All I’ve Met

Alfred, Lord Tennyson said: “I am a part of all that I have met.”

Like Tennyson, I feel like I’m a part of all that I’ve met. These are a few of their stories. And a few of mine, too. Enjoy.

‘Add color to otherwise black and white memories’



“Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are.”

It’s a quote from Squire Bill Widener, although widely misattributed to Theodore Roosevelt who shared it in his autobiography.

Over the past year, it has kept me moving forward.

Because of my health issues, and the fact that I spend most of my life in bed now, I’ve been trying to focus on what I can do, with what I have, and with where I’m at.

One thing I’ve recently discovered I can do is family history. I mean, I can’t go out and wander around cemeteries. But I’ve got a laptop and the internet.

Growing up, my grandma was very into genealogy. My mom, too, and then my younger sister as well. I had no interest in it whatsoever.

One day last fall, however, trying to figure out what I can do, with what I have, where I’m at, family history popped into my head. And I decided to give it a go.

I’m still learning. And I don’t spend as much time with it as I’d like. But finding my ancestors and learning their stories and making connections that hadn’t yet been discovered by our family has been quite life-changing.

One connection is from my Eckerson family line. America Pulliam jumped out at me because of her patriotic name. She died in 1905 in Sullivan County, MO. The work that had previously been done by my grandma had ended with her. We didn’t know who her parents were so I started digging.

After several weeks of searching and working, I found them. And that opened up several lines, one going back 27 generations to Guillaume DeBray who was born in 1054 in England.

The line from America to Guillaume included other ancestors such as Captain Thomas Warren, born in Kent, England, who came to Virginia in 1640 and purchased land from Thomas Rolfe, the son of John Rolfe and Pocahontas. And 1st Baron Edmund Braye, born in 1484, who was in attendance when King Henry VIII and King Francois I met following the Anglo-French Treaty of 1514.

Another fascinating story for me has been from my husband’s side.

The granddaughter of a Cherokee Indian and a descendant of those who came on the Mayflower, Peninah Cotton was born in 1827 in Illinois. She married Daniel Wood, and because of their Mormon faith, they were driven out of their home by a mob, leaving behind everything they couldn’t carry and journeyed westward to escape persecution. They arrived in Salt Lake in 1848 and Daniel later founded the community of Woods Cross, Utah.

I’ve also found I’m related to several famous people through a fun family history website, I’m cousins with Walt Disney, Mark Twain, Henry David Thoreau and Orville and Wilbur Wright as well as several US Presidents including FDR, John Adams, William Howard Taft and a few more.

In just the few short months since I began this new adventure, it’s also been fun to share these stories with my kids.

A study conducted at Emory University and published in 2010 found the more children knew about their family history, the higher their self-esteem and the better able they were to deal with the effects of stress.

“Family stories provide a sense of identity through time and help children understand who they are in the world,” the researchers said.

During RootsTech 2016, a global family history event, blogger Miryelle Resek wrote: “For many of us, the thrill of researching our ancestors comes from learning about their stories. Glimpses of what their everyday life looked like, the challenges they overcame and the hopes and dreams they worked toward add color to otherwise black and white memories.”

Reading from Daniel Wood’s journal and how difficult the journey to Utah was for them helps our family have strength to get through rough times.

Maya Angelou said: “We are braver and wiser because they existed, those strong women and strong men. We are who we are because they were who they were.”

So if I’ve piqued your interest at all in family history, you can get started at and/or

If your history includes Nodaway County, the historical society is a valuable resource and is open from 1 to 4 pm, Tuesday to Friday, or by appointment. Call 660.582.8176 for more information.

There’s also a Family History Center at the LDS Church in Maryville. Call 660.541.0124 and leave a message.

Several local genealogists are also willing to help including Mandi Brown who can be contacted at

So get out there and start digging. Explore where you came from, link your past to your present and build a bridge to your future. You won’t regret it.



Nothing screams summer like homemade ice cream


The Summer of Pinterest, Part 6

By Jacki Wood, for the Nodaway News Leader

July is National Ice Cream Month. But no special designation is needed to know that summer is a perfect time for ice cream.

