Working Title

Hey y’all! I have finished the sequel to The Conservative Congregant and now have a working title. The title, as of this moment is “And Time Stood Still.” It encompasses the book pretty well, I think .

If you have read The Conservative Congregant, then you know it is about a woman who leaves her comfort zone to make a meal for the “unhoused” congregation of The City of Hope. The City of Hope is a church for the unhoused or homeless folks of the city. It is set in Dallas as the book is based on my actual church, The Gathering. The Gathering was a dream of Archdeacon Jim Webb  of the Episcopal Diocese here in Dallas. Thankfully, he was able to see it come to fruition before he passed away .

Back to the book. Because Eloise Dowager stepped out of her comfort zone to feed the homeless, many blessings come her way. I don’t know if you have noticed it, but that is truly what happens in real life. TCC  follows her as life takes her through the many changes that take place in her life, up to and including the day she makes the dinner. The blessing she receives is much more than one could ask for and she is truly blessed.

The sequel follows up on her blessing and all that entails. I cannot go through it with you for obvious reasons. But, suffice it to say that something big comes out of this book. I am very excited about it and hope to publish it to be released in June 2016.

My plans are to publish one or two more novellas and then publish the novel that will tie the story fully together. I hope you will follow me in this exciting journey and pick up the books as they come out in print or on Kindle.

Have a great week  and keep reading!

 

The Best Life is the Good Life For Me

There are times I feel like my life has been hard. I have had hard times- we all have. But, today, while riding my horse, I passed my husband who was riding his lawn mower, mowing the pasture. A wry smile came across my face as I realized, not for the first time, how wonderful my life really is. My husband mowing the lawn on his day off while I rode my horse. Amazing!

Some might wonder why I think this is such a big deal. Well, the reason is because we were, at one time, both city kids, both terribly spoiled, woefully oblivious to other folks plights, but struggling to stay afloat with our little family of a daughter and two young boys.  Oh, we knew there were other people worse off than us. We were sure of that. We had no idea who they might be, but  we knew they existed.

My youngest son, Micah, was born with Cystic Fibrosis, a lung and endocrine disease- so far without a cure. We found out when he was about 9 weeks old. My older son, David was about 22 months when Micah was born. My daughter Amanda, was almost 13 . We were in and out of Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas seemingly all the time. It had become like a revolving door. Micah’s CF was pretty well under control after he was about 5, I suppose. At 9, he was back in the hospital and then again not for 11 years. We have been blessed. Very blessed. It didn’t seem so at the time. Funny how time changes your mind regarding your circumstances.

I say all this to say to you- If you are in difficult circumstances right now- try to view it as a learning experience. We had many a heartache, heartbreak and despair. We had times we were on food stamps, CHIPS (before that CIDC), our doctor vistis for the kids were often write offs for the docs. It was quite embarrassing  to us. Both Stephen and I had been well off within our families, so we had no idea how to cope at this point in our lives. We flew by the seat of our pants and God’s grace. You can too. Prayer changes everything and sometimes situations occur in which God is the only  one who can help, who can understand, who can hear you. Stay the course, it works out- maybe not the way we want it

A ride on a hot afternoon. me and Licorice
A ride on a hot afternoon. me and Licorice

to – maybe it works out fine- but it works out how it is supposed to according to what God wants you to know. 

I feel as if I am writing to someone who needs to hear this right now. If so, I hope my message helps, because God will make your life the Best Life. 

 

 

Preconceived Ideas? Better Think Again!

All of us have preconceived ideas about lots of things. Sometimes, our preconceived ideas have us refusing certain foods because of the color, the smell, but not usually the taste. What do you think when I say “Brussell Sprouts”? Does your lip curl at the smell of them? Do you shriek with terror? Or, do you lick your lips? What about when I say “Cops”? Does it conjure up a good connotation or a bad one? Fear? Anger? Compassion or perhaps, the phrase,

“They give their lives for our safety?”

So, then, what comes to mind when you think of homeless people? “Lazy?” “Crazy?” “Weird?” Do the words “Nice”, “Sweet,” “Funny?” ever come to mind? Have you ever taken the time to speak to a homeless person? Have you even looked them in the eye? Have you escorted someone to a restaurant and bought them lunch? Or does the mere mention of the word incite fear, anger and lack of understanding, fill you? 

