The Episcopalian Card

I just wanted to make sure I left no misunderstandings in my last post, A Few More Drops In The Bucket. In the post, I discussed my various connections with Williamsburg and my quest to attend a worship service at Bruton Parish Church. I mentioned that I missed my first opportunity several years back because I had not yet converted to the Episcopal Church and did not have an Episcopalian card.

There is no Episcopalian card.

My hesitation during that trip was a me thing, not an Episcopalian thing. When I saw the closed door and noticed a sign proclaiming that a service was in process, my own shyness, insecurities, and unworthiness came barreling down, steamrolling my rational judgment. I self-edited. It was not that the Episcopalians did not want me at the service. I told myself I was not welcome there. In fact, later in the day, when we toured the church and I told the tour guide about my experience, she seemed genuinely distressed that I had not come in and joined them in worship. She engaged me in conversation and encouraged me to feel free to attend future services. She was honestly, genuinely welcoming.

So were the other Episcopalians when I did eventually start exploring changing my Roman Catholic affiliation. The rector at my local Episcopal parish spent a whole morning with me, patiently answering my questions. His perspectives were tactful and respectful. I believed he was giving me clear, direct information. He did not pussyfoot around issues and possible points of controversy. He had no wish or wash in his assertions. On the other hand, he had no problem admitting that there are some questions for which we do not have answers and that there can be a great deal of difference between competing viewpoints. Reasonable, prayerful people could and did disagree on matters of theology with no one’s Christianity being put into question.

When I first started attending services, I wanted to be somewhat anonymous. In the five days between the day I spoke with the rector and the day I attended my first Sunday service, my mother had a massive stroke and I was living a nightmare. For the next 13 months, my life and energy revolved around my mother. I did not have the wherewithal to make new connections or involve myself in parish life. I wanted to feel welcome and I wanted to be surrounded by warmth, but I did not want to engage. I came to the service, sat next to a couple who were, in time, to become my very great friends. After the dismissal, I made a beeline for the parking lot and went to see my mother. I did not pass Go. I did not collect my $200. I certainly did not hang out at the coffee hour. Once in awhile, someone suggested that I stay for some refreshment. I found the whole idea of socializing completely beyond my emotional pall. Still, as I worshipped and observed the congregation from a metaphorical distance, I could see genuine openness and warmth. I have never been to a church before where the “sign of peace” involved getting out of your pew and passing goodwill to people all around the church. I panicked the first time and pretended to drop my bulletin so I could fish around for it on the floor, which allowed me to sink out of everyone’s line of sight. Quite soon, though, I noticed that the people were honest, genuine, empathetic, and respectful. I felt welcome, included, but not invaded. This was a congregation that let me grow towards them at my own pace.

When I ultimately decided to convert to the Episcopal Church, I went to Orlando to be received into the church by the bishop. That day truly was one of the most wonderful days in my life. From the moment I entered the building, people greeted me and smiled at me and told me how happy they were that I was there. You can read about that experience in the blog post I wrote at the time, Grace On Robinson Street (Grace On Robinson Street – Terri LaBonte- Reinventing Myself in Retirement). It might have been overwhelming. It might have crippled me with shyness. It might have landed as artificial. However, to me, it felt like I truly was someone that they had been waiting for and were very glad to see. I put that down to the genuinely welcoming hearts of the people involved- and the Holy Spirit.

In my church today, we are working with a ministry called Invite, Welcome, Connect. This ministry was developed by Mary Parmer. Mary worked with our parish and conducted a workshop that served to energize the project. We want to grow our church in numbers and vibrancy. We want other people to have the experience that I had. We want other people to find a home where they can be closer to God and closer to His Church. Numerous task groups are working on projects and programs to share what we have. These projects and programs will launch more effective ways to invite guests to our church. They will make it easier for our guests and parishioners to feel genuinely welcome and accepted into our church. They also foster a richer sense of belonging and ownership by helping connect parishioners with ministries and programs within the church.

It is not all peaches and cream. Growing a church and replicating the feeling of authentic generosity, warmth, and community has challenges. We have been working on some stage of this process or another for a little over a year. Now that we are getting to the “nuts and bolts” of implementing new actions, we are starting to feel a few growing pains. We are also already starting to reap some rewards, which is wonderful… but also challenging in that some things get harder as you go along. For instance, the attendance at our 10:15am Sunday service was usually small enough for me to see and identify everyone who came in, if I paid attention. It was easy to spot a new face and introduce myself. Lately, the congregation has swelled and I love it. It is not so easy to see a new face, though. It takes more intentionality. Also, as we make decisions about what programs to put in place, how to spend money, and who will take responsibility for specific tasks, there are more differences of opinion.  The good news is that I believe we all have the same goals in mind- to become more Christlike in worship, outreach, and discipleship. We all, I believe, believe that God calls us to share His message and welcome His people into our hearts, as He has welcomed all of us into His. The only issue is how to best do that with our combined resources and gifts. Growth does mean working through disagreements and becoming stronger through those discussions. As we grow our own hearts, we will be even better equipped to grow the Church with new members.

