Thursday, December 11, 2008
Heal my body, soul and mind. Show me the paths that allow me to serve my neighbor and myself to the greatest good. Give me courage to seek and embrace the new and the unknown. Provide me with boldness to give and receive love in all things.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
My hope for myself, as well as others, is that I take the interest I have found in this Presidential race and carry it to the State and Local levels. With that disclaimer, please read on taking what you like and leave the rest.
Thanks for stopping by my blog! Though I don’t agree with many of the perspectives you offer, I’m happy to have a conversation. I won’t respond directly to some of the specific points that you made, but will mostly elaborate on my overall essay to clarify any misunderstandings.
One thing I will address directly is your #1 statement. Since I didn’t mention what 2007 interview I referred to, it’s a bold statement to say that I misquoted him. With that being said, let me make 3 points:
1) It was probably generous of me to use quotations around something he said since I do not remember exactly the words he used. The essence of what he discussed though, I believe I understand him clearly.
2) I am completely aware of his political stance on abortion, as well as his voting record.
3) To answer your # 5 statement, my answer is “Yes.” I completely agree with his discussion about abortion being a complex issue without clear-cut defining answers. (Though I do have big concerns about certain aspects of his abortion stance such as partial-birth or late term abortions). I think it a crying shame that this issue has become a political platform in our country. In my opinion, this isn’t a political issue at all. Yet, we force our leaders of government to choose one side or the other. I have dealt with this issue in my own family. I have seen and experienced the magnitude this challenge brings to the mother, father and their respective families. Therefore, I don’t form this decision out of isolated ideology, but out of many different factors including real life experience. I agree that the voices of the unborn must have advocacy. We must have boundaries…thus the role of government. I believe in the sanctity of life…of all life (I refer to issues such as war, death penalty and poverty). However, it my firm opinion that it is not the role of the government to tell me or any other woman what we can and cannot do with our body. I’ll stop here on this issue as I don’t want this letter to focus totally on abortion, but I heard you asking for my opinion of Obama’s stance on this issue. This is a tough issue for me, one that I have great inner struggle with from a political standpoint and then from a standpoint of being a believer...a believer in the God who created ALL life. Perhaps my views will change one day, but for today this is where I am.
The other specific thing I will address is my statement of having “firsthand knowledge of discrimination.” Perhaps I give myself too much credit here for seeing and understanding racism from arms length. I am a white woman. No matter how black friends I have, no matter how unjust I judge black Americans to be treated at times, no matter how much embarrassment I feel for some of the history in our country towards blacks…I will never understand. It’s just not possible. For that reason alone, perhaps the wisest course for me to take is to just not comment. I’ll give this consideration. I had this same feeling about all the news regarding Reverend Wright and his church earlier in the year. I’m not black, I’m not a black person in a black church, and therefore I have absolutely no business judging what is said among that community. So, my friend, if my attempt to speak towards racism is offensive to you, I offer my deepest apologies.
Beyond your first statement, I don’t have any interest in addressing your other comments specifically. I don’t think it’s worth my time, or serves a good purpose. Especially, your #4 statement. Frankly, I think it’s repulsive that you even say such a thing out loud. Not to mention undermining the intelligence and good intent of that 93%...though I haven’t yet seen this number reported. Instead, I would like to attempt to clarify my overall sentiments. First of all, I did not vote for Obama because he is black. Based on CNN polls as far back as June and as recent as last week, I’m not alone. In short, their numbers report that 7 out of 10 voters did NOT vote based on race. You can read this report for yourself at http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/10/24/poll.race/. I’m sure there are many people who did vote for him simply because he’s black, just as there are people who voted for McCain because they would never vote for a Democrat or vice versa. I unequivocally disagree with your statement, “This man was not voted in due to the content of his character..but was judged by the color of his skin. Period.” This is a statement of opinion, a narrow-minded opinion as far as I’m concerned, and certainly not one based on civility much less fact. I believe I did exactly what Reverend King spoke of, and I know many, many other people that did the same…that we ”judged (a person) not on the color of their skin but (among many other things) on the content of their character.”
In my closing paragraph, I spoke of the great pride I feel this week. Let me be clear once again, I am not saying that my pride simply comes from for voting for a black man. I’m proud because of what is one of the largest voter turn-out in US history. I’m proud of the all the 1st-time voters. I’m proud of America for giving a damn about this process. I’m proud of all Americans… black, white, gay, straight, Democrat, Republican, rich poor....for, at least, striving to be the United States. Certainly there is not unity in policy, but I do believe (and perhaps I’m naïve and idealistic) that we have unity in purpose. I believe that all Americans want the very best for our country, and our families. THAT, if only that, can be our common ground. This can be the common ground that makes a path for the greater good.
So, “S,” please…take a break from the divisive rhetoric. Please, do everyone a favor and find a place to be grateful for the wonderful freedom that you enjoy regardless who leads this country.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I voted for Senator Obama. It’s the 1st time in 22 years of being eligible to vote that I voted for a Democrat. This was no small departure for me. And there are those among my family and friends that are quite disappointed. I began paying attention to Obama last year after hearing an interview with him. The journalist asked him about his thoughts on abortion. He first said, “It’s a complex issue. One that is doesn’t have simple answers.” He went on to talk about how he was still working out this issue for himself, both as a politician and a private citizen. It was the 1st time I could recall a politician give something other than a clear black and white answer….for anything. For him to acknowledge the complexity of such an issue (it could have been any issue) and to say publically that he’s still sorting things out…for me, that was impressive. So, I began to listen. And then begin educate myself on one issue, then another. Listening and research morphed into curiosity, then into conversations. I am among the throngs of people who, for the first time, have found interest (dare I say even excitement?!) in politics. There were many others interviews, speeches, and debates to follow that solidified my vote. Though some around me have challenged my opinions, I believe I followed due diligence of research…and my heart.
My generation has many souls that have made their indelible mark on our country….Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy, Barbara Jordan and Cesar Chavez to name a few. Perhaps it is premature to put Obama’s name along side of these great people. Yet, I hear in him and see in the work he done up to this point a perspective on life, community, democracy, and government that sets him apart from the crowd. I want that, and need that in a President. He is a fine and gifted orator. And while that doesn’t qualify him to be president, it does pave a way to speak to people of all backgrounds. His words inspire. Again, not a qualification for a world leader, but inspiration is a powerful medium. Inspiration can give people the opportunity to have a different perspective. Inspiration can be a catalyst for courage, risk-taking and dreaming. I think, in part, that is what America did yesterday.
It makes me proud that our country has taken a grand step forward in bridging the gap between the different races our country is home to. (For a wonderful visual aid, checkout my friend Bob’s blog ) The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s was not that long ago. And having TJ live with us during the last 4 years, I have witnessed firsthand the discrimination toward blacks that still exist in the 21st century. At times, I have been appalled and ashamed. But there was no shame in yesterday’s election. I speak of my pride and excitement, though with some hesitancy. There is a part of me that feels like I’m watching something great from the outside. I’m witnessing the fruition from generations of struggle and dreams of a people whose skin is a different color than mine. Though it’s a day for all Americans, it certainly is quite special for my black brothers and sisters. Boundaries and ceilings have been removed. Black Americans have a path for all the opportunities of this great country has to offer. Opportinuties that perhaps I take for granted. This man has given our country and all it's citizens a great gift. I hope one day to meet him. I hope to shake his hand and say thank you.
This is a great, great day for our country and our world. America, I’m proud of you. Not for voting for a Democrat. I’m proud of you, America, for caring. I’m proud of you for dreaming, whoever you voted for. I’m proud of all Americans for taking part in the beautiful gift of democracy we have in this country.
As President Elect Obama said in his speech last night, “This is a defining moment.”
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Over the last few years I’ve been hanging out with people who offer great amounts of time and energy serving the homeless here in Austin. The result is a growing prompting in me to do my part. Like many people, it’s easy to look the other way when stopped at the traffic light. It’s easy to just simply pray that God takes care of the homeless…while I purchase fish to grill at my HOUSE with AC, a big TV and comfy bed.
Four years ago I helped start a new faith community in town. One commitment this community makes is give the first 10% of offerings to funds devoted to serving others. One of the ways we do this is through working with Mobile Loaves and Fishes. A organization commited to feeding and clothing the homeless. Each month, our community takes 2 days to make sandwiches and deliver dinner to the homeless in downtown. Since I help organize the youth group at this church, I try to work efforts like this into our calendar. I guess the first time I signed us up to help was about 3 years ago. I have to say that I was a little apprehensive. I didn’t know what to expect and honestly I think I had some negative assumptions about this group of people that fed my reluctance. I felt bad for being afraid, or even trying to find away to get out of it. It’s hard to admit that even now. A wonderful surprise found me that day. ..beautiful people. Yes, some of them wore very dirty clothes and didn’t look (or smell) very good. But…they had lovely smiles, stories to tell…they have names. I met people who once had jobs and now they don’t; they lost everything including their homes. Many of the wonderful people I met had college degrees; who knew? Certainly not me. The youth and I handed them dinner, barely enough to fill a plastic sack from the grocery store. And they were so grateful. We were able to give some of them clothes; until we ran out of the supply we brought. When was the last time you were grateful for socks? Socks?! These men and women were so polite and so thankful for the very few things we gave that day. Many of them don’t know when they will eat again, but they have food for this meal and they were thankful.
