Saturday, April 28, 2007

A Reason to Encourage

Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you.

-- William Arthur Ward

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


"Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us." Hebrews 12:1, NASB

At the Cowtown Marathon (I ran the Half) recently, my friend Annetta (she is the thin one on the right) ran alongside and my family cheered. And my sweet husband took these pictures. Talk about encouragement! My friends joked that my dad now has to come to every race. Who can you cheer for today?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Horrible News

Well, it's not always good news. But the bottom line is God takes tragedies and uses them for good. We may never know all the reasons 32 senseless deaths happened in Blacksburg, Virginia. But we have to trust.

These events sadden us, numb us, cripple us and shake up our routines. Media coaches will tell you it's a matter of when, not if, an act of violence will occur at your school or workplace. So you should prepare with disaster drills and crisis plans.

Today on "Mornings with Lorri & Friends," one of our guests was Al Meredith, Pastor of Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. Al had just returned from burying his mother in 1999 when a gunmen entered the foyer of the church and began shooting. A short time later, eight were dead, including the shooter, and seven more were injured. Pastor Meredith has since been regarded as a resource to the news media because, instinctively, he did everything right in a crisis. He made himself available to the media at any hour requested. He spoke in colorful soundbites. He is an intelligent, articulate preacher and that came across in his replies.

I urge you to listen to the podcast of Pastor Al’s interview with us. He is so wise and comforting. His words will help you reconcile the tragedy in Virginia.

Randy Singer, also with connections to a school shooting and to Virginia, underscored the fragility of life. He, Brother Al and Martin Coleman, a member of Wedgwood, emphasized that no place is safe in our world. But if you’re ready to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, then every place is safe. So the best disaster plan of all may be making sure you're right with God.

Travel safe and encourage those you encounter along the way.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Interview with Ellen Castro

Ellen Castro and I met on a plane! In the 12 years since then, she has gone from mentor to great friend. She's such an accomplished person. Listen to this: Ellen is an international speaker, coach and consultant, specializing in communication and leadership. Her tagline is so true; she says, "It’s all about TRUST!" She should know. She's the author of Spirited Leadership: 52 Ways to Build Trust on the Job. Her spiritual walk is inspiring. She puts God first, personally and professionally. Her no-cost e-newsletters are encouraging. Go here to subscribe.

LA: Ellen, you had a breakdown as a young professional and realized it was because your work life was not congruent with your beliefs. That led to a huge spiritual journey… and a whole new career… for you. Can you talk about that?

EC: At that point in time, I thought that money and getting my dad’s approval were everything. So I did WHATEVER it took to be the highest ranking female at an oil company in the late 70’s. When I did that and my manager said I was not going to get the next job... I imploded. I was off work for four months and when I came back, my career was over. Whew. Actually the real turn towards my spiritual path happened when I ended up at Harvard at age 36 by “accident.” It was then that I started my spiritual quest. The catalyst was a course that was titled, “The Dynamics of Religion and Psychology.” It has been quite a ride ever since! It is amazing if you pray for healing, that is what God will do to help you find the truth of who you really are and the path to His love.

LA: Your book is an effort to encourage corporate leaders to exhibit their values in the workplace. When you first wrote this book, this was a foreign concept! But it seems to be gaining more acceptance. What reaction have you had to the book?

EC: The book is an outcome of my experience at the oil company...from whom I still don’t buy gas... my studies at Harvard and my work as a leadership consultant and executive coach. And again, God has a sense of humor... you teach what you most have to learn.

So the book is all about trust... since trust is the essence of leadership. And to be trustworthy, you must trust yourself by living a life of credibility and compassion. I believe why things have changed is that people are weary and want to find meaning in their lives and work. People like my book because it is practical and cuts to the chase.

LA: Your corporate presentations and consulting are centered around getting leaders to do the right thing. Why is trust such a big issue?

EC: Trust is a MUST! With everything as chaotic as it is, people want to feel safe and connected in some way. And the leader offers that sense of safety and connection by giving trust and being the role model of trust. There are no neutral actions, and everything leaders do either builds someone’s self-esteem or destroys it. And either builds a sense of connection or isolation. The choice is theirs. And they reap less stress and more success when they are the light and love of God.

LA: Ellen, I love how you put God first in all that you do. What advice do you have for the rest of us on our faith journey?

EC: I put God first because I learned the hard way. He is my source! And my true parent! And when I connect to His love for me, His good for me, I feel worthy and loved. Then I can be the light for others... a source of safety and connection in an unsafe world for others because I feel safe and connected within.

LA: Is there anything else you would like to add?

EC: The truth is while it sounds simple, it is not easy. So my advice is be kind to yourself... there are no setbacks or reasons to punish yourself... it is just an “oops” to learn. So just be happy you got the “oops,” so you can choose again for God and good.

God bless you and yours! Stay connected in every moment! Joy, service and love are a choice... choose wisely!

LA: Thanks, Ellen! I know it was no accident that we sat together on a Southwest flight in 1995. God had a plan for us to help each other and learn from each other. You have so much to offer the corporate world--I hope any leader seeing this will consider bringing you into his or her organization.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Happy Easter!

Mary may have been the first reporter. Look at John 20:18. "Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: I have seen the Lord!" (NIV)

She confirms the news for all of us, even today, that we serve a risen Savior. It's all about the empty tomb!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Interview with Craig Harris

Craig Harris has been my friend for more than 20 years. We used to work together at KLTV-Channel 7 in the Tyler-Longview, Texas market. He was the photographer and I was the reporter. It's a team relationship that survived his Aggieness. Actually, I'm quite proud to know Craig. Here are a just a few reasons why...

Craig is a husband, father, award-winning journalist, pastor and author. His “Apparently So” parenting column is featured in newspapers across the country and on websites around the world. Craig believes parents should be deliberate in their effort to provide a happy, safe, secure home. The more fun a family has, the more the parents earn the right to pass their values on to their children. It can’t be all fun – after all, children need their parents to guide and protect them and not just be their friends – but he wants parents to realize how important it is that they establish a warm, emotionally stable relationship with their children. Harris currently serves as the Parent Involvement Coordinator for the Palestine Independent School District and is the pastor of a country church.

Craig was an Associated Press Award Winning TV Reporter and Photographer at KLTV until he left to became a full-time student minister. Harris has written seven books, Sharpen Your Acts!; Yikes! What Am I Teaching Wednesday Night?; Yikes Again!; Ground Your Faith!; Secrets of the Abundant Life; The Sixty-Year Honeymoon; and a novel called The Dead Peasants File (available soon!). He is a regular guest on radio talk shows and is available for speaking engagements. Craig and his wife, Jodi, have two children, David and Savannah. The family has a dachshund named Jello, whom you can see in the photo with Craig and me last Christmas-time.

I'm telling you all this about Craig because his ministry will encourage you.
LA: Craig, you have a Journalism degree, not a Theology degree. When did you feel called to go into ministry?

CH: I never thought I had to be a pastor to spread the Gospel. I’ve always felt I could do more good for the Kingdom by writing or reporting in the secular market with a Christian world view. That is something I still try to do with my column and fiction novels. I was a radio announcer in high school and had a Christian show every Thursday night called “Earthmaker.” I saw then how effective it was to integrate Christianity into the secular culture.

I enjoyed the television reporting job and tried to integrate my world view, but when I got a call offering me a job as a youth minister, I took it, even though it cut my salary in half. I was about to get married and I knew being a TV reporter was going to be hard on my marriage. For me, it was a chance to go home and get paid for what I really loved – teaching the Bible. I sometimes miss the rush of the newsroom, but it really can’t compare with leading someone to Christ. I still consider myself a journalist who happens to preach and not a professional preacher.

LA: Tell us about your passion for youth ministry.

CH: That passion began when I was a teenager. I was in a really good youth ministry and it was wonderful for me. At a time when I was making all of the big decisions for my life, I was seeking God. What a difference that made! Becoming a youth minister was my way of giving back.
I feel youth ministry is the cutting edge of ministry. If we can disciple teenagers, we can change the whole world. Teenagers will also bring their parents, friends and siblings to church if they see it offers answers. I left the youth ministry in 2002 to begin Sycamore Tree Publishing, and have been a senior pastor since 2003.

LA: You also have a ministry for parents. How did your newspaper column get started?

CH: I began writing a parenting column for my local paper ten years ago (1997). I saw it as a way to minister to parents in my hometown and also as good public relations for my church and ministry. Eventually, the newspaper editors began to put it in the same place each Sunday – next to the children’s pictures. I named it “Apparently So”. Friends and strangers began to tell me how much they loved the column. The paper has always let me say whatever I wanted, be it about Christianity or character. I’ve never received a penny for the column. The newspaper’s owners began to notice it on the web site and asked if I would offer it to other papers. So, now, it is offered to scores of newspapers across the country. Again, I don’t get paid for it, but what a great ministry it has become for me. Last year, I offered it to It runs each week, so long as it’s not too spiritual.

LA: How has your newspaper column impacted your community and your church?

CH: I became the pastor of my church because of it. A lady in the church liked it and asked me to meet with the search committee. I’ve been there five years now. And I got my job at the Palestine Independent School District because of it, too. So, when I say I’ve never been paid for the column, I should really say I’ve never been paid directly for it. Several families have joined the church because they read the column and visited us because of it.

LA: Can you share your faith in public schools today?

CH: No, I can’t preach to students or parents. But I write a monthly newsletter that gets sent home to each parent in the district. In it, I talk about building character and instilling responsibility. To me, that is pointing families in the right direction.

LA: Your partner in ministry is your lovely wife, Jodi. How does she encourage you?

CH: I couldn’t do it without her. She’s right behind me on everything I do. She pushes me to be better and tells me how proud of me she is. That means more than I can say. We’ve been on a honeymoon now for sixteen years and counting. My relationship with her is a daily proof that being a man of God is the only way to go.

LA: How can people get your youth ministry resources and read your column?

CH: I offer e-books for student ministry at I post my columns at

LA: Craig, what else would you like to add?

CH: I want to tell you, Lorri, that you and Mark have meant a lot to Jodi and me. I don’t have a whole lot of friends who really understand what I’m trying to do, but you guys do.
LA: Thank you for your sweet words, Craig.
CH: I also want to tell you to be on the lookout for my first fiction novel, The Dead Peasants File. It is about a company that takes your life the day you retire. People are standing in line to work there because it pays so well – with no thought about the end of their lives. It is a parable about life and salvation. I have an agent who is shopping it for me. Pray that God will hook me up with the right publisher!
LA: It is a great premise and a great book! I am sure all of the readers of this blog will pray for you, Craig. This is a book that will change lives. And I thank you for being such a good influence on my life. You are an encourager to so many.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007


You may notice off to the left a feature called, "Books I've Read This Year." One of the great perks of being a Talk Show Host is that publicists and authors send you BRAND NEW books for free! It's heaven for bookworms like me.

I used to have a goal of reading a book a month. That's not ambitious when you hear that Oprah reads one a day! But last year, we'd sometimes have four authors as guests during one two-hour program. Phew, Scott and I learned quickly that we just couldn't keep up with the reading with that many authors. So sometimes I just read parts of books--enough to be able to ask intelligent questions.

But I want to promise you that on the list to the left, I'm only going to put books that I read all the way through and ones that I recommend. If you have a question about any of them, please ask!