Friday, April 18, 2014

Growing Up in The Hill Country

Growing up, it's funny how you don't really appreciate your environment.   At least I didn't.

The Hill Country was rough terrain! 

It was as if everything was out to kill you or at the very least, maim you!

Every plant had a thorn and every patch of grass had stickers.   

It definitely wasn't meant for the girly girl that I was (and still am).

I had nightmares of big hills and hiking and ticks and snakes.

My aunt and uncle owned some land way up on a hill in Bandera and occasionally we would drive up there to check on the land.   It was up a winding hill/small mountain (to me) and I would literally be hunched down in the floorboard of the car, waiting for us to go over the side of the cliff to our death.  At least that's how it felt when I was seven.

 Then there were the hikes down huge ravines and me being so puzzled as to why anyone in their right mind would think that was fun.    I haven't changed one bit.

As I got older, I started to appreciate the culture a little bit more, but not as much as I should have.

Growing up in San Antonio, there was such a richness to our history there, but as a teen I just never really understood the value of it all.

There were festivals and culture related events every year.   Historical landmarks, missions, and old churches that now fascinate me.   But, back then, with all of that at my fingertips, it was just the scenery of my childhood. 

When we went back a few weeks ago, we got to visit an old dancehall - one of the oldest in Texas, as a matter of fact.  

Gruene (pronounced Green) Hall is a landmark.   It was built in 1878, along with a general store and saloon.   It's purpose was to service the farmers that would come bringing their cotton to the local cotton gin.

This is a "must play" location for Texas musicians and I would imagine, once you got your picture on the wall, you felt as if you had "made it" as a true artist. 

I love the old dance halls.     I also love to dance.


Yes, it's true......lots of beer drinking and even a fight or two might break out, but most people are here for the music and because this is where they connect.      This is where they come to just "be".  

It's where that "new guy" played (and then became the "king of country music") and it's where the cowboys sweep the girls off their feet and where there is sawdust on the floor, so your boots scoot a little smoother.  

On any given night, you can come and hear music coming from inside.   It's the "sound of Texas" really.

One day I want to take my kids back to the Hill Country and help them to appreciate all the richness of that area.   

I want them to know the place where I grew up and appreciate the fact that our great state has much to offer.

I love Texas!   And, I'm starting to really appreciate growing up here.   

Yeah, I's about time!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Filling Their Plates and Their Hearts

"There is no more beautiful time
to nourish the family and others
than in those regularly appointed gatherings
which provide physical sustenance
spiritual nurture."

Emilie Barnes

I've discovered something that brings me pleasure lately and it has actually surprised even me.

I enjoy filling my family's plates!

I won't lie and say that I enjoy standing in the kitchen for an hour, prepping, cooking, and cleaning up.   But, what I have discovered is that I thoroughly enjoy taking the finished product and carefully filling the empty plates of my family; knowing that I am providing them with nourishment for their bodies and hopefully, a demonstration of love that will linger a lifetime.

Maybe it's part creativity and part control freak in me, I'm not sure!   But, whatever the motivation, the filling of a plate gives me satisfaction.

This Easter Sunday, as I prepare a meal for my family and our guests,  my goal is to pour love into every pot, every pan, every ounce of prep work I do and let it overflow on to the plates of the people I love.

I can't think of a better day to shower my family and friends with love, than the day that Christ demonstrated his power and love, through his resurrection.

I will fill the plates and hopefully, their hearts and together we can rejoice as we proclaim that
He's alive!

Easter is coming!  Won't you put your best effort into filling your family's plates?

Do it with LOVE.    Your reward will be great!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Random Thoughts and I Bought A Car

Welcome to my brain, where I produce random thoughts, all jumbled up with to-do lists, project deadlines, goals, destinations and other random things that cause me to have stress. 

And, since it feels better when others share your burdens.......

**In other random news, the grass needs mowing, but it's in the 40's today.   That's the strange thing that happens when you live on the Gulf Coast.   It's freezing in April!

