#MeToo

Rob Bell said “me, too,” are the two most powerful words in the English language. I’ve watched those words trend on social media in the last two days, as friends have revealed that they have been sexually assaulted, or subjected to sexual harassment. One of the questions asked, often used to discount the person’s story,…

Keep Going

This past Sunday morning I drove to church and parked in my usual spot. I walked down the grassy slope, entered the building through the east door and walked around to the elevator. After stopping to talk to a friend – standing during the whole conversation, I’ll have you know – I got on the…

What Happens In Las Vegas

I learned to shoot a BB gun before I ever started school. I was five years old. My grandpa was a hunter and he taught my cousins and me to shoot crows in the backyard and the adjacent field behind their house. Papa taught us how to pour the BBs in, how to aim and…

Angels in Scrubs

In a few hours I’m scheduled for surgery, an operation I’ve known was coming since last April. Compared to many procedures to remove cancerous tumors, mine will be relatively simple. Over the last few months I’ve had a lot of time to ponder the types of cancer I could’ve been diagnosed with – cancers that…

Neighbors Being Neighbors

Lots of emotions as I watch the news about Hurricane Harvey and the subsequent flooding in south Texas. I’m especially saddened for friends in the Houston area, wondering what, if anything, will be left of their homes when they’re able to return. As sad as I was watching the news, I couldn’t help but think…

Soundtracks

When I started first grade at the elementary school near my house, my mom started teaching second grade at a school across town. Since I didn’t have to be at school as early as my mom did, she arranged for me to stay with a family down the street before and after school. Every morning…

“Swelled Up Like A Toad”

When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer and learned I would go through chemotherapy, I had a certain set of expectations. After all, I had seen movies like 50/50 and The Bucket List. I had friends who had gone through chemo treatments who told me about the side effects they experienced, like Nausea and…

Making My Bed

I haven’t always been good about making my bed in the morning. In fact, for much of my life I thought it was a complete waste of time, since I was just going to get right back in it that night. No one was likely to see it, I thought, so why go to the…

“A Capitol Fourth”

Tonight I’ll be watching “A Capitol Fourth” on PBS. It’s what I’ve done every year that I didn’t care to fight the crowds and the heat and the mosquitos to watch a local fireworks display. The year I got to see it in person will always be special, but maybe even more so this year….

Answer the Question They Forget to Ask

“So how did you discover your cancer?” That’s a question I’ve been asked lately. When you tell people you have breast cancer, most people assume it showed up on a mammogram. Mine didn’t. And neither did many of the tumors in other breast cancer survivors I’ve been talking to. I found mine by scratching. Thank…

“Keep Those Cards & Letters Coming!”

Nearly every day after school my mom had errands to run. In addition to the usual runs to the grocery store, the pharmacy, the dry cleaners, any number of bakeries, and of course, Gibson’s Discount Center, we also made regular visits to two different card shops in town. Depending on where our other errands took…

Clinging To What I Know

From the first two rounds of chemotherapy I’ve been through, I’ve learned that what everyone says about it is true. For starters, it’s unpredictable. I can’t stand that. Just no predicting how it’s going to affect you, my doctor said. No predicting when the side effects will begin or subside. Everyone’s reaction is different. And…

More Than My Hair

It’s been nearly a month ago since I got my hair cut. A short haircut, for the first time in seven years. Shorter than I’ve ever worn it. Even shorter than the pixie cut my mother thought would look cute on me in first grade. Shorter than when I cut my hair to look like…

Loving a Dog

Even fewer puppies than children are planned, wanted, created purposely with the intent of bringing joy into our lives. But you were, Chester. You were planned and wanted and you brought me great joy. One night after a dinner I’d hosted for some of my college students at my house, one of my students, Tucker,…

Sometimes You Just Gotta Get the Shot

This past Tuesday I had my first round of chemotherapy and for days before, I kept remembering the time my aunt had to take me to the doctor. I was seven or eight years old and I’d gone to spend a couple of weeks at her house, like I usually did in the summers. My…

Waiting, the Unknown, and Other Things I Dislike

This morning the oncologist’s nurse is supposed to call to tell me when I begin chemo. They’ve been waiting to get approval from the insurance company. I won’t say anymore about what I think of all that. I’m just ready to get on with it. I think. Worse than waiting is not knowing what to…

