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On Thoughts of Veterans Day: Eleanor’s Prayer (Dr. James Sutton)

Here’s a beautiful story about a woman in uniform during World War II … the uniform of the American Red Cross. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt served her country well, always mindful of the sacrifices being made.


Eleanor Roosevelt wasn’t only the most active wartime First Lady, her efforts to improve quality of life, ease human suffering, and promote a more substantial role for women in America went on for many years after her husband, President Franklin Roosevelt, died while in office in 1945.

As First Lady during World War II, Eleanor performed tireless service for her country through the American Red Cross. All of her sons (John, FDR Jr., Elliott and James) served their country, also. (Two were in the Navy, one in the Army Air Corps, and one in the Marines.)

The Pacific TOUR

At one point in the war, the Red Cross wanted to send Eleanor on a tour of the Pacific Theater, so she could meet and encourage the troops, especially those that were wounded and were confined to hospitals and hospital ships.

On Thoughts of Veteran's Day: Eleanor's Prayer

You can imagine Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz’ hesitation about such a gesture. In addition to the logistics of moving the president’s wife to locations in the Pacific, the war was still going on in many of those places. What if she were to be injured or killed, or what if she were to be captured by the enemy? The admiral’s concerns were painfully real.

But, of course, who can say, “No!” to the American Red Cross and the White House? Eleanor Roosevelt did complete the tour. She kept up a schedule that would have exhausted a younger person, and, in doing so, brought an uplifting message of support and hope from the folks back home.

Admiral Nimitz praised her efforts and shared with her and President Roosevelt the positive impact of her visits with the troops. In the end, he heartily agreed her tour of the Pacific was a huge success. All who worked at the mammoth task of getting her where she needed to go were impressed with her energy, grace, and cooperative spirit throughout the entire tour.

Eleanor’s Prayer

There a low granite wall at Pearl Harbor that carries the text of a prayer Eleanor Roosevelt wrote during the war. It was said that she carried this text in her wallet all through the war. It says much about the character of this great and gracious woman:

Dear Lord, lest I continue my complacent way, help me to remember somewhere out there a man died for me today. As long as there is war, I then must ask and answer: “AM I WORTH DYING FOR?”

Psychologist Dr. James Sutton is the founder and host of The Changing Behavior Network. He is a Navy veteran and served two assignments in support of the Third Marine Amphibious Force in Vietnam.

November 11, 2017 Posted by | adversity, Affirmation and Recognition, Communication, Compassion, courage, family, Human Interest, Inspirational, Integrity, Parents, patriotism, Resilience, Self-esteem, Special Occasions, veterans | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Tablecloth: A Story for the Christmas Season

Jim Gentil, my friend in Austin, Texas, published this story about nine years ago in his online newsletter, The Power of Positive Living. It captures the essence of the Christmas season. It was originally written by Howard C. Schade under the title of “The Ivory and Gold Tablecloth.” May this story bless your soul, as it has mine. –JDS


At Christmas time, men and women everywhere gather in their churches to wonder anew at the greatest miracle the world has ever known. But the story I like best to recall was not a huge miracle — not exactly.

It happened to a pastor who was very young. His church was very old. Once, long ago, it had flourished. Famous men had preached from its pulpit and prayed before its altar. Rich and poor alike had worshipped there and built it beautifully. Now, the good days had passed from the section of town where it stood.

But the pastor and his young wife believed in their run-down-church. They felt that, with hard work and lots of faith they could get it in shape. Together they went to work.

The Storm

stormBut, late in December, a severe story whipped through the river valley; the worst blow fell on the church. A huge chunk of rain-soaked plaster fell out of the inside wall just behind the altar. Sorrowfully the pastor and his wife swept away the mess, but they could not hide the ragged hole.

The pastor looked at it and had to remind himself quickly, “Thy will be done!” But his wife wept, “Christmas is only two days away!”

That afternoon the dispirited couple attended an auction held for the benefit of a youth group. The auctioneer opened a box and shook out of its folds a gloriously beautiful, very ornately sewn, gold and ivory lace tablecloth.

It was a magnificent item, nearly 15 feet long. But it, too, dated from a long vanished era. Who had any use for such a thing today. There were a few half-hearted bids, then the pastor was seized with what he thought was a great idea.

He bid it in for $6.50.

He carried the glorious gold and ivory lace cloth back to the church and very carefully put it up on the wall behind the altar. It completely hid the hole! And the extraordinary beauty of its shimmering handwork cast a fine, holiday glow over the chancel.

It was a great triumph. Happily, he went back to preparing his Christmas sermon.

The Woman in the Cold

busstopJust before noon on the day of Christmas Eve, as the pastor was opening the church, he noticed a woman standing in the cold at the bus stop.

“The bus won’t be here for 40 minutes!” he called, inviting her into the church to get warm.

She told him she had come from the city that morning to be interviewed for a job as governess to the children of one of the wealthy families in town, but she had been turned down. As a Jewish war refugee, her English was imperfect.

The woman sat down in a pew and chafed her hands and rested. After a while, she dropped her head and prayed.

She then looked up and saw the great gold and ivory cloth. She rose suddenly and walked up the steps of the chancel.

She looked a the beautiful tablecloth with with remembering eyes.

“It is Mine!”

The pastor smiled and started to tell her about the storm damage, but she didn’t seem to listen. She took up a fold of the cloth and lovingly rubbed it between her fingers as tears welled in her kind eyes.

But they were happy tears of recognition.

“It is mine!” she said. “It is my banquet cloth!” She lifted up a corner and showed the surprised pastor that there were initials monogrammed on it.

“My husband had the cloth made especially for me in Brussels! There could not be another like it.”

For the next few minutes the woman and the pastor talked excitedly together. She explained that she was Viennese, and that, in being Jews, she and her husband wanted to flee from the Nazis. They were advised to go separately. Her husband put her on a train for Switzerland. They planned that he would join her as soon as he could arrange to ship their household goods across the border.

But she never saw him again. Later, she heard he had died in a concentration camp.

“I have always felt it was my fault to leave without him,” she said. “Perhaps these years of wandering have been my punishment.”

The pastor tried to comfort her and urged her to take the beautiful cloth with her. But she refused saying, “No, no, the cloth has found its way to you. You need it. It has purpose here; I want you to have it. I am happy knowing you have it.”

She gazed lovingly up at the magnificent gold and ivory lace cloth, then quietly went away.

The Repairman

As the church began to fill on Christmas Eve, it was clear that the magnificent cloth was going to be a great success. It has been skillfully designed to look its best by candlelight.

The glorious gold and ivory lace cloth actually glowed in the candlelight. It cast lovely fine designs on the walls and ceilings of the church. Everyone looked around in wonderment, and a tranquil ambiance was cast over all.

After the service, the pastor stood at the doorway. Many people told him the church looked more beautiful than ever before.

chimesFrom the generous donations that were given, a few days later the pastor had the local jeweler, who was also the clock-and-watch repairman, come to repair the church chimes.

The repairman’s gentle middle-aged face drew into a look of great astonishment! As if in a trance, he walked right up to the beautiful cloth and looked upon it intently.

“It is strange,” he said in his soft accent. “Many years ago, my wife, God rest her, and I owned such a cloth. My wife put it on the table (and here he gave a big smile) for holidays and when the Rabbi came to dinner.”


The pastor suddenly became very excited. He told the jeweler about the woman who had been in the church to get warm, saw the cloth, and recognized it to be hers.

The startled jeweler clutched the pastor’s arm. “Can it be?” he said, through desperate tears.

Together the two got in touch with the family who had interviewed the woman for the governess position and got her address. Then they both drove to the city.

The jeweler knocked on the heavy, weathered door. As it opened, there stood his beloved wife. The many years of separation were immediately washed away by their blissful tears. They held each other in loving embraces, never to be parted again.

Purpose in the Storm

True love seems to find a way. To all who hear or read this story, the joyful purpose of the storm was to knock a hole in the wall of the church.

