Recent Articles

Time Is Money

The funeral profession is a service-based business. Services are divided into three categories. First, there are services provided to the decedent. These services would include removal of his or her body from the place of death in a dignified, respectful, and modest manner. They also include preparing the body for and accomplishing final disposition. Continue Reading →

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Without You

When I was a young girl, my brother had a band.  He and his buddies would practice their music down in our basement and I would try not to listen to them.  Most of the songs they sang were sad in nature, or very loud, neither of which did I appreciate.  One of the songs they would sing was “Without You.”  I remember placing my hands over my ears and thinking, “If they sing that song one more time, I’m going to scream.”  “Without You” was both sad and loud.  Although my early memories of this song are not so favorable, as an adult, I can see where there is truth in this song; especially in my capacity as a grief counselor. Earlier this year filmgoers worldwide mourned the loss of mother/daughter actresses Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher.  Many were shocked that a mother and daughter would die just one day apart.  Many news reporters speculated that grief played a role in the close timing of their deaths.  As a grief counselor and funeral director, I wanted to shout at my television and pull my hair out, “You fools, grief didn’t just play a role in the closeness of their deaths; it was the leading lady.”  Now, just four months later, no one even thinks about the calamity of their deaths. How very strange that in a society where information is at our fingertips, we remain blind to certain things that kill us.  Doctors and researchers publish study after study on illnesses that kill us.  Yet, study after study, they ignore a very real killer that creeps into the hearts and minds of every person who has ever lived:  grief.   “As a funeral director, I am often asked, “What is the most important task of funeral week?”  The answer may surprise you…….………The number one task for the survivor during funeral week is survival.” (The Most Important Task of Funeral Week, Tracy Renee Lee, 2017)

Perhaps grief is just too painful a subject to address.  Perhaps doctors and researchers do not realize that grief is just as physically damaging, as it is psychologically damaging.  Perhaps the Ostrich Effect suppresses funding and renders grief an unsuitable candidate for in-depth scientific analysis.  Although we all battle illnesses, only some of us will battle cancer, some of us will battle heart disease, and some of us will battle death through a myriad of other causes.  Grief is potentially the single life-threatening battle that everyone, ever born, will battle.  It is a battle, that if left untreated, will kill you. The Ostrich Effect is the tendency to ignore a dangerous or risky situation, a way to avoid troubling information.  It is not the way forward.  No one wants to face his or her mortality, nor that of their loved ones.  I understand that fear.  I see it every day in the faces of my clients.  Unfortunately, fear nor ignorance keep grief at bay.  It comes whether we want it or not, and it will, one day, come for you. Last week, I directed a funeral for a family who had lost a young man through murder.  This week, I directed the funeral of his last living immediate family member, his sister.  Both siblings had suffered tremendously during their short lives.  As children, they were orphaned through extremely tragic circumstances.  Fortunately, their extended family had a strong leader, and these two children were raised together, rather than separately.  Now that they became young adults, they are dead – one through murder, the other through sorrow. Continue Reading →

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Be a Part of the Solution During Child Abuse Prevention Month

April is national Child Abuse Prevention Month, and I believe child advocates must use this as an opportunity to advance two important goals: first; to help our friends and neighbors fully grasp how widespread and terrible the problems of child abuse and neglect are; second, to encourage them to be part of the solution. When it comes to evaluating the prevalence and impact of child abuse and neglect, the numbers tell a frightening tale. The KIDS COUNT Data Center, a joint research product of OICA and the national Annie E. Casey Foundation, reports that of the more than 200,000 children in Oklahoma County under the age of 19, 41 percent have had an adverse childhood experience

On a statewide level, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services’ statistics paint an equally grim picture. Since 2014, over 363,000 cases of alleged abuse and neglect have been reported to the agency. More than 44,000 were eventually confirmed. Continue Reading →

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Time Travel in Texarkana

Texarkana, USA –  In a few short years Texarkana will have the ability to participate in time travel.  No, we won’t hope into a special machine and travel through time like a science fiction movie, but instead we will step back to 1973.   On April 14, 2023, just six years away, the cities of Texarkana will open the Texarkana Centennial Time Capsule.  The capsule was secured and buried near the downtown Courthouse/Post Office on the Texas side just in front of the 1936 World War memorial.   On April 14, 1973, the Centennial Committee buried this time capsule while parades, celebrations and parties around the city were going on to celebrate the period. Continue Reading →

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1894 City Market Building Defaced Over Weekend

