Acceptance, Activism, Christianity, Citizenship, Class, Community, Listening, Neighbors, Politics, Public Policy, Service to Others, Texas, Thoughts From the Porch, Uncategorized, Voting, What Can I Do, Writing

Just Vote…

Thoughts From the Porch: Yes, folks. This is another voter turnout post. I’m sure you’ve been bombarded by political ads, voter turnout robocalls, and every conceivable mailer you can imagine, from applauding your voting record to shaming you for apathy. Please bear with me, though. This is an issue close to my heart. It matters!

white and grey voting day sign
Photo by Element5 Digital on

I questioned my role in voter participation as a Jesus-follower. I know where my true citizenship is. I may be entitled to U.S. citizenship by virtue of birth, but I follow my Rabbi first and foremost. I realized just how privileged I am to live here, especially in Texas. This is my earthly home, where my friends and family are, and where I’ll more than likely stay until I leave this world. I’m not confused, though. One’s spiritual beliefs are not an excuse for not voting. However, they change my motivation for voting.

The Gospels reflect Jesus’ concern for the neglected and marginalized. He went as far to say that how we treat them is how we treat Him. Pretty powerful words. In an election year that will affect the poor, the elderly, the immigrant, and the disenfranchised, your vote does matter. How you vote is also a reflection of how you see them.

While elections are always about how we see our political leadership, this year is also a reflection of how we see ourselves. What are our values? Are our decisions based on fear, class distinctions, and exclusion or they ones of faith, the common good, and inclusive of all? Everyone will answer those questions for themselves. Elections are important. How we vote matters to us all…

I took advantage of early voting and a rainy Wednesday last week to place my ballot. I was thrilled by the diverse crowd that was there on a Wednesday afternoon. I spent time in prayer and reflection about the matter before me and performed one of the privileges of my physical citizenship. It should be done with reflection.

I’m overjoyed when I hear the reports that voter turnout is exceeding expectations. I’d love for everyone to vote for my choices, but that’s unrealistic. The bottom line is that they were there casting their ballot.

Results will be in Tuesday evening. There will be winners and losers. Some of you will be elated by the results and others frustrated and disappointed. That’s how it works.

My friend Edgar always says, “Chop wood and let the chips fall where they may”. Go out there and vote. The chips will take care of themselves, but you won’t have chips if you don’t chop the wood…

person dropping paper on box
Photo by Element5 Digital on
Awe, Beatitudes, Choices, Christianity, Community, Emotional Health, Faith, Friendship, Grace, Gratitude, Letting Go, Listening, Practice, Prayer, Recovery, Relationships, Spirituality, Uncategorized, Writing

Old Friends…

I spent some quiet time on the porch this morning and retreated to my office to check out the newsfeeds and my various social media accounts. I was shocked to find that my good friend and mentor, Edgar, underwent heart surgery and is in ICU recovering. For those of you that know the power of prayer I ask that you offer prayers of healing and continued grace for him and his family. I would not be the man I am today had it not been for the love and guidance he offered when no one else wanted much to do with me. Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about.

I firmly believe that when I’m barraged with the same message from various places that it’s probably something I should give some thought to and, if necessary, write about. Edgar told me that if one person tells me something, I should just acknowledge it and go about my business. If two people say the same thing, I might want to give it some serious thought. If three people bring up the same subject, God might be trying to tell me something…

In the quiet of the porch this morning I kept hearing something Jesus said in what we know as the ‘Sermon on the Mount’. It was his manifesto for life and so I try to follow it as well. I particularly like Eugene Peterson’s translation, The Message. It brings out the fullness of the original Greek and Aramaic of that time. What I kept hearing can be found in Matthew 5.5,

You are blessed when you’re content with just who you are – no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.”

I thought about it a while and went on to enjoy my coffee and go about my morning routine. After the initial shock of what happened to my friend, I settled into my day. The first article I read started with a quote from Queen Latifah that said,

Be bold, be brave enough to be your true self.”

That was twice now I heard about being one’s self, one’s true self. It was followed by a third, fourth, and fifth time as many of the blogs I follow were about the same thing. I can be pretty thick-headed at times, but I heard this one loud and clear. Be true to your ‘self’…

When I met Edgar some twenty-plus years ago, I didn’t have a clue who I was, much less what my true self was about. Poor decisions, bad choices, and a moment of clarity brought us together, and started me on an inward journey to finding who I really am. I wish I’d followed directions better during those early years of our friendship. It wouldn’t have been near as frustrating for either of us. Still, I thank God today for a friend that stuck by me despite my stubborn, hard-headed ways.

When I started following the suggestions he offered me, things began to change. I began to see myself differently and quite frankly, I like the man I am becoming. It’s definitely a journey. I’m not confused. I know God’s grace is the power that truly transforms me into who I was meant to be all along, but His transformation is meant to be accomplished with my cooperation and the people in my life. I’m grateful for all of them, but especially my friend, Edgar.

I spent many years trying to meet others’ expectations, or at least what I thought were their expectations. Today I strive to live honestly, be myself, and recognize that I’m just another thread in the tapestry of life. There are still times I get all turned around. My life looks like the back of a tapestry – a confusing mess of color and wild threads – but I’ve learned that it is really a small piece of the greater, beautiful picture on the front. Most importantly, the picture would be lacking something if it weren’t for my thread.

Edgar’s mentor, and our mutual friend, Jim, used to say that “self-examination, coupled with prayer and meditation, followed by vigorous action, produces favorable results”. That’s been my experience. He also told me that “obedience to spiritual principles shortens the distance to my hopes and dreams”. That, too, has been my experience. In the process, I’ve become “the proud owner of everything that can’t be bought”.

Choices, Christianity, Community, Emotional Health, Faith, Grace, Gratitude, Growing Up, Health, Love, Recovery, Relationships, Simplicity, Spirituality, Uncategorized, Writing


I hit the porch about 6:30 yesterday morning. Whether it was still dark because the days are growing shorter or whether it was due to the heavy cloud cover, I’m not sure. I was prepared to enjoy our visiting cold front, but I was greeted by the same hot, still, and muggy porch. I wasn’t going to stay outside, but Margaret came out, so we shared coffee on the porch. I wiped the beads of sweat forming on my brow and commented that it was obvious the cold front hadn’t gotten to Fort Worth yet. Literally five seconds later a burst of wind from the approaching front filled the front yard with fallen leaves. It continued to blow in from the northwest and the temperature began to drop. My wife smiled and sad, “Ask and you shall receive”. Needless to say, we remained on the porch for quite a while, enjoying our coffee and relief from the last month’s oppressive heat.

It’s quiet this morning and we’re blessed with unseasonably cooler temperatures. I think the air conditioner actually shut off last night; something it hasn’t done for the last month or so. My mood has improved, and I have more energy than I have in the last couple of months. I’m excited about the day. That’s been infrequent during the heat wave. The temperature may be climbing for the remainder of the week, but I’ll make every moment count in the meantime.

It’s hard to believe it’s already the last day of July. When I was a kid, the end of July was a reminder that summer was passing way too fast and school was right around the corner. Today, it’s a reminder that I’ll be sixty this month and time is going much faster than I expected. I suppose sixty’s not the milestone I’ve made it in my head to be. I became AARP-eligible some time back and I already qualify for senior citizen discounts (and no, I’m not too proud to ask for them…).

Sixty seemed so far away to that kid dreading the end of summer and the return to school. I remember when I thought forty was old. Looking back, I used to subscribe to the Grateful Dead principle of “what a long, strange trip it’s been”. Now I just think it strange. It went by far quicker than I imagined.

I’ve been immeasurably blessed to be coming up on sixty years old. For many years I never thought I’d make it to this age. I ‘lived fast and played hard” as the saying goes. It was great when I was younger. It pretty much sucks when you’re older. Things didn’t begin to change until I was in my late forties when I found a relationship with God, as I understand Him.

My definition of ‘church’ has changed a bit, as well. I’m somewhat more comfortable in recovery meetings than I am in churches. ‘Church’ comes from the Greek work ‘ecclesia’, meaning ‘called out’. It’s where we get the word congregation from. I feel more ‘called out’ with self-described misfits in recovery programs than with most church folk. Besides, my minister would freak-out if he heard God and Motherf*#@ in the same sentence…

I mention this because I’ve been thinking a great deal about the last twelve-and-a-half years. In recovery meetings, there is some debate as to whether we ‘recover’ or are ‘recovering’. I’m not going to chime in on what all that means. It’s mostly semantics anyway. I’ve recovered from a hopeless state, but I’m still in the process of growing up so that insinuates ‘recovering’. I’m not sure that’s the word I’d use, though.

As I look back, I often wonder if there was much to recover. My life is so different from anything I’ve ever known that it feels new, rather than recovering something old. I’m not sure there’s much of the old life I want to recover anyway. I know it all boils down to the choice of words and individual understanding of their definitions. All I know is that God fulfilled His promise to “make all things new”, including me…

In a way it kind of sucks to be growing up so late in life. On the other hand, I wouldn’t be where I am today if I’d not had the experiences I’ve had. I like where I am today. Maybe the dark places of the past make it easier to appreciate the light. It’s been my observation that those of us who realize just how much grace we’ve received, appreciate life a bit more than most. “He forgives much who has been forgiven much”. Everything else just seems to fall into place…

So, come on big ‘six-o’. After all, I don’t have to go back to school…