I am asking because it seems we all have preconceived ideas regarding some topic or another- some words bring instant visuals to our minds’ eye. I am also asking because I used to have the same visual. I thought homeless folks were lazy, crazy, weird, scary and God forbid I ever look a homeless person in the eye. 

But, I had a change of heart when I began going to “The Gathering.” The Gathering, you may remember (because I write often about it), is a church for the “housed and unhoused” people of Dallas. Some of the most sincere, loving, funny, friendly, wonderful people worship at The Gathering with us.Some are ill, bipolar, mentally  ill, unable to get medications that might stabilize them, unable to get proper help for their illness. Most are so different than we think they are. Some made me feel ashamed I did not worship God with the fervor they did. But I learned and so can you.

“They” are us. “They” are what we might be someday, what the hidden part of ourselves could be. There is no “They” and “Us. There is,however, “We.” Because we could all be walking in their shoes. 

My challenge for this week is to start with a first step- make eye contact and say hi. How hard could that be, right? Well, it can be very difficult for some. Some folks have been taught negative things about homeless people all their lives.  It’s time to stop all of our preconceived ideas about the homeless and come to think of it, anyone else. So, practice… if you dare. Say hi, make eye contact. Maybe next week, you might have a smile. Choose one person. Make them your challenge. Step out of your comfort zone and walk in Jesus’ shoes for a day. Be kind. Love. Help someone else. I’d love to hear about your experiment.

When we help others, we forget our own troubles. Isn’t that worth it?

And the Water Turned to Wine

Wedding at The Gathering
Wedding at The Gathering

 

My husband and I worship in downtown Dallas – Thanksgiving Square on Ervay and Pacific . We call it The Gathering. It is a service meant for the unhoused as well as housed folks. So, that means anyone can come to it.  Kind of interesting how we got involved in this mission. 

The church we helped start in Royse City had just merged with another church out in Caddo Mills. Caddo Mills is not all the far, but we felt God was calling us to do something else. We were not sure what, but it was something we prayed about and talked about. One day in late August, Stephen asked if I’d ever heard of a church called The Gathering sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese for the unhoused people of Dallas. I had not heard of it, but it piqued my interest. So, the following Sunday, we visited . Our lives have not been the same since that day.

I am not sure what I expected, but what I witnessed was the most amazing thing. I watched people,with little to no material things, worshipping the Lord- raising their hands , thanking God for everything they had- for life, for the chance to worship. I was humbled. Here I was, a housed person- a person who had grown up with ‘things’ , a person who didn’t take the time to thank God for my life, for what I had, for the little things I had experienced. I didn’t thank God for the ability to go to the doctor, the dentist, to buy a Dr. Pepper or a sandwich. I was so ashamed.

I never felt unwelcome. I felt loved and I felt immediately part of something bigger than any of us knew. I hugged and was hugged. I loved and was loved. I felt at home. I was home. I’d found my place in this world with the unlikeliest people in the world. Turns out God has a great sense of humour. 

It has almost been a year since we began going to The Gathering. I was blessed to meet Jim Webb, the founder- whose dream it was to have a church without walls for the housed and unhoused people of Dallas. I am sad to say he lost his battle with cancer not long ago. Father Charlie Keen is the pastor, Tom Hauser, Lyn Burgess and others who are just as important, but names escape me at the moment. 

Rev. Charles Keen listens while the Word of the Lord is being read.
Rev. Charles Keen listens while the Word of the Lord is being read. He wears his tee shirt “The Church has Left the Building.”

Today was the first wedding held at The Gathering- Nikki and James. They’ve been together for a while and wanted to make it a lifetime. They are perfect together. Funny thing- turns out my daughter, Amanda, went to school with Nikki . It also turned out Nikki was from my hometown of Richardson. Small, small world we live in.  Nikki made the most beautiful bride and James , a handsome groom. The love was evident in the way they looked at each other. 

Once , at a wedding in Canaan, Jesus turned the water into wine. He did it again in downtown Dallas today – at Nikki and James wedding at The Gathering. Thank you Jesus!

 

for more information about The Gathering, check out these resources:

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/community-news/park-cities/headlines/20140110-dallas-homeless-find-place-to-worship-in-thanks-giving-square.ece

http://www.transfiguration.net/1118/the-gathering