Published in the Rains County Leader on April 14, 2022:
Last week was a hard one, not so much for me personally, but for several people who are important to me. A friend lost a long-fought battle with cancer, a family member was unjustly accused of scandalous behavior, a sweet young lady lost her first love, and a friend who is normally the life of the party is suffering through a bout of depression. As if that weren’t enough, we’re entering the week on the Christian calendar during which we remember the betrayal, death, and burial of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
In deciding what to share this week, my thoughts drifted back to a time when my own son experienced what the doctor called a psychotic depression. To paraphrase the opening line from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, it was the worst of times, but it ended up being the best of times. Following is an excerpt from my first memoir about a special day during that time:
My heart ached as I watched this brilliant young man, who was always going, doing, thinking, or creating, do little more than exist. Day after day, wearing baggy shorts, a t-shirt, and a baseball cap, he sat in front of the TV until I came home from work. His long, blond hair that was normally meticulously washed and brushed became stringy and oily, and more often than not, he forgot to eat. He lost weight and began to look severely emaciated. His normally erect posture became slumped and downcast. He visited with Dr. E periodically and took the various medications he prescribed, looking for the magic combination that would break the bonds that held him in his pit. I continued to pray.
Published in the Rains County Leader on April 6, 2021:
Naps are not a normal part of my routine, but I made an exception Sunday afternoon. In my defense, it had been a hectic week. Keeping in mind that hectic has a different meaning to retired people than to those still in the work force, here’s my story.
Monday’s schedule was normal with nothing more hectic than an afternoon workout at the gym. But Tuesday we drove to Bonham for David’s 2nd COVID shot which meant leaving the house shortly after sunrise. On the way home, we stopped at the Library to pick up a movie for later and at Brookshire’s for our contribution to lunch with Bill and Susan. They are regulars at our Friday night Bible study and recently invited the group to their home for a hymn sing. I was nominated to play the piano, and although I thoroughly enjoyed her Baldwin baby grand, I’m very rusty after ten years without a piano in my home. She loves to sing, so she invited us to come over for burgers and a practice session.
We had a great time, but we had to stop when my arthritic hands began to protest. By the time we made it home, it was time to get ready for movie night. One of our neighbors had offered to bring the makings for nachos if we would provide the venue and the movie. We watched The Matrix Revolutions and discussed things we had missed in previous viewings. It was a fun day, but hectic by our standards.
Published in the Rains County Leader on March 30, 2021:
Holy Week began this past Sunday and ends this coming Sunday on Easter. But before we can get to Resurrection Sunday, we have to go through Good Friday.
Good Friday is the day when Christians remember the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Because it’s a somber day with an intense religious meaning, few if any traditional celebrations or secular customs have developed around it. Instead, this solemn day is often observed with worship services, prayer, penance, and fasting.
One of the first questions that comes up around this sacred day is why the observation of such a grim reality is call “Good.” There are several theories, but one makes a little more sense than the others. One idea is that Good Friday derives from “God’s” Friday; however, there’s no evidence of this in the history of the word. Another idea is that Jesus’ death for the forgiveness of sins was a good thing, so the anniversary of that event is a good thing, a Good Friday. Although, this might be a logical theory, those who are supposed to know about these things believe there is a better one. They say that at one time good meant holy. In some traditions, the Friday of Holy Week has been called Sacred Friday, Passion Friday, and in German, Sorrowful Friday. Other days of this week are called Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday, and so forth. So it seems reasonable that just as Holy Thursday has become Maundy Thursday, Holy Friday has become Good Friday.
Published in the Rains County Leader on April 14, 2020:
The coronavirus isolation has not been kind to my creativity. I write about people and life and community, and my community is now limited to David and Kitty. I love them both dearly, and they provide plenty of writing material – but I’ve used most of the good stuff in my books, so I depend on outside contacts for inspiration. Consequently, when I sat down at my computer Sunday afternoon, I would write a sentence, delete it, and go to the kitchen to do a little prep work for dinner.
This went on until everything was in either the oven or the InstantPot, and I was giving serious thought to running an old column. Then I clicked over to Facebook and saw a post from Stacy Rolen, wife of Pastor Jason Rolen, both of Believers’ Baptist Church. As I read her thoughts about Easter in isolation, I wanted to share her words with my readers. I messaged her, and she graciously agreed to be a guest columnist this week.
By way of explanation, Believers’ has been doing drive-in church for several weeks. TylerJones, BBC worship leader and media expert, pre-records Pastor Jason’s message and several praise songs which he then submits to KRER 102.5. On Sunday mornings, the church family gathers on the parking lot where they stay in their cars and attend church through the magic of radio.
