Friday, September 28, 2012

One Family's Story

I love pictures; beautiful, colorful, wonderful pictures that tell a story, help with a story and just make the appearance of my stories overall better looking. But, unfortunately, I don't have a pretty picture for this story.

This story is about a family; a set of unemployed parents sandwiched in between a retired set of parents and two children of their own. I met this family through one of my children. My son made friends with their son.

Gordo, at 80+ years old, is the oldest of the clan. He is retired, grandfather to the young children, and has been suffering from a myriad of serious illnesses in the past two to three years. He has been hospitalized numerous times during this period, in which he has suffered from strokes, seizures, a serious infection, and kidney failure. He receives kidney dialysis several times a week. I was certain that he would pass away on several different occasions, only to see him rally, his vitals stabilize, a return to lucidity, and then be sent home. When I think of these occasions, I think about what my pastor, Rev. Kyle Toomire has said so many times in sermons: We need to face the fact that we are not God, and then we need to celebrate that fact and be glad that we are not the ones who have to make these very difficult decisions.

In the past three months, Gordo was diagnosed with cancer of the lungs and pancreas. I was sure that was the final straw. He would not last long. It wasn’t that I didn’t want him to last, it is just that he had been through so much.  How much can one body take? As long as I have known Gordo, he has been sick. There are others who seemed to lead very healthy lives who have died since I met Gordo. And still he keeps on keeping on. Then came the cancer diagnosis. And that is when this man, this very tenacious man, decided that he was going to fight the cancer. See, he had cancer years ago and beat it. In his mind, it would be just one more hurdle. And Gordo, well, he is one tough man! So the doctors honored his wishes and put him on chemotherapy.

Gordo and his wife have three grown children. All of them have children of their own. One of the children is Missy. Missy and her husband Tom live with Gordo and his wife. As many people are having to do now, they are helping each other out. Missy helps to care for Gordo, and his wife and she works together with Tom to raise their own kids. Gordo and his wife give Missy and Tom a place to live, and help with the kids.

Missy and Tom have had recent health problems of their own. Missy was hospitalized with staff infection this summer. She is better, but still has some relatively minor recurrences. Tom has had these infections as well.

Neither Tom nor Missy are currently working. I am not sure why. What I am sure of is that they are having a difficult time right now trying to feed six people on the Social Security income of one person.Their conditions have improved but not completely resolved.

Last week, things were operating within the status quo, not going well, mind you, but staying even with the status quo. And the family car was repossessed, while the grandfather was at dialysis with his wife. He and his wife had no way home. They called a social worker, who helped them to get a ride on CARTS, which is a type of low cost transportation system here. Since then, Missy and Tom have been walking  about four miles round trip in the heat to and from the grocery store to get the daily bread.(literally). They are receiving food stamps or Lonestar  as it is called in Texas, to subsidize their families meals. Without that, they would have been unable to eat.

A few days later, still with no car, and no money, they needed to get the grandfather back to dialysis. But they had no way to get there. They tried to call the Social Worker. She was on vacation. So, Gordo did not receive his dialysis.
Several days later, he was throwing up blood. He now qualified for an ambulance ride. He was taken by ambulance to the hospital and put in the critical care unit. Gordo’s wife was having to depend on the kindness of others to go to the hospital.

Things are really hard for them.

A pastor friend of mine recently traveled to Uganda to minister to the people there. She speaks of the extreme poverty. She told me that some of the women have to walk ten miles with a pot on their heads to get water. We take water for granted in our country. She said that there are women who hold their children while they die because they do not have simple antibiotics like we have in this country or immunizations that would save lives. Compared to the quality of life of the Ugandans, this family probably is not too bad off. But my friend also made the point that  living in the middle of the affluence in this country and being in the minority of people having to deal with these kinds of issues is difficult. It is heart-wrenching at times.

Missy told me that it is hard enough going through this, but tempers get short because of frustrations and physical discomfort and fears about what tomorrow will bring. She said that they are having to learn to walk off when they are frustrated.

