Monday, July 31, 2006

What a party! To Greenhill's credit, there was a broad diversity of guests, even his twin 19 yr. old daughters and their dates were there. Most of the adults were musicians/artists of some sort, so there was a lot of creative energy to keep conversation lively. The great food and drink helped, too, of course. He and Debbie are 49 this year. Once again, I was the oldest person there, and I reveled in all the remarks of disbelief. The mix of flattery and Chardonnay made me quite giddy, but not too giddy, according to my hubby.

My two sons are buying me a digital camera for my birthday and it's being delivered this week. I am so excited. My little 35mm has a whole roll of exposed film in it, but the battery is dead, so I'm going to have to unload it in the dark and get it developed. That will be the last of fooling with film. Hallelujah!

Mick climbed one of the trees in our front yard this morning and jumped from limb to limb, then descended, much like a little monkey. Maybe that's why we haven't seen Mother Mockingbird lately. Hopefully, he just scared her away to another neighborhood. I wonder if I can post video clips like that to the blog. The photos will be easy, but not sure if blogger accepts video. I'll have to check.

I met another fascinating animal at the party last night, Cody, an English Setter, who belonged to Randolph, the attorney. (Not sure if he's artistic, or not, but he loves dogs, and he hates George Bush, so I liked him, naturally.) Cody was friendly, but not aggressive, very affectionate, and took up with me after I pulled the briars off his brown spotted coat. Randolph said if he ever got tired of Cody, he was bringing him to me.

Nell, the Greenhills' Golden Retriever and Stella, their beagle, aren't getting along, so they're thinking of getting rid of Stella, who is mean to Nell. I'd love to take them all, and probably would if I lived out in the country. Oooh! Gus and Jay-Jay would be so jealous. They went crazy sniffing all the strange dog scents on me when we got home.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

My dream this morning was about being in a house in Booneville, out in the woods, which had "all manner of sin and corruption," gambling, prostitution, a honky tonk with lewd dancing. I had taken Mother there to play Bingo, and I couldn't get her to leave. We spent the entire night there and left at sunrise. And we had to walk back to Tupelo! The road was washed out in one place, so everybody was swimming across to the other side. Mother couldn't swim, so she wanted to turn around and go play Bingo some more, but the water wasn't deep, and I was trying to convince her she could walk across. Now what was that all about?

I was glad to be back at church today. The choir's anthem was "He, Watching Over Israel" from Elijah by Mendelssohn, which is one of my favorites, but I would give today's performance an A-. We have done it better in the past than we did today. Mike said it sounded perfect to him, but we started out slower than David wanted, and seemed to drag the tempo all the way through. We were not at our best. This is the way it should have sounded:

When I asked about last Sunday and what all I missed, I got some interesting comments: "Every song you can think of about the Good Shepherd, we sang." "Shannon Johnston's sermon sounded like a Baptist sermon, but with substance." "Longest sermon ever preached in this church." "It was almost 12:30 by the time we got out." Obviously, it was Good Shepherd Sunday and the priest from All Saints in Tupelo was filling in for Tom. I'm kinda glad I missed it. I was being spiritually blessed by watching my grandchildren "teach the dogs to swim."

Speaking of dogs, Daniel came by Friday evening with his mother. He has a new 7 wk old puppy, a female pit bull Keyla. The puppy was licking Daniel all over, so he was one happy boy! He was disappointed to have missed Clay and Cooper, but said he never got the message. Gwen has a new car, a Maroon Nissan. They're living in the apartments off Lakeland behind Blue Cross, which is still in the NW school district. She said they will probably move again when she finishes nursing school in a couple of months. She gave me their new cell phone numbers.

Mike is eating lunch at Margarita's with Jon, even though we'll probably see him again this evening at Greenhill's birthday party. I ate a very light lunch, because I know we'll have a rich dinner. I just hope he doesn't go overboard on the Margaritas, then want to drink wine tonight.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

I was awakened at 4 am by my husband dressing. "I'm going to Waffle House for breakfast," he announced, "and if they tell me there are trans fats in their waffles, I'm coming back to the house." "And you really expect them to know or admit whether there are trans fats in their food?" "Well, they should know," he answered. "This has got to be one of the strangest things you ever did, Honey," I told him, " going to Waffle House at 4 in the morning to have an argument with a waitress and a cook about trans fats. Most of their clientele couldn't care less about their cholesterol." "Yeah, I guess you're right," he finally conceded, and went downstairs to turn on the coffee pot and eat a Power Bar. He then let me sleep until 8:00, which is really late sleeping at my house.

Betsy picked up Richard at the bus station yesterday morning, so he's back at her house. His truck is still in Texas.

Benji and Karen are leaving Asheville for Memphis today. Not much else to report this morning.

Friday, July 28, 2006

My dogs are catching up on their sleep since company left. I've never seen them so tired. In reading back over the last few days of this blog, I realize how often I've complained of being tired. I don't realize how slow the pace is around here until I spend time with younger people who seem to never run down. I know people my age who could keep up with them, but they have always been high energy folks.

My high energy days were between ages 15-37, high school, dating Richard, having kids, raising kids, chauffering kids, working, going to college, I look back on that time and wonder where I found enough pep to do it all. Maybe I am lazy, I heard that often as a child because I wasn't very athletic, or maybe I'm just one of those people who enjoys the slower pace. I stayed in pajamas all day yesterday and didn't feel the least bit guilty. I would do the same today except that I told Mike I would meet him for lunch. We've revived our Friday date tradition, except now we go to lunch rather than dinner. "Afternoon delight" now means taking naps.

Ricky laughed the other night about his strange family tree. I'm glad to know he now jokes about it rather than letting it embarrass him. He said if a comedy writer created his family for a tv series, everybody would think it was an exaggeration of dysfunctional. He and Mary Ann are closer to the trunk than all the off-shoots, he quipped. We do seem to have several spectrums covered from one extreme to another and several points in between. Now if we could just get everybody together without a lot of acrimony, I'll bet the reunion would not be boring.

He also came close to admitting his dissatisfaction with our president. We usually avoid the subject of politics, since he supported Dubya and I opposed him vehemently from the beginning, but that's one of those polar opposites you find in our family. He seems to think a viable 3rd party will form from the disenchanted Republicans and Democrats. The history of third parties is not good. As much as I would like to see that happen, I still remember the devastating effect Ralph Nader's candidacy had on the 2000 election. Even though I liked what he stood for, he siphoned enough supporters away from Gore to give Bush an advantage. What a disaster!

The other surprising thing I learned from Mary Ann is that she would like a smaller, more intimate church family than the mega-church they attend in Tampa. It's so impersonal, she told me, but the programs for children and youth are so good, they will stay there for that. She belongs to a Community Bible Study group that meets most of her needs for personal relationships. I can tell that she and Ricky are mellowing with middle age.

