Saturday, December 31, 2016


This year has been like no other for me -- and nothing as planned -- so it's fitting that New Year's Eve involved one more change.

Gene and I planned to go to Stillwater to spend time with my sister Kathy's family and had talked about going to the big Opening Night New Year's Eve celebration in Oklahoma City on our way back. But I began to wonder Friday whether, since sister Amy was in Texas, had anyone considered seeing about Mom riding to Oklahoma with her, and then coming back to Norman with us. I said we could either put Mom on the train in Norman or take her the rest of the way back to her home in Texas on Sunday. That plan was agreed to, so that's what we're doing. And I am grateful. 

Last year, Gene and I spent a freezing New Year's Eve at Opening Night. It was fun as Gene and I were in a renewed phase of enjoying going out and doing things rather than stay in the comfort of home. It was a Thursday, and we had taken advantage of opportunities related to my job that provided access to free parking as well as free admission and food. Even in our mid-to-late 50s, we seemed young and healthy and carefree!

The new year started with the promise of health and healthy approaches to life and love. We were talking about making more specific goals for the year and beyond and how to achieve them. 

But the following Thursday, I was in the emergency room, and the next day -- one week after New Year's Day -- I was in pre-op, consulting with a surgeon before an emergency procedure that would remove about a foot of my colon and leave me with a colostomy for what turned out to be more than three months. 

None of that was among our goals or plans. Much of it was painful and challenging, but by the grace of God and with the support of family, friends and an amazing workplace, we made it through, aware of and grateful for blessings. 

The time off from work during surgery as well as time spent working from home during my recovery made Gene and I long for me to not have to go to the office every day. We talked some about an exit strategy, but the chances of me actually quitting my job never seemed great. We kidded about whether I would eventually quit, retire or get laid off. But that's as far as it went. 

Even when I was among the small group of workers called into a meeting shortly before a quickly called companywide meeting June 8, it didn't immediately register with me that this meant I was being laid off. But I soon did understand. I also quickly learned this was like no other layoff in my 34 years with the company. In all the other cases I was aware of, people were escorted out of the building upon learning their fate. This time, we were told they needed us to work until at least October to help with the transition to outsourcing our jobs.  For me, this was an answer to prayer. My greatest anxiety about the possibility of being laid off had been how to just leave without getting to wrap things up and say good-bye. With at least four months to prepare, I felt pretty sure I could make this transition more smoothly. And I did. 

The last day of work was Oct. 14, and the transition is definitely still in progress. I didn't plan to look for a job before the end of the year, but I had other goals. High on the list was accompanying my husband on his work trips. I also wanted to get some medical issues addressed and start some major housecleaning. And I wanted to start rebuilding some relationships I had let languish. I probably accomplished less than half of my goals.  

I'm surprised this does not seem depressing to me as I write this on New Year's Eve, but it does not. I thank God and my husband for that. 

I don't regret this past year, nor do I wish to shut the door on it. I can look back and learn, but mostly I will look forward and build on a foundation of faith. 

"Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus."
-- Philippians 3:12-14

Thursday, December 29, 2016


I made some before-the-new-year's resolutions. 

High on the list was reconnecting with people. I'd made some progress on that since I became jobless in mid-October. Progress continued as I sent some Christmas cards for the first time since I can't remember when. One of those cards led to a connection over lunch today. Another connection came partly because I didn't have a mailing address -- so I just stopped by for a quick visit! I'm sure that's a breach of etiquette, but I trusted my gut that it would be OK, and it was. 

Also on my year-end goals is progress not perfection. Decide what I want to do, give it my best shot, then move on. I was reminded Tuesday that if a person really wants to do something, he or she will find a way. If not, the person will find an excuse. 

Thinking of that helped me make the quick visit to see friends before they move away, And they seemed grateful I didn't find an excuse. 

That thought also helped me follow my heart to the final worship service for a small rural church in the area that is closing. It was one of those times where I felt drawn to attend something, even though the reason wasn't crystal clear. I just knew it was a now-or-never opportunity. I could go, and so I did. Meanwhile, progress-not-perfection allowed me to be OK without following through on a longing to offer to write a newspaper story about that church closing. (But I also think it's likely this "story" hasn't ended for me yet.) 

There are many, many things I would like to get done before the year ends, and some of those, such as year-end giving and finalizing some medical/insurance  details, have deadlines. Some I have completed; tomorrow is the last chance for others, while a few can wait until Saturday, New Year's Eve.