So, in the midst of the uncertainty, and physical discomfort and pain, this family is living their love for one another in spite of the difficulties. They are setting a tremendous example for their kids about putting family first, and perseverance in the face of adversity. They are sticking together, in love, in spite of fear about tomorrow.

Please pray for Gordo. He is a tough man. Please keep him and his wife and Missy and Tom and the kids in your prayers.

I am glad that my son made friends with their son. 



Thanksgiving Challenge and Joy Dare

Today, I am Thankful for:

283. Sickness-For Paul says that we are to be content with whatever our condition is. His grace is sufficient for me.
284. My voice on a good day.
285. People who respond quickly to text messages.
286. Blessings of others in our lives.

copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Random Observations

What follows are random observations from the week; things I would usually post on Facebook or Twitter. I have saved them, instead, for my blog. How cool is that?!

I currently live within 30 miles of a major airport as the crow flies, and sometimes, airliners fly really low: it seems like maybe 100-200 yards above the house. Keep in mind that I am not a trained observer, so the distance is a little shaky. It is really kinda’ cool and kinda’ creepy. Also I can pick up the signal of the pilots and tower on a scanner, and one time, it came through on my computer. That was really funky. But just as quickly as it started, poof, it just went away.

Photo by Alberto Martinez/American-Statesman.

Then Sept. 2-, 2012, I saw that many people posted pictures of the space shuttle making its final fly-over above Austin, Texas. Seemed to be special pictures.


Happy Birthday to my youngest son, Rusty Haag, who turned 12 on Wednesday of last week. This was also the birthday of one of his football coaches and of a special young lady named Miranda, who turned 16 Wednesday a week ago....well more or less. Ha! Happy Birthday to you Miranda!

Speaking of my son Rusty, here is an incident that occurred at one of the football games in which he played. This is his first year playing on an organized team. He is still learning all of the ropes.

“Mom, one coach says, ‘Run after the man with the ball!’; the other coach says ‘Play your position and stay in position no matter what!’ I don’t know what to do! I wish they would quit telling me to do different things! I don’t know what to do!
Mom, I was in the game on the line. I looked at the guy across from me and saw that the guy playing across from me wasn’t wearing his mouthpiece. He was supposed to be. So I stood up to tell the referee, so that the other team would get a penalty. I stood up and said ‘Hey Ref!’ and he blew his whistle and penalized us! And I was wearing my mouthpiece! So then, the coach pulls me out of the game, and yells at me! “

I said, “Rusty, did you tell the coach what was wrong and what you were trying to do?”

He said, “ Yeah, Mom, but you know, he just yelled at me some more and told me to take a knee. He wouldn’t listen to me!.”

I asked Rusty what he would do the next time that he saw that the player across from him is not wearing his mouthpiece. He said, "I'm going to punch him right in the mouth!"

Perhaps not politically correct, but maybe a lesson learned.

A friend of mine works as a maintenance person. Her focus is on repairing things—what we refer to as “fixin’ things” in the South. One of her co-workers taught her a saying that she says comes in handy not only at work, but in life in general. Here it is:

“You can’t fix stupid!”

Well, there you have it. That does indeed ‘splain a lot. With that, I will leave you.



Today, I am Thankful for:

279. My friend Kay.
280. gifts.
281. Being humbled.
282. safety
283. all the special things that we take for granted.
284. forgiveness.
285. Prayer chains

copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Monday, September 24, 2012

Stress Relief Suggestion #52

In the end, we are all terminal. Ask yourself if a particular thing will matter in 100 years. If not, it probably really doesn't matter today. Therefore, do not stress over whatever it is.:)


Thanksgiving Challenge and Joy Dare
Today, I am Thankful for:

279. My friends Jan, Carol and Sheila
280. My friends Kim and Rachel
281. New glasses to see with
282. Reliable transportation

copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Passionate Christianity

As everyone knows, many people in the Middle East are rioting, demonstrating and attacking the United States’ embassies. Our soldiers continue to be killed as have our diplomatic personnel. All of this has happened allegedly because these people blame the United States of America for the insults of their God in one film, made by one producer in our country. Their God is known as Allah and their religion is Islam.

