Thursday, March 31, 2005

Rest in Peace, Terri Schiavo

God bless you and all who cared for you.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Check out the Connexion

Richard Hall has added my blog to his blogroll at The Connexion.

Richard is a Methodist Minister in Wales. "Faith, life, politics and 'stuff' are what keep me blogging. No subject too big or too small," he writes. Please check it out -- there are many thoughtful contributors.

Among those who blog on his site is my longtime friend JTB (Joel Thomas), also a United Methodist minister. Joel and I have been friends since high school and we try to celebrate our birthdays together -- they are a week apart. When we were 18, we celebrated by registering to vote. Now, here we are, about to turn 50. Whoo hooo!!! We'll have dinner Thursday night, and we're hoping to see "The Three-Penny Opera."

I am SO ready for the Big 5-0! I may have to find a big red hat and purple dress... "When I am old, I shall wear purple...."

I'll also get to celebrate with my church singles group over the weekend. As I've told my girlfriends for weeks now, there better be cake. :^)

My Easter Art

Well, here you go. My artwork may not be as popular as the "Mary on a Muffin" that may be for sale on e-bay, but I think it's a little better than my 6th-grade art class project.
"He Is Not Here" and "Alleluia!"

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Sunday, March 27, 2005

He Arose! He Is Risen Indeed!

Low in the grave He lay,
Jesus my Savior,
Waiting the coming day,
Jesus my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose!
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes.
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Vainly they watch His bed,
Jesus my Savior;
Vainly they seal the dead,
Jesus my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose!
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes.
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Death cannot keep its Prey,
Jesus my Savior;
He tore the bars away,
Jesus my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose!
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes.
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Friday, March 25, 2005

In the same night that He was betrayed

Jesus took the bread, and when he had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to His disciples, saying "Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me."

Likewise after supper he took the cup; and when he had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, "Drink ye all of this; for this is my blood of the New Covenant, which is shed for you and for many, for the forgiveness of sins; do this as oft as ye shall drink it, in remembrance of me."

Tonight was the Maundy Thursday service, recalling the night of the Last Supper Jesus shared with His disciples. This was the night when He was betrayed by Judas, setting up the events leading to His crucifixion on Friday.

This was the night He prayed at Gethsemane, asking the disciples to stay awake with Him to pray. They could not. Several times He awoke them, asking "could you not keep awake one hour?" After the third time, He said "Enough! The hour has come."

Tonight's prayer of intercession was a prayer for all humanity:

Lord, have mercy

  • Source of life, you created us in your image and have redeemed us: look with compassion upon the entire human family. Lord, have mercy.
  • Lord, your love comes to liberate our lives: may our hearts sing your praises fore ever. Lord, have mercy.
  • God, your love brings healing to our hatred and our sadness: bring peace to your church, to families and bring inner peace to each of us. Lord, have mercy.
  • Eternal God, your Spirit of life dwells within every human being: may the Spirit enable us to tear down walls of mistrust and of fear. Lord, have mercy.
  • Friend of the poor: help us to bring an end to deprivation, poverty and oppression in our societies. Lord, have mercy.
  • For all victims of injustice and violence, for those who give aid to them: make your face shine upon them. Lord, have mercy.
  • Eternal God you walk alongside the people of every land: show the leaders how to follow the road of justice and peace. Lord, have mercy.
  • Source of peace, you bring down the walls of separation between people: reconcile us in your love. Lord, have mercy.

God of every human being, in a world where we are bewildered by the incomprehensible suffering of the innocent, how can we be witness to the Gospel of hope, the Gospel of grace for all? Strange, God, are the ways you conquer: with weakness rather than power, with humility rather than majesty. Enable us to manifest a reflection of the compassion of Christ by the lives that we live. Strengthen us, Eternal God, and we will wait in silence and peace until the light of the Resurrection rises hope upon us. Amen.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Favorite technology

I love my Palm M515 PDA. It's a pocket computer about the size of a deck of cards. I use it to take notes during interviews and to write various documents while I'm away from home. I have a folding keyboard to which it attaches in a second; the keyboard folds down to the size of an eight-track tape or less. Both the PDA and keyboard fit easily inside my purse, smaller than my wallet. If I could afford a cell phone with a wireless internet connection, I could write my stories in the field and e-mail them to an editor. I have no reason to work that quickly, given the nature of my stories right now, but I do know there are practical reasons for some writers to be able to do this on deadline. And there are newer devices that include the features of my M515 as well as cell phone and internet connectivity. (Blackberry is one such device. Some day I'll upgrade.)

