Category Archives: Opinion

Excellence by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Prov. 22:6)

Last week, I wrote about cheating.

No sooner had I sent my article to my editors than came the news flash that parents had jumped through some pretty expensive—not to mention, illegal—hoops to cheat their kids’ way into college. Coaches accepted bribes to add “athletes” to their rosters, “athletes” who never had played a day of the sport.

Meanwhile, teens who actually had dedicated their lives to the activity—and had much better grades– but could not afford the pay-out, were denied.

This morning, Dave, my husband, forwarded me an email he received from the Florida Marlins’ upper management. Motivational articles are sent daily to the coaches, and this one, written by Jon Gordon, compared success with excellence. His take? Stop comparing and start pursuing, advice these cheating parents and students probably wish they had heeded.

Dave has coached professional baseball for over 30 years, and more times than he can count he has counseled players who question why someone else is promoted when they are not.

I get it.

Actually, this is the week of spring training when players are told they don’t quite measure up and are released or are designated to the minor leagues. How does one not compare? Gordon calls it “a trap” and writes that it happens when we focus on someone else’s gifts, talents and purpose versus our own. He says our greatest competition is not someone else, but ourselves, advice Dave has given on multiple occasions.

Jack Nicklaus is one of Gordon’s examples. “He simply focused on playing the best he could play against the course he was playing. While others were competing against Jack, he was competing against the course and himself.”

The author then addresses Apple’s approach with the iPod, iPhone and iPad: “When they created these products they didn’t focus on the competition. Instead they focused on creating the best product they could create. As a result, rather than measuring themselves against others, they have become the measuring stick.”

Gordon ends his article with this: “We have a choice as individuals, organizations and teams. We can focus on success and spend our life looking around to see how our competition is doing or we can look straight ahead towards the vision of greatness we have for ourselves and our teams. We can look at competition as the standard or as an indicator of our progress towards our own higher standards. We can chase success or we can pursue excellence and focus 100% of our energy to become our best… and let success find us.”

The public shame accompanying the college cheating scandal has the potential to define the character of all involved. What a sad legacy! But what are we to learn from it?

Hopefully, a lesson in misplaced priorities. Hopefully, a lesson in entitlement. Hopefully, a lesson in envy. Hopefully…(the list is endless).

The all-too-common outcome of overbearing parenting would reverse if fathers and mothers used Proverbs 22:6 as their guiding principle. “Train up a child in the way he should go…” To understand that life can be tough. To be grateful for the gifts God has given him. To think of others before herself. To celebrate others’ blessings. To love God above all else.

Then again, perhaps it is the parents who need to learn these lessons first.

Cheating by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

For over thirty years, Carol taught in a Catholic school. We were together last weekend in Florida where she shared stories of how she would catch her students cheating. One such experience could not have been scripted with more ingenuity. Carol explained that sometimes students were required to attend a mid-morning mass. Periodically, my friend served as a eucharistic minister. She assisted the priest by distributing the host into the hands of the communicants who would walk forward at communion time, place their hands together, palms up, so the servers—like Carol– could place the wafer into their hands.

On one such occasion, several of her 8th-grade students began squirming when they ended up in her line. As they held open their hands, Carol knew why: cheater notes were scribbled on their palms.

BUSTED, and of all places, in CHURCH!

Proverbs 11: 1-3 (TLB) reads as follows: The Lord hates cheating and delights in honesty. Proud men end in shame, but the meek become wise. A good man is guided by his honesty; the evil man is destroyed by his dishonesty.

Even though God “hates cheating,” according to a recent survey, only six percent of students say they never have cheated. That means that 94% have, yet who of us isn’t applauding ever so slightly that these frauds were caught ink-handed, as if that sort of mitigates our own deceitfulness.

The fact is, most of us—Christians included– cheat in one way or another. Perhaps it’s that little income tax thing. Or maybe our sales clerk fails to charge us for an item, and instead of returning it to pay what we owe, we chalk it up to “her fault” and celebrate our freebie. A few weeks ago, I was shopping and found an empty jewelry case in a pocket of a blouse. I returned it to the jewelry counter and was told that “this happens all the time.”