So, Dear Ones, the next time something knocks a hole in your dreams or your goals, just remember to have enough faith and enough belief in those dreams and goals to lovingly and creatively hang your own brilliant lace cloth over the temporary mar.

Then watch the miracles come. ###

December 24, 2016 Posted by | adversity, Affirmation and Recognition, Anxiety and Depression, Compassion, Human Interest, Inspirational, Integrity, Resilience, Self-esteem, Special Occasions | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

15 Tips to Organize and Enjoy the Holidays, Part Two (Alison Kero)

15 Tips to Organize and Enjoy the Holidays, Alison KeroThe holiday season can be a special time of togetherness for families, especially when the kids are out of school and are home for the holidays. But it can also be a frustrating and less-than-perfect time, especially when the kids are out of school and are home for the holidays. Organization specialist, Alison Kero, offers us some great tips to help make this holiday season the best ever at YOUR house. We present, “15 Tips to Organize and Enjoy the Holidays.” (This is Part Two, as we conclude this two-part post.)


Alison Kero, ACK Organizing(Continued from Part One)

#9 Expect the Unexpected: Chaos happens despite our best intentions or how organized you are. Expect that you’ll burn something, forget something or a kid will throw up at the worst possible time because then, when it actually happens, you won’t be thrown off. To help you stay organized, add in extra time for unexpected delays, especially when traveling, and even consider throwing a frozen lasagne in your freezer as a “just in case” to help you remain calm in the midst of unexpected chaos and you might even enjoy the holidays more knowing you have a backup just in case.

#10 Ask for Help: Even Santa has helpers. Hire or ask people to help you with such task as: a professional cleaning service to do the cleaning, a catering company to do the cooking, asking customer service or the online store to wrap gifts for you, use decorative bags to place your gifts in (no talent necessary), ask friends and family to help you decorate, ask friends and family to help you take down the decorations, and lastly, if you need additional emotional support, schedule a session with a therapist so you can manage the holidays more easily. Outsource or delegate what you don’t like doing or don’t have time to do and no, it doesn’t make you less of a person to ask for help; it makes you a smart person who recognizes you need and deserve support.

# 11 Keep It Simple: Intelligent people love to solve complicated riddles. It makes them thrive. The problem is when they get in their own way and start over-complicating simple matters, thinking everything must be solved in a complex manner. Not every problem is complex and sometimes a simple answer is the best and easiest solution. Simple doesn’t equal stupid, rather simple actually allows you to then focus on complex matters while allowing the simple things to flow easily to and from your life. Simple will keep you sane and organized this holiday season. So, if the lights don’t work, consider buying new ones rather than spending hours hunting down one old-fashioned light bulb to get the whole strand working again.

#12 You Don’t Have to Keep It All: This is in reference to any clutter you might accumulate during the holidays. Whether it’s spiritual clutter because once again you say “yes” when you really mean “no!”, or emotional clutter that you accumulate when someone criticizes your efforts, or the physical clutter you have by keeping every gift anyone has ever given you out of sheer guilt. Let it go. Let it ALL go. Do your best this holiday season by continuing to let anything go that won’t allow you to be happy, healthy or productive in your life.

#13 Plan Ahead: If you already know that you are looking at a busy schedule, actually using your scheduler will help you see where you have time to run errands, shop, bake or just relax and enjoy yourself. If you plan everything you need to do and everything you want to do ahead of time, you’re much more likely to achieve an enjoyable holiday feeling relaxed and organized.

#14 Don’t Get Stuck In the Past: We all have great memories of holidays in the past with certain decorations or traditions being carried out year after year. However, sometimes traditions no longer work within a new environment and decorations get old, break or no longer work. While we all want to recreate what we felt was a great memory, it’s also just as great to create new memories or collect new decorations. It doesn’t mean you aren’t respecting the past, it’s just that you are also allowing for new experiences to come in and create wonderful new memories for you and your family. You’ll enjoy yourself more if you’re willing to let go when you realize it’s time to move forward.

#15 Breathe: Sounds simple, but it will save your sanity. No matter what holiday you celebrate, there will be a point where you feel overwhelmed, annoyed, frustrated and/or ready to throw in the towel. Breathe when that happens. Take deep breaths in and out. In fact, before doing any task associated with the holiday, take 3 deep breaths and see how much more focused and relaxed you are. You might even find it’s a great way to start your day and continue using this method long after the holidays have ended.

Please enjoy a happy, healthy and safe holiday season! ###


Speakers Group Member, The Changing Behavior NetworkAlison Kero truly enjoys teaching her easy and effective decluttering system to her clients through her company, ACK Organizing. To reach Alison, go to


December 18, 2016 Posted by | adversity, Anxiety and Depression, Compassion, family, Human Interest, Inspirational, Integrity, Resilience, Special Occasions | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

15 Tips to Organize and Enjoy the Holidays, Part One (Alison Kero)

wreathThe holiday season can be a special time of togetherness for families, especially when the kids are out of school and are home for the holidays. But it can also be a frustrating and less-than-perfect time, especially when the kids are out of school and are home for the holidays. Organization specialist, Alison Kero, offers us some great tips to help make this holiday season the best ever at YOUR house. We present, “15 Tips to Organize and Enjoy the Holidays.” (This is Part One of a two-part post.)


Alison Kero, ACK OrganizingHolidays are supposed to be a fun and joyous time for everyone. That’s the message as we are bombarded with commercials, movies and television specials featuring happy families who have decorated their homes as if they were Martha Stewart themselves. They are able to afford piles of gifts under the tree, and, of course, everyone easily forgives one another for past grievances no matter what bad things were done. We’re told it’s a time of family, forgiveness and of giving to others.

Yet, for many of us, it feels more like the most stressful, exhausting and frustrating time of the year rather than the happiest and most serene. So how do you manage the stress, keep up your energy and maybe even enjoy yourself this season? Here’s my favorite 15 ways to organize and enjoy the holidays.

#1 Know Your Priorities: Weeding out what can wait is just as important as knowing what you can’t do without as it will help you manage your time well and ensure you make smarter decisions, even in the midst of chaos. However, figuring out what is important can be difficult when you have a child begging for that latest “must have” toy while everyone is asking you to make that special cake that takes 5 hours to bake. So how do you choose what is imperative and what isn’t? Make a list; if Santa can do it, so can YOU. If the holiday fell apart, what would still make it okay? To make it special, focus on what’s important, rather than getting mired down in the smaller, pettier matters.

#2 Focus on the Positive: If you have a huge bank account, a large support team, and a perfect family then, yes, you probably can have a perfect holiday with bells and whistles. But if not, the main priority is that you have food on the table and that your family has gathered together to celebrate the season. The best way to ensure you enjoy the holidays is to choose to focus on the fact that everyone is together and hopefully healthy, not the large amounts of dishes you’ll have to wash as a result. Choose to focus on the true gifts of the season rather than focusing on what gifts you didn’t get or those that didn’t arrive on time. Focusing on the positive will help you stay organized and you’ll be much more likely to enjoy yourself for once.

#3 Set Boundaries: Holidays are not about the stuff; they’re about reconnecting with people you care about. But sometimes some of those people will try to walk all over your boundaries and your feelings. When that happens, it’s time to empower yourself by setting up healthy boundaries with family members and friends, then keep them enforced no matter how much they push you to back down so they can have their way. Whether it’s choosing to walk away from an argument up or saying “No, but thank you!” to the 4th holiday party you’ve been invited to this year, remember that only you can control how you react to things. So lessen the amount of emotional clutter you bring into this holiday season by choosing to let others be responsible for their own behavior.