The list could easily have me depressed and in the past I'm pretty sure it would.  

The same person who offered the reminder about finding a way versus finding an excuse has been helping me with affirmations and intentionally shifting my thoughts to adopt a positive perspective. And it seems to be helping. 

It's all possible because of faith, but it seems the outside guidance and reminders help me focus on my faith and trust in God. I'm grateful for that as this year winds down and always. 

Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. —Psalm 40:4

When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me? —Psalm 56:3–4

Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. —Psalm 62:8

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal. —Isaiah 26:3–4

Thursday, December 22, 2016



Singing brings me joy. 

And little is better for me than singing about the joy of Christmas -- God's gift of love through Jesus Christ. 

I prayed that God would take care of my voice for the cantata. Still struggling after a cold, I knew that if I would have strong, clear high notes, they would be from Him. For the sake of the cantata, I'm grateful He delivered. 

The gospel-style cantata was hard to learn and a joy to perform. Many listeners thought it was over too soon. I was grateful that many of us were able to present it at another church that night. 

Later in the week, joy came in singing Christmas music at a senior living center. The residents were grateful and joyous. 

I haven't done as much sharing of joy with others through song and smiles as I had hoped to this year. But I'm grateful for the opportunities I've been able to take advantage of. It's not all about singing. Maybe I will write about some others tomorrow. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016


(Hits & Misses: A Cautionary Tale)

Sunday, I had the opportunity to use a ticket someone had bought but couldn't use to attend a local production of "Beauty and The Beast." It wasn't on my long to-do list for the day, but when I thought of what was on the list, I saw no reason not to go. I thoroughly enjoyed the show, especially the beautiful voice and personality of the actress playing Belle. I felt grateful and blessed to be able to go. 

It wasn't until nighttime that I realized that while I was at "Beauty and the Beast" I was missing the memorial service for a longtime church member. Although I had not seen the man and his family in many years, I had planned to attend to offer support. But I completely forgot. By Monday morning, I was mortified: What is wrong with my mind and heart that I would do that? 

And despite the Scriptures of the morning's Jesus Calling, I couldn't see how I was where God would have had me be. I want to use this time of unemployment to show compassion and support and also to rekindle some friendships. And it seemed as if I missed a good opportunity.  So how could I not wonder: What is wrong with me? And what do I do now?? Is there something I need to let God fix? Or is this really right where God wants me to be??

The scriptures from Jesus Calling:

We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose. —Romans 8:28 amp

Then Job replied to the Lord: “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.”  —Job 42:1–3

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. —1 Peter 5:7

We live by faith, not by sight. —2 Corinthians 5:7

I found myself wondering: Is this my payback for years of good intentions and inept follow-through? A heart-wrenching lesson for me and others?

And what now?? Monday morning, I faced another choice: an OA meeting or prayer time at church (for which I would be late because of a doctor appointment). I chose the meeting, but I made the decision intentionally, taking time to check my calendar and to-do list and make sure I hadn't overlooked anything. As the day played out, it seemed to be a good decision. 

Sometimes my choices, whether planned or spontaneous, seem to hit the mark of God's calling. But often they look to me as if they miss the mark. Sometimes it's not clear until after the fact that a seemingly wayward choice had merit. And in Sunday's case, I can see why being at the musical was good, even as I doubt it was the greater good. Unless I go back to Scripture and trust God's bigger picture. 

So that's what I'm continuing to do. Pray, trust and try to obey. Live and learn. And give God the glory. 

Thursday, December 8, 2016


For something so small and common, a cold sure is disruptive. 

I became aware that my scratchy throat and congested head were symptoms of a cold last Saturday evening. Immediately my mind went to all the reasons I did not want my self-diagnosis to be true. Among other things, I had appointments scheduled Tuesday and Thursday, plus tasks to do to get ready for a family gathering the following Saturday. And this was the week I looked forward to catching up on paperwork and chores and visiting people while not traveling. 

I'm aware that if I were still employed, I might have gone to the office every day this week. I would have carried tissue and Germ-x, in an attempt to minimize the spreading of germs, but I'm pretty sure I would not have stayed home. I would try to get the recommended extra rest by going to bed earlier. But after battling through the commute and desk time, my head would be congested to the point I wouldn't be able to sleep. And still I would do it again the next day. 

