Sunday, October 20, 2013

One God

As I sat in worship at FUMC Colleyville this morning, I reflected on the past seven weeks. I have worshiped more consistently every week over this time that I've been out of town than I have when I've been at home. I just thought I'd put some of my thoughts down on blog...

Seven weeks ago, I was being commissioned to go on a mission trip. The next couple of Sundays were spent worshiping with the Czech, expatriates and Latvians. Then I came home and worshiped with FUMC Grapevine's Spanish-speaking congregation. The following week I was in worship at a Cumberland Presbyterian church in rural Tennessee, followed the next week by a vibrant Methodist Church in Maryville, TN.

Visiting other churches has really made me think about what we demand in our worship experiences. Are we focused on God, or on the experiences and styles we like or don't like? In the eight congregations I've encountered in the past seven weeks, I've found that they all have one thing in common: faith. Whether their worship is simple or reverent or vibrant... slow or fast... traditional or contemporary or blended... the opportunity to connect with God was available for all. And the people in the pews are faithful and committed.

The only barrier to worship seems to be your own mentality. If you'll be fully present, open and willing, then worship happens regardless of the music or surroundings or people sitting beside you. I hope that I've learned something about myself and about the church in the past few weeks. What I hope more than anything is that I'll be able to find some peace about my own struggle to reconcile work with church... especially since they're one and the same.
















Friday, September 6, 2013

First Mission

As I prepare to go on my first mission trip, there are a lot of things on my mind. On the one hand, I'm excited about the trip... about seeing new places and learning about a different culture. But I have some fears too. What if I don't connect on an emotional level with the ministries we visit? What if we go exploring and decide that we don't think we should add this as another Village ministry? What if I don't have a spiritual experience there? What if I don't feel what other people feel when they go on a mission trip?

I have so many things to get done before we leave that I haven't had time to really spend much time preparing myself mentally or spiritually. It's probably for the best that I don't have more time to worry and fret over the little things. I'm really hoping that by the time we leave I'll have some peace and be able to openly accept and experience everything that's ahead of us.

And as for the fears... I just have to trust that whatever happens on this trip is what is meant to be. I may have to make a concerted effort to open my heart and mind to the possibilities. I hope it's not as hard as I think it will be.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Home

Someone asked me at the airport today whether I'd rather be in Chicago or DFW. Chicago is fine... and DFW is fine... but my answer was, "I'd rather be home."

There's something about that word. It doesn't really matter where "home" is... whether on the east coast or west coast or south or midwest... home is wherever you want most to be. One definition... "relating to the place where one lives." It's the place - literally - where I live... where I'm most alive.

As much as I love visiting family and friends... going on vacation... having the opportunity to travel... what I most love in the world is being at home.

For the next couple of months I'll be travelling more than usual, so home will be more amazing than usual. I'm excited and ready for my upcoming trips... but I'm already ready to be home. :)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Eating

This Sunday we're beginning a series of sermons on "Our Favorite Sins." This is based on research by the Barna Group... the result of surveys of people about their perceived sins. One of the "sins" people report is overeating. As we were discussing this, the subject of obesity came up... and I cringed.

People assume that everyone who is fat is an over-eater, or an emotional eater. People assume that people who are thin don't overeat. I just hope that the sermon doesn't villainize people who look different than our society's ideal, just because of our assumptions and judgments about their spiritual state, their health and their diet. You can't judge a book by its cover.

Take me, for example. I am fat, no doubt. I hesitate to use the word "overweight" because that implies that there is a "right weight" - and that is so subjective. I refuse to accept our society's standards for what is the right weight, the right way to look, the right size to be. I'll readily admit that sometimes I eat too much. But I don't eat any differently than smaller people around me. I strongly believe that the reason I am the size I am is because of the biological damage I've done to my body with yo-yo dieting. I refuse to diet again for this very reason.

So is it a sin to be fat? No. Sin is anything that separates me from God. If anything, living in our society with the stigma of being fat draws me closer to God. The sin related to food is trying to replace God with food... To replace the hole in your heart by filling the hole in your stomach. Sure, we all do that on occasion. But for me... that's not the source of my obesity. The source of my obesity is spending too many years listening to what other people said my body should look like. Enough of that. I've washed my hands of it. And I feel closer to God than ever... because I've finally accepted that He knows better than I do who He created me to be. "Bigness" and all.

