Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Selective discipline

The only reason I am posting anything tonight is because it is my self-imposed deadline. I have a lot on my mind, but I don't have time to sort it out. 

Why oh why didn't I write what I had planned on Friday or Saturday -- a review of highlights of the first week at the new office site. It was fresh on my mind then, and it would have meant I didn't have a deadline tonight. I still hope to write about it soon. 

Meanwhile, much has happened since then and a lot of it is confusing to me. I hope to write about some of those things, too. But not tonight. 

I am grateful for Lenten disciplines that pull me back to a spiritual, grateful focus when life's twists and turns -- even the ones that seem very favorable  -- threaten to distract, confuse or wear me down. Maybe it's that same sense of discipline that compels me to post a fairly meaningless compilation just because it's deadline. I just wish that compulsion would start to spill over to things like housekeeping and some financial details  that need to be dealt with. 




Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ash Wednesday 2015

My pre-Lent prep on Tuesday had me thinking I ought to try a partial fast for Ash Wednesday. But even the very relaxed guidelines -- just one full meal, two additional small meals if needed, and no solid food between meals -- seemed like more than I was willing to try on a work day. 

Then I read something on Wednesday morning -- a list of 40 things to give up for Lent -- and  No. 1 was fear of failure. Just for today. So I decided to go ahead and try.

Not eating between meals is about the hardest thing for me. It required me to think often of what Ash Wednesday and Lent are all about. Of course, when I think of all that -- ultimately that Jesus Christ suffered and died on a cross to save me from the eternity in hell I deserve for my sins -- then a little fast doesn't seem that hard at all. 

I made it through the fast. It was a good experience. I want to be willing to truly sacrifice for my faith and for God's glory. So far, I never really have. And I'm still not optimistic I will. 

For today -- this Ash Wednesday and first day of Lent 2015 -- it seems the best I can do is not quit trying. 

 I am grateful for God's unconditional, immeasurable love. 

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes  in Him would not perish but have everlasting life." 
-- John 3:16


Toe-tally unexpected!

The last time I was in Arkansas, I went with my niece and sister-in-law to get a pedicure. It was my first ever. 

My toes are almost always covered by socks, because otherwise my feet would freeze. So, as the polish wore off, I didn't bother with removing it. 

Monday, I looked down and saw this smiling back at me. 


A friend worked some magic. 


Two days later, my toes are still making me smile. 

So, did that pedicure make me feel great? Yes, for longer than I would have ever imagined!!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A moving target

I've  been waxing nostalgic the past couple of days. Milestones do that to me. And I suppose this is a milestone. 

Writing about them is a challenge, though. The biggest obstacle is my faulty memory. I want to tell the story, but I lack the details.  And when I try to focus on just a few highlights ... there are too many. Where would I begin or end?

For once, can I just express it in broad terms??? 

When The Oklahoma Publishing Company moved from its historic abode at NW 4 and Broadway to a grand campus at 9000 N Broadway in 1991, I'm sure I thought that's where The Oklahoman  would be based for at least the rest of my career, if not my lifetime.  

But a mere 24 years later, the publisher of the state's largest daily newspaper is returning to downtown Oklahoma City. 

I remember that I didn't want to leave downtown -- and not just because the new office was seven miles farther from my Norman home. I knew we would miss being able to walk from the office  to restaurants and the post office and parks and the Festival of the Arts and other downtown cultural offerings. But the new building, while within walking distance of nothing,  was big and spacious and well-appointed (except for that carpet). It had walls of windows!! Even though the 12-story building's outward appearance was a dark tower, inside it was bright and offered great views in all directions -- especially impressive on stormy Oklahoma days, but also on sunny and partly cloudy days. 

So many things have changed. I was right at 32 years old, just about 10 years into my career.  But I had already weathered (survived) layoffs and the shuttering of the company's afternoon paper. I'd said good-bye to great colleagues and friends who went on to jobs in other places or fields. In fact, I'd experienced the grief that comes from knowing at least two colleagues had taken their own lives. I'd actually spent six weeks away getting some of my own issues resolved. But I believed in journalism and the viability of the industry and career. 

The struggles of the news business didn't stop with E.L. Gaylord's grand move to the beautiful new building and grounds. But there sure were some good times and opportunities to be involved in outstanding journalism. 

I'm excited that The Oklahoman and its NewsOK online component are making the move back downtown, and I'm grateful that I'm on board. So many good former colleagues are not. 

But I do feel nostalgic for this place we are leaving. As faulty as my memory is, I still hold treasured thoughts and images of people and experiences inside these walls. Am I more likely to forget once we move? Who even knows what priceless mementos were tossed in the cleaning that is essential with a move? But I also know that if such "treasures" aren't kept in an organized system, they might as well be tossed. 

I thought there would be a little more fanfare with the move, maybe a picture of the group that made the move north and now is returning downtown. Instead, it seems as if no one is even looking back. And  I guess I can understand why that's probably the preference of management. 

Looking back is important to me. It's why I'm in this business, even though I don't chronicle things as well as I did in the past. But I can't stop trying. I likely will revisit this topic, trying to recall more of the highlights worth remembering. 

That won't stop me from stepping boldly into the new. One more day, and then I'm ready!!! 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Adventures in worship

attended worship services at two different churches today. It reminded me of some of my best times at the church I've attended about 30 years. Some 10 years ago or so, we had a contemporary service with a live band and praise team that presented Christian songs with more of a classic rock/pop sound. I would go from there and the "lite" service of worship to what was considered a "blended" service, but really was traditional Methodist, with liturgy, hymns and a choir. The combination of the two felt like a complete worship experience for me. 


