Recent Articles

Arkansas HB 1236 – Can We Protect Freedom and Family?

Arkansas – There is a very old saying that still circulates today that states, “If you give an inch, they will take a mile.”  It would be wise for Arkansas legislators, voters, and the courts to keep this old saying in mind while considering HB 1236 (  The bill would essentially make it a crime for anyone to distribute a video or dash cam recording of a police officer being killed in the line of duty.  The concept is easy to understand.  The video is released either by the department, a freedom of information request, or a copy slips into the media. Continue Reading →

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Rich Blessings

I am often asked about funding unfunded funerals.  I am sure it is because I am in the funeral business that I see death as a common occurrence; however, it is interesting to me that there are those who do not understand that one day we shall all die.  I guess some people feel as though they shall live forever.  Inevitably, the truth of the matter is, that should you fail to prepare for your death, not only will grief slap someone you love square in the face, so too will a hefty financial burden. This morning I experienced this very scenario.  I was called by the hospice center to attend a family that had lost a loved one who had failed to prepare for his death financially.  This burden now falls upon those who mourn his loss.  His young adult daughter may need to delay her dreams of college to procure the necessary funds to pay for his burial.  His mother may need to economize her retirement to assist her granddaughter with the expenses.  There may also be others within the family, who might be able to help obtain the necessary funding to cover these costs, but times are tough, and this family is not wealthy. There are several ways to fundraise for funeral expenses.  The primary obstacle is time.  The funeral home must be paid in advance of services being rendered, and a dead human body does not wait indefinitely for burial.  Additionally, each day above ground adds to the expense of interment.  With these issues pressing upon the family, fundraising becomes increasingly stressful. In past articles, I have reported on successful fundraising techniques that several of my client families have utilized. (Funding an Unfunded Funeral, Mourning Coffee for the Mourning Soul, II, Tracy Renee Lee) Today, however, I am broaching a new method of payment.  This type of payment is not often available in the funeral profession; however, the family I am serving today has an extended family member who has a unique skill.  This particular skill happens to be one that I stand in need of at this moment in time; it happens to be of great value to me.  This family is in the unique position of being able to offer a skill rather than funds for payment of their funeral services.  Their extended family member and his crew of workers must, however, agree to accommodate their need. Continue Reading →

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Pictures of Our Lives


The family photograph was once a tradition celebrated annually and then hung on the wall for years to come.  Families would make appointments at photography studios such as Sears, Walmart, Kmart, and the old favorite Olan Mills.   The appointment day would arrive and everyone would dress in their Sunday best and head down for pictures.  Once there backgrounds were selected, poses were discussed, and ultimately mom and dad would decide which pictures would become part of the family album.   It seems that many of these places have since closed. With the arrival of the digital camera, and then the advancements of camera based phones, it seems that everyone has become a professional photographer.   The studio styled photography shoots has been regulated to hobbyist and those wishing to document special events. But, the time of setting the appointments at Olan Mills and others appears to be long gone.  We seem set to declare ourselves professional photographers because we have photography software and a phone. Recently I walked through one of the rooms of my parent’s home and saw some of those old Olan Mills family photos.  As my mind raced back through the years, I found myself looking ahead and wondering what it will be like twenty years from now.  Will our children seek out a family photograph?  Or, will they be content with the school photographs taken year-to-year through high school? Continue Reading →

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Helping Children Through Mentorship

The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy takes the role of championing causes for kids very seriously.  OICA has worked at the state capitol and around Oklahoma for 34 years to see better opportunities, primarily for at-risk kids.  While we will never shirk that mission, when I took over the role of leading the organization, I committed that we would do more to help all kids. This would include an additional effort to prepare the future leaders of our state and nation. OICA is working to develop new leadership programs for students from various cultures and backgrounds that do not already have some type of association. We intend to provide needed skills to these emerging leaders and help prepare them for the day when they will be active in government, their communities or the business sector. We are developing these different leadership entities and hope to see them become a reality by next summer with proper funding and programming support. Continue Reading →

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CableOne – Is it time to do away with bandwidth limits?


