Friday, November 9, 2007

Meet my new nephew!!

Ezekiel Jordan Elrod...aka Zeke.

Born November 5 at 6:11pm. He was 7 lbs., 7 oz. and 20 inches long.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Cute, cute, cute

This just made my day. It's the sweetest thing I've seen in a long time. I'm crying.

Watch "Little Girl and Psalm 23":

Monday, October 29, 2007

Cowboy Church and heaven

The other night I decided to attend a church service at a Cowboy Church. If you've never heard of them...the name is self-explanatory and they are pretty common around here. I just wanted to go somewhere where people didn't know me. I figured a church was better than I bar, so I went. These churches tend to be pretty fundamental and traditional as far as Bible Belt theology goes. I grew up with good 'ole Southern Baptist fundamentalism, but it's not where I am anymore. I believe growing up in that enviroment laid a beautiful foundation for my life. But simply put, I've moved on. So I knew what to expect and boy they didn't disappoint! The best part was the band. They were a toe-tappin' group with a fiddle and steel guitar. About 20 minutes into the (instrumental) music, the pastor walked in and the whole audience stood the President was walking in or something. He led the singing, although most of what he sang were songs he wrote. He had a southern drawl as thick as molassas and his sermon was more about the devil than God. My favorite illustration was something about "gettin' yur britches tore on the barbed-wire fence of life." Pretty damn funny. After I had been there awhile, I really began to question myself as to why I wanted to spend my evening in this place. Guess I chalk it up to one of those unexplainable lapses of common sense. But it was a beautiful evening here in the Hill least that much I enjoyed.

I did come away with a reminder of one of the crown jewels of Christianity...Heaven. I wrestled with this a lot when my father was dying..."what is it really?" I was taught growing up that it was the "place you go when you die," and " the place where God lives." It was about "eternal life." It's about getting through this life in such a way (being saved) as to receive our "eternal reward." In short, I don't really believe that anymore. At this church, there were a lot of songs about Heaven. They cheered when the pastor spoke of "going to be with Jesus." As I looked around the audience my thought was, "What is it about this life that makes us want to focus so much on "the next life? " Is it that we see this life, or rather experience this life, with only pain and suffering? I have never really understood this part of Christian theology. It doesn't make sense that Jesus came to teach people to love only for the purpose of getting into heaven. Where did we get this "saved" stuff anyway? Go read your Bible, people. It's NOT there. Jesus said "I came to give life abundantly." I know life can be hard. My life is a fucking tornado right now. Ugh. But I also believe that God is with me right now. I don't have to wait to get to heaven to experience that total presence. And I dont' believe that I just have to suffer through this life until I die.

If you like Christian music close you ears...I'm about to slam one of Christian music's prized jewels. I like the band Mercyme; they've got some good tunes. But their big hit, "I Can Only Imagine" is a bit problematic for me. Here's a few lyrics:

I can only imagine
what it will be like
when I walk by your side

I can only imagine
what my eyes will see
when your face is before me

Surrounded by your glory
what will my heart feel?
Will I dance before your Jesus, or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall.........

I can only imagine
when all I will do
is forever, forever worship you.

Perhaps Mercyme wasn't writing about Heaven. But at least that seems to be the way people hear this song. It's like Christians (in general) seem to live with the belief of "It's going to be so great when we all get to heaven and worship God; see God; be in awe, etc." Ugh...hello? Do it now. What are you waiting for? God doesn't reside in a galaxy far, far away. He, she, here now. With us when we cook our family meals, listen to a hurting friend, watch mindless TV, go to church, or go to work. God is present always, everywhere, now. I've read that the Quaker tradition regarded everything about their lives as being sacred. God was in everything: plowing the fields, sewing or praying. That's how I want to live my life. Aware of the presence of God all the time. It's idealistic. But it's my heart's desire. I just don't think we have to just endure this life before we get the really good stuff.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


First things first…Georgetown beat Cedar Park last week 28-6! This was a HUGE win. G’town has never beaten CP. And our resident star running back scored, yet again, 3 touchdowns! We’re having so much fun right now it’s ridiculous! The district we’re in is one of the toughest in the state. Starting district play with a win was BIG, BIG , BIG!! This week we play Pflugerville on their turf. It will be a barn-burner. I’ll let you know what happens!

Next, October 1 was my birthday. I share the same birthday with Julie Andrews….

I think this is very cool. Please send me, or Julie, your celebratory greetings.

Now… onto bigger life stuff…

I love teenagers. Since my freshman year at Baylor, I’ve been involved in the Youth Ministry of whatever church I’ve attended. I’m not really sure where this affinity for adolescents came from; maybe it’s from my own experience as a teenager. My parents divorced when I was in the 8th grade. After spending a few really long months with my mother, I went to live with my dad. Dad did a great job, though he had much help. There were many good people at my church who took me under their wing and helped raise me, along side my dad and grandparents. I’ve always been immensely grateful for all those people: Theresa, Kim, Don, Mark, Vicki and so, so many more. Perhaps I’ve always felt like investing in teenagers is my way of honoring those people and God for being there for me. Whatever the reason, I think teenagers are fun and cool and I like hanging out with them. Over the years, I’ve spent many hours talking to, mostly girls, about the stuff going on in their lives: the boys they like, the boys they did like, parents, not fitting in…you know, the typical teenage stuff. I mostly listen. I’m better at that than giving any kind of counsel or advice. Recently, I’ve encountered a not so typical situation with a couple of students I know. To cut to the chase: they are 18, still in high school, dating and she’s pregnant. I know this happens all the time, but after more than 20 years of hanging with teenagers it’s the 1st time for kids I know and love. Even now, 2 weeks after hearing the news, I’m still reeling. They are obviously devasted and don’t know what is the right thing to do. Duh. Both of them are talking to different colleges, pursing scholarships, applying for grants…all the things you normally do as a Senior. I know one of these young people better than the other and I’m being asked, “What should I do?” “Oh, shit. Please don’t ask me,” is what’s going through my head. Abortion is a consideration for them. They just don’t see how they can keep the baby and still live out the next 4-5 years like they’ve been planning. And yet, it’s a baby; a little human. What would you tell your kid in this situation??? I hate this issue because I’m not really sure what I believe. Well, that’s not really true…I believe in life. And I believe this decision is one for individuals and not for the government. So, I’m pro-life and pro-choice. It’s not a black and white issue for me. My long-time good friend, pastor and youth minister for zillions of years says the question is (on the issue of abortion), “How is life, all of life, honored and revered?” For these kids, keeping the baby certainly gives reverence and honor to the life of the baby. But does it give revereance and honor to the lives of these 2 students? They tried to practice safe sex and something went wrong. Does one accident justify giving up their dreams for college? Does keeping the baby honor all the hard work they’ve been doing for years to even have the opportunity to go to college? At least one of these kids is doing something no one in her family has ever done. No one in her family has even graduated from high school, much less go to college. She was hell-on-wheels when she was younger: constantly in trouble, failing school…she’s making her way out of all that; she’s breaking a cycle. Does it honor life to give all of that up? Yes, they could both go to work for a few years and go back to school later. Maybe this is God’s plan for their life, as some of my theologically conservative friends would say. Well, for all the questions and struggles these young people will not get to make the decision for themselves. The decision has been made for them by one set of parents. The abortion happened yesterday and both young people are immensely sad. I’m not sure that either one of them would say this isn’t the route they would have taken if given the choice, but they are still sad. And so am I. The young man is pretty open and wanting to talk. She isn’t talking so much right now. I’m really concerned for her; I just can’t imagine being in her shoes. She left school early yesterday afternoon to go to the doctor and she went right back to school this morning. Their lives go on. One of the things I’ve told them is that there is loss of life to be grieved…and it must be grieved. If they had kept he baby, they would have needed to grieve the life they have been planning and dreaming for. Instead they must grieve the loss of human life.

For the traditional church system I grew up in, my beliefs about abortion don’t really follow party lines. But maybe they are right. Maybe abortion for any reason is just wrong, after all you are killing a life. Ugh…it just seems so much more complex than that. And I’ve seen that complexity in the eyes of these amazing young adults. I wonder, though, that making a decision whether to keep the baby or not is actually the easiest part of this whole deal. Dealing with grief is hard, hard work.

It’s difficult to be concise with my thoughts and condense hours of conversations. And perhaps this isn't even an appropriate forum. But here I am. I’ve had several conversations with these kids and few trusted friends of mine. Hopefully, something I’ve said to the teenagers will somehow be helpful. The conversations with my friends have been good to get all the thoughts out of my head, though I’m not sure it really makes any of this any easier or clearer. And now, I’m telling all of you. I’m interested to hear what you think. Bottom line…this whole thing just really sucks.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Question...and a requested update!

I was visting with a friend the other day. She goes to one of the big mega-Baptist churches in town. Great girl; my age; very fun. And she is steeped in the fundamentalism I grew up with. The Bible, for her, is a literal account of people, places and events. Our conversation mostly revolved around her telling me what the Bible says about God; quoting scriptures the way I used to be able to. At some point during the hour or so we talked I thought, "Why is it that the church seems to rely soley on what the Bible says about God?" I like the Bible. I like the stories. I read about some facinating people and great events in their lives. Their stories seem to be timeless and I can relate to or learn from them. But...I don't believe (at least today) that every story is exactly the way modern man has translated an ancient language. Maybe some of the stories never really happened. I realize that I'm speaking heresay for some folks. I'm probably going to straight to hell. Oh, well. I like what Rob Bell says in his book, Velvet Elvis. "It's not that these stories happened, but that they happen." So, why does the Bible have to be the end all, be all for God? What about other great men and women through history who had just as great a faith as Abraham, Isaac or King David. Can't we learn about God from them, too? Maybe we do, but they don't seem to get the same credibility as Paul. Is this a dumb question? Maybe just an ignorant question? I'm certainly not a scholar nor do I have any formal education to speak very intelligently on the Bible and it's history. I'm just curious.

On another note, an Eagle update has been requested! TJ has played 2 games since I last posted scores. I can report one loss (sadly) and one win. TJ had great games both weeks. During one game he had just under 100 yards. During last week's game he didn't have many yards, but he had 3 touchdowns! YeeHaw!! We have the week off while we get ready for District play. Get ready we come!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Friday Night Lights, part 2

After a 1 1/2 hour rain delay, we finally played football. At Midnight the last whistle blew. The final score:

Georgetown 24
San Antonio Alamo Heights 21

Yeah Eagles!!

Oh, and by the way...TJ, among his many great moments throughout the night, ran for an 80 yard touchdown. HAH! I'm so proud.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Friday Night Lights!

It's football season! In addition to exciting College games and the beloved Sunday football, High School football is on the schedule this year. We have a great kid and an amazing athlete who lives with us. Tonight is the season opener! Go Eagles! It's kind of a long story, but TJ came to live with my husband and I right before our wedding 3 years ago. Basically, we got married and had an adolescent! Not the order most folks work with, but it's been good. We don't have any formal kind of custody through the courts or anything. We're just helping him out. I have a younger brother, but by the time I was 12, my mom and dad were divorced and we lived with different parents. So, I had never been around teenage least in my home. At times it's been difficult. If you're the parent of a teenager, I don't have to explain any of the challenges. On top of all the "normal" stuff, we've dealt with cultural differences, too. I've joked that we are our own little reality show: Two middle-aged, middle-class, white newlyweds and a black, ghetto, male adolescent. I promise you, it's been very entertaining here at times! Despite all of the times that have been hard, there are so many great things and it gets better all the time. It is a wonderful blessing to have this young man in my home. He is really growing up to be an amazing person. Not that he hasn't always been great, but...well, you know what I mean. He's funny, he's thoughtful, he cleans his room...I could go on and on. He turned 18 this month. He started his Senior year this week. I can hardly believe it! Three years have gone by so fast! TJ is also a fantastic athlete. He's a great football player, but his love is track. And he is soooo fast! It's very exciting to watch him run. The plan is to run track in college. So, we're talking to colleges and coaches praying that he can get a scholarship somewhere. This time next year, he'll be gone and attending college. Ughh...thank goodness I have a few months to get ready for that!

So, raise you's to a great kid...I mean a fine young man, a winning season, and a memorable Senior year! And thanks to God for blessing my life with this young man.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Banana Pudding

My daddy had great taste in desserts: blackberry cobbler, peach cobbler, cherry pie, almost any kind of ice cream. But I'm pretty sure his favorite was banana pudding. During the last few weeks of his life, he was at home with hospice care. The amazing people of FBC Weatherford brought us 3 meals a day for almost 6 weeks. It was a Baptist potluck everyday. I don't know about other denominations, but Southern Baptists are great cooks. One day I was looking for a snack; when I opened the refrigerator door I saw 3 bowls of homemade banana pudding! Clearly, the wonderful ladies from church knew what he liked. None of those bowls went to waste I assure you.

So, this weekend I made some for me...and my family. (Mostly for me.) If you're from the South, you already know that this is a traditional Southern dessert. The great debate, however, or cold? I've never met a banana pudding that I didn't like, but THE BEST way to eat banana pudding is warm. No questions. You're certainly welcome to weigh in on the great debate. Just know that there is only one right answer.

Here's my favorite recipe:

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Dash of salt
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 (or so) sliced ripe bananas
Vanilla wafers

4 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar

Combine flour and salt in a medium saucepan. Gradually stir in milks and yolks, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.

Start with a layer of wafers in the bottom of a 2-qrt baking dish. Arrange banana slices on top. Spoon about half of pudding mixture over bananas. Repeat the layer of wafers, bananas and pudding. Then I like to arrange wafers around inside edge of dish.

Beat egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form and sugar dissolves. Spread meringue over pudding, sealing to edge of dish.

Bake at 325° for 25 minutes or until golden. Please eat warm with a big glass of cold milk.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Remembering Billy

This week is the 3rd anniversary of my father’s death. I don’t feel the emotional intensity of grief that I did for so long. But I miss him terribly. As much acceptance as I have, at some level it still just doesn’t seem right that he’s gone. He was only 60 and truly one of the best people on the planet. A “good ol’ boy” cowboy. Everyone loved him. Ugh…these are the things in life that will never make sense.
Not to brag or anything, but I have dealt with this loss as well as anyone I know. I don’t know why; it’s just been that way. He died of cancer and we knew months before he died that his time was short. The grieving process began long before he ever left this life. Some of what I do to remember is cook his favorite food on his birthday, Father’s Day and this anniversary. I’m not cooking chicken fried steak today, but I am about to go eat one at Monument CafĂ©. It’s one of the best in Central Texas. However, I will make banana pudding. I read my journal from that summer. I look through photo albums and watch videos. I just remember. Daddy was buried Bell Falls Cemetary; a family cemetary in the middle of an old hay field. It’s an amazingly quiet and peaceful place. I love to go there. My tradition is to write Daddy a letter and read it at his grave. I “catch him up” on my life and our family’s over the last year. I believe that he already knows, but it’s been a very healing thing for me to do. After I’ve read it, I burn it and then bury the ashes. On the way home, I’ll have lunch at this small mom and pop restaurant…the fried catfish is awesome.
I’m a fan of “Grey’s Anatomy.” Last season George’s father died. After he died, George and Christina had this conversation:

Christina, “
There’s this thing called the Dead Dad’s Club. You can’t be in it until you’re in it. I’m sorry you’re in it.”
George, “I don’t know how to live on this earth without my father.”
“Yeah, that (feeling) never changes.

Ugh…they’re both right. Life just isn’t the same and it seems like I’ll always feel a void.
Watching my father die was the hardest experiences that I’ve ever had. I still shutter when I remember some moments: like sitting up with him all night his last night alive giving him morphine. Even still, I will hold that event in my life as one of the greatest times of blessing. The list is long of the many things I have to be grateful for during that time, but not the least of which is the opportunity to say goodbye. I also came to know, really know, what it means to accept life as it comes to you and to be grateful. I came to a point in his illness where I could no longer pray for him to be healed and believe in that prayer. But what I could believe in was that God was and would continue to be present in whatever happened. So, I prayed for myself, my family and my father to know that presence and that it would bring us comfort. Somehow in the midst of that I was given a gift…a gift of peace that Paul talks about in Philippians 4:7. It’s inexplicable and a mystery. That verse also says that peace will “guard your heart and mind.” That has been my experience. God gave me a peace that guarded my heart against anger, resentment, bitterness….any of which would have been perfectly reasonable. Instead what I could focus on was being grateful for every moment I had with him.

It’s hard to contain my thoughts and feelings into something short and concise. Hopefully I haven’t rambled too terribly. Today I’m just telling my story and remembering…its a good thing.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

I'm back

My intentions were so lofty…one blog per week. I didn’t think that was such a big feat. I was wrong. Yes, I’ve been extremely busy. When one works on commission being busy is a good thing. I think my absence runs a little deeper than the calendar. I just don’t think I have much to say, which is why I didn’t start a blog before now. I learn stuff, I have events in my life that I need to process, I’ve done some cool stuff in the last few months…but surely no one cares to read my ramblings. This is the stuff that goes on inside my head. But it’s those thoughts that I think are showing me an even deeper answer; one that seems to resonate as Truth but I would rather not really go there. Sitting in church a couple of weeks ago, I began to realize how disconnect from community I’ve become. I love my church, but for various reasons, I don’t go much in the last several months. That’s ramblings for another day. I lead the Youth at my church, but once Bible Study is over, I usually leave. I miss the community; I miss interacting with my friends. When I do stay, I sit in the back by myself. I recognize this most starkly at church, but when I consider the rest of my life I seem to be doing the same in other places…work and even home. I’m there; I talk to people; I’m involved in social things…sometimes. A lot of the time, I’m just by myself. Even when I am with others I often just feel detached. I’ve been depressed before, but this isn’t depression. I think it’s what happens when you don’t nurture your soul. I pray, I write, I prepare Bible Studies; I have a regular morning devotional ritual…do you see it? I do. I do this, I do that. I do a lot of good things; even for other people. I can see that my morning ritual is habit; it’s a good habit. I’m not sure, though, that it is time spent really being still, just listening…being aware of my soul. One of the books I read every morning is Sarah Ban Breathnach’s, Simple Abundance; A Day Book of Comfort and Joy. I love this book; she’s awesome. On August 1, she quoted Amercian Buddist, Jack Kornfield saying. “We must make certain that our path is connected with our heart.” That feels right for me…I think I’ve been traveling without my heart. I guess you can do good things without your heart being engaged, but I’m realizing it is leaving me feeling empty…and lazy…without vision…without passion. So, I’m making efforts to do some things differently. Changing routines, making dates with myself to do things I love (I got this brilliant idea from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way), but mostly trying to just be still and quiet. This is hard right now, but at least I’m aware and hopefully making baby steps. It’s good to be here and writing today.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

God has blonde hair...

And He giggles. Trinity Grace turned 2 on April 5. Her older sister, Faith Ryan turned 4 today. And today was their birthday party. I adore my nieces and obviously, they adore me. Trinity and I swang (swinged, swung??? I didnt' do well in English, I'm a musician)...we sat in a swing together for half an hour. Blissful. One of the cool things about kids is that in order to play with them you have to be in the moment. I loose track of time, and I forget about all the "stuff." Maybe this just happens when you are the Auntie visiting for the weekend. Probably. Nonetheless, it was a good reminder and I hope I'll remember those giggles the next time I get too serious about life.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


When I started this blog, my goal was to write once a week. Well, it's been Easter since my last post. Oh, well. Mostly, I've been super busy with work. And life has just been kind of hard the last 2 weeks. I know...welcome to everyone's world.

I've been married for almost 3 years. So far, I've discovered that married life is just hard. Well, shit hit the fan again a couple of weeks ago. One morning I was doing some writing and praying. Prayer has become more and more of a mystery to me. I used to believe that praying was getting God to do things: heal, provide, change something or someone, etc. What I believe today is that prayer doesn't do that at all. Prayer is for me. Prayer raises my awareness of the Divine, of something/someone that's bigger than me and me trying to be connected to the Divine. I was writing my prayer this particular morning and in response to the current marital conflict, I asked God to "help me me bigger than I have been before today." I'm not perfect just so you know. I've certainly done my share (or more) to contribute to things in my marriage being hard. I was acutely aware this particular morning that I just wanted to be different. Really. I wasn't praying for him to be different or the situation to be different (at least not this time). For this day, I wanted to more patient, more accepting, more kind. I believe that I received what I prayed for. Now, you've probably heard the old saying that God answers prayers in one of three ways: 1)yes, 2) no, 3)maybe. I'm not sure that subscribe to that notion anymore. I think God always answers prayers. And I believe that God answered my prayer that particular day...with MANY f'ing opportunities to be more kind, more patient, more accepting. I think God answered by giving me the chances and the awareness to make different choices. And I did fair...I think. Maybe my husband would have different opinion. At the very least, I was aware. This is not bragging on myself by any means. It's my ramblings about prayer. 'Cause it's just a big mystery...just like God. Hmmm. Go figure.

Sunday, April 1, 2007


A couple of years ago, I wrote devotional for our teenagers for Passover Week. Now, I'm a singer not a writer. Nevertheless, I attempted the task. Well, it's Palm Sunday and I thought I would be brave and share it with you. It makes this post way too long, but I'm doing it anyway.


` It’s the last week of Jesus’s life. Crowds of the curious, desperate and hopeful had been following him for a couple of years. He had performed miracles and healed many people. Sometimes he told stories no one understood, not even the disciples. He had many friends and was making many enemies. Now this week was here. He always knew the time would come. It is time for Him to die.
What was he thinking? Maybe he didn’t know how fast things would happen, but I believe he knew his death was imminent. How did he feel? How would you feel? What would be going through your mind? No, really. Stop and think about it. What would it be like to know you had just a few days to live? I wonder if there was something Jesus regretted…something he did or didn’t do? When he left home, did he tell his mother how much he loved and appreciated her? Did he ever do the thing he had always wanted to do?
I’m reminded of the months preceeding my father’s death. Daddy told us many times, “I’m not afraid to die, I just don’t want to leave my family.” One night when all of our family was gathered together he told us, “I’m going to a place I don’t want to go yet, but I have to. When I’m gone, I want all of you to stay together and get along. Be good to each other and love one another.” Quite a blessing from someone who would die just one week later. He knew he was going to heaven and that knowledge made things easier for him. It didn’t remove his sadness. Yet, he courageously embraced his reality and tried to make the most of his time. I think Jesus did the same. He must have been sad. He wept in the garden hours before he was arrested. He shared a meal with his disciples. Jesus gave them his blessing and admonition to remember him and love each other. Jesus knew what had to happen. I believe he embraced that destiny in spite of his very real human struggles. However, unlike my father, I think he had a choice. Jesus was no different than us with his abilities to make choices. I think he could have chosen to put his “destiny” off a year…or 10…or 20. Why not live out more his life? Things were going well with his ministry. He loved teaching and so many peoples’ lives were being changed. Why not stay here longer and care for his aging mother? He had choices. He chose this time. Why? The only guess I have is love. His whole life was about loving others and teaching them how to love.

“I have loved you as the Father has loved me. You must go on living in my love…I have told you this so that you can share my joy and that your happiness may be complete. This is my commandment: that you love each other as I have loved you. There is no greater love than this- that a man should lay done his life for his friends.”
John 15:9-13 (JB Phillips translation)

Jesus had a great love for those around him. He also had a great love for mankind. And he loved his Father. He knew his death would liberate mankind, making it possible for us to know God the way he did.
And so, next Sunday is Easter. We’ll celebrate that love. We’ll sing happy songs, watch children hunt Easter eggs, and have special meals with our families. As Easter approaches, I offer you a challenge. be mindful of your choices. Make brave choices. Make loving choices. How would you live if this was the last week of your life? Here are a few suggestions:

Be thankful!
Notice the little things: Spring flowers, the nice bed you sleep in, or a pantry that’s always full of snacks
Say thank you!
Do something kind or of service to someone—anonymously
Breathe deeply…just because you can
Did I mention being thankful?
Tell the people you love, “I love you.”

Tim McGraw recorded a song that says, “Live like you were dying.”

Let’s try it and see what happens.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


My father passed away in August 2004. He is buried at a family plot in Belfalls, TX. It's a small, country cemetery near the thriving metropolis where he grew up, Oenaville (pronounced "oh-ee-na-ville"). I love this place. It's quiet and peaceful there. Last year, late in the winter, I planted bluebonnet seeds over his grave. Daddy loved the Texas wildflowers. He and his wife would often travel to the Texas Hill Country during Springtime to enjoy the beauty. Traveling on the motorcycle, of course. The bluebonnets are blooming now in Central Texas and they are stunning! So, I drove to Belfalls Cemetary to see if those little seeds had managed to grow. And they did. Two big bunches of flowers had already bloomed and there were lots of tiny little buds waiting to pop. They were so beautiful and I cried. I was so happy!! Losing my father has been the saddest thing to happen to me. And I miss him so much. Over the last 2 and 1/2 years I've taken many opportunities to remember him and honor my own grief. Planting bluebonnet seeds on his grave was one of those efforts. It brought my heart so much joy today; and today I needed it. (That's another post.) Even planting those seeds offered me an amazing experience and today it became full circle. This little cemetary is smack in the middle of farm land. The ground is black and rock hard. When I traveled to plant the seeds, I took a rake, shovel, pick, hoe...I expected to really work this ground in order to plant the seeds. To my surprise, it wasn't much work at all. A year and a half after his burial, there was still a pretty good mound on top of the ground. When I started raking back dirt, I found that it moved very easily. This mound of dirt wasn't hard at all. So, I continued to rake and little by little I keep seeing these green spots. The more I raked, the more I saw. I finaly bent down to see what they were. They were little green shoots. Little green shoots, probaby weeds, growing in the middle of the dirt pile. It was one of those moments where I was clear God was with me; showing me; opening my eyes. I sat down on the grave stone and wept. God was near and I felt it. In this place marked for death, there is life. Death was not the final word, even for a burial site. Today, life was apparent again...vibrantly! Daddy would love them.

I hung out for awhile, even lying on a blanket watching the clouds. I'm thankful I hang out with teenagers so much...they remind me to do stuff like that. I wish I took more moments like this to just take in life. While I lay there, the lyrics of a song went through my head. It was a song I sang at Daddy's funeral. He picked all the songs at his service. A bunch of songs from Cowboy Church services he listened to on the radio. This one is called "Place Where I Worship."

O the place where I worship
Is the wide open spaces
Built by the hand of the Lord.
Where the trees of the forest
Are like the pipes of an organ
And the breeze plays an Amen chord.
O the stars are the canvas
And they light up the mountains,
Mountains are alters of God.
O the place where I worship
Is the wide open spaces
Built by the hand of the Lord.

There's a carpet of green
And the sky-blue roof above
And I'm welcome there alone
Or with the One I love.
In your heart take a good look
If you follow the Good Book
You're sure to find you reward.
O the place where I worship
Is the wide open spaces
Built by the hand of the Lord.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Here we go!

My first blog post...ever. This is going to be fun.

Today's Bible Study at church was supposed to be the story of Jesus healing the 10 lepers. Unfortunately, we didn't get it to it. We needed to talk about some church stuff, some of which was about Youth Camp this summer. Some of them don't want to go because we're going with a bunch of other churches and they don't know anyone. The last 2 years we've only taken retreats or extended weekend trips by ourselves. So...change is upon us. They'll be fine. They will make friends and have a great week. They just don't know it yet. Anyway, this story. As I was doing some research, I discovered that this another story about a Samaritan. There were 10 lepers. Jesus said "you are healed go show the priest." Nine took off and one stayed long enough to say thank you. Luke seems emphasize that fact that this "one" was a Samaritan. So, now I have all kinds of questions about this story. It no longer seems like Jesus was trying to make a point of being thankful (which is such a powereful practice) BUT...maybe there's more to it. First, why were Jews and Samaritans hanging out together? Does being an outcast remove social and religious barriers? Where did the Samaritan go and "show himself?" Certainly not the same place the now-healed Jewish lepers were running off to. Why did the others not stop to say thank you? Maybe another statement from Jesus that God's grace is for everyone. For the listening Jewish audience, is this another jab at their separation from the in the story of the Good Samaritan?

Just some questions. I'm no scholar. I'm not educated in anyway theologically. I studied music in college.

By the way, I have no idea how to do all the HTML stuff to make my site look cool. I just read some stuff and I don't get it. I'm a right-brainer. Maybe I'll work on it...later.

Allow me to introduce myself

I grew up in church. I mean the “every time the doors were open I was there”, grew up in church. A good Southern Baptist church at that. I knew all the stories. I knew what they mean. I have dozens and dozens of verses memorized. Faith and God were all were very neat and tidy until about 1993. I started going this church where the pastor talked of “being saved” as an ongoing, repeating process, instead of one trip down the aisle to shake the preacher’s hand. There were staff members who had been divorced and now remarried. Like the church’s pastoral counselor. Hmmm, I was taught it was a sin to divorce and adultery to remarry. Three years later I would go through my own divorce. I later learned that my now ex-husband was gay. I had to deal with divorce for me; find God in this. I was taught that homosexuality was wrong. Now it had touched my life in a very intimate and unique way. I had to search out how God fit in. I grew up being taught that having sex outside of marriage was a sin. My beliefs challenged my life as a 30 thirty-something woman in a relationship. I was taught Christians don’t drink. And I didn’t until my thirty’s. Today I love good wine and margaritas. And all along the way, even back to college, unsuspecting men and women found their way in my path offering me different perspectives of God and faith. Their God was bigger than mine. Authentic lives of faith with less rigidity. Some of them took the stories of my childhood and turned them upside down. Often times, exploding my God view, my “Christian” view. Over the past few years, I’m discovering I don’t really know all the stories afterall. They don’t have “an answer”; or only one point to make. With so much of Scripture, I think that the church at large has completely missed the point. I don’t have all the answers. God is not neat and tidy. And it’s wonderful. It is perhaps, my salvation. I lead a Bible Study each week for the teenagers at my church. It’s a small church, not like the big ones I grew up in. I like it. The kids are really not like me when I was their age. I find this delightfully refreshing. It’s also a tremendous challenge. Each week I'm faced with stories I thought I knew. I try to look at them in new way and offer them something we can kick around for an hour. The discussions we have are amazing. These young men and women are intelligent, savvy and insightful. I don’t have to have “all the answers” for them. Thank God. But you can’t just wing it with them. They smell bullshit from miles away. As their “teacher”, I’m also a student. Most of the time a very willing one. They are always teaching. Now, I've come to this place...a blog. I love to read them. I know some cool ones. This time I'm coming for myself. I’ve come to process, write through, and articulate what I’m learning. Kick around with you my life on a spiritual journey. And I’m an artist. I love to sing and I’m pretty good at it. I also love to write. My writing has mostly been for me. I feel tugged to use my creativity and love for writing in new ways. We’ll see what this place brings me. And I want to hear from you. Leave me your thoughts!