A conversation with my husband before Christmas led me to look into again attending a service with contemporary worship. I think I've now gone to New Life Bible Church at least six times. My husband has attended with me, which means so much to me. But he travels a lot, and I wondered what I would do when he is gone. Would I go to the nondenominational, contemporary church we've been attending, or would I return to the familiarity of my United Methodist family at Goodrich? Last week, it seemed a good choice to go to Goodrich. The opportunity to go to choir practice the preceding Wednesday, then sing a solo at both services and also sing in the choir Sunday, and join in a fellowship luncheon afterward, provided timely touch points for assessing this spiritual journey. 

During this past week, it occurred to me that since Gene would be gone again, I faced a decision point. Would I go to the new church or the old church? I knew I wanted to attend Goodrich because of a special message on missions. But I also felt like I needed to attend New Life. It occurred to me that I could attend both. I could go to New Life at 9:15 and Goodrich at 11. The more I thought about it, the better the plan seemed. 
But even when I got up in time this morning, I was unsure I would follow through and go to the new church on my own. Somehow, God got me out the door on time. I went. It was good. The contemporary praise and worship music engages a part of my soul and spirit that sometimes stays unmoved during a more traditional service. And the message again really brought the words of Scripture alive, this time Ephesians 5:17 and Acts 8: 26-40.  Perhaps today more than ever, I heard words I needed to hear. 
Among them was the idea that sometimes worrying about what to do next stops us from obeying what we are called to do first. Also, "the mark of a life useful to God is a greater focus on obedience than results," pastor Jason John said. He also shared something he heard from a coach as he was growing up that stayed with him: "The two things you can control are your attitude and your effort." And I had two important conversations afterward. 

Then I headed to Goodrich, getting there in time to run through the anthem and share fellowship with the choir before worship. I was grateful to be there, worshipping with people who have been my family for many years. More conversations followed afterward. 

 For today, and actually several weeks now, I believe I followed the leading of God. I don't have to know what the results will be. I trust Him. I humbly pray to be obedient, that I may be of use to Him and that He be glorified. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Be bold

Be bold. I wrote those words Wednesday, at the end of a day that included layoffs at work that I was truly surprised did not include me.

It was also after attending choir practice, something I haven't been doing as much lately due to an experimental transition in my approach to worship. It was good on that particular day to know I would be able to sing with the choir the following Sunday (today) and also that my offer was accepted to sing a solo at both services at the church, the place I've been a member about 30 years but haven't attended as much lately. 

Be bold. I wrote the words before a day that would include a companywide  meeting about the layoffs -- and then a social event at a prime downtown venue I'd been wanting to visit but hated that I would have to attend without my husband. 

I think the words "be bold" came as I was trying to decide what to wear to that event. But they have also provided guidance to my dealing with work and church and life. 

I can't fathom that God wants me to be bold in the sense of standing out. 

I think He's OK with me wearing bold colors and styles, although the chances of me doing so are not great. 

I genuinely believe he wants me to be courageous. 

I've begun to explore what being bold means for me. A little less procrastion and worry. A little more trust.  Just doing it -- whatever it is.

So,  I called a friend and made arrangements to go together to some other friends' movie. I stayed to visit at a lunch after church, even though I worried I had too much that needed to be done at home. I decided to trust God for rest and strength, rather than hold back and miss the opportunities of the weekend. 

Who knows? Maybe I will wear something that stands out tomorrow. 

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.
Psalm 46:1-2

Psalm 27: 13-14

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord;
    be strong, and let your heart take courage;
    wait for the Lord!


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

For such a time as what?

I was thinking of writing about how I seldom know what God has planned for me and where He is leading me. It's usually not until I look back that I see how he had prepared me "for such a time as this." 

And then another round of layoffs came, and I thought, perhaps this will be another of those times. 

Wednesday's round of layoffs at work caught me by surprise. The company is getting ready to move from a north metro location back downtown, and I did not think any cuts would happen before then. (Someone had said something that led  me to think that, but, alas!!! -- perhaps I misinterpreted the comments.) I felt sure after how deep the last two rounds went that if there were another, I would get caught. But once again, I am spared. I feel as if I dodged a bullet. I spent much of the day experiencing what could be called survivors' guilt. Hopefully, a trip to the doctor that led to a good report and then some grocery shopping and time at choir practice brought me back to a new level of trust in God. I trust that He is guiding my life and that He also is guiding the steps of colleagues who were let go. I hope and pray that they, like some who have experienced this in the past, will reap unexpected  blessings. 

One of the things I know is that even though I tend, at times like this, to resolve to work harder and do better, a reality is I already am giving my all. It doesn't mean I can't get better and faster and maybe learn some new skills, but I really can't give any more than I am giving. That's ok (I need to keep telling myself). And another reality is that the decisions on who stays and who is let go probably aren't a matter of how hard one works. In other words, the way these things go, even if I managed to work harder and more efficiently and with new skills, the ax still could fall on me next time. 

And so I return to my guide. I trust in God. After reading the Jesus Calling devotional on Tuesday, about trust in God as a golden pathway that lets us live above our circumstances, I noted that "the high road of trust may actually seem circuitous, but it is the direct path because God knows what I need and why."

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.”
—John 14:1–2

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
—Proverbs 3:5–6