Thoughts From the Porch: I had a meeting this morning that allowed me to have a brief time on the porch. September usually doesn’t allow it. This is our busiest time at Opal’s Farm. There’s new seed to be planted and watered (frequently!). Fall is a great time for crops in Texas although it’s kept me away from the porch temporarily.
The farm is a great substitute for the porch. On the days I
don’t have volunteers working I get to spend some alone time with God: perfect
for prayer and meditation. Things will settle down next week and return to a slightly
normal schedule. Stay tuned. Thoughts From the Porch is just taking a little
hiatus. I’ll be back next week.
Thoughts from the Porch: It’s the last day of January. It felt like it on the porch. Still, I can enjoy my porch time unlike our neighbors to the north. The record low temperatures remind me how lucky I am to be a Texan where we complain about the cold when the high is in the forties, not forty below. Prayers of warmth are being sent up for the folks in the Midwest. Hang in there, guys…
Being from Texas, I’m
genetically predisposed to be a football fan. Football is most certainly a
religion here. Our football fervor has inspired countless books, several movies
and even a television series, “Friday Night Lights”. Visit any small town on
Friday nights in the Fall and you’ll see what I mean. In the big cities there
are multi-million dollars high school stadiums filled with frenzied fans. Winning
coaches and star players are often held in the same worshipful regard as Davy
Crockett and the heroes of the Alamo. Fans know the stats of every player on
the home team. For a few months of the year, football is king.
When I moved to Colorado in my
early teen years, I was baffled that high school football seemed to take a back
seat to basketball. My dad informed me that football wasn’t revered by the heathens
north of the Red River. Though that might have been true about high school, it
didn’t seem to apply to pro ball. Denver Bronco fans were intense! Colorado had
some redeeming qualities after all!
For many years, my Sunday
afternoons were spent at either the stadium or in front of the television. I
was happy to play Monday morning quarterback with coworkers and friends. God
forbid that I ever miss a Super Bowl, regardless of whether my teams were
playing. I was a football fan!
This coming Sunday is Super
Bowl LIII. It’s unlikely I’ll be tuning in except to see the new crop of Super
Bowl commercials for the year. They’re far more entertaining even if they are
about rampant consumerism. Things have changed over the years. I may see part
of one or two games per season, if I think about it. Watching for a few minutes
seems to be a waste of time. It’s just not the same.
I still make high school games.
I love the school spirit, the energy, and the love of the game. High school
players still play ball because they enjoy it; for the most part anyway. People
still fill the stadium because that’s what we do: support our kids, yell at the
opponents, and then go out for dinner with them after the game. There’s a
certain purity to that.
I don’t follow professional
football much. Not only are the Dallas Cowboys (my favorite team) absent from
the playoffs most years, watching a bunch of prima donnas do put on end zone
theatrics, kind of turns my stomach. It’s far more about money and celebrity than
it is love of the game. Real players and role models are few and far between.
I have mixed emotions about the sport today. The medical community has begun to understand the long-term consequences of the game. It’s not just bad knees and back problems anymore. There’s traumatic brain injury and early onset dementia to think about. I sometimes wonder if allowing my son to play was in his best interests. His college scholarship hopes were cut short by an injury during his senior year.
Despite his injuries, I still
believe in high school football and the purity of the game. He learned a lot
about teamwork, sportsmanship, and perseverance playing ball. Watching most
(not all, mind you) pro players today those things seem to be absent. I have no
desire to give my time or my dollars to such foolishness.
So, this Sunday will find me
working around the house, catching a movie on Netflix, or sleeping in my
recliner. You won’t find me watching the “Big Game” but, if it’s a Friday night
in November, you might just see me under the Friday night lights.
Thoughts From the Porch: It’s the day after Thanksgiving. Myinbox was filled with a multitude of emails announcing ‘Black Friday’ sales anddonation appeals. It pains me to know I can’t take advantage of either one this year.
It’s been a difficult few months for Margaret and I, at
least where finances are concerned. Business has been slow since my hospitalization
in May. The up side is that it’s freed up more time to devote to the farm. The
down side is that the farm doesn’t pay the bills, at least not for a couple of
more months. Unfortunately, the mortgage and the bills won’t wait that long.
We’re not unique in this regard. A May 18, 2018 New York Post article cites data fromthe United Way Alice Project that, “Some 50.8 million households or 43% can’t afford a basic monthly budget for housing, food, transportation, child care, healthcare, and a monthly smartphone bill.”That’s almost half our population that is one Emergency Room visit or carrepair away from being on the street. Knowing we’re not alone is bothencouraging and disheartening…
Last night, we shared a Thanksgiving meal with family. I
struggled to remain mentally present. I had to constantly remind myself to “be
where my feet are”. The Cowboy game was a welcome distraction and appreciated
more than usual. It relieved my financial anxiety for a couple of hours.
We had a marvelous dinner. Everyone had contributed their
own unique piece to the meal. Each had been prepared with love. Everyone ate their
fill. I couldn’t help but think of how a few loaves and fishes multiplied to
feed five thousand folks. My mood began to lighten.
Following dinner and prior to desserts, we have a family
tradition of going around the table and sharing what we are grateful for. If I’m
honest, I wasn’t looking forward to this part. I wasn’t feeling very grateful. Yet,
something happened as we began our way around the table.
