Friday, March 9, 2018

Lent 2018 - Gratitude Diary, Day 24

Tonight I want to say a kind word about Lexington Catholic High School, my son Dallas’ alma mater.

When Dallas was nearing the end of his middle school years we were in a predicament about where he would go to high school. Dallas is a smart kid but the school in whose district we reside we didn’t feel at the time would help him grow academically. It was a tough moment because that high school is Kelly’s alma mater.

We applied for a pre-engineering program at another high school but the slots were limited and Dallas was not chosen. The choices became more difficult for us. We are public school supporters but for the first time we considered a private high school. There are three such schools in town. One we simply couldn’t afford. The other is conservative Christian and teaches Creationism. That left Lexington Catholic.

When we made initial contact they spoke to me on the phone as if we were just the family LexCath needed to make their school better. It was that way for four years. Mindy Towles is the Admissions Director and she made us feel welcome, wanted and special. Because of that reception Dallas excelled at LexCsth. Oh, he could have done better academically but he did ok. He got a values-based education. He was wanted by the school. He played four years of good soccer. He went on an amazing European trip with the soccer team. He attended games for all other sports and became the unofficial mascot for the school.

I was asked to volunteer to call the soccer games from the Press Box his freshman year and was asked to do that every year and two more after he graduated. They made me feel special. Dallas made great friends. Kelly and I have made great friends through the school. We couldn’t have had a better experience.

So, thank you LexCath, staff, faculty, administrators, et al. I am grateful for you.

Peace and Love,

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Lenten 2018 - Gratitude Diary, Day 23

It’s International Women’s Day today so I want to give thanks and be grateful for a couple of the women who have deeply influenced my life. This won’t be exhaustive, just a couple vignettes.

My mom’s mom is the single biggest female influence in my life. She was the best grandmother I could have asked for. She was President of the Insurance Women of Tulsa. She cooked like nobody else. She made crafts with me. She taught me to paint and to make something with my hands. We did plaster together. We laughed. We played games. We watched tv and we drank coffee. Rare is the day I don’t think about her and miss her. 

The other female I want to mention is the Rev. Kim Clements Hames. Frankly, I would not be a minister of any sort of it hadn’t been for Kim. When I was in the big wreck in 1976 and my cousin was killed, Kim was there at the ER. She was the very presence of God for me. I will never forget her laying her head on my chest and sobbing as I cried over my cousin. She was just 22 and a youth sponsor at the time. It must have been gut-wrenching for her, but she handled it with dignity. I will honor her gift to me as long as I breathe. 

There are a lot of people who say that God doesn’t call women to ministry; that the Bible shows a disdain for women leading in the church; that women cannot lead or teach or preach when a man is present. I call bullshit. I have some amazing colleagues in ministry and a whole lot of them are women. And they’re good. And they’re faithful. And they’re called by God. They are. You cannot convince me otherwise. 

I’m grateful for International Women’s Day and for the women who have helped and mentored me. 

Peace and Love,

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Lent 2018 -- Gratitude Diary, Day 22

Well, it has come to this. Twenty-two days in and it's time to be grateful for the elixir of the gods: coffee. My life without coffee wouldn't be much of a life at all. (That's hyperbole, I know.)

Whoever it was that first picked the coffee berries from a tree and then plucked the beans from the pods and plopped them into boiling water and drank the ebony sludge, well, I salute your courage. How you make that very first decision to go from these berries:

To roasting the beans to look this yummy:

Then drop it in a pot of hot water and drink it, well, I applaud your creativity, and the end product. 

Coffee was first introduced to me by Grandmother and Grandaddy Dallas. I can recall first drinking coffee when I was about five years old. Grandmother would put milk and sugar in it to make it palatable for me, and the love affair began. Ever since those early years I have enjoyed coffee.

Somewhere along the way my palate evolved and I was encouraged to try something other than Maryland Club, (Grandmother's preferred brand). I was introduced to Lexington Coffee and Tea and their coffee shop Coffee Times Coffee Shop in the early 1990's. It's a local shop where they buy the beans green and roast them on site. They have coffees from Africa and South American and Asia and Indonesia. And it is all good. You can find Lexington Coffee and Tea here: Lexington Coffee and Tea 

I bought my coffee pot, my grinder and my gold-plated filter basket from Lexington Coffee and Tea. And I got this cool sign which hangs in my office there too.

Some people say that these behaviors qualify me as a coffee snob. I don't know why we have to label and categorize everyone and everything, but OK, if that works for you then, I am a coffee snob. I own it. I am just grateful to share a cup with anyone who is willing. I am glad for you to stop by the church and share coffee with me. I will meet you at a coffee shop, preferably Coffee Times or Cup of Commonwealth. I am just grateful that coffee shops are places where conversations are started, friendships flourish and acoustic music fills the void when the espresso machine isn't hissing.

