Friday, September 30, 2005


I wanted to leave my last post, about passions, at the top for a couple of days to give people a chance to think about it for a while. We'll come back to that, but today I want to talk about serendipity.

The definition is "the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for." Pfffft. That's a little fancy for saying "an unexpected happiness."

I've had several instances of "serendipity" in the past week. God often brings these surprises around when things are not going well.

Recently I interviewed the CEO of an international company for a story on hurricane relief efforts. Decades ago, she was my grade school music teacher! We were both so surprised by the chance encounter she invited me to a brunch last Friday morning in my hometown (Ponca City) at the Marland Mansion. She said it was for some of her former students and her fellow music teachers.

Well, I was delighted to attend. And when I got there, I discovered it wasn't just other music teachers. All of my surviving grade school teachers were there, as were my 6th grade principal and the widow of the school's janitor. I was thunderstruck!

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My art teacher, another teacher who came after I left grade school, and my gym teacher turned artist.

I had the chance to tell each of them specific things they had done that influenced my life. My gym teacher had taken up painting. My mother had bought one of her paintings of cardinals, which I now have in my bedroom.

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My former music teacher, holding a painting of the gate of the Marland Mansion painted by my former gym teacher.

My music teacher instilled a love of music in me -- or rather nurtured what was within my heart already. Now, as an adult, I am a pianist, I sing in a choir and I play handbells. I've used that skill to play piano in a big band and to do music therapy at several local hospitals and nursing homes.

The janitor's widow was a surrogate mother figure for many of the students. She may have thought her work went unnoticed, but it was not. She and one of the teachers would make dresses for the girls whose families could not afford to buy school clothes.

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Mr. Lee with his 1949 Mercury.

My principal was still driving his 1949 Mercury coupe with the whitewall tires -- the same one he drove while I was a student. With each passing year, he's grown fonder and fonder of that car.

It was a great day -- after the brunch I went to the cemetery where my mother and brother's ashes were scattered. As I drove through the gate, my favorite hymn came on the radio -- "Be Thou My Vision." I parked in the shade of the tree next to the garden, rolled down the window and let the music drift out, for Bob.

Later I went to visit J.T.'s parents and had a great conversation with his dad, before heading home again.

It was a day filled joy and sorrows in exactly the right balance to restore my spirit.

Yesterday was another gift -- a morning in a rural area watching horses frolic in the cooler fall air. There's a new development going in which allows horses. The homes are huge and beautiful, but the grounds are without a doubt the best part.

It brought to mind the first part of the 23rd Psalm:

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul.

Today I plan to plant some pansies outside my back door. Their smiling faces always remind me that God can bring beauty to the land even in the midst of winter.

When was the last time you had a moment of serendipity?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

What are your passions?

Some of mine are writing, music and photography.

What are yours? And what are you doing to make sure you pursue them? What are your obstacles? Do you have goals for your passions?

I have dreams of other passions, but in some cases feel like I am swinging blindly at life. It's as though I'm trying to hit a pinata but the stick is too short and I'm turned the wrong way. I simply am not connecting on those situations. And it leaves me feeling empty and wasted.

Does that resonate with you? Tell me about it.

In my case, those missing pieces mostly involve relationships. Basically I don't have any family, but for an aunt and a couple of uncles in Missouri and some cousins scattered across the country. It's a huge deal for us to have any connection.

I had a brief marriage, years and years ago. No children. In college, I was the roommate "most likely" to have a station wagon full of kids. (This was pre-minivan days. Today it would be "soccer mom.") I was the birthday-cake maker, the supper-cooker and the house fixer-upper.

But my own family? It never happened. Too many missed opportunities, too much drive to be independent -- whatever.

I'm not particularly looking for a long-term relationship at this point in life and there aren't many people I've met that I could tolerate being close to long term. There are many I have met I know I would probably kill within a month. In some cases, I am sure I'd get off with a warning not to do it again.

I have several friends who have been good, close friends for 30, 40 years or more. Those people are rare treasures, true gems. I never would have made it this far without them. But they, too, are scattered across the world.

This idea of connections, of passions, will be my focus for fall. That will be reflected here in my blog. I'm taking a turn away from political topics. I'll be talking more about the common table, about meaningful conversations, about relationships. That's really what my blog was intended to focus on all along.

The cooler months are a great time to cook for one another and break bread together. Stay tuned for more.

And meanwhile, tell me about your passions and how they fit into your life. What are you wanting to add? What works? What doesn't? What could make it work?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Do that meme thing you do so well

Here's a fun new meme picked up over at E.R.'s place.

The Rules:

1. Go into your archive.
2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to).
3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Post your sentence in the comments here.