And we won’t ever be asking anyone for their Episcopalian card!

If you would like more information about Invite, Welcome, Connect, you can find out more at Invite Welcome Connect. If you have any questions about my church, St. James Episcopal at 204 N. Lee Street in Leesburg, Fl, you can reach out to me on email at You can also visit our website at St James Episcopal Church (

Have a blessed day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

This blog is brought to you today in celebration of Father Tom Trees’ 20th ordination anniversary. Thank you for being such a faithful servant of God.

Another Few Drops In The Bucket

Recently, Max and I went to Williamsburg, Virginia on vacation. This was our fifth trip together and my seventh trip. Some people might suggest that this is a bit extreme. Yes, Williamsburg is a lovely place but seven times? With all the other wonderful places there are to visit in the world?

These questions have merit. I have some special connections with Williamsburg, though, that seem to compel and propel me there rather frequently.

First, my parents honeymooned in Williamsburg. They took a road trip from New York City through the Shenandoah Mountains. They visited Jamestown and Williamsburg. I attribute my fascination with Williamsburg at least in part to my pre-conception nostalgia. There was actually a world before me… an intimate, personal world that would evolve to include me. Williamsburg was part of that life. There is almost an element of heredity embedded in Williamsburg for me. Both nature AND nurture connect me to Williamsburg. My father bought my mother a hand-blown green glass vase on their honeymoon. They watched the artisans create that vase at the glassworks in Jamestown. There was no part of my childhood that did not include memories of that vase. Ultimately, the vase broke. I replaced it for my mother on one of my trips to the Historic Triangle as an adult. When my mother died, the replacement vase passed to me. On this most recent trip, I purchased a matching creamer to keep the vase company. I also remember my mother talking about the delicious gingerbread cakes they made and sold in the colonial Williamsburg Revolutionary City. Anyone will tell you that, throughout my life, gingerbread has been my jam. I never met a gingerbread that I didn’t like.

I made my first visit to Williamsburg with my parents and brother when I was almost twelve. Our family drove across the country from California to New York to attend the wedding of one of my cousins. On the return trip, we turned the journey into a sightseeing tour. We made several stops at historic and natural points of interest. It was quite the summer of discovery. I saw the Grand Canyon for the first time. I proudly claimed the city of the American people, Washington DC. And we went to Williamsburg.

When I was a young adult, I had this fantasy that I would go away to college. Nearly all the books I read as a pre-teen and teenager involved fresh-faced young women heading off to college in a post-war modern Utopia. These sweet young co-eds lived in dorms or sorority houses. They led madcap, fun lives and developed lifelong relationships. They wore sweaters and plaid skirts when the nip of fall was in the air. They walked through the snow caroling during pre-holiday revels. They attended a flurry of parties and formal dances throughout the spring. They looked forward to a happy summer by the sea as the term ended. Most of them ended up graduating with a MRS degree. I was never sure exactly where these mythical campuses were, but they were always historic and glistening with the patina of tradition.

On that first trip I took to Williamsburg, I think I figured out where that mythical campus was- I am sure it was the College of William and Mary.

My world was not within the pages of a 1950s teenage novel. My parents were middle class- not affluent enough to pay for me to go away to school and too affluent to qualify for any means-based scholarship money. Plus, I was raised in an absurdly practical family. Why would anyone pay a bunch of money for a private college and for a second household at said college when there was a perfectly good commuter college down the road? I spent two years at a local junior college and went on to attend a State University about 10 miles from home. My entire college education probably cost less than $1000, including books.

I absolutely understood and bought into this position, but the dream never dissipated. As I progressed through life, I always regretted not going away to school. I am sure the true experience would not have matched my fantasy, but I think I would have grown in significantly different directions had I attended the College of William and Mary away from home and family. I would have learned to live on my own. I would have learned to communicate and forge relationships in a grown-up world. I would have learned to face my fears of new people and new experiences.  I would have learned what it was like to live somewhere very different from the environment in which I was raised. I think I would have grown into more of a risk-taker. I think it is even fair to say that I might have avoided the tragedy of my marriage.

During the early days of the pandemic, I had time to examine my thoughts, feelings, and regrets about missing out on a William and Mary education. I went trawling around on the internet, just to see what it would cost to spend some time in those hallowed halls. I even fantasized about someday renting a place in Williamsburg for a couple of months and enrolling for a semester. When I realized what that would cost, I realized why it was a fantasy. However, my research did reveal an alternative. The College of William and Mary has something called an Osher Institute. This program is intended to offer short-term, non-college credit courses for enrichment. The main target for the program is senior citizens, but it is open to people of all ages. Pre-pandemic, these were on-campus classes. Because of the pandemic, however, the Osher Institute offered virtual classes through Zoom. The cost for the classes was absurdly low. I participated in several terms, taking one or two classes per term. It was great. I was enriched. Besides the interesting and diverse knowledge that I gained from the classes, I met my life coach. He was teaching one of the classes in which I enrolled. All in all, it was a very positive experience. The next time Max and I went to Williamsburg after I took the classes, he bought me a teddy bear from the college bookstore. The teddy bear, who I named WilMa, is wearing a W&M cap and gown. I may be stretching the truth a little bit with the suggestion that I actually graduated from the college. However, I really did feel a little bit like I’d accomplished a dream.