#4 Shop Online to Save Time: If you’re short on time or dislike shopping then purchasing gifts online is your best resource. It’s a great way to keep yourself and your gift giving organized, plus it will take less than half the time since there’s no traveling. You can literally have everything purchased, wrapped and shipped without ever leaving your home. Best of all, you’ll avoid long lines and crowds, and you won’t have to wait your turn for hours only to find that the store ran out of what you wanted. Just remember to pay attention to how long it takes to ship so you ensure your gift arrives on time.

familyshopping#5 Start Early: Whether you shop online or prefer to stick with stores, shop early. It will make the experience more enjoyable because you won’t be rushed or stressed out. You might even find yourself finishing early so you’ll even have time to actually enjoy the holiday season without feeling stressed or rushed. Also, if you ship gifts early, not only will you be guaranteed it will arrive on time, you’ll avoid waiting in a long (and often impatient) line and it won’t cost you your entire holiday budget to get it there on time. If you are someone who waits until the last minute, then at least scout out in advance one store that’s open late on Christmas Eve where you can find suitable gifts. And no, heading to CVS and buying gift cards at the last minute doesn’t count.

#6 Make Self Love Decisions: If you go into your holiday season with the mindset that no matter what everyone is going to be over-the-top happy, then you’ve set yourself up to fail. You can’t allow yourself to be held hostage to what everyone else thinks makes a perfect holiday, but you can choose to remain as calm and happy as possible, no matter how chaotic it might get. You can only control your own reactions, so you might as well decide to make them good ones. You might find you actually enjoy yourself because you chose not to get caught up in unimportant matters.

sleep#7 Get Some Rest! You are no good to anyone if you’re exhausted, and you certainly won’t enjoy the holiday season when you’re running on empty. Incorporate at least 8 hours of rest into your day and nap if you can. Try going to bed at the same time each night. This routine will help you fall asleep more easily. Getting enough rest will also allow you to think and organize your days more easily. It will also help prevent you from getting sick during this holiday season.

#8 Eat Healthy: Yes, enjoy the cookies and other delights the holidays bestow upon us, but be mindful that it’s a self love and smart choice to eat healthy foods in between those sips of eggnog and nibbles of gingerbread. Eating well throughout the season will ensure that your energy stays up and that you keep your body, mind and spirit happy and healthy during the holidays. Eating fruits and veggies will actually help you keep your weight down over the holidays and you’ll crave less sugar. A healthy diet will also give you a great head start on your 2017 resolutions.

We will conclude with tips 9 through 15 in Part Two in the next post. ###


Speakers Group Member, The Changing Behavior NetworkAlison Kero truly enjoys teaching her easy and effective decluttering system to her clients through her company, ACK Organizing. To reach Alison, go to


December 13, 2016 Posted by | Anxiety and Depression, Educators, family, Healthy living, Parents, Resilience, Self-esteem, Special Occasions | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Make Memories: Work and Play with Your Family (Christy Monson)


(Here’s an excellent article by Christy on the “togetherness” of extended family members. The parents of these now elderly cousins gave their children a priceless gift. Enjoy. –JDS)


This past summer, my husband and I hosted a reunion of his childhood cousins. As kids, these wonderful people loved being together. Some of their families lived in Idaho and some in central California. The parents made a special effort to spend time with extended family, even though they didn’t live close. Every summer the cousins worked together on one farm or another, weeding, feeding livestock and irrigating.

Eventually everyone grew up and went their separate ways. They became doctors, international business men, teachers, and engineers in many walks of life. They saw each other at weddings and funerals, if their busy schedules permitted.

As they reached retirement age, they felt the need to reconnect. At the reunion this summer, they spent three wonderful days reminiscing and getting reacquainted with each other.

Family Talk BookSome of the memories they shared were of a crabby uncle, but most of the stories were told about work and play with hard-driving parents, struggling to eke out a living. No one focused on the barn being full of hay or the price of the potatoes each year. They remembered the time they spent together, filling the irrigation ditches, chasing an errant calf or eating pancakes until they were about to burst.

They talked about the ball games they won, the horses they rode, and the pranks they played on each other. Their reminiscence was about the pleasure they experienced in interacting with each other as kids—their communication and relationships.

Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity, but in doing it.

Greg Anderson


The parents of these cousins are not with us anymore, but here are some of the principles we can take away from their child-rearing practices:

1. Spend time with your kids

2. Work and play together

3. Give them a sense of family

4. Enjoy your extended family


Most of us don’t have to fill the irrigation ditches or milk the cows anymore. Life has changed. But we can still build relationships with our children through work and play.

A happy family is but an earlier heaven.

George Bernard Shaw


As adults what do you remember of your youth? What memories mean the most to you? ###

Christy Monson has an M.S. in Counseling Psychology and Marriage & Family Therapy from University of Nevada at Las Vegas, and established a successful counseling practice in Las Vegas, Nevada. Check out her informative website [link].




January 28, 2016 Posted by | Affirmation and Recognition, family, Healthy living, Human Interest, Inspirational, Parents, Resilience, Special Occasions | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Harder You Work, the Bigger the Snowman (Michael Byron Smith)

Here’s a great piece from my friend Michael Byron Smith on what the winter brings us as families and kids of all ages.–JDS


There is no school equal to a decent home and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent.

Mahatma Gandhi

It starts around October. People, almost exclusively adults, start complaining about the onset of winter. I understand their point of view. Their focus centers on being cold, dealing with icy roads and often dreary weather. I don’t like those things either, but not enough to worry or complain about them.

Few of us have to be in the cold air longer than it takes to walk from our toasty car to our toasty home or office, at least not often. Slippery roads are a nuisance, but where I live in the Midwest, there may be only 10-15 days all winter when the roads are seriously snowy or icy for part of a day. In more northern states, they really know how to deal with their more frequent snowy days and they do it efficiently. There isn’t much you can do about dreary days, but I’ve seen dreary days in every season. With those realities said, I believe any adult that doesn’t like winter has the right to complain about it or move to a warmer climate. But it is also my opinion that children who are raised in areas that have seasons are advantaged in experiences and learning.

Cardinal in WInterNow I admit that winter comes in last in my list of favorite seasons. Spring, fall, summer, then winter is how I rank the seasons. But I LOVE seasons! In winter, I thoroughly enjoy watching the snow fall while I sit by a fire. And there is certainly beauty in winter if simply a red cardinal resting on a branch with a snowy background.

One of my favorite sensations ever was at my farmhouse in the country, waking in the morning after a heavy snowfall had blanketed the earth the night before. The wind was completely still in the bright morning sunshine. I walked outside and it was the most profound silence I have ever experienced. It was as if the snow had muffled every possible sound, except the squeaky sound of my boots sinking in the snow. The scene was truly a Norman Rockwell painting.

I accept winter and look for those experiences that only winter can provide. This brings me back to children. You rarely hear them complain about winter. They pray for snow and run around outside so much they don’t get cold. When they come in, a little hot chocolate will put the exclamation point on a fun and memorable kid experience. I have many memories of playing outside with friends, coming in with my hands so numb that the cold water from the tap felt warm, and I loved it!

You can join in the fun with them. Have a snowball fight or take them on a hike in the woods. The exercise and cooler weather make it comfortable and invigorating with views no longer obstructed with leaves. And you can sneak in a few life lessons occasionally using tricky little metaphors that may stick with them longer than a boring lecture.

Teachable Moments in Winter
Build a snowman with your children. Maybe you can have a competition for the best snowman. The teachable moment may be, ‘the more you work on your snowman the bigger and better he will be–just like anything else you will ever do’. But working hard isn’t the entire answer to success. You have to work smart also. It’s impossible to make a good snowman with very dry snow, even if you work very hard at it. With a little patience, a warmer sunny day will melt the snow wet enough to be able to build your snowman. The teachable moment: Patience and smarts will often save you a lot of time and effort with better results.

Go sledding with your children. Find a nice long hill and feel the thrill of zooming down. If they want to ride down again, they will have to trudge up the hill. The first ride down is free, after that they will have to work to experience it again. Going down is easy. Going up is work! The teachable moment: Nothing worthwhile is really free. There is always effort required by someone. The only ones who sled down for free are those that don’t have the strength and need the help of others to get back on top. Which of those would you rather be?