My Palm uses a word processing program called Documents to Go which integrates seamlessly with my desktop PC at home. I also have a spreadsheet program. There's a cradle with a USB connector that allows me to download documents with a push of the button. It also serves to recharge the Palm.

My handwriting is lousy, but I'm a great, fast typist. I can take notes as someone speaks and stay right with them, infrequently having to ask for clarification or a repeat to make sure my fingers didn't betray me. Most people are so fascinated by this tiny device that they don't mind one bit if I have to ask a question -- it would be much worse if I had to write by hand.

Anyway, it's a wonderful piece of technology that really benefits me in many ways. My handwriting is so poor that I can't read my own notes more than an hour after I take them. Seriously. So my accuracy is better. I've had some major CEOs write to me after reading my stories, thanking me for quoting them so accurately. For a journalist, that's a big compliment!

It saves me a lot of time, too, not having to transcribe notes. I push a button and the file is transferred into my computer. I do a little polishing and it's usually ready to go with minimal effort. That gives me more time to blog silly ideas.

It also has changed my interview techniques, I've noticed. I'm more inclined to conduct the interview with a mind to shaping the story as I type. Sometimes that is a very bad idea, because you can be packing up to leave when one innocuous comment can make you realize you've missed the boat and need to ask more questions to get the real story. But that's OK... cut and paste works just fine for moving those sections around and moving important information higher in the final product.

My second favorite bit of technology, as far as writing goes, is a cordless phone with a jack for a headset. I have one in my office, and when I'm working, most of the time I have it next to my keyboard with the headset around my neck. That leaves my hands free for typing while talking to someone, plus it spares my neck. No more trying to hold a phone between my ear and shoulder! When I'm finished working, the phone goes back in its recharging cradle and the headset goes in a basket within easy reach of my desk.

So what devices do you have that make life easier, especially in your work? Let's share some ideas -- maybe we'll learn something or teach something!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

We all need a few laughs

Laughter is a good thing -- and man, do we need some now. I found a place that cracks me up (via the U.K. blog Sometimes It's Peaceful that named Tech's 51313 Harbor Street its "Blog of the Day" yesterday.)

Let me introduce you to this new blog by a Texas mom. Now, read this disclaimer first: Don't go here if you're offended by frequent casual use of "bad words". She uses them several times in every sentence. But it's funny, and as y'all know, those kind of words in the right context don't bug me too much.

Here's a link to Badger Meets World.

A particular favorite is the blog about Britney Spears (one comment: Britney, of course, has all the intellectual capacity of a 1957 (possibly 1958) Buick. Much is possible with her, though I must issue her props for not confusing Kabbalah with Tabbouleh.)

Also, don't miss the haiku about the neighborhood folks. I like her style, but as I warned, she's not for everyone, especially those who don't care for gutter language.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

What are we forgetting?

The Terri Shiavo case, emotional as it is, is churning up a lot of issues in the nation. I'm not so sure that's a bad thing, frankly, though it is extremely painful, no matter which side one stands on.

In my personal quiet time, I've come to think that this was Terri's purpose in life, to act as a focus for these great debates. Absolutely she did not choose this role for herself, and certainly her family, including her husband, did not choose it for her. Prophets are not chosen by human wish.

It's not my purpose here to argue pro or con on whether certain actions should be taken. I will state, clearly, my opinion right now: I do not agree with removing food and water from any living person, whatever quality their life may have. God has His way of sorting out the living from the dead, and He is very good at it. Terri will survive until her purpose here is completed. But the removal of nutrition and water, especially water, will cause her final death. There's no two ways about that.

I don't agree with Terri's parents that there's a great deal of hope that she can return to a "normal" life. But I do believe that miracles happen. I've seen too many of them not to believe. There's a huge leap, however, from expecting Terri to arise and walk out of her hospital room and denying her food and water, so clearly I disagree with the decision to remove those basic elements of comfort and support.

Having said that, I'll return to my original thoughts. No matter what happens to Terri the individual, her case has raised many issues for public discussion. Politicians have used her to foment a fevered frenzy on the issue of "right to life." Many, many, many people have painted her husband with the black brush of "killer." Opponents are arguing that government has taken a great big giant step into an area where it doesn't belong, trampling some of the basic elements of a free society and self determination.

But what's really going on here? Yes, I see and understand the passionate cries from both sides. There are valid points made in both arguments, right along with deep piles of doo-doo.

