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. 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Time is running out

I'm down to the final week at work, and it's as if I'm on deadline and still have no idea how I want to write this story. 

I want people to know how grateful I am for the opportunity to work there these 34 years. God blessed me with great co-workers and experiences. How do I say thank you? Time is running out. 

God has given me the words and actions in the past, and I'm trusting He will again, in His time, which may or may not be before I walk out of the office Friday as a former employee. 

Proverbs 3:5-6 
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.

Matthew 6:33

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. 

Colossians 3
14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

With regards to regrets

No regrets. 

That would be my goal as I wind down these final two weeks of my 34 years at The Oklahoman. 

I don't think I will achieve it at face value. 

I may, however, be able to claim it through gifts of acceptance and grace. 

In this and all things, I'm praying to know and do God's will, to His glory.