Since I'm unemployed, it's been different. I've canceled or rescheduled my appointments. My husband has run my errands. I've spent lots of extra time in bed. 

And I'm not sure I feel any better six days in than I would have if I were on the go.

 I know one positive is that I'm not spreading germs past my husband. (Poor guy; the last thing he needs next week is a cold, but we figure the chances of him missing out are slim.) 

I hoped to go to choir practice last night and even texted the director with my plan: I wouldn't sing, and I would stay at a distance, with my tissue and germ-x. I knew I wanted and needed to hear his directions as the date for the Dec. 18 cantata nears. But after an afternoon coughing and sneezing fit, I opted to stay home. Now I'm having doubts about whether I'll know the music well enough to participate. 

And my plans for Saturday are also in limbo. I don't want to spread germs to a lot of kids and adults. But I don't want to miss the family gathering.

The thing about a cold is, once you've got it, there's really nothing you can do to speed its passing. I've tried before, and I'm trying again, and it's the same result. A pickle-juice-like solution of vinegar and salt has eased my sore throat, but it doesn't stop the runny eyes and nose and spread of germs. Neither have more rest, hydration, vitamin C, chicken soup and Zicam!

I know that, compared to so many things, a cold is no big deal. But that doesn't diminish its disruptiveness. And, as always, I know this is another opportunity to learn and grow. Yuck. But, yes. 

Awareness. Acceptance. Action. Awareness I can't make my cold go away, but I can choose how to respond. I can accept the limitations and uncertainties it brings. And I can look for actions I can do from home despite being sick. 

Gratitude. Graciousness.  

Hope. Help. Health. 

Prayer. Praise. Patience

Wednesday, December 7, 2016


Soul-searching (Continuous)

Dec. 2, 8:54 am, in Biloxi, Miss. 

The readings of Dec. 1 and 2 are speaking to me where I am. But my actions continue to seem to fall short. 

But -- am I missing the point that time spent turning to God as I try to figure this out honors Him??

God created me. He knows how my brain is. Lord, are You telling me it's OK to slow down and not keep trying to keep up with what I think I should be doing, based on what I see others doing??? So many things I just can't figure out -- paralyzed by either too many choices or no clue of what to do. 

I just know I feel very self-centered, selfish, self-focused, and it seems based in fear. Is it possible that, at least temporarily still for a while, it could be based in faith? 

Lord, please help me know how to serve and love and honor and obey You, to Your glory. 

Meanwhile, after more prayer and contemplation and reading the First 15 for Dec. 2, I don't think it is a mistake that I noticed those three apparently homeless men under the bridge at the end of my walk. And I'm still thinking about them as I prepare to walk today. Will I leave them $10 and maybe a bag and a T-shirt?? Will I trust that God has put this on my heart and not be afraid -- or act despite my fear?? Praying to know and respond. 

4:50 pm
I walked 2 hours and at the end gave the bridge guys $13, a cap, a T-shirt, lotion and a bag. Prayerfully. 

But I still feel very selfish. I also feel very insecure. I'm struggling to believe I'm good enough in Your eyes, Lord, much less in Gene's or anyone else's view. 

Here I am at another destination without a clue of what to see or do. And as a result I feel embarrassed, ashamed of myself for not using my resources more wisely. What is my purpose? Just support for Gene? Or should I be doing something else? Again, I have no clue. 

Maybe I need to be studying to learn something. Microsoft? Resume stuff?

Or do I just need to accept that how and where I am is how and where God wants me to be?

First 15, Dec. 4

1. Meditate on the one thing Jesus says is necessary. (Sitting at the feet of Jesus.)

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42

2. Do you feel like you’ve chosen the good portion, or does your life feel anxious and troubled? Spend time taking an honest look at your life. Allow the Holy Spirit to illuminate what’s going on in your heart.

“Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

3. Take time to set boundaries around spending time alone with God. What encroaches on this crucial time? What often takes the place of meeting with God? Why can it be so difficult to fight for time spent at the feet of Jesus? Journal your responses.

(I don't feel peace when I take time to focus only on God. Or so it seems. My mind remains distracted by many things. Troubled and anxious. Even as I pray to cast my cares on Christ. ...)

Sitting at the feet of Jesus isn’t a time of the day, it’s a lifestyle. May you abide in God in all that you do today to his glory and your joy. .... 