The truth is, both sides are clutching at that inner panic, scratching and clawing their ways through this world trying desparately to do "the right thing" before time runs out. The clock is running. The clawing is becoming more furious. More and more people are becoming desparate as the seconds tick away.

Everyone is seeking to run to someone, anyone, who can make things "right". And as those seconds tick away, some of us are seeing that the desparate appeals are being made in the wrong places.

There is no judge, no doctor who can make this right, not here on earth. And with all the collateral issues wrapped around this woman's life, we've lost sight of the fact that indeed, we all will die. All of us.

Why are so many of us so afraid of death? It is a universal transition, just like birth was. And as when we were born, we do not dictate the day or the moment of our transition. Just look at all the waiting that surrounds a soon-to-be mother, everyone waiting for the arrival, the transition, of the newborn.

One of the saddest things, in my opinion, about the human condition is our fear of the unknown, our lack of ceremony surrounding the transition into death. Of course there are religious differences on this perspective. I don't think anyone who knows me would be surprised that I believe in a life after death, a glory we don't know the nature of here in this life. At the very least, death is a state of release from this earthly body and the pain which may be involved.

Let's remove this fight from the courts and appeal to The One who truly is in charge. Lord, Thy will be done, not ours. We ask you for your grace for Terri.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Sinister contact

Right after my last posting, I checked my e-mail, then spent the next couple of hours driving in the dark trying to escape the panic that came over me.

The e-mail I use as a contact point in my writing contained several messages. One I nearly deleted as suspected spam -- it had a subject line of "Here is a voice from the past!" I expected it to be a message promoting some medicinal aid for my love life or some such. If only it had.

The name used by the writer was unknown to me, but the content of the message was hauntingly, frighteningly familiar. It also frightened me to read that this person had made the effort to become very familiar with my writing over time. Clearly, she's read my work very closely over an extended time, noticing details that would go unnoticed by a casual reader.

Perhaps the scariest thing to read was criticisms of the people I've written about, from name calling ("snooty high-society types") to attacks on one family's breakfast bar ("For goodness sake, EAT AT A TABLE!!")

By this point, I could scarcely catch my breath. Then came a series of personal questions about my title, whether I keep in touch with former co-workers, where I live, etc. The hair on the back of my neck was standing straight out now. I finally paged down to the end of the message to see if someone had signed a real name to this curious and terrifying letter, and I had my answer. It sounded so familiar because it was written by someone I worked with more than a dozen years ago. She had been fired, for good reason. I won't go into further details about that, but will say that I always felt she blamed me. I had nothing to do with it. It was management's response to her actions, which were in direct defiance to a supervisor's directive.

I went back to read the rest of the letter. I was struck by a paragraph where she explained she had taken on a spiritual exercise this Lent of building bridges, mending fences and making contact with those she knew in the past. She caught me up on parts of the years since we last were in contact. Ten years ago, she was injured in the Murrah Building bombing. After that experience, she attended theology school and has found within herself a servant's heart for the dispossessed -- the homeless, mentally ill and addicted. This is a tremendous change from the person I knew for so many years.

Despite the fear which filled my heart, I am so interested in learning more about this new aspect. Certainly I would be open to helping with her spiritual exercise. I think a healing conversation may be appropriate, as there's been a dark veil hanging there for far too long.

I have to say, the contact has left me very unsettled. I am struggling to see if fear or hope wins out. I won't respond immediately until I have more clarity in my own heart.

Disjointed and disconnected

I had a hugely long nap today which has left me a little discombobulated tonight. I'm not even sure I can pull my thoughts into focus enough to make a post worth reading.... so for now, I'm going to just say "hello, out there." I'll go drink some Diet Coke and watch some TLC television decorating shows. Surely that will help me get my act together again.

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday, which requires me to get up earlier than usual. Tomorrow is a big day. We'll be doing the proclamation with the children waving palms. While they are winding through the sanctuary, we'll have the bell choir playing along with piano, drums and choir singing with the kids. I guarantee we'll wake up anyone who came to church expecting to get in a nap! I can't wait. We've been rehearsing this for months and I think people will be very happy. We in the bell choir all have a tendency to do a little rhythmic dance to the calypso feel of the song. Good thing everyone's eyes will be on the kids!

Before I sign off, I want to say I have fallen in love with author Billie Letts, of "Where the Heart Is" and "The Honk and Holler Opening Soon." These should be mandatory reading for any of us from Oklahoma, especially those of us who have had ties to eastern Oklahoma. There's not a "normal" character in either book, but every one of them is someone we'll recognize from real life. Both books are good reminders that Oklahoma is very much a mix of different cultures, races and lifestyles and that diversity is a good thing. They also reminded me that with Oklahomans' open hearts, diversity can be practically invisible, when you realize what a broad range of friends we all have here. Look at any bar or bingo hall in Oklahoma and you'll see what I'm talking about -- we see people, not labels.

Well, pooh. TLC's programming tonight is heavy on reruns. I'm going to go work on some art projects, inspired by "Art and Soul" by Pam Grout. I did a painting the other night! No masterpiece, but an interpretation of a work depicting Easter morning when the women went to the tomb and encountered the angel saying "He is not here." I need to create a fiber sculpture tonight to complete my piece. If it comes out OK I'll post a photo of it.

Monday, March 14, 2005

I love this quiz

Saw this on E.R.'s page and couldn't resist. I wasn't sure how the quiz would come out -- it could have gone a couple of directions. But here it is. I am this kind of elitist snob:

Your CD collection is almost as big as your ego,
and you can most likely play an instrument or
three. You're a real hit at parties, but you're
SO above karaoke.
What people love: You're instant entertainment.
Unless you play the oboe.
What people hate: Your tendency to sing louder than
the radio and compare everything to a freaking

What Kind of Elitist Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Clean it up

I deleted my liquor quiz -- I hated the way the HTML formatting looked and I couldn't fix it. Plus, I'm not a great imbiber, so it didn't really add anything about me to the world. SO out it went.

Heading to the gym -- it's 2 p.m. Saturday. Not the early bounding-out-of-bed energy today, but the "DIA" has me -- the "do it anyway". When I get back, there will be some housework to tackle before it tackles me. Last Saturday was a huge cleaning day (for me). I moved the heavy living room couch, vacuumed all under there, cleaned and polished the wood side tables, washed the picture window (inside and out. Yuck!), swept and spiffed up the front porch, knocking down all the cobwebs and cleaning the porch light, mailbox, screen door frame and window frame. What a difference! Throw in the miscellaneous laundry and dish-washing tasks and it was fairly fruitful.

Not sure where I'll tackle today. The kitchen needs a few minutes of attention, but it's pretty good, relatively speaking. Probably my bedroom and bath. We'll see. I know you are sitting on the edges of your seats just dying to know what I clean!! (I can tell, because again there are way too many "0 comments" around here.)

Um. Just realized, I seem to be procrastinating about heading off to the treadmill. Um. Guess I better get up and go.

Geez, I wonder where my nail file is. I broke a nail tying on my gym shoes. Gotta fix it...

Friday, March 11, 2005

My brother Darrell and my other brother Darrell

Seen in OKC today: A couple of guys in a small pickup truck, pulling up to a stop light. Brother Darrell in the passenger seat starts rolling up his window, then realizes he needs to spit. No, he did not remember to roll the window back down first. For real.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

You know who you are out there

A couple of posts down I talked a little about some of the guys I've met online.

Now listen up, You Who Called Me (No. 1): No. I was not talking about you. You could tell that from what I said about the pig-man I had dinner with. Yeah, I've told you about how you sometimes disrespect women, assuming they are nothing but gold-diggers who want the money you don't have. HA! But that doesn't make you the only person I've dated worthy of mention on my blog. You don't really want me to go there, do you? No, you do not.

The truth is I've met a lot of people online. Most are OK, but have fatal flaws (don't we all?) I've kept a casual friendship with some of them while others have kind of faded into the past. Some I've avoided like the plague (as mentioned below...)

Now listen up, You Who Called Me (No. 2): No. I was not talking about you either. And just because you read my blog, that doesn't give you the right to call and quiz me about who I am seeing. There are reasons why you and I don't see each other any more. Leave it alone. If you really need to know, I date several people. Some I date often. Others I date once and never again. My choice, not yours. You don't get to vote.

The End.

Looking for a sign? Here's one

A few years back I was on a big fitness kick. I'm trying now to get back to that. At the time, I was walking 6 miles a day, and on weekends I would walk from one side of Lake Hefner to the other, a distance of 9 miles. It's my goal now to return to that physical condition.

At times, I would take a notebook and pen and spend time on the rock wall of the dam, watching the sunset and just taking notes as God dictated. I'd go there to spend time with Him, listening to the messages He'd reveal there, where I could be quiet without electronic distractions. Funny, He still has a lot to say when we pay attention!