Not only are there life lessons to teach, but there are science lessons that will be remembered when they are in school. Take your children ice skating. Skating is best when there is very little friction, allowing them to glide effortlessly. But when they need to stop, they want some of that friction back so they dig into the ice. Friction is like fire. It can save your life or ruin it. How people use it makes all the difference!

Some history lessons can be best expressed in the winter. The strength of our forefathers and ancestors can be demonstrated, when there were no furnaces to warm them up with a push of a button; or when their home was a teepee or mud hut. No snowplows helped them out. Grocery stores were rarely nearby and food had to be grown or hunted. Traveling for just thirty miles would take half a day or more and the only heat was from the horse if you were lucky enough to have one. Not until one thinks about how tough conditions were for others in the past will they understand and appreciate the fortune they have today.

But maybe the most important of all these moments, whether you stop to teach or not, is to be actively engaged with your children, having fun, creating everlasting memories, and making connections to them that will serve both you and them forever. I already mentioned a couple of winter activities, but there are others you can enjoy with your kids including baking things together, movie nights, reading books, crafts, snowball fights, going to sporting events, and so much more.

Take advantage of every opportunity
I wish everyone a great winter season! Make the best of every day no matter the season, and never miss a chance for a teachable moment for your children. And for you older folks out there who hate winter, just think about how fast time passes for us! It’ll be spring before you know it; the recent contrast of winter causing it to be even more appreciated. I can almost see the tulips and crocuses popping through the ground already. Another teachable moment! ###

Article and photographs by Michael Byron Smith, author of The Power of Dadhood [website]
“Helping Fathers to be Dads” blog


January 21, 2016 Posted by | family, Healthy living, Human Interest, Inspirational, Integrity, Parents, Special Occasions | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A 12-Year-Old’s Memory: “I’ve never wanted to be an American more than on that day!”

(It concerns me we don’t have the name the author to post with this article, but perhaps he preferred it that way. In any case, this piece touched me profoundly. –JDS)

This 1967 true story is of an experience by a young 12 -year-old lad in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. It is about the vivid memory of a privately rebuilt P-51 from WWII and its famous owner/pilot.


In the morning sun, I could not believe my eyes. There, in our little airport, sat a majestic P-51. They said it had flown in during the night from some U.S. airport, on its way to an air show. The pilot had been tired, so he just happened to choose Kingston for his stop-over. It was to take to the air very soon.

p51bI marveled at the size of the plane, dwarfing the Pipers and Canucks tied down by her. It was much larger than in the movies. She glistened in the sun like a bulwark of security from days gone by.

The pilot arrived by cab, paid the driver, and then stepped into the pilot’s lounge. He was an older man; his wavy hair was gray and tossed. It looked like it might have been combed, say, around the turn of the century. His flight jacket was checked, creased and worn; it smelled old and genuine. Old Glory was prominently sewn to its shoulders. He projected a quiet air of proficiency and pride devoid of arrogance. He filed a quick flight plan to Montreal (“Expo-67 Air Show”) then walked across the tarmac.

After taking several minutes to perform his walk-around check, the tall, lanky man returned to the flight lounge to ask if anyone would be available to stand by with fire extinguishers while he “flashed the old bird up, just to be safe.”

Though only 12 at the time I was allowed to stand by with an extinguisher after brief instruction on its use — “If you see a fire, point, then pull this lever!” he said. (I later became a firefighter, but that’s another story.)

The air around the exhaust manifolds shimmered like a mirror from fuel fumes as the huge prop started to rotate. One manifold, then another, and yet another barked — I stepped back with the others. In moments the Packard -built Merlin engine came to life with a thunderous roar. Blue flames knifed from her manifolds with an arrogant snarl. I looked at the others’ faces; there was no concern. I lowered the bell of my extinguisher. One of the guys signaled to walk back to the lounge. We did.

Several minutes later we could hear the pilot doing his preflight run-up. He’d taxied to the end of runway 19, out of sight. All went quiet for several seconds. We ran to the second story deck to see if we could catch a glimpse of the P-51 as she started down the runway. We could not.

There we stood, eyes fixed to a spot half way down 19. Then a roar ripped across the field, much louder than before. Like a furious hell spawn set loose — something mighty this way was coming. “Listen to that thing!” said the controller.

In seconds the Mustang burst into our line of sight. It’s tail was already off the runway and it was moving faster than anything I’d ever seen by that point on 19. Two-thirds the way down 19 the Mustang was airborne with her gear going up. The prop tips were supersonic.

We clasped our ears as the Mustang climbed hellishly fast into the circuit to be eaten up by the dog-day haze. We stood for a few moments, in stunned silence, trying to digest what we’d just seen.

The radio controller rushed by me to the radio. “Kingston tower calling Mustang?” He looked back to us as he waited for an acknowledgment.

The radio crackled: “Go ahead, Kingston.”

“Roger, Mustang. Kingston tower would like to advise the circuit is clear for a low-level pass.”

I stood in shock because the controller had just, more or less, asked the pilot to return for an impromptu air show! The controller looked at us.

“Well, What?” He asked. “I can’t let that guy go without asking. I couldn’t forgive myself!”

The radio crackled once again, “Kingston, do I have permission for a low-level pass, east to west, across the field?”

“Roger, Mustang, the circuit is clear for an east to west pass.”

“Roger, Kingston, I’m coming out of 3,000 feet, stand by.”

We rushed back onto the second-story deck, eyes fixed toward the eastern haze. The sound was subtle at first, a high-pitched whine, a muffled screech, a distant scream. Moments later the P-51 burst through the haze. Her airframe straining against positive G’s and gravity. Her wing tips spilling contrails of condensed air, prop-tips again supersonic. The burnished bird blasted across the eastern margin of the field shredding and tearing the air.

At about 500 mph and 150 yards from where we stood she passed with the old American pilot saluting.

Imagine. A salute! I felt like laughing; I felt like crying; she glistened; she screamed; the building shook; my heart pounded. Then the old pilot pulled her up and rolled, and rolled, and rolled out of sight into the broken clouds and indelible into my memory.

I’ve never wanted to be an American more than on that day! It was a time when many nations in the world looked to America as their big brother. A steady and even-handed beacon of security who navigated difficult political water with grace and style; not unlike the old American pilot who’d just flown into my memory. He was proud, not arrogant, humble, not a braggart, old and honest, projecting an aura of America at its best.

JstweThat America will return one day! I know it will! Until that time, I’ll just send off this story. Call it a loving reciprocal salute to a country, and especially to that old American pilot: the late-JIMMY STEWART (1908-1997), actor, real WWII hero (Commander of a US Army Air Force Bomber Wing stationed in England), and a USAF Reserves Brigadier General, who wove a wonderfully fantastic memory for a young Canadian boy that’s lasted a lifetime. ###

January 10, 2016 Posted by | courage, Inspirational, patriotism, Special Occasions, veterans | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Five Beans and a Cup of Broth (Dr. James Sutton)

Five Beans and a Cup of Broth

As we commemorate Veterans Day, 2014, it’s important that we stress to our children that freedom is never free. However we choose to share that message with our sons and daughters, it should be noted that the liberty we often take for granted was bought and paid for with the courage and the blood of those who’ve gone on before.

Journalist Tom Brokaw said it best in his book, The Greatest Generation, when he heralded those Americans that brought us through World War II. Today, we are still recipients of all they accomplished seventy years ago. For the majority of the men and women who served in the Pacific and European Theaters in WWII, as well as many of those on the home front sending a steady stream of support and supplies, it’s too late to say, “Thank You,” to them one more time.

Hardly any of us are without relatives who served their country during a time when their contribution was so vital. My father-in-law was part of the invasion of Normandy, while a former next-door neighbor manned a minesweeper that helped clear the waters for that landing. Another next-door neighbor fought in the Pacific for the retaking of the Philippines. (I didn’t know until his funeral that he had been awarded two Bronze Stars.)

