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.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Give Us This Week Our Weekly Bread

One of my favorite lines is “The only thing domestic about me is that I was born in this country.” Those traditionally female activities like cleaning house and cooking don’t usually interest me much. Fortunately, Dr. Lobo is an independent guy who doesn’t demand much caretaking, so he has stuck around in spite of my homemaking limitations.

For most of the last year, however, I have baked bread about once a week. This is truly amazing, since it involves more than cooking. I also have to keep bread start alive by feeding it regularly. This requires a level of commitment I don’t usually exhibit. (Sometimes I wonder how I managed to feed three children every day for all those years.)

Other than my novel, the writing piece that has brought me the most money is a humor article describing my disastrous attempts to make something called “Amish Friendship Bread.” The title was “Trouble From the Start.” Now, in spite of my earlier bread experience, I keep bread start in the refrigerator, feed it faithfully, and . . . MAKE BREAD!

There must be a need for domesticity somewhere deep in my soul, because I like making bread. I love the yeasty smell. I love the feeling of dough in my hands as I knead it. I love the way it rises. I love the way it smells while it’s baking. I love the way it melts butter. And oh my, I love eating it!

I’m not the only one who loves this bread. These days, I’m improving my chances of keeping Dr. Lobo here. As long as I keep the bread start alive, the marriage should survive as well.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Oil Heiress

Bet you didn’t know I’m an oil heiress.


My maternal grandfather farmed during the Oklahoma dust bowl days. During his later years, he sold real estate. No one in his family ever actually starved to death, but it was a challenge to provide for them.


I don’t think he ever had a comfortable life. Photographs give me some sense of the struggles he faced.


Here he is (on the left) with his broomcorn.

My grandparents and my aunt:

Here he is with his son.

The four children who survived past infancy:

This picture shows the family. My mother is on the left, just below my grandfather.

My grandfather and my mother:

He made some good decisions, however, when he obtained mineral rights. After his death, my mother and her two sisters each received a third of these rights. (My grandfather also had three sons, but two died in infancy and one died in World War II.)


Now, I’m not talking about a lot of money. One time Mom got a check for two cents.


When my mother died five years ago, each of her children got a third of her interests. The percentage keeps decreasing, as I now have one-ninth of the mineral rights he acquired. Still, several times a month I get checks from oil companies, and I welcome checks of any size.


I never really knew this grandfather. He died shortly before I turned eleven. Because he suffered from dementia for years, my contact with him had been minimal. My strongest memory of him comes from a time when I was about five years old; I was terrified when he opened the door while the car was moving.


During this month of giving thanks, I am grateful for my grandfather. Although I didn’t get the chance to know him, my mother told me stories of his generous nature. I know that some of his values were passed on to her, and then to me.


I am also thankful for these monetary gifts. I wonder how much oil and gas money his daughters and grandchildren have received over the years. I think he would be amused to know how well he has provided for his family.