In John 15:4 Jesus says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” In all we do, God desires that we abide in him. We don’t leave our time alone with God and then go out into the world without him. He isn’t contained to a place or time. His presence is everywhere. Everything we do is an opportunity for relationship with our heavenly Father. He longs to help us do our work effectively with the anointing of the Spirit. He longs to help us love our family and friends. Sitting at the feet of Jesus isn’t a time of the day, it’s a lifestyle. May you abide in God in all that you do today to his glory and your joy.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


I'm aware that I say I want to serve God, but the reality is I'm just willing to try it if it fits in after I've attempted to take care of my other needs and desires. Sigh. I can't find time to serve or figure out what to do because I try to fit it into the leftover time. 

Perhaps I need to tithe my time: 24 hours in a day; 16 hours awake; 1.6 hours serving God. (Or: 168 hours in a week; 112 awake; 11.2 hours per week serving others for God. 

These ideas came into focus this morning as I was thinking about turning the page from November to December, after I read my First 15 devotional by Craig Denison.  

The emphasis was on partnering with God for His purposes. In the guided prayer portion, the Scripture for meditation was John 21:15.

"When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?' He said to him, 'Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.' He said to him, 'Feed my lambs.'" John 21:15 

Next was a call to "assess whether Jesus is truly your greatest love." "If he isn't — if you wouldn't follow him anywhere — take time to surrender anything you've placed above him."  

(As I stated above, I am aware that I place my comfort and desires ahead of serving God by serving others. I also tend to put what I think my husband would prefer ahead of acting on nudges from God. Awareness is a step I've taken before. Am I yet willing and able to surrender? God help me!)

Next: "Ask (God) what He would have you do and where He would have you do it. Be faithful to respond in obedience and trust today."

"Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him." John 14:21

When I turn the page to a new month, I often think of it as a chance to start fresh. Maybe I can finally do this different. Typically, only a bit of change occurs. Slow progress; far from perfection. 

But another reading from today reinforced my resolve. It tied this call to action to the Advent theme, a time of preparation to celebrate God's gift of His son to save His people from their sins. 

This is from the Advent devotional by Janet Denison (Craig's mother), writing about Jesus as the "firstfruits" (1 Corinthians 15:20):

"Whom would God ask you to joyfully serve this Christmas? Should you encourage (others) to serve as well? There is a lot we can do to brighten someone's holiday. ... 

"Jesus was given the title 'firstfruits' to remind us that we will live eternally, but firstfruits had another meaning as well. The firstfruits of the harvest was the portion given to God as an offering. Will you begin the Advent season with a plan to bring a portion of your time and blessing to someone as the firstfruits of your gift offering?"

Thursday, November 24, 2016


I just don't do holidays well. I try to write about how this is for me in hopes I can explain and understand it. But so far I cannot find words. 

This is especially true at Thanksgiving. 

As I've written several times this week: I count my blessings every day. I express gratitude to God and also try to make sure those around me know I don't take blessings and kindness for granted. 

But words and expressions seem inadequate. 

I guess what it boils down to is that I do not feel worthy of the abundance with which God has blessed me. 

Family. Faith. Friends. Health. Love. Comfort. Security. A positive outlook. Compassion. More material resources than I know what to do with. A reasonable measure of intelligence. 

But something seems missing in my understanding of how to connect all that to what God's plan is for me; to return God's blessings to His glory. 

I feel like the message of Craig Denison's First 15 was meant to guide me today, but I'm sure I fell short. 

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. Philippians 2:3-6

And later: 

God is calling us to a lifestyle of love. To be poor in spirit is to “count others more significant than yourselves.” A common misconception in living low is that we must try and find ways that we are worse than others. God is not about comparison. His ways are not like ours. Rather, he is calling us to stop looking to ourselves at all and solely look to the significance of others. Jesus knew he was sinless. He knew he was God. Still, he counted others more significant because of his love and grace. We don’t have to pursue false humility to love others well. Rather, by the grace of God we must stop looking to our own needs, our own sense of pride and reputation, lay down our lives at the cross of Christ, and love as he has called us to love.


On Thanksgiving and always, I am grateful for God's grace that covers my inadequacies.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Thanksgiving seems a lot different from my unemployed perspective. 

I'm not talking about the gratitude for blessings despite not having a job, although that is very real. Or even the equally real gratitude I feel for my husband and circumstances in our lives that make it unnecessary for me to be actively seeking a job at this time. 