Growing up, from Memorial Day to Independence Day to Labor Day, my family enjoyed making homemade ice cream when we all got together. So ending this series with ice cream seemed appropriate.

My husband and kids helped me with these three recipes, Ice Cream in a Bag, Jell-O Sherbet and Strawberry Frozen Yogurt.

And bonus: you don’t need an ice cream maker for any of them.

Ice Cream in a Bag

This idea combines fun and flavor. From the Growing a Jeweled Rose blog: “Kids love making ice cream in a bag because they can actually make the ice cream by running around.”

We’ve tried a slightly different variation before, Ice Cream in a Can, where you roll a can back and forth between two people. So we thought this would be fun. And it was.

• 1/2 C. heavy whipping cream or half and half
• 1 tsp. vanilla
• 2 1/2 tsp. sugar
• 6 Tbsp. coarse kosher salt
• ice cubes

Place the ingredients into a tightly sealed sandwich-sized bag, pressing the air out as you seal it. Place the bag into another tightly sealed sandwich bag. Fill a gallon-size bag half-way full of ice and mix with kosher salt. Then put the sealed sandwich-size bag into the larger bag and seal it. You can also double up the gallon-size bags as well, especially if you have little ones.
Then get moving. You need to shake the bag for about 5-10 minutes. You can run and play tag or toss the bag to each other. Or you can just stand and shake it.
Then enjoy. Eat it straight out of the bag or put it in a dish.

Jell-O Sherbet

I’d never thought about making sherbet until I saw this from I put Hannah in charge of this one and she really enjoyed making it. It’s very sweet but probably the best sherbet I’ve ever had. Just make sure the gelatin dissolves completely.

It calls for Junket ice cream mix, which I had never heard of, but found near the Jell-O section at the store. Also, we picked three flavors instead of four: Lemon, Berry Blue and Raspberry.

• Junket Ice Cream Mix in Very Vanilla
• 1 1/4 C. whole milk
• 3/4 C. heavy whipping cream
• Jell-O: Berry Blue, Orange, Raspberry, Lime or whatever flavors you desire

Place 4 glass bowls in the freezer for about 30 minutes.
Combine the Junket Ice Cream Mix with the whole milk and heavy whipping cream. Stir until dissolved. Pour the mixture into a 9″ x 5″ pan and freeze until firm.
Once firm, break into chunks with a fork and put chunks into a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth, about 2 minutes.
Remove the 4 glass bowls from the freezer and evenly separate the vanilla ice cream into each of the bowls using a spatula. Put 1/2 Tbsp. of the different Jell-O flavors in each bowl, one flavor per bowl, and gently mix with a spoon until fully combined. Do this as fast as you can to prevent the ice cream from melting.
Put the 4 different ice cream flavors in a container that can be sealed.
Gently use the back of a spoon or spatula to connect the 4 different piles of ice cream so they freeze as 1 piece. Put the lid on and let it freeze for about 1-2 hours before eating.

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

For a healthier fare, this Strawberry Frozen Yogurt from the Feel Great in 8 blog is perfect. It’s simple, quick and good for you.

• 4 C. frozen strawberries
• 3 Tbsp. honey
• 1/2 C. plain Greek yogurt
• 1 Tbsp. lime juice

Put all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Depending on your blender, you may need to add more juice. Then scoop and enjoy.

Additional ideas can be found on the NNL’s “Summer Fun” Pinterest page at


Pick out some new recipes perfect for summertime fun


The Summer of Pinterest, Part 5

By Jacki Wood for the Nodaway News Leader

Need some new recipes to spice up your summertime potluck or picnic fare? Our Good Eats page on Pinterest contains hundreds of ideas.

I picked three seasonal and flavorful new recipes that my two kids helped me with: Frozen Lemonade Pie, Crockpot BBQ Coca-Cola Pulled Pork and Corn, Tomato and Cucumber Salad.

