Monday, April 23, 2018

Oops!

Forgot that yesterday was blog deadline. Still no idea what I might write about.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Defying or redefining reality?

I'm tired of people blaming every little thing I complain about on age!

Whether it's me forgetting something or not able to move as fast because of a new ache or pain -- or the washed-out color of my hair in a recent video -- the response recently often has been a reference to either to my age or as blatant as that's what happens when you get old.

I don't buy it.

I've been defying this crazy spring that keeps feeling like winter by finding ways to wear my lighter fashions and brighter colors while still staying warm.

And I realized I also was defying my age, although not intentionally.

Maybe it's because this year's birthday started out in San Juan and included several hours in the air and airports, with two time changes, before ending up with a few hours at home in Norman. I just know that it was probably a month after March 11 that I realized I was still thinking I am 58.

I was pulled back to reality when I was trying to remember my husband's age. It wasn't computing, because he's three years older than me, and the math just didn't add up. So I fell back to the trick that never fails when I get confused on ages, and realized, yep, it's 2018, I was born in 1959, I've had my birthday, so: 59.

That's still no reason for someone to insinuate that the reason my hair looks so washed out on an Easter video is because it's turning white or gray!!!! I mean, yes, I have plenty of gray, but that's the only picture ever where my hair looked like that!!!

So, I really am 59. Yes -- I will be 60 when the next birthday rolls around. That just doesn't seem right. But it really doesn't matter. Age is just a number and I don't plan to let it slow me down.

Maybe I owe a debt of gratitude to those folks who keep reminding me that I'm getting older. The reminders inspire me to keep defying the stereotype.


Sunday, April 8, 2018

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Good News! This story continues to unfold ....


The Easter sermon at my church was titled "Messy Grace," and it used the Scripture from Mark 16, which in the version referenced by Pastor Desi ends with the women fleeing from the tomb, "for terror and amazement had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid." This was after they had been greeted at the empty tomb by an angel, who told them not to be afraid, that Jesus had risen, and they were given instructions for what to tell the disciples.

Of course, even the Gospel of Mark has an alternate ending, similar to the narrative of Matthew's Gospel, that tells of the women sharing the news with the disciples, and of Jesus appearing and speaking, including giving His command to "Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation."  That good news is the Gospel message of God sending His only son, Christ Jesus, to die for our sins that we might live for eternity in restored relationship with God.

The thought that those women might have at least temporarily failed to fulfill their divine assignment gives me hope on another day (and weekend) when I could second-guess to my great shame the choices I made, of what to do and not to do. 

So much was good this weekend and today, but I have a tendency, even on Easter, to let fear and doubt fuel acts (and inaction) of selfishness, not unlike those women even momentarily not sharing their good news.

As I went to visit my Mom in Texas Friday and attend a musical program at her church, in which my sister was a singer, I was blessed to be there. But I couldn't stop my thoughts that I should be doing more and better things --helpful things -- during this time with my Mom. The things she mentioned that she needed done were outside my comfort zone, so I just visited. On top of that, I let her buy my lunch and supper, and she also fixed breakfast before I raced off Saturday morning! 

Back in Norman, I attended my 12-Step meeting. Afterward, among the thoughts that came to mind that I might do were attending my church's Community Easter Egg hunt to see if there was anything I could do to help out. Or maybe I would go pet the kitties at Second Chance Animal Sanctuary.

Instead, I went to Dress Barn to take advantage of a sale. In an unexpected turn of events, I found a dress I loved, as well as a skirt, a blouse and a pantsuit. And with 40 percent off on four items, it was an incredible bargain. Of course, then I needed shoes. For probably the first time ever, I actually found what I needed in the first store I went to. And then I realized I didn't need to buy a new purse. How dare I let shopping put me in the Easter spirit? But it did.

I returned home with hopes of doing some housecleaning or helpful things for my husband, but instead I ate, exercised, wrote, practiced some music, read some, went to the store to buy some things for the Easter brunch, prepared for getting up early and then went to bed. 

Before bed, my husband reminded me that it would get cold overnight and that the temperature would be continuing to drop when it was time for me to go to church. I didn't like that news at all and decided I would defy it. I wore my lightweight, sleeveless spring dress, off-white pumps and just a sweater, although I took some long pants I could put on under it if I really got cold. I also meant to take a bigger jacket or maybe my overcoat, but was on the way to church with no time to spare before I realized I had forgotten to grab either of them. Fortunately, I was able to text my husband and he brought them when he came for brunch before the second service.

