All posts by Patty LaRoche

Amy Coney Barrett by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

A recent email exchange with 14 people involved the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett. Her Catholicism came into question as some writers were positive that she was pro-life and would fight to reverse Roe v. Wade. I responded that I know several Catholics who are voting for Joe Biden, even though he, a Catholic, is pro-abortion. That being said, the fact that Barrett has seven children (five biological and two adopted) makes me believe that she probably endorses laws respecting the sanctity of life. And so do I. I know someone who has had 3 abortions. To her, birth control is “such a pain.” I also know others who have aborted their babies and live in guilt for the rest of their lives. It is a haunting shame and one that therapy rarely can solve. Sadly, quick solutions seem to be the mode of our microwave, drive-through generation. Who wants to be inconvenienced?

If that “piece of tissue,” aborted baby had been you or me, how differently we might see this predicament. (And yes, I see the futility of that sentence, but hopefully you get the point,) A person I know recommended an abortion to his daughter. I asked if he considered that this “fetus” could be a future president of the United States or inventor of a cure for cancer or the most beloved janitor the school had ever seen. Former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow was recently at our son’s ranch here in Ft. Scott. His mother did not follow through with her thoughts to abort him, and because of that, he delighted dozens of military guests who spent an entire morning catching his passes, not to mention that his Christian faith has encouraged many who are persecuted for their beliefs.

If you watched the RNC, you heard Abby Johnson share how she joined the staff of Planned Parenthood to help women in crisis. Having experienced two abortions of her own, she wanted to offer support to those women who didn’t think they could care for their child. Planned Parenthood began to push her to be more proactive in selling abortions because “Abortion is how we make our money.” Her new quota was double the number of abortions at her clinic the previous year. A month later, Abby’s eyes were opened when she was asked to assist an abortion doctor to do an ultra-sound guided abortion. For the first time, she witnessed the bloody, violent business that takes a human life. “Nothing prepared me for what I saw on the screen,” Abby said. “An unborn baby fighting back, desperate to move away from the suction. And I will never forget what the doctor said next: ‘Beam me up, Scotty.’ The last thing I saw was a spine twirling around in the mother’s womb before succumbing to the force of the suction.”

Last year a relative became pregnant with a baby that had the Trisome 18 syndrome. She carried the little guy into the 5th month where it was diagnosed that he had no esophagus or stomach and only a fragment of a brain. It was her second miscarriage. Should the parents not be able to have a baby, how thrilled they would be to adopt one of those rejects…you know, those “inconveniences.” The numbers are staggering: Two million American couples want to adopt. (That’s 36 families for every one child placed for adoption.) As for the argument that abortion is necessary for rape victims, read the story of Lianna, a 12-year old rape victim who was told to have an abortion. When she asked the doctor if an abortion would ease her pain and help her forget about her rape, her doctor told her it would not. Lianna chose life and soon found that the love of her daughter replaced the pain of the rape. Google her story. It is a tremendous read. There have been 62,252,920 abortions since Roe v Wade, and I have to wonder how grieved God, the One who creates life, must be. The most amazing thing about this Life-Giver is that He’s also a merciful God who forgives those who call on His name, no matter how grave the sin. He is a Father none of us deserve.

I am so grateful that we serve a merciful God who understands the desperation of women who make a choice to abort a baby and offers forgiveness when they do.

After COVID Passes by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

After this Covid-19 virus passes, I hope we learn a few things.

Like the importance of saving. Proverbs 21:20 offers advice we cannot discard. The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down. According to, more than one in five Americans don’t save any of their annual income. For those who do, twenty percent have put back only five percent or less of what they make. What would have happened if our government had not bailed us out? My widowed mother raised three of us on minimum wage. She believed in putting a little money away each month “for a rainy day.” The day she received her paycheck, she set aside her tithe. If she did not have enough money to purchase something, we went without, including a television and a car. We rented until she saved the cash to buy a home. She never had a credit card. Had this virus hit when we were young, we probably would have been much better off than some of my friends’ families…you know, the ones with the impressive homes, the Country Club memberships, and, oh yes, a huge amount of credit card debt.

I am grateful that we live in America where Uncle Sam is looking after us. My Hispanic friend from Mazatlán recently sent an email sharing that, since the Mexican government is doing NOTHING to bail out businesses or individuals, people are figuring out ways to help each other. She shared that fishermen catch fish and offer them to anyone who was hungry. Department stores host giveaways. “If you need something, take it; if you could donate something, leave it.” My friend ended with this: “By my place 3 days ago a lady was passing by, yelling, ‘Tamales, 2 per person for free.’ Senora Patty, this kind of things make my heart feel good.”