There is a specific factor that motivated our last three trips to Williamsburg. Max and I visited the Bruton Parish Church on each trip. On one trip, before I converted to the Episcopal Church, I thought it would be nice to attend a service at Bruton Parish. The idea of praising God in the same church that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and other luminaries worshipped was very appealing. However, I got shy about entering the church for a service- since I didn’t have an Episcopalian card. I missed the opportunity on that trip.

I resolved to remedy that omission on our next trip. I had recently become an Episcopalian, so I was no longer afraid of being run out of church on a rail. However, we were also scheduled to go to Busch Gardens on that next trip. Unfortunately, when I set up our itinerary, it never entered my head that theme parks in some parts of the country are not open all week. Living in California and Florida, I thought amusement parks were open 365 days a year. Wrong. In climates that are less temperate, the thrills and chills are rationed by the weather. When we went to Williamsburg in the early spring, I found that the park was only open on weekends. Since I had already paid for the tickets, we went to Busch Gardens instead of the worship service.

Fast forward to a couple of years later… after watching me angst over missing the worship service and throw myself into my virtual College of William and Mary classes, Max thought we needed to go back to rectify my problem. We started planning another trip, believing that surely the pandemic would be over by April of 2021.

It was not. We did make the trip and had a good time, but Bruton Parish was not holding in person services.

This year, we were on a mission. Our whole trip was built around the service at Bruton Parish. Even up to Sunday morning, I was sure something was going to happen to thwart us in our endeavor. When I parked in the lot a block away from the church, I was about 80% convinced that we were going to find the church locked when we got there. Fortunately, as advertised, the church was open, and we worshipped together with the other parishioners. My butt might have been sitting in the same place George Washington sat. Score!

It was very nice. The space, of course, was ornate and lovely. The choir sang beautifully.  I enjoyed the sermon. We went to communion and found that the process at Bruton Parish was different from our parish. As the pandemic ebbed, our parish began offering communion with wine as well as the bread, but we were only permitted to receive the wine by intinction- in other words, by receiving the wafer and then dipping it carefully into a chalice when the priest or deacon came to you. The thought was that this was more sanitary than sipping from a communal cup. Just for general principles, we never received the wafer on our tongues, as we sometimes did when I was a Catholic. The idea of a priest puttimg his fingers into the mouths of a whole bunch of people was fairly repugnant in my church. At Bruton parish, the priest only provided for receiving the wafer on the tongue and then sipping from the communal chalice. That seemed like quite an odd practice for a church in a state that carried on full COVID-cautious measures long after Florida was back operating at full speed. 

All in all, I am very glad I spent that Sunday morning worshipping with my fellow Episcopalians in such a historic, tradition-laden environment. I enjoyed it very much.  However, I did leave with a very happy thought running through my mind. I like my parish even better. Bruton Parish Church in Williamsburg, Virginia might have been part of my fantasy, but St. James Episcopal in Leesburg, Florida is my home. If I had to choose one church and one community in which to worship every week, I do not even have to think about it. It would be St. James.

I am glad that I got my opportunity to fill in this gap in my life. I am happy I have been able to reimagine that college experience I wish I had had. I am definitely at peace about so many trips to Williamsburg. As bucket lists go, mine is not very exciting. I have no intention or even any inkling of desire to do something like skydive or climb Mount Everest. That does not mean that my bucket list is not worth filling. And Williamsburg has been able to add a few drops to that bucket.

What’s on your bucket list? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a satisfying day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Life Snarls

I feel like I’ve been a bit of a slacker lately when it comes to the blog. I took a break earlier this year to concentrate on dealing with some personal issues. When I came out of that period of brokenness and rebirth, I happily engaged with you all again on the blog. The last few weeks, though, I have been missing in action again. I apologize.

It isn’t that I am running out of things to say. I have not ventured into an idea desert. Themes and phraseologies and metaphors continue to spring from my brain like a fountain. I have no less than five blog posts currently in some phase of development. An idea will occur to me, and I’ll begin writing. The words will flow from my fingers. Then, before I can complete a finished product that pleases me, another idea or turn of phrase will conflate into my mind. I sort that muddle and write a few notes to remind me where I want to go with another blog piece. This process seems to be on an unending loop.

And then, life snarls.