I'm getting inspired to paint again. There were so many local artists' pieces in Bethany's store the other day, I realized that my work could easily be among them. First, though, I need to paint the rocker I promised them for Harlee. It's cool enough on the deck today that I could work comfortably out there.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

It's so quiet around here, makes it hard to know if I'm sad or relieved; a little of both, really. Ricky & family left for Tampa around 10:30. We had a lot of fun with them, especially yesterday. Mary Ann and I drove out to Vance's new house, which is so far out in the country it's on a graveled road. Their new home is gorgeous with a lot of features I would want to use if I built a new one. Vance did most of the contracting himself and is enjoying the building business in addition to doing his sales job with Zep.

The vacant lot next door to his is for sale and Mary Ann immediately said she wanted it. She and Clay would move back to Mississippi tomorrow if Ricky would agree, but Cooper is less enthused about living in Miss, and Ricky is even less inclined than Cooper. We took all four dogs with us to enjoy this country outing, and they wore themselves out playing with Vance's two - Conner and Trooper. Their inside dog Katie is a silky terrior and can be a little buzzsaw like Gus. Vance killed a copperhead snake on their patio while we were there. That's when I lost all interest in having a place out there.

After visiting out there, we brought the dogs back to the house, picked up Mike, then went to see Bethany and Harlee at their baby store - Nursery Rhymes on Lakeland. Deanne happened by while we were there, so we got to see her and her new diamond ring, too. Harlee is precious, bright-eyed, happy, we never heard her cry, even while eating lunch at the Tex-Mex Restaurant next door. Her hair still stands straight up on top like a Mohawk, and it appeared to have a touch of red in it, but I didn't dare say that around Bethany's sister.

After lunch we went to see Mother at the nursing home. She was in good spirits, and sorta knew who everybody was, but didn't say much. She read to us from the newspaper in front of her. Ricky tried to engage her in working the New York Times crossword puzzle, and she did spell a couple of words, but wasn't really cognizant of the reason he wanted her to spell them. The boys made hats with the newspapers.

It was about 4:30 by the time we got home. I took the boys to Rapids until closed at 6, and was glad we had not planned a longer excursion. Rapids is so small and simple compared to the water park they have in Tampa that the boys were ready to go when it closed. They may even have been a little bored. Or maybe they were tired.

We just hung out in front of the tv for the rest of the evening, waiting on the dark clouds and thunder to bring some more rain, but they never did. We even listened to the old Mariah album that Mike's band recorded back in the 70's. I let everybody fix their own supper when they got hungry, nobody had a big appetite after our Tex-Mex lunch. We mainly just snacked and drank wine.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

It's 9:00 and only 74*, we're all loving this cooler weather. Thank you for the break, Lord. Ricky and the boys left early to go fishing. I hope they have a good catch. We're planning to visit Mother after they get home. Not sure what they will want to do after that. I've given them options and let them choose. Clay could happily spend hours just playing with his Legos. He goes into a state of intense concentration, unaware of anything else going on around him. I can do that when I'm painting. I worry that he's isolating himself, but people have said the same about me. It's a very peaceful place, so I don't begrudge him that, and all his other needs are met, so he's ok. He's not being compared unfavorably to his younger brother, and his parents seem to accept him the way he is, a very unique and brilliant individual. Their parenting style is a little more enlightened than mine or my parents' style was. Benji isolated himself a good bit with his books, preferring to read for long periods of time while the other children were doing other things. Maybe it's a family trait.

All 4 dogs are asleep while the boys are out. Gus and Jay-Jay were even reluctant to get up this morning, very unusual for them. It's funny to watch Maggie herd them when they're running. Jay-Jay is not used to being outrun and having his direction determined by another dog. It's quite frustrating for him.

Rick just called to say Clay is still the only one who's caught any fish. I'm glad he's the one, if there had to be just one. Cooper excells at so many things already, Clay needed some bragging rights, too. Mary Ann and I are going out there to see the baby and the new house.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The fishing trip with Uncle Paul turned out to be a bust. Clay caught one fish. My brother didn't want the boys to be disappointed, so they're going again at 5 pm. Maybe the storms will have cleared out by then. This picture of Clay has some Silas in it.

This gramma is really missing her afternoon naps. Maybe I can get Jay-Jay calmed enough to grab a quick one while Ricky entertains the kids with video games.

6 hrs. later. The evening fishing wasn't any better than the morning, but the boys had fun. I got laundry done while everybody was gone, and got a nap, too. They're planning to go to Vance's in the morning early. The private lake where he lives is supposed to be well stocked and easy to catch.

The best news from Paul's family is that Deanne is engaged and planning a December wedding. I hope she's marrying the guy I met with her at the hospital in May, cute guy and well-mannered, obviously adored Deanne.

Mike took the boys to see Superman yesterday, which they thoroughly enjoyed. I supervised their swimming for a couple of hours, but got blistered sitting in the shade; sun reflected off the water, I guess. They spent about an hour in the pool, then went to the lake. They both came home with pockets full of prize rocks they found. Half of them wound up in my washing machine today. It's been a long time since I had to check little boys' pockets before washing their clothes.

Monday, July 24, 2006

My house is a jungle, a wilderness of luggage, clothes, toys, people, dogs and cats. Ricky and Mary Ann got in around 6 pm; Clay and Cooper were really glad to see them, so were Tucker and Maggie. After eating and visiting, we all turned in early. They always come back from the Premier rally in a sleep deprived state.

Clay and I have started the tedious task of cleaning the hot tub and deck. Cooper took one look at how nasty it was and wanted nothing to do with it. I sure do wish I could get rid of that monstrosity, but I guess I'm stuck with it. I do need to get a new cover for it. I'd like to build a wooden platform over it and put potted plants on it. Maybe I should fill it with dirt and make a garden of it. I'd get more enjoyment out if it that way.

Gus and Jay-Jay are two tired puppies. They've missed regular naps for the last two days and Gus is especially irritable and cross. Jay-Jay is acting insecure because I'm giving the other dogs attention and I've switched them back to dry food while Tucker and Maggie are here. He keeps giving me that searching look with those sad eyes. "Do you still love me?" they seem to say, and "Where's the canned food?"

Ricky is working today, and glad I finally got DSL. Mary Ann has gone back to bed. Mike's at the gym. I need to start planning for lunch, but I need to go to the store first. Thank goodness, it's not so blistering hot today. The high is supposed to be around 90*, and that's due to a "cold front" that has moved in.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Sunday morning came and went without us leaving home. Mike and the dogs were ready to start the day at 6:30, the boys and I reluctantly followed. It didn't take long, however, to kick the fun into high gear. To take advantage of nobody else being at the pool early, we took the dogs walking then the boys went swimming, first in the pool for a half hour, then, because the dogs aren't allowed in the pool, they went to the lake. Maggie, Tucker, and Jay-Jay got the thrill of being thrown off the end of the pier with Clay and Cooper right behind them. It took another hour for them to get tired, (well, Gramma and Papa Mike got tired) and hungry.