WWIIposterAnd my uncles played a part. One of them faithfully patched up bombers on Guam so they could go out again, while another uncle flew desperately needed supplies over the Burma Hump. (Dad had joined the Army Signal Corps, but was badly injured in a workplace accident before he could be activated.)

A Special Bond

Ask anyone who’s ever been in or near combat about their greatest fear. Their answer might surprise you. It’s NOT the fear of being killed; it’s the fear of letting down one’s comrades, of losing their trust and respect.

Stephen Ambrose’s book, Band of Brothers, gave us an accurate feel for this unique brand of bonding. During the Battle of the Bulge, the 101st Airborne was completely surrounded by the Germans near Bastogne, Belgium. They were told to hold their positions until help arrived … no matter what. (Which they did, with heavy casualties, becoming the ONLY full division to ever receive the Presidential Unit Citation.)

Five Beans …

According to Ambrose’s account, a former company commander, a Captain Richard Winters, had shown exceptional leadership under fire. He was promoted to a staff position with battalion.

Christmas Eve dinner of 1944 was relatively comfortable for the staff officers as they gathered at division headquarters. They had a Christmas tree, a tablecloth, real silverware and turkey with all the trimmings. But Captain Winters elected to dine alone, eating instead what his men in the foxholes were having that night: five white beans and a cup of cold broth.

11 Days Old

I was 11 days old that night, the eve of my first Christmas. I was clean, dry and well-fed; Mom saw to that. I didn’t know about the Men of Bastogne who braved the bitter cold and the shelling of the German big guns as they thought, I’m sure, of loved ones so far away on the night that mattered most.

I didn’t know about them then, but they were as real as if they had been guarding my crib that night, because, in essence, they were.

I didn’t know about them then, but I certainly know about them now.

God Bless ‘em.

Dr. James Sutton is a Vietnam veteran and nationally-recognized child and adolescent psychologist. He is the founder and host of The Changing Behavior Network and monthly publishes The Changing Behavior Digest [website].

November 10, 2014 Posted by | adversity, courage, family, Healthy living, Inspirational, Integrity, Parents, patriotism, Resilience, Special Occasions, veterans | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment



On November 28, 2012, Zig Ziglar passed away at the age of 86. In his career he inspired hundreds of thousands of folks, many of whom were hungry for a message of hope. In 1996, I visited with Zig in his office in Dallas, where we recorded the audio program, The Power of Gratitude. Zig lived that message. His son, Tom Ziglar, posted Zig’s Christmas message in the company’s newsletter. Part of it is shared here. –Jim Sutton

zigziglar“It’s the first Christmas I can remember. It arrived just seven weeks after the deaths of my father and baby sister. To make matters worse, it was in the heart of the Great Depression. Things were tough. All of us children who were older made what income contributions we could, but the truth was my mother had eight of her eleven remaining children still living at home, and six were too young to work. Understandably, the Ziglar kids were concerned about what kind of Christmas it would be!

“The good news is that though our grief was fresh, we still celebrated Christmas. We received no toys that year, but much to my delight in my gift box I found three English walnuts and something I had never tasted before–raisins! They were absolutely delicious. Mama prepared her wonderful molasses candy and we had a small cedar tree. And my mother read the Christmas story, like she always did.

“My sixth Christmas will always have great meaning to me. We celebrated the birth of Christ even in hard times because we believed in Christmas.”

I could not think of a better message or messenger than this one today. Merry Christmas, all.


James D. Sutton, EdD, CSP

Consulting Psychologist/Certified Speaking Professional
PO Box 672, Pleasanton, TX 78064

December 25, 2012 Posted by | adversity, family, Healthy living, Inspirational, Parents, Special Occasions | Leave a comment

Thanks FROM a Veteran

It seemed to me that the recognition of and for active duty military and veterans this year was extra strong and extra special. As a vet myself, it was wonderful to experience. In fact, I just got back from Chili’s, where they were feeding lunch to a whole bunch of vets today. Wonderful.

I’m a Vietnam vet, and it’s becoming increasingly more clear to me that we are the OLD guys (and gals), now that so many of our WWII and Korea vets are no longer with us. When I do training now, and especially when I train school folks, most of the audience wasn’t even born when I was in the service.

When President Johnson stepped up the war in Vietnam in the late 60s, the draft was on, big-time. I joined so as to have at least a little choice, knowing my “number” was coming. I went into the Navy and, on balance, it was four years I think back on with pride. Because I tested out well in boot camp, I was able to get into the Naval Security Group, a branch of the Navy that handled extremely sensitive communication. It’s a very small part of the Navy.

This put me on two separate trips to Vietnam in 1969-70 in support of our marine counterparts With the Third Marine Amphibious Force (Camp Horn), near DaNang. I knew these guys; we had trained together in Pensacola, Florida. Because part of our duty was to call in firepower on the enemy, it was their job to try to knock us out of business. They wanted to kill us, and they certainly tried. I can remember clearly still wondering if the next incoming rocket was going to have my name on it. Fortunately, I made it through alright, with just a few close calls. Since then, I haven’t been able to come even close to the feeling of fellowship I experienced with those marines, and I’ve never felt, before or since, the sensation of absolutely KNOWING that what I was doing was signifcant because it saved many, many American lives.

As some of you might know, Vietnam vets were spat upon and ridiculed when they returned, as if they were somehow involved in the politics of it all. I remember all that. But today, I’m deeply humbled and appreciative.

Thanks again, from a veteran. May God bless you all.


Petty Officer 2nd Class James D. Sutton, USN (1966-1970)

November 11, 2011 Posted by | Inspirational, patriotism, Special Occasions | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Shoes (Christmas, 2010)

I’m not sure where I came across this story, but it touched my heart. I’ll bet it will touch your heart also. It would be interesting, indeed, to play this story out over the years in order to see the potential long-term impact of a random act of kindness.

Have a blessed Christmas, 2010. –JDS


THE SHOES: (The Scene: A very cold and blustery December day in New York City.)

A young boy was standing in front of a shoe store, barefooted, peering into the window. He was shivering with cold as a lady approached him.

“Young man, what are you looking at so intently in that window?”

“I was asking God for a pair of shoes,” the lad answered her.

She smiled and reached for his hand. As she led him into the store, she asked the clerk for several pairs of socks for the boy. Then she requested a basin of water and a towel.

The lady took the boy to the back of the store and, removing her gloves, knelt down and washed his feet and dried them with the towel. She then put some new woolen socks on his feet and purchased for him a new pair of shoes.

As a finishing gesture, the lady tied up the remaining pairs of socks and handed the bundle to the youngster.

Gently touching him on the head she exclaimed, “No doubt, my little fellow, you are more comfortable now.”

As she turned to leave, the boy reached for her hand. As tears filled his eyes he gazed into her face and asked a question that tugged on her heart:


December 24, 2010 Posted by | adversity, family, Healthy living, Inspirational, Self-esteem, Special Occasions | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Father’s Day Tribute, 2009

Here’s a YouTube upload of a song I wrote following the loss of my father, Fred Sutton, in 1998. The lyrics of it are in an earlier Father’s Day post on this site. This posting is my Father’s Day, 2009, tribute to him. More than that, it’s for all the fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers that have lovingly guided our lives in so many ways.

Thanks, Dad. Thanks for always being there for me.

James Sutton, Psychologist

June 15, 2009 Posted by | family, Inspirational, Parents, Special Occasions | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on D-Day, 65 Years Later

Precious few of those who survived the invasion of Normandy and eventually broke the back of the Nazi regime are still with us. It’s been 65 years.

Their sacrifice and their unfaltering resolve stood in the gap at a time when the Allies were assured of nothing. I don’t know if there was a back-up plan to the invasion, but I doubt it. Had the invasion failed, our world would be much  different today.