**Yesterday I went out to exchange my 3rd or 4th Keurig coffee maker.   Brought it home and it's malfunctioning already.   The 12 oz cup setting only makes 10 oz and yes, this is a big deal.   I finally called the company and told them I didn't have the guts nor the heart to walk in to Bed, Bath and Beyond ONE MORE TIME and exchange a broken machine.    Thankfully, they are an honorable company and are sending me out a whole new machine and I have now been spared the embarrassment of carrying, yet another coffee machine, through the parking lot and into the store.
(For the record - we are not breaking them!  The corporate office said they have most likely been returned and used and put back on the shelf.    ewww!)

**I drug Collin out to a car lot yesterday.   I was determined to find Ted a new car, since he's been driving an old truck (over 200,000 miles on it) that gets about 12 miles to the gallon and he's literally spending all his money on gas. 

I didn't even tell Ted we were out looking.  He really thought he would be driving that truck indefinitely.

I described what I wanted to the sales guy and he gave me several models to consider.   It took me about 10 minutes to decide and voila' - I bought a car! (Well, it took a little longer to do the paperwork, as you know.)

David was there to approve and sign and then we took it on the road to find Ted and surprise him.

It was pouring down rain and COLD, but we presented it to him and he was totally shocked and grateful!

(It feels good to bless your kids!)

**I have fed my family beef more times than I care to count this week.

**I've let the laundry get dangerously out of control lately.    I was thinking of stopping by Walmart on the way home and just buying all new clothes.

** Collin's bed has been missing a bottom sheet for a week.  

** I bought carrots and cucumbers last week and I've been too busy and lazy to peel them.   It's looking good for the rabbit though.

**I actually bought a "home organization" book at a used book sale today, which is ironic that I think I will actually have time to read it, considering I'm....well.....not organized enough right now to schedule that in to my day.

**Easter is 5 days from now, heaven help me.  The meal is at my house. 

**I need to make a photo album online before the 40% off sale is over........which happens to be TODAY!

**I now know why Calgon made that commercial.   A hot bath sounds really good right now!  It certainly beats all of this random thinking going on!

Calgon!  Take me away!

Monday, April 14, 2014

God Uses Messy People

I finally finished Holley's book!   It's amazing how I can turn a 40-day devotional into 3 1/2 months!

I loved this book!  Talk about big inspiration in a little package!  This is it.   40 days of inspiration and every page points you straight back to God.

There is no dream worth pursuing if it doesn't draw you closer to the one that holds the dreams in his hands.    

Being that God created you and me, we have to acknowledge that He is the one who placed those desires, talents and gifts inside of us.    They were placed there with purpose and our lives are spent pursuing that purpose and daily walking with and toward the One who put them there. 

When I got to the last devotion today, I was so thrilled that it was about how God uses messy people, because I can be messy.

Yep, it's true.

I can be moody (usually when things are chaotic or I need food or sleep).

I can say things I shouldn't (when other people do dumb things.  Hey, just keeping it real!)

I can be sensitive.  (God made me this way.)

I'm not perfect and that's not why God uses me, for sure!

God plucked me out of 23 years of lost-ness and saved me from my own flesh and idiot-ness (made up words).    

He had to prune me, refine me, change me, groom me, redefine me, and He did all of that by saving me and opening my eyes to Jesus. 

Messy person meets Jesus = changed for life!    Praise God!

So, yeah, when I got to today's devotion and was reminded that God uses messy people, I couldn't have agreed more!

You don't have to have your act together, in order for God to use you or work in your life and dreams.   You have to be willing to change, willing to hear, willing to lay down your selfishness and hand it all over to him.     You have to acknowledge that you were created for more than fleshly desires and stupidity.   

You were created to pursue God.

And, when you finally get that, your world will open and you will find yourself being used in ways you never dreamed possible.

And, not because you were perfect.

But, because when God uses messy people, He gets the glory and that's what it's all about.

Go pursue your dreams and the One who made them!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Happy Birthday Ted!

 Well, it finally happened......Ted turned 21

I say "finally" because he was born old.  Now it just feels like his official age has finally caught up with him.

So, to celebrate big, we headed to Houston to eat with friends and experience something different.

Here we are on the way..........