Gus has always acted like he was afraid of water, but before we left the lake, he was looking like he might like to try it. Maybe next time. Rather than throwing him in, though, I think he should be carried into the water gently and calmly.

The boys spent the rest of the morning playing computer games and watching Power Rangers. They just informed me they are hungry again, so I'm thinking China Buffet for lunch. I thought the bacon and eggs would hold them longer than 3 hours. They are growing boys and Clay isn't taking his Adderall while on vacation.

The storms last night had all eight of us huddled in the king-sized bed watching the pirate shows on the History Channel. I had no trouble going to sleep after putting the boys to bed.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Jeanette called back yesterday afternoon with an offer to meet me halfway with the boys and dogs. Bless her heart, Lord, then bless it again. We met at Jeff Busby Park at 10, visited and walked dogs for about 30 minutes, then took off back to Jackson, stopping at Wendy's in Kosciusko for lunch, and at the Cypress Swamp. We got home ahead of the bad weather which is coming in fast. Maggie and Jay-Jay are pacing the floor while the thunder rolls, Gus and Tucker seem not to be bothered. The boys have settled in front of the tv watching cartoons, I lay down and tried to take a nap, but couldn't. We're going to bed early tonight; I'm very tired.

Mike was remarkably patient with the boys and dogs. He's managing his anger much better than he used to. He's planning to take the boys to the movie to see "Monster House," unless their parents object. I'm planning to take them to the Natural Science Museum, and maybe to the Planetarium. They want to go to Rapids one day, and fishing with Uncle Paul one day. Of course, our pool has always been a big attraction. No wonder they think of Mississippi as a vacation wonderland. We're planning to take them with us to church tomorrow unless it's storming, but I will sit with them rather than sing in the choir.

Cooper at 9 years old weighs 83 lbs. Clay is 12 and weighs only 78. The Adderall dulls his appetite so bad. I don't think he's had any today, he's been loud and hyper, he's on the treadmill right now. Good thing he's so sweet. He and Cooper both are very affectionate and well-mannered. They've been taught to say, "Yes, Ma'am," and Yes, Sir," unusual these days, but charming.

Betsy and Laurie are talking about putting Richard on a plane back to Jackson and Betsy will pick him up, she said. I guess they've decided to leave the truck in Texas. Whether he will want to come back home with her remains to be seen.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Mike is insisting on going to Baldwyn with me to get Clay and Cooper and the dogs. That means Gus and Jay-Jay will have to go, too. So coming back, there will be 4 people and 4 dogs in my car. I think we need to take the Trace, since there are less traffic and more places to stop. Then there's the big dog crate that Ricky says is supposed to be collapsible, but isn't, and will have to take up at least one seat in the back. We're waiting until Saturday to make this trip and rain is predicted for the p.m. I'm hoping we can get an early start, get there in time for lunch, then get back here before supper time and before the rain starts. Church duties may get shelved on Sunday. I get tired just thinking about all this.

Betsy has decided to let Laurie and Tara take their turn at bat in caring for their father. Ricky said he would drive Betsy's car back from Dallas and follow them in the truck if she wanted to go out there and take care of the discharge from the hospital and get the truck out of impound, but she declined the offer. They're planning to leave on Sunday before noon, which should put them here in time for supper. The Premier rally is actually in Fort Worth, not Dallas. I asked Ricky to check with the Texas people on any kind of short-term or long-term care facility in the area for the mentally ill, if they have no where else to go. He said he would. The Horners, who own Premier, may have contacts that are not available to the general public. He seemed to be happy to help. He and Benji both are quite compassionate when someone needs help. They make this mother feel very proud.

I can't say I blame Betsy for not wanting to take on the responsibility for her ex-husband. I just remember how distraught she was the first time she drove to Shreveport looking for him and didn't find him. That was before she knew what living with him would be like. The actual experience of the past year has taught her she is ill-equipped to cope with the demands of someone who is disintergrating before her very eyes. I know how hard it is to deal with Mike and his physical handicap. I can't imagine how much more difficult it would be had the stroke affected him mentally. I just hope she doesn't beat herself up because she chose not to go get him.

Then she's got all of his "stuff" at her house, which she will have to do something with. She added him to her car insurance and took out liability on the truck. She got him on Medicare while he was with her. And she has access to the account where his disability check is deposited every month. Several changes will have to be made. She said he wasn't sharing the living expenses except to buy groceries, and would buy gas for her car every once in a while. He paid a couple of electric bills, but that was about it. I don't think he was cognizant of how much it takes to live these days. He could not even operate the ATM the last time he tried to withdraw cash.

There isn't much their daughters can do to help either. They were here last October when he was committed to Whitfield. The judge told him then that he needed to be grateful that Betsy was willing for him to stay with her. The list of people who care about him is very short and getting shorter. What he needs is a big, strong male nurse living with him 24/7, but as far as I know, they don't exist, nobody reputable anyway. About the only alternative left is living in a motel, several have weekly and monthly rates, and are within walking distance of a restaurant. As confused as he gets, though, I'm not sure he could find his way to and from motel and restaurant three times a day. Truly pathetic.

Well, I've worried the horns off this billy goat. Time to clean carpets and bathrooms.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

My sister is in quite a jam. Her ex has no place to go but her house. Their daughters have no place for him, his parents aren't able, he has no siblings, no friends, the state has no long term care facility, so what to do? The doctors at Parklane say he shouldn't continue to drive and his psychotic episodes will become more frequent and more severe as he ages. It's a tough situation, one of those that reminds us of our limitations very quickly.

With Ricky and Mary Ann being in Dallas in their van, it's possible they would volunteer for a huge good Samaritan deed and help Betsy get him and his truck home. But I hate to suggest it to them. With the doctors not wanting him to drive, it would be tough to keep him from getting behind the wheel unless the hospital sedated him. And what would they do with the truck once they get it back to Mississippi? If he doesn't have his truck, he will just take Betsy's car again like he did before he retrieved the truck from his parents' home. He's very careless in his driving, she said, and is becoming a danger to himself and others, kinda like Jack before we took her car away from her. I don't want to go through that ever again. If she got it back here, she could sell it, I guess, but she doesn't own it. We got Mother to sign over the titles to her cars in some deceptive way, can't remember now how we did it. Some problems just don't have good solutions, sometimes the only choices are between the devil and the deep blue sea.

I believe Betsy will find it easier to live with her conscience in years to come if she takes him in again. But she's got enough Jack in her that she could just as easily turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to him. Before we got Daddy in the nursing home, she would lock him in the house and disappear for hours. When the home health nurse called me at work threatening to report her to the welfare office for abuse of an elder, I was shocked into action. He was hospitalized shortly after that and then admitted to the nursing home in Baldwyn. By then, he was 87 years old.

Ideally, there would be a group home where he could live with others who suffer with similar maladies. When he was at Whitfield, though, he never admitted that his problems were just as serious as those he called "crazy." I can't see him on the 2nd floor of the Manhattan with the dementia and Alzheimer's patients, he's too young and too strong for them to control.