We in America could learn from our Southern neighbors.

Proverbs 6:6-8 encourages us to learn our saving habits from the lowly ant: “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” The Bible has much to say about saving. For one, our money is not ours; it is God’s. In times such as this, how nice would it be to help our neighbors because we had “stored” some provisions and not lived above our means? Instead, I’ve met too many Americans who save only to relax when their working days are over. A leisurely “Retirement” becomes their payoff, yet even Jesus admonished the person whose goal was to save in order to have a comfy life instead of taking care of real needs as a thank-you for God’s provisions given to them.

In Luke 12: 16-21, Jesus shares a parable about a rich man who had so many crops, he tore down his barns and built bigger ones to store his grain and goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” But God said to him, “Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Christians, saving for retirement should not be self-centered. It should be the time when we devote ourselves to serving others.

Please don’t get me wrong. I am grateful that we live in the United States where businesses can be saved and families can eat because of the bail-out. I just hope that when this virus is over, we all might rethink our financial priorities and learn from the lowly ant…the wise, working, lowly ant.

Warnings by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

The DVR on my television remote allows me to watch previously-aired shows, avoid commercials, fast forward and rewind. It is my new electronic BFF.

Last week, while watching the recorded version of The Voice, severe storm warnings appeared in that rolling strip of news that scrolls across the bottom of the show (technically referred to as a “news ticker” or a “crawler”). The viewers were to “expect damage to roofs and siding.” I could read where the storm was headed and how fast it was moving. “People and animals outdoors will be injured.” Serious stuff.

Had I been watching the show live, I would have taken the alerts seriously. Patio furniture would be moved so as not to blow away; tornado preparations would start (Put on shoes with hard soles; ready my computer/phone/flashlight to be taken to the basement, etc.). But in this case, the danger had passed. This storm alert had come from the previous week. There was no stress. I knew the ending. No damage to our area was forthcoming.

Let’s face it. We don’t live in a DVR world, and warnings need to be taken seriously.

  • Read medicine labels for side effects.
  • Smoking is bad for your health.
  • Beware of curve ahead.
  • Wear a mask and socially distance.

Others cause us to wonder why they are necessary.

  • Do not submerge electrical appliance in water.
  • Danger–Do not hold the wrong end of a chainsaw.

The list goes on and on, some carrying harsher consequences than others.

There is one warning, however, we are foolish to ignore, and the good news is, if we have made Jesus our Lord, we don’t need to be stressed about its outcome. He will come again. We don’t know when; we just know we need to live as though it could be today. John 14:3 brings us Jesus’ words to his followers: And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

So, how does Jesus take Christians to himself? Let’s look at 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17: For the LORD himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the LORD in the air. And so we will be with the LORD forever.

Like the alert on the television ticker, there is no stress for the Christian. We have read the “Manual” and know the ending. As the renowned preacher D.L. Moody once said, “Some day you will read in the paper that D.L. Moody of East Northfield, is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now.”

Woo-hoo! Like the television crawler, Christians can rest assured that there is nothing to fear; they have heeded the warnings of Scripture and know that the only thing ahead of them is the glory of Heaven. I pray that you all are living each day as if it were your last.

Apologies by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

On mornings when I walk on the east side of the lake, two dogs—from houses a half-mile apart–join me. They frolic, munch on each other’s necks, scamper after squirrels, drink from mud puddles and sometimes walk down the center of the road. Neither listens to me when I explain the dangers in that decision. I ask them to mimic me: walk on the side of the road facing oncoming traffic. They pretend not to understand.

Yesterday, a truck came over a hill in time to brake for the dog that was in its lane. If looks could kill! The woman driver and male passenger glared at me. Not the dog. Me! I mouthed very clearly, “It’s. Not. My. Dog.,” but when they pulled away, they still were shaking their heads.

Sooooo not my fault! And yes, I love it when I’m innocent, probably because it’s rare when blame belongs to the other person, or in this case, dog. Typically, I am responsible for whatever has gone wrong, and most of the time, I have no problem admitting it. (Do not ask my husband to verify that statement.) My frustration comes from other people who cannot admit they make a mistake, politicians in particular.