Someone always pays when we cheat. The honest student whose paper, graded on the curve, now suffers because the cheaters get the A’s. Our government bears a financial burden when we fail to pay what we owe. The buyer of our car is stilted when we neglect to reveal our vehicle’s shortcomings, and our employer loses when we take “just a couple of extra minutes” for each lunch break. In my late teens, I worked as a nurse’s aide at Mercy Hospital. Although most of the aides were dedicated, one always hid in the utility room whenever a bed pan was involved, leaving the rest of us to do her work. Not cool.

Cheating always costs someone something. Especially God.

As sinners, we cheat. We cheat God out of what He deserves, whether it be praise or money or time or love. We make mad dashes for temporal pleasures and feel-good possessions, but fail to ask if these things pull us away from God. We cough up a buck for a homeless person and pat ourselves on our backs or consider grace before meals ample, with no consideration for what swindlers we are.

Unlike those 8th graders, I’m not sure we even are concerned when we come before God, our hands open in prayer as our black sin-marks are revealed. Could it be that we’re so used to cheating that we fail to realize the price paid by God’s own son for those sins? And could it be that we have lost sight of the grace that covers our transgressions?

Maybe, just maybe, it’s time we squirm just a little.

Friendship by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24 (NIV)

Real deal” friends are rare. Recently, Michael Robinson, an NFL analyst, was asked how he decided how many tickets to leave for family and friends when he played in the 2012 Super Bowl. He answered, “If they weren’t there to help me move into my dorm my freshman year of college, they won’t be there when I’m at the Super Bowl.”

Interesting definition of a friend, don’t you think? The internet has hundreds of clever quotes on the subject. These are five of my favorites:

  1. My father always used to say that when you die, if you’ve got five real friends, then you’ve had a great life. Lee Iacocca
  2. It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them. Ralph Waldo Emmerson
  3. A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down. Arnold Glasow
  4. I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. Thomas Jefferson
  5. My best friend is the man who in wishing me well wishes it for my sake. Aristotle

The other day I was in an outlet store trying on clothes. I stepped outside my dressing room to look in the three-way mirror on the end wall. Gal-pals were in dressing rooms next to each other. One opened her door and asked for her girlfriend’s opinion.

Oh, please, NOOOOOO, I said under my breath. Back bulges were puffy scallops, and gold Lamé fabric jaundiced her overly-revealed body parts. Horizontal stripes were no help. Surely her friend would tell her so. Instead, this is what she said: “You go, Girl. You look F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S!”

I wanted to bang my head into the mirror.

That, Readers, is not the kind of friend I want. Proverbs 27:6 agrees: Faithful are the wounds of a friend…”. True friends wound when necessary. They speak truth and do not use flattery as a tool to keep things running smoothly. They challenge you when you need to be challenged. My husband and I have traveled a lot, and from that has come life-long friendships, causing my definition of a friend to be this: She and I pick up right where we leave off, no matter how many days/weeks/months we have been out of contact. No guilt is allowed. We just consider whatever time we have together as a blessing we probably don’t deserve. We also empathize—not in a fake sort of way– with each other’s struggles, and celebrate—not in a fake sort of way–with each other’s successes.

Sounds good, right? But it still falls flat. “Real deal” friends do more. Ephesians 4:15 reminds us that the end goal of friendship should be God and his glory. Bestest buds share Jesus.

Atheist Penn Jillette (known for his Vegas magic show) recently spoke about his respect for Christians who proselytize. “How much do you have to hate someone to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?” Ouch! Even he, an atheist, realizes that the real deal shares the Real Deal. According to Penn, failing to do so is hateship, not friendship, and it certainly should make us ask ourselves one question: What kind of friend am I?

