Beware the one-legged chair

Enter a lecture hall on any university campus and you might find a left-handed desk — two if the college is particularly prestigious. Though left-handed and clumsy, I typically sought the desk (left-handed or right) that provided the most cover. There, out of the line of scrutiny, is where I sat throughout my undergraduate years.

Sit in the back, and the professor’s is sure to call on you. Sit in the front, and you’re expected to know the answer to his questions. The second-to-last row? Now, that’s where the action isn’t.

Perhaps I’m giving the impression I am shy. I am not. I am what “They” call an introvert with extroverted tendencies: I enjoy the company of colleagues, friends, and family — the jokes, the chatter, the affable (usually) debates, the dinners and movies, and, sometimes, the attention… until I don’t. My extroversion gives way like a chair with one leg that collapses on itself, and suddenly I need to fade into the background or out of sight.


Earlier this month, I learned just how many legs uphold my chair.

I said “yes”

A little more than an hour after the meeting for a spectacular cultural organization in town, the lovely and highly capable publicist was asking if I could, in nine days, stand in front of roughly 300 influential business and community leaders to introduce a video presentation by a man of local prominence. Breaking routine, I said, “Yes.” What the heck, I thought? The organization does good work, and I’m still riding the waves of change.

No big deal, right? At least not until I hung up the phone. My heart embarked on a marathon for which it had not trained. I stood up, turned in a circle, and sat back down. Then I told one friendly acquaintance after another, looking for…? I don’t know. Maybe I was looking for excuses that could release me from my hasty acceptance. Yet none were given. They only encouraged me.

Days later, I told family, friends, and members of my small church group, where I received more blasted encouragement and the advice that whatever I write be authentically me. Sufficiently inspired, I set aside a few minutes the next day to write my little intro speech.

Over the next few days, I tweaked and practiced and prayed, practiced, prayed, and tweaked, until the very lengthy video I was to introduce arrived in my inbox. Again, I tweaked and practiced and prayed all the more.

Rehearsals were the afternoon of the big event, but there was no need for me to attend, the publicist and I agreed, as my introduction was short enough that it would be fine….

Fine… my phone rang two hours before I was to speak. Rather than introduce the video, she asked, can you do the entire presentation?


I said, “yes.”

Solid foundation

It was 3:40 when I arrived for the 4 p.m. event, talking to my brother (a minister) and my pastor along the way. One prayed with me. The other promised to pray.

At 3:53, the capable publicist and I finished updating the presentation. At 3:55, she showed me to my seat, pointing out a bathroom as we went.

That is where I glanced over the newly crafted work prior to presenting it before the media and those who put years and considerable assets into the organization they so loved. There is where my emotional nerves turned physical. Where my bowels churned and my lunch backed up my throat, but there wasn’t time to release the distress. It was 3:59. I had one minute to be in my chair where I would wait for VOG (the so-called voice of God) to introduce me.

Thirty-six minutes later, he did.

Over the prerequisite clapping, I heard the type of high-pitched whistle that could only come from a friend. I walked up to the podium and prepared to stutter. What happened next surprised me.

I knew the speech

by heart. Not all of it, of course, but enough to look about the audience with seeming confidence as I spoke. What I saw were friends: The colleagues that refused to provide excuses; the family who told me they loved me; the friends who saidhelping-a-friend they expected nothing less than success; the church group who prayed. Spread throughout the crowd, there were there in spirit. They were the legs to my chair.

They held me up.

Balancing act

A couple of years ago, a friend learned her chair had only one leg. This pronouncement from a therapist was a warning that she was in peril of collapsing. The prescription? Build her cache of friends and confidants.

Now look down. How many legs are on the seat on which you’re sitting?

One Leg ChairAre you in peril of falling? Three or more, and you’re doubtless confident the chair will sustain you. Anything fewer and you’re performing an acrobatic feat.



©Leslie Green and Wildemere Publishing LLC [2017]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is to Leslie Green and Wildemere Publishing LLC with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Embarrassing Choices, a Premature Freakout

There are some stories you’re just too embarrassed to tell… and then you do it anyway.

I was 7 years old and playing outside and my big brother and his friends let me play with them. Mom hadn’t cajoled them; I hadn’t whined. We ran bases with the ball zipping dangerously close to my head. We tossed around the football.