So there was this one afternoon, see, where I'd done my long walk and was cooling down on the wall, looking at how low the lake level was. Someone in a wet suit had walked way out on the mud, so far that it looked like he'd walked halfway across the lake. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me when I saw a dog frolicking with the figure, then realized the lake was just down that far.

The sun was ready to set just as a summer storm moved in from the west, hiding the light show. Incredible colors peaked over the edge of a particularly black cloud as my mind turned to the problem of the day. I've long since forgotten what was causing me angst that day -- obviously time melted the problem away, though it seemed so serious then.

I remember praying for a sign, something I don't do often for fear of seeming to be testing God. That afternoon, it seemed like a time when I needed clear direction on this issue long since forgotten.

I continued to pray for a while as the storm started coming across the lake. It finally was close enough to cause me to head for the car, still pondering mightily.

I pulled away from the lake, heading east on Hefner Road towards May to get something to drink. I hadn't gotten more than a half mile from the lake when I passed a Lutheran church with a marquee reading: "Looking for a sign? Here's one."

God and I laughed mightily together at that. But the message was clear to me. The signs ARE there when you ask for them. Maybe they won't be in black plastic letters, but you'll see them when you look.

Often during that time, I would walk at the mall when the outside weather was unfavorable. I learned there was always a small, secret reward when I stepped out. It was almost a covenant, if I can use that term. I would put in the time to walk, and God would give me a little wink by putting pennies in my path. I just had to look to find them. Some days I would pick up as many as 25 pennies. One day, there was a $10 in my path which no one else seemed to notice. I turned it in to someone at the closest store, sure someone was missing that money. That afternoon, after I got home, I was walking my poodle in the park across from my apartment. And there was a $20 bill right by her favorite tree. God and I laughed together again about that one, and I said "Thanks! I get it now!"

Well, anyway, I got several clear signs today. No money -- no pennies or big bills, but signs that are clear anyway. They have come in the form of opportunities. It's been that kind of week. I think there are now about six opportunities that have fallen in my lap this week. Only one was solicited; the rest are serendipity.

While I'm basking in the glow of this goodness, I should also mention the negative. I had my follow-up doctor visit today. He says my blood pressure is responding well, but I am not sure I am as convinced as he is. So far he's the only one who is getting a reading in the area of 132/90. If he's sure, I'll accept that because it's the best I've heard this week. He was more concerned about my lab work, specifically my blood sugar. A year ago it was 103, which is just fine. Now, it is 204, which is not fine. Diabetes is the diagnosis when one has a fasting blood sugar level of 140 or more. Our goal is to get this off my medical record as quickly as possible, so I have a followup appointment in a month to recheck both the blood sugar and blood pressure issues.

Now that opportunity is knocking, I have plenty of motivation to continue working on the health issues. Perhaps by this summer I'll be out at the lake again, watching for more signs.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Spring surely is near

I can tell the weather is getting warmer and spring is drawing nigh. No, it's not from being outside today talking with landscapers working on a designer showhouse. It's not from watching the mockingbird who plans to make a nest in my Bradford pear tree. And it's not from checking the almanac, either.

I can tell it's spring because suddenly there's an increase in the number of men who are contacting me through instant messenger, presumably because of a personals ad I placed long ago. Now and then I meet someone who becomes a friend. Few have developed into anything remotely resembling a romance. Most are like the guy I had dinner with Saturday night -- creepy pig-men. This guy was married to his second wife for 20 years. She is bipolar and recently was prescribed medication to try to control her condition. He split, saying to me: "I didn't want to hang around for five years to see if the medicine works." So there you go.

He also admitted to seeing several women, being loyal to none. One woman got mad at him, he said, so he's dumping her -- she was on the phone with him and he said he had to run because two women popped up on his messenger screen and he wanted to go see what they were doing. Uh, I'm with her.

It's OK. He paid for dinner, so I had dessert too. Then I left and deleted him from my list.

I've learned not to take these things seriously. It's all a game. The problem comes when one party makes the mistake of trying to present an honest representation of him/herself. I'm one of those. I figure if I meet someone, they are going to know pretty quickly that I am NOT a 5'7" natural blonde vegetarian who enjoys working out. Somehow, even men can spot this. (And we thought they were slow.)

In other stuff...

Tomorrow I go back to the doctor for a recheck of the blood pressure problem, which has not yet improved. It's still very, very scary. (Yesterday it was 192/110. This is after about 10 days of carefully taking my medication, exercising daily and all the other stuff.) We'll look at the lab results to see if that tells us anything. My hunch is I'll get to bring home a whole new bottle of pills to add to my daily dosage.

Speaking of which...

Update on my cousin. I talked to my aunt, who reported the cousin's behavior continues to be erratic. She fell asleep in the ice cream at my aunt's birthday party Sunday evening. Not a good thing. Also had slurred speech and was incoherent and confused, just like someone who's stoned on a mix of drugs. My aunt agreed to take her to the psychiatrist's office today but asked her for a complete list of the medications she's taking. There are at least eight drugs she's been prescribed, some which require five doses a day, others with four or three doses a day. There are two prescription sleeping drugs in this mix and several antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs.

Here's a big clue: Cousin has not been following the dosages correctly. She takes ALL of her drugs, ALL of the daily numbers of each, ALL AT ONE TIME. She admitted that she took her "daily drugs" before going to the birthday party.

I hope this mess gets straightened out soon. She's had her license suspended. And she continues to insist she has pneumonia (it's really bronchitis, but she isn't taking her antibiotics so it's not going away. I can't figure out why she's not willing to take a drug that would help her feel better if she's willing to take all the other stuff.)

Please, if you're so inclined, I would covet your prayers for her and the part of my family that's involved with her.

Well, I'll say goodnight now. I had a very short time on the treadmill today, just 15 minutes. I'll do better tomorrow before I go to the doctor. Take care, y'all.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Quiet satisfaction

It's been a very good day again today. It was communion Sunday (we have communion the first Sunday of each month in my congregation). Besides being a time of spiritual refilling, there's another reason many of us look forward to first Sunday -- for selfish reasons. Our choir, which normally sings in two services, the first of which starts at 8:30 a.m., only sings during the second service on communion Sundays. That means another hour of sleep, usually, which we can all appreciate. I know, I know. That's not a highly spiritual attitude, but it's the simple truth.

We had a great Sunday school lesson, another in a series of discussions on seeds being sown on different types of soil. There's a lot of fodder in that passage in Matthew 13, the parable of the sower. True to our nature, our class shared ideas of all kinds, from discussing our willingness to sow the seed, to questioning what our mission field is, to recognizing that our vocational callings may be the seeds we sow. Do we necessarily have to turn away from our homes and jobs and go to the victims of the tsunami, for example, to obey the instruction to share the Gospel? I think not. Among our group we have several teachers, a school counselor and others with "regular jobs" who certainly have the opportunity to serve an important mission field right in our own city. There is need everywhere in the world, not just in Rio Bravo, Mexico, where we are dispatching a team of 66 high school students and adults over spring break to build four casitas.

Our church is a strong supporter of mission work, with frequent trips to Mexico, Belize, Alaska, Appalachia and other locations far from home. We also recognize the needs in our own back yards and work to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, teach the uneducated, visit the sick and imprisoned and house the homeless right here in Oklahoma City. I'm not bragging about our work, because I truly expect no less from any of us who have been given so much in this life. It's a matter of simple human responsibility.

So, after a stirring morning getting my spiritual energy recharged at church, 12 of us in our singles group went to lunch together, which was great. We went to Applebee's and enjoyed a couple of hours of good conversation and food. Leaving was a difficult matter for many of us who sat so long we were getting the Sunday afternoon drowseys.

I finally got home about 2:30 p.m., then had a long phone conversation with a friend who had left a message last night about wanting to go to a movie. We talked for more than a half hour and decided nah, it wasn't a great movie day. Then I gave it up and went to take a nap for a few hours. It was glorious! I hadn't had a nap since I started doing the treadmill thing, having been so charged up by the exercise. But today, being Sunday, was a true day of rest and I treasured every restful moment of it.

I did get a movie in this weekend, but it was a TV movie, Oprah Winfrey's production of "Their Eyes Were Watching God." Good story, and I love movies set in the time period of the 1930s in the South. I used to dream and believe, as a 10-year-old, that I should have lived in that era. I was certain that my previous life involved running a 1930s boarding house. I easily could have been a character in the old parts of "Fried Green Tomatoes" and I've got the collection of aprons to prove it.

