I discussed upcoming work on my teeth, I tried to explain my fear.  "I'm really only afraid of two things," I mumbled as those sharp pokey-things probed my teeth. "You... and lightning. And, sometimes I think I'd rather encounter lightning!"

Probably shouldn't have said that. 

Because just a few short hours later, while taking a lazy tube ride down Coldwater Creek in the beautiful woods of northwest Florida, one of those late afternoon thunderstorms came out of nowhere. The rain was so heavy and hard I could hardly see the other tube riders. The sky turned dark with the only real light coming from... you guessed it... huge bolts of lightning going "snap, crackle, pop" all around us, followed by the biggest, meanest crashes of thunder I have ever heard. 

We had nowhere to go, nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. It was impossible to get out of the creek at this juncture. We had no choice but to stay in the water, completely unprotected, and ferociously paddle our way back to the camp. And so we did. 

I yelled every time a bolt of lightning flashed and sometimes those bolts were so close I could feel the hair stand up on the back of my neck. I prayed. I prayed hard. And loudly. I sang "Jesus loves me, this I know..." over and over and over again. And, He must. Because after 15 minutes of sheer terror, we rounded a bend and realized we were back at the camp. 

Yes, there are a lot of scary things in the world. Many of them we can protect against. When you are on the water... no, when you are IN the water with no way out... and lightning is hitting all around you, there is no protection. Just sheer force of will to try and paddle your way out of the danger... and in my case, a strong faith that says "I don't want to die, but if I do... please make my trip to Heaven quick and painless!" 

And that's the way I hope my dental appointment goes next week.. 

Quick. And painless. 

But even if it doesn't, I'll paddle my way through it. And I'll remind myself that I'll take the pain of needles and the scary sound of a dentist drill over the snap, crackle, pop of lightning any day!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Christmas Every Day

It's July. It's hot. It's muggy. It's tempting to start every day with a case of the mid-summer slumps. But instead, I start every day in a December state of mind. Specifically, I start every day with Christmas on my mind. That's because I drink my coffee out of a Christmas cup every single day. 

I began doing this 3 Christmases ago when a beautiful friend gifted me with a holiday china coffee cup. I used the cup every day that season to remind me of her. As I poured the coffee, Sara's elegant face came to mind and I gave thanks for the gift of her friendship.

For many reasons, it was important that Christmas for me to remember all the gifts I'd been given in my life. Not the ones under the tree wrapped in shiny boxes... but the ones that were walking around in my life and in my mind.The people, the experiences, and the memories.The gift of time, marked off by each sunrise.

And so, after the New Year had come and gone, I just kept pouring my morning coffee into that Christmas cup. Each day from then until now, that cup has reminded me that no matter what I wake up to each morning... I wake. Each day is a gift. And just like the snowflakes on my Christmas cup, no two gifts of a day are the same. 

Sometimes the gift of the new day is spectacular.. like the banana seat bike I got when I was 10. Sometimes the gift of the new day is ordinary... like the package of underwear I got when I was 10. Sometimes the gift of the new day carries with it some pain... like the hot-pink shoes I got when I was 10 (they were too small and they hurt!) It doesn't matter. Each day is a gift. A wonderful, no-exchanges, no-returns gift.

Gifts don't do you any good if you don't unwrap them, use them, play with them, read them, or enjoy them. Gifts that aren't used just sit there and grow old, get dusty, and take up space. They serve as reminders that we are too busy, too tired, too scared, too angry, too worried, too whatever... to enjoy them.   

If you are reading this, you woke up this morning. You got a gift. What will you do with it? Use it? Or, lose it?

I think I'll start unwrapping my gift by having a cup of coffee. In a cup that reminds me to try and put a little Christmas into every day. 



Thursday, February 19, 2015

Traffic Jams and Time Outs (Chapel A Day 2015 Day 1)

I arrived at Ash Wednesday service in a state of agitation. Everywhere I'd turned on this first day of Lent, I encountered delays. Traffic jams, detours, delays, slow crawls, dead ends and dead stops. Time was NOT on my side. I found myself running out of time and running late to every single appointment---including the Ash Wednesday church service.

I walked in ten minutes after the service began. The sanctuary was packed. I almost walked out, but I remembered my Lenten commitment to set aside time, specifically an hour a day, to sit in a chapel or church and listen for and to God. I scooted up the stairs to the balcony where I settled in just before the Gospel reading and sermon began. "Breathe, Drexel, breathe," I thought. After all, timing is everything. And perhaps my late arrival was in some strange way, perfect timing.

There were many good points in the sermon. One that resonated with me: Lent is when we take a "time out." Lent is a season when take time to listen to God.  To listen to Jesus. To listen.

I began to consider that the day's literal traffic jams, detours, delays, dead ends and dead stops are symbolic of the figurative gridlock of life. We start out with the best intentions of having a well mapped, easily navigated, timely day. But, a detour here, a delay there, a dead end or a dead stop can throw us so off course we never get back on schedule.Time runs out.

Today's chapel-a-day moment seems to be telling me that during the next 40 days, I need to move out of the fast lane and stop racing here, or looking for a shortcut there. Perhaps the detours and delays are designed to get me to slow down and listen.Instead of focusing on racing to "the the next thing" maybe I should take a time-out . After all, my ultimate destination isn't governed by time. It's governed by the One who invented time--- the One who controls time---the One who makes all things beautiful in His time. 

He just may have something to say to me in the next 40 days. I'm going to do my best to listen. And, I want to give Him all the time He needs.