Frozen Lemonade Pie

It’s hot outside, you do not want to turn on the oven and you need a summertime dessert. Lemonade, anyone? How about frozen lemonade and pie. Mmm-mmm-mm.
This recipe comes from and my 17-year-old son, Hunter, helped me with this very easy-to-make tart and sweet treat.

• 1 pre-made graham cracker crust
• 1 – 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk, chilled
• 1 – 12 oz. container frozen whipped topping, thawed
• 1 C. frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
• Lemon slices, for garnish

In a large mixing bowl, fold the sweetened condensed milk and whipped topping until well combined, being careful to keep the mixture light and fluffy.
Add the lemonade concentrate and continue to gently fold. Pour the filling into the pie crust.
Place in the freezer to chill at least 8 hours or overnight.
Just before serving, garnish with fresh lemon slices.

Crockpot BBQ Coca-Cola Pulled Pork

Another trick to beat the summer heat is to utilize your crockpot and this twist on pulled pork is super easy with just three ingredients.

It comes from and calls for Coca-Cola and BBQ sauce. We decided to try it with root beer and thought it was really good.

• Pork Tenderloin, approx. 3 lbs.
• 1 – 18 oz. bottle Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce
• 1 – 12 oz. can Coca-Cola
• option: 1/2 white onion, sliced

If using sliced onions, first place on the bottom of the crockpot and then place pork tenderloin in the crockpot.
Mix together BBQ sauce and Coca-Cola in mixing bowl and stir well. Pour mixture over pork and cover crockpot.
Cook on low for 6 to 7 hours, or until done.
Remove pork from crockpot and shred on cutting board using 2 forks. Serve on plates or buns and drizzle with extra leftover sauce from the crockpot to keep moist.

Corn, Tomato and Cucumber Salad

This fresh, summer produce salad is simple to prepare and full of summer flavor. It comes from and my 15-year-old daughter, Hannah, helped me with it.

We took it to a family reunion and it was a big hit with everyone.

• 1 – 15.25 oz. can whole kernel corn, well drained
• 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
• 1 C. cucumber, peeled and diced
• 1 C. cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
• 1/3 C. red onion, chopped
• 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
• 1 Tbsp. lime juice
• 1 tsp. fresh garlic, minced
• 1/2 tsp. salt, more or less to taste
• 1/4 tsp. pepper, more or less to taste
• 1/4 C. fresh cilantro, chopped
Combine all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes to allow flavors to mingle before serving.

Additional ideas can be found on the NNL’s “Good Eats” Pinterest page at


Keep the kids entertained with new summertime ideas

The Summer of Pinterest, Part 4 …


By Jacki Wood for the Nodaway News Leader

    School’s been out for over a month now and you’ve heard your kids say “I’m bored” about 2,581 times. Right?!

You could probably use some new and easy ideas to keep them entertained and enjoying their summer break.

We can help with over 400 ideas on our Summer Fun Pinterest page.

I don’t have any little ones at my house anymore, so I asked my 15-year-old daughter, Hannah, and my 12-year-old niece, Jaden, to help some of my younger nieces, Zoe, Ailey and Kaiya, and a cousin’s daughter, Daycee, with a couple of summer fun ideas: Spray Sidewalk Chalk and Glow-in-the-Dark Bubbles.

Both activities were fun and simple but both had some #PinterestFail elements to them.


Spray Sidewalk Chalk

The idea for spray sidewalk chalk comes from

This mom of two writes: “liquid chalk makes a great spray paint for kids and is sure to keep them busy for a good, long time. The recipe is super easy, easily washes off of surfaces and the spray bottles are also great for fine motor development.”

Making the spray chalk was no problem and it easily washes off the sidewalk and other outdoor surfaces. Her recipe calls for food coloring or washable watercolors. She warned the food coloring may tinge clothing, so she advised to wear play clothes or use the washable watercolors.

Since we did this activity at a family reunion, I opted for the washable watercolors. The #PinterestFail part came because there wasn’t enough color added in each squirt bottle so their creations ended up looking all white. I think you need to add more than just a “few drops” if you choose the washable watercolors, like maybe 10 or even more drops.

