Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Nancy passed this book on to me. "Bright Lights, Big Ass: A Self-Indulgent, Surly Ex-Sorority girl's guide to Why It Often Sucks in the City, or Who Are These Idiots and Why Do They All Live Next Door to Me?" by Jen Lancaster is, in her own words on the cover, "yet ANOTHER memoir". I don't guess I've had the opportunity to read many memoirs. It's not exactly an autobiography. I never actually considered the difference before this moment. To me, it's just ramblings about Jen herself, and I wasn't terribly thrilled with it. Now, if she was someone that I'd bumped into at the gym, and I could say, "Hey, I know that person!" then maybe the book would be more fun for me. Or maybe if I had more experience with life in the city, I could relate to some of her complaining. I see that she's written 12 books. I hope that some of them are actually ABOUT something... But there was one point in the book (published in 2007) which was as true then as it is today. From Pages 96-99:

...Anyway, when I got to the office at my temp job, I started listening to talk radio and I heard all kinds of assorted foolishness. Apparently there's a movement calling for the Blue States to secede from the Red States to better reflect the nations political leanings. ...Anyway, after I returned from lunch, I heard how suicide hotlines and Canadian immigration officials have been inundated by those wanting to escape Bush's second term. Mental health professionals all over the country are working overtime to counsel those of you despondent over the election results. Apparently people are seeking postelection therapy in droves. ...You've had plenty of time to feel your feelings. Now it's time to organize. Get off your therapists' couches and use your pent-up energy to gather the kind of information that will change minds and perceptions. If you hate the elected officials presiding over you, then it's your duty as an American to make sure we never get stuck with them again. ...So leather up, you nancy boys and girls, and get busy. P.S. If I could endure the fraternity party otherwise known as the Clinton administration, you can deal with President Churchy McJesus

Yup. Sounds like today. Speaking of political things, tomorrow is the 2nd meeting of the Cooke County Republican Women's club with me as president. My first VP and my second VP both can't be there. What's up with that?!? Where's the dedication? Just kidding. I know that they all care way more than me. You should come to a meeting sometime - First Thursday of the Month at 7:00 PM at the First Christian Church in Gainesville (except for July & August...and April this year because of Legislative Day in Austin). There is always FOOD!! Or you can just LIKE US ON FACEBOOK. I plan to start periodically streaming our speakers on the Facebook. They say we're supposed to be using these Information Age tools. Being tech-savvy may be the only thing that I have to contribute to the CCRW on account of I ain't no big donor, and I ain't no passionate speaker, and I ain't no social butterfly, and my knowledge of the government is, well, IMPROVING. And that's pretty much why I joined the club in the first place. I'm not crazy enough to think that I can make much of a difference, but it's usually fun to learn new things. And let's not forget - those women can COOK!! Hey, it turns out that I DO have something in common with Jen Lancaster - our appreciation of FOOD!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Dorthy loaned me this book, "The Power of a Whisper: Hearing God. Having the Guts to Respond." by Bill Hybels (2010) about a month ago. It's a concept that I'm not too comfortable with, actually. When I hear someone talking about how God has been telling them what to do, I am always brought back to a time in my life where I ran into a woman whose every-other comment was, "God told me to do" such-and-such. It was around 2006, I reckon, and I met this woman at the church in Denton that I was going to at the time. She lived in Gainesville, so someone suggested that we make the drive together. In my view, she was a nut. I mean, I know that sounds very harsh, but it was obvious to me that God was not telling her who to talk to and what to say and where to go and do... And I remember listening closely because I really wanted to figure out her motivation for speaking that way. Was she just trying to sound holy? Did she really BELIEVE all this stuff that she was saying? Was she just mentally not-quite-right? Well, I never did figure it out. She believed that God was telling her to fix up the old school building in Gainesville - the one on the 800 Block of Lindsay Street - to put in some sort of after-school program for kids. 10 years later, that building is long gone, and there are houses going up on that block. And when I walk by that area, I shake my head and wonder what ever became of that woman. But, like I said, I never reached a conclusion about her motivations. Is it possible that God really was telling her to make that effort (which failed) to turn that dilapidated building into something good for the community? I mean, I'll give her one thing, she definitely made a difference in my life with her obedience to [what she perceived to be] God's whispers. I couldn't tell you her name, and I'm still pretty sure that she was about 90% crazy, but I also can't deny that the other 110% was gung-ho about finding God and doing His will.

