After Jonathan shared that he listens to audio books in his car, I searched for thrillers and best sellers. Then last Tuesday I asked Alexa to reach into my new audio library and produce a book entitled Contagious by Jonah Berger. I was going to learn what makes an idea go viral.

I took notes because movement–even slight annotation–inks learning on the brain. And, I cling to the hope that one day I, like Steve Jobs, might land upon a phenomenal idea.

But ideas don’t have to be phenomenal to go viral. According to Berger, six things make an idea contagious.

1. Social currency. A viral idea is one that makes the person sharing it seem important, helpful, entertaining, remarkable–awe-inspiring. Sharing a remarkable idea gives a person positive attention, social nods and intrinsic satisfaction. So viral ideas are ideas that make good social currency.

2. Triggers. Ideas associated with memorable times and places–sights, sounds, tastes, smells–attract our attention. Subconsciously people react to those triggers. Ideas linked or triggered with other memorable ideas often go viral.

3. Emotion. The social glue of viral ideas is physiological arousal. A passionate response that leads one to action-anger, anxiety, injustice, excitement, or awe causes an idea to spread epidemically.

4. Observe-ability. People share what is on the top of their minds. Items quarantined in a closet are easily forgotten but public idea go viral most often.

5. Practical Value. People like to help others, and sharing solutions by word of mouth is a kind way to help a neighbor. Ideas with practical value are more likely to go viral.

6. Stories. The human brain is hardwired to enjoy elements of a good story: settings, characters, problems, plot twists, climax, resolve. We follow a story to cheer the hero on, wanting to hear how it ends. Ideas formatted like a story often go viral.

I enjoyed hearing (reading) Contagious. It reminded me that reading enriches the mind, challenges preconceived notions and makes a person knowledgeable–sometimes wiser.

“Alexa, read the epilogue of Contagious again, please.”

“Getting Contagious.”

I’m just helping Jonathan’s helpful idea go viral.

Needing a Miracle

Flynn doesn’t have his homework. It’s time to head for school. Science fair topics are due today. Eureka! Perched on the antenna of Dad’s Camaro rests a magnificent blue dasher dragonfly.

“It’s a miracle!” the kid exclaims. “I can catch the dragonfly for my homework!”

“What? Flynn, you don’t have you homework, again? That’s ludicrous! You were up till midnight!”

But if this dragonfly is not a miracle, then what is?

Most folks agree a miracle happened January 15, 2009 when Chelsy Sullenburger’s plane, US Airways Flight 1549, hit a flock of Canadian geese forcing the pilot to land in the Hudson River. While rescue boats hurried to their aid, passengers waited on the wings. All survived. Headlines called it the “Miracle on the Hudson.”(

Another serendipitous “coincidence” happened early one morning, September, 2005 when at the intersection of Bells Ferry Road and Highway 92 in Cherokee County, I stopped at the red light. Facing another seventy minute commute to Rome, GA on I-75, in frustration, I threw up my hands and cried, “God, there must be a teaching job closer to Woodstock.” Then wistfully I whispered, “Maybe it’s on this road.” I laughed when a principal called to schedule an interview. Out of 23 elementary schools in Cherokee County, hers happened to be on Bells Ferry Road. I taught at Liberty School for the next ten years.

And Ken, in 2011, experienced a supernatural wonder when his District Superintendent offered him the retired-supply pastor’s job at Holly Springs United Methodist Church. Ken could retire, draw full benefits, work part time, receive a salary and continue to preach while I completed my teaching career.

Scripture attributes many miracles, signs and wonders, to Jesus. First he turned water into wine at the wedding in Cana. As this wedding party peaked, the host ran out of drinks. Jesus however, at his mom’s request, changed 120 gallons of tasteless, odorless colorless water into 120 gallons of wine. After sampling the wine, the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said, “You have saved the best for last.” John 2: 1-11.

We all need our water turned into wine–whether by a eureka revelation, a serendipitous “coincidence,” an undeniable sign, or a supernatural wonder. When we can’t find our way without divine intervention, we pray for a miracle.

Prayer is an important part, but God also asks for childlike faith–wide-eyed expectancy and over-the-top gratitude. Then in ways we least expect, God comes to help us.

Is Flynn right, that the dragonfly resting on the antenna of Dad’s sports car is a miracle–especially when he has been irresponsible?

I suspect so. It’s called the miracle of grace.

Flynn and the Dragonfly

Book signing at Holly Springs UMC March 17th following worship at 11:00.

What is Your Problem?

Everyone has one. Whether it’s physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, private, interpersonal, huge or small. Everyone has one because problems propel the stories of our lives forward.

Flynn’s problems squeeze him like quicksand. The teachers are hot on his trail. He’s missing lots of work. Flynn is about to fail fifth grade. His frazzled mother has given up and left home.

How do you react to such problems? You might confide in a friend, like Dash the dragonfly. You might work harder, pray harder–patiently move forward. Or you might get discouraged, grumble, complain and give up.

After pitching a bombastic tantrum, Flynn decides to be proactive. He’s gonna win that science fair, impress his teachers. He’s gonna bring his mom home and promote to middle school.