“Snarls” is an interesting word. It can mean tangled up and knotted. My life certainly has snarled in that way over the past few months. In the past month, there has been such uncontrolled forward momentum (in other words, “avalanche”) of activity, the threads could not help but get snarled. People think I am an organized person, but it is a façade. An organized person has systems that make sure her life moves smoothly and effectively even when she isn’t watching it. I do quite well with the smoothly and effectively when I am able to keep my eyes peeled on everything that needs doing all at once. When I run my fingers through all the threads I am holding, I’m good. When I have so many things going that I run out of slots between my fingers, those threads snarl. Once they snarl, I have to invest substantial time and energy untangling the mess I’ve made. I sometimes lose motivation. I will say, though, that it is incredibly satisfying when I do spend the time and energy untangling the knots.

“Snarls” can also mean the sound an animal makes when it is threatened or threatening. Life can snarl like that, too. When life snarls, sometimes you just have to abandon the momentum of what you are doing and pay attention. That kind of life snarl can absolutely torpedo an overpacked schedule. I don’t think I’m alone when I say that, sometimes, I look at what I’ve planned for a day or a week and realize that I have just enough time to handle everything I need to do if everything goes just exactly perfectly and I catch all the green lights. When life snarls, things do not go perfectly, and I do not catch all the green lights. Life snarls are where partially written blog posts go to die. I think I can finish them. I plan to finish them. Then some threatening life snarl happens, and I retreat. Really, life has not been snarling at me like that since a couple of weeks before Easter. Life is good. God is great. I heart writing my blog. Still, the life snarls of the first couple of months of 2023 have left my mind limping a little bit.

I have always believed that it is important that a blogger adds new content regularly and reliably. I think posting new material at the same time each week, every week keeps readers interested and looking forward to my blog. I ask your forgiveness for letting you down. It isn’t me being flighty. It is life snarling.

Do you ever find life snarls getting in the way of your productivity? How do you deal with it? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a snarl-less day!

Terri/Dorry 😊


They say that, in the spring, a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love. Well, this slightly not young woman’s fancy may also turn to love, but it also turns to something else. Baby Sandhill cranes.

I live in central Florida where Sandhill cranes are practically the official mascot of our region. Ball teams have cheerleaders that dress in feathers and make deep yodeling trumpet noises to encourage their players. Actual real-live Sandhill cranes are quite content to hang out anywhere reasonably close to water. They seem to have no hesitation about people or other interlopers. Since I live in Lake County, it comes as no surprise that we have quite the Sandhill crane population. In my community, we have lots of feathered Sandhill neighbors. In fact, you have probably seen bumper stickers that admonish “Share the Road With Motorcycles” or “Share the Road With Bicycles.” Instead, we share the road with Sandhill cranes. They are remarkably assertive creatures. They are perfectly peaceful and non-combative, but do not surrender their space easily. If they are standing in the road, they will likely keep standing there, even when approached by a two-ton vehicle. Once you have lived in central Florida for even a short time, you learn to just wait your turn. Those cranes will eventually move out of the way, but it will be in their own sweet time.

The Sandhill crane traffic issues may sound like a hassle, but, in reality, those of us who live with them don’t mind too much. These birds truly are beautiful, peaceful, and graceful. They glide across the sky with wings that span in excess of six feet. Their calls, something between a yodel and a dirge, are distinctively heart-warming. Sandhill cranes, like many birds, mate for life. I get worried when I see one on its own. There is something anthropomorphic about them. I have never been a huge bird person, but I find Sandhill cranes so relatable. Maybe I am more of a birdbrain that I ever thought.

Sandhill crane couples usually have 1-3 babies each year in the spring. Both parents care for the children. Kids stay with their parents for about nine or ten months. In fact, it is a bit traumatic for me to watch the crane families in December. This is about the time that the juveniles are being “encouraged” to leave the nest so that there is space in the family for a new set of hatchlings. The “encouragement” can look a little harsh.  Still, there is that circle of life thing and I am hoping that all that “encouragement” will motivate our juvenile cranes to find happiness on their own.

Starting towards the end of February every year, I start scanning the roads, greenbelts, and ponds in my community for signs of the newest Sandhill crane generation. It is a day for celebrating when I see my first Sandhill crane babies of the season. I am not the only person anticipating this annual event. There is a regular traffic sign a couple of miles away from my house that says “Caution: Baby Sandhill crane crossing.” So weird, but so nice.

The other day, the annual miraculous moment happened. I saw the Sandhill crane babies for the first time of the season.  We were driving out of our development to visit some friends when we passed a small feathery family of four loping cautiously across the green space along our community exit. I squealed involuntarily and barely refrained from slamming on the brakes. Max would have been alarmed by my reaction, except that he also saw the babies… and knew what to expect of me. I cried out in reverence, “Oh look, BABIES!” My heart jumped around inside my chest for the rest of the day, celebrating this momentous occasion.