Bandwidth is a term associated with the amount of data you use.  People have had bandwidth to deal with for as long as the Internet has been cellular, cable, and DSL in format and with some companies even by telephone usage, but that was long ago.  We have all likely seen the commercials or heard about someone going over their bandwidth.  It’s gotten to be such a hot topic and such a major issue for some people that they have opted to pay more for plans that offer no bandwidth limits.  Unfortunately, not all companies offer a no bandwidth limit, and the ones that do not act as if you have sinned the greatest known sin there is when you exceed your allotted bandwidth.  But can we really afford to live in a bandwidth limited society any longer? To determine if we need a “No limits” Bandwidth society, we need to first know exactly what uses bandwidth.   It’s hard to say for everyone and to cover everything that may use bandwidth, but consider the following areas that use bandwidth: email, Internet surfing, Netflix, music streaming, music downloading, game downloads, gaming, movie downloads, computer backups, online security systems and cameras, Internet based thermostats, Internet based of VOIP telephones, weather station reporters, postage machines, scanners, printers, and on and on.  You get the idea, and if you use the newest movie streaming services or watch movies in high definition on a service such as Apple TV or Netflix, then you will eat up tons of bandwidth in no time at all. So, if you have limited bandwidth, what can you do?  The first thing you can do is cut down all those high definition movies and games to regular definition.  It will save you a lot.  You can limit your use of YouTube – by default most of the YouTube apps automatically adjust to your Internet speed to give you the best video possible.  Unfortunately, that best video also eats up your bandwidth.  Some allows you to control the video quality and some do not, so YouTube can be a real burner when it comes to bandwidth. It seems that no matter how much you cut your bandwidth, some people still go over.  Take me for example.  I’m with the fastest and in my opinion best Internet service in the Texarkana area, CableOne.  Unfortunately, I do not always agree with CableOne’s ability to count their bandwidth when it comes to my usage.  In 2015, I found that several days on the CableOne list indicated that I had zero usages.  That means my thermostat did not even check the weather that day!  It also means that me sitting here in my home using the Internet used none of my bandwidth.  When I originally brought this up to a VP at CableOne, and he in turn to it to others for review, I was told that “we had stirred up a hornet’s nest.”  Apparently, at that time there was some major issues in bandwidth counting. Now, a little over a year later and after being assured that those “issues” had been resolved I found myself again exceeding bandwidth usage.  It seemed odd to me that I was exceeding at just about the same time that CableOne came out with new plans, but maybe that is just a coincidence.  I decided by the middle of the last billing cycle to make some changes.  I changed the router’s password, cut off two extenders, and made sure that everything on my network was named – meaning I knew who was connected to my router.  I also started again monitoring my data usage on my router. Continue Reading →

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How to Talk to your Parents about Pre-Planning, A Funeral Director’s Dilemma

As odd as it may seem, I cannot get my father to talk to me about his preferences for funeral arrangements.  I am a licensed funeral director/embalmer in two states, I own a funeral home, I am a licensed Grief Counselor, and I am his oldest daughter (the one responsible for that sort of thing).  One would think I could coax, at minimum, a comment from him about his preferences.  At the very least, whether he prefers burial or cremation would be a nice place to start; but no, to this day, my father remains silent on this subject. My dad is in his late seventies.  I hope, like most children, that my dad lives forever.  Realistically, as a prudent adult, I know this will not be the case.  As a funeral director, I know statistically, that my years with him are somewhat limited. As his daughter, knowing our family history and his health issues, I estimate that my siblings and I need to begin a savings plan on his behalf for his funeral arrangements. I have already begun preparations on my mother’s behalf.  Although she has not prearranged her funeral, she has expressed certain wishes to me, and I have taken the appropriate steps to ensure that these wishes are met.  I have purchased her burial plot, her headstone and its setting, her burial clothes, her casket, and her vault.  These are the major expenses associated with burial, and so my siblings and I will need to come together when her time arrives and simply arrange the timing of her services.  This will save us from having to come up with tons of money, and most importantly, trying to decipher her wishes and choices after she is gone. As a funeral director, I meet with families daily who have not had these sorts of discussions.  I witness the turmoil, and disputes siblings enter into, at this desperate time, over the slightest little things.  Vicious arguments that see the most horrendous words fly across my arrangement table over tiny details, cut siblings and family members to the core.  I see loved ones rush out of the room as the ferocity becomes too much to bear.  Were the damages of such criticisms measured against physical wounds, I would see carnage and death laying across my table rather than tears, absence, and anguish.  My desire to know my father’s wishes is to avoid such an awful scene with my brother and sisters. Continue Reading →

