Perfecting Dysfunction

The Magi-ettes

You know the story of the gift of the Magi found in the Bible?  We’ve heard it again and again, and still I am in awe as I picture the kings from foreign lands coming to pay homage to the little baby born in the little town of Bethlehem.   Located just outside Jerusalem, Bethlehem is under Palestinian authority today.   Land over there has a way of switching hands, but for Israel “day ain’t over yet.”

The Bible doesn’t support the story of the Three Wise Women.  But I read something someone had written which caused me to wonder how the story would have been altered had a woman produced this Journey from the East:

Do you know what would have happened if there had been Three Wise WOMEN instead of Three Wise MEN?

The WOMEN would have:

– Asked directions, – Arrived on time,

– Helped deliver the baby,

– Cleaned the stable,

– Made a casserole, and

– Brought practical gifts (like diapers!)


Though women didn’t have much of a Biblical role, Mary takes the top position for female adoration.   I imagine she had a tough time balancing her very pregnant body on top of a donkey, while she and her husband road-tripped  to Bethlehem.  There was no water to boil, no sanitary standards at all in the barn, and the epidural wouldn’t be invented for another 2,000 years.  But I’m certain she suffered through it all with a great attitude.   Makes me so proud to be a woman.

Whether you’re a Magi or a Magi-ette, or a shepherd or a spectator, take this time to celebrate Christmas with your family, or with the homeless, or sick, or friendless.  You don’t have to have a title to be ‘the giver of good gifts.’  A word of encouragement can work Magi-cally!

Merry Christmas from Dawn, Ron, Tyler, Trenton and Colton, with sweet memories of Ryan, our first born.


Parenting · Perfecting Dysfunction


Last night I watched a documentary of the a cappella group PENTATONIX – five perfectly tuned vocal instruments requiring no accompaniment.  They spend days together, practicing, traveling, and perfecting harmonies for their next performance.   Together they are the Pentatonix. But if one were missing, they would become the “Tetratonixs,’ or perhaps even the “Triangulatonixs.”

No matter the size of your act, it gets bigger and better when you blend.  We blended for more than 180 days when we brought our family’s vagabond routine worldwide.  Five of us with a cameraman, filming us as we got to know some of the strangest people.


(And I am just as certain they told their families the same thing about us!)  At the toss of a ball, or a smile and a laugh, they became part of our group.

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Friends in spite of communities and languages!   While we blended with each other, we oddly seemed to blend  into each culture, experiencing the full ‘star-treatment’ especially in China!  Maybe ‘blend’ is the wrong word.  But we weren’t laughed outta town!  The notes that came from our little band weren’t always attractive, but we knew right away when somebody was off key.  And together, we brought them back to pitch.




You may take pride in your solo act;  but the concert is a lot harder when you travel alone. When you bring your group,  you’ll find ways to make everybody’s performance more a little better or at least a bit more interesting. Or challenging!  But always more memorable. You become each other’s best friends, confidantes, sounding boards and whipping posts.

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Your solo becomes ‘solo with substance!”  Of course from time to time notes go sour and someone threatens to leave the group to visit the Gin-and-tonix.

When it comes to “getting away from it all” remember to take what matters most to you.  Your family.  Maybe it’s strange, but if you have love and patience, you are a perfect fit.  And the next step?  A world tour!


Cape of Good Hope  Cape Town, S.Africa


Great day!



Parenting · Perfecting Dysfunction

The gift that keeps on givin’

I got to thinking about the kids’ Christmas lists and wondering, exactly what was it last year they ‘couldn’t live another year without,’  that thing that forced me to stand in two-hour lines to purchase? (What was that thing?) Can you remember what you got for Christmas last year?  How about your spouse or your kids?  Can you remember what you gave, or where you spent the day?




After we lost our seven-year-old son, each Christmas was spent wondering what sort of gift he would have wanted that particular year.

We tried to never let our sadness affect the excitement our other three sons experienced.   But we realized:  things had become less valuable than relationships.  Much less! And from that exchange came our ideas about taking a world trip with our family.   More time together, more adventure, more mistakes, more recoveries, more memories!

Suzhou,  China

Ask me what I remember about the gifts I got or gave last year, and I doubt I can give you a complete list.  But ask me about the Christmas spent three years ago when we took Our BackPack around the world and I can nail that memory!

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Before you get too wiggy this year spending your money on family gifts of technology which will be outdated in another month, consider starting your own “AWE Travel Fund.”  Ask each family member ‘If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be – and why?”   Talk it up!  When you study cultures together knowing you may get the chance to actually visit these places, you get a whole new level of interest.

Cousin Eddie in the movie Christmas Vacation, said it best:  “It’s the gift that just keeps on givin’, Clark.”

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(Cousin Eddie thought it was the Jelly-of-the-Month-Club — but we are pretty sure it’s a family adventure!)





Parenting · Perfecting Dysfunction

The Fowl Look


In 1621, Edward Winslow wrote a letter to a friend in England that describes the meal shared by the Pilgrims with the Indians: “Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors.”

This wasn’t the first attempt to share dinner with people who were basically the same, but down-to-the-last-detail, different.


The letters left behind assure us that the early American settlers sat down to dine with the Wampanoag Indians, sharing a dinner of whatever they could bag on the hunting trip.  No doubt the Indians brought their version of corn pudding, the kids picked berries, and, although a pumpkin soufflé wouldn’t be possible for another three hundred years, they did what they could with it.  But we don’t know the result of the men’s hunting trip.

'Next year, we'll shoot the turkey.'

We could assume it was a turkey.  It was native to North America.  (Ben Franklin said the turkey would be a more appropriate national emblem for the US than the eagle.  And the way people have behaved from the result of this past year’s election, you can see where that might have applied!)

But here is a little tip:  when you are sitting at the Thanksgiving table, take a minute to thank God for those to whom you are attached.


Thanksgiving is about ‘love,’ not necessarily ‘like.’  It’s about forgiveness and second, third and fourth chances. It’s for each of us and all of us – no matter the race, creed, color or place of birth.

Turkey enchiladas?  Turkey Hash?  Moo Shu Turkey?  BBQ Turkey Pizza?  Or good old California-style Vegetarian Turkey Tofu . . . . enjoy the meal and the time spent with those friends and relatives.  And chalk off any ‘fowl looks’ to indigestion.


Happy Thanksgiving!