Since I've stopped weighing my self-worth with a scale, I've maintained my size... something that has never happened to me before (I've always either been gaining or losing... never static). I have to make a conscious decision to be happy with who I am, regardless of size. If my size changes, it won't be because I tried to manipulate it... it will be because my body is regulating itself. And I strongly believe that that's how our Creator intended it to be.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Power of Pups

My favorite thing about Meg and Maya is their ability to immediately make me forget everything except joy. It doesn't really matter what has happened during the day, when I get home my mind is completely reset to "dog mode." Maya greets me at the garage door with her downward dog stretch (which means she's just awakened from a nap). Meg has preceded me out into the backyard, announcing my arrival with bright, happy yips. There's nothing better than feeling welcomed and knowing that there's nothing in the world better than your presence.

I know that God is in this. There's something about the pure joy of doghood that whispers of heaven. This joy... this abandon... this unconditional love... THIS is the stuff of God.

And how thankful I am to experience this every day. Thank you, sweet ones, for wiping my mind clean with your wet kisses and making home the place I most want to be in this world.



Monday, August 26, 2013

Being Tired

Why is it that a busy day makes us so tired? I really didn't expend that much more energy today (except for walking around more)... and yet I felt like I could go to bed as soon as I got home from work!

My life is about as easy peasy as life can get. I have a great job, great family and friends, a comfortable home... and yet sometimes I can get weary. I know everyone does... but it seems so silly to get tired when all I have to do is sit in front of a computer all day. I don't have to walk for miles to get clean water for my family. I don't have to grow my own food. In fact, I even pay someone to mow my lawn. I don't go to extra lengths to clean my house. So... what reason do I have to be tired?

None at all... and yet... it's off to bed for me!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Learning Something New

I just took the plunge and purchased a convertible Lenovo ideapad. It's super-awesome, but I'm having some learning curve issues with Windows 8. I've watched a couple of introductory videos... if I hadn't done that I'd be completely lost! I'm not sure the benefit of using all these apps, and there are things that I thought would be apps that aren't. Kind of odd.

Anyway... I promised myself that when I got this computer I'd do more writing. Not that my old computer was inadequate for writing. It was fine. But sometimes something new inspires you just because you want a new reason to use it. And I really really want to find a million reasons to make this crazy purchase worth it.

Something has occurred to me in the weeks (months?) since I last wrote. I'm not very introspective of late. When I don't make the effort to write often, I just let days and days go by without thinking about anything important. I come home from work, sit in front of the TV, and play games on the computer. Mind = completely blank. Sometimes that nice, but mostly it's just sad.

So as I learn this new operating system... this new way of doing things... this hopefully much-faster way of tracking our family lineage... I commit to writing. I was going to say "every day" but my little commitment turtle just tucked back into its shell at the thought of that. I'll just commit, but not to a schedule. :)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Thoughts on Reading

I've just finished reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman for the next gathering of the Novel Ideas Meetup. The first meetup and the subsequent reading of this book has made me realize some things about myself. I love to read. I read a lot. But I'm not an avid reader. I'm not a bibliophile. I pay precious little attention to the names of authors, books, genres and such. In short, I'm not a reading fanatic. But I'm a fan of reading.

I had no idea who Neil Gaiman was when I started reading this book (or when I finished the book part of it). In the e-edition, the contents of his online journal are included. It shares his perspective on the editing process. It wasn't until I read the journal that I knew he was somebody (i.e. not a first-timer). In the journal, he refers to lots of authors who are obviously supposed to be known to the reader. The only name I recognized was Stephen King... and that not because of reading his books, but because of his pop icon status.

I have treated books and the reading of them like I treat music and the listening to it. For the most part, I don't remember authors names or even the names of their books, nor do I keep a catalog of songs and their artists in my memory. With the notable exceptions of Dean Koontz and the Carpenters, I really can't tell you who writes or sings what. But I've read a lot. And I've listened to a lot of music.

So I guess the question I'm left with is this: Is it okay to simply consume books, without regard to their deeper meaning or the identity of the author and his or her influences? Am I shallow? I feel shallow. I feel like a good reading hobbyist would be aware of the nuances of genre, the influences of various authors on another, the award-winners and their significance, etc.

Clearly (from my first meet-up) I don't over-analyze what I read. In fact, I don't know that I analyze it all. That's not to say I'm indiscriminate (well, sometimes I am). I know when I've read something that was poorly edited... and believe me, there are lots of poorly-edited books in this new world of self-published ebooks.