As each of our family shared their gratitude, I gained a
little more clarity. Here I was sitting around a table with a full tummy and
the people I love and appreciate. That’s something that many folks don’t have.
The holidays can be a terribly lonely time for some. Going to bed hungry is a
reality for a lot of people. Here in Tarrant County, one in five kids go to bed
It became a little easier to see my blessings when it was my
turn to share. I might have learned the power of ‘Gratitude Lists’ years ago,
but sometimes I feel so overwhelmed and fearful that I forget it. When I lose
gratitude, I lose vision. When I lose vision, I lose touch with reality.
What I know this morning is that I’m grateful for the life I’ve
been granted today. I never thought I’d see forty and I’m still here at sixty
to share my thoughts with you. (I know
that may not be such a blessing to others at times…) I have a roof over my
head and food to eat. Even when the proverbial financial wolf is at the door, I’m
safe inside. It will be okay. I can’t think of one single time when it hasn’t. God
has been faithful, even when I’m overwhelmed with fear and doubt. Sometimes I
don’t see it until I’m well past the problem, but it’s always been that way.
I am so grateful for the people in my life. Our friend Mary,
(who doesn’t cook) made amazing dishes to enjoy; all the while being a valued
friend and presence for Margaret. Adam, our ‘adopted’ son who reminds us
regularly of the importance of sharing life together. Amanda, our new daughter
(to say in-law would just be wrong!) who is such a loved part of our family. A
great wife to our son, Brandon and mother to our granddaughter, Levi. They were
just some of the folks around last night’s dinner table…
I’m even grateful for the current struggles we find
ourselves in. For one, I have the gift of Margaret by my side. She has a much
better grasp on faith than I do. I’m convinced that’s why God looked at Adam
and said, “it’s not good for man to be alone”. I’m so grateful that he felt
that highly of me and blessed me with her. She shows me how to love, live, and
All in all, life brings its struggles to us all. Our current
difficulties are nothing compared to many folks. In fact, they are far more pervasive
than most of us would like to admit. Faith doesn’t exempt us from them, but it
does provide the sustenance we need to get through them. Gratitude is the first
bite of the spiritual food that gives that strength.
If you’re struggling this holiday season, whether it’sfinancial, physical, or far more internal, take a bite of gratitude.
Thoughts From the Porch: I slept in this morning. I didn’tbother setting the alarm since it was a holiday. I awoke to sunshine streamingthrough the window and it was 9:15 in the morning. It’s not often I miss thesunrise, but I’m grateful for the rest and a lazy morning on the porch.
I’ve had a plethora of text messages this morning. Everyone
was announcing their contributions to our Thanksgiving feast. Margaret, Gael,
and Mary are busy in the kitchen. Friends have come in and out. Work is on the
back burner. The tradition of watching the Cowboys Thanksgiving Day game will
be fulfilled. God is so good to us…
Yesterday, Think with
Krys Boyd, one of our local NPR shows, interviewed Anthropologist Jack David
Eller, about his book, “Inventing American Tradition: From Thanksgiving to
Cinco De Mayo”. I was surprised to learn that many of holiday traditions weren’t
intended to be traditions at all. What didn’t surprise me is that retailers had
a huge part in making them so.
For instance, the Dry Goods lobby tried to have Thanksgiving
moved back a week. Then they could have an extra week of the Christmas selling
season. I guess since it didn’t happen, they came up with the whole ‘Black
Friday’ thing. It became the biggest retail day of the year. It’s since morphed
into ‘Black November’ with advertising starting well before Halloween. At least
they wait until November First to put the Christmas decorations out…
I don’t get as excited as I used to about the holidays,
especially since Mom and Dad are gone. Dad was a big Christmas fan and it just
isn’t the same without him. I’m more of a Thanksgiving guy myself. Other than
turkey sales, it’s avoided most of the rampant commercialism of the season. We
cook a lot, eat a lot, and watch a lot of football and we do with family and
friends. What better holiday is there?
The only drawback to Thanksgiving is that it’s only
celebrated once a year. I long for the day when communal gratitude is expressed
daily. It’s hard not to get along with others when I stay in gratitude. Despite
commercial claims, life goes better with gratitude than it does with fizzy
I could go on and on about the benefits of gratitude and
thankfulness, but it’s Thanksgiving and the aroma coming from the kitchen makes
it hard to concentrate. I’m feeling a bit inclined to sample the wares there…
I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. Take today to take
stock of all the blessings. We’ve received. Most of all, take a moment to say
thanks for the people in your life.
It’s cold! We don’t say that often in North Texas, especially in November. After all, it’s still Fall. It’s been known to be down right hot on Thanksgiving Day. The leaves haven’t even finished vacating the trees. Heck, my tomato and pepper plants are loaded with fruit, awaiting complete ripening.
The weather folks say it’s in the twenties with a wind chill in the teens. So, I didn’t stay on the porch very long this morning. I lived in Colorado for seventeen years. I’m no stranger to cold and snow. In fact, I love winter. It’s different here in Texas though. We don’t have snow. We have what the weather folks call a ‘wintry mix’. It’s a polite way of saying ice and bone-chilling cold. Fortunately, we dodged the ice bullet unlike our friends in the panhandle counties. One must always look for the positive…