I'm talking about how preparation for a holiday always involved days of doubled-up deadlines -- some of the busiest days ever working at the daily newspaper. And how hard it was to take off the Friday after, because no matter how many people were off, the same amount of work had to be completed. 

Interestingly, without that stressful prep, this year I've often lacked awareness it is Thanksgiving week. I am not proud of that. 

I do count my blessings every day. I express gratitude to God and also try to make sure those around me know I don't take blessings and kindness for granted. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


Tonight marks the completion of my first month unemployed. It has been a whirlwind. 

I had great plans for my transition, with a two-week plan of priorities to take care of before I began traveling with my husband. But by the end of the first week, I knew I wanted to make an unplanned trip starting the following Sunday to accompany my mother to Florida for my cousin's funeral. And since that time, I've hardly known whether I was coming or going. 

I was on the road Oct. 23-27; Nov. 1-4 and Nov. 7-12. We head out again on Friday, Nov. 18. 

Some of my observations:
- I'm not a good traveler, starting with my poor ability to pack.
- I'm not good at transitioning from traveling to being home. 
- nothing changes if nothing changes. 
- more has changed than I give myself credit for. 

With almost a week between the most recent trip and the next one, I experienced some optimism about getting the two-week transition goals completed by the end of the first month. As today winds down, I see that's not happening either. I keep moving forward, but it continues to be much slower than I would prefer. 

I wrote some about it Sunday morning: 

Nothing changes if nothing changes. 

I am unemployed. That's different. 

I am still a mess. I am still chaotic. I still don't have a plan. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I just get impatient and start to worry. 

What am I worried about?
- Number One fear: that Gene will get frustrated or annoyed with me. What are his expectations of me? I seem more concerned about that than about me expectations or desires for myself. NCINC. 
- 2. Am I doing what I need to do? 
- 3. All this health stuff. I wanted to be taking fewer meds and supplements, not more. 
- 4. Unexpected (unplanned) Florida trip kept me from my two-week transition plan. And I've been in chaos ever since. So my head is spinning. Instead of anything being simpler, it seems more chaotic, though fortunately not more complicated. Just different. 
- 5. Relationships other than Gene. Family.  Former co-workers. Church friends. OA friends. People in need. 

I trust God. I need to be patient. I will be patient. I will keep taking actions that I feel God and His witnesses on earth -- including His spirit in me -- are directing me to take. I will be grateful. I will give God the glory. 


Wednesday, November 9, 2016


I didn't vote for Donald Trump. But it really came down to not being able to vote for the man Trump showed himself to be as a candidate. The negatives about the candidate I voted for just were not as clear to me when it was time for me to mark my ballot. Before and after, I prayed for God's will to be done. And I prayed and continue to pray to know how to respond and live. (And it did occur to me that whether my support be for an athletic team, a policy or a person, I'm often not on the victorious side.)

I will support the new president with my prayers. I will attempt to be a positive, gracious voice in my limited realm of influence. I will seek to support this nation and its guiding principles. And I will strive to seek the Lord first, in all things. 

I prayed throughout the official Election Day. I did not turn on the TV. I had a strong realization of how all-or-nothing I am. Catching a glimpse of "The Young and the Restless" on the TV screen while I was looking for ESPN on the treadmill was an early reminder. It was several years ago that, for Lent, I gave up watching soap operas. And I never took them back. I was tempted many times along the way but know that, for me, it would be like trying to eat a binge food. I can't just partake of a little and then turn away. I get sucked in. Emotions and other components of my brain get triggered, and it is hard to shut them off or return them to normal. 

So, I didn't watch any election coverage on TV. I limited myself to Facebook -- which includes a lot of my former colleagues as a journalist, and the links they shared -- and NewsOK (the website of the newspaper that laid me off Oct. 16) and looking over my husband's shoulder as he checked Facebook feeds and links. 

I was surprised to learn about 9 p.m. that Trump was being projected as the winner. When we turned out the light after 10:30 p.m., more sources were projecting the victory for Trump. But I remember thinking: I won't be surprised if that changes by morning. In this election, nothing would surprise me. (As of 10:30 a.m., I still have not read any accounts to learn the margins or assessments of what happened. I slept late and am still in prayer, meditation and reflection mode. I am grateful to at least temporarily be retired and able to rest, relax and reflect in an attempt to rejuvenate some worn-out aspects of my being.)