The Day Before the Tomb Was Empty

The oncologist ordered more tests – more blood work, an echo cardiogram, and a PET scan – after my initial visit a couple of weeks ago. The PET scan was the only test I hadn’t been through before, but I knew it was similar to an MRI, only with radioactive dye injected into your veins…

Critters in the MRI

So the first procedure I had to go in for was a breast MRI. I’ve had MRIs before. Lie on your back, fold your arms over your chest, close your eyes and talk to yourself for 45 minutes to an hour. Talk to God, talk to yourself, just don’t raise your hand to scratch. First,…

Words That Scare Us

The first time I ever heard the word, “cancer,” I was seven years old and my grandfather had it in his stomach. By the time the Archer County Hospital doctor found it, there was nothing anyone could’ve done in 1969. So my Papa died of stomach cancer in the early spring when I was in…

Kindness. Always the Best Medicine.

A couple of weeks ago I was told that I have breast cancer. I’ve had some time now to process that diagnosis, to learn more about the type of cancer I have and the course of treatment I’ll pursue, and that’s helpful. Having at least an idea of what to expect is always better than…

“You Can Have the Town…”

Looking back I realize we watched a lot of television when I was growing up, because I remember characters on TV as well as I remember the people I interacted with in real life. Maybe it was because television was still so new, still a novelty to my parents who were older when it first…

Birthday Gravy. And other things guaranteed to stick.

One year my birthday fell on a Sunday and at the age of ten, I had no idea what trouble my mother went to to pull off what I asked for that year. I wanted to eat Sunday dinner at home. I was tired at eating at Luby’s. I asked my mother to fry chicken…

A World of Difference

Six years ago my world was very different. On this day six years ago I received a phone call I won’t ever forget. I could take you to the exact spot where I dropped to my knees and wept as my dad’s voice came over the phone. “Sally, Joe Rex has been killed in a…

Friends Who Help Us Find Our Way

Sometimes it’s the simplest moments – the seemingly insignificant events of an ordinary day – that make all the difference in our lives. Like the day in high school when my friend Carolyn asked me to compete in a speech tournament. “Hey, Sally,” she said. “We need somebody to do impromptu speaking at the Old…

Lilies after Easter

When we started to have some warmer days awhile back, one afternoon while I was letting Chester outside, I noticed something on my patio that I didn’t expect. You see, last year I bought a lily for Easter. They were selling them at my church in honor of those who had passed away during the…

Last Suppers

About this time last year, my cousin, Andy, brought a couple of guys with him to help move my parents into an assisted living facility. They left early so the guys could get back home in the same day. I’d been secretly packing things the week before, not wanting to disturb my ailing mother, both…

The Taste of Love

The sense of taste, so they say, is almost as powerful a memory trigger as the sense of smell. So last Friday night when I put the first bite in my mouth, I was instantly taken back. The smooth texture of the not-too-sweet cream cheese frosting, chock full of pecans. The crunch of carrots mixed…

The Colors of Kindness

I love watching the CBS evening news. Especially the last story of the broadcast, because it features somebody doing something good in the world. Like those guys who changed my tire last week when I had a blowout on Interstate 30, just outside of downtown Dallas. Fortunately, not long after I ran over whatever it…

Flowerpot Cakes

One year I saved up all my money to buy a cake for Mama on Mother’s Day. I’d had my eye on these cakes shaped like flower pots since early spring, when they first started making them at The Cake Box bakery. The Cake Box was where Mama always took me after I got my…

Seder Meals & Red Cross Volunteers

Sometimes I feel like the lone survivor of a Tsunami. Like the person whose entire village was washed away by a tidal wave. The person who lost not only one of the people closest to her, but her whole community as well. The Red Cross relief volunteers come and bring supplies, they help rebuild, they…

About Time

Awhile back I watched this movie about a guy who had the ability to travel through time. All the men in his family had the gift. They could travel back into time, revisit any situation, repair relationship blunders, correct those awkward moments in life you’d give anything to do over. The only catch was that…

The Dangers of Loving A Dog

  It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything.  The last three months have been a blur.  Lots of posts have floated around in my head, but nothing has materialized.  I was too busy, too scattered, too sad. After all, so I thought, who wants to read the posts of someone who’s grieving? It’s…

No Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving

Yesterday was the day elementary teachers always asked you to draw a picture of how you spent Thanksgiving. Now that I’m older, I realize that assignment is as much for the benefit of teachers as it’s just fun for the kids.  After a holiday you have to ease back into the routine of school slowly….

Uncles We Didn’t Know

Today, on the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination, I’ve been watching all the historic news footage from the day. Seeing what downtown Dallas looked like in 1963. Remembering the cars people drove. Remembering how men and women dressed. Women wearing hats and gloves and glasses that looked like my mother’s. Men wearing felt Stetson…

Birthday Presence

It’s hard to believe this picture was taken 40 years ago today.   And that my mom was the same age in this picture as I am today.   She was 52 and I was 12.   Today we’re celebrating her 92d birthday.   We’re not celebrating the arthritis that has robbed her of mobility,…

Stairwells

This past Saturday I got everything set up in just enough time to run downstairs and grab a cup of coffee before the class I was teaching was supposed to start.   I walked down the hall, then around the curved hallway lined with classrooms where other speakers were setting up for the Envision Church…

Top Chef

Tonight I decided to bake something for my friends coming in town for our 30th college reunion. Pumpkin bars from a Betty Crocker mix.  All you have to do is add some butter and an egg. How hard can it be? Except I forgot to melt the butter. And I never should’ve attempted cream cheese…

Five Things I Love About My Birthday

    1.  My mother’s carrot cake               With the exception of when I was younger, when I still thought chocolate cake was the only kind of cake worth eating (oh, how naïve we are when we’re young), my mother has made a carrot cake for my birthday almost every year of my life….

Airport Security

It didn’t occur to me until I got to the airport what day it was.   The home airport I fly out of most often is small.  We only have two gates.   Most of the men and women working security have been there long enough that I recognize them.  And when I go through,…

“The Butler”

If you haven’t gone to see the recently released movie, The Butler, you need to get in your car and go to the mall or wherever it’s showing and see it now. It’s worth it just to see Robin Williams as Ike Eisenhower. John Cusack as Richard Nixon. And Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan. I…

Peach Smiles and Hospital Coffee

Lots of afternoons when I got out of school, we’d drive down to the little town where my grandparents lived to visit one of them in the hospital. The hospital was tiny with less than ten rooms, an operating room, an emergency room where I often sat with my Papa when he needed oxygen, a…

Purple Mountains Majesty….and Beyond

I love to fly. I don’t tell many people this, but I have dreams about being able to fly.  Kicking off the ground with my arms extended like Superman, catapulting myself up into the air.  Being able to see everything from the air and land in remote places you wouldn’t ever be able to reach…

Washing Dishes. And all that goes with it.

  A friend of mine always talks about her mom using the dishwasher as a giant drainer, instead of actually using it for washing the dishes.  When we were growing up, the only dishwashers we had stood on two very tired legs with varicose veins. My friend’s mom had washed dishes by hand for so…

The Journey of Grief

It’s a day of grief in my family. Three years ago today at three o’clock in the afternoon, going about the busy-ness of my day, tending to the trivia that seemed so urgent at the time, I was interrupted by a phone call. My father’s tearful, panicked voice still echoes – “Sally, Joe Rex has…

Needing a Place to ‘Hang Out.’ Even at 50.

Last weekend I had the privilege of working with the middle school retreat at my church.  As always, I was reminded of how much I love working with this age group. Yes, I just admitted to enjoying working with middle schoolers. I always have. Looking out into their faces during worship times, while they were…

Mike’s Wedding Dress

It had been a long time since I’d bought a dress, but I’d been invited to a friend’s wedding and I wanted to wear a dress.  My friend, Mike, came down from Arkansas to attend the wedding, too, so he agreed to go shopping with me.  I haven’t always felt comfortable shopping with just anybody. …

High School Graduation

    Last weekend I went to my cousin Brooke’s graduation from high school and honestly, nothing has changed much in the last 34 years.  Well, maybe a few things. For instance, this time I was the one taking pictures. And now we all have smart phones to combat the boredom. But the band still…

When Phones Don’t Ring

The first time the phone rang after it happened, we all jumped.  For hours, you couldn’t get a dial tone on our phone, a land line, the only kind of phone anyone had back then.  All you could hear was static. And then about midnight out of the blue, it rang. I jumped to pick…