Everything was going exceptionally well, until I had to go to the bathroom. What if I returned to find the boys wouldn’t play with me anymore. Life surely would be over. Unfortunately, the potty dance wasn’t helping my playtime cred either. I had to make a decision, wet myself in front of the big boys (a group of highly discriminating 10 year olds, one of whom likely my future husband) or take a break. Never missing a beat, I ran into the house and into the first room I found (OK, it was a closet) and did my business before running back outside. It was a day of acceptance (tinged with miscreant behavior). There was no other choice…

So, why does that haunt me decades later? Perhaps for the same reason I was embarrassed by another potential error, taking wrong job. OK, this wasn’t peeing in the front-hall closet (sorry, Mom), but it was disturbing just the same.

by xeniaFor years, I struggled to find a job that would offer me new challenges. Soon after giving notice at my last job, where I directly supervised a number of people while juggling a bevy of meetings and editing an incredible amount of copy, my colleagues royally feted me with lunches, dinners, gifts and more compliments than my growing head could hold. Among the gifts was an iPad mini to help with my new job.

Unfortunately, I wound up using that nifty device to surf social media, check personal email, and so on. And I checked these things often, because, well, I had little else to do. I was bored. Worst, I was insignificant, a lightweight cog the gears bypassed. By the time I met with my significant other for dinner at night, I had nothing of significance to share about my day.

Depression set in, overwhelming me with hand-wringing obsessive, circular thinking. Was I going to have to call my former manager and beg for my old job? Could I? Losing me likely helped the company keep from laying off someone else. How could I have been so stupid to think I could change industries? And, what made me think God had a future for me other than the one at the newspaper?

To get answers, I increased my prayer time and decreased time with those things — Twitter, Facebook, Words with Friends, texts, television, and sometimes friends and family — that add noise to our lives, those things that make it hard to differentiate our own voices from the voice of the masses, from news feeds, from our fears, our desperation, our hopes and from most importantly our God.

Soon I realized my mistakes. Not about leaving the newspaper because it was time. It was time for me to learn new things and meet new people. It was time for me to take the skills I acquired and honed helping to grind out a daily newspaper and put them to the use in growing field. It was time for major change. The biggest change necessary? My attitude. To overstate things: I was walking through the Grand Canyon with my eyes closed. Rather than being grateful for having a job in this stagnate climate or allowing myself to get acclimated to new surroundings with fancy espresso machines, bubble hockey, flat-screen TVs and lots of free snacks, I whined.

“We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. Consequences give us the pain that motivates us to change.”
― Henry Cloud

You know the problem with my new job?  It was new. I was new. The work was old and already set in motion by some very capable people. It just wasn’t my turn to Double Dutch yet. Rather, it was my turn to renew my mind after the stresses of newspaper work. Finally, I gave myself over to change, opening myself up to meet new people and hear new ideas. Before long, I was having a good time.

No longer am I wondering about my decision-making abilities but I’m wondering: Did I write that down? Is this my responsibility, his or ours? How do you do that and that and that? And, wow, that’s really cool. I’ve always wanted to be a part of that. Man, my arms are tired from waving all this smoke around and holding up these mirrors. I hope they can’t see that I’m not as great as I thought I was. And. I think. Maybe. I might be, well, happy.

Kensington Park Path by Leslie GreenWhy have I had such a change of heart? It’s not because the workload increased, though it did. Neither is it because I’m doing new things, though I am. It’s because, through the grace of God, I realized this on-demand world made me impatient for a bug fix for my life. One of those quick patch jobs that, when you think about it, always winds up requiring another update and then another to fix the patch that fixed the patch. Essentially, the problem wasn’t the job. The problem was a mental security flaw that only gratitude could repair. I’m almost embarrassed I didn’t realize that sooner.


© Leslie Green and Wildemere Publishing LLC [2014]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is to Leslie Green and Wildemere Publishing LLC with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Cracking that hard shell

Credit Marvel Studios

Credit Marvel Studios

“Raise shields!”

I’m not sure there is an episode of “Star Trek” where Captain Kirk doesn’t over-dramatize those words, a man under his command doesn’t strongly suggest likewise, or Scotty doesn’t declare that getting the Enterprise’s shields up and running just is not possible.

Nearly 50 years after the debut of the iconic sci-fi series, students from the University of Leicester in England have published a paper in the student Journal of Special Physics Topics reporting they have discovered the key to building real-life deflector shields. Shields are everywhere. There’s the pizza joint, Shields Up is the second mission in the video game Borderlands 2, and the Bible tells us in Ephesians 6:16 to put on the whole armor of God: “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”

So let’s talk about shields.

I began pondering the subject, word origins, societal definitions, and whatnot of shields this weekend while watching the flick “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” Something about the way Steve Rogers, aka superhero Captain America, stored his shield on his back like a turtle made me wonder about the deeper meaning of the word and the action. Then, of course, there is the bigger picture with him working for the agency S.H.I.E.L.D.