But some problems are much worse than failing 5th grade. The blind, the deaf, the lame, the poor, the paralytic brought their problems to Jesus. And he helped everyone. He healed the sick, raised the dead and gave them new lives.

Can Jesus solve our problems, too? Well, “…nothing is too hard for God,” says Jeremiah 32: 17. And Jesus taught the multitudes: Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will open.

Then why do some problems hang around long after we pray, like droopy Christmas lights in February? That’s an essential part of our life stories, too. All of us are heroes on noble journeys to meet our goals, to reach our quests, to solve our problems….

But we rarely understand God’s timing. Sometimes he answers immediately. Sometimes He delays to demonstrate his mighty power. He is famous for waiting while we mature in faith, or while we gain deeper compassion for our fellow sufferers. He has other reasons beyond my comprehension, but while we wait we grow.

Flynn is well on his way to reaching his goal when he gets sidetracked with naughtiness. He needs to learn to listen to his conscience, and the voice of the Holy Spirit, especially when he is tempted to snitch the lake ranger’s canoe.

What can we learn from our problems? We can learn to trust God greater, to persevere longer, to surrender fully, to set a good example for those who are younger or weaker—to overcome temptation–and many other things.

Facing devastation and disaster, like all of us, Flynn reaches a black story moment when he listens to lies from the antagonist. “You are no good. You have fatal flaws. You might as well quit.” But through it all, God stays near, sprinkling him with good favor, pressing him onward.

What is your problem? Have you hit that black story moment when you are listening to the enemy rather than trusting God? Does the antagonist in your story suggest you are not worthy, that you should quit? That God has abandoned you?

Remember, the closer you come to reaching the end of your noble journey, the darker the night but the nearer the prize.

Flynn calls his mom and tells her he is going to fail 5th grade because he has lost his dragonfly, the main element in his science project. He doesn’t know what to do now.

Then she tells him, “Flynn, when you are ready you will find the way.” He needs to get his act together.

For Christians, one essential act we need to get together is written in Hebrews 11:6. “…without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.”

Do you know that God is with you on your noble journey? And when you are ready to completely and diligently trust Him, you will find His peace that passes all understanding and grace to press forward…Or you will seize your noble prize and hold it in your hands. Problem solved!

  1. P

Free Dragonfly Gift with the purchase of…

Flynn and the Dragonfly

Balance your dragonfly on your fingertips;

Play hide and seek;

Camouflage it in a secret place.

Send your shipping address to:

With proof of purchase (the ISBN # on the book’s back cover)

Your bamboo dragonfly will ship ASAP.

To help more kids come along and belong, please, post a review on

Happy flying my fiery, feisty, fierce and faithful friends:

Flynn and the Dragonfly

Dragonflies available while supplies last.

Remembering a special Christmas Story

The Christmas Pie

My friend Ross told me when he became middle-aged his life was a wreck. Divorced and depressed, he had stopped trying to lead a Christian life.

Ross kept odd hours, partied all the time, and did not care that his loud music disturbed the neighbors.

But Christmas was coming. For Ross it was the loneliest time of the year: no family, no feasts, no presents.

No amount of loud music could fill his emptiness.

Then just before Christmas, a knock came at his door. There stood an elderly neighbor  bearing a luscious chocolate pie.

She had ample reason to criticize and condemn him. Instead, she had baked him a pie. 

As Ross sliced through the warm filling, hope was born in his heart. Someone, he told himself, thinks I am worth saving. 

Ross returned  to church, to his faith and found a new way of living.

In time Ross married Carol, a beautiful Christian woman. Whether baking biscuits for Sunday School, harvesting hay or playing guitar in a blue grass band, his life was good.

“Every year at Christmas,” Ross concluded his story, “I remember with gratitude that wonderful Christian neighbor and her delicious chocolate pie.” 

Now hear the rest of the story.

Moved by Ross’s story, I submitted it to The Upper Room, a magazine distributed by the United Methodist Church.  They published the piece December 13th, 1996.

This month, twenty-two years later, I read that Ross was inducted into the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame.

God loves us so much that he sent his only son with a wonderful message. Whoever follows me will find abundant and eternal life. –Jesus

Good tidings, great joy–what Christmas is all about. 

Coming soon Flynn and the Dragonfly–a book to help distracted kids come along and belong.

Misgivings or Thanksgivings

I answered an unknown caller, Thanksgiving week, 2017.

“I’ve read your manuscript.

It rings true…

“I like this….”

Watch for the contract.”

Gently, I hung up, then raced to Ken’s study.

He had seen my misgivings–

concern about spending so much time,

two years,

on a project that might not see the light of day.

“Taylor and Seale will publish my story!”

Ken’s laughter lit the room.

I went crunching into the yard

Over multi-colored leaves I whispered:Dragongly Blue Dasher

Thank you God

      for prompting me to answer Dr. Custueri’s call.

     for an opportunity to help distracted kids come along and belong.

     for fall leaves

     for family and friends.

God, you are so good.

A year has passed and Flynn and the Dragonfly is scheduled to release this December.

Watch for it this holiday season.

Amazon, Books-a-million, Taylor and Seale.


Even in situations darkened with misgivings, we can cling to the promise in Psalm 23

“Surely goodness and mercy will follow me

all the days of my life,

and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

See Psalm 23.