Republicans and Democrats, take note: sometimes the best thing you can do for your country is to admit the error of your ways. (Am I hearing an “Amen”?)

Nancy Pelosi was videoed having her hair done inside a San Francisco salon. My granddaughter is a stylist in California and, with the exception of two weeks, has been out of work for months because of state mandates closing those businesses. I understand Ms. Pelosi wanting her hair colored and trimmed. She is in the spotlight almost daily, and gray roots would cause her constituents (and certainly her enemies) to murmur. Walmart’s root-dye probably wouldn’t have worked for her, like it had to for the rest of us during this pandemic.

But her apology left me aghast! “I want to apologize for being caught in a trap set for me. I should have seen it coming.” In other words, Ms. Pelosi considers herself too sharp to fall for being set up. Her apology was, in essence, nothing more than bragging about her cleverness.

I was more than aghast. I was aghastest. Wouldn’t it have been better had she admitted to making a bad judgment call and say that she was sorry? You know, the truth?

When one of our sons was younger, he was marched back inside Walmart to return a stolen package of gum and apologize to the manager. There was no “I apologize that I wasn’t smart enough to hide this better from my mother.” That wouldn’t have been an apology. That would have been reason for a spanking. Yet, that’s what Ms. Pelosi did.

Perhaps Ms. Pelosi needs a spanking.

The Blame Game began in the Garden of Eden. Eve listened to the serpent, juiced up on a piece of fruit, shared it with her hubby, and the rest is history, eternal history. We are only three chapters into Genesis when God asked what happened. Adam made a life-altering boo-boo with this response: The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” In other words, God and Eve were responsible.

Adam needed a spanking. Actually, what he got was worse than a few swats. He and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden. Eve forever would be under the authority of her husband who would have to do manual labor to survive. I wonder how different things would have been had they both apologized and asked for forgiveness. God, who is rich in mercy and grace, just might have treated their punishment differently. We all should learn from their sin.

I’m still hoping Ms. Pelosi will come to her senses and take responsibility for her actions. I have a feeling I’m in for a long wait.

Air Quality Alert

KDHE shares steps to protect health amid potential

air quality impacts from wildfires



TOPEKA – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) wants to alert Kansans to potential air quality impacts from Western wildfire smoke. Ongoing wildfires across the Western U.S. continues to produce dense smoke that is being transported into Kansas by the atmospheric winds. While a majority of this smoke is remaining high in the atmosphere there are times when this smoke is being observed at the surface and impacting air quality. These air quality impacts may continue to be seen as long as the Western U.S. wildfires continue to burn.

Smoke can cause health problems, even in healthy individuals.  Common health problems include burning eyes, runny nose, coughing and illnesses such as bronchitis.  Individuals with respiratory issues, pre-existing heart or lung diseases, children and elderly may experience worse symptoms.

Steps to protect your health on days when particulate matter is present in your community include:

  • Healthy people should limit or avoid strenuous outdoor exercise.
  • People with respiratory or heart-related illness should remain indoors.
  • People who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms in particular respiratory or heart-related symptoms, who are currently infected or recently recovered, should remain indoors.
  • Help keep indoor air clean by closing doors and windows and running the air conditioners with air filters.
  • Keep hydrated by drinking lots of water.
  • Contact your doctor if you have symptoms such as chest pain, chest tightness, shortness of breath or severe fatigue.

Current air quality across the U.S. can be viewed online at

Protestors by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

Scene #1: Protestors looted stores, torched the American flag, threw frozen water bottles at police, and destroyed their own communities.

Scene #2: Protestors created hand-made signs, lined the toll booths, gave drivers the thumbs up and waved them through.

Guess which scenario represented Mexico? Definitely not the first one.

A few years ago, my husband and I were driving from Las Vegas to Mazatlán, Mexico. Nearing our sixth toll booth, we noticed several adults waving signs protesting the gas price-hike in Mexico. Most Hispanics were concerned that because America was pulling businesses out of their country, they would suffer economically. They felt slighted and fearful.

Yet, no one appeared angry. No one blocked our path. No one chose to teach us Gringos a lesson by smashing our car or hanging us from the overpass. Quite the opposite. We were given the thumbs-up and waved through without paying a toll.

