Tuesday, February 23, 2016


I glance out the window of my mind and see

Grandmother's Eulogy

19 May 2013

Good morning. I'd like to tell you about my Grama, Minnie Mae Hobgood.

Whether you called her Friend, Sister, Mother, Aunt Minnie, Grama Hobgood, or any of those things with a Great- (or Great-Great) in front of them, everyone here knows what a special lady she was in her lifetime.

To me, she was Grama. She brought me to church as far back as I can remember. She was an amazing combination of patience and urgency whenever Chuck and I would be talking during sermon and she'd look back at us. Even twenty pews away, she was NOT to be ignored. Like many of us cousins, I practically grew up in her back yard, and I actually believed in the much talked about 'ugly stick' until I was about fourteen. Not to say Grama was a mean lady--she just had so many of us lambs to mind. My most enduring memory of those days are of a woman feared as and rumored to be strict and stern, who did occasionally show it, but was never angry more than a moment, always forgiving, and constantly filled with the kind of love that still forms the core of my religious beliefs, and still cements my faith when it falters.

That's just been my own personal experience, and between 4 siblings, 1 spouse, 7 children, 26 grandchildren, and 65 great grandchildren, it represents literally less than 1% of what kind of person she actually was.

She meant something special to each of us. How many of us have slept in her house because we had nowhere safer to go? How many of us have eaten only because we knew she'd offer freely without judgment? How many of us found love and sanctuary in her care when they were needed most? And then, once we were helped gently back onto our feet, how many people in our own lives have benefited because we were nourished and comforted by her unprejudiced kindness?

She touched so many in such countless ways; the amount of Good she did in this world can never be measured, but I know if God is keeping score, He called home a winner this week.

What I ultimately learned from her is that life is an open system based on love, and it is not self-sustaining. We need to feed into it by taking care of each other, and being responsible for who and what we bring into this sometimes cruel world. Through her example, I learned that the greatest help we can sometimes offer another human being is remaining true to that person we've grown into ourselves, and directing our own lives not away from, but toward those we love. This is how she touched me; this was the gift I received.

What gifts did she give you?

Of course, after a while, I wasn't a very good grandchild. Like everyone eventually does, I became an adult focused on myself: my stuff, my work, and eventually my family. I formed my own bubble and floated away, seemingly having forgotten Grama's lessons. Now I do know that that's how it's supposed to work--of all people, Grama would know this after raising seven children. I know I'm not alone in having drifted away, and I doubt I'm alone in having been reminded by her declining health how important our family bonds are. As we slowly gathered at her bedside, or included her in our prayers, we tried to return the favors of love and kindness we'd all been given for so long. In this way, she gave us one more gift.

If you loved Minnie Mae Hobgood, honor her last gift by continuing her legacy. Continue her work to make the world better through unsolicited acts of kindness. Hold dear the connections you share with those who sit here today to remember her. Today it's easier than ever to send a message or text, or even a simple Facebook poke, just to let others know you're there, and you care about them. Whether blood kin or a friend, Minnie made us all Family through her love. Let's make sure she is always remembered by never letting that go.

Adult Lives

10 July 2014

My whole life, I've watched adults, living their adult lives. Even after I was grown, I watched as adults... not just adults, /other/ adults... did things with their lives I had never imagined I'd do: start businesses, educate themselves, date casually, drink responsibly (and otherwise, without being judged for it), initiate and end intimate relationships, tell uncomfortable truths because they believed in themselves despite their bad decisions, make investments, have disagreements but not fights, express anger without yelling, disapprove of another's actions without disapproving of the person himself, make hard choices with money and live happily anyway. And other healthy adult things.

I had occasionally seen these behaviours on TV, but not often, and with too little information to learn them. Given my literature choices, a select few of these were demonstrated, and of course only under ideal and/or unrealistic circumstances. More often than not, however, with my media influences and adult role models, these commonplace adult actions were completely foreign to me, even as I grew into physical adulthood myself. And as that happened, and my youth (even adult youth) slowly became less and less of an excuse for my irresponsible behaviours and bad habits, I became more and more confused.

(emotional immaturity)

And if you haven't experienced this yourself, let me assure you: being a physically grown yet emotionally immature adult in a healthy (or at least functioning) adult world is terrifying. Going into a coffee shop and watching two people discuss business, I wonder at the idea that neither of them depends on an employer for their livlihood, and how that can not paralyze them with fear. Trying to finish school, I watch as young 20-somethings make their way confidently from class to class to (minimum wage) job to (sometimes their own) homes without trying to pad their daily existence with the approval of other people that so often depends on frivolously spending time and money. Being nerdy made engaging in hobbies like gaming easier, but I wondered how so many young men, some married professionals, could engage in twelve-hour long sessions of anything without somehow alleviating their wives' or girlfriends' (when they had them) disapproval.


Anniversary Card 2012

12 November 2012

To My Dear Wife,

Today, our 18th wedding anniversary, will very likely come and go just like most of the other 6,500+ days we've been married: we'll go to work and meet our responsibilities to others and try to find time to remember how important each other is.

Every year on our anniversary

We have been through so much together. I have days when I am amazed at our resilience, days when I truly never want to even imagine a life without you, and of course other kinds of days too.

The truth is wherever you and I end up in our lives, w

and that we both have a lot of learning to do about our own selves,

Even after all we've been through, and despite our worst fears, t

I am an imperfect husband, and you've always deserved better than I could provide. You've shown a divine grace in your acceptance of my faults and forgiveness of my missteps. I have spent most of my adult life wishing to be the man of your dreams, and I still hope I can get there one day.

I know we have uncertain times ahead, but I believe we can make it. Just like 1 Corinthians says, love is patient, and kind, and other stuff, but in our case it is also stubborn. We have lasted 18 years because parts of each of us refuse to give up. I'm counting on those parts to see us through.

There hasn't been a moment in the last twenty years that I haven't loved you, and no matter what happens there will never be a day for as long as I live that I won't keep loving you with my whole heart and soul.

Eighteen years ago today, we said our vows and lit those candles, and they went out, and we lit them again... and again. We have a bond that can never be broken, no matter what our hearts or heads may say, no matter how far we may grow from one another. You will always be my forever partner.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Depressed Thoughts

  • I waste people's time, especially my kids'
  • Even if I am good at my job, I don't do it well or fast enough. I fall hopelessly behind and put myself at risk of losing my livelihood despite any job skills I may have.
  • Although I like a clean space, the energy required to pick up is too much for the work required
  • It doesn't matter if I'm prompt in doing financial and other business because I don't deserve the prosperity that would result