It Matters

Dear Mom and Dad,

Remember how you wished like nobody’s business that there was even any small indication that your words and efforts were making a difference?  Especially when it seemed as if you had the most thankless (not to mention endless) job on the planet with nothing to quantify it?

Those days when time after time (quite possibly the 3,459,812th time) you packed everybody up, including 2 or 3 friends, for a youth event or special evening? When reality stated that you would rather be home in your own pajamas relaxing and enjoying some much deserved down time?

Let’s talk about costuming and the planning, shopping for, and eventual execution thereof? And I’m not simply referring to the holiday beginning with “H”.  Rather, I’m encompassing every outing, Boy and Girl Scout function, church youth group extravaganza, and whatnot…where they pled for that extra effort so their team could “win?”

Finally, there are the books.  Endless stacks, piles, and myriads of sing-songy, rhyming types that when you are weary, make you long for an adult book group.

And the Where’s Waldo picture books.  If I had life experience for every time I went looking for him…chances are the best of the best detective agencies would clamor for my hire.

Maybe, just maybe, you are beyond most of the above…in the home stretch with only one or two children left under your roof. Your days consist of “checking in” with young adults while still directing older children. And yet at times, you still wonder.

Until you receive a text the likes of this:

“Helping our youth group leaders with a Real-Life Waldo event. So fun!”

Accompanied by this amazing picture:

Where's Waldo Reagan and Tabitha1

And in that moment, once again, you are reminded that example trumps words every time, that what you are saying is molding, shaping and leaving an indelible impression on hearts and minds; serving to shape future values and priorities. And that your influence is stretched beyond yourself, producing residuals beyond anything you could have ever been paid to do in the “here and now.”

What you’re doing today and every day?

It Matters.


Out On A Limb

The title is where I’m headed today.

For you see, I know quite-near-next-to-nothing about the NFL. And yet, Sunday’s game has left me very troubled in a lot of ways. This is quite an understatement.

NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks

For me, there are issues involving “the incident” with Richard Sherman that come from a definite rookie angle; but are the topic of much conversation in the Helm’s Household, as well as out of it; for I have texted voraciously with Son #1 and others.

In the spirit of the Leadership Education principle “You, Not Them,” I have a confession to make. It involves a basketball game in 1993 that my brother was coaching.  I was visiting Seattle with my two oldest (and only at the time) sons. My brother invited us to ride the bus to the game, thinking that the boys would love it. They did. (At least on the way there.)

Perhaps the game became rather intense, and perhaps I felt that one of the refs was blind (my brother Tim later confirmed he was, but that is still to this day beside the point) and perhaps I stood to my feet and screamed this fact, until the principal of the school left his post on the other side of the gym; taking his time to get to where I was seated, asking me sincerely if I needed to step outside.  He was absolutely right in what he did, and I was mortified. So was my brother. I remember one of the kids on the bench choosing to seize that momentary awkward silence in which the entire game stopped, and everyone’s eyes were on me by stating, “Geez, lady, you have serious problems. This is only a game!” That bus ride home was awkward at best and I was very alone in my seat near the back.

It is still not one of my finer life moments by any means. And there have been others not related specifically to sports.

I do have a small measure of comfort in the fact that my brother, Tim, (who clearly can no longer defend himself, but could also not deny one thing here in print) has been kicked out of many a game; using up his quota of technical fouls.  His reputation for quietly and professionally goading refs and other coaches lives on in infamy.  Son #3 and I were laughing last evening over the fact that during one particular visit with my brother,while at a high school game, he had mentally uttered to himself, “What the h*ll is your problem?!”

Be that as it may, I believe we are faced with some big ones.

For after Richard Sherman’s “unprofessional outburst” (and it was, there is absolutely no question,) a fire storm within social media venues everywhere ignited.

Sadly, the blaze continues and has burned both bridges and opportunities in its pathway down the slippery slope of things not even pertaining to football.