Here's mine:

"It was a God moment -- my ears were open and His voice spoke to me."

Here's the link: What Do We Learn From This? (Sept. 22, 2004).

What dog are you?

Take the quiz and find out! Play "What Breed of Dog Are You?"

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Apples and Quilts

On Saturday, I needed a few hours of respite to step away and clear my head of all the sadness that has been surrounding me lately. It was a beautiful clear day with a gorgeous blue sky, so I went to Guthrie to the Apples and Quilts Festival.

It's a new festival that debuted this year and I got there on the last day of its five-day run. I had hoped for more, but it was a good beginning. I hope it returns in subsequent years, bigger and better.

Here's what I saw:
Here is the first character of the day. This guy was performing in a children's theater act as part of the festival. Yes, a pirate. A pirate wtihout a parrot. He has a fuzzy ducky instead.
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Right beside him were the next characters... an older couple looking at a large quilt, trying to decide if it was suitable for them. A Red-Hat lady was telling them all about it. Not so sure the man was really into this, but he was being a good sport. I just realized you can't see his wife, behind the quilt.
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Across the street we have the next quilt. The center motif is a cross. Each square contains one of the Beatitudes.
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There were some really interesting quilt patterns displayed on one of the racks in this grouping. I liked these.

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Some traditional, old-fashioned quilts -- flowers and yo-yos (tightly gathered circles that are then sewn together). Notice the basket of apples? That's what makes this the "Apples and Quilts" Festival. Saw lots of quilts... not so many apples. Some of the old Victorian buildings are reflected in the window.
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I don't want to call these folks "characters," because they are the real deal. This is Eddie Two-Clouds, a Mescalero Apache Dancer. He was appearing in full regalia to sign prints of his portrait created by Cherokee artist Mary Beth Nelson.

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This quilt was fascinating. It is called "The Bible Quilt."
Harriet Powers, an African-American farm woman of Clark County, Georgia, created the Bible Quilt, which was first exhibited at the Athens Cotton Fair of 1886. The odd size and horizontal format suggest that it may have been intended as an expression of her deep religious faith rather than a functional bedcover. The eleven unevenly sized squares depict Bible scenes, and is a rare example of original design quilts for the era.
The original Bible Quilt is a national treasure, now owned by the Smithsonian, and is rarely displayed. In about 1994, American quilters were stunned to find that the Smithsonian had made a contract with Asian Pacific to have four of the quilts in their possession replicated in sweat shop factories in the Far East. A group, led by Karey Bresenham of Houston, went to Washington, D.C., to protest to a Congressional Committee. Bresenham and her group were able to prevent further contracts from being made, and suggested
that the quilt be reproduced in the United States by American women. Fabric companies in the United States were also licensed to reproduce the fabrics that were in the original quilt.
This is an authorized, numbered reproduction of the Bible Quilt, on loan from Janis RuBanes’ personal collection.

The first square is the Garden of Eden with the serpant. Second is Eve becoming a mother. Third is the Devil with the Seven Stars.
Fourth (second row) is Cain killing Abel. Next is Cain going to Nod to get him a wife. Next is Jacob and the angel rising and descending on the ladder. Last one on the middle row is the baptism of Christ and the descent of the Holy Spirit as a dove.

Bottom row, left, is the crucifixion Second is Judas Iscariot and the thirty pieces of silver. Third is the Last Supper. Last is the history of the Holy Family.

(see The Bible Quilt for more information.)
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Here's a Victorian-era crazy quilt, created of velvets, silks and other costly fabrics of the day.
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I stopped at Miss Lizzie's Bordello to purchase a few items -- a CD and a 1947 Encyclopedia of Housekeeping. Miss Lizzie's was genuinely a bordello in Oklahoma's Territorial days and did quite the booming business. The girls' bedrooms are now separate consignment gift shops and their names are painted over the doors. It's a great place. There are rumors of secret tunnels and bridges which allowed early politicians to enter and exit discreetly through the Blue Belle Saloon next door.
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And here's the Blue Belle -- silent film actor Tom Mix worked here as a bartender before making his fortunes in Hollywood.
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And here's a nice Victorian lady out for a Saturday stroll. You would not find her working in Miss Lizzie's.
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Here's where I had lunch, at Granny Had One. When this restaurant first opened, it was heavily decorated in primitives and antique kitchen gadgets -- basically anything the owners could find that was old. It's now a bit more refined. Lace curtains, the original wood floors, restored tin ceilings. It's a nice place.
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This is the Pollard Theater, a local community playhouse that attracts an audience from across the state. At Christmas, the theater presents "A Territorial Christmas" which is an adaptation of Dickens.
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Time to go home now... it's been a nice day. We'll take a side street so you can see the brick streets. Many of our small towns still have the original brick streets from 100 years ago. I hope we can continue to preserve them -- there's just something special about being on a road that has lasted that long.
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I hope you enjoyed the festival with me!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

A bitterly untimely death

My good friend, J.T., who sometimes posts here, lost his nephew in a single-car crash Wednesday night on the Turner Turnpike near Stroud. His car hydroplaned, hit the center wall, flipped over to the westbound lanes and hit a bridge.