It's possible that I should have read this book many years ago before I encountered Ms. God-Told-Me-To-X-Y-Z. But God's timing is perfect, so if it happened this way, then that means it was God's will. I can't name a time when I heard a whisper from God. I do believe that I have heard from God through other people plenty of times. Mr. Hybels doesn't address that sort of thing in his book. His focus was on those silent promptings in your heart. And it's possible that I turned a deaf ear to those little whispers after I met She-Who-Hears-from-God-about-What-to-Have-for-Breakfast. :) Maybe it's time that I open my heart again. Maybe God has something to say to me. Maybe.

2017 has started off alright for me, I reckon. I still have the same job (11 years) and the same house (5 years). I am starting my 2nd year as President of the Saint Jo Riding Club, and I am muddling through my first year as President of the Cooke County Republican Women. I just got asked yesterday to be on the committee for the LeTU Athletic Hall of Fame, so it seems that I might be taking over the world!! (Thanks, Brain...and Pinky.) No, but seriously, I recognize daily that I couldn't be doing these things without God. And when I start to feel inadequate, I try to remember that God is the one who put me in these leadership positions. I certainly didn't chase after them, and I would run away if I could (I guess that's always an option). But I feel like where I am right now is where God wants me to be, and that in itself has to be a lot like hearing a whisper from God! I hope that I will lose my spiritual deafness that has come from my skepticism and from my fear of sounding like you-know-who. God didn't tell me to write this post. God didn't tell me what to say. But I hope that He will be pleased with it. To God be the glory.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Leadership... "American Soldier: General Tommy Franks, Commander in Chief - United States Central Command" is an autobiography published in 2004. General Franks was the head honcho in Afghanistan and Iraq during and after 09/11/2001. For more info, just click on the picture. Or you can read this book, but it is not a quick read. I won it as a door prize at one of the Cooke County Republican Women (CCRW) meetings. I found it very interesting because in 2001 I was doing college things. I wasn't paying attention to current events. I remember when we went into Iraq TWO YEARS later, and it felt like "REALLY, why has it taken us SO LONG??" But of course our troops were in Afghanistan only about 4 months after 09/11 happened. Of course the big issue that we all remember about Operation Iraqi Freedom is the issue of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and how there didn't turn out to be any, and President Bush got blamed for chasing after oil interests instead of the possible WMD. General Franks makes a very solid argument for why the intelligence on WMD in Iraq was solid. He also makes clear that it wasn't all about WMD. Unfortunately, his argument for the Iraq War takes over quite a bit of the book because I guess he felt that he needed to defend his actions and those of our country in general. Other than that, it's a very interesting book which covers a time in my life when I was not yet engaged in political matters.

I am certainly engaged in political things these days!! Of course I will be an Election Judge on Tuesday for the Presidential Election. I was fairly new at the job during the last presidential election. It's always fun to see everyone in Precinct 18 come through the doors, and the turnout in my town is very encouraging. I wish that every citizen in this country would understand how important their vote is. Also on the political involvement topic, I don't know if you heard that I'm set to be the President of the CCRW for 2017. This ain't like being class president or 4-H president. I'm actually going to have to work...and LEAD!! I'm actually quite terrified. It would be better if I wasn't President of the Saint Jo Riding Club (SJRC) at the same time, but I try to see these positions as opportunities for greatness. You're supposed to take those when they come along. And you're supposed to be grateful!! I'm working on that part. Leadership is tricky. They try to groom all young people to be leaders. I personally think that being an honorable follower is equally important - the type of follower who isn't just a lemming who goes along with the crowd, but a person who will help other soldiers along in the battle that is life. But leadership...I saw an excellent example of leadership yesterday at the SJRC meeting where we elected new officers for 2017. The incoming Parade Marshall said, "I just want our group to glorify God." Amen and Amen. And that's what was missing from General Franks' book. He wasn't lacking in faith - he had it in his wife and in his army, but he never mentioned a higher purpose. I pray, and I ask you to join me in praying, for our leaders (including me!) who will be trying to glorify God with our lives in 2017. We heard that in church just this Sunday: "Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior..." (1 Timothy 2:1-3).

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Grandma gave me this book to read. "The Iron Marshal" (1979) by Louis L'Amour is not too believable, mostly because the Marshal is a teenage kid who thinks and speaks with the wisdom of someone much, much older than that. But the story is alright. I don't have much else to say about it, I reckon. My life is not nearly as interesting as the Marshal's. I wish I had something interesting to tell you, but there's just nothing worth telling. I hope you're having a good Summer.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

I have been working on this project for about 10 years - my 2nd reading of the Bible cover to cover. My regular reading Bible is "The New American Bible" which is a Catholic version including the apocrypha, although I prefer the New King James version. Anyhow, yes, I just finished reading the Bible for the second time. This time I read the whole thing out-loud. I normally read a chapter from the Old Testament in the morning and one from the New in the evening. Reading it out-loud has made me slow down and stay focused. Unfortunately, I'm not entirely sure that I started the out-loud policy in Genesis, so I'll be starting all over again now, and at some point I'll come full-circle. Obviously I haven't been very "religious" about my daily reading. Since there are 926 chapters in the OT (without apocrypha), at a chapter per day, I should technically finish the whole thing in...a little over 2 1/2 years. But I've been a little more consistent with my daily reading here lately. I guess I'm looking for God's will for my life.