Last year, as Dave and I crossed the mountains in Mexico, we were stopped before our first toll booth by dozens of protestors, many resting in tarp shacks while their amigos blocked the road. Three smiling men approached Dave’s side of our truck and told him to pay them 50 pesos instead of the 31 pesos in tolls. I asked “¿Por qué?” (“Why?”) and was told “because that’s what we are doing.” Apparently, these men and women—along with their police escorts– had taken over the toll booth. We paid the money; the protestors removed the barrel from the front of our truck and we were waved on. Not for one second were we anxious.

Peaceful. Unified. Safe. Very unlike today’s American demonstrations… which makes me wonder, why is it that so many of America’s protests are becoming more barbaric than our less-advanced neighbors, they who have so much less than we? What happened to a code of morality where objectors show a modicum of self-restraint like they do in Mexico? When did a civilized society turn into brutes that rant, rave, curse, steal and burn Bibles (which, as we know, contains the answers to our problems) as a gesture of disagreement?

Christians must take action. We need to offer hope. That’s what happened at the “Riots to Revival” event in Portland, Oregon, Saturday night. CBS News reported that between 4,000 and 7,000 worshippers united for a night of “praise, worship, and to hear Bethel Music’s Sean Feucht speak” at Waterfront Park in an effort to heal America’s brokenness.

“White, Black, Hispanic – we came and released our song of hope over this city,” Feucht said. “People gave their life to Jesus. Hundreds of people. We baptized people in the river behind us. There was so much joy that took over the streets of that city last night.”

For those of us with less musical ability, here’s another idea. Let’s follow Franklin Graham’s Instagram call for specific prayers: for PEACE because “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:20); for PERSPECTIVE, because “the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17); for PATIENCE, because of God’s “kindness and forbearance and patience” toward us all (Romans 2:4); and for the OUTPOURING of God’s wisdom and direction for our leaders and officials who are dealing with this crisis. Ask God to change hearts and heal this divide in our nation.

Graham’s way is much more in line with the Mexican way. I think that God likes that way best.

Let Me Be A Blessing by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

Last week, I wrote about the satisfaction that comes from edifying others with the words we speak/letters we write/texts we send. On the morning I finalized that column, I had asked God to let me be a blessing to someone.

Little did I expect Him to use a medical professional, phoning me to update my personal information. Following questions about my insurance, she forewarned me that she would ask three questions that I did not have to answer, should I found them uncomfortable; nevertheless, she was obligated to ask. All dealt with my sexuality: what sex I am; if I was born that sex; if I prefer to be referred to as that sex.

I answered each question and then told her that I did not envy her having to ask those questions. She said,” You have no idea” which—for some reason—I found funny. She began giggling and said that I was the first person to make her laugh after answering those sensitive questions. I was a “breath of fresh air” because most people lecture her about how God made man and woman, shaming her for bringing up such “nonsense.” She spoke about their angered outbursts and “if everyone knew how difficult it is” to ask those questions—questions she was mandated to ask–perhaps they would be kinder.

I asked, “So Christians are the hardest on you?” Affirmative.

“Well, I’m a Christian, and I have some advice,” I responded. “The next time they bark at you, ask them what one identifying characteristic marks a Christian. Remind them, if they don’t know, that the answer is ‘love,’ and question if they are demonstrating love in the way they are talking to you. That oughta do it.” We both got tickled, and then she reminded me that, should she follow my advice, she would be looking for a new job. I told her that I wouldn’t last 30 seconds in her position. And we laughed some more.

At the end of our conversation, she stated that I had made her day. I shared that I had asked God in my morning prayer time to let me be a blessing to someone, and I was glad that she was the beneficiary. She shared that she was too.

Christians, we need to pick our battles. This young gal, frustrated that she was given such a task, knew that it was less messy for someone on the phone to take the abuse than a receptionist or nurse. By giving this information ahead of time, she explained, once in the doctor’s office, the patient would be referred to with the correct pronoun, so as to avoid public embarrassment. Sadly, the attempt to respect someone’s dignity caused this caller’s dignity to be demeaned.

I doubt that my caller felt closer to Jesus after the outbursts of her Bible-thumping patients. When something clearly isn’t someone’s fault, why should he/she be the recipient of a “Christian” tongue-lashing? She has no choice in how she responds; her job is to treat her attackers kindly.

I think you and I both know which one exudes the more Christlike character.

Imagine by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

As scientists are scampering to find a vaccine for Covid-19, I can only imagine the gratification of discovering its cure. Or cancer’s. Or A.L.S’s. Or any of the other, horrific disease that plagues us. And yes, I do spend far too much time imagining unattainable accomplishments…

Like bringing the Democrats and Republicans together as a team, where name-calling and lies cease to exist.