Leadership Education also encourages knowledge that is both broad as well as deep.  I have zero depth in the world of the brown pigskin ball, other than what my brother Tim, my father, and my BFF Cathy have graciously passed along.  In an effort to understand a wee bit about the game, I read this book,

Tony Dungy

and had many a discussion with Tim about its contents.  It was a wonderful, insightful and eye-opening read and I highly recommend it. Since then, more than once, I have heard a zealous but well-meaning parent declare, “I would never want my child to go into politics! Oh no! A career in sports is where we’ve got them headed!”
I laugh, for I can’t decide which is more fraught with political strife: the career or a professional game!

Somehow, in today’s America, the fan/observer/enthusiast has come to be expert, gospel-truth-providing political pundit; taking the convenient form more often than not, of an anonymous-but-influential package.

Know this: I am not defending poor sportsmanship or unacceptable behavior. But there is plenty of it coming from the 12th man, and they aren’t just Seahawk’s fans.

The 12th man in my book, is the crowd that weighed in and then, from the comfort of their own easy chair, complete with an array of snacks only an arm’s length away; began fueling an age-old fire, that in many arenas is still blazing.

It concerns me that inappropriate behavior somehow managing to be redefined as expert opinion or even “fact” can be manipulated and reworked into equally absolute truth with influence, by those all too quick to seek immunity, safety and absolution behind a keyboard and a screen.

I know from personal experience, being a passionate person who shares opinions and ideologies too freely at times, that there are simply those moments, when after the fact; one wishes they had done things differently.  I can’t speak for anyone other than myself, but I find it horrifying that a gross error of judgment escalates to blanket statements encompassing things one really knows very little about, and never will. And just that quickly, gaining even more followers, also armed with blanket-statements-and-stereotypes-turned-truth, it focuses relentlessly on an individual’s ethnicity and stereotypical prejudice which still, after all these years, slides too easily off both tongue and fingertips…despite yesterday’s holiday being all about honoring the headway this man made for the cause.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Undoubtedly, professional athletes have significant influence over youth in America. Who am I kidding?  They have influence over all of America as a culture!

But do they honestly possess influence at its greatest?  It is my opinion that the answer is no, for real genuine relationship trumps iconic moments of glory every time.

Face-to-face, consistent, accountability is what is life changing in the end. And what kids (mine in particular) see me living, texting, writing, and what their ears hear me saying about and to others, is the greatest influence to abolishing hyped up, misdirected fear there is. Dr. King was all about this particular angle and made staggering headway using it towards fear’s demise.

Fear serves no one well. Responding to inappropriate actions with further inappropriate action, gives way to an even greater foothold where it is concerned. It limits and produces myopic vision that sees snippets and parts rather than the whole.

Fear feeds on opinion rather than fact. It takes root quickly and tenaciously where stereotypes of others based on culture and color are used to qualify those opinions whether they are relevant to occurring actions or not.

The oldest of my children asked me after the principal walked away that day, “Mom, are you in trouble?”

I meekly and humbly replied, “Yes.” It went far deeper than that one word answer.

One of Webster’s definitions of bravery is “showy display, magnificence.” Richard Sherman’s prowess and play are certainly in that category, are they not?

Wisdom, on the other hand, which is defined as: “a wise decision, good sense showing in a way of thinking, judgment or action”, seems to be what is lacking. Not just on the part of the athlete, but a lot of 12th man individuals who continue to weigh in.

Perhaps pursuing impact through relationships with the power of our personal influence in mind would serve to honor the legacy of Dr. King’s dream. A dream, referenced often, and revered much, that involved abolishing fear so that understanding could reign.

Let’s be leaders who stick to the real issues, readily admitting fault when there is a need.

Courage: it “involves qualities of the spirit and personal conduct.”

In the future, even when I “lose it”, have need to apologize and own my errors, may it always be void of color.

Some Parenting Observations, Along With Gratitude


So I recognize that this photo has made the rounds in many places, multiple times. My “niece” Amanda, snapped it in an impromptu fashion while visiting.  Have I mentioned I would like to be her (and I couple of other people) where my camera is concerned when I grow up?  But that’s not the point of today’s post. (Focus, Teri, focus.)

One of the many reasons I adore this photo, is that it personifies each of my children quite accurately. I see it every day in a canvas that hangs over my bed.

