Sunday, January 24, 2010

South Texas Coast

My friend, Annie, who lives in northern California, commented that out beaches don't look like their beaches, so I had Raf take a photo looking due north about 10 miles down Padre Island. This is directly on the Gulf Coast.

The tide on the Gulf of Mexico coast in Texas is very small, as you can see from the tide chart. Also, you have to get out on an island like Padre in order to be directly on the Gulf, and not just on the intracoastal waterway.

So, you can see, the isn't enough surf for a board...although we saw a pickup driving south on the island with two boards...we went down about 12 of the 60 miles and never saw the truck again, nor did we see enough surf to make a difference. I guess the guys in the truck had high hopes, but we have been to the tip of South Padre Island (you have to go around, not straight down), and there's not enough surf there, either, to make a difference!

Anyway, Annie, this photo is for you!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Skimmers on the Texas Coast

Skimmers nest on the little city owned beach at Rockport, Texas. They lay their eggs on the ground, on a protected bit of land, and they live there most of the winter. They are a tern-like bird that lives in South Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

Black Skimmers are our local North American birds. They hang out with gulls and other shore birds.

These photos were taken yesterday at the Rockport beach. They are really fun to observe.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Good Day in Rockport

Well, the fog rolled in today...I don't know about "little cat feet", but it rolled in...and it stayed the entire day. But it was a wonderful day.

We ate at the Diner, for breakfast. The Diner has been here since the year dot, and it caters to old folks like us! HA! The food wasn't quite as good as it has been in the past, but it was adequate, and they had migas which I love and cannot get at home.

We trailed around a lot, going to the Chamber of Commerce, the sea shell shop, a bead shop, the Golden Needles quilting shop, among other places, but we found ourselves, about 11:15, at the Rockport Center for the Arts, a favorite gallery of ours. We looked around and found a small watercolor which we purchased. (also found a diacroic glass piece that we didn't buy, went back to buy, and was gone ;-( ... oh well)

As we were checking out I asked the docent, whose name was Loralee Philpott, if she happened to know of a Marguerite Philpott who was my aunt. Well. . .it turns our her husband was Marguerite's husband's nephew...and from there it went.

Her husband was in an oil painting workshop, but when he got out, they took us to lunch. We ate at the Moon Dog in Fulton, and we had a wonderful visit. It turns out that they were the people who purchased Marguerite's farm (formerly their family farm) from us 7 cousins when we sold it.

At the Moon Dog we met a man who was walking by our table as Raf said, "I fought Vietnam in Panama." The fellow turned around, look at Raf with a wry smile, and said, "So, it was your fault they sent me to Vietnam three times!" We had a good visit with the man and his wife. Thanks, Bill and Loralee!

Anyway, it was a laid back, relaxing day, and it was just what we needed to get away from the rush of the last year.

Now to relax with a good book...more tomorrow! Nighty night!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Juniper/Cedar...Texas Pollen Explosion

Have you ever seen cedar, what we call juniper in Texas, explode and send its pollen into the air? I have lived in Texas for 67 years, or, all my life...and while I have heard of this happening, I have never seen it...until today.

We were driving south on US Highway 281 from Mineral Wells, and along about Hico, it began. When we saw the first pollen explosion we thought there was a fire in the cedar brakes, but as we came level with it, there was no fire...the cedar trees were exploding! And this continued for the next 200 miles or so until we were safely past San Antonio and on the plains of South Texas.

No wonder we are coughing! This pollen is absolutely deadly! If you want to read about it, go to Cedar: The Plague of Trees.

Well, at least we are safe in Rockport, Texas, and hopefully will NOT find some new allergies!


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Senior job is at an end

I’ve thought long and hard about what I am supposed to say in my end of year report to the parish. I can tell about accomplishments I feel we have made this year. I can talk about hopes and dreams of the future for St. Luke’s, and I will do both, but first I want to tell you about being a Senior Warden, what it has been like and what, in my understanding, it should be.

I was absolutely astonished when Father Phelps asked me to be his Senior Warden...and I say his Senior Warden because that is exactly what the Senior Warden is, the priest’s warden, the lay person in the church who supports the priest, while the Junior Warden is the people’s warden, and supports the life of the church as he assists the people.

The day Father asked me to be Senior Warden, I went home and looked up everything I could find on the internet about what I was supposed to do. Here are the things I was told. I am going to summarize them, but you can read the diocesan directive below:

Meet regularly with the rector to review the life and work of the congregation, plan ahead, anticipate and resolve problems
Provide leadership in the vestry to identify the vision, mission and goals of the congregation, make and implement plans, assess progress and celebrate achievements
Provide leadership in the congregation by demonstrating a consistent positive attitude that seeks to solve problems and learn from mistakes, recognizes accomplishments and gives thanks for those things that build community and further the mission of the Church
Pray daily for the rector, leaders and members of the congregation
Be available to discuss any and all concerns with the rector; maintain confidentiality where appropriate
Be available to discuss any and all concerns with members of the congregation; avoid making hasty judgments, encourage complainants to speak to those involved, discuss problems with the rector
In cases where the rector, staff or vestry is beleaguered or unfairly criticized, foster understanding and reconciliation and distribute accurate information
In cases where the rector is overworked, disregarding his/her health and well being and that of the family, encourage the rector to take corrective steps, solicit the vestry's support in reducing workload, adding staff, or funding a sabbatical as appropriate
Assist in identifying persons for leadership roles, and participate in inviting them to serve in those roles
Be prepared to assist the rector or to step in and do what is necessary (make an announcement, turn up the heat, write a letter)
With the rector, announce the bishop's pending visit and prepare a report on the spiritual and temporal state of the congregation to be discussed with the bishop during the bishop's visitation (Title III, Canon 14, Sec. 1(e))

After reading all of that I told Raf that I thought I had better call Father and tell him I couldn’t be his Senior Warden, but first I prayed long and hard and asked God’s guidance, and God encouraged me to stay in the position this year and that He would guide and help me, as he always does, and so I stayed, and He did.

I hope that in the future as other Senior Wardens are appointed, they will look with care upon this job description, keep true to it, assist the rector in a very strong manner, and do the job to the best of their ability, God being their helper.

God bless those people who follow in this role, and the other lay roles of the church, as St. Luke’s makes its way into this new year and new decade. God bless this parish as it works and grows, as it shows the light of God’s love in the community, as it serves and nurtures its congregation, as it joins with other churches in serving, as it works with the diocese to follow God’s teachings and may it always stand as firmly in the faith as it has done in the past.

Now, as to accomplishments this year, here is a sort of laundry list.

I have met, on most Thursdays, with Father Phelps, to discuss the life of the parish, his goals and hopes for the church, who’s sick, who’s well, who is attending, and who is not attending on the weeks he is not here. And by the way, I hope that the ushers and Vestry will continue to assist Father in this when he is not able to be here. He is, after all, serving three congregations, and he simply cannot be in three places at once. In my opinion he has accomplished this role remarkably well in the past three years. I honestly don’t see how he has done it all. Three churches, with three different faces, facing different problems, and seeing to address the work of God in three different missions. He is one of only two priests in the diocese who do this, and it is a remarkable feat. At the end of this talk, I will elaborate on this in more detail.

This year our parish has grown, and on the 31st we will see two new people confirmed into the Faith. We have had three baptisms and another confirmation this year as well. St. Luke’s is growing.

We have reached out in outreach, with Connie Cowan leading the way, and an Outreach Committee has been formed with many plans underway. We have served more people in the community through our Christmas boxes than ever before. We are providing food for the community food pantry at First Christian Church. We are hosting a very large Girl Scout troop made of up girls who either are being or have been served by Hope Incorporated. We had gone Christmas caroling at the Mall. We have provided the refreshment spot for the Zonta Tour of Home, bringing a large number of people through our doors and welcoming them. Perhaps some will return.

We have begun more Parish Life opportunities, especially led by the Boswells, the Kimbroughs, and the Watsons, with monthly parish get togethers, times of fellowship and food when we can sit down and get to know each other a little better. We are establishing a Parish Life Committee that will plan dinners, parties, picnics, and other things to encourage our parish to meet often as a family, not only in our worship, but also in our fellowship.

In the past three years Mary Alyce has established and provided a Children’s Montesorri-style Sunday school class, and while she had only one student for a couple of years, she is have three and five children now attending. Mary Alyce pledged three years of her life to establishing this class and teaching, and, ladies and gentlemen, that time is coming to an end. If you want to see Christian education for children continued at St. Luke’s some of you MUST step up to assist and then take over this class. It takes commitment and training, but without Christian Education, St. Luke’s cannot adequately minister to this congregation.

Also Doris McConnell is teaching an adult class, and even though many Sunday there are only a handful of people, Doris soldiers on. This is a Bible study class, and may I ask, when do we get too much Bible study? I encourage all adults in this parish to attend this class, to bring their Bibles to church, to sit down and discuss the Faith. Thirty minutes on Sunday morning, from 9 - 9:30 isn’t a lot, and I promise you will be blessed over and over again. Christian education isn’t just for the children!

As most of you know Mike McConnell has worked overtime in his repair and maintenance of the church and rectory. The roof is fixed and the water problem in the Sunday school wing is being addressed, as is the problem in the back of the nave. The nave and parish hall have been painted, as has the rectory. Other much needed maintenance items have been and are being addressed at the rectory to make it a more pleasant place for our rectory and his wife to live.

I am going to challenge you, with Father Phelps’ help, to set up a couple of other committees in the future, one a worship committee that will coordinate with Father Phelps, the choir, the readers and servers, the ushers, to assist in an organized approach to all our worship services. But I am not challenging the Vestry to be the committee. This must be a parish led committee. Remember it isn’t up to the six people on the Vestry to do all the work. It is up to the entire parish to work together for the health and wellbeing of our church. We must all be a part of this process, or St. Luke’s is destined to fail.