The prayer I pray every morning is now haunting me.

O God, give me strength to live another day. Let me not turn coward before its difficulties or prove recreant to its duties; let me not lose faith in other people; keep me sweet and sound of heart, in spite of ingratitude, treachery, or meanness; preserve me from minding little stings or giving them; help me to keep my heart clean, and to live so honestly and fearlessly that no outward failure can dishearten me or take away the joy of conscious integrity; open wide the eyes of my soul that I may see good in all things; grant me this day some new vision of thy truth; inspire me with the spirit of joy and gladness; and make me the cup of strength to suffering souls; in the name of the strong Deliverer, our only Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

My codependent self wants to rescue Betsy and Richard. My cynical self says that's what she's counting on. My compassionate self says it's the Christian thing to do. I must not be manipulated into taking responsibility that belongs to someone else. No one has asked for my help, so I must not presumptiously jump into the middle of someone else's dilemma. I must not deprive my sister and my nieces of the opportunity to overcome this challenge. I must leave hands off until they have done all they can do. I want to help, and it bothers me greatly to see others suffer and struggle, but suffering and struggling took me to a growing place, and the same will happen to them.

Strengthen us all, Lord, for the challenge at hand. Amen

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I've made room in my office for a small window AC. It got up to 87* in here yesterday. The compact units they make now are so lightweight, I could probably install it myself, but I'll probably wait until Ricky gets here to help me. Since my fall in April, I'm still kinda nervous about climbing ladders. I think I can get a unit big enough for this one room for less than $100.

My house is almost company-ready. I've still got to vacuum and clean the carpets, but I'd like to wait until Friday to do that. Cleaning out the refrigerator yesterday was a real eye-opener, it usually is. We are so wasteful. I threw away more old food than a homeless person eats in a week. That's disgraceful!

Our Gospel reading this morning was from Matthew 25:31-46, the favorite scripture of the social gospel crowd, of which I claim membership, even though my food waste points out clearly one area that needs improvement.
As long as there are those of us with more than enough to eat and those who are hungry, we are failing in our Christian calling. Every three seconds a child dies from poverty related causes, every eight seconds the death is from water borne causes. Three hundred die during the average Sunday sermon, sixteen hundred during the average Sunday Eucharist.

Bono said, "In the Global Village, distance no longer decides who is your neighbor, and 'Love thy neighbor' is not advice, it's a command."

Forgive us, Lord, when we fail to care for "the least of these." I don't have the solution for the world's hunger, but I can waste less and give more. I can welcome the stranger who comes to my door. Our church has pledged support of "Millennium Development Goals" - to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability, and develop a global partnership for development. Bless our contributions and our efforts, Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I finally figured out how to correct the spacing problem I was having yesterday with Blogger. I always feel smart when that happens.

I solved another problem in our bathroom, but it's just a temporary fix. The ceramic tiles surrounding our tub are beginning to come off the wall due to a moisture problem caused by inadequate caulking and sealing in places. They are now back up on the wall with Duck tape, not duct tape, but Duck tape. It's white like the tiles, so it doesn't look too bad, and it's waterproof, but we need to call in a tile repairman for a permanent fix.

This problem started when Mike, needing a grab bar, grapped hold of the soap dish on the wall to pull himself up. It promptly came unglued. So the first Duck tape was applied over a year ago and is still holding. He now has a properly installed grab bar, but Mr. Coleman, our handyman, told me when he put it in that he did not "do tile."

Rather than repairing just the damaged area, I'd really like to take it all down and replace it with a more decorative tile. The original is a basic white that never looks clean. Since the sheet rock underneath will have to be replaced, we might as well get new tile, too. It's going to have to wait until week after next when company has come and gone.

My horoscope today says: Sun is in Cancer, Moon is going from Aries into Taurus. There's more work than can be ignored, unfortunately. It had to happen. You can only put things off for so long. Get busy, and don't complain.

I know that's right.

Betsy is having a hard time adjusting to being by herself again. She sounded quite anxious when I called her yesterday, worrying about a lot of things, trying to help her ex who doesn't even realize he needs help. He's in the best place for the time being. I wish she could accept that and not worry so much about him. He'll probably show up on her doorstep soon enough. If he's coming back there to live, she needs to be responsible for giving him his meds everyday. He probably would never agree to that, but for her own peace of mind, she could ask him. He might just surprise her and let her do it.

The problem with that is she isn't convinced he needs all the meds he's been prescribed. They make him drowsy and she doesn't like him sleeping so much. She hasn't let go of the dream that he will be normal again one day. Until she does, she's going to be unhappy and unable to deal with his condition in an effective way. Mental illness is pernicious.

O God, whose circle of care includes all, encourage us and our families, that we may cope effectively with mental illness. Deepen our understanding. Teach us patience. Increase our capacity for empathy and acceptance. Enable us to share the journey with those who are struggling. So nurture and sustain us in your love that we may act wisely and serve compassionately, to relieve suffering, provide care, and offer hope. Amen

Monday, July 17, 2006

From just a snippet on the news this morning, I heard that a crowd of Christians calling themselves "Friends of Israel" cheered as bombs fell on Beirut. Not sure where they were, but it made me feel so ashamed.

Eternal God,
in whose perfect kingdom
no sword is drawn
but the sword of righteousness,
no strength known but the strength of love:
So mightily spread abroad your Spirit,
That all peoples may be gathered
under the banner of the Prince of peace,
as children of one Father;
to whom be dominion and glory,now and for ever.

Deepak Chopra had an interesting article on the Episcopal Church today in the San Francisco Chronicle entitled, "Who Owns Christianity?" While Chopra is criticized by many as a fraud and hypocrite (he decries materialism, but lives in a $2.5 million mansion and drives a Jaguar), he has some wise observations in today's column. I strongly identified with this paragraph.

Those of us who haven't been swept up in worldwide fundamentalism, which has corrupted Islam, Hinduism and Judaism as well [as Christianity], have been caught in a double bind. We can't join any sect that preaches intolerance, yet we can't fight it, either, because by definition fighting is a form of intolerance. To escape this double bind, moderates have stayed silent and stayed home. But that tactic failed. As healthy as it is to nourish your own devotion and faith, it's disastrous to allow extremists to take over the church, because the statehouse, the board of education, the Congress, and eventually the presidency are next.

On his July 10th blog, "The World Isn't Ending. Now What?" he makes suggestions that made me feel a lot better than when I blogged on the same subject last week.

As someone who enjoys learning new things, I've decided my computer is one of the best investments I ever made. If I live to be a hundred, I'll never master it. Heck, I'm in first grade again when it comes to knowing my computer's capability. It's a humbling experience. I can't even go through the basic lessons in the Word Processor without learning something. If I am ever able to put together a Power Point presentation, I will feel I've accomplished something. By then it will probably be obsolete.

I've started cleaning house for company. I wish I had someway to play this music all over the house while I clean, even though, what I'm listening to now is better to sleep by than work by.

