Saturday, August 7, 2010


Photo by Grant Merritt

My son Michael just returned from his second trip to Haiti. Last summer, he, his bandmates from Chasing Canaan, and several other people went to Les Cayes to help the Bighouse orphanage there, as part of the First United Methodist Church of Shreveport's Haiti Initiative. Les Cayes is about five hours away from Port Au Prince. At that time, they held vacation bible school, built cubbyholes and desks, fixed some beds, got the well fixed, took all the kids for blood tests (zero of the 80 or so orphans were HIV positive, which was great!), and loved on the kids. When they returned home, largely under the leadership of Britney Winn, the church started a sponsorship program, which provides daily meals to the kids and continued doctor visits. In the year since, teams have returned several times, and have built latrines, a dining pavilion, a playground, and other things needed for the kids. Britney Winn was hired by FUMC Shreveport to be their Haiti missionary, and was in Les Cayes in January when the earthquake happened.

Britney started blogging, partly as a way to update the sponsors, back in October. She is so eloquent about her visits to Haiti since then, that I think it's best to just refer you to her blog, .  This year the team put up videos at .  Last year's videos are at .  The blog and the videos help me understand why my 22 year old son has gone, and will continue to go back, and put me at peace about any dangers he might encounter there.  I'm glad he went, and I'm glad he's back safely in Shreveport.

I was able to go out to DFW Airport on what was supposed to be Michael's layover there last night, and brought him a burrito from his favorite restaurant, Chipotle, which they don't have in Shreveport.  I really enjoyed his stories about Vacation Bible School  and other experiences there, and it was good to give him a hug before he left again.  The Dallas area had some bad weather last night, and his flight was cancelled, so he and the team rented vans and drove back to Shreveport, and to a different world than the one they just left.

Friday, July 30, 2010


I’ve been divorced ten and a half months now. In the time since the divorce was final, I finished a Rebuilding support group and went through a DivorceCare group. I have come a long way toward healing and accepting my single state, and am ready to rebuild in new ways.

My ex-husband told the family about his girlfriend in June, and that set me back a little, but also set me free in some ways. He’s moved on, and I am finally all right with the idea that I can move on, too.

One of the decisions I made about five months after the divorce was to start visiting other churches. A little more than 20 years ago, my ex-husband no longer wanted to be in a church I loved. At the time, I thought it best to keep the family attending church together, adjusted, and became active in a Methodist church. We raised our children there, and they benefited from it. As a single person, though, with grown children, I decided to go back to my roots and look for a charismatic church. I have taken a break from the church choir I belonged to, which sings at traditional services, and have been attending contemporary services at my church. I’ve also been visiting other places, and may have found one that is a good fit.

A few weeks ago, I found a church with a big program for single people age 30 and up. A good number of these are baby boomers, like me, both male and female. We go to a Saturday afternoon service, then to a church school class, and then out to eat as a large group. I have been pleased to discover that I am not the shy, socially awkward person I used to be. I’ve spent years working in a job where I call strangers on the phone and make conversation, and it’s transformed me into a person that can talk to almost anyone. I’ve learned that the secret to being a good conversationalist is being a good listener. I also realize I’m an interesting person with a bit of wisdom, compassion, and depth. At this time, going out in a mixed group of singles and getting to know people is exactly enough for me.

I struggle enough financially that I’ve decided to clear out a bedroom and look for a housemate. I really enjoy my solitude, but want to stay ahead of debt that has grown lately. I’ve had to use credit cards on some unexpected bills, and want to pay them off, not add to them. I’m hoping I figure that out before long.

I decided to try to save some money this year by starting a vegetable garden and planting some fruit bushes and trees. This is my first year gardening in Texas, and I’m sure I’ve spent more on building the gardens than I’ve reaped in produce. I do think in future years I’ll get better at this. I’m expecting it to take a while for the blackberry bushes, pear tree, and fig tree to produce fruit. I’ve harvested some tomatoes, salad greens, and beans fresh from the garden. Last night, I had my first taste of a home-grown cantaloupe. In Texas a lot of gardeners plant a spring garden, don’t get much during the summer, and plant again in the fall. I’ll figure out what to plant for the fall before long. We are still having scorching days.

Another goal is to find my musical voice again. I haven’t written a song for over three years. Now and then, I play some songs, but I haven’t had the drive or desire to really pursue music for a while. I expect it to come back. I’ve bought some things needed to record my songs, and I hoped it would motivate me. But I still need to figure out the hardware and software, and need to find a piano player when I am ready to record.

I do have a creative outlet that I’ve been enjoying. I go over to the park near my house quite often, just as the sun is setting. I’ve been taking pictures and sharing them, mostly on Facebook. I’ve developed an eye for a good picture, and have a certain peace and gratitude about being out under the sky when it’s putting on its nightly show. And this is one thing I’ve realized. A sky with no clouds doesn’t produce much of a sunset. The most interesting skies have clouds in them. I think with people too, some of the cloudy times produce some beautiful colors and shapes in an inner life. I know I’m a deeper person as a result of my struggles.