Monday, March 31, 2008

Stealin' Stuff Someone Else Said

This is for you. Boy, girl, single, married, healthy, dysfunctional... it's for you...

THE WOMAN BEFORE ME (Trisha Yearwood)

I can see you turn away
When I ask what for
You say it isn't anything
But I'm not sure

Somethin' underneath the skin
Won't let you be
And you try to keep it in
But I can see

The woman before me
Must have been hard on you
'Cause that hurt in your eyes
I never put you through
Sometimes, I think you must be talkin' to
The woman before me and you

Sometimes, in an argument
It will show
When you go a little farther than
You meant to go

I know you don't mean the things
That you say
I just wanna ease the pain
That's in your way

The woman before me
Must have been hard on you
'Cause that hurt in your eyes
I never put you through
Sometimes, I think you must be talkin' to
The woman before me and you

Sometimes, I think you must be talking to
The woman before me and you

This is for me...

SIMPLE LOVE (Alison Krauss)

Little yellow house sittin' on a hill
That is where he lived
That is where he died
Every Sunday morning
Hear the weeping willows cry

Two children born
A beautiful wife
Four walls and livin's all he needed in life
Always giving, never asking back
I wish I had a simple love like that

I want a simple love like that
Always giving, never askin' back
When I'm in my final hour lookin' back
I hope I had a simple love like that

My momma was his only little girl
If he'd had the money he'd have given her the world
Sittin' on the front porch together they would sing
Oh how I long to hear that harmony

I want a simple love like that
Always giving never asking back
When I'm in my final hour looking back
I hope I had a simple love like that

I want a simple love like that
Always giving never asking back
When I'm in my final hour looking back
I hope I had a simple love like that

This is for us...

FAITH (Hebrews 11:1 - KJV)

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I Wish...

... that people would not butcher the pronunciation of "karaoke". The act of karaoke is painful enough.

... that if we are going to be at war with another country that the leaders of this country would learn to pronounce its name.

... that my girls would stay exactly the way they are at this moment, because they still like me.

... that we could all just let go of the past and move forward.

... that a special switch would get activated inside of every parent the day a baby is born that would force them to love them and do right by them.

... that my friends could see in themselves the qualities I see in them.

... that I could see in myself the things they say they see in me.

... that I really could be myself. All of the time. And still be liked.

... that I didn't look so dadgummed old.

... that the police would go fight real crime and quit waiting around to give me speeding tickets.

... that there were enough hours in the week to enjoy all of the things I am interested in.

... that we didn't all live so far from each other.

... that cats and dogs didn't shed so much.

... that I could shed those last 10 pounds.

... that I wasn't so in love with food.

... that the filing fairy would come wave her magic wand over my desk.

... that my voice was not so fickle.

... ditto on the hair.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Our Father and My Daddies

I promised a more interesting post. Hope this measures up.

Recent events and conversations with loved ones have stirred some musings about spirituality. I am blessed to be surrounded by deeply spiritual people, all of whom are actively seeking God and His purpose for their lives. Some feel touched, some stumble forward, some squint up at the sky, some shake their heads, some shake their fists. All are searching.

I think in the past year I have been at every one of these places in my journey. Today I happened upon a realization - that God spoke to me in ways and at times that I did not recognize as such.

I must be careful here not to appear to bash my father. I believe he did the best he could with what he had at his emotional disposal. But he didn't do his job. He was never a "daddy" the way my husband is to my girls. It was what it was.

But what nature didn't provide, God did. You see, throughout my life, men have stepped up and claimed me as a daughter. There was my step-grandfather, Willis Dudley, whom all the adults seemed to disrespect. He was the first person to kiss a smashed finger and make it "all better." What an astounding medical treatment! I never cared that he had a checkered past (whatever that meant). He made me feel safe.

There was my great uncle, George Barker, who sensed that something was missing in my young life and told me that I was special as I sat on his lap and rubbed his bald head. After his passing, his son Mike extended his unconditional love to me. Mike means the world to me.

When my father, the sole possessor of a driver's license in our household, failed to come pick me up from elementary school after I suffered a concussion on the playground (and again when I laid my eyelid wide open, gushing blood all over the hallway), the school principal drove me home. He held my hand and assured me that everything would be just fine.

Lynn Montgomery, the father of a friend, picked me up for church every Sunday and Wednesday for six years when I was a young girl. Although I never spoke of my home life, there was probably no ignoring my frightened demeanor. He taught me to laugh at the mundane. He just talked to me. He told me I was beautiful and smart. He took my trembling hand and walked me to the front of the sanctuary on the day I was baptized.

My friend Veda's dad, whom I always just referred to as Dad, adopted me when Veda was in the hospital battling cancer. She made a remarkable recovery. And every time I saw them in the community, he bear-hugged me and kissed me on the cheek. He would tease his wife about me being his long-lost daughter. I would blush, and the joke would be repeated the next time. We laughed about that at his funeral.