Like ending world hunger or domestic abuse or genocide or corruption.

Like solving a Cold Case file and bringing a criminal to justice or using DNA to release an imprisoned inmate.

Or, more selfishly, like being a winning jockey in the Kentucky Derby or the #1 driver in the Indianapolis 500 or capturing the gold after tumbling across the mat in the Olympics.

My imaginations will never become a reality, of course, because I’m not smart enough, not courageous enough, not young enough and not talented enough. But that’s okay, because I have been blessed with another gift: I love to celebrate the success of those who have been given gifts by God to do what I can only imagine, knowing that others can complement my weaknesses without threatening who I am.

My gift is edification. I get excited for others’ successes and don’t feel slighted when others have what I don’t. I enjoy telling a pastor that he has delivered a thought-provoking sermon, or a waitress that she has done an exceptional job tending to my table, or a trash collector that he’s dependable and pleasant and his boss is lucky to have him. I love praising talents or kindness that others exhibit, knowing that everyone has something that can be praised. EVERYONE!

Long ago, I realized that envying what someone else has or what they do diminishes what God wants to do in me. Regrettably, I have a couple of friends whose vocabularies lack compliments. I remember showing both of them a spectacular home, only to have one comment, “Boy! You’d be nuts to want to clean that thing,” while the other said nothing.

I don’t understand it. My uncomplimentary friends love to receive compliments, so why do they find it so hard to celebrate others’ blessings? Psychologists would call them insecure, but they who need validation themselves fail to realize that true satisfaction comes from building up others.

In 1 John, the apostle, writing to newbie Christians, shares his excitement about walking with Jesus. He is eager to pass on to his readers the difference Christ will make in their lives, but I love what he wrote in Verse 4: Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this too. Your joy will double our joy. (MSG) In other words, seeing you as the beneficiary of something special makes us double-happy.

And that’s good news. Encouraging or praising or edifying someone is itself a blessing. I may not be able to cure a disease or end corruption or win a horse race, but I sure can make someone double-happy with a simple, sincere compliment. This morning I prayed for such an opportunity.

Stay tuned next week when I share how God answered my prayer.

Optimists by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

Optimists see opportunity in every danger; pessimists see danger in every opportunity.”

Winston Churchill

If there were a category somewhere between “optimistic” and “delusional,” my husband would land there. Need proof?

All I have to do is tighten the screw and the door will shut.” It did not.

This ladder is steady.” It was not.

I’ve found a new glue that will hold the water pipe together.” It did not.

Duct tape and zip ties will look fine on our outdoor lights.” They did not.

That kayak cannot tip.” It can, and it did.

Flex-Seal will stop this hose from leaking.” It did not.

Our boat is running well.” Except for needing a new battery, it probably was.

I tend to favor the pithy attitude of people like Walt Disney who once said, “I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter.” That last part has been hard for Dave to nail down (pun intended).

Personally, I lean more towards a healthy dose of realism—you know, hope for the best but plan for something short of “best” (no doubt because that’s how my life has played out). John Wooden put it this way: “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.” I have to admit, Dave does that. He never gets upset; he just plods along with his next, grand, Gorilla Glue and duct-tape idea.

Now, if you’re like me, you would much rather hang with an optimist than a pessimist. I know no one who wants to spend time with a curmudgeon who sees only what’s wrong, and even if they are right, their stubborn disposition does nothing to draw others into agreement with them. When I think of pessimists, I am reminded of the man who belly-ached to his neighbor, “My hen hatched out 12 chicks, and all of them died but 11.” Have you met someone like that? Worse, are you that person?

Real-deal Christians are not pessimists. They live by Romans 8:28: And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. No matter if screws are stripped or ladders are uneven or batteries are dead. No matter what.

Optimistic people find ways to brighten other’s lives. Take, for example, major league baseball, which recently began its shortened season. Because no fans are allowed in the stands, the Los Angeles Dodgers came up with the idea of having cardboard cut-outs to replace the loyal, season-ticket holders who typically fill the seats. Then they allowed supporters to submit their pictures, pay a fee, and have their faces used. Remaining chairs hold large, stuffed animals and even celebrity cutouts. The life-size cutout of Tom Hanks—whose first job was to sell hotdogs at the Oakland A’s field—stands erect on the stairs dividing two sections behind home plate.