It's good to see so many of my blogging buddies posting again. Too many absences for some of them over the past month or two, but the updates more than make up for the wait. I wish I could say all their news is good and happy, but life isn't all just good and happy. I would rather read painful truths and know what's really happening than to read a candy-coated fiction. Even though I want to know the truth, I still hope better for those in hard spots in their journeys.

Speaking of which, I have several encouraging prospects which have arisen this week. I won't say any more about them now, except to ask for your prayers for wisdom and fulfillment as God wishes. There are about four different opportunities before me, any and all of which would be great, either short term or long term.

Gloriously, it's 11:17 p.m. now, and I'll say goodnight. I'm also working on developing the habit of a "reasonable" bedtime, trying to break the habit of staying awake until 3 a.m. It's taken me decades to understand what my college roommates seemed to know back in the '70s -- since I was a journalism student working nights, I couldn't "get it" when they were in bed by 9 p.m. Maybe it's age, maybe it's just that my body is tired of running on a sleep deficit. Heck, maybe I'm just sleepy.

Y'all have a great and glorious week, y'hear? Nighty-night!

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Off to the 'mill

The treadmill, that is. What the heck is going on? It's 10:10 a.m. on a Saturday and I am cleaned up, dressed up in sweats, have my sneakers on and I'm ready to GO to the fitness center! I've even taken my meds! Come on now, this is just day 4 and already I'm addicted? Are they piping crack through the air system over there or something?

Seriously, I can't believe how charged up I am. So without further delay, I'll wish you all a good morning and a productive Saturday. I'm grabbing my book and heading out! Forwarrrrrrrd, MARCH!

Make mine yellow, please

Here's a bit of information for a couple of fellow bloggers, ThePress aka Erudite Redneck and Corndog, whose blog is called Corndoggerel. I dare say Quirky may find some interest in his blog, she being a lover of corn dogs from way back.

In any event, anyone who is a corn dog, knows a corn dog, loves a corn dog or has ever eaten a corn dog knows that mustard is a necessary accessory to the corn dog. And in celebration of that condimental fact, I present:
Mustard Museum

You'll also hear some music on the site... did anyone know there's a genre called "new luxury"?

Friday, March 04, 2005

Whoo hooo! Feeling FINE!

Endorphins are such a wonderful thing! I just got back from today's visit to the fitness center, the third this week! That meets my minimum personal goal. Anything above three times a week, at this point, is gravy.

I feel wonderful. The blood's been pumping through the body, washing out depression and stress, replacing them with serenity and wellbeing. Can you believe that? I'm bragging about endorphins and good health after only THREE days, doing only 30 minutes a day on the treadmill. That should prove to me that God made our bodies to be quite remarkable things. (Oh, my blood pressure was higher than ever before I started, but dropped to almost normal levels when I left.)

I added a new element to the mix today. Pacer has clear acrylic book holders that fit over the treadmill monitors, so I was able to read as I walked. It is a bit tricky, trying to follow the text while bumping up and down with each step, but it's not bad. I managed to read 30 pages of a new book as I sweated.

I suspect several of us have a similar experience, having piles and piles of unread books stacked around the house. Writers tend to be drawn to the printed word (imagine that). And for those of you who aren't journalists, here's a secret. Newspapers, especially larger newspapers, tend to get tons and tons of review copies of new books. Periodically, these must be sent away or the newspaper building will sink into the ground. These purges are called "book grabs" and involve displaying boxes and boxes of books on a large conference table. The doors to the conference room are kept shut until a prescribed time, when a stampede of reporters and editors converge to grab the texts that interest them.

Used to be, I'd position myself at some spot around the table, searching for book titles that could be joined to make interesting sentences. I'd casually arrange the books to leave a message for anyone who would notice. Sometimes I'd have to help someone notice in the instances when I was particularly clever.

Certain people were known for collecting certain types of books, and we'd save them as an offering to curry favor. Some loved history books, others poetry, and one in particular collected all the porn type books. I'd grab whatever looked interesting to me at the time. Most were far too new to have gotten any hype -- after all, the publishers were hoping WE would hype these books to our readers. It's heck being a front-runner sometimes!

So, here's the conclusion of this lengthy essay. Once upon a time at one of the book grabs, I picked up a copy of a little book called "Art and Soul: 156 Ways to Free Your Creative Spirit" by Pam Grout (Andrews McMeel Publishing, Kansas City, MO., 2000).

It's a great, fun book -- at least the 30 pages I read on the treadmill this afternoon. I think anyone could find creative inspiration in this work, especially those who think they don't have (or need) any creative outlet.