For some reason, Blogger is not picking up the spaces I type in to separate paragraphs. Maybe I can edit them in later.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

We've had a peaceful day of rest. Mike's Sunday School class had a minor disturbance when one of the ladies got perturbed with one of the gentlemen and left in a huff. Seems they were arguing about what the Bible says is required for salvation. David was back from his trip to North Carolina to visit his mother, so choir rehearsal was lively. His sub last week was as mellow as David is hyper. Our bishop worshipped with us today as a regular parishoner, his membership is at St. Philip's. Dressed in khakis and short sleeve sport shirt, he was very inconspicuous, and no mention of his presence was made by Bruns, our priest in charge for the day. Tom was out of town, probably in San Antonio, since they have grandbaby #2 due any day now, but I didn't hear anyone say. (Update - Andrew James Covelli was born July 16 at 11:38 pm) Our choir sang beautifully, as we usually do, especially on the anthems.

After church, we had lunch at McAllister's, then went to Border's and Kroger. I've been on the computer all afternoon, while Mike watched tv. I skipped the usual afternoon nap, but it's 5:17 now and I'm feeling very drowsy. I may take a quick one to get me through the rest of the evening. My weight was back down this morning, in fact, I've already reached my goal for July and we've got two weeks to go. Maybe I can lose some more. Fewer calories, more exercise, nothing new about that.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

I skipped the 30 min walk for 3 days and added 1.5 lbs to my weight. Hmmm...wonder if there's a connection? It's just so blooming hot even at 6:30. Today it's overcast with a breeze so I took the dogs for a Yippee. That is the code word I use with them. If I ask Gus "wanna go for a walk?" he doesn't move, just stares at me blankly. But if I say "wanna go yippee?" he jumps up and down excitedly and goes for the leash. Jay-Jay is not quite as animated, but his tail starts wagging furiously. Mick promptly shows up from wherever he's sleeping and gets in front to lead our procession. Patches usually brings up the rear. We suspect Mick took out Mother Mockingbird, she hasn't been around all week to harrass him.

Ricky and family are traveling today, planning to arrive in Baldwyn sometime tonight. Keep them safe, Lord, and give them a good trip. They are bringing their two Shelties with them, Tucker and Maggie. Ricky and Mary Ann are driving on Weds to Dallas for the Premier convention. I'm going to Baldwyn next Fri or Sat to pick up boys and dogs and bring them to my house, so Ricky and Mary Ann can drive straight from Dallas to Jackson next Sunday. They will be here until the end of that week. I probably should be taking vitamins, they usually run circles around this gramma.

I had to go back to the nail salon this morning. Somehow I broke the nail on the big toe of my right foot. I don't remember stumping my toe or any other accident, but about half the nail broke off down close to the quick. The technician was able to repair it with a tip and an acrylic coat and new polish. Strange.

I watched the History Channel's Countdown to Armageddon last night. I've been having these premonitions all week. I'll have a thought, an idea, a dream, then something tangible happens to reinforce the intangible, a Scripture reading, a tv show, a conversation. Mike says I'm psychic, but if I am, it's stronger this week than usual.

The dream I remember from last night had me living in a commune of "bikers and babes," a really rough, Jerry Springer sort of crowd. The women didn't know for sure who the fathers of their children were, the men were mostly macho, loud-mouthed drunkards, unshaven and dirty. I was paired with the quietest and most gentle in the group, but even he was a fat slob who needed to bathe. We were watching another couple argue and fight about a child he fathered outside the group.

Part of this was probably inspired by the fight I witnessed last night between my neighbors. I couldn't tell exactly what they were saying but I did hear a few of the obscenities they yelled at each other. This was a couple who recently split up and she and her son had come back to get some things out of the man's house. I walked out on my deck to see if any physical violence was being done, but as far as I could tell it was just verbal.

I doubt there is any mystical message in this dream, probably just my imagination trying to fill in the blanks. I tend to be judgemental about people who act like that in public, but I also was concerned for the welfare of the woman and boy. Identifying with them as much as I did showed up in my dream as living with them.

Friday, July 14, 2006

I made the mistake of watching the news last night, and I immediately regretted it. I subscribe to news headlines from MSNBC and if a story interests me, I click and read. Otherwise, the headline is usually enough to tell me it's not good. That way I have some idea of what's going on in the world without all the gory details. I cancelled my newspaper subscription months ago, and rarely open my Time magazine. Sometimes I catch Jon Stewart doing his parody of the day's news, but there are times when even he can't make anything funny out of world events.

We seem to be a lot closer to Armageddon today than we were just a month ago. It distresses me, especially when I realize there are Christians who are praying for the end of the world, the Rapture, the Second Coming. It's one of the most perverted forms of faith anyone can have. Rather than working for the good of all mankind, for making the world a better place for our children and grandchildren, they expect Jesus to come and rescue them from the ever-increasing difficulty of peace work. And they justify their militant indifference with Scriptures like our Gospel reading today (Matthew 24:15-31).

How many generations have come and gone since Jesus uttered these words? Every generation has those who are sure there is nothing they can do but sit and wait,

...for they will see "the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven” with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

And still He doesn't come. Rather than the unfaithful being left behind, we're all still here to cope with the war mongers' apocalyptic aggression. That's why I don't watch the news or read about it much, makes me want to join the sky-gazing crowd.

Mahatma Gandhi said, "When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it - always."

And that from a non-Christian. Wow!

Benji has been sending little 15 second movies of Pip that keep this Gramma grinning. What a happy, cute baby! Wish I could reach through cyberspace and hug him and cover him with kisses.

Betsy called yesterday to tell me her ex made his trip to Dallas that he's been planning for a while. He was terribly disoriented when the cops picked him up and carried him to Parkland Hospital. The psychiatrist who called her for his medical history said they would try to get him back on his meds and stabilized. I'm surprised his old truck made it that far.

O God of love, hear our prayer for all who suffer from schizoaffective disorder. In their days of declining cognitive function, emotional stability, and perception of reality, be with them in their fears.When they suffer from delusions, hallucinations, difficulty communicating, and general lack of enthusiasm and expression, bless their families who suffer with them. Surround them all with tender love from family, friend, and stranger. Grant them peace in their hearts, a secure home environment, and dignity in their lives. May each day bring a blessing, hope, and greater love. Amen.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

My DSL is working again, thanks to an astute technician in our local central office. A couple of my neighbors are complaining of no dial tone this morning, but I never lost my dial tone, just the DSL. Oh well, Bellsouth's problems are no longer my problems. Hallelujah!

One of the e-mail lists I subscribed to last week is the HoB/D, or House of Bishops and Deputies. Their online conversations are quite revealing about our church and its convention. Most participants are centrists, or a little to the left. Every once in a while, an unhappy traditionalist will toss poop in the punchbowl, seemingly just to get reactions from the others. They are just not going to be happy without an authoritarian type of leadership, one who lays down the law and metes out penalties and punishment for non-compliance. Have we always had these malcontents among us?