I also challenge you to set up an evangelism committee. We must reach out into our community, not just with giving, but also with inviting unchurched people in the community to join us. We are a family, and we want our family to grow. Who of you will volunteer to be a part of this or some other committee. I hope at the end of this meeting you will pick something you can do, and ask a Vestry member or Father Phelps how you can help St. Luke’s!

To that end, I want to bring to you a challenge, not from me, not from the Vestry, but from Canon Hough, and ultimately from Bishop Iker. As I have said, Father Phelps has three churches for which he is responsible, and because of that we have only 1/3 of Father Phelps’ time and attention. The Vestry and Father Phelps have met with Canon Hough and declared our desire for St. Luke’s to have more of Father’s time, while at the same time, giving Father more time. We have asked that Father serve only this parish and the lake, and to reach that goal we need to be serious. This means we need to attend church each Sunday, if our health permits, we need to serve on committees and be available to come here to do the things that need doing...this is not just a Vestry job, it is a whole parish job. We need to talk to the bishop when he visits in two weeks and encourage him that St. Luke’s is ready to make a step toward becoming a full-time parish by being half, rather than a third, of Father’s responsibility. I know many of you know the bishop well. Show him how determined we are to have our priest with us more because by doing this he will have more time to help us grow and to nurture our faith.

Finally, I want to thank all of you, for your support of me, of Father Phelps and Father Swickard, and of St. Luke’s this year. Without our family here, there would be no St. Luke’s. But remember the challenge, we cannot sit back and be complacent, if we are to move forward we must all work together, for the glory of God, as a beacon of His love in our community.

God bless us, everyone.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Bleak Midwinter

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.
~~a poem by English poet Christina Rossetti

Today was more bleak than the photo I took a couple of weeks ago. Texas has been bleak for weeks now...cold, damp, gray-skied, flat. Very depressing.

And because of that, as well as exhaustion and tiredness of being sick, I am thankful that we are leaving for Rockport, Texas, on Monday. We will eat delicious seafood and watch winter birds. We will see the whooping cranes.

We will walk along the beach. I will draw and paint. Raf will photograph the scenes. We will relax and slow down.

Perhaps midwinter won't be so bleak on the South Coast of Texas!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Two Carolyns

Our daughter, Carolyn, was named for a woman I so admired when I was a girl. Actually, she was a girl, too, just 8 years older than I. She was in my mother's first grade class the last year before she quite teaching to have a baby, me!

The girl's name was Carolyn Rae Cole, and she was the daughter of Mildred Rae and Bras Cole of Stephenville, Texas.

I grew up in Carolyn Cole's house almost as much as my own. Her parents and my parents were best friends. I remember several times when either my daddy or Mr. Cole did not come home when expected, and the other was called to go look for him. Once, when Daddy had stopped smoking, he passed out at our farm. He hit his head on the side of the stone water trough, and Mr. Cole found him there on the ground.

We always spent Christmas Eve with the Cole family. Their son, David, was only a year older than I, and many Sundays after church, the adult friends (plus other adult friends) would feed us all a Mrs. Mac's Boarding House-style, family-style Sunday dinner, and then they took all of us kids to the movies, and they did their "thing" for a couple of hours.

I remember one Halloween, the one before Eisenhower's first election. Mr. Cole was a yellow dog Democrat, and my daddy was a Republican who loved Eisenhower. Daddy and I snuck over to the Cole's house and, with bath soap, wrote "I Like Ike" all over the windows of Mr. Cole's car. He was furious, and thought Mrs. Cole had done it as a joke, so he made her clean it off.

One year Daddy decided he didn't know what to get Mother for Christmas, so he gave Mrs. Cole some money to go to Mrs. Cox's Store (Coxes Department Store later) to find something for Mother. She bought a Martha Washington bedspread. It was anything but Mother's style. And, boy, was she mad when she discovered that Mrs. Cole had bought it for her.

Back to Carolyn Cole. She was the Queen of the Centennial in Stephenville, and I remember she got a trip to go to Hawaii, and she learned to hula. I was so impressed!

Carolyn Cole was a beautiful, smart, happy, and likable girl whom I admired greatly. For that reason, I named my middle daughter Carolyn.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Back in the Day

John Ficke Ranch, Texas Panhandle, ca. 1898

As I took my nice steamy shower this morning after a hot breakfast of sausage and scramble eggs, hot tea and juice, supplemented with my antibiotic and steroid pills for the infections I have, plus the regular daily meds, I thought about our ancestors who, in mid-winter here in Texas, had no warm water, indoor plumbing, little wood for the stove and fireplace, and certainly no central heating.

What they went through and survived, and here we are not appreciative of what we have. We take it for granted day-by-day! We have warmth, food, sturdy clothing, and medications, and we don't have to run out to that little house in the middle of an ice storm in the middle of the night in 20˚F temperatures!

How blessed we are!

Lord, give us the wisdom to understand and the intelligence to thank You for all You have given us. For man's ability to learn and discover and create. For what wealth we have, both physical and spiritual. For our friends and our families. For our country and our home.

Dear Lord, forgive us our trespasses and grant us a thankful heart, always! In Jesus blessed Name.


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