In part, it serves as a lovely reminder that people are individuals, and should be treated as such.

I do not give unsolicited parenting advice, and it falls amongst the gravest of taboos in my book.  In fact I will, generally speaking, make you ask at least three times prior to weighing in with anything other than admiration for your child(ren); and even then, I will ask you if you really meant to ask for advice!  It can be a real deal breaker where even the deepest of abiding friendships are concerned.

And so, today, in this unspoken series of “All Things Gratitude”, I would like to say that I am grateful to be “old.”  Of course I say that somewhat tongue in cheek, but I have had more than one mom ask for help in the past three weeks. And to their credit, the issues they were drowning in, do seem to be on the rather disparaging side of parenting.

I digress to my fantastic father’s observation: ” I would like to ask God someday about something that seemingly makes no sense.  Why couldn’t we start out old, and digress into our youth as people, rather than having it the other way around?”  Other than the energy factor, I would heartily agree where the deeper issues of parenting are concerned.

It was Mahatma Ghandi who is credited with challenging each of us to be the change we wish to see in the world. While it is on mugs, magnets for the refigerator, quoted endlessly at many a graduation or recognition of a noteworthy accomplishment, it is quite an insightful truth.

Two of the parents seeking desperate help, were doing so because they had children who were “out of control.” As is generally the case in situations like this, the list of offenses was long, illustrious and seemingly endless in nature.  I was exhausted just looking at them, and somewhat empathetic where the discouragement piece was concerned.

I may not seem to know much, but this truth resonates over and over again in any seemingly hopeless circumstance: I have the power to change one individual, and that individual is ME. If I would like to see change, and have the vision…I get the privilege of going first.  Always.

In the case of these lovely parents, I found their courage refreshing when they openly admitted that most of the very things they were irritated with in their children, were issues that they themselves were struggling with. In an era of history where interconnectedness to virtual strangers is a reality, it is so very easy to seek to influence in a profound and mighty way. Sadly, so much of that pursuit is in arenas that can often allow for neglect where our greatest influence could and should lie…within our own family.  Both of these parents realized that this was the real behavioral issue: they weren’t focused on the change where it needed to occur.

I am so far from perfect it isn’t funny.  Or…perhaps it is; for perfection is a lie that will always present itself as attainable.

There are so many things I can look back upon that our boys practice today, that started with change on the part of the Hero Hubby and myself.

If I want something to be different, then I need to be the first individual to make it so.  My power to influence is huge, and comes through the example I live rather than the expectations through words that I express.

Today, I am grateful for the freedom placed within mankind by a loving and benevolent Creator, to choose change.

Change by example leads to powerful influence, which executes an even greater circle of change.

Hundreds of examples in history speak to it, and millions of people have had the courage to quietly and simply execute it.

Yes, I am grateful; both for examples as well as free will to choose.

And I love the diversity in many of those changes that have been brought about by a single individual saying, “I’ll go first.”

I’m excited when I look into the faces of my boys and see the limitless potential for change that they can bring to the world.

It tends to make looking at parenting, something that is full of challenge and excitement, doesn’t it?

Reality Is Often Humorous

Blogging  actually all forms of social media are often interesting.  People can sterilize, manipulate and stage their lives in such a way that things look darn near perfect.  But in reality, they’re not.  No really, this applies to everyone. Yes, even that one individual you are currently thinking about. 

I am blessed with an amazing family.  A family that is loyal, strong, talented, and well…not perfect. Regardless, if nothing else, they are hilarious.

Yesterday consisted of a doctor’s appointment for my father, followed by a visit to a notary, (also for my parents) and some errands.

Son #3 was at the house with our two youngest boys.  This can go either way, as evidenced by the following text message response to my inquiry of:

“How’s it going?  Everything okay?”

Son #3: “We’ve been VERY productive!”

Austin's Compressor Shot1

“What happens when we’re the only ones home and the “adult” at the house has just gotten a new air compressor!”

I hope this makes your personal confidence where parenting, education, and all things responsibility soar!

Clearly, the term adult here is referenced very, very loosely. Carry on, friends.