Ricky called yesterday to confirm the dates when they plan to be here. I've got some housecleaning to do before they come. I still have not heard back from Benji. Summer school must be keeping them very busy. Today is his wife #1's birthday. God bless her wherever she is.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

My internet connection has failed this morning, so I'm on Mike's laptop. I've saved today's blog in my word processor, so I'll post it later. I'm off to the nail salon.

After a frustrating search through old books and the internet for a favorite little poem of my father's, I finally found it, thanks to Google. I didn't know the title or the poet's name. It is Outwitted by Edwin Markham:

He drew a circle that shut me out -
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in.

I saw him in the pulpit and heard him say the last line in just a fleeting fragment of a dream I had this morning, but I thought he said "He drew a circle that took me in." Nonetheless, Google found it for me.

430 pm - I'm back to using dial-up, which is working fine, but the DSL quit. Bellsouth tech support told me it may be in the DSL modem, since the line tested ok. They're coming tomorrow to check it. Maybe they'll bring me a new one. Coping with hassles like this just wears me out.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

This has got to be one of the funniest things I've seen lately. Click on the July 3 podcast for a different take on Episcopal church woes.
I read somewhere that an unexamined dream is like an unopened love letter from God. This morning's dream took place at Plantersville Baptist Church, the setting of about half the dreams I remember. A crowd of church members were huddled in the choir loft awaiting a tornado that was headed our way. We could not see the outside sky because the windows in the sanctuary are that frosted etched glass that obscures the outside view. When I realized my father was not in the group, I left the crowd to find him. He was in one of the back rooms and told me we should get under the stairs to the baptistry. I wanted to go back and get the others, but he said there wasn't time. While I appreciated his concern for my safety, I was distressed because the others would not be as safe. I woke up before the storm hit.

It has occurred to me that the [Christ] mass was represented in yesterday's dream, and today it's baptism. It's the two essentials of our faith. In each dream, I wanted to share with others - the joy of Christmas, the safety of baptism. There was a hard choice to make in each dream - should I take on the expense of someone else's Christmas? should I go to a safe place without getting the others to safety? And the verses from Romans 8 were in our devotional reading today. What is in these love letters from God?

Whenever I get a series of revelations like these two dreams and the Bible verses from Romans 8, I believe the Holy Spirit is confirming my beliefs and comforting my troubled soul. I'm also challenged to share the gifts I've received with others. Any additional message is still not clear. Today I feel God's love in a fresh way. And I want to share that love.

The hard part of dreamwork is identifying my shadow self, that part of me that had rather not be bothered with the Christ mass, or Eucharist, that side of me that worries first about me and mine and doesn't want to call the others to the safe place. Plenty of room for redemption there, Cathy.

Monday, July 10, 2006

From Romans 8:

38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

40 Nor will any of these things be able to separate Christians who love God and one another from each other.

Verse 40 was an invention of mine in the wee hours of the morning as I awoke from a dream about providing a Christmas celebration for some of my family members who were refusing to provide their own gifts and decorations. Why Vss. 38 and 39 were on my mind following that dream, I don't know. Was it some sort of divine revelation, or the natural aftermath of thinking and praying about our current church situation?

The dream started with certain family members in a sulken state and ended with them in an ecstatic one. The gifts were so numerous, it took a truck to haul them, and the decorations completely transformed their drab environment. There was a point at which I hesitated before giving the Sears clerk my credit card, and I felt some resentment because I knew this family had the resources to do this for themselves. But rather than allow them to skip Christmas, I went ahead. There were 3 very young children in the family that I was most concerned about. It was the children's excitement that shook the adults out of their stupor.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

"To sing like this, in the company of other souls, and to make those consonants slip out so easily and in unison, and to make those chords so rich that they bring tears to your eyes, this is transcendence. This is the power that choral singing has that other music can only dream of." --Garrison Keillor

I was reminded of this today while singing with our choir. It was one of those days when we sounded like crap in rehearsal, then somewhere between the choir room and the nave, the sound gets polished and refined by heavenly angels. David says it's the acoustics, even his vacuum cleaner sounds good in there, he told us once, but I'm not so sure. Our choir members read well, keep the tempo, and blend beautifully. We are blessed and we bless.

I was also reminded of why the renewal movement we discovered at Cursillo left me cold. In a discussion with Guy about GC06, I could tell he was very unhappy with the liberal direction TEC has taken. He wishes our Bishop were not so middle-of-the-road, or "centrist," as some call him. He did not go to the meeting at the Cathedral on Weds, but I overheard someone else talk about it who did and was also dissatisfied. The reason it reminded me of Cursillo was because there was a strain of fundamentalism I detected there that caused me to immediately recoil. (Shades of PBC)

Some of the renewal movement is good, most Episcopalians need to know their Bibles better than they do, but some are so enamored of this newfound devotion that they get puffed up with an attitude of spiritual superiority. Their inclination is to interpret scripture literally. It's new to them and they haven't had time to digest, to step back and look at the big picture, to study & compare commentaries, or to grow into the overall revelation that God gives us through the Bible. They're so close to the tree, they can't see the forest.

It's from this pattern that a certain elitism develops. Rather than being more inclusive, they get exclusive. A tight-knit group, caring for one another, holding each other accountable, has a strong appeal for those who have never had it. The emotions are strong, they sing their renewal songs, they speak in tongues, the guards are let down, and the unscrupulous leaders can step in and exploit all this to the benefit of their bank accounts. I saw it happen at our previous church.

Those priests were charismatic and weren't warm to anyone who wasn't. They opposed independent study, and advocated book burning. They accused anyone who did not avail themselves of the Unction to be deluded with an unholy sense of perfection. And when Bishop Gray tried to hold them accountable, they scored a settlement of $60,000 with the parish to avoid a lawsuit for breach of contract. I've never seen more dishonest ministers, but they were fans of ++Akinola and made no apologies for wanting to align with him.

My fears about the renewal movement were confirmed by that experience, and I'm afraid we're going to see more of these instances where honorable Christians are led astray. I hope none of the "traditionalists" leave St. Philips. I love them dearly and would really miss them. I just hope and pray they come back to their Episcopal roots of tolerance and diversity. We need them.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

How come those of us in the progressive vein of our church are being called revisionists by those of the more fundamentalist tone? What exactly is it that we're revising? Church doctrine? The Bible? Our understanding of the way the world works? And this is a bad thing?

Revisionism, according to my online dictionary, is defined: Advocacy of the revision of an accepted, usually long-standing view, theory, or doctrine, especially a revision of historical events and movements.

Haven't revisions to our doctrine always been made as new information comes to light? To claim one side revises and the other doesn't is an illegitimate claim, in my opinion. Their preferred way of "doing church" is a revision of the way their grandparents did it. (The reason that Traditionalists haven't clamoured for a prayer book older than the 1928 verison is that the marriage vows included the woman promising to "love, honor, and obey," rather than "love, honor, and cherish." Obey was replaced with cherish in the 1928 BCP.) Our preferred way of "doing church" is a revision of the way our parents did it. So they accept change more slowly than we do. Is that any reason to break off communion? Seems to me they are just looking for an excuse to get out from under Jesus' command to love one another.