God is teaching me more and more to step outside my comfort zone, stretch my preconceived ideas about the poor and homeless, and growing a place in my heart to loving them by giving to them out of the many, many blessings and comforts in life that I have been given. Each time I make a run with Mobile Loaves and Fishes, I am reminded of the reality that I could easily be in their shoes. A twist of fate, a string of bad luck, or tragedy can find us all. There is really nothing in life that belongs to me. Everything I have is a gift; everything is temporary. My prayer for myself is that I’m always seeking to be grateful for all that I have by giving it away. May I honor God and the blessings he has given me by letting go of fear, letting go of my attachment to things and serve my brothers and sisters.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
The celebration of my birthday has morphed over time. Growing up, I don't recall much celebrating besides having grandparents over for dinner. Many of those "parties" happened on Saturday night, though I'm sure that my birthday did not fall on the same day every year. I know this because I've seen way too many pictures of me blowing out candles with pink foam rollers in my hair...so my hair is nice and pretty for church, of course. Really, I've seen at least 6-7 pictures- from different birthdays- with my hair in pink rollers. (Note to self, "DO NOT do this to your daughter.") I don't remember having parties with my friends. Though, I do remember my dad bringing a cake to Youth Group on my 18th birthday. Since college and most of my adult years, I've made little to no noise about my birthday. I didn't tell people, never did anything...it was just another day. Somewhere in my 30's, or maybe it started after my divorce at 29, I began to do things to honor myself on my birthday. I still didn't mention it much, but would buy myself a present. Slowly, that "self-celebrating" grew. I started a few rituals (like eating b'day cake for breakfast!) and telling others. At first, I would just tell whomever I saw on that day. Now, I give people a lot of notice!! I've been reminding my youth group for a couple of months now!!
There are some mixed feelings I have about being "40." Over the past year, I've have felt this inner wrestling about where my life is and where I thought it would be by today. I would necessarily call it a "crisis", but perhaps a "mid-life predicament." I'll save expounding on that for another day. Because in spite of all that wrestling, I truly feel happy and excited today. I stayed up until midnight just to be awake when the clock struck October 1. I even wore my tiara upstairs when I went to bed! I didn't sleep in it though, it was stabbing me in the head.
Monday and Tuesday I attended Rosh Hashanah services. I'll write more about that later. The litergy from the services was really beautiful. There was one particular paragraph that caught my attention. I'll close with this:
"To say that life is both fleeting and uncertain is a truth that presses upon the mind with special force as the old year ends and a new one begins. We are led to turn our thoughts to Him; to remember that He has given us our lives in trust to use in His service. We begin by entering upon the task of self-examination and self-enoblement. 'A New Year,' say the Rabbis, 'should inaugurate new life."
Sunday, September 28, 2008
There has been a movement (for lack of a better word) in the church world over the last couple of decades called Emergent. The voices of this movement actually refer to it as a "conversation." I love that. The intention is to have a conversation about what it means to be a follower of Jesus. I have found a number of authors whose writings find deep connection for me, such as Brian McLaren and Tony Jones. That's where this wonderful lady, Phyllis Tickle comes in. She's a very learned scholar and thinker of this post-modern 20th/21st century we're living in. Her book, which I have yet to read, explores this idea of "emerging churches" not as a fad, or the latest religious bandwagon. She places this conversation in much broader terms for history. She speaks of it as being a part of a 500 year cycle that the culture or the world has seen since the time of Jesus. What I took away from those 2 hours with her was knowledge (which is always cool), and an excitement for what is happening in the world with regards to Christianity. I guess there's a lot going on in the world today that hardly inspires excitement. Yet, I hear her speak of change, good change, that is happening. And I guess I just feel like I'm a part of of. Asking good questions...questioning the things I've been taught about God, the Bible, Jesus, the world, the church. I'm pretty happy in this place. I don't have many answers really. And there are some around me that don't necessarily champion my path of curiosity. I guess there will always be those and perhaps those naysayers help keep be balanced. Nevertheless, I have a seemingly insatiable appetite to learn about Jesus and the things of God. What I hope comes from that desire is a truer place of serving. I really don't want knowledge just for the sake of being smarter. My prayer is that my quests transform my heart and mind, and I show it by how I love and serve the world.
I'm standing on the eve of a big birthday. As I reflect on this previous decade, I'm clear that it has been about authenticating my faith. I'm very thankful for the church I was raised in and all I was taught, even if I have different opinions about those teachings today. I stand on the heritage that is my grandparents and their parents, but I have to believe in God for me. I'm immensely grateful for the foundation I was given as a little girl and young adult. I offer honor and blessing for all the men and women who took me under their wing, loved me and showed me their faith. My prayer is that I can pass that legacy on. A legacy of faith that is authentic and organic.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
I wouldn't actually characterize either of this years' candiates with those descriptors, but...I'm still flipping a coin. Over the past few years I have felt the spiritual changes in me begin to bleed over into politics. I wish that wasn't the case. Like I said, politics bores me out of my mind. I'm not very educated, and I have absolutely no desire to be smart about politics. Nevertheless, I have been paying attention during this year's campaign. I'm intrigued. At times confused. Usually frustrated. So, I'm watching the DNC. Next week I'll watch the RNC. Maybe I'll learn something!! Doubtful, but there's always hope.
Here's what I really want to say. This country made history today. The United States of America elected the 1st Black presidential nominee. I watched the news this afternoon as the delegate roll call was taken, and the Speaker of the House made it official. Despite whatever apathy I generally have towards politics, I felt unbelievable proud today. I guess there's also a part of it that highlights an embarrasing aspect of our culture. It's unbelievable to me that in the year 2008, blacks and whites still experience so much inequality. But that feeling holds a back seat, at least for today. I just feel very, very proud. I don't know if this is the right guy. I hope he is; I want him to be. Elected as President or not, history was made. And I think that's pretty damn cool.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
I'm struck right now at the irony of remembering the verse that was going through my head, and the night that I had just gone through with him and his passing that morning. I haven't talked about that last night much. I guess I felt it selfish to talk about about me during the time that he was dying. After 4 years, I really don't think about that night much. During this last week, though, I've been reminded in a way that caught me off guard. If you'll indulge me, I'll tell you my story.
I've always been a fan of the Olympics. I watch them contstantly when they are on. I probably enjoy the Summer Olympics most; particularly basketball and softball. As this year's Games started, I really haven't been very interested. I'm interested in knowing results, but as for watching the games non-stop I really haven't had any interest. There was something to this disinterest that I just couldn't put my finger on. A few nights ago, I realized what it was. The last time the Summer Olympics were played, daddy was dying. And I had particular memories from the night before he passed. It was startling to me making the connection. I find that, though I miss him, the intensity of that loss has lessened over the years. But this moment shook the dust off those feelings and I cried as hard as I have in 4 years. During the months before he died, I consumed myself with information about death and dying. I learned that the body and mind goes through a very predictable process when it is dying. At least with those who are terminally ill. His hospice nurse told us early in the week prior that his death would be soon. The 16th that year was on a Monday. We were blessed that up until Saturday, he was conscious much of the time, knew who everyone was and could have coherent conversations with us. That really ended on Saturday when he pretty much lost consciousness. My husband arrived late Saturday and I woke him. He knew who Wes was and said hello, but that was the last time he was awake. Late on Sunday afternoon, his body began to show signs that his death was imminent. His breathing changed..."fish out-of-water" breathing it's called. His eyes started doing weird things. We knew. All of my siblings, but one were already there. We called my other sister and she joined us. Another sister called a couple of friends from her church. Two wonderful women came and sat with us till midnight. Hospice recommended that we begin giving him morphine every 30 minutes or so. So, there we all were: sitting, giving medicine and waiting. At one point, I took his Bible and started reading scriptures. Everyone who was there chimed in with requests to read their favorite verses. We read for almost an hour. Around midnight the dear friends left and I needed some space. So, I took a shower. With 10 or so people in this small house, I figured that the shower was my only option for solitude. I took a really long shower. I expected that my brothers and sisters would take turns staying up and giving daddy the morphine (though I knew I wouldn't sleep). When I came out of the shower, though, everyone had picked a corner of the house and were asleep. So, I stayed up. I sat by his bed, gave him medicine at the right intervals, counted breathes, counted the amount of time that he didn't take a breathe...for hours. When I would feel sleepy, I would sit by a wall and play solitaire. And all the while, the same loop of Olympic coverage was playing. I couldn't find the remote or I might have changed the channel. Around 4 am, he started making some weird, loud sounds. It freaked me out, so I called hospice. Moments later, a nurse called me back...at 4 am. She told me I was doing fine, what daddy was doing was normal and that I could increase the morphine. As I side note in this story, I want to say that Hospice nurses are the walking angels on this earth. I will always remember the sweet woman that was daddy's nurse that last week, Edwina. They are some of the most loving and compassionate people I have ever been priviledged to meet. Yes, they know how to care for the dying with great dignity, but they also spend just as much time caring for the living. By sunrise, daddy had settled. His breathing was much easier. Around 10am is when he took his last breath. It was a really hard night for me. I don't know what the dying are aware of or not aware of. I hope those last hours were not spent with him knowing pain. I carried a great burden of that for a long time; wondering if i did enough for him. Those images of watching him, listening to him, counting breathes...those images stayed with me a long time. And yet, I would not have wanted it to be any different. I'm grateful to have been with him those last hours whether he knew it or not. I held his hand, and at times hummed through the songs that I would later sing at his service. I hope this this somehow made a difference.
During the months preceeding his death, I spent much time thinking about what I believe about heaven, or at least what happens to us when we die. I'm still not sure exactly what I believe. I'm not sure I believe in the "streets of gold" that my Baptist heritage would sing of. I think life, after this life, is much bigger than that. I do believe our spirit is with God, though I also believe that we are always with God. Maybe it's that we just return to our most pure and perfect state. Later that day we were at the funeral home when they finished preparing his body. I dreaded this moment and was last behind my step-mother and siblings to walk up to the casket. The instant I walked up to him though, I felt a unexplainable calm and peace that I was experiencing so often during the previous months. I took one look at him and my thought was, "This is not my daddy. He's not here." And I actually smiled. I saw a very sick body that fought a very long battle, but his spirit was no longer there.
The next day over 100 people came to his viewing. There were almost 400 at his funeral. He was well loved. It really was a celebration of a very rich life. We showed dozens of pictures while I sang 6 songs that he had chosen. He had asked a couple of other people to talk or read. He planned everything. He wanted this day to celebrate his life. "No gloom and doom," to quote him. It was a wonderful and special time. We didn't actually bury him until the next day. He is buried about 45 minutes from where I live. I'm so grateful. I go there often; including this day. Many family members came to his graveside and most shared a story about him...including a high school girlfriend!! It was a hard week. It was sad. And it was beautiful.
Thanks for listening to my long story. I'm leaving now to go to the cemetary. Each year I write a letter to him, and read it while I'm there. I t's a ritual that has brought me much comfort. I love this cemetary. It's an old hay field, really. But it's beautiful and serene. And of course, I always cook to remember him on special days. Tomorrow I'm making peach cobbler. yum!
Friday, August 1, 2008
So, pray for me...all of us, I guess. TJ has quite a bit of reluctance. He has never really been away from home for very long. So, going 900 miles away is pretty daunting. And...he has a girlfriend who is staying here. He is a very engaging kid and makes friends easily. I know he'll be fine. I'm thankful that he'll have instant community by being on the football team; this will be good for him. He registers and moves in next Wednesday. There is a reception that evening for parents and students. At the conclusion, they tell parents to leave the campus. Not just leave the building, leave the campus. It's probably be best. So, we'll hit the road (with several boxes of tissue) and head toward St. Louis. The Cardinals play the Dodgers...and Manny. Sweet.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Her service was in the small, southeast Texas town where she lived. I traveled there with an aunt and uncle, and a cousin who all live near me. Fun road trip, even considering the circumstances. My Uncle Johnny is a great storyteller. I've become more of a fan of family stories since my father passed away. I have some very interesting characters in my family! Maybe I'll share stories at a later time. I keep this entry about Aunt Callie.
The funeral was long and boring...all one hour and 20 minutes of it. There were a couple of funny moments, though. The service began with a recording of Whitney Houston's, "I Will Always Love You." This is a strange choice in and of itself. But the version that was chosen was the dance mix...4 and a half minutes long. Seriously. I heard some electronic sounds as the music started, I thought they pressed the wrong button! But it kept playing! NOT the right song for Aunt Callie. I'm not sure what my fmaily was thinking! The other funny part was watching her son, Jimmy, spit tobacco in his little cup during the whole service. He was sitting on the front row. Welcome to Devers, TX!
There was another interesting part of the service; one I had never seen before. In the program for the service, it was listed as the "Naming Ceremony." It was the reading of all the names of her children, sister/brother, grandchildren, etc. This is done at every I've funeral been to, though usually at the beginning. But there was something different about that way it was framed as the "Naming Ceremony." It just seemed to take the ordinary out of telling who her family is. For the 1st time in an hour and 15 minutes, I was paying attention. The sermon before this was stupid...another moment of manipulating people to "get them into heaven." (in my humble opinion). The song was stupid. The woman who tried to sing "Amazing Grace"...well, she was sweet. It just felt like the 1st real moment of the service. It was a moment honoring her and her legacy. I felt thankful and asked for God's blessing on the family. I was still in this space as we went to the graveside. It's a very small cemetary. Beautiful, though. I love reading grave stones and the dates. For me, there is always a deep reverence and serentity at cemetaries. I'm not quite sure why the "Naming" struck me so strongly. I thought of the book of Hebrews that speaks of the "great cloud of witnesses that surround us." The author was writing of the people of faith that have long since passed on. I think it's important to remember and honor those who have passed on. Maybe at the Aunt Callie's service I was also reminded of the importance of those who carry on a legacy today. Perhaps a reminder to me that our lives here are not lived in a vacuum. We live in communities of many different kinds. We need others. As God said, "It is not good that man should be alone." Sometimes as I write it helps me work out my own struggles; I think this is happening even in this moment. When life gets hard or overwhelming (as it is right now), I tend to isolate. I'm blessed to have so, so many friends. I'm a very rich girl. And yet I find myself choosing to deal with life all by myself at times. Isn't it amazing how gently God comes in to get our attention; even in the most unsuspecting of times and places. So, maybe today God is gently reminding me (home alone, on the computer)...encouraging me...to live my life, the easy and the hard, in the company of others.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Daddy was a good man. One of those Texas "good ole boys." A rare and dying breed, I think. He was one of the hardest working men I've ever known. (I wish I had the work ethic!) And he would do anything for just about anyone. I feel like I knew 2 different men growing up, though. When I was a kid, I remember a very disconnected, quiet, isolated man. I remember him coming home from work everyday and he followed the same routine: eat dinner (no one talked), sit in his brown vinyl recliner and watch TV (no one talked) and then go to bed around 9:30 or so. The only other variable was that he and my mother fought constantly...that was about the only "talking" that ever happened. They divorced when I was 12. Something good happened for him as a result of that. He became an engaged, humous guy, and became intensely involved in our church. During my childhood, he rarely went to church. Something in him was tranformed, and it was very cool to watch. In the weeks prior to his death, we talked quite a bit about his marriage to my mother. It was a pretty miserable situation. My mother is an alcoholic and I think there are (or were) other mental disorders as well. I have my own difficult memories from her, but perhaps it was even more difficult as a spouse. Certainly daddy had his part in their problems. I have no intention of painting him as a saint or even a victim. As Al-Anon states, alcoholism is a family disease. It's just hard on everybody.
Hmmm, I had no idea where I was going with this entry! But welcome to my family stories! Mostly, I'm taking the time to remember a good man and give honor to my daddy.
P.S.- I'm not cooking today. I hang out with our teenagers from church every Wednesday. But! Tomorrow's menu: chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, green beans (stewed with bacon all day till they practically disintegrate!) and, of course, peach cobbler.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Friday, June 6, 2008
Monday, May 26, 2008
And bless their hearts, they're about the ugliest things I've ever seen! There were still six eggs when I left for church yesterday morning, but when I got back 4 had hatched! One more egg hatched this morning; still one left. I'm so facinated by this! I watched the mamma and pappa birds bring food yesterday and feed them. So, cool. But that's not all...we also have a little family of cardinals now feeding on one of my feeders. They're actually returning guests. The cardinal babies are not very pretty either, but I have fun watching both the male and female feed their babies. And...I have baby squirrels! I saw them yesterday in one of our big oak trees. These guys are very cute! I just have a little nursery around here. Spring is awesome.
On another note, we talked about being stuck yesterday at church. Interesting topic for me right now. In some ways, I do feel very stuck. And yet, there is so much change; so much in motion. Pastor talked about Jacob and his wrestling with God. It left a mark...but, as his name says, "and he lived." Feeling stuck is frustrating for me, but I wonder that sometimes I call being stuck just resistance to being still. Maybe? Being still is where I find clarity, direction, serenity. I know this and yet I don't stop very easily sometimes. Guess I'm stubborn?!
And a good reason to not be still? Graduation is in 4 days! And a big ole' party on 5. I'm off now to get ready for about 80 poeple in my home, including cooking 20 lbs. of fajita meat, 5 gallons of charro beans and 3 cakes!
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Can you see her? It's a Carolina Wren; she's in the middle of the picture. She's built a nest in my potted Salvia that sits on my balcony. She and , I suppose the pappa bird, built the nest about a week and a half ago. I just happened to catch them..it was facinating. It took them all afternoon, but they built this perfectly round nest. I just think this is amazing! The nest laid empty for a few days, and then one day there were 3 eggs! For the next 3 days, there a one new egg every day. Supposedly, gestation is about 12-15 days. I've noticed the mama bird is spending more time there, so i expect to have 6 little babies any day now!On another note, Tj is graduating in 10 days!! This is his last full week of classes. He's so excited! We got his official acceptance to Quincy University a couple of weeks ago. That was the final straw in his mounting apathy toward high school. He's done. All he wants to do is go fishing! I'm so proud of him I could burst! We're throwing a big party for him the day after graduation. I'm ridiculously swamped in my "To-Do" list. We have about 60 people coming for a fajita lunch, and another 30 or so coming for an Open House afterwards. I love to cook and host...but I've never done it for this many people! I'm a little nervous, but I'm getting lots of Spring Cleaning done!
To continue my bragging about TJ, here's a picture of the handsome young man and his girlfriend. Prom was a couple of weeks ago...they looked so great!
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Anyway, I was in a Bible Study recently where the lady leading the discussion asked the group, "Can you be happy and still be doing the right thing?" My immediate response (to myself) was, "yes." Others responded out loud with "yes-es" and "no-s." The leader, ask a few more questions and then talked about how she believes that you can't. I didn't catch much of her reason, I was too immersed in my own thoughts. There are some areas of my life right now that just don't make me happy. Yet, I do believe that I'm in the right place. When I started my blog, my intention was for it to be anonymous. But now, people I know tell me all the time that they've read my blog. It's kind of cool, but it also makes a difference at times what I write. Today, out of respect for others, I'll be general. But let me just say that relationships are hard. Or at least, I certainly seem to make some hard!! Alas. I'm told, and I believe, that others can be a very good mirror for our own lives. What you see in others...those things that push your buttons; behaviors that annoy you...is really a reflection of yourself. This really sucks. I seem to be annoyed frequently these days. So, I'm getting the chance to see things about myself that deserve some work. Or maybe that's just a question. If I'm being given the opportunity to pull back the veil on my stuff, then isn't this the right place to be? But I'm not very happy. For me all this pyscho-babble begs the question...."when is other people's stuff just their stuff and it's got nothing to do with me?" Some of my circumstances right now remind me of experiences from childhood. The short story is that I'm a child of an alcoholic; a rageful alcoholic. If my life right now is repeating (even to some extent) experiences from back then...then it really is about my stuff and not another person. Yes? Today is helping me work through the past? Or when are other people just toxic? I don't play arm-chair Shrink very well. When all these questions start swirling in my head, I get overwhelmed. Better said, I become paralyzed; numb. "My head hurts and I dont' want to think about this anymore."
Happy Tuesday everyone!! Hah, hah. Not a very upbeat entry, but this is where I am today, so this is what you get!!
Friday, April 4, 2008
I've been working countless hours in my yard the last 2 weeks. The previous owners of our home invested in some wonderful landscaping. I inherited lots of beauty AND lots of work. So far, I've moved 55 bags of mulch, trimmed a dozen bushes (with power tools even....yeah!) and pulled approximately a zillion weeds. I'm not done. It will all be worth it, though. In a matter of weeks, I will have a plethora of lovely flowers. I'll post pictures.
But yesterday, I took the day off. I puttered around town after an appointment doing various stuff. The pictures I've posted are a few momentos from my day. The picture on the top left is from a tire store that's been in business here forever. I've always thought their slogan was hilarious. The picture right beside it is the marque of a local men's club. I refuse to call it a "gentleman's" club. I loathe these places, but the sign was funny and sadly, probably true. The picture at the bottom is my favorite. It's from inside my bank. I probably would be arrested if anyone saw me taking this picture but I HAD to. On the left of the picture is a door to the lobbby with a security key pad. A sign is nearby saying something about entering a security code. The funny part is the OPEN corridor just to the right. I've looked....I've looked hard...many times...there is no gate, no door...NOTHING! I guess it's possible there are infrared "Mission Impossible" death rays, or maybe the secret security gate is just invisible to the naked eye...and the unsuspecting bank robber. Maybe. So...the locked door with the security keypad next to the wide open doorway... both leading to the same lobby. That's just too funny.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Friday, February 29, 2008
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
I’m intrigued by questions right now. For a few years now, I’ve been reading Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach. I love this book. It’s a daily devotional book. Every time I read it, the entry for each day is new to me. She begins the year by asking questions. Until now, these parts of the daily entries didn’t catch my attention. They are this time. She poses questions like: “What do you need to be truly happy?” “What truly matters to you when no one is watching?” “If one year from now you could be living the most fulfilling, creative, joyous life you could imagine, what would it be? And what would have to change in you for that to happen?” What is the sadness in your heart that you cannot name?” What do you truly believe about yourself as a woman, wife, daughter, employee…?”
I find myself, today, wanting to answer these questions more deeply than what is really comfortable. Answering most questions like this require one more question for me, “Why?” And then asking again, “Why?” I can make changes: change what I’m doing or how I’m doing it, start something, or stop something. Yet, I feel restless to go beyond “just doing something different." I’m drawn to really look at my beliefs about myself. “What is it I truly believe about the girl in the mirror?” I’m a pretty well put-together person, I’m funny, I make good impressions, I’m generally nice…all those things are genuine. Yet, I’ve always struggled to…well, put on a show. I’m a singer…I like an audience and I’ve learned to handle a crowd well. That performance seeking, though, spilled over into all parts of my life years and years ago. I’ve been to plenty of groups and plenty of therapists. I’m much better than I used to be. Yet, I still know that I would much rather present someone who is happy and has their shit together, than one who struggles and cries. The bigger problem, though, is that I get caught up in my own story sometimes and forget to even be honest with myself. It’s not intentional…it’s just unconscious. Living life on auto-pilot. This is not a good thing for me. Life has given many wonderful blessings over the last few years and I’m so grateful. But the other truth is that life has been really, really hard and painful. There are things to grieve. I learned from losing my father that grief is a process. For awhile, the shock of his passing helped me just do day to day life. Then one day, that shock began to wear off and I began to feel the reality of that loss. Perhaps it is no different with the rest of my life. Perhaps, I am beginning to awaken. This is good. I am truly thankful for this place I’m in that is hard. And it seems hard at times to even name or define. I’ve come to believe that struggles and pain have purpose and it is good. Not that God places those things in my life to teach me something…that’s bullshit. God is just present and nothing is an accident.
For a few months I’ve been wanting to go away for retreat…all by myself. Between schedules and procrastination it just hasn’t happened….until now. I leave in exactly 6 days. I cannot wait. I can hardly contain my excitement! No computer, no phone, no TV, no one…just me, my questions, a mirror and God.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
I'm also immensely proud of him. He has worked so hard at school and yesterday he brought home his sememster report card...all A's except for one 88. This is the 1st time ever for so many A's. It's always been a mix of B's an C's with an occassional A. We are receiving many letters of recommendation from teachers and coaches. I cry each time a read a letter. His teachers love him and clearly have much respect for him. Four or five years ago, this was definitely NOT the case...barely passsing any class, always in trouble for fighting, teachers did not even want him in their class. Over the last four years he has completley tranformed. It's amazing and I'm deeply humbled. Inviting him to live with us was one of those things we KNEW God was asking us to do and we KNEW we just had to say yes. I'll take no credit for all this young man has become and is becoming. It is God; it is the power of love. I'm humbled, honored and just so grateful to be right in the middle of this. I hope I live a long, long life experiencing the many blessings that are to come. Yet, this may be one of the greatest things I've ever done or been a part of. Wow.
Friday, January 11, 2008
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
I had lunch with a friend just before Christmas. She talked of her “seasons.” I heard of this idea before, but never really looked at my own life. If I take a look at my life over 39 years, I can see a pattern of big life events that happen during the last few months of the year. My father’s death, the downfall of my first marriage, career changes (or lay-offs), my parents divorce…to name a few. But there have been good things as well: my father’s wedding to his 2nd wife, my graduation from Baylor, getting engaged. A therapist I see from time to time talks of how the body holds memories. So..."What memories does my body remember during this time of year?" This idea intrigues me. And yet, I wonder that my current “state” is the result of work being extremely slow. I’m a total commission sales person. So, it’s a scary, frustrating and boring time. I’m also dealing with some really hard work in my marriage. One that continues to remind me the chaotic home I grew up in. Just those two things are pretty big. It makes sense that those situations alone would be enough to make an introvert crawl into her shell. So…is it choice A or choice B? Or choice C…all of the above? I've always hated multiple choice questions. I guess I want reasons or answers…so I can fix this and move on. It’s frustrating. Intellectually, I know that down times have their purpose. It’s sometimes just hard to accept. Nature has its seasons. Autumn and Winter are necessary. Stillness and dormancy have their purpose. I feel drawn to explore this time; yet I draw in very close to myself. Which, I suppose, it why I haven’t been blogging.
Not a very upbeat New Year’s message! But I’ve missed writing; I'mmaking myself sit and write today! Everyone is gone today and my home is quiet for the 1st time in a month; makes it easier to do some things that are just for me. Thanks for listening.