Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | January 18, 2013

Dear Abby

Dear AbbyPauline Friedman Phillips aka Abigail Van Buren aka Dear Abby died this week at the age of 94. In the years when the world was connected by print media, Abby was a rock star. She reached millions of people through her syndicated advice column. Abby had so many followers that she received between 3,000 and 25,000 letters per week from folks seeking advice about almost every imaginable topic. Whether or not you agreed with her advice, the Dear Abby column gave Americans an intimate look into the lives of others. In the process, we learned that we are not all that different from one another. We all struggle with similar fears and frustrations and have similar longings to be loved, affirmed, or reassured.

The Dear Abby column was very much a part of my childhood. My Mom looked forward to reading Dear Abby’s daily post in our hometown newspaper, The McAllen Monitor. More than once, Mom clipped and reposted Abby’s sage advice on our refrigerator door. When Abby’s column actually made it to the refrigerator door, that was a clue that we all needed to read and give it consideration. On several occasions, Abby’s advice opened the door for conversations about everything from being honest, trying hard, forgiving others, and a variety of other things that my mother considered important. Abby’s column provided lots of teachable moments in our home.

Perhaps one reason why Abby was so popular is that she cared about people. Her advice ran the gamut from humorous to serious, but her responses gave us insight into the kind of person she was. If urgency dictated it, Abby took the time to call some who had written to her for advice. If someone wrote to her and included a stamped, self-addressed return envelope, she felt obligated to write a personal response. Abby never forgot the letter she had received from the landlady of a 91-year-old man whose children did not come to see him on his birthday. It broke her heart. Abby endeared herself to millions because, beyond the printed page, people felt she really cared.

I wonder if people sense the same thing about us — that we care, that we are accessible to those seeking advice, and that we will take the time to listen and to do what we can to help them. We still live in a world of people seeking wise counsel, longing for a little bit of balm to help heal their hurts, and a little bit of honey to refresh them. For years, millions of people seeking advice thought about and sought help from a woman who visited our homes daily in newsprint. We can all learn a lesson from Abby. She said, “Every day I get letters from people who say, ‘You changed my life.’” Abby added, “Now that’s important.” And, indeed it is.


  1. Omar
    This blog really touched my heart … AND … made a big, big impact on me personally, in getting me to understand how to connect people – to people -to empathy -to heart -to mind – to action! …Don’t you love paradigm shifts?

    • Thanks, Jackie. I too am challenged to think deeply when I reflect on the lives of people like Abby. Always good lessons to learn and apply. Blessings to you in your good work for the kingdom.

  2. Pastor Omar, Exellent! See you in a month plus! Clay

    • Thanks, Clay. I have had a change in my schedule and will be unable to go to El Salvador in February. Jim is also unable to go. So, we have asked Jason to lead the trip for us. You guys will have a great time as you bless the people of yet one more village with the gift of clean water and the Living Water.

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