News from the Church of England's Synod is that they have approved women bishops. They voted for the principle of it, but did not change the canons. Yet. Did they do this to support the progressive stance of the American church, as opposed to the ultra-conservative position of the Network churches?

ABC Williams' speech to this body was rather cryptic, but what I got out of it was that he wants to give ++Akinola enough rope to hang himself. He has invited reactions to TEC convention from all the primates and will meet again with them in Feb. to see "what emerges from all this..." He has no papal authority, and would sincerely like to hold things together, I believe. In the meantime, ++Akinola may just go so far out on his limb that the whole Network branch breaks off. I hope not. I hate to see positions so calcified that communion among us is broken. It's not a good witness to the world when Christians refuse to embrace other Christians in ecumenical goodwill.

I was glad to see that ++Williams does not want anyone to violate the convictions of their conscience, ...a concern for unity – for unity (I must repeat this yet again) as a means to living in the truth – is not about placing the survival of an institution above the demands of conscience.
God forbid.

"In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, diversity; in all things, charity." John Wesley

Friday, July 07, 2006

My scales gave me welcome news last night, another 1.5 lbs lighter. And what did I do to celebrate? Eat, of course. It's telling me the same this morning, so maybe I didn't do too much damage.

I woke up to Big and Rich singing, "Why does everybody want to kick me in the ass?" Mike was laughing and singing along with them while playing tug-of-war with Gus. The silliness of the whole scene tickled me. My usual early morning grumpiness soon progressed to silly-grumpy, and before we went downstairs, the bed covers were in total disarray. We joke about sleeping in the dog bed; today it truly appeared that way. All of Gus's toys are mixed up with the sheets.

I'm expecting a visit from Kim with Project CLUES this Sunday. It's my last meeting with this Univ of Al team researching Caregivers Living Under Extraordinary Stress. Actually, CLUES is an acronym for Caregiver Links to Understanding, Education, and Support, but I like my name for it better. I signed up for it after Mike had his stroke. They have promised to give all the participants a copy of their published findings. I'm wondering if I should give her the link to this blog. It has been a major coping device for me. I worry sometimes that I depend on it too much. Journaling was always great stress relief for me, and this has been, too. Making it public, though, brought a great deal of extra stress in the form of transparency and vulnerability.

I've got Saint Paul Sunday playing as I write this, the June 25th program featuring the Dale Warland Singers. They're doing Lux Aurumque, the same arrangement we did in our choir at St. Philips. It still sends chills down my spine when I hear it. Here's the link.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Plantersville has gone to seed, according to Betsy. She and Richard just got back from their vacation to Kentucky. They took a detour through Lee Co. to see the old stomping grounds, and were sorely disappointed by the unkempt appearance of most of our hometown. I'm afraid she and I have the same 1950's image in our memories and anything different just doesn't seem right. Even though I say I'd like to move back there, I'd probably need to stay a very short while before moving back to the Rez.

The Beach Boys were on Imus this morning, so Mike has watched it through tears. Some things still affect him that way. One of the bands he played in back in the 70's mastered the Beach Boys' harmonization, so I'm sure it touched a very sensitive nerve. "The war protest songs are increasing", he told me, "so we'll be pulling out of Iraq soon. That's what got us out of Viet Nam." I hope he's right.

OCD now stands for obsessive church crisis disorder, according to one blogger. (Shouldn't that be OCCD?) Those of us who have been consumed by all the brouhaha must have it in spades. Googling B033 produced about 176,000 hits.

Yesterday's reading included the transcript of the Rector's Forum at All Saint's Pasadena. Ed Bacon talked about spiritual violence, which, he believes, was committed at the convention. I think it is taboo for anyone to coerce another person - in the name of religion, or of the betterment of the Church, or of anything else - to violate their conscience. I truly believe that many people were coerced to violate their consciences, and I truly believe that many people were coerced into voting against and speaking against where their conscience told them they should be, vis-à-vis, radical inclusion in this Church.

I, of course, agree with him. I'm reminded, though, of Hebrews 12 which describes how God, from time to time, shakes things up, to remove what can be shaken from that which cannot be shaken. If we are to make progress in this mission of "radical inclusion," there has to be a streamlining of the operation. Those who cannot commit to this mission need to be separated from those who can. Their consciences should not be violated either. Like Peter, when he asked, "But what about John?" Jesus may be saying to us, "Don't worry about John. If I want him to remain until I return, what is that to you?" Some have one mission, some have another. It's our job to be about the mission he gave us. The others have a different mission. I just wish they didn't have to frame it in either/or terms, but could accept it as a both/and situation. Maybe, in time, they can.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Our holiday came to a noisy end last night with a barrage of fireworks by the neighborhood kids, then thunderstorms. It was midnight before Jay-Jay came out from under the bed. The rain was much needed, and we're getting more today. Our walking path was littered this morning with flower petals from the crepe myrtles and fireworks debris, alternating spots of pleasantness and unpleasantness, plenty of new smells for the dogs to investigate.

I thought about going to the cathedral today for Bishop Gray's discussion of GC06, but decided I'd really rather stay at home. Guy told me on Sunday that he is going, so I'll get him to tell me about it. The StandFirm guy will post his take on it, I'm sure. If he doesn't like the way it goes, I will be pleased. He's a good barometer for atmospheric conditions. Bishop Gray has impressed me as being as solid as they come. Not liberal enough to approve ++Robinson's consecration, but progressive enough to support the election of ++Schori.

Akinola seems to be campaigning for the position of pope for the churches that are following his lead. He's saying now that the Archbishop of Canterbury has failed to exercise enough control over the delinquent ECUSA, and that he doesn't want to participate in Lambeth 2008. He has gone so far as calling us "a cancerous lump that should be excised." The much despised B033 resolution may turn out to be the smartest political move in the long run. The liberals who fell on their swords for the sake of unity appear to be much more sincere in their desire to be true to the gospel than those on the sanctimonious ultra-conservative side. I wonder if any of the American bishops are having second thoughts about the bridges they're burning. Seems to me they're aligned with a megalomaniac.

Is this a separating of the chaff from the wheat, the goats from the sheep? Or maybe it's the division between those who are building on gold, silver and precious stone from those who are building on wood, hay and stubble.

