The Greatest Makeover of All

The Greatest Makeover of All

This article won a $1000 Award of Outstanding Merit from the Amy Foundation in May of 2005. In the reality shows that dominate much of prime time television these days, “The Swan” is the most recent to make a splash. Women who qualified for the show had to leave their families for four months in order to go through a dramatic makeover to improve their looks and their self-esteem, achieved with the help of plastic surgeons, exercise coaches, trainers, dietitians, therapists, make-up artists and others. The name of the show comes from the well-known Grimm’s Fairy Tale of “The Ugly Duckling.”  In this classic children’s story, a swan’s egg gets mixed in with a group of duck’s eggs. Larger than the other eggs, it looks out of place from the beginning. After the egg hatches, it’s obvious that the “duckling” is different from the others. Life was difficult for the baby swan as the other ducks quacked, “He’s ugly. He doesn’t look a bit like us. We don’t want to play with him.”  As the story goes, the ugly duckling went through a dramatic transformation as it grew, becoming a beautiful swan, much to the surprise of the other ducklings. Shows like “The Swan” are tapping into a growing desire of Americans to change the way we look through surgery, exercise, and diet. According to The Freedonia Group, a leading international business research company, it is estimated that demand in the United States for cosmetic surgery products will grow 11.2 percent yearly through 2007. In June 2002, the Italian magazine “Italia Imballagio” estimated that there are more than...
Struggling With Boundaries for Your Teenager

Struggling With Boundaries for Your Teenager

This article won a $1000 award of Outstanding Merit from the Amy Foundation in May of 2004. Through twenty-one years of marriage, Jim and Kate had learned how to communicate, to solve problems, and to compromise. Marriage, they learned, is a give-and-take relationship and it is always better if each tries to give more than take. They found this to be especially true after their children came along. When the children hit the teenage years, Jim and Kate realized that just as in the first years of their marriage, they seemed more on edge with each other. They were spending less and less time together. Their life, it seemed, revolved around their three teenage boys. Though they enjoyed being parents, they discovered that the teenage years were different from the other years, a lot different. One issue they struggled with was knowing where to set the boundaries for their boys. Mark, 17, Daniel 16, and Hunter, 13, were each very different. Their different personalities, plus their different ages, meant that the boundaries the couple set for them were different and in constant flux. It’s natural that teenagers want to break free from their parent’s boundaries and test their limits. It was with Jim and Kate’s oldest son, Mark, that the battle over boundaries was more intense. Getting ready to enter his senior year in high school, Mark began to question a lot of his parent’s rules. Their discussions usually ended with his father saying with great frustration, “End of discussion! As long as you are under our roof you’ll live by our rules! We don’t have to explain the...
Guard the Gate of Your Character with Integrity

Guard the Gate of Your Character with Integrity

This article won a $1000 Award of Outstanding Merit from the Amy Foundation in May of 2003. Next weekend, two ex-Georgia Tech football coaches were supposed to lead their football teams against one another in the Kickoff Classic at Giants’ Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Ralph Friedgen will be there with his Maryland Terrapins. George O’Leary was supposed to have been there too as the new coach of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. It would have been his second straight Kickoff Classic. Last year O’Leary coached his Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets to a 13-7 win over the Syracuse Orangemen. However, O’ Leary will not be on the sidelines for Notre Dame, having resigned only days after being hired as their head coach last December. The record books will have to place an asterisk by O’Leary’s name, giving the explanation as to why he never coached a game at the most prestigious football program in the nation. In fact, O’Leary’s entire career, as great as it has been, will be asterisked in the minds of many who will remember him more for falsifying a resume than for his abilities as a coach. This is unfortunate. O’Leary’s incident is a reminder to us all that we can build a great career and a great reputation only to have it overrun by our own lack of integrity. “In ancient China, the people desired security from the barbaric hordes to the north, so they built the Great Wall of China. It was so high they knew no one could climb over it and so thick that nothing could break it down. They settled...
Stay Away from the Wall

Stay Away from the Wall

This article won a $1000 Award of Outstanding Merit from the Amy Foundation in May of 2001. “Time Magazine” recently reported that the Guinness Book of World Records has awarded Danni Ashe the award for being the Most Downloaded Woman. If that term is not in your vocabulary, then mostly likely you don’t own or use a computer and you may not be aware of how rampant computer pornography has become. Danni, who poses nude, has been downloaded seven million times onto the computers of others. At one time pornography was mostly limited to a few magazines that stores kept hidden behind the counter. My introduction to a “girly magazine” occurred when I was a teenager. I was away from home with several friends and our 4-H Club leader on the campus of Auburn University where we were attending district level competitions. One of my older friends shoplifted a “Playboy” magazine from the campus bookstore. If the Guinness Book of World Records had been notified, we might have gotten the record for the most times one “Playboy” magazine was passed around in a 24-hour period. It’s easy to make light of such experiences and simply say, “Boys will be boys.” However, such an attitude is a slippery slope to being ensnared by one of Satan’s oldest traps. This trap of lust is now as big and as widespread as ever. Americans are spending about $12 billion a year on pornography. Sex is the Web’s top moneymaker. It’s estimated that one in five hits on the World Wide Web are sex related. It’s a fact that men enjoy looking at...