Dr. Chet Weld

“My mission in life is to attribute nobility to all people. Everyone has a personal quality that I admire."

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The Lake Wobegon Effect

Lake Wobegon

Do you suffer from the Lake Wobegon effect?  Most of us do!

Many of you have heard of the fictional Lake Wobegon, Minnesota.  Humorist Garrison Keillor reports the news from Lake Wobegon on his traveling show “A Prairie Home Companion.”  In Lake Wobegon, “all the women are strong, the men are good looking, and the children are above average.”

Apparently, medical doctors suffer from the “Lake Wobegon effect.”  In a study from the University of Wisconsin, “the vast majority of surgeons believed the mortality rate for their own patients to be lower than the average” (“Complications,” by Atul Gawande).  Another study concluded that there’s no connection between accuracy and the confidence of physicians’ judgments.

Rather than indict physicians (to whom I actually owe my life), the larger picture is that “human judgment, like memory and hearing, is prone to systematic mistakes.  The mind overestimates vivid dangers, falls into ruts, and manages multiple pieces of data poorly.  It is swayed unduly by desire and emotion and even the time of day.  It is affected by the order in which information is presented and how problems are framed” (Gawande).  Basically, the point of Gawande’s book is the reality of human uncertainty and fallibility.  He also makes the point that there is no escape for physicians from trusting their judgment – in the absence of data or, at times, even in the face of data that would dictate an opposite course of action.

Gawande took a microscope to the medical profession.  I think that God takes a microscope to all of our lives, and I’m grateful for His grace.

We all do well to heed the words of Romans 12:3-4: “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”  Part of our “human predicament” in this life is that we “see through a glass darkly” or “but a poor reflection as in a mirror” (1 Corinthians 13:12).  Fortunately, there is benefit from imitating another surgeon, Dr. Ben Carson, who prays over all medical decisions and throughout every surgery (see “Gifted Hands,” by Ben Carson).

I highly recommend both “Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science,” by Atul Gawande and Ben Carson’s “Gifted Hands.”

A Glass DarklyBeautiful Sun


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Showdown at Walgreens

Dove of Peace

Someone said, “If a bullet doesn’t have your name on it, get out of the way!”  That’s an expression that agrees with scripture and here’s a good example:

I had just entered Walgreens and a woman was shouting at two employees.  The employees simply listened and tried to explain something to her.  I didn’t know what the argument was about (although the woman was the only one who was arguing), but my first instinct was to get involved and help bring peace.  At that moment, this scripture occurred to me:  “Like one who seizes a dog by the ears is a passer-by who meddles in a quarrel not his own” (Proverbs 26:17).

I decided to hang out for awhile and when the argument didn’t stop, I simply made my purchase and left.

My wife and I call Walgreens “The Greens,” and we joke about turning a trip to The Greens into a date.  After all, who knows what adventures may transpire while looking for dental floss or picking up a prescription?  If my church does as good a job at affirming visitors as do the employees at The Greens, we’ll be doing our job to help connect people with the living God.

On a subsequent visit to The Greens, I asked a cashier about the woman who had been hollering.  The cashier said that the woman occasionally comes in the store and finds some excuse to harangue the employees.  The Walgreens folks are used to it.  They do their best to make her happy.  They never succeed, but they don’t take the irregular behavior personally.

I believe that God’s spirit brought that scripture to my mind at the right time.  Proverbs is a resource for wisdom in many situations.  Storing up scriptures in our heart not only gives us wisdom, however, but changes us.  1 Thessalonians 2:13 says that the word of God “effectively works in those who believe.”  I hope that God is continually working in me so that I can hear His voice more often – even at The Greens!



I Had the Meanest Mother in the World


I had the meanest mother in the world.  While other kids had candy for breakfast, I had to eat cereal, eggs, and toast.  While other kids had cake and candy for lunch, I had a sandwich.  As you can guess, my dinner was also different from other kids’ dinners.  And my mother insisted on knowing where we were at all times.  She even had to know who our friends were and what we were doing!

I was ashamed to admit it, but my mother actually had the nerve to break the child labor law.  She made us work!  We had to wash dishes, make the beds, and learn how to cook.  That woman must have stayed awake nights thinking up things for us kids to do.  And she insisted that we tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  She was definitely uptight.

By the time we became teenagers, our lives became yet more unbearable.  When friends came over, none of this tooting the car horn for us to come running.  She embarrassed us to end by insisting that our friends come to the door to get us.

I forgot to mention that most of our friends were allowed to date at the mature age of 12 or 13, but our old fashioned mother refused to let us date until we were 16.  She really raised a bunch of squares and you can bet our friends laughed at us.  And another thing:  Unlike all the cool kids, none of us were ever arrested for shoplifting or busted for dope.  And who did we have to thank for this?  You’re right: Our mean mother!

Well, now I’m trying to raise my children to stand a little straighter and taller, and I am secretly tickled to pieces when my children call me “mean.”  I thank God for giving me the meanest mother in the world.  The world needs more mean mothers like mine!

Author Unknown 

Note: If you read the biography of Dr. Ben Carson, you’ll find that much of his book is about his mother.  Dr. Carson grew up in a ghetto and was at the bottom of his fifth grade class.  Then his mother “laid down the law” and ordered that Ben and his brother, Curtis, could watch only three t.v. shows per week.  These two kids were at their wits’ end!  Also, she demanded that they read two books a week and turn a book report into her for review (and she could hardly read at the time).  This was the turning point of Dr. Carson’s life.  At 33 he became the Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery at John Hopkins University Hospital.  He was also the first one to successfully separate Siamese twins joined at the head.  He perfected “hemispherectomies,” which means the removal of one half of the brain in patients who have constant, life-threatening seizures (the other half of the brain takes over the functions of the removed half, especially in babies, but with some minor permanent side effects).  Dr. Carson even removed tumors from the brain stem that most surgeons won’t touch.  Dr. Carson recently spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast, and our president sat two seats away from the podium.  Dr. Carson spoke against socialism and praised the importance of rewarding initiative and hard work.  I recommend his biography, “Gifted Hands,” and the movie by the same name, starring Cuba Gooding. Dr. Carson is a role model for us all….because he had the meanest mother in the world!


Amazing Facts about the Brain!

Brain Capicity

There’s no end to what we can learn about the brain.  Check out this now basic information:

“The brain has the storage capacity of 6 million years of the Wall Street Journal” (Greg Iles, quoted in “A Better Brain at Any Age”).

An online article gives similar information: “For comparison, if your brain worked like a digital video recorder in a television, 2.5 petabytes would be enough to hold three million hours of TV shows. You would have to leave the TV running continuously for more than 300 years to use up all that storage.”


A few other amazing facts about the amazing brain that God created:

How much does the average brain weigh?  3 lbs.

Most of the brain’s cells are formed before birth, but most of the connections among cells are made during infancy and early childhood.

When does the brain reach full size? Age 6…As a child grows, the number of cells remains stable, but the cells grow in size.

The brain is made up of about 75% water.

Your brain consists of about 100 billion neurons.

There are from 1,000 to 10,000 synapses (gaps where neurotransmitters and electricity are exchange) for each neuron.

At what age is the brain fully mature?  Age 25

There are no pain receptors in the brain.

There are 100,000 miles of blood vessels in the brain.

About 70% of visits to the doctor for physical ailments are attributed to psychological factors.

Every time you recall a memory or have a new thought, you are creating a new connection in your brain.  The brain is always changing itself!

Stronger, more intense emotional connections are linked to memories prompted by scent.

It’s not true that humans only use 10% of their brains; each part of the brain has a purpose.

When you sleep, you’re virtually paralyzed because your brain creates a hormone to prevent you from acting out your dreams.

Sleep may be the best time for your brain to consolidate (file away) all your memories from the day.  Lack of sleep may hurt your ability to create new memories.

Memory is formed by associations, so if you want help remembering things, create associations for yourself.

Our brain generates 20-25 watts of power continually and uses 20% of the body’s total energy.

Note: I’m also amazed at what neuroscientists don’t know about the brain, e.g., how information is initially encoded; how pieces of information about single objects or specific information that is “splattered” throughout the brain “binds” together so that we see and understand things as a whole (“binding”); what produces consciousness (most neuroscientists think that the brain produces it, but Dr. Alexander who wrote “Proof of Heaven” thinks that God produces it); and how we’re able to drink a glass of water (to name a few things)!  Throughout eternity we will never plumb the depths of the wisdom and knowledge of God.  But when I see Him face to face, I hope He’ll at least answer the above questions!

Woman Praying from FB site

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Boon or Boondoggle? Don’t Be Scammed!


I received a message from a Facebook friend that said he was stranded at the London Heathrow Airport.  He was penniless and needed more money to get back to the states.  “Could I help?” he asked.

I responded that I would be praying for him, but that I couldn’t help him financially.  I felt good about my decision.  I didn’t have any money to send him and I didn’t have a good feeling about his request.  I rarely communicated with him, I didn’t know he had gone to England, and most people in need turn to good friends, family, their church, or immediate social circle.

Well, as it turned out, my friend’s Facebook account had been hacked.  Someone was using his account to make the same request of many people and this deceiver hoped to shear as many sheep as possible.  That hacker tried to boondoggle me!

I remember receiving an email from “Barrister George Newton Esq” from the “UK.”  Wow!  The subject line read, “THIS IS MY THIRD AND FINAL EMAIL TO YOU.”  The email was impressively signed, “Yours in Service, Barrister George Newton & Associates (Esq) Executors and Advocates UNITED KINGDOM CROWN COURT.  PRINCIPAL PARTNERS: Barrister Aidan Walsh.Esq, Markus Wolfgang, Mr. John Marvey Esq, Mr. Jerry Smith Esq.”

Apparently, I had been willed a sum of 30 million dollars.  Previous emails from other people also indicated that large sums of inheritance awaited me through a simple transfer of funds into my account.  In order to receive the money, I had to send a mere $500 or so to enable the transaction.  Gosh, with all this money waiting for me, I could buy at least a castle or two!

Then there’s the “missionary” in Spain who needs a loan of $2,500 to help with her sister’s hysterectomy; there are all kinds of “Esqs” who need help with wire transfers of millions of dollars (and they need your account numbers, too); there’s the “Apostle Sister Elizabeth Sinbi” who’s dying of cancer, but somehow has 2.5 million she wants me to inherit after her death from cancer.  I only have to help her financially before she dies.  With all of these folks, “it’s the same circus, different clowns.”

I’d like to ask some of these masked bandits, “Isn’t there enough heartache in the world without adding more hurt?”  I know several people at a church in mid-Tucson who were scammed out of tens of thousands of dollars by a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  From Internet cafes around the world, the scammers want your savings, your next mortgage payment, your child’s college fund, and anything they can get their hands on.

Bottom line: “He shall know the truth by his reverence for the Lord” (Isaiah 11:3 in the Jewish bible, the Tanakh).  Also, Christ said to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16).  As we are truly disciples of Christ, He gives us wisdom.  I’ll write a blog soon on an overall plan to acquire insight for dealing with less obvious scams and for navigating other of life’s difficulties.

What are some of the creative ways in which people have tried to scam you?  How did you handle their deceit?







Do You Hear Hoof Beats?

“If you hear hoof beats in Texas, think horses, not zebras” (from “Complications: A Surgeons Notes on an Imperfect Science,” by Atul Gawande, M.D.).

Sometimes it’s best to trust our intuition, defying traditional wisdom. If we think that we’re seeing something that others aren’t seeing, it’s often best to act on that insight. Or if we’re feeling a nudge from God to move in a particular direction or to address a particular situation, that’s often the route to go. Life is filled with risk.

If Dr. Atul Gawande hadn’t trusted his intuition that a young lady may have a flesh eating disease in her leg that would have killed her quickly, he would not have operated and saved this young person’s leg and life. Almost any other doctor would have treated her for cellulitis and sent her home (which in fact a few doctors had already done), rather than take her to surgery to search for the very rare killer called necrotizing fasciitis. In the imperfect art of medicine, as with all disciplines, we rarely know anything with certainty. Mark Twain said, “Apparently, there is nothing that cannot happen.” Dr. Gawande heard hoof beats in Texas, and he thought “horses.”

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).


Angels on Black Ice

Northeast Snow
When Ruth Grossman told this story right to my face, I was incredulous. How often does someone tell you a story about personally encountering angels? I asked her to write it down. I present her true story here in her own words with minor edits:

It was midwinter in Buffalo, NY. For anyone who has ever been in Buffalo at this time of year, you can still see a vivid picture in cold grays and icy whites.

Living at Houghton College’s Extension Campus, I knew some basic Buffalo winter facts. One of these was that you can’t leave a car to sit out in the cold wind for a whole week and then expect to start it up.

My friend, Gary, was traveling with the college music group. In exchange for keeping his little blue Toyota in running order, I could avoid a chilling wait at the bus stop. So for a week I enjoyed scraping ice off the windshield, instead of fishing ice out of my boots and shaking it off my wet socks. When Gary returned, I wanted to be able to start that car up!

Another Buffalo winter fact is black ice. While traveling route 90 E to the airport to pick up Gary, I found myself in three lanes of bumper to bumper traffic. Knowing the danger of black ice, all cars were traveling a slow 55 mph.

I was in the far left lane when the black ice found my tires. Instantly, the rear of the car moved ahead of the front tires and within seconds I’d spun three times counter clockwise. The Toyota stopped dead. The driver’s side door was facing into the median’s dirty, crusty snow bank, and I was now an easy target for even the slowest of cars. I knew that my chances for survival were slim. I braced for impact and breathed a prayer. Then a most unusual question formed in my fearful mind: Where was the traffic?

There were no oncoming cars. Only two four-door sedans. With their flashers on one of the sedans parked in front of me and one behind me. As if rehearsed, two men stepped out of cars. They were dressed in similar dark green parkas with gray fur trimmed hoods pulled over bearded faces.

I rolled down my window and followed directions to turn my wheels. In seconds they had me pushed out and pointed east. “Go! Don’t stop!”, they said. I turned to wave and shout, “Thank you!” but found myself speechless. No one was there! No cars. No men. A quick double-take revealed three lanes of oncoming traffic moving up on me. Very quickly. The traffic was definitely back!
Where had the men gone? I don’t know. I DO know where they came from and Who sent them. When I stand before Him, I hope I won’t be speechless as I was that day. I want to say, as I’ve repeatedly said in my heart, “Thank you!”

One more Buffalo winter fact: Angels don’t mind the cold.

My note: Ruth has given me permission to share this story. I’ve read over a thousand such stories from credible folks; and about 5 people have told me similar stories. To quote the authors of “Beach Wisdom,” “Remain amazed.”


Ice Cubes & Hurricanes

Hurricane & Truck
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if an upcoming event is an ice cube or a hurricane. Here’s what I mean, how to tell the difference, and some advice on what to do with either.

“Modern meteorology can tell us a lot about what can cause a hurricane to move in a certain direction: wind speed and direction, water temperature, air temperature, etc. While we may know what most hurricanes will do most of the time, we are still unable to say with 100% certainty what one specific hurricane will do in one specific instance; however we may be able to explain why it moved in the direction it did after the fact. On the other hand, we know enough about ice cubes and temperature to know with 100% certainty that if a given ice cube is placed on a Manhattan sidewalk in the middle of July, it will melt. Problems with prediction happen when we confuse things that are like hurricanes for things that are like ice cubes.”

Most of life’s troubles seem like unpredictable hurricanes, not like ice cubes. They’re cuts in pay, loss of a job, the unfaithfulness of a spouse, the death of a parent, the unplanned trip to the E.R., or even a life-threatening illness. When people are involved, I think it’s usually a hurricane!

Other changes we can see coming. In “Change Mazes,” author Tom Lutz says, “Remember Kodak film for our cameras? Now 80% of Kodak’s revenue comes from digital products. Kodak smartly navigated a change maze…Kodak could see the changes coming.” Kodak looked at where technology was going and saw an ice cube. I often ask a troubled couple, “If the relationship continues to go in the direction it’s going, what will happen?” Usually, the couple answers immediately. I don’t have to play the heavy and tell them where they’re headed. They can see the ice cube.

Even Dr. Normal Vincent Peale struggled with depression and a low self-image. He was the author of “The Power of Positive Thinking,” one of the bestselling books of all time. Life is full of uncertainties and we all have to grapple with them.

If we can see a change coming, how do we know if it’s a hurricane or an ice cube? Here’s a good suggestion by Lutz: “We cope with change better if we separate facts from emotions and if we let our spirits lead our responses to change: Your response to change can be spearheaded by your heart, your mind, or your soul. If you let God inhabit your soul, the dominance of the Lord in your life can lead you to cope with the facts and emotions of a change more effectively.” When we’re in doubt if something is an ice cube or a hurricane, following this advice will usually help us to tell the difference. Also, to cope with either in such a way that promotes self-growth involves continual separation of fact from emotions, learning, letting yourself be imperfect, lightening up on yourself, refusing to let your emotions take you down (“you are not your emotions”), and looking to God for all you need, which He promises to provide in His timing.
icecubemelting-554169 hurricane

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you: But rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:12-13).

The idea for this post came from this website that is quoted above:


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Prickly Lessons: How to Get Rid of Cactus Needles!

Dog and Cactus Needles

What can an Irish setter with a mouth full of cactus needles teach us?  Well, here’s what I saw and what I believe.

I was crossing the street on my way to a treatment center for those who struggle with drug and alcohol addictions/abuse.  I saw a beautiful Irish setter on the back porch.  She was lying uncomfortably on her side, whimpering and crying.

As I approached the setter more closely, I noticed that there was a large piece of Tucson prickly pear cactus on her hind end.  In order to remove the cactus, the setter kept chomping down on the needles that protruded from the cactus, unable to get a hold of the cactus itself. The result was that the needles were simply getting stuck in the gums of the dog’s mouth.

I wanted to pet the setter, speak soothing words, and remove the cactus from its leg and the needles from its mouth.  But I was a stranger to the animal, and I knew that the setter could turn on me.  I think we can all do that to others in moments of extreme pain!

At that moment the owner of the dog came out the back door of the house.  Seeing what was going on, he spoke gently to his dog, pet her head, and started to remove the needles from his pet’s mouth.  After about ten minutes, the needles were gone and the piece of cactus was dislodged from the setter’s hind end.  Whew!

I think we’re all a lot like that Irish setter.  She somehow brushed up against a prickly pear cactus, panicked, and then tried to solve the problem as best she could.  I’ve done that a time or two!  Have you?  Life’s stressors can put me on the defensive, whether the stress originates from finances, relationships, work, or from other of life’s arenas.

Well, now I have an action plan for when emergencies arise, which I suggest to the reader.  This is simply a “first response”:  1.) Assume that you may not have all the information, find out who does, and go to that person with questions; 2.) Assume the best of people; and 3.) Pray that God will give you peace and answers and necessary provisions in His time.  With your eyes on God, He’ll help you to manage your reactivity.

That’s a short “first response plan,” but it’s a plan that works!  Without it my tendency is to just give myself a painful mouth full of cactus needles!

Here’s a link to an article about how to remove cactus needles from your dog.  I obtained the above photo from this link.  I know the dog isn’t an Irish setter, but the photo helps to get my point across!



How to Break Relationship Conflicts or “Loops!”


Loops are negative interactions between two people in which each reaction heightens the conflict.  For example, if one person is demanding, the other person will often withhold.  Or if one expresses an emotion, the other may be overly logical.  If one pursues, the other will probably distance.  Here’s what the bible says about loops:

  1. Don’t have ‘em!  Romans 12:17 says, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil.”
  2. Don’t respond to ‘em (in the expected negative way).  Proverbs 17:19 says, “He who loves a quarrel loves sin; he who builds a high gate invites destruction.”  So don’t build a “high gate!”  Remember: You don’t have to accept an invitation to every argument you’re invited to!  Proverbs 15:1 says “a soft answer turns away wrath.”
  3. Don’t start ‘em!  Romans 4:15 says, “The law produces wrath.”  Too many rules and regulations produce more bad reactions on the other person’s part.  An atmosphere of “grace” (not rules) must prevail in any home.

Christ was constantly invited into loops by the teachers of Jewish law.  These teachers elevated meaningless rules above relationship with a loving God.  They were threatened that Christ showed no regard for their man made rules, as when he healed a man on the Sabbath (which was forbidden by the “law”).  Here’s an example of how the Jewish teachers tried to invite Christ into a “loop”: Christ was asked if people should pay taxes to Caesar.  This question was designed to start a fight.  Jesus asked to see a Roman coin and asked whose image was on the coin.  Of course, the image was that of Caesar.  Then Jesus said in Luke 20:25, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things which are God’s.”  Christ did not accept this invitation to a fight.

Here are six good ways to break relationship loops:

1.)  Always turn a complaint into a request (don’t demand).

2.)  Be curious, not reactive (don’t withhold).

3.)  Agree that no mindreading is allowed in your relationship.

4.)  Ask the other person what he/she meant by their statement, or ask what they thought you meant by your statement.  The meaning that we attribute to the actions and words of others is usually the reason for conflict.

5.)  Ask yourself, “How do I invite the behavior I hate?”  Examine your own loop with God.  If you are “looping” with someone, there is something amiss with your relationship with God, and He can tell you exactly what that is and how you are resisting Him.

6.)  Temporarily disengage from the conversation.  Whoever disengages takes responsibility for telling the other person when he/she will reengage, then must initiate the re-engagement.  Even just slowing the conversation down may save the day!

Here’s the best idea yet: Create POSITIVE loops.  Foster good will.


“Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice” (Psalm 112:5).

“Give, and it will be given to you” (Luke 6:38).

“If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35).

There are many more loop busters.  Loops are usually symptomatic of unmet relational needs such as affection and approval.  Unforgiveness and family-of-origin issues can also play a part. The concept of loops is one of the paradigms I look through in marriage counseling. In counseling we can usually get to the bottom of each partner’s vulnerabilities that allow them to get trapped in any of the loop roles such as being the demander or the withholder. This work usually takes time! By the way, I list a few scriptures to illustrate that any counseling principles or techniques that work are either mentioned directly in the Bible or illustrated by biblical stories.