Sarcasm By Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

All of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. (1 Peter 3:8)

She passed me in Walmart, but not before I had time to read the logo on her t-shirt: “Member of the National Sarcasm Club.” Directly under that title were these words: “And what makes you think I need your support?”

As pithy as it was, I couldn’t help but think…Not something I would care to flaunt.

Not that I don’t sometimes find humor in sarcasm.

Especially when God uses it. Remember Job? The one who started out wealthy and healthy and surrounded by a huge family? When all of that was taken from him AND his friends and wife suggested God didn’t have his best interests in mind, Job began questioning. Now it’s God’s turn to respond. In Job 38: 20-21, He asks Job if he knows where light and darkness reside and then adds, “Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years!” The chapter is loaded with God’s crafty comments to Job, basically meaning, “I’m sorry. I seem to have forgotten which one of us created the world.”

Most sarcasm, however, isn’t God-clever, like the time Henry Ward Beecher, in the middle of an impassioned sermon, was interrupted by a drunk man in the balcony who began crowing like a rooster. Instantly Beecher stopped, took out his watch, and remarked: “What? Morning already? I wouldn’t have believed it, but the instincts of the lower animal are infallible.”

See the difference? God loved Job and was reminding him that He had everything under control, so Job need not worry. Beecher was using mockery to degrade his parishioner. James Denney, a Scottish theologian, once said that it is very hard to show that Christ is magnificent and that I am clever at the same time, a test, in my opinion, Beecher failed.

Sometimes sarcasm lightens a tense moment, but we must always use discretion and ask how it might feel to be the recipient of such cynicism. “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves(Phil. 2:3). As we all know, there are cruel people waiting for a chance to verbally pounce. Their goal is not love but one-upmanship. . One person wrote, “I love sarcasm. It’s like punching people in the face but with words.” Do you find humor in that? I don’t, even though I am the first one to laugh at skillful sarcasm (always intended to make the other person smile, not wince). For example, if you watched the pre-show for the Super Bowl, you heard Larry Fitzgerald comment about ex-quarterback Kurt Warner’s role as radio commentator for the game. “Everyone always said he has a face for radio.” Warner, sitting beside his old teammate and best friend, loved it. The aim was humor, not hurt. The take away from this is that the line between “real” and “joking” isn’t all that thick, and making someone feel less than God desired, as we all know, is never, ever funny.

King Solomon by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

King Solomon, known for his wisdom, certainly made his fair share of mistakes. As ruler of a vast kingdom, he decided to change the original boundaries of the 12 tribes of Israel into 12 “tax districts,” each managed by an overseer, as a way of supporting his lavish lifestyle. Let the corruption begin. After Solomon’s death, only two tribes were left, Judah and Benjamin.

My personal Bible study this past few weeks has been in the book of Ecclesiastes. Written by Solomon, it looks at “life under the sun” (i.e., corruption, incompetent leaders, repeat criminals, materialism, and a desire to return to the “good old days”—sound familiar?). He addresses man’s search for happiness and the futility in that search as people desire explanations for what is going on around them. Where is Wisdom when you seek it?

Maybe you’ve been there. You feel like your world is imploding and you can’t figure out what you’ve done to deserve it. After all, you’re honest. Hard-working. Moral. Yet, life is handing you lemons, and you’re fresh out of sugar. Not even your new F-150 pick-up truck offers lasting happiness, and if that can’t do it…what can?

According to Solomon, nothing “under the sun.” He wrote that, apart from Heaven, some things have no explanations, and, more importantly, we Christians are to live by promises, not explanations. So, why do we continue to search for answers to our “Why’s”? Probably the same reason Adam and Eve did. Ignoring God’s advice not to bite into the fruit, they found His warning—“to gain knowledge of good and evil”– to be true all right, but instead of life being “more perfect” (impossible by definition), they were alienated from God. From delighted to devastated in one nibble. And we have been gnawing on the same fruit ever since.