Texarkana, AR-It is called the most photographed building in Texarkana, and it has become the centerpiece for the new 1894 Second Saturday Trade Days in Texarkana.  With care and devotion, David Peavy set out to revitalize the building located at 105 Olive Street – more commonly known as the corner of Front and Olive Streets in Texarkana, Arkansas.  The building has long been the site of prom photographs, wedding shoots, and even tourist passing through the city would stop in front of the unique structure and take pictures.  Peavy set out to bring life back into the building and the area by providing a second Saturday sale and ensuring the building remained prime and beautiful for photography and events for years to come.  Peavy, and many of his friends and supporters, saw the hard work vandalized this past weekend. The building is constantly visited by people, and most of them are respectful of the work being done, but someone this last weekend chose to disrespect Peavy, the building, all of Texarkana and ultimately himself or herself.  Someone wrote in spray paint of black and red “I love you So much” and included a big red heart.  Peavy immediately took to social media looking for signs of the culprit.  He also offered a $100 reward for to anyone who can help find the responsible person. As people began to search, monitor media outlets and make supportive comments to Peavy, it quickly became apparent that the community is not likely to find the responsible person.  There is a chance that somebody will come forward that saw something, that a nearby camera may have recorded something, or that friends of the person may turn them in to authorities.  But ultimately does that really matter?  Is $100 much of a reward?  Can the paint be cleaned off?  Well, the answer is no it doesn’t matter much, $100 is not much of a reward, and yes, the paint can be cleaned off.  The bigger picture needs to comes to the person who did this.  We know you’re out there somewhere reading this, or at least hearing about it, and we at the Four States News have to wonder exactly how you feel about what you’ve done?  Do you feel happy with yourself?  Do you love the thought that people in your town are disgusted with your actions?  Maybe you did not even think about it when you did it – maybe you just thought it was a fun night to do a little spray-art.  Whatever your thoughts are at this time, we can tell you what they should be….. The person, or persons who did this should be ashamed.  You have taken a historic building, one photographed by people from all over the region, and slandered it.  You have taken a building that David Peavy and many others have spent time, money, and a lot of effort to make beautiful for YOUR community.  He has allowed everyone, including YOU, to come to the building, see it, take part in the Saturday trade days, and take pictures in front of it.  David Peavy has given back to the community, and what he has given, YOU have tarnished.  So, today when you look in the mirror, or you check out the cool “I love you so much” sign you wrote, or you talk to the friends you may have been with when you did it, why don’t you stop and ask yourself how you really feel about this act?  Are you proud?  Are you happy with yourself?  Do you like knowing so many in your community are ashamed of what you did? Maybe if you spend a little time reflecting on your actions, you will come to realize that you have two choices.  Sure, you can go on and never say a word and maybe nobody will ever catch you.  Or your second choice has more honor and dignity for yourself and your community.  You can show everyone that mistakes can be made, but that people in Texarkana can take responsibility for their mistakes.  Maybe it’s time for you to go find Mr. Peavy and tell him what you did, clean up the mess, and make amends.  Although I can not tell you what Mr. Peavy will do, I can tell you that he is a man who has chosen to give back to the community and that should make him a decent guy in anyone’s book.  You just have to decide if you’re going to be as decent a Mr. Peavy is and take responsibility for your actions or not.  The choice is YOURS and all of Texarkana, USA is watching to see if you’ll do the right thing. Continue Reading →

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The Often-Overlooked Redemption of The Resurrection

