Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Quick Review of 2009

Two thousand nine was a very good year. Here are a few reasons why.

This retirement thing is nice. In my former life, I had many responsibilities that are no longer part of my world. In 2009, I didn’t get up early, teach long division, attend faculty meetings, supervise recess, grade papers, or worry about those children who were left farther behind daily (even though I did everything in my power to teach them).

Instead of following lesson plans, I traveled. I toured plantations in Louisiana,

enjoyed cool mountain air in Colorado,

visited precious relatives in California,

watched the ducks march through the lobby of the Peabody Motel in Memphis,

wandered through museums in Chicago,

and stayed in some beautiful Bed and Breakfast places.

I spent a lot of time with people I love during 2009. I made new friends and deepened old friendships.

I ate considerably less sugar than in previous years, and I lost nearly forty pounds. I gained some energy and flexibility.

I read 65 books and baked a lot of bread. I spent most Sunday mornings in worship and most Tuesday mornings in Bible Study. These things all fed my spirit.

I wrote a bunch of words, and I arranged some of them in an order that might even be publishable. I finished writing a book. No, it hasn’t been sold yet, but it’s finished—at least until an agent or editor asks for revisions. I went to writing conferences and spent a week at a writing residency program. I spent hours and hours talking to other writers, and I helped newer writers learn some skills. I wrote seventy blog posts. I collected rejection slips from editors and agents, but I also received compliments on my writing from people whose opinions matter to me.

During the coming year, I want to write, read, and play more. I want to talk less and listen more, whine less and encourage more, worry less and laugh more, doubt less and believe more.

I’m hoping that 2010 will be a very good year.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Memories: Some Are Better Than Others

Christmas at our house has not always been as peaceful or joyful as the images we see on those lovely Christmas cards. Oh, sure, there have been occasional, isolated holy moments, and I cherish the memory of those times. But our Christmases have also included times of depression, disappointment, and anger.


One year, just before sitting down for Christmas dinner, our behavior was even more dysfunctional than usual. Dr. Lobo and I snapped at each other as we placed food on the table. The kids quarreled. We all exchanged glares.

Since none of us felt grateful at the moment, we then argued over who had to say the prayer. Little Guy, who was probably six or seven, finally volunteered for the job.

“Dear God, thank you for the things we like about our family," he prayed. "Have a nice Christmas, whatever You do up there on Christmas.”


We laughed. Our moods lifted, and we celebrated Christmas with love, warm feelings, and kindness toward each other.


On the page where I recorded that incident, so many years ago, I wrote, “Sometimes he brings a lot of healing to people. I’m glad we had him!”


Indeed, Little Guy has brought healing to others throughout the years. He has a gentle, forgiving, and kind heart. I am so grateful for his presence in my life this season.


This year I’m especially thankful for the healers—people who bring much needed humor to difficult situations, friends who listen without judgment, folks who say words that soothe hurts and calm fears.


And I hope God is having a nice Christmas, whatever God does up there on Christmas.


Friday, December 18, 2009

The Perfect Job for Her

No minister is perfect, but mine is amazingly good.


I appreciate Zena’s insightful, thought-provoking sermons. I love the way she leads Bible Study, helping us relate scripture to our lives. She gives the best eulogies I’ve ever heard, getting to the heart of each person’s unique personality. (It’s almost enough to make me hope I die while she’s still my pastor so that everyone who attends my funeral will be impressed by my virtues.)


Zena is also fun, which is a great quality for a minister. Let’s face it, nobody enjoys being around a preacher who doesn’t know how to play.

A recent visitor to our church commented, “Zena has such a wonderful way of welcoming people. She’s friendly, but not in your face.” That’s evangelism at its finest.


Recently I’ve spent a lot of time talking with Zena about a difficult situation, and I am grateful for her guidance. Her compassion, wisdom, and honesty lead me to a greater understanding of grace. Her hugs and prayers comfort and strengthen me.


It saddens me that some Christians believe women should not be in pastoral leadership positions. I am grateful that Disciples are open to women ministers.


It would be a shame for Zena to do a different job, when she’s so close to perfect at this one.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I Want One of These!

We've been traveling and seeing interesting things. I would love to write about everything I've seen and done lately, but these are busy days. For now, I just want to say, I want a linen press like we saw in the Bed and Breakfast we stayed in during our trip to Vicksburg, Mississippi (Baer House Inn, Circa 1870). I loved a lot of the antiques in the Baer House, but this was my favorite. Just think of everything I could store in this! I could use one in every room of my house!

If I'm really, really good for the next couple of weeks, do you suppose Santa might bring me one of these?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I Can't Bear It Any Longer!

It started out innocently enough. When I was two years old, my parents gave me a brown furry teddy bear with a pink ribbon around his neck. Being a creative child, I named him Pinky.

I was crazy about that little bear. My parents assumed I’d give up this childish pleasure, but when I left for college, Pinky went with me. My college friends thought my affection for a threadbare teddy was a bit odd, but then, there were lots of things about me that were odd, and they accepted this quirk as part of the package.