We are fools if we think, like Adam and Eve, that an increase in knowledge will produce an increase in happiness. Think of the inventions that promised to improve our lives with little thought for the downside that accompanies them. Computers with pornography. Televisions with immorality and negativity. Automobiles with pollution. Pesticides and genetically-modified foods with cancer. Cell phones with bullying and sexting. Diet Coke with headaches.

Commercials promise that Princess Cruise ships will fill our pleasure needs, yet, after several thousand dollars spent, we remain as restless as ever. A good friend of mine owns a famous restaurant in New York. Recently, after finding that $350-per-person meals still lack a joy-gene, a “dream-weaver” was hired to add the special touches to the person’s dining experience. That happened after a couple was overheard discussing their world travels, and here they were in the Big Apple, flying out the next morning, and still had not eaten a famous New York dirty-dog. Immediately the owner was alerted, ran outside and returned with two hotdogs. The couple was ecstatic. I’m betting that even those “doggie treats” fail to provide long-term satisfaction. A smile, perhaps, but not perpetual happiness.

Chuck Colson, the founder of Prison Fellowship ministry, once said, “Life isn’t like a book. Life isn’t logical, or sensible, or orderly. Life is a mess most of the time. And theology must be lived in the midst of that mess.”

Solomon would agree…after the first ten chapters of Ecclesiastes, that is. Something changes. No longer does he conclude that life is not worth living, for now, as opposed to looking “under the sun,” he looks “above the sun” (i.e., where God lives). He concludes with four principles. Life is: an adventure (Live by faith, so expect the unexpected); a gift (which we are to enjoy); a school (where daily learning occurs); and stewardship (a blessing by giving). Once we accept that, Wisdom wins.

It all depends on where we fix our gaze.

Snobs by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

There were five BMW’s, six Mercedes, two Porsche’s, one Bentley and two Jaguar’s in this lot,” said Dave after looking for a parking spot here in Jupiter, Florida, where he and I are living for a few months.

And don’t forget,” I added, “our 2005 Toyota pick-up.”

People were impressed,” laughed Dave.

The other day I returned a shawl to a local department store. It had been purchased to be worn over a sleeveless dress at my son’s wedding last month…and had I lost the 20 pounds necessary to zip up the dress, it would have worked out splendidly to cover my trembling triceps. Since that depressing weight-loss-thing didn’t happen, I was forced to wear a different dress—one with long sleeves—that resembled a parachute more than something classy.

Handing the shawl to the lady at the cash register, I laughed as I shared that same explanation when she asked if anything was wrong with it. She stared at me like I had asked permission to break her kneecaps.

Perhaps she is having a bad day, I told myself.

Apparently, a lot of people in this part of the country are having bad days.

My girlfriend Alice and I went to lunch last week. Our waiter was gruff and there only to get a tip. When I told Alice he was a snob, she agreed.

Perhaps he is having a bad day,” I told my friend.

Probably not,” she answered. “You’ll get used to it.”

I’m not so sure. I don’t do well with hoity-toity people…until, that is, I have to face facts, come off of my high horse and ask myself if I could be a slice of that snob pie. After all, Christians are not exempt. Do we, for example, subconsciously place the pastor on a spiritual level superior to the church custodian? Do we praise the soloist with the flawless vibrato while ignoring the couple who faithfully hand out bulletins week after week? Do we whisper excitedly when the millionaire walks through the church doors but ignore the mentally-challenged woman who ambles to the front for prayer?

My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. (James 2:1) There is a story about how (then) Governor Ronald Reagan and Nancy sat in the same seats when they attended California’s Bel Aire Presbyterian Church. One morning, when they were late, two college students occupied their seats. An usher came down the aisle and asked the students if they would move. They did, and the Reagans were brought in and seated. To his credit, the pastor got up from his place on the platform, walked down to the college students and said, As long as I am pastor of this church, that will never happen again.” He understood James 2: 2-4 (ESV): For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

I cannot fathom favoring one person over another, at least not until I honestly search my heart and wonder if my attitude towards rude department store personnel and waiters is my way of setting myself, in some snobbish, judgmental way, a notch or two above them.