1 Corh 3 says: 13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. 14 If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

In other words, time will tell.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Jimi Hendrix playing his rendition of the Star Spangled Banner was Father Jake's post for July 4th. Is this guy cool, or what? It's Benji and Karen's 2nd anniversary, too. Think I'll send them that video. Mike and I plan to celebrate by eating a BBQ lunch at Corky's. That's been our tradition ever since we were dating. Well, we started out at Red, Hot, and Blue, then our favorite place became Gridley's. After it closed, we started going to Corky's. Since neither of us enjoys outdoor grilling, or patriotic parades, or any of the other flag-waving celebrations, eating BBQ will probably be the most patriotic thing we do today, except pray for peace. And I may buy a watermelon. Here's a prayer I like, found on Susan Russell's sight:

Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn; Grant that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain our liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

The dogs and I encountered a big turtle on our walk this morning. He took one look at the dogs and headed straight back to the lake. Gus was quite bumfuzzled by his disappearing underwater. I've got baths planned for them today, both are past due. I wish I had a tranquilizer for Jay-Jay. The neighborhood fireworks made him really nervous last night, today will be worse.

Monday, July 03, 2006

My new favorite food is a toasted slice of Dakota bread from Great Harvest, spread with low fat cream cheese, topped with a thick, juicy slice of a sandwich-sized tomato from Farmer's Market. It's at least one of the mini-meals I eat 5 times a day. Net weight loss for June was 3.5 lbs. If I could do that every month, I would exceed the 15# goal Dr. Lagarde set for me for Dec. 1. The walking has helped, no doubt, even though with the dogs it's not the power walk advocated by some fitness enthusiasts. We have plenty of stops along the way. But it's more than I was getting, so that's good.

Our subject for special prayer yesterday was The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) The Most Revd Peter Jasper Akinola Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria and Bishop of Abuja. Today it is The Rt Revd Elisha Kyamugambi of Uganda. They have been in our church news a good bit lately, especially ++Akinola. I think they're both terribly misguided and confused. They have provoked a lot of the controversy currently raging among the American dioceses and worldwide Anglican provinces. I'll borrow this prayer from the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel: Lord Jesus Christ, who alone has power over life and death, over health and sickness, give power, wisdom and gentleness to all your ministering servants. May they always bear your presence with them that they may not only heal but bless, and shine as lamps of hope in the darkest hours of distress and fear. Amen

Regarding today's prayer request, one blogger commented,"I'm reminded of the Rebbe in Fiddler on the Roof, when asked for an appropriate prayer for the Tsar: "God bless and keep the Tsar . . . far away from us!" That's much more in line with the way I feel.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Church's One Foundation was one of the hymns we sang in this morning's worship. The 4th verse was particularly meaningful to me:

Though with a scornful wonder
Men see her sore oppressed,
By schisms rent asunder,
By heresies distressed:
Yet saints their watch are keeping,
Their cry goes up, “How long?”
And soon the night of weeping
Shall be the morn of song!

It had not occurred to me until we sang it, that "saints their watch are keeping..." It's like that phrase in the Eucharist, "where with Philip and all thy saints..." and "for in the multitude of your saints you have surrounded us with a great cloud of witnesses..." I just don't often think about that great cloud of witnesses who must be shaking their heads and praying that some of the heavenly wisdom they have gained since passing on will be imparted to us somehow. So many have fought and died for the church, and it continues its heavenward march, sometimes backsliding, sometimes becoming more enlightened. Oh God, keep us headed in a heavenward direction!

I've been trying to think of a good thank-you message for Father Jake and his wife who inspired him to start his blog. The thing I appreciate the most is that he has provided a place for those of us who have been wounded by recent GC action to come and commiserate and heal.

I was so alone, even alienated, when I saw the Southern Baptists start veering off the road they had always championed. The priesthood of the believer was a bedrock Baptist principle. Gradually, some pastors started denying that all believers had access to the Holy Spirit and the freedom to interpret the Bible as the Spirit led them. The women, in particular, came to be viewed with suspicion if their interpretation differed from their pastor's. At least, that's the way it played out in our little country church.

The early 80’s took a toll on that congregation. My marriage to Don was only one of the casualties. My faith was not. God used it to take me in a different direction. After trying a larger Baptist church when I moved to Jackson, it became very clear to me that the fundamentalist Baptist church was not where I needed to be. Women in the ministry were the butt of jokes at the SBC, so when my pastor came back and repeated those jokes, and I heard a large resounding Amen! with laughter and applause coming from the men, I knew it was time for me to move on. Through a series of unusual events that included dreams, visitors, and a locally famous artist, I found St. Andrews and her new rector Dean Ed Bacon. It was nothing less than Divine Providence.

Tom's sermon today was about Jairus' dying daughter, suffering from some fatal illness at the age of 12, seemingly to never realize her full human potential. Was it a metaphor for the ailing church and the power of Jesus to heal? Tom did not make that association for us, but it seemed implied. In the time it took Jesus to get to the home of the dying girl, she regressed from sickness to death. Those close to her, the ones who cared for her, were weeping and grieving when Jesus entered the house. He told the father, "Do not fear, only believe." With the words, "Talitha cum," the daughter was brought back to life.

The parallel story that was not included in our reading today from Mark 5 was of the woman Jesus healed of 12 years of haemorrhaging. She touched the hem of his garment to receive her healing. Jesus told her "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease."

Two women, one suffering for 12 years, one growing for 12 years from infancy to womanhood. Should these two stories be separated? What is the significance of the number 12? The bleeding? Did it start with childbirth? Was the woman possibly the girl's mother? What do we know of the childhood of the "bride of Christ," the church? What life stages has she gone through already? Is she old or young? Is she sick, in need of healing? Will she die, then be resurrected?

The Ron Burch I knew in the 80's would definitely have a problem with my line of questioning. Maybe, since he's older, he's also wiser. I hope so.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

I see some exotic looking birds when I'm out walking the dogs. I need a book or a website to help me identify them. The strangest, most out of place critter we've seen here lately is a racoon sneaking around the corner of one of the buildings facing the lake. He's probably as much to blame for scattered garbage as unleashed dogs are. Why my neighbors continue to set out plastic bags instead of covered cans for trash pick-up is a mystery to me. What kind of world would we live in if everybody used the brains God gave them?

Father Jake's post this morning was quite poignant. His readers have become increasingly hostile to one another. Today he wants everybody to take a break and reflect on their brokenness. His call for repentance is timely, I believe, and, I pray, effective. I like the openness of his forum, kinda reminds me of a support group, until the trolls showed up, that is. With internet access being what it is, the provocateurs have a much easier job of infiltrating the opposite side and stirring up trouble.

He solicited support for our new bishop elect yesterday and a majority of his readers gave it. I see PBE Schori as just coming to bat. The first ball thrown at her was low and inside, but she took a swing at it. That's strike one, not "you're ooouuuttt!" Since she's on my team, I will be cheering for her until the end of this season. Most of us know who the winner of this world series will be, and I'd much rather be on the winning side.

If we had not passed the B033 resolution, the schismatics on the far right would have used it to prove our unwillingness to commune with them. We deprived them of that by saying, "Yes, we are willing. Are you?" It was their own intolerance that became obvious to the larger body.

There I go, falling into the trap of pride. Which prayer do I pray? "Thank God, I am not a sinner like these others..." or "God, be merciful to me, a sinner?" Polarization does that to us. May we all beat our chests in sorrow and beg God's forgiveness.