Now, that element of not being surprised provides a source of hope. Maybe the man elected as the president of the United States will prove to be more honorable as a leader than he was as a campaigner and in some aspects that have been reported about his professional and personal life. 

And above all, I place my trust in God. I pray to know and do His will. I think that will require me to work for peace; show compassion;  be merciful, generous, humble and gracious; and let God's love lead me and flow through me. 

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8

We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 
8:39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  
Romans 8:38-39

Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?LUKE 12:22–25 

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. DEUTERONOMY 31:6 

He hath shown thee, O man, what is good: and what doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? Micah 6:8 (King James)

He has told you, O man, what is good; 
And what does the Lord require of you 
Except to be just, and to love [and to diligently practice] kindness (compassion), 
And to walk humbly with your God [setting aside any overblown sense of importance or self-righteousness]? Micah  6:8 (Amplified)

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8 (English Standard)

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Election reflections

I'll be traveling Tuesday, so I requested an absentee ballot for the general election. I put it in the mail Saturday, in hopes it will arrive at the county election board office by 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Preparing to vote reminded me of my college test-taking days. I often procrastinated and then had to cram before the test. That's how I felt Friday night and Saturday. Who knew there was such a thing as vote anxiety?

As the presidential election campaign progressed (or deteriorated, as the case may be, when it came down to the major party nominees), I'd found myself praying along the way, as I tried to find a clear reason to vote for one candidate or the other. All I could ever come up with was reasons I didn't want to vote for either one. But I did not see that as a responsible option. 

Friday night, after more seemingly futile attempts to find credible information to help me make a decision, I prayed with renewed focus.

Dear God, I've been praying, and now I'm cramming before the test. Who do I vote for for president? 

I lifted up the name I was leaning toward and my reasons. It wasn't the decision I would expect myself to make, but it's the answer I kept coming up with when I evaluated my choices based on my understanding of biblical principles. But I acknowledged I could easily be wrong. 

Whom can I trust? How can I know who to trust? Many of my friends whose opinions I respect line up passionately on opposite sides. They absolutely do not see how anyone -- especially a Christian -- could vote for the other candidate. But when I look at these friends' reasons for their choices, they seem to come down to what they believe in. It's an act of faith, that the candidate and-or the candidate's party will perform based on his or her promises and platforms. But I really could not come up with that level of faith for either candidate or party. 

I found myself asking: What would Jesus do? He would pray to His father and He would trust His leading. Thy will be done. 

And so, I decided to stay with the choice I had lifted up in prayer. But I added in prayer: "Unless You, Lord, give me a clear reason to do otherwise. And I will trust that, whatever the outcome, You are in control. And I will pray to know how to respond, to Your glory. Do I need to be more involved in social/governmental affairs? Compassionate activities? Church work? Please help me know and do!"

The next day, I filled out the ballot and mailed it in. I'm still unsure, even though it's too late to change. By the end of Saturday, I felt pretty sure I'd made the wrong choice, but today, who knows??? I do know that, as I participated in Holy Communion this morning, I prayed for forgiveness if needed, but mostly for God to work this election cycle for His purposes. And I trust that He will. 

Meanwhile, it's crazy that so many people have already cast their ballots, even as the campaigning continues in full force. 

Oh well. It's out of my hands now. What now? Please help me know and do your will, Lord, to Your glory. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Five years

Today was the fifth anniversary of my Daddy's death. For the first time since then, Oct. 30 again fell on Sunday. Maybe that's why it seemed like a milestone for healing and moving forward. 

It's not that we hadn't been doing those things along the way, but much about this fifth year has been even more cathartic. (On March 20, which would have been Daddy's 90th birthday, Mom and their six kids and many of the grands and greats gathered on the farm for a fish fry and to spread his ashes.)

As was true that Sunday five years ago, today was my oldest sister's birthday. And as was the case that day, she and all of us seem able to celebrate each milestone in appropriate ways. We treasure lives and memories. I love that Mom took a beautiful flower arrangement to church in Daddy's memory -- and afterward gave them to Becky to celebrate her birthday. 

Love understands that. We weren't all together this weekend, but we were united, as always, in the spirit of family. I thank God for the love of this family and for His continued blessings. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Blessed are the peacemakers

These are some reflections I wrote on the plane returning from Florida.

