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.