Before the game, the cameraman caught one of the Angels’ players walking amongst the Oakland “fans,” placing Angels’ t-shirts over the cutouts. How fun is that? They are finding good in something bad (Covid-19). We all should be doing likewise.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, Dave just headed to the garage with some wire and electrical tape. Something tells me there’s a story in what is about to unfold, and being the optimist I am, no doubt it will be a good one.

Oops by Patty LaRoche

Mmmm-mmmm. Looks pretty tasty, don’t you think? Three ice cream balls coated with chopped nuts and topped with whipped cream and, of course, a juicy, red cherry. Now, I’m not a dessert eater, but when Dave and I saw this picture on a menu at a Florida restaurant, I figured it couldn’t hurt to give it a try. I asked the waitress if it was as good as it looked.

We don’t have any,” she replied.

Oh, you ran out?” I asked.

No. We never had it. We just copied the picture off of the internet.”

It took me a few seconds to digest (excuse the pun) what she had said.

You mean you just thought this looked appetizing and added it to your menu?”

Yep. We get a lot of requests for it.”
I burst out laughing. “So, you just pretend? Oh my gosh, that’s hysterical!”

With that, our waitress turned on her heels, not finding it as funny as Dave and I did.

Can you imagine being so gutsy? Surely our waitress wasn’t supposed to tell us the truth. Surely she was to simply explain that they had run out of that particular dessert that particular day. Whatever the motive, I wondered what would happen if the restaurant got caught…you know, by the actual creator of those treats. What possible good could come from such pretense?

Then again, they aren’t the only ones who pretend. We all are guilty. It might not be as blatant as this menu, but I see it all the time, especially in Christian circles. We act peaceful. Non-judgmental. Loving. Giving. Maybe even Holy.

Oh, if such pretense could be our reality!

I love how Socrates put it: “The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be.” What would it be like not to pretend just a little… like when I encounter telemarketers or slow drivers or people who don’t keep a six-foot distance and manage to bite my lip instead of biting off their heads?

Today I made a call to “Janet,” a Covid survivor and one I wanted to question about some political issues. I began by asking how she was feeling. She shared that she was surprised to hear from me (probably since we last talked 18 months ago and weren’t close friends), that she was doing great and had just made a four-state trip with her husband. Since Janet had not been anywhere due to the virus AND this woman’s voice sounded nothing like my friend, I realized that I had dialed the wrong Janet.

As it turned out, in our hour-long conversation, this Janet soon was sharing her spiritual struggles, and I was the ear she needed. When it was time to hang up, she said, “I cannot believe how God used you to call me out of the clear blue. How I needed to talk to you!” This was my chance to tell her the truth and not pretend, and that’s what I did…well, sort of.

Neither can I, Janet. Neither can I.”

I Choose Jesus by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

I choose Jesus. I’m not sure I’ve ever wanted him more than I do now as I watch this country make decisions that make no sense. The horrific death of George Floyd incited behaviors that make me question how the moral chasm in this country has gotten so deep, that make me wonder what happened to church-going families who, no matter their socio-economic status, valued life and the rule of law and order. How do people who scream “injustice” see no injustice in their own destructive rebellion? When did politicians become so single-minded in their pursuit to retain their positions that they cower to disorder and disregard for what has made America the most powerful, most blessed country in the world?

Jesus, fill these peoples’ hearts. Turn them back to you.

When I was pregnant, in my mid-twenties, and watching a ballgame at Main Street Park, I politely asked a young, black girl to watch her language, since several young children were playing within hearing distance of her foul mouth. When she flipped open her pocket knife and called me a slew of white-trash names, I chose to leave the park. I hadn’t taken 30 steps when I heard her behind me, turned and saw that she was running after me. Fortunately, I was near my car and was able to get inside and lock the door. I was terrified. This made no sense. What had happened to this young gal to cause such hate?

I had grown up in this town and was friends with the few blacks with whom I attended school. Dave was a professional baseball player, and we had black player friends who frequented our home on multiple occasions. We hung together. We took care of one another. Some had been raised in the ghetto but made determined choices to overcome.

Today, I dream of revival in those cities where blacks are not given a fair chance. And they aren’t. I cannot imagine what it must be like to fear being pulled over by a policeman because of the color of my skin. Or having my children receive a sub-par education because they live on the wrong side of the tracks. Or living in poverty so that drug-sales become my livelihood.