Gratitude: It Really Isn’t a Season

So, remember this picture from the post October 29th?

Fall Leaves in Kalispell, MT1

Here is that same street yesterday.

Jenna's street in "Winter"1

At the risk of sounding cliche or trite, life certainly moves in seasons, does it not?

Several of you have asked about my reference to the “Christmas Card Debacle.”  I won’t leave you hanging. Promise.  It’s simply too rich not to share, but all in good time.

As we move in a rather brisk pace towards the day in which we pause to give thanks, I’ve been focusing on some paradigms in my life, that have come to a fruition of sorts. Paradigms can be funny things, really.  While models and examples that often serve to reinforce principles, guidelines and patterns leading to character qualities we desire both in ourselves and perhaps our children; they can be extremely mundane.  Much of life is on many levels.  It’s patterns, examples and principles that are modeled day after day after seemingly endless day that produce the end product and result.

It is easy to leave gratitude in the dust when the tedious sets in and we’re called to be faithful.  I know that more than once I have summoned my last bit of courage, faith and fortitude to make it through one more day filled with dried PB and J crusts on a table overlooking a living room floor cluttered with toys, books and discarded items of boyhood clothing.

Yet, as the seasons change, isn’t it typical of human nature to look back wistfully on those that take their place in days gone by?

My father has often lamented that life would perhaps be a lot different if one started out old, complete with the wisdom a full life inevitably offers, and moved backwards to the often reckless abandon of youth.

Parenthood isn’t for wimps. Lots of trial and error starts us off on the journey bearing the title of “Mom” and “Dad.” And it never ends. Many times, during the course of raising children, the journey can seem rather barren.  Especially when it is filled with trials or those who don’t understand the direction we have chosen to take in raising our kids.

All over within the social media world, it is encouraged in this month to give thanks.  I am all for this.  But personally, I have been setting intention to live more in the moments, for more and more I am realizing that in the end, they are what makes up the greatness of life.

I am also understanding on an even deeper level that gratitude is the companion to all that is good, rich and rewarding.  It ushers in abundance where physical and even emotional scarcity could be a reality, and it acts as a gatekeeper; keeping despair, comparison, a need for perfection and bitterness at bay.

For me, the moment I decide that gratitude is seasonal, is the moment I lose sight of thousands of blessings that surround me, and a clear vision of the rewards of faithful endeavor become clouded or even obscure.

Gratitude.  It’s what I desire to live with intention, so that my intentions bring forth incredible fruit.





fall trees and their reflection in a lake

The trend from now until Thanksgiving, is to intentionally practice gratitude.

I know people who honestly live with such focused intention that they write down three things for which they are thankful 365 days a year. That’s 1, 095 blessings, and pretty much a guarantee that you will be changed with this focus.

One thing I know for certain, is that gratitude breeds abundance.  One cannot ponder things for which they are grateful and somehow cling to a spirit of scarcity.  Pretty convicting in that at some point, you will be forced to make a choice between the two.

Daily I am being intentional to the best of my ability to choose well. When you hear about the event entitled “Christmas Card Photo” you will practically want to gift me a Sainthood, regardless of your personal belief system. More on that later.

Grateful. No, I really am. Perhaps that list is in order.


Influence: It Comes in Many Forms!


While driving down the freeway heading to Orange County, we heard this sentiment exuberantly and excitedly declared from the back of our vehicle.  We had just passed one of those Tron-style screens.

“Did you see us up there a moment ago, Mom?”

I honestly thought they were joking.  Apparently this photo is currently “up in lights” in certain Southern California areas.



(Is it me, or do these punks look really young?!)  I digress.

I’ve received a couple of calls and messages from the greater Los Angeles area informing me that they are also on folders and paperwork coming home from the high schools, encouraging students to give blood! Once again, I stop to mention here that Son #1 will soon be 25, and could still pass for a high school student if in a pinch.  I’m not bitter that I can no longer even come close.  Oh no, not bitter at all.