I recently wrote of Bob Coleman, God rest his wonderful soul. At that same church there was Tom Hendricks, who asked me on his death bed to sing at his funeral and whose son told me how much Tom loved me the day he passed. There was Armand Arnold, who visited me everyday when I worked at Bob's church and took the Not-So-Little-One for walks and fed her doughnut holes.

Let it not go unnoticed that these men asked for nothing in return. They received love and admiration in spades, but it wasn't a requirement. They touched me in all the ways a father should touch a daughter - with hugs, with warm looks, with praise, with guidance, with patience.

And here is an amazing thing - the blessing has been extended to my daughters. Even though their grandfather is not present in their lives, loving little old men have embraced them. Bob and Armand argued about who was the best grandpa. Armand opened his eyes one last time the night before he died to hold the Not-So-Little One's hand as she told him "goodbye." And in our new church home Forres Price brings them trinkets on holidays and tells them how pretty they are.

I'm not sure why it is that God allows us to suffer. I let much smarter folks than I debate that. All I know is that God has blessed me lots of times. I wasn't deserving, I never asked, and I didn't always see it when it was right in front of me. But it has always been there. I haven't even mentioned the women He has sent to me since my mother's passing. I'll save that for a future post.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Shoulda Brought a Cot

Someone said recently that Holy Week is Holy Hell for church musicians. I believe that about sums it up.

I practically lived at church this week. Chapel service at work Wednesday morning. Choir rehearsal Wednesday evening. Maundy Thursday service on, of course, Thursday. Tenebrae on Friday. Breakfast with the Easter Bunny on Saturday. Sunrise service at 6:30 this morning. Sunday School. Traditional service at 11:00 am.

For Christians this week represents the meat of what we believe. The stories are painful and devastating and beautiful. So is the music.

But.... I'm pooped. I promise a more interesting post soon. After I've slept an hour or two.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Yesterday and Today

Yesterday I had a sore throat, the result of riding in the cold wind and not sleeping more than 15 minutes at a time the night before. I sounded like George Burns. Sunday morning hymns were not pretty. I am better today, although I doubt I could tackle an Italian aria.

Yesterday was Palm Sunday. The boys were given permission to run and shout and wave hands and palm branches - in church! They ate that up. My daughters choreographed a dance and then taught it to the other girls that participated in the processional. I was mighty proud. They are natural performers.

Yesterday after church we girls bought our Easter dresses. This is a tradition that goes all the way back to my mother. We will forgo the gloves and hats this year, though. My fresh contribution to the ritual is that I got ours at 75% off.

Yesterday afternoon the Not-So-Little One walked into the garage, grabbed the wagon, and started walking off down the street. I asked where she was going and she said, "On a rescue mission." Huh?

She returned hauling a somewhat ratty-looking plush horse with stiff legs, about 24" tall. The kind a toddler could sit upon. Also in tow was her little sister with blood oozing out of a scrape on her knee. She said she fell out of the wagon.

A quick assessment told us that she must have been sitting on the horse in the wagon. A very bad idea. The suspicion was confirmed. I calmly informed her as I was bandaging the wound that she earned this boo-boo and that she should have had the other knee banged up, too, for good measure. She wasn't amused, but she didn't argue.

Today the agency is having a luncheon. Each program had to design and build a centerpiece reflecting events of a particular year. There is prize money involved. We were assigned 1971. Ours is good. Five-dimensional. The contest begins in an hour. Bring it.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Smoothies, Coffee, Snowcones, and Flowers

Yesterday I discovered Smoothie King. Had never been there before. Chose a plain ol' fruit thing with some crazy name but without all the protein powder and extra vitamins and energy stuff. I thought the little guy behind the counter was gonna faint.

Hung out in my favorite coffee shop this morning. I am one of the few folks that does not worship the Starbucks gods. Give me my local Dunn Brothers anytime. It's quiet, the staff is friendly, and the coffee is good. Well, it was quiet until the Not-So-Little One and I started playing Jenga.

The Not-So-Little One and I rode our bicycles over to the high school to check out their little Spring carnival. It is 8 miles round trip - if you know exactly how to get there. Don't you just hate those roads that just suddenly end? We had to backtrack more than once. So we probably road more like 10 miles. It was great fun, though. She and I have always been comfortable with one another.

I bought some soy candles. We ate snowcones 'cuz this is Texas and it was warm out. Mine was coconut. She laughed at my blue lips.

I had rolled up my right pant leg to keep it from catching in my bike chain, and I forgot to roll it back down. I noticed this AFTER I had walked all around the carnival. I looked at the Not-So-Little One and asked her if she planned on telling me that I looked like a dork. She said, "I figured you knew."

She's a girl of few words, and the ones she uses get the point across.

After we got home, I pulled weeds in my flower beds and transplanted the chrysanthemums. Bought some more bedding plants. I'll get those in the ground tomorrow.

My face is wind and sun burned. So are the backs of my hands, the parts that were not covered by my cycling gloves. My legs are sore. So is my throat, unfortunately.

Holy Week begins in about 15 minutes. It is a busy time in the life of a choir director. I should get some sleep.

Phenomenal Woman

(This found its way to me. I dedicate this to all my fabulous girlfriends.)

by Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies
I'm not cute or built to suit a model's fashion size
But when I start to tell them
They think I'm telling lies.
I say
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips
The stride of my steps
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please
And to a man
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees
Then they swarm around me
A hive of honey bees.
I say
It's the fire in my eyes
And the flash of my teeth
The swing of my waist
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say
It's in the arch of my back
The sun of my smile
The ride of my breasts
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say
It's in the click of my heels
The bend of my hair
The palm of my hand
The need for my care.
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman
That's me.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Stuff Happens

Some stuff has transpired since the last posting.

I was wiped out Saturday. Tried to sleep in, but no one was having anything to do with that idea. So I was up at 8:30. Ached all over and thought I was coming down with the flu, but I had no other symptoms and eventually I felt normal again.

Mikel bought a truck. A Ford F250 Superduty diesel short bed crew cab. Whew, that's a mouthful. The size of the name fits the size of the vehicle. I probably will never drive it. He is happy - he finally has a man's vehicle, he got a good deal, and he liked the sales guy. I'd say it was a successful car shopping experience all around.

It has running boards, and that is good because I wear skirts a lot. The vehicle I drive does not have running boards. I try to always remember to wear understuff.


I spent nearly all day at church on Sunday helping with the contemporary service and with Craig's funeral service. At lunch Sunday afternoon I noticed that the Not-So-Little One had a raspberry on her palm. I asked how she had gotten it, and she stammered something about the wagon.

I knew she had been taking the wagon to the top of the hill on our street and riding it down, so I asked it she damaged anyone's property when she wiped out. She looked at her lap and squirmed about a bit and said, "I wasn't on the street when I fell." I had to know more. She said, sheepishly, "I was sitting in the wagon in the front yard pretending to ride in it. I held the handle and pretended to steer. I imagined I was going around a corner, and I leaned to the side, and the whole thing tipped over."

"You mean to tell me that you weren't actually moving?" I asked. "No," she admitted. "You mean to tell me that you fell out of a nonmoving wagon in your own front yard?" "Yes." I'm sure they heard me laughing from across the restaurant.


I went to Austin Monday for a stakeholders' forum. Spent the night so that I could do a little networking yesterday. The Holiday Inn was perfectly nice. I love me some Austin. Talk about strange sightings. I saw a young man on a bicycle with short pants, green and black striped socks, and hot pink Vans. I saw an establishment called the Groovy Lube, and I am pretty sure it had nothing to do with cars. There was an ice cream shop that I think used to be a tire shop. Was admiring the long shiny blonde hair of a pedestrian and had to stifle a giggle when I saw the facial hair that accompanied it. Heard a guy playing some pretty great guitar in the hotel. I nearly had my eye put out by a flying breath mint.

Love me some Austin. My sister tells me I would fit right in a place like that. I take that as a compliment.

Friday, March 7, 2008


My mentor once told me that one of the most therapeutic things we can do for our clients is to provide a safe holding environment for their emotions while they are working toward health. As the client is telling his story, we hold his feelings and allow them to "be."

Wednesday evening while I was conducting choir practice, the church secretary entered the room and announced that one of the congregation's beloved members, Craig, had died in an automobile accident. The reaction, naturally, was emotional and raw.

The church was filled with people attending youth activities and bible studies. As the news spread from room to room throughout the building, the sounds of people reacting to the news grew. It was overwhelming to hear that pain swell and spread. No - it was unbearable.

Being the last staff member in the building, I allowed everyone to take their time to comfort one another and make phone calls. I waited and I hugged and I listened to anyone who needed shoulders and ears. I told people they were loved and made sure no one drove home in distress. When everyone had finally gathered themselves and departed, I locked up and went home.

Being an empath is both a blessing and a curse. It allows you to relate to people on a very intimate level, but the cost is high when pain is big. I literally felt like a vessel on Wednesday, filled to the brim with the pain and grief of my brothers and sisters. And since I knew that the earth wasn't going to just stop turning, I put the lid on the vessel and held on.

Today I attended the memorial service for Bob Coleman, a man I loved dearly. There were hundreds of people in attendance. The service was respectful and the music was lovely. A fitting tribute to a man who touched so many lives. It was mentioned more than once how much he loved people and valued relationships.