The decision to invade the beaches and thrust through France and eventually onto German soil had to be sheer agony  for Allied Supreme Commander General Eisenhower. He was aware of the cost. I’m sure that, as he looked into the faces of the men of the 101st Airborne as they were preparing to be dropped behind enemy lines as a component of the plan, he knew full well a good many of these soldier would ever see their families and loved ones again.

But mostly, it was not the generals, but rather the privates, corporals and seamen whose resolve made the defining difference. They weren’t fighting for glory; they were fighting for absolutely everything they held dear. 

We could use a little of that sort of resolve today.


James Sutton, Psychologist

June 6, 2009 Posted by | adversity, family, Inspirational, patriotism, Special Occasions | Leave a comment

Thoughts on Five Kernels of Corn

The story on this blogsite, Five Kernels of Corn, The Thanksgiving Story, originally goes back to William Bradford’s personal account of the Pilgrims’ early experiences in this country. I have never read Bradford’s account, only excerpts of it from Marshall and Manuel’s inspiring book, The Light and the Glory (Fleming H. Revell, 1977). I included it as a story of faith in a publication of my own.

There are those who have said the story is not true. I cannot guarantee that it is, but I have read Manuel and Marshall’s book twice, and am amazed at the research and the multiple references that went into their work. Nothing careless there that I could see. 

One reason for debunking the story is that five kernels of corn have no nutritional value. They could not sustain life. Maybe so, but faith and hope have no nutritional value, but both are powerful sustainers of life.

(Speaking of nutritional value, Manuel and Marshall describe how some of the early Jamestown settlers became so hungry they boiled and ate the leather hinges off boxes and trunks. Not much nutritional value there either but, if it’s all you have, it’s all you have.)   

Personally, I believe the story is one of simple faith, a willingness to put one’s total self and soul into the hands of the Creator of it all. After all, what is left when your back is to the wall, and your stomach is rubbing against your backbone?

The Pilgrims didn’t have the luxury of a government bailout plan. They stayed with the faith that brought them here.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

(If you know of anyone who struggles sometimes with their children, please tell them about my free ebooklet, Resolving Conflicts with Your Children. They can download it through my free monthly email publication, the ODD [Oppositional Defiant Disorder] Mangement Digest. The link for it is on the right. It is a great resource for educators, counselors and parents.)


James Sutton, Psychologist

November 26, 2008 Posted by | Inspirational, Special Occasions | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fourth of July: A Yearn to Churn

Whatever happened to the family traditions, those events that stand out in the memories of children of all ages? Why not build some for yourself and your family.

One of my best Fourth of July memories (and not just the Fourth of July, but summer in general) didn’t even involve fireworks. It involved ice cream … handcranked ice cream, to be specific.

Grandma, Mom and my aunt would mix the ingredients for fantastic vanilla ice cream with just a hint of lemon. Dad and my uncle would get the churn ready. The soon-to-be-made ice cream was poured into the stainless steel inside container, the dasher was set into it, then the top was carefully set down over the container and dasher. After that, Dad and my uncle chipped ice and packed it into the churn, freely mixing in some rock salt as they filled the wooden-bucket part of the churn with ice. They’d pack it to the top, then put the crank on the top of the churn, connecting it to the top of the dasher.

And that’s where I came in. Dad would take a piece of an old blanket and lay it over the ice-packet churn. I sat on top of that folded over blanket to hold the churn in place while the men took turns cranking the ice cream. To this kid it seemed they cranked for hours. They didn’t crank it for hours, but they did crank it long enough for my rear end to get numb as the cold and wet from the melting ice worked its way onto me.

The best part of all this work, of course, was the magical “unveiling” of the finished ice cream. They’d carefully remove the crank, then pull top off the container, and remove the dasher, now covered with lemon-vanilla ice cream. The kids, my sister, my cousins and me, got to take turns licking that dasher.

That still has to be the best way to enjoy homemade ice cream. Pretty awesome stuff!

But the memories are better still.

Have a wonderful Fourth of July.


James D. Sutton, Psychologist  

June 28, 2008 Posted by | family, Inspirational, Parents, Special Occasions | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Grocery Store Poppy — Memorial Day, 2008

As a kid growing up in Abilene, Texas, I recall those times with Mom or Dad would come back from the store with a little plastic, red poppy they had received for making a donation to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. That was, of course, the Memorial Day weekend. My father would wear that little poppy on his suit Sunday morning, although it was years before I really understood what the little flower represented, and that the artificial poppies were made by disabled vets.

As I understand it, the significance of the poppy and the rememberance of faithful veterans killed in action goes back to the Great War–World War I, although Memorial Day (which was called Decoration Day at one time) as an event goes back to the Civil War era. When American troups were lost to enemy action and disease in Europe during the Great War, they were buried in Flanders Fields, where they take their rest to this day.

I’ve been told that poppies only grow on soil that’s been broken and turned, as in the preparation and use of a grave. This was the inspiration of one of the greatest poems ever written to the memory and dedication of our uniformed heros past. It was written by John Mcrae in 1915, but it fits today, more than ever:


In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders Fields


Take up our quarrel with the foe;

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies blow

In Flanders Fields


James D. Sutton, Psychologist




May 26, 2008 Posted by | adversity, family, Inspirational, patriotism, Special Occasions, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Christmas: A Baby’s Hug

Note: My friend in Austin, Texas, Jim Gentil, sent this piece to me. It is from his bi-weekly email newsletter, “Positive Spiritual Living!” (Issue 70-December 20, 2007). It touched me so much I wanted to share it with you. The writer was not identified, but it was obviously a young mother. I have edited the story a bit.


We were the only family with children in the restaurant. I sat Erik in a high chair and noticed how everyone was quitely sitting, eating and talking.

Suddenly, Erik squealed with glee and shouted, “Hi!” He pounded his little hands on his tray, his eyes twinkling with delight. He wriggled and giggled with glee.

I looked around and found the source of his merriment: a man with baggy old pants and toes poking out of worn-out shoes. His shirt was dirty, his hair uncombed and his whiskered face unwashed. He waved at my baby.

“Hi there, baby. Hi there, big boy. I see ya’, buster,” he said to Erik.

My husband and I exchanged “What do we do?” looks, while Erik continued to laugh and shout, “Hi!”

Everyone in the restaurant was now watching. The old fellow was creating a nuisance with my beautiful baby.

Our meal came as the man began to shout across the room: “Do ya patty cake? Do you know peek-a-boo? Hey, look! He knows peek-a-boo!”

No one thought he was cute. He was obviously drunk.

My husband and I were embarrassed. We ate in silence; Erik didn’t. He ran through his repertoire for the old man who, in turn, reciprocated with his cute comments.

We finally finished our meal and headed for the door. My husband went to pay the check and said he’d meet me at the car. The old man was poised between me and the door.

“Lord, please, please just let me get out of here before he speaks to me or Erik,” I prayed. As I drew closer, I turned my back trying to sidestep him. But as I did, Erik leaned over my arm and reached for the man with his arms raised. Before I could stop him, Erik had launched himself from my arms to his.

Suddenly a desheveled and smelly old man and a young baby connected in love and kinship. Erik, in an act of total trust, love and submission, laid his head on the man’s ragged shoulder. 

The man’s eyes closed; I could see tears clinging to his lashes. His rough, aged hands gently cradled my baby’s bottom and stroked his back.

I don’t believe two humans ever loved so deeply for so short a time. I was awestruck. He rocked and cradled Erik in his arms, then his eyes fastened squarely on mine. “You take good care of this baby,” he said in a firm and commanding voice.

With difficulty, I managed to whisper, “I will.”

Longingly and lovingly he lifted Erik from his chest and passed him to me.

“God bless you, ma’am. You’ve just given me my Christmas gift.”