Bart was a freshman at the University of Oklahoma who planned to major in journalism, like his uncle (and me). While he was in high school he served as a correspondent for the Tulsa World's Satellite section, geared toward young readers.

He was an exceptionally brilliant young man who was giving back to the community in many meaningful ways.

Please pray for the whole family and all of Bart's friends as they adjust to this tremendous loss.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Pork Tenderloin: How To

I had a request for the "how-to" of the pork tenderloin I posted in my cook-a-thon last Saturday. You know, the wonderful thing about cooking is that recipes are infinitely adaptable to what you have on hand. The recipe I had called for pork broth, which I did not have. So I looked in the fridge, found a half-full bottle of wine, and decided to try that instead. That's how this came about...

My Pork Tenderloin

3 pounds pork tenderloin

1 to 2 cups white wine -- whatever's left in the bottle
(original recipe called for 1 quart reduced pork broth)
1/2 cup brown mustard
1/2 cup yellow mustard
1 1/2 Tablespoons horseradish
1 1/2 Tablespoons ketchup
1 1/2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 cloves minced garlic

Combine all this (except the tenderloin) in a saucepan. Simmer on low and reduce.
Grill the pork tenderloin -- I recommend low heat on the grill. Turn every 6 minutes to avoid burning -- also think of the tenderloin as having four sides and turn 1/4 turn each time so all sides get equally browned and meat cooks evenly.

After first go-round, brush meat with the sauce. Continue cooking until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees. It takes about an hour. After brushing on the sauce, watch carefully to avoid burning.

Let it set to rest after removing from the grill, to allow the internal juices to redistribute.

This can be served with the following, or whatever side dishes you like:

8 small red potatoes
2 carrots, stripped
1 can pineapple rings

Grill vegetables and pineapple during the last half of the cooking time and serve with the meat.

(This is pretty darn easy stuff but oh man! So worth it!)

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Let's not forget to help the rich

I am livid to the point of shaking. Y'all have read about scam web sites claiming "send money! help Katrina's victims!" You've seen the mess made of getting people to safety. And you've seen some stories of families reconnecting, of pets being returned to owners. It's all out there -- the good, the bad and, now, the ugly.

Now comes the time when corporations start trying to capitalize on "Look at us! We're sending help!" Corporations are raising money for disaster relief. Some corporations are earmarking contributions for established emergency relief groups like the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Feed the Children... Groups that know how to get aid and comfort to those who need it, now.

Ah, but there are now those corporate charities that are doing things their own way, and that's not always bad. But sometimes it's not so good, either.

I wound up eyeball-deep in a situation where a particular corporation has established its own "caring network." Every employee is being "encouraged" to donate $100 from their own pockets. Each level of corporate structure is donating 10 percent of its gross receipts for 90 days. They raised $1 million in two days and plan to raise $5 million by the end of the month. They'll do so, easily. This is a particularly well-to-do industry.

So where is that money going? It's going to be sent to their peers who worked in the devastated areas.

"They are not the people unable to get out," I was told. "Most did get out, but their homes may have been destroyed. Because their offices were destroyed they have been unable to continue their livelihood right now."

I was told these folks still have to pay the rent on their offices and their phones and other utilities. Yeah. I believe they had a contract that says they have to give money for a space that doesn't even exist any more. Yeah, sure I do. (Pardon my cynicism. If these people have contracts like that, they aren't good business people.)

"Most do not want to relocate at this time because of spouses or other relatives in the area. We have adopted them. We're meeting their immediate needs like replacing their cars if they were destroyed," I was told. "These people are not necessarily destitute, they are just devastated."

Those are second (or third) cars they are talking about replacing, folks. These people had advance notice and were able to pack up their most precious belongings and get out before the hurricane struck. Not one foot in this group touched mud.

Of course they have suffered losses as well. Insured losses. Well insured losses. They are inconvenienced and I'm sure there is a lot of emotional trauma for them as well. I don't doubt that. I wouldn't want to trade places with them. But read on...