I couldn’t find the watercolors locally so I ordered them on Amazon – Sargent Art Watercolor Magic which comes in a pack of 10 colors.



  • Spray bottles
  • Corn Starch
  • Baking soda
  • Food coloring or washable watercolors
  • Optional: if you want to make the spray chalk art erupt, you will also want a few squirt bottles of vinegar (we didn’t try this but it sounds fun).


Fill the spray bottles 1/3 of the way with a baking soda and corn starch mixture, using roughly equal amounts of both ingredients. Add a few drops of food coloring or washable watercolors and then fill the bottles with very warm water.

Use a butter knife to stir the mixture as best you can and then place the spray spouts on and shake the bottles really well.

You will want to shake the bottles once more just before play, as some of the corn starch will settle at the bottom of the bottle.


Glow-in-the-Dark Bubbles

This seems like a very simple activity from And I think it could and should be. But we had a couple of problems.

When we went to break the glow sticks to pour the liquid into the bottles of bubbles, we realized the glow sticks we purchased had small glass vials inside the plastic tube. These were the only ones at our local Wal-Mart.

So in trying to break or cut the glass vials, we ended up with broken shards of glass everywhere. But we were still able to get the liquid into the bottles so it all worked out okay.

The bottles lit up with the glowing liquid which was fun to see on a summer’s night. However, when the girls blew, the bubbles themselves didn’t glow very much. But the girls had fun with their bright bottles, so all in all, it was a fun and successful activity. Next time, I’ll try to find different glow sticks to use.



  • Glow sticks
  • Bubbles


Break or cut open glow sticks. Pour contents into the bottle of bubbles. Shake well and have fun.

Additional ideas can be found on the NNL’s “Summer Fun” Pinterest page including games, activities, treats and more. Visit


Put a little pop in your 4th of July celebration

The Summer of Pinterest, Part 3 …


By Jacki Wood for the Nodaway News Leader

Need some new ideas for your Independence Day family get-together or neighborhood gathering? We’ve got you covered. The NNL Fourth of July Pinterest page has over 200 ideas to help you out.

We experimented with three ideas this week: Confetti Launchers, Firecracker Cookies and July 4th Layered Drinks. And did so pretty successfully.


Confetti Launchers

This simple idea comes from the Piikea Street blog,, as a kid-friendly, inexpensive alternative to real fireworks. They write: “No big bangs or smoke but still very cool.” I used patriotic paper but these would be fun for your kids to get creative with and do the decorating on their own.


  • toilet paper tubes
  • decorative paper or markers
  • 12” balloons
  • tape
  • paper
  • scissors


Cut some paper into confetti-sized squares and set aside.

Decorate your tubes anyway you like with paper or markers.

Cut a balloon in half and tie the end. Wrap the larger end of the balloon over one end of the tube and secure with tape. Try your best to keep the balloon taut but don’t bend it.

Take your poppers and confetti outside. Add a heavy pinch of confetti to the tube. Point it out, pull back the balloon end, let go and enjoy.


Firecracker Cookies

These cute sugar cookies come from and are sure to put a pop in your July 4th party … literally. You top these sugar cookies with pop rocks which pop in your mouth. She suggests topping with red pop rocks as well as a white sugar and blue gel mixture. To save time, I thought I would top them with both red and blue pop rocks and omit the blue sugar. I purchased red and blue packages of pop rocks; however, the blue, which was tropical punch flavored, ended up looking more green than blue. So I’d go the blue sugar route.


  • your favorite sugar cookie recipe or pre-made refrigerated cookie dough
  • butter cream or white frosting
  • 2 packs of red pop rocks
  • white sugar and blue gel paste


Make your favorite sugar cookie recipe and frost after they have cooled. Create blue sugar by adding sugar and blue gel paste into a blender and turn on for 30 seconds. Sprinkle sugar on frosting and then sprinkle pop rocks on cookies. You will hear them crackle as they hit the frosting. If you’re not going to be serving them right away, you might want to wait to top with the pop rocks.


July 4th Layered Drinks

These non-alcoholic drinks are fun and perfect for your family or neighborhood gathering. They come from

She says “you can layer the drinks in any way you like but the secret is in the sugar content. The other secret to success with layered drinks is plenty of ice.”

We had to play around with them some as we got too much cranapple juice in one and not enough in another. Despite those minor issues, they looked fun and tasted good, too.


  • 1 C. red cranapple juice
  • 1 C. white Sobe piña colada drink
  • 1 C. blue G2 Gatorade
  • ice


Fill your glass 1/3 of the way full with cranapple juice.

Then fill to the top with ice.

Slowly, pour the second layer directly on top of an ice cube. Then repeat with the third layer.

Note: you must pour slowly and directly over the ice for it to work.

Additional ideas can be found on the NNL’s “Fourth of July” Pinterest page including decorations, treats, crafts for the kids, games and more. Visit


Put a twist on your s’mores this summer

The Summer of Pinterest, Part 2 …


By Jacki Wood for the Nodaway News Leader

    S’mores scream summer yum and fun, sitting around a campfire, enjoying the stars and lightning bugs.

But there’s more you can do with your graham crackers, chocolate bars and marshmallows. Pinterest is full of ideas for variations on s’mores, especially when you’re not near a campfire or fire pit and still have a craving for that favorite summer treat.

My 17-year-old son, Hunter, who loves to cook and bake, helped me with these s’mores ideas.


S’mores in a Jar

This idea came from She writes: “My favorite thing about making S’mores in a Jar is that they are portable.”

They are made indoors but can be enjoyed anywhere and her recipe goes a bit beyond normal s’mores because she utilizes a simple ganache.

She used half-pint jars but we had some extra pint jars from last week’s projects so Hunter doubled it and did two layers instead of just one; a little different than hers but they turned out great. I loved that these could be eaten with a spoon and not the mess. And the ganache was a fun twist.


  • 4 chocolate bars, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 C. heavy cream
  • 1 C. marshmallow creme
  • 16 graham cracker squares
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • mini marshmallows for topping
  • 4 half-pint jars


In a saucepan, heat the heavy cream until bubbles start to form on the side, about two minutes.

Add the chopped chocolate to a medium-sized bowl and pour the hot heavy cream on top. Let it sit for a minute and then whisk until smooth. Set aside.

Process the graham crackers until finely crumbed. Add the melted butter and pulse a few times until the mixture resembles wet sand. Set aside.

To assemble, start by adding 1/4 of the graham cracker mixture to the bottom of the jars. Then add 1/4 of the marshmallow creme, 1/4 of the ganache and finish off by topping with marshmallows.

Using a cooking torch, toast the marshmallows until browned. Or, you can line the marshmallows in a baking sheet and put them under the broiler until toasted.


Baked S’mores Bars

This is another twist that can be made indoors. It comes from It’s one we’ve actually been making for a couple of years now because I’m not really a fan of traditional s’mores. I don’t like that the chocolate never melts enough and the marshmallows never turn out perfectly when we roast them. So this recipe satisfies those things for me. It’s melted chocolate and marshmallow bliss. No #PinterestFail with this one.



  • 1/2 C. butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 C. brown sugar
  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 and 1/3 C. flour
  • 3/4 C. graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 king-sized milk chocolate bars
  • 1 and 1/2 C. marshmallow creme


Preheat oven to 350˚. Cream butter, brown sugar, sugar, egg and vanilla together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, stir flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Slowly incorporate dry ingredients into butter mixture. Press half of dough into a greased 9×9 pan. Set chocolate bars on top. Spread marshmallow creme over chocolate and top with remaining dough.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden. Don’t worry if the marshmallow oozes out the top. Makes 9 bars.


S’mores Campfire Cones

This s’mores twist from is fun and easy, whether you’re camping in the woods or just grilling in your backyard.

I maybe got a little too confident with my no #PinterestFail comment above after our recent successes because we had a couple of problems with this one. Now that we know what we did wrong, though, a little tweaking should improve them.