I recently learned that Sandhill crane babies are not called “chicks” or “cranelings” or any other birdlike monikers. They are called “colts.” Now, I have always thought of “colts” as baby horses. It would seem to me that there is nothing further from a horse than a Sandhill crane. Despite being called a “crane,” I’m not thinking that the Sandhills can do any heavy construction work. Cinderella never had Sandhill cranes pull her pumpkin carriage, even with a generous helping of enchantment.  You can’t ride them. I don’t think there is a Sandhill crane racing off-track betting location anywhere nearby. Then, I realized the nexus. Baby Sandhill cranes basically look like ducklings stapled to the top of two spindly pencils, where the erasers would normally be. Their legs must be about five times the length of their bodies. When novelists write about leggy young girls who seem to not completely know what to do with their limbs, they often use the term “coltish.” I always thought those novelists were making the comparison to baby horses. Maybe, all this time, those novelists really meant baby Sandhill cranes!

What animals herald the onset of Spring where you live? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a flighty day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

The Results Are In!

After fourteen days of bunny-hunting, the score concluded with:

Bunnies 7

Terri 7

So, the bunnies did not beat me. However, this is cold comfort when you think that all it means is that I was able to play ten inanimate, brainless rabbits to a tie. Max points out that the bunnies might have had a little help. Still, the bunny running is over for the season, and I feel like they left me in the dust! I’d better hop to it next year!

How do you comfort yourself when you feel like a dumb bunny? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at

Hope you had a HOPPY Easter!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Dumb Bunny

I am blessed to have a partner in life who indulges my inner child. At least, he indulges the inner child who is charming and fun. I am not sure he is quite as enchanted with the whiny one who missed her nap.

This year, as in past Easter seasons, Max hides one of my family of small bunnies in our living or dining rooms. I would clarify that they are fake bunnies, but I don’t want to hurt their feelings. This activity, a spin-off of our Elf on the Shelf revelry, is not exactly a Lenten devotional. However, given the intensity of this Lent for me, the bunnies do provide a certain comic relief. There are three sizes of bunnies- Archibald and Arabella are the parental bunnies and are each about the size of a small mandarin orange. Winken/Blinken (these two are literally joined at the hip), Nod, and Tumble are slightly smaller. They are still in diapers, however. Eenie, Meenie, Miney, and Mo are the tiniest of tiny. These little pink babies are each about the size of a sugar cube.

Those rabbits get up to no good. They are very sneaky little lagomorphs. They hide places that I cannot easily mine. One day, after several pointed hints, I found Nod sleeping on one of the Plantation shutter slats. This would not have been so remarkable except I had LOOKED THERE multiple times. The thing is, Nod is white, except for his sweet little purple diaper. The Plantation shutters are also white. The way he was sitting on the shutter, the diaper was not visible. A small white rabbit sitting on a white shutter slat has found a darn good hiding place!

My record in past years for finding bunnies and, for that matter, for finding the Elf on the Shelf, has been pretty good. Max has become a talented bunny hider, gaining expertise and nuance every year. This Easter season, the bunnies are winning. Either the bunnies are getting smarter, or my bunny-hunting skills are in serious decline. When I read articles about aging, they never mention that the bunny-hunting skills are the first to go.

You’ve heard the phrase “dumb bunny?” I think, in my scenario, I am the dumb bunny, not the rabbits!

What Easter traditions do you keep? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at  Happy Easter!

Terri/Dorry 😊

A Lenten Miracle

We’ve all heard of “Christmas miracles.” Without them, the Hallmark television channel would be bereft of programming. Lenten miracles are a little more obscure. Yet, I am experiencing one.

In 2020, I proclaimed that Lenten season to be the “lentiest Lent that ever did lent.” Lent is about sacrificing to get closer to God. In my tradition, Lent has three components of sacrifice- fasting, almsgiving, and prayer.  With the onset of the COVID pandemic, we all had ample opportunity to sacrifice. We gave up so many gifts we previously took for granted- hugs, visiting family and friends in person, going to the library, frequenting our favorite hot spots, accomplishing our work tasks conveniently and comfortably, breathing without sucking on face mask fabric, and many other of life’s little pleasures. Shortages of goods on grocery store shelves meant we were all pretty much fasting from something. As people tend to do when they see an obvious need, charitable giving increased. In desperate times, most people rallied to help others. And, as for prayer- well, we had ample opportunity and ample motivation.  

This Lent, though, I feel like God has taken things to a whole new level. The difference is that the COVID-19 pandemic was a worldwide cataclysm that led to worldwide transformation. This year, the infection is individual and intimate. My personal cataclysm has been very hard to bear. Years of old pain and shame came to storm the castle of my very soul, wielding knives and pitchforks and serious intentions to destroy.  Every molecule of my energy has gone into fighting off the attack. The battle has waxed and waned through the past weeks, but never ends.