I want to go on record as saying that I have not watched the film but I absolutely condemn the violence and loss of life. Blaming an entire country for the act of one is senseless. Even if that one film did represent our entire country, which it does not, violence is not the answer. I doubt that Allah would advocate the violence in his name. Of course he might. I am definitely not his spokesperson.

As a Christian and I do not advocate violence to solve differences, except in the most extreme of circumstances. But I could not help but to notice the outrage these people had concerning how their God was treated: the depiction of Allah in the film. These people do not tolerate someone insulting the one that they worship.

I remember being in high school and studying about Holy Wars in History. I truly did not learn much about them, because when I heard the phrase “Holy War”, I immediately closed my mind. I did this because I couldn’t entertain the use of the words ‘Holy’ and ‘War’ being side by side in any sentence that was to make logical sense. My opinion hasn’t changed much over all of these years.
But the recent events have made me think, what if we Christians got that upset whenever someone insulted our God and our faith?

This is what was on my heart when I spoke with my prayer partner this week and she said the same thing.  She related the story to me about seeing a picture on Facebook of a man carrying a sign. The sign said “When Jesus returns, we need to kill him again.” She spoke about how that offended her. She made the very good point that we need to make it clear to people that we won’t tolerate that kind of talk about our Savior.

We don’t think that we should protest and respond to the extreme point of the violence and loss of life, but just enough to let people know not to insult our God if they want to stay on any kind of good terms at all with us. That would be demonstrated love. Don’t misunderstand me. Love and loss of life are not compatible most of the time. But love and passion are very compatible. I think that we Christians need more passion. We need to be passionately in love with our Christ, to the point that we do take it personally whenever someone insults Christ. But rather than kill our adversaries we need to passionately minister to them, so that they, too will be unable to resist this radical love. I am not so sure what this would look like; what the physical manifestation of this kind of love would be. Maybe you could help to fill in that part of these ideas in the comments section.

In the United Methodist Church, we are taught to embrace our similarities with others and not to focus on our differences, to be glad that God is God and will be the final Judge. In essence, we are taught not to act like they are acting in other places in the world.

How do we embrace tolerance and passion simultaneously? What do you think? Let’s get this discussion started...


Thanksgiving Challenge and Joy Dare
Today, I am thankful for:

269. My friend Madelyn.
270. Sunshine
271. More moderate weather than in the summer.
272. Enjoying the company of my church family.
273. My friend Cindy.
274. A successful surgery for Amy.
275. A break from football practice.
276. My friends Amy and Sharon.
277. Orange Crushes.
278. The altar.

copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Blog Award and Lacy Underwear

Although five years older, my “big sister” is about five inches shorter than me. I always looked up to her because she did everything first, and did everything better than I did. Of the two girls in my family, she was and is the sweet one and I was the mean one. She is still sweet and me—well, I am still a work in progress. My favorite Bible Verse is “Be as smart as a snake and as gentle as a dove.” I am as smart as I will ever be, and I am still working on the gentleness; I have a long way to go.

My big sister Maresa had a great group of friends in high school. It was through one of these friends, Jan Silverthorn Urban, of Remembering My Grandmother’s Kitchen, that I was nominated for the Reader Appreciation Award for my writing on this blog. Thank you to Jan Silverthorne Urban for the nomination and support. Check out her blog and her book, Gator Bait, at

As a recipient of this award, I am bound to publish seven interesting thing about myself. Warning: It is most probably too much information.

1.  I have read the entire bible all the way through one time, and am on track for doing it for the second time by the end of this year. (Maybe I will get at least 11 days ahead of schedule in case there is anything to that whole Mayan story.)
2.       I am wearing the first pair of lace undies that I have worn since I was a child.
   3. I have thrown a live hand grenade. (But not while wearing lacy undies.)
   4. One of my proudest moments of my life was learning to ride my bicycle without training wheels at the age of six. I haven’t accomplished much of anything since then.
   5. I had my first gray hair at the age of seventeen.
   6. I almost drowned two different times in my childhood. My sister Maresa saved me the first time. A lifeguard saved me the second. That’s why I became a Methodist. I have a fear of immersion.
   7.Once I realized that my shoe size is a 10 ½ and not a 8 ½, my feet have felt much better. (Wonder if that works for lacy underwear? Size matters indeed.)