In a few short hours Christians across the Four States Area will start to wake up, prepare for church and then celebrate Easter Sunday.  It is the most important day in Christian history.  In fact, had it not been for the resurrection, everything else that makes Christianity what it is today would likely have been lost.  It is logical to conclude that the birth of a Savior who simply lived, taught and died would not have prompted the celebration of His birth at Christmas.  It is likely that had He not risen, that the importance of His lessons would have been long lost.  In fact, it is likely that had He not risen, most of His followers would have stayed hidden away and denied ever knowing Him out of fear of suffering the same fate.  Easter is the climax of the story of Christianity.  It is the single most important event to the Christian because it confirms not only that there can be life after death in Christ, but it affirms that Jesus overcame that death, rose from the dead, and shared His victory over sin and death with the world.  We will celebrate the risen Christ today, but all too often one very important key to the story is overlooked. The church will celebrate the risen Christ, but will sometimes overlook one of the key players in the story.  It is often forgotten that Jesus disciples, the eleven left at this time, were hidden away.  They were living in fear by the moment.  They believed that at any minute the Romans were going to arrive, arrest them, and take each one to be crucified.  In fact, crucifixion was often reserved for those who rebelled against Rome – in other words trouble makers, rebels, those going against Rome in such ways as promoting an overthrow of Roman rule.  Since Jesus had been crucified, His followers would naturally assume that the Romans might want to make examples of all the leaders of the movement.  Those leaders were the remaining eleven disciples.   Those disciples were busy hiding, denying, and trying to figure out what the next day would bring for them.  Simply put, they were too scared to go checking on Jesus’ grave.  However, one of His followers was not afraid because she had already faced death and been saved from it by Jesus.  She ventured to the grave and in doing so healed one of the greatest divisions between God and man that has ever existed. We are told in Genesis 3:6 that Eve ate the fruit of the Tree of Wisdom and thus shared the fruit with her husband.   Eve was deceived by the Devil in the garden.  He convinced her that if she would eat the fruit of the tree, everything would be alright and she would have wisdom.  He told her a half-truth as she did gain wisdom, but everything was not alright.  Within a short time God came looking and found that mankind had disobeyed.  This disobedience was squarely placed on the woman in Genesis 3:12 when Adam says, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it” (NIV).  From that moment on, the blame for original sin fell squarely on the woman.  The couple had been happy in the garden, but they were expelled.  Women for ages would continue to live with the story of how “they” caused the fall of mankind.  God knew that this was horrible guilt for all women to live with, so He provided a way out not only through the risen Christ, but through the symbolic gesture given on that first Easter morning. As the male followers of Jesus were hidden away, Mary Magdalene a woman who had so much sin in her life that people had been prepared to stone her before Jesus intervened (John 8:1-11), went to the grave.  She found in John 20 that the stone had been rolled away and that Jesus’ body was gone.  In what must have been an extreme panic, Mary ran back and told the others.  The disciples then came, looked, and saw an empty tomb, but they were still confused and left.  When the others had left, Mary was by the tomb alone and crying.  A man approached her and she thought he was a gardener (John 20:15).  Many people overlook the symbolic connection that God has allowed to occur at this point.   The expulsion of Adam and Eve had taken place when they were removed from the garden.  Mary is now alone in a garden that surrounds the tomb, a symbol of death, when she is approached.  At first she does not realize that Jesus has come.   Jesus could have appeared at any time.  He could have appeared when the disciples had come, or to anyone else for that matter.  He could have even gone to the disciples.  Instead, Jesus chose to wait until Mary was alone.  Once she was alone He appeared to her in the garden. Continue Reading →

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Reflecting on Good Friday

When I was younger I had a problem understanding a major verse of the Bible.  The verse that  bothered me came when Jesus spoke in Matthew 27:46.  He said, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”  The provided translations really struck me as odd.   In the English Standard Version of the Bible just next to the words the rest of the verse says, “…that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” As a young man I thought the plea was a sign of surrender, giving up and lost hope on the part of Jesus.  To me, as a young Christian, I thought many times, why would Jesus say this?  It’s almost as if He was expecting God to save Him at the last moment or take Him off the cross? The Bible goes on to explain that those standing near the cross thought that Jesus was calling out to Elijah (Matthew 27:47).  So, it appeared to me that confusion was not only present in my reading, but also in the understanding of the people there that day.   At times when I read it, I felt that Jesus had truly expected a different outcome.  At the time He was very close to death.  The plea seemed to me to be a question to God, a wondering thought, of “Why didn’t You come save me from this death?”  As I would learn later when I grew in my Christian walk, the verse and the plea had a much deeper meaning and one that we as Christians should not only cherish, but be thankful that we will never experience. As Christians, no matter what trials, tribulations, or even potential death we face, we will never face it alone.  God is always with us as we are promised in Hebrews 13.5 and several other places we are told that He will never leave us or forsake us.  This means that even in the worst of times we will not be alone.  The meaning of Jesus’ cry though is that at the moment He was about to die, the time He should have needed God the most, God was not there. This may be shocking to think that God would turn His back on His own Son, but that is exactly what happened when Jesus cried out.  For the first time in Jesus’ life, He felt no connection to God the Father.  In Jesus’ own words, God had “forsaken” Him.  He had left Jesus completely and utterly alone on the cross to finally die in agony and pain.  The connection to God that had been so strong all His life simply vanished.  Jesus, perhaps for the first time ever, was completely alone.  It was so torturous to Him that it caused Him to cry out.  The Romans had beat Him, humiliated Him, and were in the process of crucifying Him, but through all that He knew God was with Him.  Now, suddenly, at the final moments when God should have been standing close in Jesus’ human heart and soul, God turned away.  Jesus could not understand why at that moment and He cried out.  It is something that we as Christians have been promised never to face – perhaps because it would be too horrible for us to stand. Continue Reading →

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Making Texarkana Beautiful and Moving on Up….or Over