Hunter layered the marshmallows and chocolate chips so that when it melted, all of the melted marshmallow was together in a clump, either at the top or the bottom of the cone, and all of the melted chocolate was together. We decided it would be good to mix the marshmallows and chocolate chips together in a bowl and then add them to the cone that way. Parts of the cone also got a bit charred so we would recommend the lower amount of time and put them back on the grill or campfire if longer is needed.


  • 12 sugar or waffle cones
  • 1 bag mini marshmallows
  • 12 oz chocolate chips
  • optional: butterscotch chips or any other flavor (we also tried peanut butter with the chocolate)


Fill each cone with marshmallows and chocolate chips. Wrap in aluminum foil.

Heat on the grill or campfire for 7 to 10 minutes (also works in the oven). Keep away from direct flames.

Be careful as contents may be hot. Unwrap and enjoy.

Additional s’mores ideas can be found on the NNL’s “Summer Fun” Pinterest page including s’mores brownies, cheesecake, cheese ball, parfait, cobbler, snack mix and even fried s’mores.

For these and other ideas for the summer, visit


Get crafty with simple mason jar projects

The Summer of Pinterest, Part 1 …


By Jacki Wood for the Nodaway News Leader

Have you ever tried a project, idea or recipe you found on Pinterest … and it didn’t come out quite like you’d hoped?

You’re not alone.

Branded as the world’s catalog of ideas, Pinterest users can “pin” ideas to try, but many find themselves disappointed at the end result.

There’s even an entire Pinterest Fail website, “where good intentions come to die,” devoted to Pinterest lovers who have shared projects that failed. And there are plenty of posts all across social media of hilarious failures.

So we thought it would be fun to do a little experimenting of our own this summer. And I convinced (forced) my family to help me out.

I’ve been pinning ideas on Pinterest for about five years now and have tried well over 100 recipes as well as ideas for home improvement, family reunions, hairstyles and even road trips.

This series will focus on several different ideas perfect for the summertime for you and your family. And we’ll see if they actually turn out perfectly. Or if we need to add it to the Pinterest Fail website.

We’re starting with a pretty ordinary object that can be transformed into a ton of different ideas for every corner of your home and summertime activity – mason jars.

My 15-year-old daughter, Hannah, helped me pick out two mason jar projects from the NNL’s So Crafty Pinterest board. We thought the Mason Jar Fairy Lights and the Mason Jar Citronella Candles would be fun to have when she has friends over for a summer party.


Mason Jar Fairy Lights

This idea came from the DIY Joy website. It was very simple and easy to follow with both a how-to video as well as step-by-step written instructions with photos.

The website says: “this cool glow in the dark craft is a neat project idea for kids and teens. These fairy glow jars are fun for after-dark outdoors ideas but they also make great DIY home decor for kids rooms or dorm decor.”


  • Mason Jar (any clean jar will do)
  • Glow in the Dark Paint (use several different colors)
  • Paintbrushes (preferably longer ones that reach to the bottom of the jar)
  • Scrap Paper
  • White School Glue (optional)
  • Glitter (optional)

Hannah had no trouble with this project at all. It was quick and easy and she was pleased with how they turned out. And it was relatively inexpensive, especially if you have old jars lying around.


Mason Jar Citronella Candles

This idea came from It was also very simple with step-by-step instructions and photos. And it provides a very cheap alternative to keep the mosquitoes away this summer.


  • Mason Jar (or any glass jar) with lid and ring
  • Citronella Torch Fuel
  • 1/8″ Lamp Wicks
  • Nail Punch, Screwdriver or a Nail and Hammer

This was also very quick and easy for Hannah. Our local Wal-Mart didn’t have the lamp wicks so we purchased thick twine as well as tiki torch wicks to try. The torch wicks were too big, especially for pint jars. And even the twine was perhaps a bit too big. On a windy day, the flame got a little big. But as long as it’s not left unattended, I think it would be fine.

Additional mason jar ideas can be found on the NNL’s “So Crafty” Pinterest page including bird feeders, soap dispensers, home decor, gifts in a jar and much more.