My life...there's not much new to report. After 3 years and 1 month of Weight Watchers, I am down to only needing to lose about 27 lbs. I am really trying to make it happen this year. And I guess that's really the only goal I have in mind these days. I guess another goal is to get to September without smoking because that will be the one-year point. I keep being surprised by the fact that I CAN say "no" and by the fact that the temptation never goes away. Okay, maybe I can't say "never" since it hasn't even been a year yet. Goals...both health-related. But they both have spiritual implications. I know I can't achieve either one of them without God's help or without the help of the people that God has placed in my life. I am truly blessed, and I hope that you are feeling blessed, too.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

This book was sent to me by WORLD Magazine as a gift for giving a gift subscription. As a gift for a gift... "One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America's Future" (2014) by Ben Carson, MD, is the typical pre-campaign book by a candidate. Okay, I can't really judge that because I'm pretty sure that this is the only one I've ever read. No, I did not vote for Dr. Carson in the presidential primary election because I believe that Ted Cruz was the better choice for the job. As far as the book goes, the content is pretty solid, but I found it amusing how it felt just like listening to Dr. Carson - long rambling sentences without using any contractions. I could almost hear him saying all of that stuff in his slow, deliberate tone. Thinking about who might be our President next year makes me a little sad, so I will move on to a new topic now...

How have YOU been?? I feel like I've been a bit isolated in my own rodeo world. The rodeo happened two weeks ago, and I'm still winding down from all the stress and "fun". The President of the Riding Club holds that office for 2 years according to the bylaws, so I guess I get to do this for another year yet. It's still a year and a half, really. Maybe it would be okay if that was my only extra-curricular activity. But my days are already plenty full. Maybe I'm living the American Dream?! I actually don't feel free AT ALL. Oh well...no complaining...

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Hello dear friends. Recently I finished reading "Panic Room: Living Beyond Fear" written this year by Curt Simmons, the pastor of Friendship Church which I have been attending. The editing wasn't spectacular, but the content is very good stuff. It is a very encouraging book. I have more fear to deal with than usual right now with less than a month before the Saint Jo Rodeo, and only TWO WEEKS before the Riding Club's first playday of the year. I want everything to go well. I want everyone to be happy and have fun. But is that realistic? Some things will likely go wrong, and some folks are bound to get upset about something, so I just need to not be afraid.

I experienced a little fear of the unknown last weekend when I went to San Saba to visit my friend Marcy at the TDCJ unit there. It's a 4-hour drive, and after getting down there in time for church at Hill Country Bible at 10:30 AM, I went over to the jail to find all of the visitors out in the parking log. Long story short, there had been a gas leak in the new boiler in the laundry room, and some of the inmates and guards had gotten carbon monoxide poisoning. The warden told us that she hoped to have it all resolved in time to let visitors back in (visitation only happens Saturday and Sunday from 8 to 5), but after sitting there for a couple hours watching the ambulances and firetrucks rolling in and people going out on stretchers, we were told that visitation was cancelled for the rest of the day. Of course they couldn't tell us any details about what we really wanted to know - were the people that we came to visit okay?? So I had to drive the 4 hours back home without seeing my friend and without knowing if she was one of the ones who needed medical attention. I don't think that's really the kind of "Panic Room" situation that Pastor Curt was really talking about, but I do know for sure that the whole ordeal would have been pretty much impossible to get through without some faith that God had it under control. In church that morning, Pastor Russell was preaching from Ephesians 1:3-6 about how God has blessed us with EVERY spiritual blessing. We are as blessed as we can possibly be - that is impossible to comprehend - and how we have been chosen, predestined and adopted. I heard all of these great and encouraging words, and was immediately worried when I saw all the drama going down at the prison. But I did not need to worry. I'm not sure that I believe that God had a purpose for my 8-hour drive without getting to see my friend, but maybe His reason will come to light eventually. I'm always looking for the deeper meaning in things when sometimes the reason is very simple. And simple can be beautiful.

The next day she called and told me that she was okay except for a headache and a long, uncomfortable day of sitting in the gym waiting for their living area to air out. I hope we can all learn to live beyond fear. Faith really does change your life.