 How's this for skills?  Well, at least I got the birthday boy and the love of his life, Alex.

We met up with our friends, Todd and Cyndy (and baby Duke)..........

 Todd and Cyndy are like 2nd parents to Ted.   They are also his pastors, mentors, and friends.   I am so thankful to have them in our life and to see them care for Ted like one of their own.    It truly blesses me.

And Shelly and Peyden (baby Duke's parents).........

I love seeing my kids with genuine friends.   They love Ted and respect and believe in him.   You can't ask for much more than that.    Their baby, Duke, is two months old and just adorable and so are they.

Then, there's Alex.......

 Alex is beautiful and sweet and has put that smile in Ted's heart.     

And then.....there's us.......

Ted's crazy parents.    Actually, only one of us is crazy and it's not me :)

And, Ted's grandmother - Carolyn (or Mimi) - who says Ted lights up her life :)

And, last but not least.......

Ted's baby brother, Collin.   (He's got the crazy gene too.)

The restaurant was FOGO DE CHAO  - a Brazilian Steakhouse - and the dining experience was amazing!

They serve the meat right at your table, as you can see, and you can have a piece of every type they serve, which is around 15 or so.   Everything from leg of lamb, ribeye, bacon wrapped chicken breast to garlic steak and many more.   Mashed potatoes, fried bananas and other side dishes are served at your table and there is also a huge salad/veggie bar complete with bread, cheese, fresh veggies, and fish.   

It's basically a feast!

Then, when you're done, you have to top it off with a delicious dessert, so you can officially feel as if you'll never eat again.     Well worth every bite!

 Peyden made sure to get Ted a card.    Who doesn't love Precious Moments?   Hahaha!!

The card goes along perfectly with the camo overnight bag, don't you think?

We had so much fun and even topped off the evening with a not-too-bad rendition of the Happy Birthday song.

We all ate so much that we basically wanted to lay down right at the table and sleep for a few hours, but unfortunately we had a 2 hour drive home, so that didn't happen.

I can't believe my first born son is 21 years old!

It doesn't seem like that long ago that David and I were heading to the hospital, scared to death, knowing that our lives would be changed forever.

The moment we laid eyes on Ted, we both agreed that you can't look into the face of a baby and not know that God is real.   No one but the Creator of this world, could create something so perfectly put together.   NO ONE!

And, our lives have never been the same!

A baby changes your life.    A baby makes the world LESS ABOUT YOU and more about the love of someone else. 

Ted has brought us so much joy over his lifetime.    We actually could not ask for a better son. 

He's loving and kind, smart and talented, sensitive and yet strong, genuine and so giving and his love for the Lord is HUGE, which is what makes him who he is.  

We are looking forward to this next season in Ted's life.   We have no doubt that God has great plans for him!


We love you A MILLION SKIES!

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Simple Day

Yesterday was one of my favorite kind of days.

The weather was perfectly warm, with an amazing breeze blowing.    Perfect weather to open the doors and let the breeze blow through the screens and into the house.

It was the first day in a week, that Collin and I didn't have to go anywhere. 

We enjoyed having conversation over one of his school books, which led to a deeper look into my child's heart and the rest of the day was spent catching up on Math and rehearsing lines for his upcoming drama at co-op.

Ted was home for part of the day and David came home for lunch and overall, it was just a great day.

It was the kind of day that brings back memories.    The kind of day that "smells" or feels like a day from the past. 

The warm weather and the simplicity of the day, took me back to a time when my boys were young and we had simple things to do - play outside, go to the park, read books, swim in the baby pool in the back yard and enjoy the day.

And, it made me think of what a contrast our days are now.  

I know I often write about my desire to go back to a simpler way of life, but it's because I sometimes feel like life now is a rat race.

I get tired of being on the go all the time.    I get tired of Facebook and appointments and dealing with companies and having to stay on the phone researching prices and insurance and various other things that make me feel like I need a secretary. 

I want to sit and read the stack of magazines that have come in the mail.

I want to go back to a simpler way of daily living, where the biggest quest of the day was making sure I took the meat out of the freezer in time for dinner.

