Lynard, Vehicle for Change

Changing things one smile at a time


“It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching” – St. Francis of Assisi.

I was sitting in my car, enjoying the view of swaying wild grasses, singing trees and a lake filled to the brim at Crown Hill Park near Denver. Before I could get out and begin my walk around the water, a man approached me. I noticed he wore a hat with the name of a politician I don’t particularly like. That fact fell away as his exuberant smile framed the words he spoke.

“Wow, what a beautiful old VW Beetle. What year is it?” He was looking at my car, not at me. I was looking at him, not his hat.

“He’s a ‘69 model.”

“No kidding. I had

I had a ‘68 just like it. My brother and I took a cross-country trip in that little car. We had some good times. I think baby blue was the best color VW ever used. I love these cars. Every time I see one I think of my brother. He went to Nam after high school; he never came home.” He looked toward the water, and we both fell silent.

“I’ve always wanted to buy another car like this, but my wife thinks it’s too extravagant. She doesn’t understand ‘Beetle Fever.’”

I nodded. “I know. Of all the cars I’ve owned, Lynard is fender and hood above the rest.”

Why did you name him Lynard?” He stopped calling Lynard “it” and used the pronoun “him.”

“He’s named after Lynerd Skynard.” His grin told me he recognized the 1970’s rock band. This time he nodded.

“Well, that’s a good name for this guy. You two have a good day. I have to get my daily walk in before it gets too warm. Take care of yourself, and that car. He’s a treasure.”

I assured him that Lynard was in the best of hands as he and his dog moved toward the walking path around the lake.

I put my head back on the headrest, closed my eyes, thanked God I met a new person and that Lynard brought a smile, and sense camaraderie, to the stranger and me.

When I opened my eyes there was a woman approaching my car waving. As I was trying to figure out if I knew her, she came to the driver’s side and asked, “How old is your car?”

“He’s a ‘69.”

“I graduated in 1967, and I remember these cars. My sister had a yellow one. Why do you call your car him?”

“He’s named after Lynard Skynard. I named him that because I am an old hippie and Lynard is a free bird.”

She clapped her hands and issued a deep, rich laugh. Sunshine bounced off her silver-grey crown. “I remember that band. I saw them in 1973. And the song ‘Free Bird’ is one of a kind.  What a great guitar solo in the middle of that one. I’ve never heard anything like it before or since.” She stopped talking and looked out at the lake’s waves dancing to the music and memories of another decade. I joined her.

She broke the silence first. “You know, my father’s name was Leonard. He passed away almost fifteen years ago. I believe you and I were meant to meet today. I’m Lorraine.” She extended her hand.

“I’m Laura and this, as you know, is Lynard.”

She stroked the top of my car as if touching the face of a baby and looked at me through tear-filled eyes.

“Thank you. I’m missing my father today. I bet you get lots of attention with this car huh?”

“Well, it’s not so much about the attention. It’s about making folks smile. You see, I believe we live in a world that is toxic like never before. It seems we are all at each other’s throats, angry, afraid and divided. Lynard and I are on a sort of mission. We like to roll around trying to find common ground and connections with others. He brings lots of smiles and memories. Everyone has a VW  story. I feel like, in a small way, my little car helps heal the brokenness in our world through connection and storytelling.”

“Well he does that for sure. I couldn’t agree with you more about this world. We have to get back to loving, or at least liking, each other. God bless you, my new friend. And God bless you too, Lynard.”

She took her leave and walked to her own vehicle. I tapped Lynard’s steering wheel and said, “Old man, you are indeed a treasure. You be good and try to keep people smiling while I go for my walk, okay?”

I got out of Lynard, locked his doors and headed for my stroll by the water. Before I ventured more than a few yards, I noticed a young lady sitting on a bench near the walking path and putting on a pair of roller skates. I hadn’t seen a pair like that in years. They were white with four pink-rimmed, plastic wheels, high top laces and toe-stops.

“Hello,” I greeted her.


“You know,” I told her, “I used to have some just like that. Now those bring back some memories.”

She beamed at me and said she couldn’t help noticing my car.  “I love those cars. How old is it?”

Copyright August 2017
Laura L. Padgett
Lakewood, Colorado

Connect with me on Twitter @lauraleepadgett  or Facebook Author Page

Check out my first book, “Dolores, Like the River,” available at Westbow Press, Barnes and Noble, Amazon and all major online retailers.

See my Publications tab on this website for books I am featured in, including “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books and Xulon Press, “Letters to America”.


I Want to Stay with You

“Have not I commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

What a great week in the Colorado mountain town of Silverthorne. Peaceful, peaceful, peaceful. My husband and I are blessed to have two to three weeks a year in this beautiful spot surrounded by mountains, rivers, lakes and hiking/biking trails. We enjoy every minute. And we don’t turn on our TV. We only have internet to watch movies and share pictures of the beauty God has created all around us.

We spend time together and apart. Keith likes to fish. I like to sit by the Blue River, pray, think and write. I love a certain stretch of that body of water where I can just be one with the river in my mind and soul (way too fast and cold to actually get in). When the week ends and it is time to go home, I always balk. I have the same conversation with God each year at this time.

“Father, I don’t want to go back to the traffic, the congestion, the crippling city atmosphere. I love my life. I love my family. I love my work. But can’t I just stay here, on this river with you?”

Like a parent talking to a small child, He assures me that He understands how I feel but I must return to where I’m assigned to do His work.

“I am more than grateful Father that Keith and I can spend time in this beautiful place. Thank you, thank you. Can I stay a little longer please?”

“A little longer daughter.”

I relax and lean against a large rock sitting on a wooden platform on the river bank. This is my secret place, off the pat and hidden by tall grass. I watch the waves dancing and sparkling while using energy to jump heavenward. Then they collapse into trust in the outcome of a journey they didn’t define. I turn my face to the sun’s warmth and breathe in serenity. A cloud rolls over. It’s time to go.

“God, I just want to stay here with you, by this river, by this rock. I’m content here, Lord. Sometimes I’m terrified down there.”

“I am your rock child. I am the water of your soul. And I go with you where ever you go. Do not fear. I go with you.”

Streams of sunlight break through the gathering cloud wall and bathe the water on its way to the appointed destination. I smile, let go of my earthly rock and move on to my own appointed destination. I know the water I leave behind is only physical. The living water I take with me will accompany me always, without cease, to give me strength, courage and peace.

Copyright July 2017
Laura L. Padgett
Lakewood, Colorado

Connect with me on Twitter @lauraleepadgett  or Facebook Author Page

Check out my first book, “Dolores, Like the River,” available at Westbow Press, Barnes and Noble, Amazon and all major online retailers.

See my Publications tab on this website for books I am featured in, including “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books and Xulon Press, “Letters to America”.


Bless Them and Change Me


The corners of my mouth drooped so low, they threatened to hook onto my collar bones. How could this be? It was mid-afternoon on Memorial Day, and we had worked hard on our latest remodeling project. We were urged to the finish line by the promise of a frozen custard blast thingy we saw advertised on TV at lunchtime. The last hour of our labor was spent in laughter and bliss as we discussed flavors available for purchase. We had a solid plan for reward. But when we went to our favorite drive-in treat shop, a voice from the speaker informed us that because of the customer volume and it was late in the day, their ice cream machine stopped working. Not possible. Not fair. Ice cream machines don’t stop working on hot summer holidays. This was an outrage.

The voice inside the speaker apologized and offered a soft drink instead. I shook my head. My husband declined the offer, and we left with me in a righteous state of pouting.

Sometimes when I’m hungry, uncomfortable and/or disappointed, I can become childlike in my outlook. What little wisdom I have accumulated over the past sixty-six years can just evaporate. It is then that the Wise One invades my heart and mind with words from others He has sent. In this case, the verbal gems were from a woman named Vision. And believe me, this woman’s name is more than appropriate for the valuable insights she has shared with me and with many.

In conversation with her earlier in the month, Vision spoke about a person who really gets under her skin. She admitted that in the past she’s had no problem letting him know exactly what he does to rile her. But on a recent encounter with him, she chose a new approach. My wise friend asked God to bless him and change her.

I thought about her words for a moment, then confessed that for the most part I would have asked God to change him and bless me. Still there was something in Vision’s prudent course of action that appealed to me. That something was found in further explanation. Vision said that her choice allowed her mind and heart to focus on God and call on Him to help change her thinking regarding control over anyone but herself.

As we drove home from the place with the mutinous ice cream machine, minus at least 800 unneeded calories, I decided to give Vision’s technique a try. “God, bless that young lady whose face I did not see but whose voice reflected exhaustion from a busy, hot holiday shift at work. And change me – whatever that means.”

Nothing happened on the spot. I was still hungry, hot and beyond disappointed at this turn of events in the face of my planned, and expected, reward. I decided to repeat my petition a few times.

On the fourth repetition, my anger lessening and I actually had compassion for the woman delivering this devastating news. I found it hard to be upset with someone while calling blessings upon them.

The “change me” part took a little longer. When my disappointment subsided and my focus shifted, I asked myself exactly how important the frozen custard blast thingy was anyway. Was this something I should allow to break the spirit of an otherwise good, productive and peaceful day? I also questioned my entitlement to things working out according to my plans

The words of my friend proved to be more than a mantra eliminating discomfort. Vision’s strategy showed me I have control over my attitudes and outlooks even if I’m in a funk. But control over other people, events and even machines? No. That is not available. Realizing this was my ticket back to good humor, peace and serenity. These three items on the spiritual list of options feel a lot better than any sweet treat on life’s menu.

With clearer thinking and less pouting, I saw the real problem at hand – hunger. With what was left of our energy, Keith and I got busy and put together Ma Padgett’s killer tacos. Just as peace and serenity provide healthy ways for my mind and soul to function, I suspect the tacos were the better choice to feed my little physical self.

Sometimes God uses circumstances, words from friends or just plain good sense to return me to healthy living. But this requires me to listen, be grateful for the wise words of others, let go of “my way” thinking and go to the ice cream place before they run out of treats.

Copyright June 2017
Laura L. Padgett
Lakewood, Colorado

Follow me on Twitter @lauraleepadgett
or check out my first book, “Dolores, Like the River,” available at Westbow Press, Barnes and Noble, Amazon and all major online retailers.

See my Publications tab on this website for books I am featured in, including “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books and Xulon Press, “Letters to America”.




One Foot, Then the Other

It is very quiet in the donor room. I try not to imagine the sounds made only days ago by the six-year-old boy now lying motionless, lifeless, under the paper drapes covering the sterile surgical field. Instead I move through the setup of instruments, sponges and sutures.

I resist temptation to wonder if he played baseball, pulled his sister’s hair, embarrassed his parents by trying to burp louder than his cousins at a family barbecue or squealed with glee as he wrestled his dog. I push away the image of him fighting bedtime but saying goodnight to his mother.  “I love you Mommy.”

I call all my training to the front lines in the battle to silence my heart. I focus on the rhythmic hum of a breathing machine pushing air through a tube and sending oxygen to organs that will be harvested and placed in other children’s ailing bodies. The machine’s voice, despite my focus, stays on the periphery of the quiet that rests on those in the room, especially the precious little gentleman in our care.

The surgeon stretches his hand toward me. For a little over a second we make eye contact. He says nothing. I need no words. I place the scalpel in his hand, and it begins.

At twenty-four years old, I am a skilled and practiced professional. I know this is not the time to attempt dialogue. I don’t expect the banter and camaraderie I’ve come to enjoy in other operating rooms and different situations. Carts carrying patients roll past the closed door but are of no consequence to me. I take no notice of chatter at the scrub sinks.

I don’t take the chance of stepping from behind my mask of honed precision to ask the question that will reveal my humanity. I stay well-guarded behind gates of routine. I move methodically, efficiently – the mental equivalent of one foot, and then the other. I proceed alongside the doctor also stepping one foot, and then the other. We have done this dance before. We know the choreography by heart.

This child is my patient. He has been declared dead by technical and legal criteria. But in this room, in this hour, under these lights and with all I can offer without breaching professional boundaries, I treat him with the same care for his dignity as I do those patients who have not departed this life. I gently touch his draped leg in attempt to connect with his little soul and let him know someone is here. He is not alone in these last silent hours.

The surgeon puts his hand out. I respond. I place one foot, and then the other. My eyes are the only visible part of my face. I will them to continue scanning the field in anticipation of the physician’s needs. I order them to lock tears behind stoic lenses unclouded by emotion. I hold the sacred hush with tenderness in gloved hands. I am one of the last to feel life’s warmth in this little frame. I am noiseless as I again touch the small draped leg close to where I stand.

At the procedure’s conclusion, I attend to legalities of paperwork, head to the locker room, strip off the surgical clothes and step into the shower. I wait in hot water pulses for the answer that my youthful mind insists will come if I just keep asking. But it does not come. I am tired. I rest in the void of the unanswered inquiry with trust. It’s all I have. I surrender.

When I step from the shower, I dress and leave before the rest of the O.R. crew gathers for our nightly pilgrimage to the College Inn for enchiladas and half-priced drafts. No food or drink tonight. Not tonight. I start the short walk to my apartment on the edge of the hospital campus. I am alone.

My shoulders slump under weight of thinking, not for the first time tonight, about the boy’s parents. Where are they? Do they know their treasured child was not alone in the end? Do they understand he was treated with tenderness and love until disconnection of breathing machines? Are they holding each other in the shadows of both losing hope and giving hope in the same moment, with the stroke of a pen?

I am two blocks from the hospital. It is safe for tears to flow, unrestricted by professional protocols. No permission is needed; none is sought. I move on and am careful to place one foot, and then the other.

Tomorrow I will start a new day and return to work. Perhaps I will help alleviate suffering by assisting with a gallbladder removal or repairing a broken hip. Maybe I will witness the miracle of new life at a baby’s birth. But tonight, tonight I think only of the little boy who slipped from this world into the next with me at his side.

At home I sit motionless, pensive, in awe of life and with respect for death. And I remain very quiet.




Copyright May 2017
Laura L. Padgett
Lakewood, Colorado

Follow me on Twitter @lauraleepadgett
or check out my first book, “Dolores, Like the River,” available at Westbow Press, Barnes and Noble, Amazon and all major online retailers.

See my Publications tab on this website for books I am featured in, including “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books and Xulon Press, “Letters to America”.

I would love to connect with you on my Author FB page:


Just Not My Day


How often do you feel your day is not going as planned? I’ve felt that way lots of times. There are days when I feel overwhelmed at the altar of the “to-do” list, then beat myself up because I just cannot figure a way to do all I have assigned myself. I have actually gone to bed some nights frustrated and feeling like I wasted an entire day.

I had one of those over-ambitious days recently, and it proved to be invitation into the classroom of the Almighty. I don’t know if anyone else can relate to this but if so, here is the wisdom my Father God shared with me.

In the middle of a particularly stressful day when I just seemed to be hitting brick walls on everything I put my hand to (except of course addressing and diminishing my stash of Girl Scout cookies), I threw my hands in the air in an act of surrender. Convinced I was doomed to terminally fun-less living, I said, “I give up, nothing is working here. The universe is conspiring against me and I am spinning out of control into the failure abyss.”

I decided maybe I should take the problem to God. I wish I could say it was in the form of prayer but it was more in the form of complaint. I tried to read my Bible – no dice – fragmented brain syndrome. I attempted dialogue with God – nothing doing – guilt for what I “should be doing” crept on me like humidity in the Florida Everglades.

In exasperation, I looked up to the ceiling and said, “I am trying so hard Lord but this is just not my day.”

I fell silent long enough to hear Him respond, “No, it is not your day. It is my day, and I have given it to you. I love you and I want you to have the best day possible. So, daughter,  if it is not working for you perhaps it is because you are not allowing me to work through you.”

I sat there for a moment, waiting for this truth to dawn on me and then heard the song and Scripture in my head, “This is the day that the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” (PS 118:24 NLT).

I ran to my computer to look in my music folder. I found the song on a children’s worship CD I use when teaching little ones to praise God in dance. I loaded it up and turned up the volume. Then I began to twirl and swirl in the dance I learned/teach to this catchy, uplifting little tune.

Yes, I admit it. In the middle of my living room, surrounded by the little pieces of paper encouraging me to believe I am a human doing and not a human being, I just danced with, to and for Him.

Boy, howdy, when God wants to teach us something in our heart, He uses our heart to teach. Dance, as you know beloveds, is my heart. So off we went, God leading and me following along to words on a CD recorded by little children singing out their praises to God.

When I sat down, I giggled and I thought, “This must be what you mean by us coming to you as little children. That was great Daddy. Can we do it again?”

And so we did. And while dancing, I figured it out. If I walk into each day asking God what He wants me to do, I will always go to bed feeling like I have accomplished what I was supposed to accomplish. If something does not get done, it was not meant to get done. Ah, what a relief.

Now I don’t mean to tell anyone else how to live. But just give this a try friends. Get out of bed and while you are brushing your teeth, starting the coffee or even just putting on your robe and slippers, look up and say, “This just isn’t my day God. It’s yours.”

Then ask, “What do You have in mind?” Maybe it will be to dance, or do your favorite form of play, and laugh with Him. And you know what?  That’s going to be more than enough. You just might find it is indeed your day after all.

Copyright February 2017
Laura L. Padgett
Lakewood, Colorado

Follow me on Twitter @lauraleepadgett
or check out my first book, “Dolores, Like the River,” available at Westbow Press, Barnes and Noble, Amazon and all major online retailers.

See my Publications tab on this website for books I am featured in, including “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books and Xulon Press, “Letters to America”.

I would love to connect with you on my Author FB page:

Can’t Talk to a Numb Tongue


I was not sure what I found more oppressive, my fear of the dentist as I sat in the chair for my appointment, or my sense of guilt at the way a disagreement with a friend ended the previous evening. That conversation weighed heavily on my mind. We were talking politics. This friend and I have been on opposite sides of most issues, in most elections, for over thirty years. Still, we have always been open to different points of view and kept civility in our conversations, due in large part to our mutual love for the Lord Jesus Christ. This time we were anything but open and civil.

Our conversation began calmly enough. But before long we began talking over each other, insisting that only one person could be right and ended just this side of exchanging personal potshots. Anyone who has taken a debate class knows an argument is lost when we resort to injuring others because it screams, “My position is weak as water, and the only way I can win is by distracting you with insults.”

Still, passion is passion and it does not always provide an exit ramp when on the highway of self-righteousness. What is worse, the unshakable posture, “I’m right,” will push us full-speed past the line of protecting dignity – ours or another’s. I am sorry to say this is becoming increasingly true in Christian circles too, in my experience.

I was pulled off the guilt meter when my dentist, (a fellow I like very much by the way) came in to deliver that always pleasant shot in the jaw from a needle the size of a fire hose. During the injection I did my usual routine – remembered breathing techniques learned in childbirth classes, tried not to lose control of any bodily functions and prayed really, really hard.

After half my face and tongue felt dead, the hygienist began prep work. This was complicated by my inability to get my tongue out of the way.

I tried complying with her request to pull that pesky organ back. But it simply was not a manageable task. I tried to apologize with words. Again, it was not manageable. I looked up helplessly. The hygienist laughed and said, “I know you are trying, Hon. But it’s hard to talk to a numb tongue.”

I attempted a nod and smile. Instead I sort of just blinked and drooled at her. She patted my hand and together with the dentist we shared the space for two hours until the procedure was completed.

When I returned home, I sat down with my Bible, which I felt I did not have time to read earlier. As directed by my favorite devotional booklet, I turned to the Scripture passage of the day. “But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison,” (James 3:8 ESV).

I realized God was talking directly to me about the previous day’s conflict. It was not what I said but how I said it. I was so bent on being right, I did not realize my words were hurtful. My tongue was untamed because it had become unruly and fueled by ego.

I mused about this, pouted a little and did the familiar three-year-old mental shifting from one foot to the other while pleading, “She started it, God. And besides look how everyone is acting right now. We are just so uptight and steeped in unkindness. What do you expect when we live in this world you gave us?”

I knew in my heart this was not going to fly with the Almighty any more than Adam pointing a finger and saying, “Yeah, well it’s all her fault,” got him off the hook for the Eden eviction. God was very clear that it does not matter how others act, we are responsible for our own actions. His kids are called to act differently, period. If there was a problem with my friend, He would deal with that. It was not my business.

After some time on the pity pot, I climbed into my Father’s lap and asked Him to forgive me. I told him I would call the other party and ask her forgiveness too, when I could manage to get words out without slurring them.

As the injection meds wore off, I was in a considerable amount of pain. The discomfort was not from the dental work sites, but from a bite on my tongue I incurred when I could not feel it. Again the Holy One nudged me.

I sat back in my chair with an ice pack on my mouth and shared a giggle (sort of) with God. “Oh, I see now. When the tongue is numb it causes great pain, to me and to others. That is the poisonous part you talk about in James, right? Okay, I get it, Lord,” I confessed.

The next day I was able to call my friend and offer an apology for my insensitivity. She accepted my amends and offered one of her own. We agreed to be aware of not only what we say but how we say it. We discussed and recommitted ourselves to our belief that we are never called, as believers, to be silent on important issues. We also fall far short of our obligation to govern our democracy if we refuse to learn from others and engage in respectful dialogue because we are more interested in protecting our own rigid stances.

We prayed over the phone and came away reaffirmed that relationships are more important than who is right or wrong. After a great conversation, we agreed to meet for lunch the next week.

I hung up and returned to the same passage in James 3:8, asking God to help me remember this lesson. He assured me that Scripture, when taken to heart, proves to be the best practice for walking this world. God’s Word helps us speak our truth in love, lend our voice to important issues and respect/learn from other voices. But most of all, it provides a solid model for loving by leading our conversations without numb tongues.

Copyright February 2017
Laura L. Padgett
Lakewood, Colorado

Follow me on Twitter @lauraleepadgett
or check out my first book, “Dolores, Like the River,” available at Westbow Press, Barnes and Noble, Amazon and all major online retailers.

See my Publications tab on this website for other books I am featured in, including “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books and Xulon Press, “Letters to America”.

I would love to connect with you on my Author FB page:



Picture by John J. Kyler Photography

I did the dance in a mime costume complete with a white, expressionless mask covering my face. Audience members were dependent upon my movements to tell the story of “The Sound of Silence.” The music had words, but I was depicting someone who felt safer expressing those words only behind a mask.

At the conclusion of the piece I moved backstage, removed the mask, ran my fingers through my hair and said, “Ahh, now that’s better. It’s tough working behind a mask.” Other troupe members nodded in agreement.

There are several conditions that make mask wearing difficult, on or off stage. Peripheral vision is diminished, and one can only see what is right in front of them. Obstructed vision limits perception of personal space. That limitation can impair balance and requires the wearer to proceed with great care in order to avoid injury. The amount of energy needed to compensate for these conditions is high. Using energy in this way can quickly lead to exhaustion. Despite the drawbacks, however, masks  can represent/provide something, sometimes, that most (like the little mime) crave – safety.

In the months since that performance, I have become aware of how many times I choose to subject myself to the tiresome endeavor of being in disguise. It is true enough that often I do not present my authentic self for fear of rejection or disapproval. Possibly this is due to lessons I learned as a child, or memories ingrained as I have danced with experience over the past six decades.

As I grow older,  I realize the closer I walk with God, the more I find deep peace in His healing truth that He accepts me just as I am. No mask required. This assurance sustains me when I am unable to extricate myself from situations where I feel I must be silent and safe, regardless of potential cost.

Personally, I prefer never to feel restricted or unbalanced. I do not consciously volunteer for the expense of serious energy-depletion. When I do find myself in those situations, however, I can rely on fellowship with the One who always welcomes me with acceptance and love, without pretenses. This, I think, is part of the peace He promises that passes all human understanding. I look forward to, and am grateful for, the times when I sit down with my Heavenly Father, sigh in relief, remove the mask and say, “Ahh, now that’s better.”

Copyright January 2017
Laura L. Padgett
Lakewood, Colorado

Follow me on Twitter @lauraleepadgett
or check out my first book, “Dolores, Like the River,” available at Westbow Press, Barnes and Noble, Amazon and all major online retailers.

See my Publications tab on this website for other books I am featured in, including “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books and Xulon Press, “Letters to America”.

I would love to connect with you on my Author FB page: