Problems happen. One of us gets hungry. Shoes wear out. Tires spring mysterious leaks. Roofing shingles blow off in a storm. The neighbor’s stereo keeps one or both of us awake. The house goes under water (because of a flood or the economy – doesn’t really matter). Our child’s school photo reveals an unacceptable digital “salute” to the camera. I don’t like a new recipe or she takes the trash out herself.

When you or I as INDIVIDUALS face a problem, such as “I’m hungry,” conflicts arise inevitably: Continue reading



I once walked our daughters to see a puppet show a half block from our county fair’s barns where Jane and our oldest prepped his lamb to “show.” I waited only ten feet outside the puppet show door to easily collect them at the end. Antique engine noise distracted me for no more than a few seconds. However, my chest tightened when I turned back to see the show almost emptied out. I could not breathe; the crowd crushed me, trapped me and hid my little girls! I checked inside the puppet theater. The attendants knew nothing. Continue reading


A trustworthy man (generic) keeps his word, shows up, does his job, even if he has to improvise a bit or stay over time. You can “count on” him.

However, the trust he’s earned can evaporate in a blink with a lie or a broken promise. When he forgets to call when he’s going to be late causes a problem, but when he makes a habit of it, trust disappears. The person waiting may suspect inappropriate behavior when similar experience in the past with him or someone else makes them expect “another burn.” Continue reading


“Tallest mountain we climb” does not exaggerate the difficulties we face if we shoulder the full load of making a relationship a true and lasting partnership. We each must choose: struggle toward the peak or keep falling to the valley when we give up. There are no helicopter shortcut rides to the top of a tranquil and fulfilling relationship. On the outside some people make it look easy. They are so sickeningly pleasant. Wait for the front door to close, and watch the windows. From time to time the noise of forging a great relationship will make those windows vibrate more than the well-polished low-rider’s trunk lid with the bass pumping. Only a few of us have never taken a breather on the front porch with a glued on smile. Fewer still calm the inner storm to return to learn how to quit merely arguing. Continue reading

Problems with People


“Problem” is not a scary word for me.  To my favorite math teacher, Mr. Patillo at Pampa Junior High, a problem was just one step toward a solution, like eight plus seven.  “Problem? No Problem!”

We meet problems as soon as we are born. We get wet, we scream and someone changes us. We get hungry, we scream and a person feeds us. We wake up afraid and someone comes to soothe and hum a tune as we walk about the house or they rock us to sleep.  Wow! How great life is! Solving problems is simple and always rewarded. We feel lonely – we scream .  .  . here they come again!

Or so it seems. Continue reading