I said nothing more than a muttered, “Thanks,” and ran with Erik to the car. My husband was wondering why I was crying and why I was saying,” Oh, God, forgive me.” I had just witnessed Christ’s love shown through the innocence of a small child who saw no sin, who made no judgement. The child saw a soul, where a mother saw only a suit of clothes. I was a Christian who had been blind, but I was holding a child who saw perfectly.

I felt it was God asking me, “Are you willing to share your son for a moment?” when He shared His for all eternity. Indeed, the ragged old man had reminded me of something Christ taught: “To enter the kingdom of God, we must become as little children.”


Have a blessed Christmas.

James Sutton, Psychologist


December 24, 2007 Posted by | family, Inspirational, Parents, Special Occasions | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

We Are NOT The Only Experiment

“Nature is trying very hard to make us succeed, but nature does not depend on us. We are not the only experiment.”  R. Buckminster Fuller

Mr. Fuller said it, and just about every counselor or therapist I know would affirm it. We are not the only experiment.

One sure sign of psychological and emotional anguish is a turning inward. Children are no different from adults. When they are hurting, they are apt to feel they are the only persons on this earth, and that it is the job of everyone else to soothe them. Frankly, it’s not good for a child or adolescent to be the star, producer and director of their own personal movie. Such a inward turn is rarely a good thing.

The secret is to get the youngster to focus on someone else, if even briefly. It puts the child in a much better place and increases his or her emotional vision.

Years ago our son, Jamie, was a child care worker at a residential treatment facility. He worked with boys up to age 10. That week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day was awful. There were no more presents to open and there was no school. It was a “down time” of the worst variety.

The following year the staff took the boys over to a shelter for the homeless early in that same week to teach them a little lesson about the plight of others. They were given small jobs to do around the place. As they focused on the needs of the homeless around them, they began to put their own situations into a more positive perspective.

There was even a homeless clown at the shelter. He offered the boys unwrapped candy that had been collecting lint in his pockets for weeks.  One-by-one, Jamie pulled the boys aside and instructed each of them to accept the candy from the clown, BUT NOT TO EAT IT. He promised to trade them out a piece of wrapped candy when they got back to the unit. (It’s okay to accept the kindnesses of others, so long as they don’t poison you!)

The staff had little trouble with those boys for the rest of that week. I guess the lads figured out, for awhile anyway, that they were not the only experiment.

And that topped any present they got that Christmas.

James D. Sutton, Psychologist

March 30, 2007 Posted by | Counselors, Difficult Child, Educators, family, Inspirational, Parents, Self-esteem, Special Occasions | 1 Comment

The Wheel Turned

My aunt, my mother’s sister, passed away this weekend. Letha Marie Spangler was 85–a full life. Interesting how she was stricken with cancer in the 60s, yet she outlived her only sister by more than 20 years. My sister was especially faithful to stay in touch with her right up to the end. 

Over the years, I have lost a lot of aunts and uncles on both my mother’s and father’s sides, but the loss of this aunt was different. She was the last surviving member of the family she was born into. That means, as far as my mother’s family is concerned, I am IT, the next in line as the oldest grandchild and nephew.

The Generation Wheel has taken a turn. But what does that mean?

When I got word that my aunt had passed away, my thoughts went back to a time when we all converged at my grandmother’s place in Shawnee, Oklahoma, for a picnic one summer. We went to a place my dad called Boy Scout Park there in Shawnee. I have that day preserved on video. It started out on 8mm film.

(Years ago, Dad would load up the old Keystone projector and show the film on a sheet hung in the doorway. As it got to the end, my sister and I would ask him to run the projector backwards. I remember how we used to howl with laughter to watch our kin “eat” by taking food out of their mouths and putting it back on their plates. And there’s Dad playing “backwards” catch with one of my cousins. He’d put the ball in his gloved hand and it would magically go flying out of the glove and into the air.)

It’s a shame we can’t run time backwards like the old Keystone projector collecting dust in my attic.

It occurred to me that EVERY adult in that grainy, old film is now deceased, one whole generation plus my grandmother.

If there are memories to be preserved, it’s now up to me, Sis, and the cousins.

If there are lessons to be taught, it’s now up to me, Sis, and the cousins.

If there are kindnesses to be passed on, it’s now up to me, Sis, and the cousins.

If there is faith to be planted and nurtured, it’s now up to me, Sis, and the cousins.

There’s a challenge worth the taking.

James Sutton, Psychologist

February 12, 2007 Posted by | family, Inspirational, Parents, Special Occasions | 2 Comments

21-Gun Respect

Today I was an honorary pallbearrer at the funeral of a friend. He was definitely “old school,” born in 1906. That’s right, he lived to be 100 years and 6 months old. He was married to his sweetheart for 68 years (which would have been 75 years had she outlived him). That’s definitely “old school.”  

 Career military, he joined the Army in the 20’s during post-WWI. He because part of the Air Force when it broke away from the Army Air Corps, then retired in 1956. That was over 50 years ago. He saw action WWII and Korea. The pallbearrers were all VFW members; the youngest one of them was a Korea vet. Among the active and honorary pallbearers there were a number of WWII and Korea vets, and one Vietnam vet … me.

He was buried with full military honors, in a downpour. The Air Force NCO who played “Taps” stood at attention in the rain and played it masterfully. I couldn’t tell you if there were any dry eyes left in the crowd because mine weren’t. How anyone could experience that and not feel it deeply would be a mystery to me. 

I stood directly behind this man’s son and daughter (both in their 60s or even early 70s) and witnessed the folding and the presentation of the flag to the family. I could hear the airman clearly: “On behalf of the President of the United States, the United States Air Force, and a grateful nation …”

Moving. No, MORE than moving.

In times where our young folks often see someone like this man as just a “funny old person,” it’s important that we let them know that it was men and women like this who earned for us the freedoms we enjoy today.

 James Sutton, Psychologist  

December 21, 2006 Posted by | Educators, Inspirational, Parents, Special Occasions | 2 Comments

On Doing the Right Thing

As a former teacher and a lifetime parent, I believe one of the most difficult things to teach young people is to do the right thing when there may be no payoff in sight. Sometimes the right thing is simply the right thing; period.

 Earlier this week I was asked to be a pallbearer at the funeral of a woman I knew by name only. All of her family were living in various parts of the country. Although I thought it a “different” sort of request, I agreed and did, indeed, carry her casket … the casket of a person I didn’t know. Interesting, huh?

Why would we do such a thing or, more specifically, why did I? I agreed to be a pallbearer for at least three reasons:

1. I have the deepest regard and respect for the person who called and asked me if I would be a pallbearer.

2. I was available to do it. Various circumstances prevented most of the other men from our small church to be a pallbearer. I was home still, getting ready for a trip to Kansas, but I was home and available. 

3. It was simply the right thing to do. That in and of itself was enough.

I cannot tell you that taking on this little job was a hassle for me, because it wasn’t. Nor could I tell you that doing it made me feel wonderfully warm and fuzzy inside. It didn’t. It was simply the right thing to do, and that was enough.

In the grand scheme of things life got back to “normal” after a 90 minute diversion of carrying the casket of a stranger. There were calls to make and errands to run. I seriously doubt if I will even recall this action a few years from now. But I’m very clear on the fact that, had I refused this request and others like it, I would have been a bit less as a person because of it.

Sometimes doing the right thing is simply the right thing to do.  

November 30, 2006 Posted by | Inspirational, Parents, Special Occasions | 3 Comments

Five Kernels of Corn (the Thanksgiving Story)

Here is a story of gratitude. It’s taken from the book, Windows II: book for those with a heart for helping kids heal, by Dr. James Sutton ( The original source of the material was Marshall and Manuel’s book, The Light and the Glory (Fleming H. Revell, 1977). They did substantial research on the material included in the book. Often, they were allowed to access documents and journals not readily available to the public.

NOTE: To hear a reading of this story CLICK HERE.


On November 11, 1620, the Mayflower dropped anchor in a natural harbor on the inside of the northern tip of Cape Cod. There it stayed. The location was not the Pilgrims’ first choice; they had planned to settle near the mouth of the Hudson.

The area where the ship made landfall had belonged to the Patuxets, a fierce tribe that took intense delight in murdering anyone who would dare invade their territory. A sickness, however, had wiped them out, leaving their land free for the taking. (Other Indians, fearing “bad spirits,” would have no part of it.) The Pilgrims didn’t even have to clear fields for planting. They were alread there for them.

The nearest neighbors were the Wampanoags, a civilized tribe ruled by Massasoit. The chief and his people accepted the Pilgrims and helped them. Squanto, a lone survivor of the Patuxets, made his home with this new inhabitants and taught them how to survive in this new and challenging land.

Although the bounty of the summer of 1621 brought a time of heartfelt gratitude (the first Thanskgiving), the Pilgrims’ obligation to repay the backers who had financed their voyage left them dangerously close to starvation. Food stores had all but disappeared.

At one point, a daily ration of food for a Pilgrim was 5 kernels of corn. With a simple faith that God would sustain them, no matter what, they pulled through. History records that not a single one of them died from starvation that winter. Not a one.

The harvest of 1623 brought a surplus of corn, so much that the Pilgrims were able to help out the Indians for a change. So joyous were they that they celebrated a second Day of Thanksgiving and again invited Massasoit to be their guest.

He came, bringing with him his wife, several other chiefs and 120 braves. All sat down to a feast of 12 venison, 6 goats, 50 hogs and pigs, numerous turkeys, vegtables, grapes, nuts, plums, puddings and pies. But, lest anyone forget, all were given their first course on an empty plate.

They were each given 5 kernels of corn.


November 23, 2006 Posted by | Inspirational, Special Occasions | 14 Comments

ON Getting Even … and GRATITUDE

This was sent to me recently by a friend. Sounds like a good message in preparation for a day of thanksgiving.

 James Sutton, Educator/Psychologist


The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you.
– John E. Southard

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.
– William Arthur Ward


November 22, 2006 Posted by | Counselors, Educators, Inspirational, Parents, Special Occasions | 1 Comment

Listen! God is Speaking

Listen! God is Speaking 

 My friend in Austin, Jim Gentil, sent this one to me in his ezine, “Positive Spiritual Living!” I though it was well worth sharing.

James Sutton, Psychologist


The man whispered, “God, speak to me.”

And a meadowlark sang.

But he did not hear.

So the man yelled, “God, SPEAK to me!”

And the thunder and lightning rolled across the sky.

But he did not listen.

The man looked around and said, “God, let me SEE You.”

And a star shone brightly.

But he didn’t see.

And the man shouted, “Show me a miracle.”

And a new life was born.

But he didn’t notice.

So the man cried out in despair, “Touch me, God, and let me know You are HERE!”

Whereupon God reached down and touched the man.

But he brushed away the butterfly and walked on.

Message: Don’t miss out on a blessing just because it isn’t packaged the way you expect.


September 9, 2006 Posted by | Inspirational, Special Occasions | Leave a comment

Careful What You Eat!

Careful What You Eat! 

I thought this was good. It just goes to show you that doctors don’t know everything. Thanks to Marvin Royal for this one. Have a great week,

James Sutton


A Doctor was addressing a large audience in Tampa.
“The material we put into our stomachs is enough to have killed most of us sitting here, years ago. Red meat is awful. Soft drinks corrode your stomach lining.
Chinese food is loaded with MSG. High fat diets can be disastrous, and none of us realizes the long-term harm caused by the germs in our drinking water. But there is one thing that is the most dangerous of all and we all have, or will, eat it. Can anyone here tell me what food it is that causes the most grief and suffering for years after eating it?”
After several seconds of quiet, a 75-year-old man in the front row raised his hand, and softly said, “Wedding Cake.”


August 14, 2006 Posted by | Humor, Special Occasions | 1 Comment

The Passport

This little piece goes to prove that, regardless of one’s race, creed or color, there’s no call for being rude. 

I’d like to dedicate this one to the memory of my wife’s father, Bob Richardson, and the thousands more like him who make that historic landing on Omaha Beach.


An elderly gentleman of 83 arrived in Paris by plane. At the French customs desk, the man took a few minutes to locate his passport in his carry-on bag.
“You have been to France before, monsieur?” the customs officer asked sarcastically.
The elderly gentleman admitted he had been to France previously.
“Then you should know enough to have your passport ready.”
The American said, “The last time I was here, I didn’t have to show it.”
“Impossible. Americans always have to show passports on arrival in France !”
The American senior gave the Frenchman a long, hard look.
Then he quietly explained “Well, when I came ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day in June of 1944 to help liberate this country, I was a little busy. Besides, I couldn’t FIND any Frenchmen to show it to.”

August 1, 2006 Posted by | Humor, Inspirational, Special Occasions | Leave a comment

Independence Day, 2006–My Most Patriotic Moment

My most patriotic moment, my proudest time to be an American, occurred when IJim in Vietnam wasn’t even in America at the time.

It was 1968, I had brought a small group of sailors to Camp Horn near DaNang, South Vietnam. We were there to assist a marine radio battalion (First Radio Battalion) that at the time was overworked and way undermanned. (We were all part of the Naval Security Group, having trained together at Correy Field in Pensacola, Florida.) Our work there, and the men I worked with, are among my most meaningful experiences ever.

We were still short on communications specialists, so we all worked in two 12-hour shifts. There was never a day off; you were on or off, and very quickly you shifted. Frankly, we were luckly to get any sleep at all when we were under mortar attack.

When it was time for our group to cycle back to Japan and let another group help out for awhile, I realized the marines did not have tickets to get us OUT of Vietnam, only IN. We had to wait for whatever hop we could catch. We hung around around the airport long enough and looked miserable enough (which wasn’t difficult) that we finally caught a flight out … a medivac, a hospital plane.

We landed for transfer in Okinawa. I checked on flights to Japan for myself and my men, and was told that there was an American aircraft headed that way, but it was ready to take off. Fortunately, they radioed the plane and told them to wait for us. They pointed me in the general direction of where the planes were and simply said, “Hurry!”

At night all airplanes look pretty much the same. We were running down the tarmac, toting our sea-bags, trying to find one plane among what looked like hundreds. By this time we were exhausted. Something told me to look up. A spotlight, or some kind of light, was shining squarely on Old Glory, a small American flag that was painted on the tail of our ride out of Okinawa. It’s difficult to put into words, but I felt an immediate sense of calmness and serenity, that everything would work out. We loaded quickly through the tail ramp of the plane. I made sure my men were taken care of, then buckled myself into a seat … and slept like a baby.

I NEVER see Old Glory flying but that it doesn’t remind me of that night and that special flag that seemed to find me.

God Bless America, and all of our men and women in uniform who wear our flag on their shoulder. May it be a beacon to them also.

 James Sutton, Psychologist 

PS: The picture was taken in 1968, DaNang, South Vietnam. I ended up taking an additional TAD detachment of support there to First Radio Battalion.  

July 4, 2006 Posted by | Inspirational, Special Occasions | Leave a comment

Father’s Day 2006, “A Good Man”

On a day when we honor our fathers, here's a song I wrote honoring my father, Fred Sutton, a week after he passed away in October of 1998. It's simply called, "He Was a Good Man."

He was a good man, loved his family

A good man, for the world to see

By most measures fame had passed him by

But no matter, I always saw him try

To do the right thing, 'cause it was the thing to do

A good man, the kind to see things through


Good men come; good men go

The best we've every had

And if there's a Good Men's Hall of Fame,

There'll be a place for Dad

A good man; his memory lingers on

In the lives he touched, in the words of this song

A good man, and I want you to understand

He was more than just a man

He was a good man

(written by James D. Sutton, 1998)

June 20, 2006 Posted by | Special Occasions | Leave a comment