Then there was this piece last week… (and perhaps in installments prior to that)

Tattoo complete11

which sparked an e-mail housing the following:

“I put this out this morning.  It will reach both San Diego and Riverside County Emergency Medical Services.  These organizations are responsible for all EMT’s and Paramedics in each county.  Additionally, it was sent to people in State Parks, Imperial County, College of the Desert and various fire agencies.  I believe there will be good saturation within three days.”

It was signed by a friend of our family, who happens to be a Fire Chief.

It went on to feature Son #3 as a profile in which they admonished the above organizations to “look for medical tattoos with important messages.”

(Perhaps he is correct and is the “TommyMom Favorite” he claims to be after all.)

The internet can be both a light for all that is good, along with housing the dark murky waters filled with SEOs, Likes” and numbers that indicate you are “popular and loved by the in-social media crowd.”

It honestly makes an old lady like me nuts from time to time, which provides great fodder for #1-#5 where their “Flintstone-esque” mother is concerned.

I’ve thought a lot in the past couple of days about the influence and impact of these two contributions alone: more people giving blood, especially healthy, young students, and those in Emergency Services possibly becoming more aware of where to look for medical warnings.

I’m happy and grateful to have been a part of both.

Influence, no matter how seemingly small, starts with one. Making a difference begins with you, and your willingness to do just one thing that is perhaps outside of the box.  It has to start somewhere.  And more often than not in today’s world, even the least suspecting make significant contributions where it really matters.

Carry On. Stay your course.  You have great things to offer the world, and messages that are significant.

Don’t let “what everyone else knows or is doing” define your contribution.

Neither of these opportunities to contribute influence would have happened without TommyMom!

(Pretty humbling, I say, when underneath it all, she’s Wilma Flintstone in disguise.)

Over and out!



Falling for Fall


This was the sentiment out of my normally-sweet-father’s mouth in a not-so-edifying-tone, as I briefly walked in front of him Saturday as he was watching the University of Washington Huskies football game.

We’re definitely entering “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”

I love this season that is signified by this glorious sight in many parts of our nation.

Fall Trip12

And then there’s this…

Fall Trip07

along with football, chilly nights, bonfires, hot chocolate and apple cider.

What are some of your favorite things about this season?

Please share.



Change is definitely something with which one can have a love/hate relationship. I say this with a biting honesty because, as you know, I have had my fair share of it in the past two years.
But change can also be interesting, in that it takes us in directions and down pathways that perhaps we would have never considered, if it hadn’t presented itself.
I am currently in that place in my life. Since my brother Tim’s death, I have begun to avidly pursue some things that are very different from what I had known as norms; but they are all good.
The challenge is that I only have so much time in any given day, just like each of you.
Blogging takes a lot of time. It may not look like it, but it definitely requires commitment and work. I am certainly not implying that I don’t enjoy it; as nothing could be further from the truth. When I began, it was with the intent of sharing my life and the lives of those in my family from the perspective of how we attempt to live ( some days more successfully than others) a leadership education lifestyle. I believe I have accomplished that, and wish to continue to do so. In an attempt to redeem my time a bit more effectively in some areas, and to continue to pursue current opportunities, I have decided to blog two days a week instead of the three that have been normal here at TommyMom. Beginning next week, I will go to a Tuesday/Thursday schedule instead of Monday, Wednesday, Friday. I know, I know, it isn’t national news. But I also want each of you who read here faithfully, to know how very honored I am that you choose to invest time in reading my fodder! I enjoy the comments, support and fellowship that we have had, and hope it continues for a very long time.
Enjoy your weekend, and I’ll see you Tuesday!




An incredible nugget from a Tim Driver favorite: (actually one of mine as well!)…

Bruce Brown1

“Change: You can’t always anticipate it or stop it.  Know this: It is inevitable for each of us.  It may be a job, an illness, a tragedy or a triumph, but it will touch every life. How you respond to it will make or break yours.” ~ Bruce Brown

He shaped and influenced the larger portion of my brother’s life, and spoke words similar in thought to those above at his memorial service.

They ring true whether we love them or not. Reaction to change is a deal breaker.

It is my hope that I have reacted well to the tests of change I have been afforded.

Friday, I will share one coming to TommyMom…all for the better, of course.

Until then,

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