Surely not, I tell myself.

I’m WAY above that.

Interruptions by Patty LaRoche

I don’t mean to interrupt people. I just randomly remember things and get really excited.” I saw that plaque in a diner and knew exactly what it meant. If I don’t share my thoughts immediately, they will be gone…immediately. Still, I force myself to refrain because it’s downright rude to interrupt. I mean, how many times have you been telling a story when someone one-ups you or changes the subject and takes over the conversation? Without ever asking you to finish yours? I-R-R-I-T-A-T-I-N-G!

A newly-purchased sign, hanging in my step daughter’s kitchen, counters that quote.

Oh, I’m sorry. Did the middle of my sentence interrupt the beginning of yours?” Nikki purchased it, hoping a relative gets the point.

And no, I am not that relative.

I’m really not.

On the day of last year’s eclipse, I was at my friend Marti’s house. She was watching her granddaughter, Isabel, and was explaining the solar phenomenon to her. As Marti and I talked, Isabel exploded with random thoughts. Each time, Marti gently told her granddaughter that the adults were visiting and she needed to wait her turn. Isabel tried to be patient, and then she did what every well-mannered child does when she can wait no longer—she raised her hand and waved it frantically. Her behavior was delightful.

Many adults could learn from her example.

Of course, we all know that all interrupting is not always bad. Some news should not wait, like telling me that my grandchild is playing with matches or the neighbor’s dog is chewing on my patio furniture. In reality, life is all about interruptions, isn’t it? Henry Nouwen, a Roman Catholic priest and theologian, wrote, “My whole life I have been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted, until I discovered my interruptions were my work.” I get it. Most of my articles are based on something happening I wasn’t expecting. Our life’s narrative is constantly being rewritten because of interruptions. In the past year, several of my friends have found that to be true. Cancer. A hurricane. An unexpected pregnancy. Divorce. Bankruptcy. Care of an elderly parent. Addiction. Mental illness. Death. The Bible is jam-packed with interruptions. A young girl’s life was interrupted to be told that she would bring the Messiah into the world. Jesus was constantly interrupted by evil spirits or arrogant religious teachers, moments that gave him an opportunity to remind his listeners of grace. Judas interrupted Jesus’ celebration of the Passover with his disciples and again with his prayer time in the Garden, all leading up to the incredible sadness after Jesus’ death being interrupted by the life-changing news that his grave was empty. And for those whose lives are based on that resurrection, there remains one final interruption for which we must be prepared. We find it in Thessalonians 1:16-17: For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Now, that’s an interruption we can’t afford to miss.

Australian Open by Patty LaRoche

Three times a year I live vicariously by watching professional tennis tournaments on television: Wimbledon; The U.S. Open; and the Australian Open. The seasoned veterans give me hope when they pummel the young upstarts. I even enjoy the fairly predictable interviews following their matches. Thank the crowd. Give credit to the “talented” opponent. Address how hard they worked to get this win.

At age 32, Rafael Nadal of Spain currently is ranked #2 in the world. A couple of his accomplishments include 17 Grand Slam singles titles, the second most in history for a male player, and a record 33 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles. In other words, he plays better than I do.

Following his semi-final win, he said something like this: “I wake up every morning thinking about what I need to do to be a better tennis player, either on the court or at the gym.” This morning, in my prayer time, those words kept replaying in my head. Do I wake up every morning thinking about what I need to do to represent Christ better? To give unselfishly. To take better care of my body. To speak loving words.

I must admit, the last one is difficult for me. Actually, they all are, but that’s for another article. My mouth was put to the test while texting five friends during the Chief’s game against the Patriots. Diana, my disabled friend from Tulsa, watched the broadcast from her wheelchair. Her text comments demonstrated her sweet, Chiefs-defending attitude.

Is it me or are those Patriots gigantic guys?”

Brady’s front line looks like huge walking trees.”