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The Needed Connection of Arkansas High to Arkansas Stadium

Texarkana, AR- Anyone who has ever attended Arkansas High and had to walk from the school to the stadium or from the stadium to the school knows the dangers faced by a student.  While students are fortunate to have a stadium so close to the main high school campus, they are also hindered by no direct, safe route to walk to the stadium. Nix Creek effectively blocks any direct access to the stadium for students.  The best students can do is walk down Nix Creek trail and then cross the bridge on 18th street where they are exposed to traffic from both directions.  During game nights this traffic can range anywhere from a few cars to hundreds of cars flooding up and down the street. Continue Reading →

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Robbins Toyota A+ Customer-Based Service

Texarkana, USA- Nobody likes to have car repairs, but when the time comes most of us search out a trusted mechanic if the car is out of warranty and avoid a dealership at all cost.  That was exactly my mindset when our Toyota had a steering issue this week.  As we tried to decide who would service the vehicle best, I completed an Internet search and found that there had been several reported issues like ours.  I decided to look up the national Toyota hotline number and see if there was any known defects or recalls dealing with the steering issues. I reached Toyota and a very helpful young lady was delighted to let me know that there was a recall for my car and the problem I was facing. Continue Reading →

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Death,-Frequent Visitor

Death.  It’S A Word That Many People Fear, Some Wish For, And Other Simply Accept As The Final Stage Of This Life While Opening The Mysteries Of What Comes Next.  No matter how you view death, the one thing that is certain is that it will eventually visit you. It seems as I get older I am reminded of all those “Old” people I used to hear saying things like, “Well, there are fewer of us than there used to be.”  From the late 1980’s and even through today we hear it a lot about the “Greatest Generation”.  The word is death is visiting more and more of them.  I saw it in my grandparents, and I’ve seen it in my friend’s grandparents pass from that generation, but now the time has come where I’m seeing it more from people I know outside of family.  As I said, I’m at that age where there are simply “fewer” of us than there used to be.  The other day I picked up a book that many of my friends had signed back in 1997.  As I read through the list, I realized over ninety percent of the signers were now dead.  I am certainly seeing death as a frequent visitor in my small realm of friends. I guess it’s normal even natural, for people to start thinking about death when they reach this age.  I had a harsh reminder recently when a dear friend of mine died.  This marks the first year that I have not received multiple telephone calls from him during the annual tax season.  My friend did income taxes for people and he always had computer questions, or wanted to be sure that I understood how to do taxes.  His calls might be to ensure I got “us” the latest software, or to inform me that his computer would not print.  I’d go off to his home, fix the issue and we’d spend a lot of time talking about the new tax laws.  My friend died in December.  The last time I talked with him was August.  Now as I move into the second month of the tax season, I’m finding that the lack of telephone calls from him is depressing.  It’s a reminder that he is not here anymore and that he won’t be calling.  It’s also a reminder that all our days are numbered just like those tax forms were. So as I contemplate death, I have a firm Christian foundation in where I will go and spend eternity, but that doesn’t stop me from wondering.  I find myself adding up the ages of my kids and thinking things like “Well, they will be one hundred in this year or that year”.  I realize that as they reach those later years in life it will be long after I’m gone.  As I said, I am confident where I will be in that time period, but it doesn’t stop me from wondering what will happen here. Continue Reading →

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For the Children – Is Your Glass Half-Full?

I try to be a “glass half-full” kind of person, but there are times when parts of your world can wear you down.  We all experience this to some extent, but it is how you deal with these situations that determines the outcome and impact on your own life and those around you. Far too many children in Oklahoma experience negative circumstances which can change the course of their entire lives. The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy asked Dr. Jennifer Hays-Grudo serve as the keynote speaker on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) for our annual KIDS COUNT Conference.  Dr. Hays-Grudo discussed the results of studies across the United States with children 17 and under and the trauma associated with their childhood.  Not surprisingly, of the categories tested, Oklahoma ranked at the top with the highest percentage of children experiencing childhood trauma that followed them into adulthood. You can view slides from her presentation at for more details. We face a generational cycle of trauma which simply will not be fixed overnight.  Our 2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book showed slight improvement from recently collected statistics, so we must not backtrack.  There is far more work needed to continue solutions within the Oklahoma State Capitol and the various agencies, as well as neighborhoods and communities. Continue Reading →

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