I pray for a day when potential athletes and musicians and artists and entrepreneurs (no matter what color) develop their talents and become a blessing to others. I want young girls to understand their value to God, to know that they don’t need men who promise their loyalty but run for the hills when the pregnancy test comes back positive. I want young men to see the potential that God has put inside them and know that their strengths can be used for good and not gang-warfare.

I want blacks to stop killing each other while decrying “Black Lives Matter.” Of course they matter! So do Jews’ lives. And Chinese lives. And Hispanic lives. And Muslim lives. God made us all in His image. Each of those ethnicities has been persecuted, yet they don’t spend weekends killing their own. I want Reverend Sharpton to not only speak at funerals when the cameras are rolling, but I want him to start a revival on the South side of Chicago where 80 people were shot over the Fourth of July weekend.

Tell those poor souls about Jesus, Mr. Sharpton. He is the answer, the beginning of the heart-change they need so desperately. Their riotous lootings are not.

The revered leader, Martin Luther King, once said, “Riots are socially destructive and self-defeating. I am convinced that non-violence is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom and justice. Violence will only create more social problems than it will solve.”

There are hundreds of God-fearing, brilliant black leaders who are speaking out against violence. Why is it that many refuse to listen?

Jesus, fill their hearts. Turn them back to you. Oh, dear Readers, let that be our prayer.

Count Your Blessings by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

Happy Fourth of July! Today, I sit on my deck, recovering from the Covid-19 virus, grateful that I live in a small town in the Midwest where friends and neighbors have gone out of their way to bring food and run errands. One lake neighbor dropped off chocolates and Twizzlers and flowers on our steps while another, on his drive from Kansas City to Tulsa, stopped to shop for items we needed, including a miracle-find of Clorox Wipes. Pam, my Utah friend, called her homeopathic guru and over-nighted me herbs and vitamins. Cards have arrived, and daily, friends and family members text, asking about my improvement. Many have phoned Dave, my husband, when it was difficult for me to maintain any breath control to speak.

I can’t say enough about Dave. He has been a saint. I was quarantined to the basement for 14 days. Dave made sure I had a thermometer and an oxygen reader, and even though I had no taste buds, I never was without a plate of fruit (a wonderful, stocked refrigerator treat from our Stilwell friends). When I progressed to being able to walk up the stairs and sit on the deck, he stayed a step behind me to steady my walk, brought me blankets and disinfected the area.

All of those were wonderful blessings, but what has touched me the most has been the out-pouring of prayers. Oh, how I relied on those prayers! When I would cough so hard I thought my lungs would explode, when I would chill and sweat and be incapable of taking a deep breath, when every bone ached, when I was so unsteady I could barely make it to the bathroom, I remembered the prayer-warriors who were lifting me up.

And so, today I sit on my deck, taking time to thank a mighty God who, it seems, is not calling me Home quite yet. He is calming my normally-frantic brain and causing me to concentrate on the beauty of life. I am blessed to watch as three fishermen, unaware they are in my eyesight through our deck rails, patiently row around our dock, casting their lines in various directions, enjoying the moment, even though no fish are biting. Two squirrels, playing “tag” for the past hour, have found my peanut feeder and leave not a shell for their friends. Birds, hidden in the cascade of overgrown tree limbs, noisily chatter while a butterfly comes near enough for me to touch it. A sweet visit.

But then 14 geese, determined to visit every morning and leave their “mess” on our newly-concreted sidewalk, show up to eat the grass seed we planted a few weeks ago. Dave makes the walk to our dock, waving frantically to run them off. With their ruffled feathers, they honk and jump into the lake, but it is only a matter of time before they return. Life, as we all know, is not perfect. But a small town in the Midwest comes close.

In a few days, the lake will be a place of celebration as jet-skis and boats and campers come for a day of recreation and entertainment. Fireworks will be shot from docks, music will blare, and we all will be reminded of those whose sacrifice proved just how “unfree” freedom really is. This year, we small-towners have much to be thankful for. Here, we don’t have to worry that our shopping areas will be taken over by misdirected rioters who set up camp and intimidate gutless, city officials into acquiescing to their desires. Here, parents of toddlers playing in the front yard or youngsters watching television don’t have to guard against flying bullets. Here, store owners don’t need to plywood the windows on their stores or protect against thieves helping themselves to whatever loot they can carry away. Here, the American flag is revered, not burned.

Let us count our blessings, and even though there always are reminders (like unwanted geese) that small-town life might not be perfect, I imagine that most of us wouldn’t live anywhere else.