Despite all that self-focus, my time at church was filled with worship and fellowship and joy and praise, including singing at early and late worship services. I had been asked to help serve Communion during the second service but declined. I felt guilty about it, but I could already tell I was going to be worn out. My feet were a bit uncomfortable in my new shoes, and I still needed to visit at least two people in nursing homes to take them Communion. Why can't I trust God to give me the strength and energy and spirit and attitude to do it all, I wonder? I'm only now starting to understand how that kind of a guilty feeling can be a different kind of selfishness. It's less selfish to realize it's OK to say no sometimes and just go on to the next right thing. 

If there was a Lenten service that talked about Messy Grace meaning I don't get to be perfect, I missed that one. But that's the biggest lesson I've received in preparation for this Easter. And today showed me I'm still getting to practice that lesson. I'm unsure how to respond to God's great gift of love through His Son Jesus Christ. I feel as if I should do so much, so many acts of love. Such a great debt I owe, not only to God but to so many people on this Earth. I read in the Bible that all God wants from me is my heart, but I also read that He wants me to be His hands and feet, and that He will give me the energy, strength, wisdom and any other provisions I need to do what He calls me to do. It doesn't mean everything will seem easy or that I won't have to get outside of my comfort zone. And that's what leaves me confused and second-guessing, even on a joyous Easter Sunday. 

Meanwhile, I wrote this on Facebook after posting several videos of music from the morning worship services: I guess this is fitting for Easter Sunday on April Fools’ Day when it feels more like winter than spring: I was tired and really wishing I could fall asleep for an hour or so before supper. I mentioned this to Gene as I was resting my head in his lap. That’s about the time I noticed it was 7 pm. How did it get to be that late? Gene said I had been sleeping! I sure don’t feel like I had a nap. I was busy from when I got up at 6:15 this morning [it was supposed to be 5:50, but I set my alarm wrong!] until I got home after 3 from visiting some people from church who are shut-ins, but I thought the joy of the activities would keep me energized. My body apparently felt otherwise. My spirit remains full, however, from the celebrations of Christ’s resurrection and all it means. Alleluia!!

So, again, the thought that those women might have at least temporarily failed to fulfill their divine assignment gives me hope. Because we all know the story they were to tell did get told, and has been told and retold. And it's not just a story. It's a continuing witness by me and others who truly know a risen Savior who lives within our hearts and through our lives as we seek to be His hands and feet in the world.    

Saturday, March 31, 2018

A Different Kind of Lent (Part 4): Still messy

Despite the messiness of this Lenten season, I hoped I would be able to wrap up into the tidy package of an essay the highlights of what I experienced, learned and continue to ponder.

Right.

Instead, I'll just list, for my own reference, some of the things I had hoped to write more about that have become my own interpretation of the church's "Messy Grace" theme for Lent:

-- that "fearless and searching moral inventory." Never before have I been so aware of the ways in which I am dishonest and driven by ego and greed. I thought I was just fearful and had lost much of the self-confidence I thought I once had.

-- noble goals for helping the economy of San Juan and Puerto Rico. I'm aware that every bit of spending done in that  U.S. territory helps as it continues to rebuild after the devastation of last fall's hurricane. I fell pretty far short of my goal.

-- On top of that, I have a sense of guilt about a couple of sand dollars I came home with from San Juan. I don't think they were still alive, but based on my internet research, they were in the condition that it's best to leave them in the sand. But my greed and impatience took over, so I rationalized I could go ahead and take them since this might be my only chance to get whole sand dollars. Unfortunately, rationalization, greed and impatience are some of the things I am trying to get rid of through that "fearless and searching moral inventory," sometimes referred to as a spiritual housecleaning. I'm not sure what the outcome will be. It also leaves me unable to ignore that I made an even worse decision regarding beach creatures last fall on Clearwater Beach, Fla.