Let me say a couple of things before I go further: First, I realize the movie is (ultimately) a work of fiction; second, and most important to some, there are SPOILERS here so stop reading if you have yet to see the film and may be interested; and third, we need to get a few definitions out of the way:

“SHIELD,” an Old English word of “prehistoric” German origin, is derived from the words “divide,” “split,” and “separate.” Those words, in turn, evolved from “scale,” “shell,” and “shelter.”1

Etymologists suspect the word “TURTLE” has French origins. But there is little else found regarding the reptile with the hard-protective shell1. At the same time, considerable symbolism surrounds the creature. For instance, for some it represents quiet strength and the possibility of refuge from an attack. According to Chinese cosmology, turtles cart the world on their backs. On the flip side, turtles to some cultures represent a lack of morality as they are thought to reproduce only by mating with snakes.2 This latter part is particularly curious considering the word’s possible evolution from “scale” to “shield.”

Turtle from the Belle Isle Nature Zoo in Detroit. Credit Leslie Green

Turtle from the Belle Isle Nature Zoo in Detroit. Credit Leslie Green

Fascinating how something that protects can also divide. Captain America’s strength and shield set him apart from other men. With his shield, he not only did battle but he also kept himself from harm—from suffering irreparable damage from attacks that would kill an ordinary man—not once, but time and time again. He also works for S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division), an organization that claims to protect and serve when really the “anti-terrorism” group turns out to be in bed with snakes bent on destroying all who get in their way.

Consider the deflector shields theory. Overly simplified, reports, it works like this: “Essentially, if you can wall yourself off with plasma, it can be used to deflect electromagnetic radiation, like a directed energy weapon (a laser or something similar). … However, the shield works equally well in both directions, so you can’t return fire either. In fact, since the plasma blocks all frequencies at or below the threshold dictated by its density, you probably won’t even be able to see past your own deflector shield.”

Let us look deeper. What are the implications of sealing off whole populations of people? What about one person? Would someone feel the need to test the shield? You know: If your bully big brother knows you have a bruise, isn’t it likely he will press on it to see if it still hurts? Does this sound like a snake-skin turtle to anyone else?

The more I think about this, the more questions I have, like: Who is The Enemy? Perhaps it depends on which media outlet you listen to or your definition of “treaty” (an entirely different discussion) if you are talking about the Cliven Bundy story. Too, what are the implications of failing to protect ourselves from The Enemy? What if we neglect to take up the shield of faith? What happens then? In the case of Steve Rogers, I suspect “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” would have been an awfully short film had he not jumped from the elevator without his trusty shield.


  1. Dictionary of Word Origins by John Ayto
  2. Dictionary of Symbolism: Cultural Icons & the Meanings Behind Them by Hans Biedermann, translated by James Hulbert

© Leslie Green and Wildemere Publishing LLC [2014]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is to Leslie Green and Wildemere Publishing LLC with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Roadside Assistance


My job has been in a persistent state of  hyper-drive since about 2008. Having a day off work means working longer hours in advance and never really unwinding when you’re gone. (At least, that was my excuse)

Shortly after arriving to work one day, my friend “Bill” came to my desk in need of help. After discovering he had a flat tire, he wondered if I would follow the tow truck from the office lot to the service station a couple of miles away and give him a ride back.

Proverbs 3:27, 28 (ASV) came to mind:

“Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, When it is in the power of thy hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbor, Go, and come again, And tomorrow I will give; When thou hast it by thee.”

Still, I said “No,” explaining I was overwhelmed by the many tasks before me. He looked stunned but he moved on and found someone else to assist. That was Monday morning.

Exhausted, I went to bed early that night, awakening around one a.m. with an overwhelming need to pray. I did and kept praying off and on all night until I finally drifted off shortly before my alarm clock rang at six.

When I awoke I was fixated on the workday—on what stories I needed to edit and assign, projects I needed to plan, meetings I needed to hold. As is my habit, I ate breakfast while I read a bit of the Word. That day’s lesson came from James 3.

“Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” James 3:13-18

But I read swiftly, interspersing verse readings with periodic checks of my work email, rationalizing that I had little time for an in-depth study or meditation because I had slept little and needed to be at the office by 9:30. Already it was 9. Yet rather than encountering post rush-hour traffic, I found myself in the thick of things. Construction was underway on a small strip of road on the express lanes of I-96.