Says Grout: "Now is the time to quit pushing that dream aside.

"Every dream that has ever tiptoed across your mind is a summons from God -- a summons that says, 'I need you.'

"On the day you were born, God presented you with a creative gift. It is a gift the world needs. Maybe your song won't be sung on David Letterman. It may never make the Top Forty list. But somebody out there needs to hear it. Maybe it's the 92-year-old shut-in who lives next door, who giggles every time she overhears you sing 'I Wish I Were an Oscar Mayer Weiner' outside her bedroom window. Isn't that enough?"

She continues.

"'But hasn't everything already been said?'

"Until we hear your version of this fierce and joyful world, there is more to be said. Each man looks upon the sunset with a slightly different eye."

Isn't that great? The world needs us! It needs our contributions! And it needs us now, not when we've earned another degree, taken another class, read another book about how-to. We already know how because God put it inside us. We just need TO.

There you go, folks. If you hear the whisper, listen to it and DO. Sometimes, to Do is as important as to Be. Do Be Do Be Do, as Frank says.

I can't wait to get back on the treadmill to read some more from this gem.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

All fired up

Well, now, with just under a month to go before my 50th birthday, I've decided to start doing something about my physical condition. I've had problems with my weight, cholesterol and blood pressure for a while, especially my blood pressure. I've been so inspired by Oprah Winfrey and other beautiful women going into their 50s and 60s that I figgered it's time for me to get busy and shine.

Great idea! There's nothing like taking care of your body to make you realize just how much you've neglected it! Yippee!

So I've joined a fitness center that's affiliated with a huge hospital, Pacer at Integris Baptist Medical Center. (There is no Methodist hospital handy, and Pacer is a top-notch fitness center that truly is devoted to health, not Spandex.) I've looked at several options for getting healthy, and much prefer Pacer to some of the "vanity" workout places that are more show and less glow.

Because my blood pressure is in the "skeery high" range, I've been restricted to the cardio rehab program for now. No weight training allowed yet, because using weights can raise blood pressure. I've also been to the doctor twice this week for blood pressure check, an update of my meds and lab work. I'll go back in a couple of weeks for a follow-up visit. It may be necessary to add something to my current meds or make some changes. We'll be looking at some other things too, with a complete metabolic panel.

Put 'em on, pick 'em up, put 'em down.

So here's my workout for now: 1) Take my meds before I go to the fitness center; 2) Get my blood pressure checked before I start; 3) Walk on the treadmill at 2.8 mph for 30 minutes, checking my heart rate every 10 minutes or so to make sure I'm not in a dangerous zone. I can bump up the speed a little as I'm comfortable. I'm fine at this pace for now, but want to increase it over time. 4) Have my blood pressure checked again after finishing my 30 minutes.

Now here's the deal: When they put you in the cardio rehab area, it means they are skeered enough that they want you close to where the nurses and doctors are located. Just in case. Ahhhh, that's comforting! But it's also why I chose Pacer. Should something happen, I'm literally across the parking lot from the hospital, one of the biggest in OKC. I'm working out with people in their 60s, 70s and 80s. Hey, for once I am the youngest person in the room, mostly. But it's embarrassing for the 80-year-old man, wearing his little hat, to be whupping my *** on the treadmill to my left.

Don't you worry. It won't take me long to get some of this excess weight off, and the blood pressure will get better. Once I'm out of the red zone, I can start working on strength and shaping, and I'll be on my way to being a babe again. I won't make it by my birthday, but my 50th year is going to be devoted to taking care of me, in as many ways as I can. I have to start by making sure I'll be alive to do some of the other things.

Hi Quirky!!

I just saw a reply on the electric blanket election post from Quirky, a friend from some bulletin boards I read. Just in case she doesn't get back to that post, I wanted to say a big hello to her up here. So... HELLO QUIRKY!!!

Quirky is famous for having amassed a lot of interesting knowledge. She' s been a winner on Jeopardy! and participates in a monthly (I believe) trivia concert in her community in Illinois.

I'm hoping she'll visit often and post so y'all get to know her better. Maybe she'll have a blog of her own! That would be cool.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Where have you been!?

Thanks to Frenzied Feline for this cool meme. It's interesting to have a list of states we've visited, lived in or live in now. Here's mine. There are instructions at the end for getting your own list. It's easy, so just do it.

bold the states you've been to, underline the states you've lived in and italicize the state you're in now...

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C /

Go HERE to have a form generate the HTML for you.