First of all, I'm grateful for how my family communicates and gets along. We don't seem to have great differences, but even when small things come up, we've always managed to work through them. 

That is a gift. A blessing. May we never take it for granted. 

We love our mom and each other, and we show our love. 

We don't agree on everything. But we don't let our different views or opinions keep us from caring about each other, spending time together and enjoying it. It's what we expect family love to be. But not all families have that. 

I'm not sure how they did it, but I feel like Mom and Dad both made it crystal clear they love us unconditionally. I've always felt like both told me what they thought. I appreciated their counsel and advice and even just their opinions. (I like to know what people think!!) And I never felt unloved if I expressed a different opinion or chose a different path. 

Actually, I know at least part of how they did it was with a foundation of faith in God, grounded on extended family relationships and traditions, including with church families. 

And I don't know when I became aware of what forgiveness really is, but it seems to be something that is practiced in our family. If we hold onto grudges, I'm gratefully oblivious!!

I was thinking this morning's First 15 devotional was about forgiveness, but when I went back to look, it was about unconditional love and its role in finding and maintaining peace. The passages seem fitting. 

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." Matthew 5:9 

"Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For 'Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.'" 1 Peter 3:9-11

"Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it." Psalm 34:14 

"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." Romans 14:17 

From Craig Denison's commentary:
"Scripture never said that making peace would be easy. It also never said that it would come naturally. Being a peacemaker only comes from living out of a revelation of who Jesus is and who we are in him. It only comes from valuing God's heart over our own worldliness. There are not some of us who are peacemakers and others who are fighters. There are not some of us who are just meek and mild and others who aren't. We are all called to make peace. We are all called to turn the other cheek. We are all called to search out the will of God for our lives and choose his ways over our own or the world's. To choose to make peace is to live a lifestyle filled with the Spirit and all his fruit. May you abide in your heavenly Father today and experience the abundant life that comes from making peace all around you."

OK, there was one about forgiveness, from Jesus Calling:
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. —COLOSSIANS 3:13


Grateful -- and now what?

When last Friday started, I felt like I was finally getting into a rhythm for this period of unemployment. But not too far into the morning, I learned that my cousin in Florida had died after a six-year battle with cancer. Instinctively, I sensed I would be willing and able to go with my Mom to Florida to celebrate her life and spend time with her Dad, Mom's brother. And by Saturday, the trip was confirmed. I would drive to Texas on Sunday afternoon, Mom and I would catch a ride to Dallas for a 7 am departure to Jacksonville, and we would return Thursday. 

It was a good trip and I'm grateful I was able to go. I enjoy traveling with my Mom, even when the occasion involves the death of a loved one. As is often the case, I clearly see how God prepared me and provided the ways and resources. 

And that gives me hope that He also will prepare and equip me to take care of the things I didn't do while I was gone -- and before I leave on another trip Tuesday. It's still hard to know what to do first. The first week I was focused on chores and details. I was going to start the interpersonal connections and follow-ups the second week. But that didn't happen, and now it seems there won't be time to do all I want or think I need to do. 

I want to trust God. I want to put people first. But the people connections can be overwhelming. The tasks also seem daunting. Not by the magnitude of any specific one, but just deciding where to start, and how the number remaining to be dealt with seems unending. 

What are the Scriptures I need to focus on? God, please guide me. Please help me know and do Your will, to Your glory. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

It's time to sing my song ...

This was my parting email at work. A week later, I'm finally singing the song (but I can't figure out how to put it on the blog; you'll have to search Facebook) ... 

As I close the page on September, 

I find myself trying to remember...

So many highlights of 34 years ...

As the end of an era draws oh-so near .....


(Sweet music of life: To hear it! To share it!)


I posted that on Facebook as I was getting ready to leave the office on  Sept. 30. I was down to the final two weeks. And the music of life was growing louder and louder, although the melody was far from clear. 


Now, it is that final day. I was hoping I would go out with a song. But I’m still just not that brave. If anyone is interested in that part of my life, check out Facebook or


My mom commented that there are probably a lot of memories over 34 years. To which I responded: Yes, Mom. At least there should be. But my memory itself is faulty, which makes it tricky. Then when you add in my sentimentality, it gets even trickier!! 