My next instruction is to list other blogs to pass this award on to: nominations, if you will….


Please visit these blogs and see what interests you.

I am humbled and honored that approximately one year ago, I won a writer's retreat to Laity Lodge. This year I won this award. 

Thank you for reading.

copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Holy Spirit, Move

I was meeting with a Pastor friend at a Mexican restaurant near her residence in Austin, Texas. We were multi-tasking: eating lunch and talking about spiritual matters. Guiding me through a spiritual growth process, she had asked me a series of questions provided in a manual.

One particular question asked if I had ever seen the Holy Spirit at work anywhere; and if so, to discuss. I began to talk about the work that God is doing in Uganda, telling of the things that I had written in a previous blog, A God-incident. This is about how God is working mightily in Uganda, using people like Katie Davis, Rev. Kimberly Burke, Amber Watney and some others that I know. I was sharing this story with the Pastor, when I was interrupted by the Waitress.
“Excuse me,” she said. “Could you please tell me what church you attend? I couldn’t help but to overhear your conversation. You both seem really nice and really cool, and I have been looking for a church. I think that whatever church you two attend would be a good one.”

I was so stunned that I just stared at my friend. Weren’t we just talking about seeing the Holy Spirit working? Wow! My friend wasted no time telling about the church where she is the pastor, where it is, what time they meet, what the congregation is like, etc. While she talked, I just stared with my mouth hanging open.

She conversed with the waitress about the worship preferences and opportunities; then she wrote down the address on something like a napkin.

I really didn’t say anything much. We were in Austin and I attend church in Buda, which is a good 10 minutes away. When I related this story to my pastor, he chastised me teasingly for not giving her every detail about our church. I explained to him that this lady lived in Austin, and seemed to be searching locally.

After the waitress departed, the Pastor commented briefly that we didn’t have to go all the way to Africa to see the work of the Holy Spirit. He meets us in restaurants in Austin, Texas and other unlikely places when we least expect it.
Then, she said, “in view of what just happened, I feel a little silly about asking you any more of the related questions. I think it is safe to say that we can just turn the page and move on.”

Several months later, she told me that the waitress indeed did visit, started bringing her boyfriend, and made that church her church home. She was not only a waitress; she is also an artist. My friend was praying for God to send them an artist. Then she asked in church one day if anyone knew of an artist who could do a project for the church. The waitress stepped up and accepted the project.

Have I seen the movement of the Holy Spirit indeed!



Thanksgiving Challenge and Joy Dare:
Today, I am Thankful for:

266. Artistic God-lovers disguised as waitresses.
267. Unexpected movement of the Holy Spirit.
268. Mexican food.
Linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee at:

copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Monday, September 17, 2012

Stress Relief Suggestion # 51

Have a forgiving view of events and people. Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world. 


Thanksgiving Challenge and Joy Dare
Today, I am thankful for:

246. A real rainy day--the whole day!
247. Rest
248. Kindness.
249. AARP cards.
250. Gasoline.
251. Television
252. Food and drink.
253. Auburn winning the first football game of the season.
254. An education
255. Air Conditioning.
256. Fans
257. Cooler Weather.
258. Old age.
259. Hope.
260. Thick clouds.
261. Email
262. Grocery stores
263. Lacey friendships.
264. Surprise birthday parties.
265. Friends who can keep a secret.

copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

Monday, September 10, 2012

Stress Relief Suggestion #50

Forget about counting to 10. Count to 1,000 before doing something or saying something that will make matters worse.

Thanksgiving Challenge and Joy Dare
Today, I am thankful for:

237. Pastors who preach the truth.
238. Redemption, over and over again.
239. Living seeming magical.
240. Joy erupting into dancing.
241. Young boys playing football.
242. Young men mentoring teens.
243. Pictures of good times.
244. My friend Carol almost sounding like she was going to start a telethon when praying over the offering yesterday.
245. My cute purse.

copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins