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I answered the phone seventeen years ago and discovered that our older daughter Stacey was in no mood for pleasantries: “Mom, come over here and see if you think this test is positive.”

Stacey and her husband Steve had been married only four months and were going to think about having a baby after he graduated in two years and became established in a full-time youth ministry. They hadn’t been married long enough to know things don’t always go as planned.


Let me begin with an apology. I’d like to blame what will soon follow on the snow storm that greeted the Joplin area on this the first day of spring. Better that than blaming myself for procrastinating the day away instead of conscientiously working on a blog entry. Better that than blaming friends who actually braved the elements this evening and came over to eat Tony’s stew and play cards till past our bedtimes.

(Ceri, dear former student, if this blog comes in four times like it did last week, no, it is not because you need to meditate on the message therein. In fact, I strongly suggest you delete this now before you read another word.)

The truth is I’m bummed. I can’t seem to make the third novel I’ve been working on into the story it needs to be. I’ve reconceived it three times, and still it has problems. Never mind the things that work in the story, too many things still don’t. It’s quite aggravating, among other more serious and blog-worthy adjectives.


Last Tuesday night we had two couples over for dinner. We wanted to make sure this happened before we leave Joplin some time in the next few months. We’ve been meaning to get together with them for over thirty years or so. That’s how long it’s been since Tony coached with Sam and Craig at Parkwood High School in Joplin, Missouri.

Sam and Rita moved to Joplin about the same time we did and had their first child a few months after we had Stacey, our first. There are several things I remember about Sam and Rita, but two things stand out.

The fire is one of them.


The framing is almost done on the Branson house, and now that we’re back home in Joplin for a few days, we decided to go through boxes of pictures and try to toss, sort, and combine everything into one nice big plastic bin with a snap-on lid. We may have to go get a bigger one. I’m keeping more than I should.

I was snapping pictures long before digital cameras existed and scrapbooking made keeping a pictorial record fun and rewarding (and an incredible time-consuming labor of love).

No albums for me. Just envelopes of pictures, and I only began a sloppy form of putting dates on them sometime in the eighties. I have to line up the girls’ school pictures by teeth: baby teeth, missing teeth, growing teeth, complete set.

You don’t have to tell me how pitiful that is.


We’ve been spending quite a bit of time in Branson, Missouri, lately, watching the progress on the house we’re building on the acres my daughter Leanne and her husband so graciously offered us.

This bribe to get us down the hill from them is one we gladly accepted after we had mulled it over almost a year and after we envisioned life with our daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren up the hill and a field of cows and Taneycomo Lake behind us.