I am grateful for coffee. It has seen me through many a long night studying and writing papers, long drives through the night, and given me strength to get up and do what needs to be done. I am grateful for that coal black liquid engine juice in a cup. Coffee. Grateful.

Peace and Love,
Come by the church and drink a cup with me

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Lent 2018 — Gratitude Diary, Day 21

Today I am grateful for the people who have offered me grace and forgiveness when I done messed up.

They say that to err is human and to forgive is divine. I may be the most human person I know because I mess up all the time. All the time. And my friends keep forgiving me and encouraging me along the way to be better and do better. If it wasn’t for the grace they have offered, my life would be dismal.

I am grateful for the grace they offer me.

And so, I try to offer grace to others. I try not to stand apart in judgment because if anyone deserves judgment it would be me. I try to offer grace and understanding because I am so grateful for the grace and understanding afforded me.

Likewise, I am grateful that even though God has judged me as a lover of darkness, nonetheless, God sent the Light that I might see; might find a new and enlightened way; might be free. That we might all be lovers of light.

I am so grateful for grace and forgiveness. I hope and pray that I am filled with grace and forgiveness myself.

Peace and Love,

Monday, March 5, 2018

Lent 2018 - Gratitude Diary, Day 20

I am grateful for silence. There’s not much of it left in my life and I covet it. I hardly know where to find it.

On the sailboat alone is as close to silent as I can get. Sailboats running on the water aren’t truly silent, and there’s always someone else on the lake making noise. But it’s close to noiseless. 

When I sit outside at night in the summer I listen for the Frogs and the crickets, the love songs of Mother Nature. Not silent at all. But close. 

Silence is mostly a space I make inside me where God can move in. When I am still and non-anxious, when I am not thinking about who I should be calling or visiting or texting or what event needs to be planned, then silence widens within me and God resides there in that silent space. 

In that space I am restored; lean toward wholeness, confront my misdeeds, and flow openly into oneness with all things. The space of silence allows me to be fully me. 

Oh yes, I am grateful for silence. 

Peace and  Love,

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Lent 2018 — Gtratitude Diary, Day 19

Today I am simply grateful for the day. A sermon I liked. An elementary school musical production of Aladdin. Black Panther with the youth group. A 16 pound salt cured ham in the oven; a gift from Ana Elaine Mitchell. She won a 4-H ribbon for the ham that she gave to me at Christmas. Grateful for today. I hope you are too. 

Peace and Love,

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Lent 2018 - Gratitude Diary, Day 18

When I was near graduation at Southwestern College in Winfield, KS I had decided I was going to seminary. I talked to Rev. Richard Ziglar at my home congregation, First Christian Church in Tulsa, and he said that he would suggest I apply and go to Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University.

Dr. D. Newell Williams was the Dean of the Seminary at the time and FCC Tulsa was his home congregation. Dr. Ron Flowers taught religion on the undergrad side at TCU and his home congregation was FCC Tulsa.

Against good advice I made only one campus visit and applied for only one grad school: TCU. Thank goodness I was accepted.

I entered Brite Divinity School in August, 1981. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for Newell Williams, Jim Duke, Bill Countryman, Cy Rowell, Bill Baird, Howard Stone and Toni Craven. I got a first class, top-rated, education at Brite. You couldn't convince me that I would have had any better at Princeton, Harvard or Yale. I mean, Brite just plain rocked.

Robert Carr Chapel, Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University
I was also fortunate enough along the way to be roommates with Rev. Doug Pfeiffer and Rev. Greg Lombard Rea -- our denomination does not have any finer ministers than they.

I was at Brite for 3.5 years during which time I attended lots of TCU basketball rooting for Killer's Frogs and booing Phi Slamma Jamma. I also went to a lot of football games and was a Wacker Backer. I played intramural football. I learned. I loved and lost. I survived. I made amazing lifelong friends.

Coach Killingsworth with a young Jamie Dixon, now head coach at TCU
The experience at Brite and TCU was foundational to who I have been theologically, and helped me immensely in pastoring. The things I have done well I learned from experienced and intelligent professors. The things I have done poorly, they warned me against.

I graduated in December 1984 and was ordained on December 30 of that year at FCC Tulsa. I am unbelievably grateful for all my classmates, roommates, professors and the school itself. I wish everybody could be a Horned Frog.

I preached my senior sermon in Robert Carr Chapel and in 1985 I officiated my first wedding after ordination, of my lifelong friends, Charlie and Cathy Daniels.

Cathy and Charlie Daniels, and me. June, 1985 at Robert Carr Chapel, TCU
Grateful barely begins to describe how I feel about TCU.

Peace and Love,