For these and other crafty ideas, visit


‘I am still worth the full 20 dollars’

By Jacki Wood, “That they might have joy” column for the Nodaway News Leader


Our family recently returned from a two-week summer road trip to California to see family, visit the beach, Disneyland, our favorite restaurants and some new things, too.

We love to road trip and I could write for days about the adventures we had. But for this column, I’d like to share something we’ve started doing recently – packing comfort kits to pass out if we come across someone in need along our way.

It didn’t take long to hand out the first one on this trip. We were approached by a man at a gas station in New Mexico. He was asking for money but we offered him the Ziploc of food, water and essentials. He quickly opened the bag, grabbed the crackers and thanked us as he began devouring the food.

The exchange was a bit bizarre but he was obviously hungry and we were happy to help.

This topic – helping the homeless who stand outside of a business or along a highway off ramp – seems to be somewhat of a controversial subject.

Some people say they’re just trying to take advantage of us, that they beg all day long and then go home to a comfortable life.

In my very limited experience, I do not believe that to be true in most cases. I’m not naive enough to think that it doesn’t happen. But I feel there are many people who could use a little help.

I shared a story last Thanksgiving on my Facebook page that reaffirmed my stance for helping those in need. Here’s a portion of what I wrote then:


His hands were rough and cold, surprisingly cold, on an unusually warm November day.

I had stopped in Cameron to fill up with gas on the way to my mom’s for Thanksgiving and he was standing on the corner shivering.

“I’m Jacki,” I said, as I stuck my hand out to shake his.

“Dennis,” he said.

He seemed shy, hesitant, ashamed.

“Where are you headed?” I asked, reading his cardboard sign.


Dennis was a veteran. He had served during the 1970s and had been in Omaha for a medical procedure. Now he was trying to “get someplace warm,” he said.

Family? No. He had no family.

We spoke a little more and I learned he had a dry sense of humor, kind of like my dad’s. He seemed to warm up to me the longer we talked.

We had made some comfort kits as a family to keep in the car for instances just like this. The bag had ripped recently so I had taken it out to replace it but kept forgetting to put it back in the car.

When I saw Dennis, I thought it was a missed opportunity and felt I needed to talk with him.

I only spent a few moments with him. I don’t know his whole story. I don’t know what specific circumstances and choices led to him being there in that situation. But I do know that he is my brother and I wanted to help him.

I gave him a little money (something I normally do not do), which he humbly thanked me for with tears in his eyes, and I wished him good luck.


We don’t know the circumstances that lead people to stand on a corner asking for help. We haven’t walked in their shoes. But if we could just really see them for who they are, how would we act?

In a speech given at BYU in 2015, Sondra D. Heaston said: “What if we could really see into each other’s hearts? Would we understand each other better? By feeling what others feel, seeing what others see and hearing what others hear…would we treat them with more patience, more kindness and more tolerance?”

I recently read a story of a woman who had endured years of trial and sorrow. She said: “I have come to realize that I am like an old $20 bill — crumpled, torn, dirty, abused and scarred. But I am still a $20 bill. I am worth something. Even though I may not look like much and even though I have been battered and used, I am still worth the full 20 dollars.”


Comfort kits are easy and relatively inexpensive to make. You can find many ideas online. Ours include a pair of socks, toothbrush and paste, comb, wet wipes, water, gum and a few snack items like granola bars, crackers and cheese, tuna salad and fun fruits. There are many other essentials you could pack as well as a list of local resources and gift cards.

One site I like is the Portland Rescue Mission ( It shares several ways to provide practical help to the homeless.


The second comfort kit we handed out on our road trip was in Kansas on our way home. As I rolled down the window and asked the man if he’d like the bag, his eyes lit up with joy and gratitude.

I will never forget those eyes. I saw a glimpse into his heart.

Not that I knew his circumstances. That didn’t matter.

By serving him in that very small capacity, even though he may have been crumpled, torn, dirty and scarred, we saw that he was indeed still worth the full 20 dollars.

‘No one is born hating another person’

That they might have joy column, by Jacki Wood, written for the Nodaway News Leader

The movie “42” tells the story of Jackie Robinson who broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947.

One of the most heartbreaking scenes is when a young, white boy and his father attend a Brooklyn Dodgers game, and as Robinson takes the field, the father starts screaming, “hey nigger, we don’t want you here,” along with many others in the crowd.

Reluctantly and visibly uncomfortable about the taunts and racial slurs, the boy joins his father in yelling at Robinson.

It reminds me of Nelson Mandela in “Long Walk to Freedom” when he said: “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Have you noticed how much hate their is in our country right now?

It’s everywhere.

People are angry about everything.

A CNN/ORC poll from December suggests 69 percent of Americans are either “very angry” or “somewhat angry” about the way things are going in the US.

Sixty-nine percent.

Ferguson. San Bernardino. Charleston. Black Lives Matter. White Lives Matter. Blue Lives Matter. All Lives Matter. Anti-gay, anti-Jew, anti-Muslim, anti-refugees, anti-government. Gun rights vs gun control. The very rich vs the very poor and the middle class. And the Presidential race.

Hate can be seen everywhere.

Last month, Mark Potok, editor of the SPLC’s Intelligence Report, wrote: “the number of hate and antigovernment ‘Patriot’ groups grew last year and terrorist attacks and radical plots proliferated.”

He continued: “Antigovernment militiamen, white supremacists, abortion foes, domestic Islamist radicals, neo-Nazis and lovers of the Confederate battle flag targeted police, government officials, black churchgoers, Muslims, Jews, schoolchildren, Marines, abortion providers, members of the Black Lives Matter protest movement and even drug dealers.

“They laid plans to attack courthouses, banks, festivals, funerals, schools, mosques, churches, synagogues, clinics, water treatment plants and power grids.

“The situation appears likely to get worse, not better, as the country continues to come to terms with its increasing diversity … Americans are arguably as angry as they have been in decades.”

The problem will not get better if we continue to let it grow.

In Galatians 6:7, the Apostle Paul wrote, “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

Jeffrey R. Holland said: “if we sow thistles, we don’t really plan to get strawberries … we sow a little thistle and we get a lot of thistle — years and years of it, big bushes and branches of it. We never get rid of it unless we cut it out.

“If we sow a little bit of hate, before we know it we’ve reaped a lot of hate — smoldering and festering and belligerent and finally warring, malicious hate.”

So… what is so wrong with hate?

Well, first of all, we don’t have time for it. There are many great things waiting to be discovered, learned and shared that we don’t have time to waste on hate.

President Abraham Lincoln said: “No man resolved to make the most of himself can spare time for personal contention … Better give your path to a dog than be bitten by him.”

It’s also bad for our health.

Harvard-trained and board-certified cardiologist Dr. Cynthia Thaik said: “Prolonged bouts of anger can take a toll on the body in the form of high blood pressure, stress, anxiety, headaches and poor circulation. Research also shows that even one five-minute episode of anger is so stressful that it can impair your immune system for more than six hours. These can lead to more serious problems such as heart attacks and stroke.”

To overcome this, she suggests the following: acknowledge the anger, realize why, step back, deal with it, talk to someone and let it go.

In the end, however, we simply need to stop it.

“When it comes to our own prejudices and grievances, we too often justify our anger as righteous,” Dieter F. Uchtdorf said. “When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following:

“Stop it!”

In November 2014, following the grand jury investigation in Ferguson, Benjamin Watson of the New Orleans Saints penned a Facebook post that went viral.

“Ultimately the problem is not a SKIN problem, it is a SIN problem. SIN is the reason we rebel against and … abuse our authority. SIN is the reason we are racist, prejudiced and lie.

“But I’m encouraged because God has provided a solution for sin through the his son Jesus. I’m encouraged because the Gospel gives mankind hope.”

Uchtdorf continued: “We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children.”

I believe this is the way.

If they can learn to hate, as Mandela said, they can be taught to love.

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