When a timeout was taken to review a play in which the Chiefs scored a touchdown after a Patriots’ return specialist appeared to touch the ball, my friend immediately commented: “It looks deflected.” I, Miss Negative, disagreed. The officials concurred, I am not proud to say.

After the Chiefs lost, Diana had one final remark: “I’m just so disappointed for our guys. They played so hard against a team that seemed to get almost every break.” (Notice she said “for”’ our guys, not “in” our guys.)

Compare Diana’s remarks to mine:

This is ugly. We can come back but have to stop leaving so many holes for the Patriots’ offense.”

Mahomes (the Chief’s quarterback) seems nervous.”

A penalty for lining up in the neutral zone? That’s something you learn in flag football.”

I ended with this: “Sad to say, but the Patriots just outplayed us.” And then, realizing how negative I was, added, “We’ll get ‘em next year.” My other girlfriends chimed in that the refs made bad calls and the rule for coin tosses in tie games needs to be changed.

They were true fans. I was not. Ask Dave. He managed to sit in the same room with me while I ranted, buried my head under a pillow and yelled at the television set. My husband’s only comment was that Tom Brady is a strong Christian and I should take that into account…which I did not.

So, today is a new day. I can learn from my bad attitude and dwell on what is important, like thinking of ways to represent Christ better to everyone I encounter. Before I do that, however, I’ll just take a quick break and turn on ESPN2 to see how badly Serena Williams, my favorite female player, destroyed Karolina Pliskova in the semi-finals last night.


It had to be the umpires. Yes, I’ll go with that. (See? I learn from my mistakes.)

Mariott’s Buffet by Patty LaRoche

Omelets cooked to order. Crispy bacon and zesty sausage. Tasty spinach quiche with homemade crust. Oatmeal topped with our choice of walnuts, brown sugar and cran-raisins. Cantaloupe and strawberries and kiwi, oh my! Dave and I chose to splurge on an all-you-can-eat Marriott buffet because we would be leaving the hotel that day and moving into our rental home. Celebration time!

We had been in Jupiter, Florida, for three weeks, and while we looked for an apartment to rent, the Florida Marlins, Dave’s employer, paid for our hotel room. Every morning at 6:00, Dave left for work. Some days he ate a cold bagel; other days, a banana or an apple. When he arrived back at the hotel around noon, the first thing we did was find a nearby restaurant for lunch, and trust me! Diners in Jupiter, Florida, are much more expensive than in the Midwest. (Granted, I could have eaten at the Marriott restaurant after he left for the ballpark, but that’s just not the kind of selfish person I am.)

Save your comments, close friends.

Back to the buffet. Dave and I agreed that the spread was one of the best ever, but then we realized we had not asked the price of our meals. Not smart. When the waiter handed my husband the bill, Dave appeared perplexed, not horror-struck.

I think they made a mistake,” he began. “The word ‘COMP’ appears at the top, and $8.95 is scratched out. This meal has to be more than that for one person, let alone two, and I have no idea what the ‘COMP’ is all about. We’ll figure it out when we leave.” Dave signed our room number and his name, tipped the waiter and we left.

Check-out time. As Dave loaded the truck, I went to the front desk to settle our account and was told our balance was zero.

My husband and I both had your buffet this morning, so how much is that? I asked.

It’s $18.95 per person.”

No wonder it was so good, I told myself. “Well, that should be added on.”

The Marriott representative smiled. “The Marlins paid for it.”

I didn’t understand and asked how the Marlins knew we were going to eat there this morning.

They probably didn’t, but that was part of your room package. The Marlins covered a meal every day you were here. They didn’t tell you?”

Uh, no. No, they didn’t.”

I couldn’t wait to share the news with Dave. Here we had been offered a freebie feast, but we hadn’t take advantage of it because no one bothered to share the good news with us. No one had given us a chance to “take it or leave it.”