Anyway... just wanted to process this in writing. Wondering if I should become more studied, or just continue in my own little oblivious way.

PS - I may blog about American Gods later. We'll see.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Derrick Family

A few weeks ago I wrote about "Mysterious Myrna." In the course of pursuing that line of inquest, I found myself on the phone for almost an hour with Harvey Derrick. Harvey is the youngest son of R. H. Derrick, Myrna's first husband. He's what I would call a "cowboy poet" and musician in his retirement years. Although Harvey didn't know anything specifically about Myrna, he was happy to know that I had in my possession a number of photos of his family over a 30ish-year period.

Here's what Harvey had to say about his father:
Your pictures are of my Dad, me and my brother Don. Dad was born in March 1900 in Marnard, TX and everybody called him "Tex." These pictures were probably taken in 1949 when my dad picked Don and me up at his sister, Lottie's home in Granbury, TX where we had been living for a few years. He was living in Tulsa, OK at the time and that is where he took us. He was married at the time and I can't remember what his wife's name was... If I remember correctly, my Dad told us he was married 7 or 8 times and to my and Don's mother two times.  Her name was Billie Dean Kifer, from Cushing, OK. The only one of his other wives's name I remember is the last one he was married to.  Her name was Hazel.  They were still married when Dad died in 1960.

Although I don't know anything more about Myrna's time with "Tex" Derrick, I'm happy to know that the letters and photos from Myrna's album have now been shared with the Derrick family.

Harvey shared some of his music with me. He is currently selling an album to benefit a local animal rescue organization in Oklahoma. Check it out...

Harvey's Links:
NEW: Dogs Don't Care If You're Ugly CD:  www.cdbaby.com/cd/harveyderrick
NEW: Dogs Don't Care If You're Ugly Video (Susan Owen videographer): www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSW4L5M6Rbw
Let's Not Forget Our Veterans Video:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJl7V2Z4pJo
Harvey Derrick & Friends CD: www.cdbaby.com/harveyd or www.mytexasmusic.com/harveyderrick
My Veteran's Help Projecect Web Site: http://lets-not-forget-our-veterans-project.bbnow.org/index.php

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Death of Handwriting

I was alarmed to hear one of our office volunteers talking about how her granddaughter's school does not teach the children how to write in cursive. WHAT?! How will they know how to sign their name? How will they read letters from their grandmother? Or the Declaration of Independence? Or many, many, many historic documents? I do believe that schools are doing a great disservice to our country and to family histories that are passed down through the written word. I understand that there are people who prefer to print. Fine. But what about learning the ability to READ what is written in cursive? If you don't learn to write it, you're probably not learning to read it either. This, in my opinion, is a travesty.

If your child is currently in a school that does not teach cursive (either the reading or the writing of it), I implore you to teach it to them yourself. What kind of upstanding citizen can't read their nation's historic documents? Or their great-grandfather's letters from the war? Or the cause of death on their ancestor's death certificate?





Sunday, January 6, 2013

Doppleganger



I was just catching up on some of the blogs I've missed... perusing AliseWrite's weekly "Stuff I've Been Reading" and lo and behold I found myself. The first one listed this week was a post called "The Body I Have" by a blogger I've never read before, Dani Kelley. As I read her post, her "About Me" and some of her other blog entries... I was amazed at how much of myself I saw in her! She's ten years younger than me. I found myself wishing I'd practiced a little introspection way back then. I might be a different person today. Who knows. But I'm glad I've stumbled upon this young lady. And I'm glad I have finally learned some of the lessons she's blogging about. Better late than never.

By the way, I share her desire to write more. I've said this every year: I'm going to write more this year. I am. I really am. Seriously. Quit laughing.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

What to do with 2013...?


  • Show up on time to work.
  • Get some more exercise.
  • Go on a genealogy trip. Virginia? Tennessee?
  • Take lunch to work every day... I'm spending entirely too much money eating out.
  • Write more regularly. Maybe a blog-a-week?
  • I still want to read 52 books in a year. I can DO this!
  • Probably should look more intently at a second source of income. Freelancing again? I don't want to... but I'm not getting ahead this way.
That's all I've come up with for now. I'm all about comfort and stability... but 2012 was an entirely throw-away year. I really must have something more to show for 2013.