When one is engaged in battle, one needs weapons. I have an effective arsenal, thanks to my life coach, Todd Payne.  I told him my story at a pace that was challenging but tolerable (by tolerable, I mean a pace that was significantly beyond comfort level but did not inspire thoughts of jumping from a bridge.) He gave me tools to process and to cope. I use those tools as we agreed. I started asking for what I needed to manage my emotional energy during this time of warfare. I completed the writing assignments he gave me.  I made sure to dance for 20-30 minutes a day. I began supplementing my daily meditation practice with short, anxiety relieving guided meditations when I began to feel the pitchforks getting dangerously close to piercing my soul. We prayed in a number of our sessions.

We agreed on another strategy. There were Sundays when I pronounced myself “unfit for human consumption” and did not go to church. I realized, though, that I always felt better when I did attend the service- both from a spiritual and a social sense. My God was at the service and so was my family of friends. I resolved that, during Lent, I would attend Sunday service AND the weekly healing service on Thursdays. I think I felt that I needed healing before I knew I needed healing.  I decided to attend the Thursday service as a Lenten devotional because I thought it would be comforting in a difficult time and would remind me that God is always near me. I was not thinking so much about healing.

Now, we are Episcopalians. The term “healing service” tends to denote a more Pentecostal, charismatic vibe. Our healing service at my traditional, little Episcopal church looks a lot less dramatic. It is basically a sparsely attended informal gathering in the chapel that looks a lot like a “regular” Sunday worship liturgy. The only difference is that we do put an additional focus on praying for those who are suffering. Our pastor anoints us with oil and prays for healing in our lives. Just because the event does not APPEAR as dramatic as the more loud and overt healing services you see in the movies does not mean that what happens beneath the surface IS not dramatic, though. I have sat through several of these services now, with tears oozing out of my eyes. Those tears have been coming on a wave of pain and shame and healing and truth and acceptance. The tsunami of emotion is such a tangled mix of positive, negative, and confusion. It is hard to articulate. However, the biggest takeaway from the tears might be this- GOD DOES NOT WANT ME TO FEEL LIKE THIS!

As I worked through my sessions with Todd, it became more and more clear that events that occurred 40 years ago largely created the mess in my mind and the trainwreck in my heart. Those events created an infection within me that has caused me to live with such a distorted sense of myself. I tend not to even try to explain how I feel to other people because it is pretty incomprehensible. From the outside, I look functional and successful. Inside, life is much different. In reliving that time of my life 40 years ago, my pain became more focused, and the shame hailed down on my soul. I was engaged in mental, emotional, and spiritual warfare as I slogged my way through Lent this year.

Now, most people do see Lent largely as a time of sacrifice. In my Christian tradition, that focus on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are seen as signs of repentance during this pre-Easter season. If we look closer, I think we could see Lent as not simply a time for penance and sacrifice, but as a time for transformation. We should be crafting Lenten observances that help transform us into the people God wants us to be. I do not know if I intentionally did that this year, but both Todd and I believe that God thought it was more than time for my transformation.

One Sunday, late in Lent, something happened. I call it a miracle. Everything in the service and the Sunday school lesson that preceded it spoke to me in a very direct, very intimate way. The anthem the choir sang was Shepherd Me, O God, a hymn beseeching God to shepherd us beyond all our fears. I had 40 years of fear and shame whittling away at my soul. The epistle reading was from Ephesians, chapter 5. In that reading, St. Paul admonished that we should take no part in the unfruitful works of the darkness but expose them to become visible so that they will cease to cause darkness. I had just spent the past month or so working with Todd, revealing evil things that were hidden in the dark of my psyche. The Gospel was about Jesus healing the blind man by smearing his eyes with mud and sending him to the pool of Siloam to wash. God was opening my eyes to the truth of what happened. He was healing me of pain and shame. Our pastor’s sermon also mentioned that Jesus intentionally involved the blind man in his own healing. Jesus sent him to the pool of Siloam to rinse his eyes so that the healing would be manifest. I have participated. I have been on a long, painful, dredging up of feelings that I should have named and felt 40 years ago. In the dark, they have grown and multiplied and become even worse than they would have been if I had processed them at the appropriate time. Now, not only do I mourn the actual events of the time, but I also mourn the more joyful, more abundant, more grounded life that I could have been having during these 40 years of brokenness.

This Lent, as I prepare for Easter, I am rinsing my eyes in my personal God-created pool of Siloam. I am accepting that I am transformed. I do not understand why God waited 40 years to transform me. I don’t really care. I guess miracles don’t happen until one is ready for them to happen. I will not question God’s judgment about that.

You could argue that what I’ve experienced is not a supernatural event. You could argue that this transformation is simply the result of hard work with an excellent therapist. I do not doubt that God used my hard work and my life coach’s skill as tools to deliver the miracle. I know there is more to it, though. And, if you lived inside my soul, you would know it, too.

Easter has come early for me this year. Happy Resurrection!

I’m back! Did you miss me?

Terri/Dorry 🙂

Yellow Light

Emotional energy is a finite commodity. Lately, there has been a lot going on in my life and I am feeling pretty drained.