When Dr. Lobo asked me to marry him, I loaned Pinky to him as a sign of my commitment. The two of them shared six months of Army adventures, which must have sparked some interesting conversations in the barracks. After the wedding, Pinky accompanied us on the honeymoon. The three of us became a family.


Dr. Lobo, bless him, accepted my bear obsession with grace and good humor. He started buying bears for me. When my children outgrew their bears, they let me adopt them. My friends gave bears to me.

One summer I acquired a LOT of bears. I don’t even know how many, but it was way more than a mentally healthy adult woman would have obtained. My only defense is that my mother had been placed under hospice care, and I was hurting. Those sweet, cuddly bits of fur filled a need. This, combined with my discovery of eBay during that time, resulted in financial and spacial disaster. How could I resist all those precious bears who needed homes?

For years we’ve needed some kind of bear population control management system in this house. My half-hearted attempts to give them away have been inadequate. Finally, however, I am learning to resist cuteness. I am taking my house back. Those bears have to go!

Recently I have given away many, many bears. About forty went to a nursing home. Twenty went to kids (of all ages) at church. A couple dozen went to Infant Crisis Services. Another dozen will be included in Christmas baskets for retired firefighters and widows of firefighters. Some will go to the principal at Mark Twain Elementary; she plans to give bears to children who are taken from school by child welfare workers. Other bears will go to a facility for autistic children and the rest will go to the local veterans’ hospital.

Of course, I’ll keep far more bears than any normal person would own. Junior, the little guy in the yellow checkered shirt in the photo below, will always be part of our family. He is our “grandbear.” He has a larger wardrobe than many children and an album full of pictures. He travels with us and writes his own blog. But that’s a story for another time.

And Pinky? Well, sixty years have taken their toll on both of us, and we’re showing lots of wear and tear. Nevertheless, I think he’s wonderful. I’ve known him longer than I’ve known my children, Dr. Lobo, and even my siblings. Some relationships are far too precious to give up. He's definitely a keeper.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

When I was a child, we always celebrated Thanksgiving at Aunt Wanda’s and Uncle Cope’s house. Extended family (and friends who felt like family) filled the house with conversation and laughter. Dinner, a typical American feast that featured a turkey and at least one dessert containing chocolate, was scheduled around TV football games. I have fond memories from those years.


When Dr. Lobo and I were raising our children, Thanksgiving celebrations were much less exciting. Sometimes the five of us would spend the day with Dr. Lobo’s parents. Occasionally other relatives were involved. By the time our kids were in middle and high school, however, we usually spent Thanksgiving at home by ourselves. It always felt lonely to me, and I wished my children could experience the kind of family holiday dinners that I had enjoyed as a child.


Now two of our children (and their spouses) live out of state, so most of the time, only three of us are here for holiday dinners. I probably don’t need to tell you that it’s not real exciting.


For the past three years, a family in our church has coordinated a Thanksgiving Day dinner at the church, and it seems to attract more people each year. While the fellowship hall scene does not look like the famous Norman Rockwell painting of Thanksgiving dinner, it has its own charm.


This is what my Thanksgiving dinner looked like this year:

Lots of cooks in the kitchen! (Sometimes even more than shown here.)

We can't have Thanksgiving without lots of mashed potatoes.

Everybody contributed to the feast.

What a spread!

There were lots of desserts to choose from, including pumpkin pie and pecan pie.

Time for dinner!

Yum, yum!

I made new friends and enjoyed being with old friends. Here's my good friend Louise and my friend (and minister) Zena.

It was much like those Thanksgiving dinners from my childhood, with conversation, laughter, and good food. It felt like family.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


My friend Kathy isn’t afraid to jump into new experiences, and today she took a gigantic leap. She was ordained into ministry.


Kathy grew up in my church. She went to college, married, and worked in the business world. For years she was not active in church.


After her husband died, Kathy returned to church, where she found comfort. Bible study and involvement in service activities brought her joy. Eventually she began to feel called to ministry.


Now Kathy has finished seminary. She has worked toward developing her spiritual gifts. She has served people in a variety of ways. I’m sure these challenges haven’t been easy for a woman in midlife, but Kathy has handled them amazingly well.


Today’s Service of Ordination was beautiful. Kathy opened the service by singing “Sanctuary:”


Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary

Pure and holy, tried and true

With thanksgiving, I’ll be a living

Sanctuary for You.


As Kathy said, the Service of Ordination is about as “high church” as Disciples get. She is a member of The Oklahoma Master Chorale, so that group joined us, lending more formality to the service. Those folks sure can sing; I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that motorists along May Avenue heard “The Hallelujah Chorus” as they drove by.


Here is the order of service:


Our former minister, Ryan Pfeiffer, and his family came from Arkansas for the celebration.

It was a day of hugs and happy tears.

Kathy’s parents were proud, of course. I was particularly touched as I watched her father help her into her new robe.

A wonderful reception followed the service. After nearly everyone had left, Kathy finally had time to eat.

Kathy, I am so happy for you. Your compassion, warmth and intelligence will serve you well as you go forth in ministry. You will indeed be a sanctuary.