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The BookHere are some of the recent columns you may have missed - or maybe you just want to read them again. Pick a topic from the menu at the left to zero in on a subject, or you can use the "search this site" box above to look for a particular keyword.

A lot of the older columns are no longer available online, but there is good news - you can get them all compiled in a neat little package, throne tested for your bathroom reading pleasure, in the book What I've Learned So Far... Part I: Bikes, Docks & Slush Nuggets. Right now you can get a 15% online discount if you enter the code Y8NYMDN4 in the "Options and Discounts" box when you check out.

The second volume, What I've Learned So Far... Part II: Angels, Chimps & Tater Mitts, will be coming out sometime later this spring.

The column below won the Erma Bombeck Award.

Just A Little Bike

Winner of the 2003 Erma Bombeck Award.

The other day I dropped off my son’s little bike at the church rummage sale.

This is the little bike with special knurled steel pegs sticking out of the front axle, pegs my son could stand on so he could, for reasons obvious only to him, bounce and pirouette the bike on its front wheel.

This is the little bike that had no kickstand, and no fenders, and no trim of any kind, because these things would add weight, and weight is to be avoided at all costs when the whole idea of a little bike is to defy the laws of physics.

Lost Voices at Vista Maria

We don't know their stories, but each girl has one. They are tall and short, thin and not-so-thin, brash and reserved. Some of them show a sadness in their eyes deeper than you want to imagine, and others wear a mask that most of the world will never penetrate.

 

And they are children.

 

These are the young women living at Vista Maria, a foster care facility for at-risk girls in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. Most of them are there to escape lives of abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Some of them were rescued from human trafficking operations – which is a twenty-first century euphemism for slavery. They range in age from eleven to eighteen, but the average is about fourteen. 

 

Let's put that into perspective. When I was fourteen years old, the girl I liked "went out" with me on our first "real" date. Her mom dropped us off at a theater to see a movie. I think it was The Great Race, because we were not allowed to go to the racy new Bond film, Thunderball. Then her dad picked us up and sat by himself at another table while I bought her a root beer float at A&W. 

 

Sadly, these girls have lived in a very different world. And now they find themselves in the sanctuary of Vista Maria, getting the help they need as they try to rebuild lives that should be way too new and pure to need rebuilding. Last week, thanks to funding from NorthRidge Church in Plymouth, MI, my Lost Voices team had the incredible privilege to join in that effort. 

The Nana Factor

I started writing this on Mother's Day, a holiday dedicated to all the moms in the world. The way it works is that our moms give birth to us, then they do a twenty-year stretch of washing our laundry, saving us from malnutrition, and keeping us from killing or being killed by our siblings. 

 

In return for all that, we set aside one day a year to give them a pancake breakfast, a basket of flowers, and a cheesy card. The amazing thing is, they seem to like it.

 

So when my son gave us a Mother's Day FaceTime call, the apparent purpose of which was to let our granddaughter, fresh from her bath, flash Nana and Papa a full holiday moon, it was all a normal part of the plan. Then I got to thinking about how all the grandmothers of the the world fit into the lives of kids. 

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