Although the parallels aren’t exact, there is a spiritual application here. We Christians know that the only way to Heaven is through Jesus Christ (Jn. 14:6); we know that eternity is a gift that was paid for with his blood (Hebrews 9:14); and we know that we are to feed God’s people with that “Good News,” the Gospel (Mark 16:15). The only thing it costs us is a little time and the potential for rejection. (Heaven forbid it cost us monetarily.)

Like the Marlins, if we fail to share that news, we are denying others an opportunity to “take it or leave it.” The Marriott’s buffet was temporary, but God’s is everlasting and one no one can afford to miss.

Obituary of Cleta Irene Mayfield

Cleta Irene Mayfield, age 66, resident of Ft. Scott, KS, died Saturday, January 19, 2019, at her home.

She was born September 2, 1952, in Ft. Scott, the daughter of Bill and Cleta Norbury Mayfield. Cleta worked as an LPN for Mercy Hospital, Newman Young Clinic, and Dr. McKenna’s office. She loved nursing and caring for people. She later worked as a para-educator for Winfield Scott and Fort Scott Middle School.

Cleta enjoyed jigsaw puzzles, birdwatching and her Diet Coke. Later in life, she did more cooking and baking. If you were a guest in her home, you never left hungry or thirsty. She loved spending time with her family, especially her grandkids who call her “Gigi”.

Survivors include a daughter, Sarah Dell’Antonia Ersland and husband Jake, Lenexa, KS; two grandchildren, Isaac and Faith Ersland; a son Chuck Dell’Antonia and wife Jessica, Pittsburg, KS; a sister, Mary Cullor and husband Jim, Woodland, CA; a brother, Jay Mayfield and wife Mauritta, Richards, MO; a sister-in-law, Shirley Mayfield, Mound City, KS; and her best friend, John Mowrey, Ft. Scott.

She was preceded in death by two brothers, William “Bill” Mayfield and Leroy “Punk” Mayfield; and her parents.

Funeral services will be held at 1:00 PM Thursday, January 24th, at the Cheney Witt Chapel.

Burial will follow in Woods Cemetery, Redfield, KS.

The family will receive friends from 5:30 until 7:30 Wednesday evening at the Cheney Witt Chapel.

Memorials are suggested to the Cleta Mayfield Memorial Fund and may be left in care of the Cheney Witt Chapel, PO Box 347, 201 S. Main St., Ft. Scott, KS 66701. Words of remembrance may be submitted to the online guestbook at

God Provides by Patty LaRoche

We would move to Jupiter, Florida, for a year. Dave would work as the rehabilitation coach for the injured Miami Marlins’ pitchers. We would rent a lovely, furnished, two-bedroom condominium near the ballpark, buy two bikes, swim, play tennis and find a church on fire for Jesus. That was the plan…which wasn’t quite as do-able as it sounded.

Apparently New Yorkers migrate to Jupiter during the winter months, booking their rentals a year in advance. (Who stays behind and shovels Buffalo’s sidewalks is what I want to know.) Unless we spend Dave’s entire paycheck (not to mention, I would need to get a waitressing job), we were out of luck. We were going to have to settle…for Plan B.

Asking for a covered parking spot? Perhaps a shady tree would do.

A washer and dryer in the unit? Laundromats are fun places to witness about Jesus…you know, captive audience and all that.

Furniture? For $1,100 a month, we could rent the “middle” package… the one with cardboard cones supporting the coffee table.

A pool and tennis court? Hahahahaha

Maybe we could buy something small. Like a fixer-upper. And not fixer-upper it.

On one apartment-seeking drive, we saw an older beach home with a “For Rent” sign in its front yard. I immediately called the realtor’s number and was told it had just rented…for $20,000 a month. I started laughing. “Did you say $20,000 a MONTH?”

I know,” he answered. “But it is on the beach, and it has a 100’ pier.”

Is that pier plated with gold?” I asked. Dave told me to hang up.