Texarkana, Arkansas – Mary and Wendell Warner not only have a passion for the beatification of Texarkana, Arkansas, but they live that passion daily.  Mary is the former chair of the Texarkana Arkansas City Beautiful Commission and Wendell is the current Vice-Chair.  Both continue to serve on the commission and contribute to the city’s efforts to be….well, beautiful.  Mary and Wendell have taken their passion for Texarkana and applied it now to home – in fact not just one home, but two. In 2001, the couple purchased their home at 801 East 12th in Texarkana, Arkansas.  Over the next few years they poured work into not only their passions for the city and the area, but also into the home.  The home became a masterpiece in Texarkana.  With more home than couple needed, they decided to do what any couple would with a passion to make the city better….they bought the house next door. In March of 2016, Mary and Wendell embarked on another beatification project.  This home, roughly the same size as their current home would be a move up….well, a move over.  The house is located at 721 East 12th  and is right next door to the last house the couple renovated. After purchasing the house, the couple dedicated themselves almost completely to the renovation.  They took time off from other ventures and focused daily on the work at 721.  Anyone passing by the home in the morning, afternoon, or evening was sure to see Wendell or Mary somewhere around the house.  They were painting doors, on scaffolds, having plumbers in, having electricians in, and having the floors sanded and redone.  Those friends on Facebook and other social media outlets were able to follow the progress along as the couple worked tirelessly to complete the beautification and renovation of another home on East 12th. After months of hard work, moving day finally arrived.  When I heard that the move was happening, I couldn’t help but hear the old Jefferson song from the series running through my head “We’re moving on up…” except this time I kept hearing it as “We’re moving on over….”  The newly renovated house is now home to Mary and Wendell.  Their previous project, and beautiful home, is now listed for sale. Continue Reading →

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Indifferent Survivor

When I was in college, my professor taught that the opposite of love was indifference.  Throughout my life, I have witnessed the truth of his teachings.  This past week, however, forty years later, has disproved his teachings and erased my belief that he taught me the truth. This weekend I worked for a family full of love for each other.  Many of its members had not seen the others for years as they live far distances apart.  In fact, the time of separation between family members has been so long, that some did not recognize those with whom they had grown up playing.  I watched this family closely, for they were in my building under the very tragic circumstances of murder.  I expected angry outbursts, inconsolable grief, and temper flares all week, but they never surfaced. The core group of this family is matriarchal, educated and cultured.  They arrived at the funeral home early Monday morning to arrange funeral details.  Their young decedent, who had been orphaned early in life, had been reared under the tutelage of his widowed grandmother. The tragedy and senselessness of murder bring uncontrollable raw responses to the lives of co-victims.   They will experience both physical and emotional responses.  Physically, the body will attempt to protect itself from the trauma.  This response is commonly known as the “Fight or Flight Response.”  One may experience physical shock, disorientation, hyper-alertness (brought on by adrenaline rush,) heart palpitations, nausea, vomiting, sweating, hyperventilation, difficulty breathing, tightness of chest, uncontrollable sobbing, inability to cry, a void of emotion, panic, and/or numbness.  Emotionally, co-victims may respond with anger, rage, fear, terror, confusion, guilt, self-blame, shame, sorrow, frustration, humiliation, or overwhelming grief.  Any or all of these responses, both physical and emotional, have the ability to overpower the brain.  This creates a dangerous situation for co-victims.  It thrusts them into a grave potentiality of not surviving the murder of their loved one. Murder is surrounded by public curiosity and rule of law.  Co-victims must endure news reports, police interviews, public speculation, ongoing investigations, and trials.  They may be caught in the lair of constantly reliving the trauma of their loss as justice tries to right the wrong they have been dealt.   They may begin suffering nightmares about the murder, anger toward their beloved decedent for being murdered, rage toward the murderer, rage toward law enforcement for an inability to establish justice, depression, helplessness, loneliness, isolation, or disbelief or hatred toward God.  These added emotions compound the functional inability of the brain and can create long-term impact on the co-victims character.  They interfere with grief work and create complications too great for unassisted recovery.  The impact may affect several generations. Continue Reading →

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Thoughts on Government (1776)

In 1776, John Adams was asked to share his opinions on government.  In response, Adams wrote several letters and a pamphlet entitled, Thoughts on Government.  Adams touched on three branches of government and a system of checks and balances.  Thoughts on Government helped colonists embrace Independence and influenced several State Constitutions.  (In 1780, John Adams became the primary author of the Massachusetts Constitution, the oldest functioning constitution in the world.)
“It has been the Will of Heaven, that We should be thrown into Existence at a Period, when the greatest Philosophers and Lawgivers of Antiquity would have wished to have lived: a Period, when a Coincidence of Circumstances, without Example, has afforded to thirteen Colonies at once an opportunity, of beginning Government anew from the Foundation and building as they choose.  How few of the human Race, have ever had an opportunity of choosing a System of Government for themselves and their Children? … All Sober Enquirers after Truth, ancient and modern… have agreed that the Happiness of Mankind, as well as the real Dignity of human Nature, consists in Virtue…   [And] great Writers… will convince any Man who has the Fortitude [courage] to read them, that all good Government is Republican… for the true Idea of a Republic, is ‘An Empire of Laws and not of Men.’
… As a good Government is an Empire of Laws, the first Question is, how Shall the Laws be made? Continue Reading →

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