I had not taken the time to deal with my feelings about his death. A loved one offered to hold them for me, but I kept them close to my heart. And during the service the vessel began to spill. Once I began to cry, I worried that I would never be able to stop. I sobbed while the rest of the congregation sang. I shook with grief while others shook with laughter at humorous anecdotes. I wanted to crawl under the pew and curl up in a ball and shut down. I wanted to go back in time. I wanted to stop the world and get off.

In time I did stop crying. I pulled myself together and returned phone calls on the way home. I got busy arranging the music for the funeral service that will take place on Tuesday for Craig. I broke up an argument between my daughters. I did a load of laundry. In other words, I got back to life.

The vessel is empty tonight, but it will fill up again soon enough. I think I need a bigger vessel.


I am so relieved! I am so relieved that the world is officially perfect as of 6:00 pm last night. The war must have ended, crimes must have all been solved, politicians must be having a virtual lovefest as we speak.

All must be right with the world because the only thing they have talked about on all of the news stations for the last 15.5 hours is the snow that fell on North Texas. There was no ice on the roads, so there were no disasterous accidents to report. Whew!

Just snow. As much as 6 inches in Denton!

I am so relieved.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Rev C Robert Coleman

My former pastor, the man who has influenced me the most throughout my spiritual journey, passed away this morning at 9:00 am after a very long battle with cancer.

Here he is with his family. He was recently honored by Brite Divinity School with the Distinguished Minister Award for Pastoral Ministry. A Brite alumnus, he retired from the ministry a few years ago, but remained actively involved in the community of faith.

I cannot tell you precisely how old he was, because to me his was timeless. He called himself "preacher." My children (and his grandchildren) called him "Pops." I worked for him at Handley Meadowbrook Christian Church (now known as Trinity Christian Church) in Fort Worth when the Not-So-Little One was a baby. She went to work with me every day, and she spent as much time in Pops' office as mine. Working at the church was a real growth experience. Working with Bob was a gift.

Bob may not have been the most eloquent speaker ever to grace a pulpit. Sometimes his sermons rambled a bit. There are many anecdotes about misspeak on Sunday mornings - "lights of boltning" was my favorite. He always had a terrific sense of humor about it, which is good, 'cuz those little old ladies sure do like to rib the preacher.

He may not have been the most passionate pastor to cross the church's threshold. Hell, fire, and brimstone weren't a major theme in his sermons. Love was. He was soft spoken. He was not the guy to light a fire under someone's behind if something needed doing. He delegated that job to more outspoken board members.

He may not have been those things, but Bob was REAL. He laughed easily, got mad about stuff, ranted about people, worried about money, stood up for the ones he loved. It was not unheard of for him to use a little colorful language if he was fired up about something. He didn't judge, 'cuz he knew he wasn't perfect. He knew his bible and he loved his Lord. And he genuinely loved people.

I really got to know Bob at the rehearsal dinner for my good friends Sam and Kim. He and his wonderful wife Maida were sitting across from me at Razoos. The Jimmy Buffet song Margaritaville was playing, and Bob knew every word. How do I know this? He was singing along.

Once when I was explaining to him that my father preferred to spend Christmas alone rather than with us, Bob became outraged. He flatly declared that my father had no idea what he was missing and informed me that I didn't need him anyway. He told me that he would be my dad and Pops to my girls. It was overwhelming, and I'll never forget it.

I called Bob the day I decided to leave HMCC and pursue my calling as a music minister at another church. It felt like I was moving out of my parents' house and striking out on my own. He didn't try to talk me out of it. He told me how proud he was of me. And we cried. We cried and cried.

Today I rejoice in the fact that he is finally free. And I cry.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Hell on Wheels

Took the girls skating yesterday. We had a good time, and my legs are nice and sore. Not a bad work out. I believe I heard every song ever recorded by the likes of Hilary Duff and Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus. I had to fight the temptation to cheer out loud when We Will Rock You came on.

People watching is one of my favorite hobbies, and the rink was a fine venue for it. I spent a little time observing the children as they moved past me.

I noticed that when little girls skate, they stand up straight with their hands slightly out to their sides for balance. They skate at a comfortable pace, side by side with a friend, chatting or even holding hands. Their main objective is staying upright. If a little girl falls, her friends stop to help her up and ask if she is okay, looks of sincere concern across their little faces.

Little boys, on the other hand, skate bent over at the waist, leading with the chin, with arms and elbows and feet flailing madly at the wind. They race by in a flat out, damn the torpedoes, to hell with the devil vengeance. They do not stay with their buddies, choosing instead to race them. When they have to stop, they do so by slamming into a wall at full speed. If one of them falls, the other boys cackle wildly and point.

There were some adults at the rink, mostly parents. I watched them, too, yes I did. Guess what... skating behavior does not appear to change with age.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Cactus Cuties

Thanks to Melinda for sending this to me. I want to adopt every one of these girls.