My husband noticed an “Open House” sign at a trailer park and pulled into its entrance. The owner was a sweet little lady who carried a bottle of Pine Sol around as she proudly showed us her home. At least it would be clean, I told myself. It was furnished, had a carport and a washer and dryer. Never mind there was no pool or tennis court or workout room OR that it wasn’t even for rent, and for $220,000, we could move in at the beginning of February.

One realtor offered us a furnished unit that apparently had been decorated by someone on a very tight budget—like, oh say, $100.00. It did, however, have a pool and a workout room and a tennis court. Oops! Check that. The tennis court was filled with construction materials because each unit was being rebuilt due to water damage from poorly-designed roofs. Ours already had been rebuilt, we were told. This was to be good news. Dave said we had no choice.

Yes, we did. We could jump off a gold-plated pier.

This morning, right before Dave accepted the contract on that unit, I had this crazy idea to phone the church Dave and I attended last Sunday and asked if they knew of anyone who might help us. They did. Her name is Rhonda; she is a church volunteer and also a realtor. She contacted me, I explained our predicament, and the first thing she said was, “May I pray with you?” And pray she did! She called on the name of Jesus and let loose! I was driving at the time, but had our truck had a sunroof, I would have been transported to Heaven. It was glorious!

And guess what! Within 24 hours we were signing the lease on a cozy duplex with not just a single garage but a double one. In our latest email correspondence, I wrote this to Rhonda: “How does God do it? Amazing.” Her response? “RIGHT! He always blows me away. I have been especially on fire since we prayed! Honored to be a witness of His Grace.”

Me too, Rhonda. Me too.

Ephesians 3:20-21– Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Emphasis: mine)

Baptism by Patty LaRoche

When you hear the word “Baptism,” what comes to mind? Infant sprinkle? Immersion? Unimportant? Necessary for salvation? Few Christian topics are more controversial. From the time John the Baptist showed up munching on locusts and honey, the concept of Baptism has been debated, and just as soon as I think I have it figured out, another scripture comes along to show why people disagree.

A few years ago, at our couples’ Bible study, the question of Baptism–as a requisite for entrance into Heaven–came up (not a topic I would recommend for baby believers). One person made the typical defense for it not being necessary: Jesus promised the un-baptized thief hanging on a cross beside him that “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” Others claimed that to be a non-issue because the crucifixion was pre-resurrection; it was after Jesus died and rose again that Baptism became mandatory. (If you find that Bible passage, please let me know.)

Ephesians 2:8-9 was read to the group. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Grace, not works. Baptism is not necessary for salvation.

Quickly, that was discounted when a church leader used Acts 2:38 as a defense for Baptism’s necessity: And Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Aha! Baptism is necessary for salvation.

Not according to one author who, for example, used the Greek definition of the word “for” in Acts 2:38 as a way of proving Baptism is not required for salvation. (which of course was Greek to me). Another attempted to prove his point by writing about the Negative Inference Fallacy—”Just because Acts 2:38 says ‘repent and be baptized….for the forgiveness of sins…and the gift of the Holy Spirit’ does not mean that if one repents and is not baptized, he will not receive forgiveness of sins or the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

See what I mean? One says “Yea.” Another says “Nay.”

What’s a person to do?

A week after their wedding, Andy and Kristen, our son and (now—hooray!) daughter-in-law, were baptized together in the gulf waters off the coast of Pine Island, Florida. Andy’s brother, Adam, performed the ceremony after sharing a few thoughts about Baptism. First, he said, it is an outward demonstration of participation in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Second, it symbolizes the commitment Andy and Kristen made at their wedding since, in Scripture, the Bride refers to the Church, and the bridegroom to Jesus. Third, “Marriage” is integral to the purest of relationships, just like Baptism connects us to Jesus Christ: “for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” Gal. 3:27

Still, the question remains: Is it necessary for salvation?

I don’t know, but I do know that I liked the answer our Bible study leader gave our group about its significance: “Jesus was baptized, and if he is our example, why shouldn’t we?”

No one could disagree with that.