One last note – the Rolen family is made up of Jason, Stacy, Bree Allie who is a junior at Alba-Golden where Stacy teaches, and Brady – aka Bubba – who is working on his masters degree at Dallas Baptist University in Dallas. Following is a look into Easter with Rolens – and it’s very good.
We talked this week about how crazy it felt to not have the same kind of Easter morning we have had for every year of our lives. For the first time ever, there would be no plans made of what to wear, who gets up when to make this sunrise service, this breakfast, this praise team practice, this Sunday School class, or that service. We decided that we would just sit on the deck to see the sunrise together, in the quiet and the still. And it would be good!
Then the alarm went off, and the rain hit against the roof, and the thunder roared. So we snuggled in tighter and snoozed. And snoozed. Slept five hours past Jason’s normal Sunday morning alarm. It was different, but it was good.
Finally got up and ready for the day. A different kind of Easter morning. No fanfare. Caught an early service message on TV, followed by our normal Sunday morning Spotify playlist – but this time we were at home, together, and it was good.
All showered, all dressed for a different kind of Easter. But it was good!
How wonderful to see our church family! We miss everyone so much, but getting to gather in the parking lot for waves of hello to those whom we hold so dearly – it was beautiful! The smiles, the joy – it surely does the heart good! Then came Tyler’s voice over the radio, and I wept because it was beautiful. All this was followed by the reminder from Jason of the final act of humiliation which brought the first act of exaltation to Christ our Savior! A reminder that in these different days, our God is the same! He is still seated at the right hand of the Father. He is the same – yesterday, today, and forever. For He is risen indeed!
Easter 2020 will be a year to remember. We sure do miss our family today! We sure do miss the fellowship with our church family! I SURE DO miss my Bubba whom I haven’t seen in forever!!!
Times are different. But…things are still good. And that is beautiful! Love you all!
Thank you, Stacy, for sharing your Easter morning with us.
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him.2 Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.3 They were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”4 Looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large.5 Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed.6 And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him. Mark 16:1-6
Published in the Rains County Leader on April 3, 2018:
My brother, Dr. Jim Robinson, performed the ceremony. His wife JoLynn was our photographer.
This weekend was a very special one for David and me. Not only did we celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, but between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, we celebrated our eighteenth wedding anniversary. We didn’t go out on Saturday because David felt like he was finally coming down with the various upper respiratory ailments I’ve been dealing with for the last two months. Instead, we had a nice dinner at home and bored our Facebook friends with wedding pictures and a Facebook-created video.
People were very kind, though, responding to our photographic memories with lots of “likes” and comments. Most of the comments were simple anniversary wishes, but a few went further. Several mentioned what a cute couple we are, and one said we looked like we were out to have a lot of fun. The most interesting comments, though, were the two that mentioned how evident my happiness was. One said that I “glowed,” and Connie, my photographer friend, made some very interesting observations about the differing attitudes of the bride and groom. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on March 27, 2018:
Like any other holiday, there are tell-tale signs that Easter is almost here. The earliest ones are commercial – the Cadbury Bunny begins his annual television campaign, and the stores have special shelves dedicated to all things egg related. The shop windows change their displays from boots and sweaters to sandals and flowered dresses with graceful lines, and spiral cut hams and asparagus are on sale in the weekly grocery ads.
There are literal signs, too, as churches post notices and run newspaper ads announcing Easter egg hunts, Good Friday Services, and Sunrise Services. The flowers inside the churches are changed from Winter’s subtle colors to the brilliant hues of Spring, and the sanctuary banners depict the crucifixion and the empty tomb. (more…)
My granddaughter Zoe spends more time thinking about spiritual matters then the typical six year old, but having a mother who is a minister and a father who is a Christian author has informed her theology at a young age. Three years ago, when asked what God looks like, she answered, She has a big, beautiful face. She also announced that Jesus likes birthday parties, and after a Good Friday service she said that her heart broke into two pieces for Jesus. I hated the thought of her feeling so sad, but the fact is that broken hearts are a part of life. (more…)
Spring is my favorite time of year because it’s so full of promise. Although it’s been a little late this year, spring brings the promise of warmer weather. The warmth, in turn, brings the promise of new and renewed life as new seeds germinate and older plants wake up from their winter nap. Animal babies take their first wobbly steps in the sunshine, and gardeners begin to till and plant, claiming the promise of a good harvest. (more…)
1 Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body.2 Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they went to the tomb. 3 On the way they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?”4 But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside. (more…)
The story of a lonely, innocent girl who gets tangled up in the sex trafficking trade in a small Texas town. It’s about her relationship with Eric, a slick suburban pimp; Jesse, a Christian tattoo artist and motorcycle rider; and Mrs. G, a compassionate but tough attorney and foster parent.