It has not all been bad stuff. I spent a wonderful weekend participating in an Invite, Welcome, Connect workshop at my church presented by Mary Foster Parmer. Her workshop was a very welcome follow up to an initiative in which I was a key player last year. You can see information about Mary and her ministry at her website (Invite Welcome Connect), so I will not try to describe the entire concept and process here. Basically, the whole point of this ministry is to light a controlled burn fire under congregations that want to grow in size and vibrancy. It was joyful to see my parish family engage enthusiastically and commit to growth. I would say it was magical, but I know it was more miraculous than magical. The Holy Spirit certainly sparked that fire-lighting process!

The event excited and uplifted me, but the weekend was very, very people-y. My sweet little introverted self could barely keep her head above the surf. I ingested a certain amount of emotional saltwater from the effort. I love the people of my parish and I loved the event. It was just that the level of continual engagement took about all the fuel I had in my tank. I am pleased to report that I did not spend any more time than biologically necessary hiding in the bathroom. Yay, me! Let’s celebrate my successes. All in all, I am very proud of how I handled myself. I have hope for the church and I have hope for myself. At least, that is how I feel now after three days of rejuvenating solitude.

The thing is, I have also been dealing with some personal emotional issues that are older than dirt. For whatever reason, they have decided to crop up now. “Crop up” is not the right phrase. That sounds like growth and rejuvenation. In reality, these problems and pains are entrenched in the soil of my soul and it has taken some considerable fracking to break them loose. One might ask why I poked at them in the first place, especially since poking at them has not done me any good in the past. As I said, they are very old issues and I have had most of my life to poke at them. Somehow, now, though, I feel some compulsion to try to resolve them. Don’t ask me about them because I do not feel like sharing, but please do pray for me and send me good wishes.

The other thing I want to ask you for is your patience. My emotional yellow light is blinking. I’m not stopped in my tracks, but I am proceeding with intentional caution. It may be a few weeks before you hear from me again. In the meantime, I am sure I will be hurting, healing, and growing. This will ultimately be a very joyful thing, but it is likely going to take me some time to get there.

In the meantime, I will still be functional in real life because that is who I am. I will be embracing the resources that I know will accept, love, and nurture me even when they do not know or understand my issues.. my coach, my family of friends, my church, and my God. I think I have an excellent treatment plan!

Do you ever have a time when you wish you could find a way to be happier and healthier in body, mind, soul, and spirit? How have you managed those times? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at  I’d also like to invite any of you who have ever been curious about Christianity or the church to reach out to me on email about the opportunities for you to explore without pressure. I’d be happy to talk with you. Even if you do not live close to us, we have online services and other events that might help you get started on your journey.

St. James Episcopal Church

204 N. Lee Street

Leesburg, FL 34748


Have a blessed day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Making Me Happy

Happiness can be an illusive prey. I think we all have times in our lives when we wonder if we will ever be happy again. Thankfully, we usually do become happy again. Sometimes, it takes a little more effort than usual to stabilize the muddy emotional ground and find our happy footing once more. I find that it is important to be proactive when I am down in the dumps and stuck in the mud.

Something that makes me happy is making other people happy. This can be a dangerous remedy for melancholia because it puts my emotional fate in the hands of somebody else. I try to remember that I can only be truly happy when I am the one making me happy. At times, I try to jump start the process by reaching out to others. This “selfish altruism” of mine has its detriments. I often feel like I have a tattoo on my forehead that proclaims “Ask Me” to the entire world. I always figured it did not cost anything to smile warmly at passersby and it is thrilling when they smile back. Sometimes, it does cost something. A colleague of mine used to say I could not leave our office to go to the bathroom without adopting some poor lost soul with a problem that needed fixing. And I, of course, would have to be the one to fix it. All in all, though, I’d say that it is almost always happy-making for me to see happiness exuding from others because of something I said or did.

Sometimes, I like to stop at Hardee’s (that’s Carl’s Jr to you folks west of the Mississippi) for a biscuit in the morning if I am out and about for some reason. There is something comforting about a hot, crispy, slightly salty biscuit. At my local Hardee’s, though, there is a challenge.  One lady typically takes my order at the drive-thru speaker. She is warm and friendly and cheerful. She calls me “baby.” She is rather like a biscuit herself. The lady who actually hands me the “bag o’ biscuit” when I pull around to the window is more like a stale saltine cracker.

She has never done anything mean or rude exactly, but she always looks and sounds so miserable. I have no idea what her life is like. I am certainly not judging. I am sure she has problems that would make my troubles seem petty. Still, it makes me sad that she seems so sad. I really want to help her feel better. Not that I know for sure that she is sad, but it is hard to imagine that she is NOT gloomy. Her voice is monotone and gruff. Her shoulders sag as if she is carrying a very heavy yoke. I have never seen her close to anything like smiling. Thin lips and squinty eyes always sink towards the ground. She doesn’t even seem to see me. I know she is a real human and not a robot because I can feel pain radiating off her.

