Thoughts from Madame Gumbeaux

Thoughts from Madame Gumbeaux

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Red-Nosed Christmas Shepherd (Sundays In My City)

From our house to yours. . .  wishing you a 
blessed and happy Christmas season. 

Unknown MamiThis week I plan on writing up a short account of the 2014 adventures of Bubu. He is living with me in Louisiana now. However, he travelled over land through Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Texas, Mississippi before reaching my home in Louisiana. For awhile, he lost his ladrar (bark), but now, he's recovered his mighty voice, although he's a much calmer dog in these United States than the Bubu I knew in Honduras. 

This post is linked to Sundays in My City, hosted by Unknown Mami

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Saturday Morning Post: A Reflection on Taste, Enjoyment and Truth

“Your problem is how you are going to spend this one and precious life you have been issued. Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.”
~Anne Lamott

Did you take the time to reflect on that last line? Taste. Enjoy. Truth. That's really sounding good to me. Taking time to savor life rather than just rushing to the next thing. 

The Westminster Catechism states that the chief aim of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. For 2015, I am going to strive to enjoy him, enjoy his creation, and enjoy doing life with others. Music and writing are two passions that I plan on developing during the next year. 

I made a conscious choice this year to avoid people who value position over people and crave power over people.  I don't have time for leaders who are in the church game jockeying for influence and dominance. Why be a Christian if we are going to play church by the world's rules? I refuse to endure another long-winded rendition of personal achievement and success from anyone who calls himself or herself a pastor.

In Spanish, success is translated exito. That's where you'll end up if you need to hang on to your boasts and successes in the past. You will be headed for the exit when it comes to being used by God for his kingdom. 

Do you know what kind of people I want in my life?  Give me the broken. The marginalized. The single mom working 2 jobs trying to make ends meet. The immigrant working dangerous jobs because he has no recourse in the US justice system. 

I think the church in the US, by and large, has forgotten that Jesus often ended stories with the words, the first shall be last, and the last shall be first. Jesus entered the world born to poor parents who were homeless for his birth, and he ended his life by dying between two criminals. Let's forget about the newest and shiniest and recall the simple words of Jesus to living a new kind of life. If not you may be heading for exito in this life, but an utter failure in God's upside kingdom. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Falling Rain (Friday Fragments)

It's definitely gumbo weather in Louisiana today. It rained all night, forming puddles and filling ditches on my country lane. When awakened at 6 am by flashes of lightning, I imagined strobe lights from the 80s were whirling outside. It wasn't Christmas lights, either, just stormy weather rolling in for the day.

Christmas memories are flooding the mind as the rain continues outside. Here's a special favorite of mine from the late 60s. I was actually glad to get blocks for Christmas, as I loved to build things.

Since moving to a new place near Lake Pontchartrain, about 30 miles from New Orleans, I have settled into life among the pines, although creeping affluence threatens the somewhat rural way of life here. The city across the lake, New Orleans, seemingly jumped the 20 odd miles of lake, and set up roots here. Iconic places once only found in the famed French Quarter are firmly in place here, now. The institutions of New Orleans just followed her people, who came before Hurricane Katrina and even more so, afterwards. 

I joined a new church, an offshoot of my church from New Orleans. It's a small congregation, mainly hip young millennials wearing boots and scarves. (I think boots and scarves might be mandatory). Jazz is often part of the worship service. I love the new church body, but sometimes, I think we are trying too hard. Pictures of black people playing music adorn the walls, but only white people are in attendance. I suppose the black people around here worship at humble houses of worship, with  of a white Jesus framing the windows. 

I am going to seek employment. Being unemployed and drifting since moving to the US from Honduras has been wonderful. However, it's also a perfect way to get fatter than ever. Whatever I do, I want to make sure I find time to write, work towards justice, and love God and neighbor better. 

My dog, the once-fearless German shepherd, entered early retirement since moving to the US. In Honduras, he barked, chased, and threatened every man, woman, or beast that dared to trespass along the sidewalk, street, or God forbid, the actual premises. Since arriving, he has become docile, compliant and most of the times, fast asleep. He is about 10 years old, so I suppose he deserves rest, as well as a pension consisting of a lifetime supply of kibble in his bowl. 

Need some human kibble, perhaps in bits and pieces of writing?

 Try Friday Fragment posts at Half Past Kissin' Time. 

Half-Past Kissin' Time

Soon, my friends, I will jump to WordPress with a new format and focus for the Gumbo blog. I have declared this before, right?

 This time, I tease not. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Asphalt Road

This morning, my dog and I walked for 30 minutes or so, as is our custom. The air was cool, the ground sprinkled with frost. The lane near my home is one car wide and about 1/2 mile long. There's two houses at the end of the lane, but the remainder is lined by tress, mostly pine.

We live in a community on the north side of Lake Pontchartrain, a body of water that looks like an ocean if you stare at it. Across the lake lies the city of New Orleans, which is not visible at all from this side, but easily accessible by a great bridge that spans some 20 or 30 miles of blue water.

I digress. As I walked along, I thought about the way. I love the narrow asphalt lane we take each day. I love walking. I love my dog. We live in a broken, yet beautiful world. Just staring at the pine tree canopy above me fills me with incredible delight every morning.

My lane is paved with  ordinary tar and pitch. It's nothing special. Most think that the Gospel tells us that heaven is paved with streets of gold. John writes in his vision of Heaven that the main street was gold, clear as glass. I guess streets, plural, is too costly for God.

"Let's be sensible," the Godhead triune reasoned.

And, the Father thought, "What if people slip on that golden interstate? We know that we wrote there's no tears in heaven, but surely a cry might be in order if one skids to a stop on the tailbone on such precious metal. Right?"

"Amen," replied Jesus and the Holy Ghost.

Surely, God love asphalt, too. It's just perfect for a country walk on a cool morning.

Asphalt, or black-top, as we southerners sometimes call it, is a good reminder of what the Christian life looks like most days. For those who believe that God is a god of health, wealth, and unending success, then I suppose you want streets of gold to manifest on earth. But that's not the Gospel. Try googling shadow of death. Yeah, it's a phrase from the Bible.

God is big enough for the golden-interstate-days as well as the shadow-of-death days. Truthfully, most days are just like asphalt. And that's just fine for me, because there's beauty there, too.

I know I am not writing regularly. I will try to rectify that.  Be patient. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Freezing Friday Fragments

It's below zero here in Louisiana! Of course, I am using the Centigrade scale, but still, that's cold.

In Honduras, people are anxious when the temperatures are below 60 F. In South Louisiana, we bar the doors and stay inside when the thermometer gets below 40 F.  I wonder if I will lose my flip-flop tan, which I cultivated carefully for eight years of living in the land of sandals?

I am trying to not buy lots of stuff since arriving in Gringolandia in July.  I came back to the US from Honduras with just a few boxes and my dog, that traveled courtesy of a friend driving from Honduras to Texas. Right now, I have a lawn chair, a reclining chair, a TV and a bed. Oh yes, I bought a used lamp yesterday. And a car, of course. Can't live in the US without a car.  

I am singing this song in my head for weeks,  It Will Be Alright, by Crispin Schroeder. It's not on Youtube, yet, but you can hear the entire song on Spotify or sample on iTunes. If you are in the area, you can hear the song live tonight in Covington. The song is part of a CD released through Vineyard Music. 

 Crispin is my pastor, too. He sings, and he speaks. More than that, he thinks. I like this quote featured in last week's church bulletin. 

"You can safely assume you've created God in your image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do." Anne Lamott

I don't know about you, but I am tired of political ads that focus on who hates undocumented immigrants, welfare recipients, and criminals more than the other guy. Let's just hate on all of the poor and marginalized? That sounds like what a good government is about, right? Then, we mix in a bit of God in the mix, and suddenly, God hates people. Really? 

Okay. Let's laugh a bit. I left a clip from Portlandia.  Here's a clip featuring Carrie Brownstein who declares social bankruptcy, deleting all social media accounts, which ends up being a satire of the film, Eternal Sunshine of the Eternal Mind. 


Half-Past Kissin' Time
Need funnier fragments? Try reading our hosts's Friday fragments at Half-Past Kissin' Time. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Buildings and Bones (Sundays in My City)

Old buildings and graves mark the past lives lived in Clinton, Louisiana. The town has its token large homes and institutions, but for the most part, the town is quiet, almost ghostly quiet. People hang on in inherited estates or on small lots on dirt lanes. You can  gauge the past success of a community by the size of the graveyards. I spotted at least four large graveyards, here, including the Jewish cemetery, as well as the Masonic, Confederate Soldier, and Methodist cemeteries. Black peoples' bones are scattered in small fields alongside the numerous Baptist and Pentecostal churches that dot the countryside. 

Unknown Mami
Sundays In My City are sponsored by Unknown Mami. I am moving out of the woods of central Louisiana soon. I eagerly look forward to living among the living, to a town where hipster meets country. More on that next time. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Feature Presentation: Friday Fragments

 Today's Feature Presentation of Friday Fragments are pictured below. These pictures may not be as good as the titles suggest, but they fit the bill good enough. Grab a bowl of popcorn, a can of soda, and enjoy today's feature presentations. 

 These soccer ball remnants are what's left after my German shepherd keeps a soccer ball longer than a few hours. I forget to pick up his toys at night. He likes to chew at them until they pop, then eat them. I have purchased too many soccer balls. Please feel free to send donations, or at least, remind me occasionally via the blog to PICK UP HIS TOYS at night.

This dog may not be Al Pacino, but he acts the part of the superstar often. He's quite spoiled. He loves the cart that I use where I currently live. For this scene, he refused to get out after a stroll around the property, so I grabbed my camera. Good pic, huh?

 Did you watch Frozen? I watched in on a long flight. I know it's a blockbuster, but all I recall was that I slept well while it aired. My current frozen space is filled with Jenny Craig entrees. I have gotten roly-poly lately. Maybe, eating boxed, frozen food will help.
I found proof that I was thinner in the past. I may have lacked any fashion sense whatsoever, but at least, by God, I was not fat all of my life.  There are more scary eye glasses in my past. I owned Harry Potter frames, aviator frames, and John-Boy Walton style frames. I have never owned cat eye frames, which would be nice to have now for a truly scary Halloween image. 

Finally, here's evidence of my recent criminal activity. My mail was lost for over a month, not being delivered to my new forwarding address. On my third visit to the post office, the worker rather shamefacedly found a large box of my mail.  Despite my protests, she didn't want this box back.  If you can see the small print, there's a $1000 fine for using this box for personal use. 

Today's Feature Presentation of Friday Fragments has concluded. We hoped you enjoyed today's selection.Tune in at Half-Past Kissin' Time for more Friday Fragments. 

Half-Past Kissin' Time