Notes from a Funeral

11351134_945639665488447_6411305144031910682_nOctober 14th, 2016, way out in the middle of almost nowhere and a little past Bucky’s, I attended a memorial celebration for one who lived and loved well.

The oldest of six brothers, Ricky was a big brother to more than his five younger siblings. He was a big brother to all who needed or wanted a big brother. He just could not help it. It was his position in his family and a call in life.

For that, I am eternally grateful.collected-works-seasons-7-1-friends-abstract-acrylic-painting

Darla and Ricky fell in love while they were in high school and that is how I came to know them. Through the trombone section of the San Marcos High School marching band and First Baptist Church youth group.

Two years older –JUNIORS!- when one is a freshman, seems significantly OLDER! When Ricky died two years older suddenly seem exceedingly too young.

Truth be told, both Darla and Ricky were wiser and kinder than their years.  

Ricky played the trombone. I played the trombone. He was a protective big brother for me. Darla is, and alwaycolor-11-4-blue-abstract-acrylic-paintings was, kind and generous. She folded me into her heart and her collective of friends at church and in the band. As a shy freshman I found eye contact difficult. The kindness and love of these two brought me out of myself and introduced me to the world. It was as if they could see the me that I did not know existed.

Ricky would have celebrated his 58th birthday this Friday, the 27th.

Today I found my notes from the wedding. Wow, I just typed wedding rather than memorial service. I am going to leave it because Ricky would find my mistake amusing and the service was truly a celebration. A coming together of family, friends, and strangers to support Darla, family, friends, and strangers.

Darla shared their key to their happiness.In The Image

We did not spend any time being angry with each other.
Every day – love.”

Can you even imagine not wasting time being angry?

Darla continued,

“Don’t waste Ricky’s legacy. Tell the ones you love that you love them.”


Family and friends testified to the witness of Ricky’s life at the memorial celebration. I took notes. The testimony of my funeral would be less. Unexpected death invites the living to wake up. Personally, I am making changes.

Here I share highlights and wisdom from a live well lived.

Never take yourself too seriously.

Be generous.

Judge not.

Condemn not.

Love the people you meet. ALL of them.

Make people’s lives better.

The past hurts. You can run from it or you can learn from it.

NOW. Live now.

Be present. Be passionate for life.

Being present. Be passionate for family.

Tuck, roll, and run.

Love deeply.

Welcome strangers.

Look beyond appearances.

Be magic.

Everyone who loves knows God. (1 John 4:7)

Do not waste time being angry.

Sky dive.

Grace is amazing.

If you want to be loved – love.

Buzzards do not make the best pets.

Meditate on goodness, mercy and grace.

Climb up on the roof and holler BOO! (Scare people, just a little)

Consider how you are treating others.

Carry on.

Help with chores that are not yours.

Live adventurously.

Living the gospel is better than preaching the gospel.

Be good news.


Fear not.

There are things more important than being a good cook.

Be kind to each other.


Take joy in those you love.

Do your best and that is enough.

Take initiative

Rejoice….Be anxious for nothing…pray…the peace of God

will guard your hearts and minds.

240-IMG_0298Darla and Ricky were instrumental in shaping my life.

They treated me as if I were important in their lives.

I was 14. Now I am 56.

I still want to be like Darla and Ricky when I grow up.

I hope it is not too late.

Happy birthday, Ricky.

I love you, Darla.

Thank you.


Wintery Mix of Snow & Politics

It is Friday January 6th at 4:26 in the afternoon.  15875807_394696244200079_918405505582366720_n
The snow has stopped falling.  
The temperature has dropped back to 23 from a high of 24.
The wind-chill is back to 10 down from a high of 12.
My dog has decided to give up peeing until it warms up.
Poor doggie.
Me, I am inviting the kids to walk the dog so I don’t have to go outside!
Oh, wait, a snowflake floated past.  I think it might have been the last one.
The ground is 40% covered with a wintery mix of teeny tiny sleet balls and snowflakes.  The accumulation is fun and very dry.  Nothing is sticking together.  No grassy snowman for us.
My daughter, Jubilee, took LOTS of snow photos with my phone and she is quite proud of her work so I am sharing it here and on Instagram.  I am not supposed to share stuff unrelated to art on Instagram but I don’t care.  At least I don’t care today.

Today I want to also share with you some new things for 2017.   
I am so angry right now I could spit, being a verbal processor, welcome to tirade #1 of 2017.

I just received an indignant and angry note in the mail accusing me of supporting abortion.  Why?  Because during a phone call back before the election I called an associate out on a fake news story she was repeating as fact.

The “news” story she was repeating was from a viral face book post claiming that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders both seek to establish an abortion “cutoff date” of 36 weeks, and both claim that late-stage fetuses feel no pain and have no rights.

At the time she repeated this story to me as fact I told her it was probably not true and she should verify it before repeating it. 15803065_1777148529277774_5003722309559648256_n

As a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ I mistakenly believed she was interested in truth.

I looked it up and I sent her what I found.  She was repeating lies and half-truths.  Isn’t that slander and gossip?  The analysis of her story was:  Mostly False.

My old fashioned sensibilities tell me that MOSTLY FALSE is NOT TRUE.

I sent her the product she asked for and the Snopes report with a warning to be careful about spreading half-truths as facts.

Two and a half months later she sends back the report upon which she has circled Mostly False, and scribbled in bright orange, with a star for emphasis, “NOT COMPLETELY FALSE.”

Apparently partially true is true enough for this minister of the gospel.

My recollecting is Not Completely False is still FALSE.

A convincing lie always carries an element of truth.
Consider the adage of the brownies.
Only a little dog doo was stirred into the mix.

Mostly NOT poo.  Have a brownie?15803756_235222833567479_8246606829186973696_n

She found, “it SHOCKING that you would support abortion at all.   You should believe in and live out the Word of God & I guarantee Jesus does not support abortion.”
“You should have checked out your candidate a little better before you voted.”

She is correct.
I SHOULD believe in and live out the Word of God.   Maybe I should not have left her in her delusion.  Maybe I should have known that if she wanted to know the truth she would have checked the facts herself.

And I did check out my candidate and I sent her what I found.

She is incorrect in believing that her candidate would have received Jesus’ vote for the singular reason that he claims to be anti-abortion.

I don’t know what Jesus feels about abortion.   Abortion probably makes him sad.
Surely Jesus takes abortion seriously and would prefer it be the exception rather than the rule.   I am pretty sure Jesus loves mommas and the babies and you and me in all our complexities, failures and successes.

I do know that Jesus doesn’t advocate fear or manipulation to set people free. 

15538334_245924129176400_3374382077335044096_nI do know that Jesus shared our humanity and understands how hard it is to live as skin and bone and heart and soul and spirit all bound together.

I wanted to tell this minister that voting for Hillary doesn’t make me an abortion supporter any more than voting for Trump makes her a racist.
(I did not say it.  I thought it really loud though.)

She works extensively, almost exclusively, with black churches and told me during our phone conversation, “I don’t see color.”

(Immediately I heard SNL Dana Carvey’s church lady saying, “Now isn’t that special?”)

Whether she was lying to me or herself, I do not know.

I have heard of face blindness and someday I will meet artist Chuck Close and ask him if the face blindness extends to skin color.  When he sees someone does he know, can he remember what color they are?

Race may be bad science, but we do come in a variety of colors, sizes and shapes.  The differentiation of body affects how we experience the world.  Doing the same thing a white man might have a different experience than a black man.  It is not fair, but it is true.   Remember that truth sets us free.  No truth.  No freedom.

Since my associate blames, I mean, CREDITS her actions to Jesus I am wondering how Jesus would react to her claim of colorblindness. 15877577_1220169571372109_8943393220591616_n

Yeah, I know what she meant, but I think her words revealed more than she intended.  Jesus would ask each of us to be aware of how we have been enculturated.  To see in each other our humanity and all that entails.  To embrace the image of God in ourselves and in others.   To even see God’s image in a colorblind ministers of the gospel who will vote for anyone claiming to be anti-abortion regardless of their character, morality, or ethics.  (Did I mention she questioned my character?)

God asks us to look upon the heart.  Looking upon the heart is not the same as ignoring the body.  When I see you I see your skin and your hair and I perceive their color.  I can usually identify your gender and height and whether you are thick or thin.  Trouble begins when we bring personal and cultural judgments to this information.  15876746_244070936029972_1046067447041359872_n

(Have you ever been on a country trail looking for wildflowers?  You spy one and run over to exclaim concerning its beauty and color and fortitude to come up through the hard dirt and rocks.  It isn’t graded against other wildflowers it is just appreciated in its uniqueness.)

To be blind to another’s physicality is to deny their personhood.
To be blind to another’s humanity is to deny power in the incarnation of Christ.

What would Jesus do?
Do justice.  Love kindness.  And walk humbly. 

And that is what I endeavor to do through my life and my art.
Three simple guidelines.
Simple not equate easy.

How does this rant measure up? 15876227_566721440188217_1345811539591954432_n

Justice?  Almost?  I thought through some things that I had not articulated before.  Maybe you thought through some things you had not thought through before.  Justice is long and slow and maybe processing will point me to a more active position the next time?
Kindness?  Absolutely!  I did NOT send this to her!  She is so busy with her single issue god she can’t see anything else.
OOPS!  Completely failed humility with that last sentence!

Now I hear 1970s Meatloaf singing in my head “Two out of three ain’t bad!”
2017 is gonna be a ride.  Hang on to your hat!