I loved those days.

I'm afraid that season has passed and I'm now knee deep in the season of the teen years - running and going and doing and all things social! 

I'm not complaining completely.   I'm thankful for the opportunities that Collin has and I'm absolutely so grateful that I'm able to stay home and cater to his social life, church life, co-op life, etc.

But it doesn't hurt to dream.

And, it doesn't hurt to remember a simpler time and long for those days again.

And come they will.......but they won't be the same.

So for now, I'll treasure them when they come along and yet, rejoice for new opportunities.

God is at work, either way, and He gives us what we need, when we need it. 

For a look into a simpler life, read Joey and Rory's experience with stepping back and simplifying.  It might inspire you to change something.    It has definitely given me something to think about.

Have a great day and may God richly bless you along the way!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

What You Are Doing Matters to the Next Generation

Did you know that what you pass on to your children has eternal significance?  

Whether it's a talent, a skill, a passion or lack thereof, you are influencing someone for the next generation.   

Nothing like a little pressure, huh?

Until today, I had not thought about where my love for music came from or my love for writing, for that matter.    Although I've loved both since I was a little girl, I had no idea that my passions may have come from the generations before me.

But, now that I think back,  I can certainly attribute my love of music from my grandmother, who played the piano and sang.   I would sit on the bench next to her and watch her hands and listen to her voice and feel a passion well up inside me for the music. 

My love of writing could certainly be traced back to my mom, who taught me the great passion of reading.    Oh, I'm so thankful for that!  I can't imagine my life without the love of books!   My mom was a passionate reader; always moving from one story to the next and never without a book stuck in her purse.  

When you have stories flowing in and out of your days, you are always thinking of words and putting them into thoughts and stories of your own.   

I really don't know if you can truly be a good writer without the love of stories.

 When you share the passions of your heart, those that come after you will benefit from those passions and may even develop a love for them too.

 Such is the passing on of love......

The best way to pass on the importance of love, marriage, faithfulness and loyalty, is to demonstrate those things in your everyday life.

Your kids are watching and they are taking notes.

Everything you say, the way you treat one another, the respect, the love, the all makes an impact on your children and maybe even those around you who you aren't aware are watching.

  The love you have for home and family..........

 The gift you have of manual labor.........

And, most importantly, above all else...........

 The time and importance you give to faith.

Nothing impacts the future generation like a love for God.

If you have nothing else to pass on, at least pass on a passion for the living God!   That love will have the most influence on how your children handle life, loss, hardships and even impact the decisions they make in their everyday lives.

Without a passion for their creator, they will feel a void that will cause them to fill that hole with various worldly things that don't matter.     They will never feel whole without knowing the one who created them.

So, take time to think about what you are passing on.

It will have an eternal impact on future generations and it matters.

"But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, 
the purposes of his heart through all generations."
Psalm 33:11

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Don't Let Fear Keep You From the Ones You Love

Me, Jeff, my mom, my aunt

Sometimes you fear doing something and it turns out to be just the opposite of what you had in mind.

For the past four months I have feared seeing my brother, Jeff, who is suffering with his second round of cancer.

In November he went into the hospital and we truly thought those would be the last few days of his life.   But, stubbornness and strength go hand and hand, and he came home on hospice in December and has managed to find strength from some deep place we know nothing about. 

Living with cancer is a roller coaster.   Jeff literally has days when he can't even sit up in bed and other days when he finds the strength to drive an hour and 10 minutes down the road, to see his family.    He is superman.

As horrible as it sounds, I was afraid to see Jeff again because it breaks my heart.  

Just two years ago I watched my dad decline to a physical state which no one should ever have to reach.    I couldn't bear to see my brother in that same state.

I get weekly reports about him from my mom and we text and talk every now and then, but I had given up visiting him in person, because you just never knew what kind of day he would be having.  And, because we live 4 hours apart.   And, because I was scared to see him suffer.

So last week, when my mom and aunt asked if we could come for a family get-together, I was dreading it.   But, I knew I couldn't say no.

My mom and aunt's only cousin was in from Pennsylvania and if we could manage to all be together, it would be a great blessing for them.

 My aunt Susie, cousin Terry, and mom Nancy

So we rearranged our week, David took a few days off from work, and we drove to San Antonio to have our family get-together.

And, I was praying the whole time.

I also asked a few other people to pray for me.

The day after we arrived, Jeff was feeling up to driving over, which was an hour and ten minutes, one way.    The fact that he can drive, is miraculous to me, for so many reasons. 

He arrived in good time and we ended up having a wonderful day together.

At one point in the day, I remember feeling such a peace about how the day was going and it hit me.....people had to be praying.    You truly can feel the peace of God when people pray for you and I know that's what we were all experiencing that day.

We watched the NASCAR race with Jeff (which he LOVES), had hours of conversation, took family photos and even got to share a meal with him, which is something you never know about, because he literally can go days without feeling up to eating.    

We entertained him with some music.....

Steve, Collin, David

We ended the evening with lots of hugs, more family photos, and all the men oohing and ahhing over the engine in Jeff's truck.

Then we had to say good-bye and it was hard.

When you leave someone who is terminally ill, you just never know if it will be the last time or not. 

So, you have to be thankful for the day God has given.

And, you have to be thankful, that even though you were scared, you pushed through and survived what turned out to be a hundred times less scary than you expected.

I wouldn't have missed this trip for anything.

God is good.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

It's All About the Push and Pull

I'm coming to the conclusion that for every positive there is a negative and vice versa.

To put it simply, for every red candy in the jar, you have to eat a few green ones (yuck).

For every push - there is a pull.  

For every gift - there is a sacrifice. 

For every growth - there is pruning.

Basically,  for anything worthwhile - there is work to do.

As a wife, you have to put aside your own agenda, in order to bless your husband.

As a mom, you have to feel the tug of heart, as you push your kids into adulthood.

As a Christian you must quit worshiping SELF,  in order to worship the one who created you.

As a friend you must overlook someone's faults, in order to have a relationship.

Life is about give and take.

If you want to succeed at something, you must first work at something.

If you want to learn something, you must first admit that you don't know something.

If anything is worth anything, it must be worth the give and take, the push and pull.

Love is worth it.

People are worth it.

Growth is worth it.

God is worth it.

What's in your life today that is worth the push and pull, the give and take?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Great Weekend - Sunday

So......if Friday and Saturday weren't enough, Sunday was just as good, but in a different way.

Sunday, David and I got to watch Collin and Gabbi sing "It Is Well" in two services at Gabbi's church.

Needless to say, we were so proud!

Here's the video of them on Sunday morning:

(excuse all the sniffing and noise)

Gabbi and Collin could not have two more different styles of musicality.  

Gabbi is a serious young lady who loves musicals, the symphony, and much more sophisticated styles of music.   She just went to competition and performed in Italian, for goodness sakes!  

Collin is a self-taught country boy, who plays everything from classic rock to country and adds his own flare to every song he does. 

They could not be more apart on the style spectrum, but when you put them together, they compliment each other and they make an amazing team!

Recently, Gabbi's grandfather gifted her with some time in a recording studio and she asked Collin to accompany her on one song.   Once they started practicing that one song, they realized the great sound they were creating and Gabbi invited Collin to join her on two more songs.

They traveled a few hours up the road with Gabbi's mom, Melanie, and spent an entire day at the studio.   Needless to say, they had a blast and came out with an entire CD!

And, the results were amazing!   In fact, so amazing that Gabbi's grandfather has asked them to do another CD!  So, they are currently coming up with songs that they agree on; some featuring Collin and some featuring Gabbi.

I love the way they have learned to work together and compromise with one another over what songs to choose. It's a true team effort and a great friendship.

To watch your child, who was once so painfully shy, stand up in front of a congregation or a thousand people at the Civic Center (with The Altus Brothers) and play guitar or mandolin and sing, is just a great feeling.  

It's not just about the talent, it's about the growth.

I see my baby growing into a young man and I couldn't be more proud.

To listen to a few of my favorite songs from the first CD,

go HERE 

(I can't post the videos here for some reason).