For a longtime journalist, including years as a reporter, religion editor and copy editor, I’m at quite a loss for words right now. I just want to express that I wouldn’t trade the experiences and opportunities I’ve had working at The Oklahoman. God has blessed me through the people here, and I will be forever grateful. Best of luck to all who remain.

10,000 Reasons
Bless the Lord oh my soul
Oh my soul
Worship His Holy name
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I'll worship Your Holy name
The sun comes up
It's a new day dawning
It's time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass
And whatever lies before me
Let me be singing 
When the evening comes
Bless the Lord oh my soul
Oh my soul
Worship His Holy name
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I'll worship Your Holy name
You're rich in love
And You're slow to anger
Your name is great
And Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness
I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons
For my heart to find
Bless the Lord oh my soul
Oh my soul
Worship His Holy name
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I'll worship Your Holy name
Bless You Lord
And on that day
When my strength is failing
The end draws near
And my time has come
Still my soul will
Sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years
And then forevermore
Bless the Lord oh my soul
Oh my soul
Worship His Holy name
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I'll worship Your Holy name
Bless the Lord oh my soul
Oh my soul
Worship His Holy name
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I'll worship Your Holy name
Yes I'll worship Your Holy name
I'll worship Your Holy name
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I'll worship Your Holy name
Jesus I will worship Your Holy name
Worship Your Holy name
Songwriters: Jonas Myrin / Matt Redman
10,000 Reasons lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

It's definitely different

Let me set the record straight (to myself as much as anyone): I am unemployed, not retired. I was laid off. As grateful as I am and as much as I know in my heart how good everything is for me, my mind naturally has struggled some with the reality of losing my job. It's different than being off sick, like I was at the start of the year. It's different than vacation. It's different than retiring. 

Reality hit the first Monday of my unemployment. Immediately I had questions for Human Resources. Then a doctor's appointment. More HR questions involving severance, insurance and COBRA. Filing for unemployment. Realizing I needed to pay a visit to my former place of employment. Going to that office Monday was 180 degrees from what it was like to leave on Friday. I'm definitely an outsider now, after 34 years as an insider. 

I've felt some sadness. A little shame. Quite a bit of confusion, mainly in the sense of not knowing what to do first or next. I've known for some time that this cat is a creature of habit, and I'm a bit lost without my routine.

I want to get a lot done. But I also feel tired and want to rest and relax. I don't want to develop any bad habits in this transition time.  In fact, I'm trying to break some bad habits and start fresh. (For the first time this week, I turned on the TV in the morning, but when I realized I had missed what I hoped to see, I turned it off. I don't need to be watching talk shows or Sports Center.)

Above all, I'm still grateful. I should write a whole separate post on some of the many things and their timing that I see as clear demonstrations of God's love, presence and provision. God has especially blessed me with the amazing love, support and patience of my husband. 

This is pretty disjointed, but I wanted to post something, as I wrote at the start, to set the record straight. I hope it also breaks the ice -- the writer's block -- that would tempt me to wait until I can express something wry or witty or wise before posting. It seems the way it works for me is that if I want to share the sweet music of life, I also need to be willing to write about the rocky or even mundane patches. And so I am. But it's really not that rocky at all. Nor is it mundane. It's mainly just different. And still I am grateful. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Over and out

In honor of my 34 years in the newsprint biz at The Oklahoman, I wore black and white. But unlike the "read all over" riddle, it's just over for me. It's over and I'm out. It was a good day. I have great memories and no regrets. I don't think this is how I'm supposed to feel upon being laid off, but it's how I am. Grateful and blessed. And eager to see what's next. 

Time will tell whether I'm still a professional journalist. This post is evidence I'm still a writer and journaler. I can't not at least occasionally write in an attempt to express and share what I observe in life. 

For too long I poured too much of my heart and soul into a job. It wasn't all the company's fault. I sometimes was aware that I should be volunteering those extra, unpaid hours to a charity or worthy cause rather than a business. But it was hard to let go of old habits. 

For many, many years, it seemed like an acceptable cause. But somewhere and somehow, that changed. And still I couldn't let go. 

So God made the decision for me. He prepared and provided for me. 

Many people have told me the best is yet to come. I remember writing that as I made the transition from religion editor to copy editor. That was a much more difficult transition than this seems to be. I'm aware that each transition can provide a foundation for the next. And so, I feel ready. 

Grateful. Blessed. Ready. And believing, with God as my guide, the best is, indeed, yet to come.