Then  the SUV in front of me swerved, avoiding a large metal cylinder that was rolling across the highway. I swerved too. Boom! The back of my car lifted from the road and then fell with a thud. I held my breath, pulled the vehicle to the side, and turned on my blinkers. When a semi whooshed by inches from my vehicle, I realized I wasn’t in the breakdown lane. In fact, on this stretch of road where there was construction there was no breakdown lane. With every passing vehicle, my SUV vehicle rocked. My hands shook.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut I didn’t pray. I didn’t thank God for keeping me alive. I didn’t ask for wisdom. Instead, I called my friend for advice, and he talked me to the breakdown lane a few hundred yards away. There’s a reliable tow company I usually call in rare times of need but it never came to mind. Instead, I called my insurance company for roadside assistance. The woman on the other end said a tow truck would be there within 30 minutes. Again I talked to my friend, then my brother, and then my job.

Nearly two hours later, after I managed a way to relieve myself on the side of the road without being arrested for indecent exposure, a truck pulled in front of me. The young man—he kept calling me “sweetheart”—said I just needed my tire changed. He did so swiftly, had me sign papers, and got in his vehicle. I sighed in relief as his truck inched away from mine and I put my car in gear. But when my car ground against the road like a pestle against glass, I choked back sobs.

Still, I didn’t pray.

I honked my horn in a desperate attempt to get the tow driver’s attention. And he heard me, despite the whiz of traffic and the nearby construction. He pulled over and loaded my car as I loaded my belongings into the well-worn (half the seat was missing) cab of truck. And then the rain started… Except it wasn’t raining on the road to the left or the median to the right. This dark cloud only soaked his truck.

“I have to call my boss. My hydraulics are leaking!” he announced as he jumped in. “I have to unhook your car. You need to get out of the truck.” He gestured wildly not waiting or wanting my response. Someone, he said, would come get me in about ten minutes.

An hour later, I listened and I licked tears from my lips as Roadside “Assistance” said they would do everything in their power to get a tow truck to me. They, however, were encountering problems. The tow drivers, the woman said, didn’t seem interested in helping out.

Let me mention here, there was no war in Detroit, no zombie apocalypse, no truck driver strike or mass towing of illegally parked vehicles; and the tow truck industry, to my knowledge, had not collapsed.

But neither was I incapacitated. I’m a Word-taught Christian, meaning I know what the Bible says about the power of prayer, loving your neighbor, and God’s infinite mercy. Throughout the ordeal, my editor texted she was praying for me, my brother told me to trust God.

Another thirty minutes passed before I thought to ask God for help.

Shortly afterward, I watched through my rear-view mirror as a tow driver changed the tire of a car about a quarter mile behind me. I waved and honked furiously as he drove past. The truck stopped. The driver asked what I needed. I told him, trying to hide the quiver from my voice.

“I can’t help you,” he said. “We go by our phones, what the boss sends us is where we go. If I stop, I’ll get in trouble.”

I didn’t want to get him in trouble and told him so.

He pulled off.

I cried.

And then he pulled over. He backed up the 100 yards or so to my vehicle and got out.

“Get in my truck,” he said said. “I can’t leave you here. That’s wrong.”

Sitting in the cab of his truck, I asked God what to do. He told me not in an audible, earth-shaking way but in that quiet voice a friend uses when whispering a secret. I felt his warmth speaking to my heart.

And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, roadside3walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” Isaiah 30:21

 Surreptitiously, I took some money from my wallet and slid it in my pocket as the young man drove. He told me about moving from Philadelphia to Detroit for a woman, about racism in Philly, about how Detroit isn’t as bad as the rest of the country thinks it is, and about how he wasn’t going to come back for me. I thanked him again. He shook his head.

“I came back for you, but I usually don’t. I usually keep going,” he said. He looked at me and shook his head again. “Today, I don’t know, I had to come back. I couldn’t leave you there.”

Then we heard a loud pop.

He pulled over to check my car. All was stable and we were back on the highway. Still, something seemed amiss. The overhead light flickered. After a beat, I realized a door was open. I checked mine. I glanced at his. It was open, I told him. He laughed and closed it. It popped open again. He laughed again.

“You have to laugh,” he said. “If you can’t laugh, you have nothing.”

Silently, I praised God.

Four hours after leaving home that morning, I arrived at the dealership leaving my driver with gift that did not match his kindness. Nothing could.

After some time at the dealership, the service rep said, “There was a hole in the tire and in the wheel and neither could be repaired. The flap that covers the gas tank was somehow ripped off, too.  You were lucky the car didn’t flip over or worse.”

I knew it wasn’t luck, so I praised God.

I’m still praising God, for He is good and His mercy endures forever.

© Leslie Green and Wildemere Publishing LLC [2016]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is to Leslie Green and Wildemere Publishing LLC with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.