-- I achieved my goal of getting media credentials, on behalf of my former employer, for this year's Bassmaster Classic, and I wrote some stories for The Oklahoman. Two of the three Oklahoma anglers competing in the Classic finished first and second on the first two days, with the other not far behind. So a bigger story than I planned seemed merited, since I was writing for an Oklahoma publication. Suffice it to say, trying to write a meaningful story on deadline reminded me why I no longer am a reporter. One moment, I swore off ever trying to write again for a newspaper. But before the day was over, I wasn't sure that's the conclusion God had for me. So, again, the verdict is still out. Messy, messy. But there was so much grace throughout that process, and even what I clearly view as miracles.

-- A couple of the other messy details during these weeks of Lent involved a loved one getting treatment for cancer and the resignation of a beloved church choir director, whose final Sunday with us will be Easter, ending with the Hallelujah Chorus.  Sometimes I just don't know what to say or do.

I'm better at making messes than cleaning them up.

I need Easter .....

Thursday, March 29, 2018

A different kind of Lent (Part 3): Yes, it’s messy

The Lenten theme this year at the church I attend is Messy Grace, and even though I haven’t participated in many of the activities and missed two Sundays that focused on the theme, I can say my Lent has had its share of messy grace. 

The Maundy Thursday service was described as a messy meal and celebration of the Lord’s Supper. I was confused about when the meal would be, so I figured I would eat at home, skip the church meal and just go to the service at 7. But when I got there, the front of the sanctuary was filled with tables where people were eating. So I ate again. And then we had communion. And then we stripped the church of all its adornments. 

This came at the end of a messy two days for me, so I’m not sure how well I engaged in what was going on. But I won’t be surprised if I become aware of lessons in the next day or two. Stay tuned. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

A Different Kind of Lent (Part 2): Giving Jesus My Heart With Acts of Love

Yes, this has been a different kind of Lent. 

A devotional series shared by my niece Diana became very important and instructional for me.

The devotions were from the book "Practicing Love: Family Devotions for Lent" by Leah and Robyn Perrault, available on Kindle.


I looked forward to Diana's Facebook posts each day with simple lessons designed especially for families, As she shared the lessons, they reminded me of her and her sweet family, including two precious children, Ian and Belle. I'm so grateful to God that they have found a loving and supportive church home near where they live.
 
As the series moved into Holy Week, I was aware that the daily prayer had become one that often provided a quick checkpoint for me.

The prayer: "Jesus, I give you my heart with my acts of love today."

I'd find myself assessing: How am I doing with that?

Tonight, when I was stressed out after spending too long shopping for groceries and other items in Walmart, and knowing I still had to stop by CVS to pick up a prescription that likely would have some complications with insurance, I thought of the prayer and recited it in my car. Lord, help me remember that I show love to you by showing love to others.

The pharmacy stop did not go well, and I doubt the emotions I felt and expressed showed a lot of love for Jesus. Fortunately, most of the frustration and negativity was kept within the confines of my car and the initial words of a text that I managed to edit severely before sending to my husband, who was out of town. I clearly was more restrained and gracious that I felt like being, even though I did have a moment of having to cry out loudly (I refuse to call it a scream, at least in print) in my car. Maybe that bit of restraint counts as an act of love to myself and the people at the pharmacy -- and thus to Jesus. 

That may not be a great example of how the prayer has influenced me positively, but it's the one on my mind as I'm winding down for the day. 

I just know that my circumstances at the start of Lent kept me from looking for a spiritual discipline or devotion to commit to, but I'm grateful this one found me. I haven't followed by niece's posts faithfully, but still that important prayer embedded its way into my spirit: "Jesus, I give you my heart with my acts of love today."

I ordered the book today for my Kindle app and am catching up as part of my Holy Week contemplation.  I doubt I do all the activities, but I should be able to read the Scriptures and the insights offered.  Written with families and young children in mind, they are presented in simple terms but don't avoid the messy parts of relationships -- including those experienced by Jesus in the days leading up to His crucifixion. 

Ordering the book was also an act of love, as I'm trying to become more aware of the importance of paying for the creative work of authors, artists, musicians and others that I benefit from. This is good for those creative producers as well as for my own soul and spirit. 

And somehow -- even with that momentary meltdown as I drove from the drive-through window to a parking place so I could go inside and wait at CVS -- I see how each small step of progress and better choice is moving me toward Easter and a renewed and fuller relationship with God and the love of Christ.