Recently, I have been on a mission. I have been challenging myself to imbue a little warmth and happiness in this lady’s workday. When I hand her the money and take my biscuit bag, I push charm out of my being with every cell in my body. I smile. I intentionally let my eyes sparkle. I speak clearly and gently. I move my head slightly to try to make eye contact. I make sure that I am facing her direction when conducting our transaction, rather than blindly grabbing from my side.

None of this seemed to make much of a difference. I enjoy my short tete a tete with the order-taking lady inside the drive-thru speaker. We exchange chipper. As I turn the corner to pull up to the window, my mood turns hopeful. I think, “today is the day she is going to smile.” It didn’t seem like it was ever going to happen.

The other day, FINALLY, we had a breakthrough. As I drove up to the window, I felt the resignation building. I tried to tap into my biscuit lady in the speaker to shield myself from disappointment. As I waited for my turn to pay, I pulled out money. I had exact change, which I took as a good omen. That day, as I took my biscuit bag from the sad lady, I slowed my movements. If one can be graceful in receiving a bag of take-out, then I was. I put the bag on the seat next to me deliberately. Then, I turned my head back to the takeout window and flashed the special smile I keep for people who look like they need it. I waited a beat or two and… I saw it! Not a smile, certainly, but the very beginning of a twinkle in her eye. Her body seemed to relax a little and she met my gaze.

It made my day.

What do you do to make yourself happy?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a smiley day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Old Florida/Old Terri

The first time I visited Florida was about 40 years ago. I had an aunt and uncle who wintered in an obscure town in central Florida, about 50 miles from where I currently live. We visited the big-ticket attractions like Disney, Kennedy Space Center, and Daytona Beach. In those days, Disney World was only two parks- Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Universal Studios did not even exist in Orlando yet. Much has changed in tourism in central Florida theme parks over the past 40 years. However, on that first visit, we also went to less glitzy destinations. We visited Cypress Gardens, which is now Legoland. We went to Blue Springs to see the manatees. We took a glass bottom boat ride at Silver Springs. We took a boat ride through a wild section of Florida wetland. We visited many local native Florida venues. I certainly had the opportunity to appreciate the wild, primitive, naturalistic tangle of environment that is Florida.

Many people would look at the central Florida where I live today and marvel at how it has changed in the last 40 years. The citrus industry that gave birth to most of the area’s inhabitation is long gone. Glitzy theme parks multiply like rabbits around Orlando. The Villages, a monolithic luxury retirement community centered about 20 miles north of me expands ever southward. The number of banks, hospitals, and Walmarts per square inch is alarming. One might say that the old Florida I saw 40 years ago is a thing of the past.

On the other hand, maybe not that much has changed after all.

When my brother visited us before my mother’s stroke, his main comment was that “Florida looks like it needs a haircut.” I thought it was an incredibly poetic… and apt… way of describing the geography. You do not have to go far off the beaten track to find a little of the messy, raggedy, feral old Florida.

Awhile back, I took a boat ride through the Lake Dora canal system. It is amazing that, in no time, you can reach sections of natural waterways that pass areas you would swear no one has touched in centuries. On the same ride, you pass through multiple mobile home parks that have probably been there for at least 40 or 50 years. Many of the mobile homes there appear also to have been there for 40 or 50 years. We noticed a small island in the canal next to one of these parks. The island was populated by hundreds of gnome statues and accoutrements for their gnomey existence.

Just a short hop down Highway 48 from my house, you will find a yellow building with a sign almost as large as the entire front of the edifice. The sign announces that the building houses Southern Wildlife Taxidermy. I swear I can hear banjo music playing every time I pass by the location. When you shoot something… or run it over with a car… in Florida, you apparently have two choices. Eat it or stuff it. I have to say that I lived over 55 years of my life without seeing a single taxidermy shop. Now I have one as a backyard neighbor. I guess I know exactly where to take my pet possum for preservation when it croaks. Not that I have a pet possum, but you never know. I’ve lived in Florida for over eight years now.

The other day, I went to Silver Springs with a friend of mine. I had a vague memory of the glass bottom boat trip from 40 years ago. It was only about 35 miles away so I figured why not take a little day trip and see what had changed since my last visit.

What had changed? Absolutely nothing. It was delightful, but nothing had changed. The old school sign at the entryway was exactly the same as it was 40 years ago. The water was still stunningly clear. The boat ride and narration were still campy. I still did not see the monkeys that supposedly inhabit an island in the springs.  The statues installed in one of the deep areas for an episode of Sea Hunt in 1959 were still there.

It is interesting to note that I was born in 1959. The statues have probably withstood the test of time better than my body has. Come to think of it, old Florida has weathered the changes of the last 40 years better than I have since the first time I visited!

Have you ever revisited a place many years after seeing it for the first time? What did you notice? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a primitive day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