"Many of them were able to go stay with relatives or find hotels. We'll pay their hotel bills. They won’t qualify for federal funds like those who were on welfare. These aren't the maids and janitors that you see who couldn't afford to leave. They have a profession. There’s no (business) right now and their market is gone anyway," I was told.

"There’s nothing that will make a person in devastation happier than being handed a $5,000 check."

OK. I'm sure the rich need help too. It may take a few days for them to access their investment portfolios, get into their savings accounts, contact their insurance agents and figure out where they will do business in the future.

But I have a hard time understanding why generous people would be so quick to replace Escalades, BMWs, Lexus SUVs and the like without being a little concerned about helping babies without food or the elderly who were left to die in nursing homes because it was too inconvenient to move them to safety.

Ah, but you see, it's not just financial help, I'm told. We're staying in touch with them to give them emotional support too. We are here to meet their needs, all of them.

I am told.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

And now, something completely different

It's time for some fun, non-political blogging! So here's what I've been doing today. I've become one with my grill. I sure wish I could get an outside electric outlet installed so I could use my CookShack smoker. Here's a link to CookShack -- it's a great product made in my hometown, Ponca City, OK. It's a real smoker, using the wood of your choice, but there is an electric element that ignites the wood. I've got the biggest residential model with several shelves inside. It would be so nice to actually use it!!
Anyway, here's some of what I made today. I had a marathon session.

First, there's the pork tenderloin...
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And then there's the pork short ribs. Time to add the sauce (from Head Country, also made in Ponca City. Ironically, next to CookShack. Do you think they planned it?

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There were also two batches of chicken breasts, using different marinades. One batch was teriyaki with pineapple juice. The other was a Havana garlic and lime marinade. But the chicken was swiped by my friend before I had a chance to take a photo.

Let's see... to take an inventory, I still have some steaks and burgers to do, maybe tomorrow. I'm so glad to have a FoodSaver vacuum sealer system these days. I can parcel out these goods and either refrigerate or freeze them until needed.

Hmmm. I'm hungry. Just realized I haven't eaten all day...

Friday, September 09, 2005

A first step

WASHINGTON - Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown is being relieved of his command of the Bush administration's Hurricane Katrina onsite relief efforts, Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff announced Friday.

He will be replaced by Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen, who was overseeing New Orleans relief and rescue efforts, Chertoff said.

Earlier, Brown confirmed the switch. Asked if he was being made a scapegoat for a federal relief effort that has drawn widespread and sharp criticism, Brown told The Associated Press after a long pause: "By the press, yes. By the president, No."

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Make a joyful noise

An acquaintance of mine is the president of the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame. He and a good friend of mine are both part of a group of folks who make up a few bands in the state, both country and bluegrass. All the band members are great musicians and even better people.

And here's their latest project to help hurricane evacuees:

Several of the folks who have made it to Camp Gruber, located near Muskogee, OK, are New Orleans musicians. They've lost everything, including their instruments.

My friends knew they had to help, so they are collecting instruments to give to all of the musicians there. Many are jazz musicians, some are Cajun artists. Without their instruments, they do not have their livelihood. Even worse, their spirits are withering.

The band will be getting together Saturday and will take care of transporting the instruments to the camp, so let me put out the word here -- if you have ANY sort of musical instrument you would care to give to these people, please leave me a message here and we'll do what we can to get it into their hands. They'll even take a sousaphone or two if you have some hanging around your garage or somethin'.

I'm personally sending my fiddle. Some would say that in itself is an act of charity, but HEY what do they know?!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Watch Oprah

If you did not see Oprah Winfrey's show today, I implore you to try to watch a late-night rerun if you possibly can. She is reporting from the areas hit by Katrina, starting in New Orleans. This is without a doubt the most unsanitized, clear, honest reporting I have seen on the disaster. You'll see things that will make you sick beyond words, and you won't be able to stop crying.

She continues tomorrow with a report from Mississippi. Tape it if you must. But watch it.

Striking to me was the cry of the people for prayers and ministers and for the songs of the faith. Their faith in God remains strong, and we must support that at every opportunity. Send money, send the items asked for by relief groups, send food and water.

Pray without ceasing.

Sunday, September 04, 2005


In so many ways today's refugees and evacuees from the Gulf area are like the people Moses led out of captivity. They have left facing all manner of harm, trusting that somewhere, somehow there is something better awaiting.

As a people of God, let us not let our brothers and sisters lose hope during this time. We must continue to pray for them, for their spirits to be uplifted, for them not to lose courage or hope. Above all, they must NOT lose hope. We must NOT allow that. Too many already have, with dire results. We surely will hear more desperate stories of suicides and wrongdoing done by those who have lost all vision, courage and hope.

We must raise them up, speak for them to the Father when all they can do is groan. And once they are led out, we must do all we can as a people of faith to restore them.

Politics will take care of itself after Hell has been conquered again. I've previously written, and need to remind myself, that it was only days ago (Aug. 24) that we had a great debate at E.R.'s blog.

Among the things I posted in that debate were these:

Jesus said "forget the damned rules and listen to me. Take care of each other and pay attention to me."

Philippians 2:1-4:
1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,
2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

John 15: 12-15
12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
14 You are my friends if you do what I command.
15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

Matthew 25:34-46
34 "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,
36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

37 "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?
39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

40 "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

41 "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

44 "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

45 "He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

46 "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

I needed to be reminded of these things again today.

Now is the time for us, members of the Body of Christ, to stand shoulder-to-shoulder and bring these brothers and sisters out of captivity.

I've made a series of posts today to offer some encouragement and some ways of plugging in. Please look through these -- I've broken them up so they aren't overwhelming. Take this as a call to action, a trumpet blowing.

Love to you all.

Let us SING (all the verses)

I am grateful that my current pastor allows us to sing all the verses of our hymns and not just "Verses 1,2 and 5". It is only by singing the full text of these hymns that we hear the whole story being told. Sometimes, those middle verses that are oft forgotten are the ones that really, really have the impact.

And so it was this morning at my church. Here are the lyrics to the hymns we sang.


Lead On, O Cloud of Presence (tune is Lead On, O God Eternal)

Lead on, O cloud of Presence, the exodus is come,
in wilderness and desert our tribe shall make its home.
Our slavery left behind us, new hopes within us grow.
We seek the land of promise where milk and honey flow.

Lead on, O fiery Pillar, we follow yet with fears,
but we shall come rejoicing though joy be born of tears.
We are not lost, though wandering, for by your light we come,
and we are still God's people. The journey is our home.

Lead on O God of freedom, and guide us on our way,
and help us trust the promise through struggle and delay.
We pray our sons and daughters may journey to that land
where justice dwells with mercy, and love is law's demand.


Deep in the Shadows of the Past (Tune is "I Feel the Winds of God Today")

Deep in the shadows of the past, far out from settled lands,
some nomads traveled with their God across the desert sands.
The dawning hope of humankind by them was sensed and shown;
a promise calling them ahead, a future yet unknown.

While others bowed to changeless gods they met a mystery,
invisible, without a name: "I AM WHAT I WILL BE";
and by their tents, around the fires, in story, song and law,
they praised, remembered, handed on a past that promised more.

From Exodus to Pentecost the promise changed and grew,
while some, remembering the past, recorded what they knew,
or with their letters and laments, their prophecy and praise
recovered, kindled and expressed new hope for changing days.

For all the writings that survived, for leaders, long ago,
who sifted, copied, and preserved the Bible that we know,
Give thanks and find its story yet our promise, strength and call,
the model of emerging faith, alive with hope for all.


El Shaddai

El Shaddai, El Shaddai, El Elyon na Adonai;
age to age you're still the same by the power of the name.
El Shadai, El Shaddai, Erkahmka na Adonai;
We will praise and lift you high, El Shaddai.

Translations of the Hebrew:
El Shaddai: God Almighty
El Elyon: The Most High God
na Adonai: O Lord
Erkahmka: We will love you.


They'll Know We Are Christians by Our Love
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord,
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord,
And we pray that all unity may one day be restored
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, By our love,
Yes they'll know we are Christians by our love.

We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand,
We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand,
And together we'll spread the news that God is in our land;
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, By our love,
Yes they'll know we are Christians by our love.

We will work with each other, we will work side by side,
We will work with each other, we will work side by side,
And we'll guard each man's dignity and save each man's pride;
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, By our love,
Yes they'll know we are Christians by our love.

All praise to the Father, from whom all things come,
And all praise to Christ Jesus, His only Son,
And all praise to the Spirit who makes us one;
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, By our love,
Yes they'll know we are Christians by our love.

Let us GO

Volunteer are needed to help on a mission team. The Oklahoma Volunteers In Mission will be sending teams in the weeks and months to come. If you feel called to lead or to be a part of a team please contact Debbie Ingraham at 943-9683 or Chad Detwiler at 830-8684 to volunteer.

Websites you may check for updates on United Methodist relief efforts.
Methodist Relief
United Methodist Committee on Relief

Let us GIVE

Other United Methodist Efforts for Relief .....

Oklahoma City University President Tom McDaniel has announced the university
will offer free tuition to any student enrolled at a college or university
affected by the hurricane. Perhaps you or members of your congregation know
families with students who could benefit from this.

The offer by OCU includes --- but is not limited to --- students at the
following New Orleans schools: Dillard University, Loyola University, Our
Lady of Holy Cross College, Southern University at New Orleans, Tulane
University, the University of New Orleans and Xavier University; also,
students at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Miss.
The one semester of free tuition applies to undergraduate, graduate and law
programs. The university has extended its enrollment period by one week.
Students may enroll through Sept. 9.

100% of funds given to UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) go directly to help Katrina survivors.
Please make your check payable to GRACE UMC (6316 N Tulsa Oklahoma City, OK 73112) or any other United Methodist Church and note in the memo line of
your check UMCOR Advance #982523. You may send your check to the church or
place it in the Sunday offering. You may also donate online at
Methodist Relief or by phone at 1(800)554-8583.

At Grace United Methodist Church, we will be accepting flood buckets and health kits.

These can be created and placed in the trophy case hallway. You can follow the below guidelines to create a flood bucket and/or health kit. All of these supplies will be delivered to the UMCOR Sager Brown distribution center in Baldwin, Louisiana.

Flood Bucket
§ 5-gallon bucket with re-sealable lid
§ Bleach
§ 5 scouring pads
§ 7 Sponges
§ 1 scrub brush
§ 18 cleaning towels (reusable wipes)
§ Liquid laundry detergent (two 25 oz. or one 50 oz. bottle)
§ 1 household cleaner, 12-16 oz. bottle
§ Disinfectant dish soap, 16-28 oz. bottle
§ 50 clothes pins
§ Clothes line (two 50 ft. or one 100 ft.)
§ 5 dust masks
§ 2 pair latex gloves
§ 1 pair work gloves
§ 24-bag roll of heavy-duty trash bags, 33-45 gallon (remove roll from box
before placing in bucket)
§ 1 Insect repellant spray, 6-14 oz. can (If aerosol, cans must have
protective caps.)
§ 1 Air freshener, 8 or 9 oz. can (If aerosol, cans must have protective
Put all items in the plastic bucket and seal lid. Please ensure that all
cleansing agents are liquids (not powder) and in plastic bottles.

Health Kit
Bottled Water
Hand Towels (15" x 25" up to 17" x 27")
Wash Cloths
Combs (large and sturdy, not pocket sized0
Nail files or fingernail clippers (no emery boards or toenail clippers)
Bath-Size bars of soap (3 oz and up)
Toothbrushes (4.5 or larger, expiration date must be 6 months or longer)
Adhesive plastic strip sterile bandages
Laundered twin flat bed sheets and pillowcases
Large plastic container of talcum powder
Large petroleum jelly (vaseline)
Two yards of floral or plain cotton fabric
Household rubber or latex gloves

Many other churches also are accepting supplies. I know Messiah Lutheran Church on Northwest Expressway, St. Luke's United Methodist Church at NW 15 and Robinson and Wesley United Methodist Church on NW 24 and Classen are among the churches collecting supplies.

Feed The Children at NW 3 and Meridian will be accepting donations Monday through Friday.

And as always, financial donations can be made to the American Red Cross, Salvation Army and United Way. If you wish, you may designate your funds specifically for Katrina relief.

Please share other places accepting aid contributions if you wish. But most importantly, please give what you can to help others in this time of terrific need.

Let us PRAY

O God, you divided the waters of chaos at creation.
In Christ you stilled storms, raised the dead,
And vanquished demonic powers.
Tame the earthquake, wind, and fire,
And all the forces that defy control or shock us by their fury.
Help us, in good times and in distress,
To trust your mercy and yield to your power, this day and for ever.
(As printed in the United Methodist Book of Worship #509)

Let us pray for:

Those who are displaced by the storm, and for people who continue to live in
shelters and with friends and family.

Those whose loved ones perished in the storm.

Volunteers from across our land, who make their way to Mississippi, Alabama
and Louisiana.

Those in government: township, village, state, and federal, who must find
ways to help communities rebuild.

And we, who dwell in safety, may our emotion and compassion not be
overwhelmed and may our financial gifts help those who are overcome in need.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Be Prepared

I decided to break this into a separate post. It started out tagged onto the fatigue post below, but it should be set apart.

We can take some steps, regardless of where we live, to make sure that WE personally are prepared for the next disaster. There will be more. They will be where we don't expect, in ways we don't expect. That's what makes them disasters.

Last night the American Red Cross was handing out pamphlets at the game to encourage everyone to review their own situations. Their advice includes five actions for emergency preparedness:

1. Make a plan. Talk with your family and assign responsibilities within your family. Choose two places to meet after a disaster -- right outside your home and outside your neighborhood, in case you can't return home or are asked to evacuate.

2. Build a kit. Enough of these items for three days:
--Water (one gallon per person per day).
--Food (non-perishable, high-protein items, including energy bars, ready-to-eat soup, peanut butter, etc. Select foods that require no refrigeration,preparation or cooking , and little or no water.)

--Flashlight and extra batteries.

--First aid kit and reference guide.


--Battery-operated radio and extra batteries.

--Tools. Include a wrench to turn off gas, a manual can opener, a screwdriver, hammer, pliers, a knife, duct tape, plastic sheeting, garbage bags and ties.

--Clothing. A change of clothing for each person, inlcuding sturdy shoes and gloves.

--Personal items -- eyeglasses, copies of important papers including identification, insurance policies, birth certificates, passports, etc. Comfort items.

--Sanitary supplies -- toilet paper, personal hygiene items, bleach.

--Money. Have cash. ATMS and credit cards won't work when the power is out.

--Contact information. Carry a current list of family phone numbers and e-mail addresses, including someone out of the area who may be easier to reach if local phone lines are out of service.

--Pet supplies.

--A map. Consider marking an evacuation route on it out of your local area.

3. Get trained. Learn simple first-aid techniques including CPR. Contact your local American Red Cross chapter for more information.

4. Volunteer. You can find some way to help. Contact your church, civic group or American Red Cross to find out where and how you can help.

5. Give blood. You can save a life.

I also urge you all to read Frenzied Feline's blog to learn more about preparedness. She knows her stuff on this, folks, and we all need to listen to her advice.

We're in the middle of perhaps the worst disaster ever to hit our country, folks. We are vulnerable now and we need to pull together to overcome. We're also most at risk of being attacked while we're down. I'm not trying to go all doom's day freaky on y'all or anything, just saying let's use our smarts.

Be prepared. We can help lessen the impact of whatever gets thrown our way if we're ready.

I've reached fatigue

Maybe it's my age or something, but I've reached the fatigue level on Katrina much sooner than normal. There comes a point in every disaster where I simply have to step away from coverage and debates. I have to get away from thinking about it entirely for a bit.

We all hit that time, I know we do. I remember being shocked at peers who burned out early during the Murrah Federal Building bombing in 1995. Some wanted to close the door on it before the rubble was cleared. I understand a little better now than I did then.

I'm not saying I've turned my back on the suffering or on our necessary response to this. Not at all. Simply saying that I can't stay immersed in the pain 24/7 feeling impotent.

Last night, I even went to a ball game with a group of friends. We went to watch the RedHawks play against Omaha. Our 'Hawks lost, but it was fun. I think the 9,000-plus people there probably shared a common need to set aside a few hours to return to some sense of normalcy. There were moments when I felt guilty for doing so. We don't want to have fun when others are in the midst of devastation.

I wanted to wake up this morning and find that all the help that is needed has found its way to all those who are in need, NOW. I wanted us not to have reasons to feel disappointed that there's been a lack of leadership at many levels. I don't want there to be a reason to place blame.

We don't always get what we want. But sometimes we have to take a step back to make sure we're not just screaming into the winds because of our great personal frustrations at not being able to CHANGE THINGS. It's easy to believe that we could somehow do things better if we were "in charge." And maybe there are better leaders. I think so.

But last night after enjoying the game, and crawling into my own cozy, soft, clean bed, as I was dozing off I realized so much of our (my) rantings have simply served to burn off some of the energy I wish I could apply to end suffering. I can't pluck babies and old people out of New Orleans, as much as I want to. So that adrenaline has to go elsewhere, and it's been channeled into expression. I'm not alone.

Oh how I wish I could do more, but I will do all that I can. Refugees are arriving in my area, and I will donate as many good, usable items as I can. I'll support the United Methodist Committee on Relief. I'll urge others to do all they can do.

I can't donate blood, or I would have already been at the blood bank. I hate that, but I've been permanently deferred after being a 2-gallon donor. If you can give blood, PLEASE do so. PLEASE.

Friday, September 02, 2005


NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Four days after Hurricane Katrina struck, the National Guard arrived in force Friday with food, water and weapons, churning through the floodwaters in a vast truck convoy with orders to retake the streets and bring relief to the suffering.

"The cavalry is and will continue to arrive," said one general.

The trucks began arriving at the New Orleans Convention Center, where 15,000 to 20,000 hungry and desperate refugees had taken shelter - many of them seething with anger so intense that the place appeared ready to erupt in violence at any moment. For a day or more, corpses lay abandoned outside the building, and many storm refugees complained bitterly that they had been forsaken by the government.

The open-topped trucks carried huge boxes of relief supplies. Soldiers sat in the backs of some of the trucks, their rifles pointing skyward.

The soldiers' arrival-in-force came amid blistering criticism from the mayor and others who said the federal government had bungled the relief effort and let people die in the streets for lack of food, water or medicine.

"The people of our city are holding on by a thread," Mayor Ray Nagin warned in a statement to CNN. "Time has run out. Can we survive another night? And who can we depend on? Only God knows."

And this. Emphasis mine:

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) -- Facing sharp criticism, President Bush opened a tour of the hurricane-battered Gulf Coast on Friday by vowing the government will restore order in lawless New Orleans and saying the $10.5 billion being approved by Congress is just a small downpayment for disaster relief.

"I'm not looking forward to this trip," Bush said as he set out for a firsthand look at the destruction in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.

"It's as if the entire Gulf Coast were obliterated by the worst kind of weapon you can imagine," the president said.

Bush began the day at the White House where he expressed unhappiness with the efforts so far to provide food and water to hurricane victims and to stop looting and lawlessness in New Orleans. "The results are not acceptable," said Bush, who rarely admits failure.
The president's comments came after New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin lashed out at federal officials, telling a local radio station "they don't have a clue what's going on down here."

Even Republicans were criticizing Bush and his administration for the sluggish relief effort. "I think it puts into question all of the Homeland Security and Northern Command planning for the last four years, because if we can't respond faster than this to an event we saw coming across the Gulf for days, then why do we think we're prepared to respond to a nuclear or biological attack?" said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

He urged Bush to name former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani as the White House point person for relief efforts. Rep. John Sweeney, R-N.Y., also suggested Giuliani or former Secretary of State Colin Powell or retired Gen. Tommy Franks to take charge of the relief efforts.

Bush got a warm reception in Mobile from Govs. Haley Barbour of Mississippi and Bob Riley of Alabama. Both praised the federal government's response. Still, Barbour said, "We've suffered a grievous blow that we won't recover from for a long while."

Standing with the governors in an airplane hangar, Bush said, "We have a responsibility to clean up this mess."

"What is not working right, we're going to make it right," Bush said. Referring to rampant looting and crime in New Orleans, Bush said, "We are going to restore order in the city of New Orleans."

"The people of this country expect there to be law and order, and we're going to work hard to get it," the president said. "In order to make sure there's less violence, we've got to get food to people."

"We'll get on top of this situation," Bush said, "and we're going to help the people that need help."

Bush was accompanied by Homeland Security Department secretary Michael Chertoff. The department, which oversees the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has been accused of responding sluggishly to the deadly hurricane. On the plane ride to Alabama, Bush was briefed on plans for housing the tens of thousands of people displaced by the hurricane.

"There's a lot of aid surging toward those who've been affected. Millions of gallons of water. Millions of tons of food. We're making progress about pulling people out of the Superdome," the president said.

For the first time, however, he stopped defending his administration's response and criticized it. "A lot of people are working hard to help those who've been affected. The results are not acceptable," he said. "I'm heading down there right now."

Thursday, September 01, 2005

God help them!

A disturbing excerpt from the latest AP story out of New Orleans this morning. The scene is unspeakable:

Outside the Convention Center, the sidewalks were packed with people without food, water or medical care, and with no sign of law enforcement. Thousands of storm refugees had been assembling outside for days, waiting for buses that did not come.

At least seven bodies were scattered outside, and hungry, desperate people who were tired of waiting broke through the steel doors to a food service entrance and began pushing out pallets of water and juice and whatever else they could find.

An old man in a chaise lounge lay dead in a grassy median as hungry babies wailed around him. Around the corner, an elderly woman lay dead in her wheelchair, covered up by a blanket, and another body lay beside her wrapped in a sheet.

Read all about it: Unrest intensifies at Superdome Shelter

WHY was that food service entrance locked, when there was water and juice inside? WHY was that not immediately made available?

I fear the situation with the dead will continue to worsen. My heart aches; I cry about this hellish situation, especially at night.

Will it be any better when they move these people to the Astrodome? I don't know, but I pray so.

We must find ways to get water, food, basic sanitation to these people, and get them OUT of these devastated areas. Horrible as it is, they must abandon any sense that New Orleans or these other affected areas are still "home." They are not. Not now. Not for a long time.

It's time to accept that they will have to wander in the wilderness, at least until we can absorb them elsewhere and restore their humanity and dignity. And we MUST. We must save them.

God help them. Please, dear Lord, help them. Help us to help them. Use our hands and feet and make us swift in bringing compassion and aid to these brothers and sisters. We may not be able to save the city, but we can save the people who have "survived."