A Little Girl Named Marie

My first client as a professional counselor was a little girl named Marie. She was three-

 Jeffery in 1986

Jeffery in 1986

and-a-half years old. She was non-verbal and had not spoken a word since she was put into foster care. Both she and her six-year-old sister were being treated for gonorrhea. Both of their parents were in jail.

That was the fall of 1981. I was twenty-nine years old. I was a trained volunteer for The Center Against Sexual Assault. I had been taking regular shifts answering the 24-hour hotline..

Based on my undergraduate work as a research assistant and strong statistics background, the agency hired me as a data analyst for four hours per week at five dollars per hour.

Let me be clear.

This was not the work I planned on doing forever. I figured that if I could learn some counseling skills with that agency’s clientele, then I could probably handle just about any counseling situation that would come up in life.

My real goal was to get my Ph.D., go into Organizational Psychology, and make big bucks doing corporate work, solving interpersonal and group problems, helping big business function more efficiently.

Secondly, and more deeply important . . .

I thought this sexual assault organization might hold some insights or answers into my nagging dissatisfaction with my religious upbringing. I thought that if there was a God, and I was asking that question at that time in my life, then surely there would be something to discover in this fringe element of the counseling profession.

A few weeks after starting the job, a veteran therapist there, who knew I was in the Masters of Counseling Program, asked me if I would like to help her with the children’s play-therapy group.

I said that I would like to do that.

The therapist explained that the half-dozen children in the group were pre-school to second grade. There were two sisters just starting the group, ages 3-1/2 and 6. The foster parents of these two girls were very involved in the kids’ therapy and formed a good supportive family.

The lead therapist asked me to pay special attention to the littlest girl. She was going to need a lot of help. The other children we making progress at a reasonable pace.

Over those first three weeks I used what I learned in Early Childhood Development to build trust with Marie, making periodic eye contact, smiling, using a gentle voice, encouraging her to draw pictures and make choices. Session four, she was smiling back and engaging in some of the projects the other children were involved in. Then late in that session, there was a group sing along, and out of the blue, Marie joined in.

The first words I heard from Marie were in her singing a joyful sound. From there she grew by leaps and bounds.

The thing that drove the lesson home for me was a chance meeting two weeks later at a street fair in downtown Tempe. On a crowded sidewalk on a Saturday morning, I heard a little voice calling from behind me somewhere. I stopped and turned around, the crowd parted like the Red Sea. The little girl named Marie was running up the sidewalk calling out, “Mr. Kookendall, ( She had trouble pronouncing my name Kirkendall) Mr. Kookendall, Mr. Kookendall!” Her foster parents and sister were walking hand-in-hand behind her smiling at having surprised me.

I knelt down and greeted Marie. She gave me an appropriate hug. While I knelt at eye-to-eye level with Marie, we all talked for a while. Then I watched them walk away together Marie waving as she looked back.

My life changed that day forever.

Something Godly had happened, and I was a part of it.

I could not . . . I could not . . . I could not turn away.

For me, no work in the world could be more precious.

I was right. I worked saving children for 20 years.

It was this time of year thirty-four years ago that I met that little girl named Marie. I imagine her now in her late thirties, and I wish I could send her a letter.

Dear Marie,

Thank you . . where ever you are. . . Thank you Marie.

I pray that you are blessed with healthy children,

healthy grandchildren,

Jeffery in 2015

Jeffery in 2015

and that we both periodically pause

in our busy lives

to sing out

a joyful sound.



Mr. Kookendall

Powerful Women

I first posted this article in November of 2012, one-year-to-the-day before my beloved wife Carol passed from this world.  She and our colleagues (you know who you are) were the inspiration, and this piece is as true today as it was then.


For thirty years I have worked and studied in the world of abused women and children. Historically it has been a profession of few men. For those women and few men who daily work in the trenches of child abuse, the pay is low, the stress is high, and we are born of a shared Mission .

We save lives, ease pain, and give healing assistance to those children and adults of every race and religion who suffer for the terrifying sins of others. Some of what I have learned about powerful women from all walks of life is in the following quotation:

As a woman uses power appropriately she experiences an increasing sense of serenity

Carol & Merlin

Carol & Merlin

and balance in her life. She gives to others but is not emptied by the giving. She receives from others but does not empty them. She recognizes that she is responsible for herself. She wants the best for others but does not take away their responsibility for achieving it. She provides support but clearly recognizes the need of the individual to develop her own resource. She respects and facilitates others in their own journeys of self discovery.

A woman who uses power judiciously allows herself to feel joy and sorrow with equal vigor. She expresses righteous anger but is not vindictive. She works toward resolutions in which everyone is a winner. She is motivated by self-expression and creativity rather than competition and greed.

Responsible use of power includes confronting injustices in ways which enhance one’s own dignity and that of the person or persons being confronted. A responsible and powerful woman listens for the truth in criticisms leveled at her with genuine concern and love, but she does not give up her self-worth in the process. She protects herself from those who criticize in an attempt to shame her and make her less of a person. She is willing to acknowledge her mistakes and makes amends when possible. She recognizes her own fears and faces them with confidence and courage. She regularly commits herself to life with a courage she is not always sure she has. (excerpt from Without Consent: How to Overcome Childhood Sexual Abuse by Carol Jarvis-Kirkendall & Jeffery Kirkendall)


I have been blessed to have known many powerful women in my lifetime, and I have learned much that continues to call me to be a better man. What Truth have I discovered and I might share with you? Lean closer dear reader as I tell you with calm confidence , . .

Powerful women can lead this world to greater Compassion and Justice than men can.

Powerful women are the key to a healthy future for humankind and mother earth.

Making Memories

Making Memories

Hey, . . just one man’s opinion. . . .

about women.




Spirit Horse Song

Lyrics by Jeff “Reddog” Kirkendall & Dennis “Doc” McCracken

Photo by Dennis Gilbert

Photo by Dennis Gilbert

Vocals by Doc McCracken
Guitar by Bubba Hudson
Recorded by Behind-the-Tack-Shed-Studios, Nashville, TN 2/2/96

Dear Readers & Listeners,
I wrote the foundation of this song when I had been through enough hard times in life to appreciate the fact that facing the truth is not only the-right-thing-to-do, it can also be the most mysterious and exciting.

The song shares the notion that facing the truth and doing the right thing have an intuitive rhythm. When practiced and done well, you don’t have to think. You sense the mood, act, and experience the quiet joy of the truth setting you free.
This song came in a dream. Bubba captures this quality with his truly fine guitar work. The magic of Doc’s vocals brings the message home.

To listen, click the black bar “Download File” below.  Then click the download.

Replies and sharing are greatly appreciated.
Many blessings to you and your relatives,
Jeffery Kirkendall

Come with me; let’s take a ride
On an Arapaho pony called Dreamer
Wrap tight your legs; let loose the reins
Open up your eyes to your Redeemer
Yes, listen to the call of your Redeemer
Come with me, on a starlit night
Ride to the edge of all you know
Sacred canyons, whispering winds
Mysteries you’ve yet to know
There are powers you have yet to know
Come with me, and I will show you
The light your spirit longs to show
You’ll cry out with passion, and you’ll weep with joy
To find out who you are, you must surrender
Yes, to know who you are . . . surrender
Come with me; take a leap of faith
On this war pony called Dreamer
If you ride with me, I’ll set you free
I’m what your soul’s been yearning for
Yes, I am Truth, your Redeemer
On a pony called Dreamer
The truth is your Redeemer
The truth of Dreamer


Why Donald is Running for Real

This is personal.  Donald’s 2012 candidacy was promotional and fun. His 2016 candidacy is deeply serious, and he will stay in the presidential race until they pry his cold stiff fingers from the microphone.

photo by theurbandaily.com

photo by theurbandaily.com

Donald’s commitment this time around is fueled by humiliation. Indeed, he is a man who personifies, and who inspires a constituency of, “those who get mad and get even.”

His shaming happened at the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner, nine minutes and thirty seconds into the comedic speech of President Barack Obama.

Donald Trump is here tonight. (audience applause)

Now I know that he’s taken some flack lately, but no one’s happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald and that’s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter like did we fake the moon landing?  (audience laughter)  What really happened in Roswell?   And where are Biggie and Tupac?

(laughter and applause, camera focused on a staring Trump)

All kidding aside, obviously we all know about your credentials and breadth of experience. For example. No. Seriously, just recently in an episode of Celebrity Apprentice at the steak house, the men’s cooking team did not impress the judges from Omaha Steaks. And there was a lot of blame to go around. But you, Mr. Trump, recognized that the real problem was a lack of leadership.

(camera holding on the staringTrump)

And so ultimately you didn’t blame Little John or Meat Loaf.

(audience laughter)

You fired Gary Busey. And these are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night

(audience laughter, applause, vocalizing hoots, cheering, harder applause, whistles, tight thin-lips on Trump, woman at his table laughing and looking at him, the Donald’s boyish little wave)

Well handled sir! Well handled.

Say what you will about Mr. Trump, he certainly would bring some change to the White House. See what we’ve got up there.

photo by reddit.com

photo by reddit.com

On the big screen was a picture of the glitzy name TRUMP dominating the White House. Underneath read Hotel * Casino * Golf Course, and under that read Presidential Suite. In the foreground of the White House lawn in a pool with a fountain were two women with drinks.

(more audience laughter)

And the President’s coup de grace?

It came a little more than forty-eight hours later when Donald learned, as did the nation, that the President had ordered and succeeded in the assassination of Osama Bin Laden.

Donald may not be able to conceptualize self-deprecating humor, but he can conceptualize other-deprecating humor.  He experienced something during that two-and-a-half minutes sitting beneath the President, something akin to a public spanking.

photo by whwweb.com

photo by whwweb.com.

Donald will not rest.

This is personal.



See Donald’s humiliation, click here

Darling Dust Devil Dances Discreetly!

I saw it all from my old front porch folks! A hot summer day like this one.

photo by panaramio.com

photo by panaramio.com

As the neighboring family stood chatting with friends on the far front side of their house and garage, a dust devil, a tiny tornado, appeared in their backyard. Born of mother nature’s playfulness, this fantastic funnel materialized in frantic fashion between the dog kennel and house. It rose to a toddling twenty-feet of height and paused. Wobbling, shaking, bobbing and weaving, it hypnotically glided sideways. The rascal paused again, gyrating, swinging its hips in sensual hula motions. It then slyly slipped between two buildings.

Then dear readers, perhaps aware of human movement, it began to return from whence it came! This whirling dervish of dust and sand picked up a piece of bright-yellow paper and waved wild circles in the air, as in an ancient ceremony of spiritual ecstasy.

As the unaware residents turned from their guests and began to walk towards the secret stage of natural frolic and childlike abandon, the wily wind-dancer darted back to its place of first appearance. With a sigh, it softly collapsed to the earth, leaving behind only a motionless tattered paper from its magical performance.

Oh that mother nature. She’s still got it!

Voice in the Wilderness

I have prayed with people from wildly diverse faiths, races, and socio-economic groups. I April 2014 023have prayed with people in the midst of some of the most cruel circumstances a family might experience in life. Someone was sexually tortured or terrorized.

Prayer helped. It helped them and helped me.

I have counseled sexually terrorized people for thirty-four years. I have studied the subject, written about it, spoken about it, and even sung songs about it. I continue to create a body of work that will help those who suffer for such sins of others after I have passed on. I continue to pray my way through the challenges.

To stay sane, I walk somewhere in nature every week. It is truly good medicine for me.

The longer I walk, the more distant becomes civilization. As I walk through miles of rolling grassland wilderness, I become more humanly isolated. I can see things coming for a thousand yards in every direction. There is no one to surprise me. I am free and safe. There is only the wind in the grass and nearby meadowlarks calling for my attention.

As I walk, my prayers and movement become a ceremonial ritual. I call it The Spirit Trail. I express my gratitudes, my fears, my pains, and my passions. I ask for guidance in knowing how I might use my unusual knowledge and experiences to do the greatest good for the greatest number.

And so it was recently.

After some time of intense walking-communication, a quiet pleasure came over me. It was accompanied by a growing faith that I would know what to do when it was time to do it.

I came back to grounding when I realized I had a sticker inside my boot. With a smile of peaceful satisfaction, I sat down on the earth to loosen my boot. As I did, I admired the mountains forty miles to the north. As I tied off my boot, I gazed at the snow-capped sacred peaks a hundred miles to the north-east. I then stood and turned my head to the distant mountains in the east. More magnificence.

After a significant pause, I turned around to see the mountains to the south.

I was not alone!

image by pinterest.com

image by pinterest.com

A herd of pronghorn antelope,

ears up, alert and listening,

all looked at me,

me looking at them

for the longest time in the universe.


I just love it when that happens!


A Spiritual Goose

I stepped out on the front porch this morning and heard a wonderful sound. A flock of Flying GooseCanada geese, flying in formation, called out as they passed over my humble Northern-Arizona long-house. I smiled of course. I am always touched and uplifted by wildlife. Somehow they give me hope that the beauty of mother nature will endure beyond mankind’s greed and violence.

I was reminded of an experience five, six years ago about this time of year when I was worried about finances and any number of things. I was driving my vintage Chevy short-bed pickup out the dirt road from Apache Wells to the highway on my way to work. Another Canada flock, maybe some of the recent flock’s relatives, were flying unusually low in the same direction I was driving.

As I took a bend in the washed out rocky road, our paths became much closer and parallel. For that relatively smooth stretch of road we kept pace with each other. I had my window down and leaned my head out to feel wind in my face like a blissful hound dog.  To me, it seemed their honking was just for my benefit. I looked the leader in the eye, and I am sure they were urging me to fly on faithfully into the future.

I also remember a goose encounter in the middle of one of my high school football games. We were under the lights on a near-freezing Friday night and getting ready on defense for our opponent’s next play. That was when my dear friend and team captain for that game, Jim The Hangman, called for the team’s attention. As ten of us all turned in unison and looked, we saw Hangman’s arm in the air and his finger pointed to the sky. The moment freeze-framed for me. The steam from our hard breathing poured through our face masks as we all looked to the night sky on cue. Perhaps the crowd thought we were praying.

The honking was distinct, and our entire team smiled as we recognized what it was. Then us tough guys all laughed at realizing what we were simultaneously sharing in the middle of that game. For that precious moment, we were all country boys tickled by mother nature and our own teenage comaraderie.

Good goose memories.

So today, in spite of all national economic indicators, in spite of all the horrendous world-wide challenges, I have just a bit more optimism and wonder for the days ahead, and I would like to pass some of that along to others.

Let us marvel in a wildlife moment together.Canada goose close up

Here is a little spiritual goose for you.

Honk, honk, honk, honk, . . honk!.

Jeffery Kirkendall


Click here to view some more magical wildlife moments.