Category Archives: Blessed!

Then

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Then

This past weekend I watched my youngest son as he stepped out onto the surface of a snow-covered frozen lake, one hand clutching the hand of the woman he loves and the other hand, deep in his pocket, clutching a tiny box that contained a promise for the future. John and I watched them as they laughed and skidded their way to the center of the lake, snow giving way to dark gray ice with a matching sky above. From fifty yards away, we saw him hand his camera to a bystander, turn back to his love, and drop to his knee. We knew it was coming (who didn’t?) and when this moment came, I fully expected to see his life flash before my eyes: my cheerful, happy baby with his thumb firmly embedded in his mouth…his blonde chili-bowl haircut…his way of happily commanding attention in a room full of large teenage football players. But instead of seeing a parade of pictures of Micah, images of our own marriage played through my mind.

This continued as the evening went on – as we celebrated with them, prayed with them, and heard their joyful phone calls to family and friends back home. We sat across a table from them in a restaurant and listened to them as they made their plans for their wedding party and wedding songs and wedding places.

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I could not recall some details of our own wedding planning – though I remember invitations and flowers and cakes. Watching Micah and Courtney, I could not help but think of the words to the song “Then”:

“We’ll look back someday, at this moment that we’re in,

And I’ll look at you and say –

‘And I thought I loved you, then…’”

The fun of setting up our own little home, just the way we liked it, with a monthly mobile home payment of $202.89. Buying and paying down my parents enormous Oldsmobile Delta 88 four-door sedan. Snuggling on Sunday afternoons on the old hand-me-down family furniture, cooking all kinds of John’s favorite things. Gaining weight. Figuring out how to pay for school, juggle family time during holidays, and learning the hard way about keeping the car tires aligned. The all-encompassing, overwhelming love for babies, sleep deprivation and desperate desire to protect them. Uncertainties and insecurities. Faithfulness. Are we making the right decisions? Losing our grandmothers. Where do we want our boys to grow up, make friends, go to school? Fourth grade performances, football practices, stomach viruses, good (and not so good) friendships, making time for a date so we can remember who we are together. School board campaigns, not-so-smart decisions, secrets kept and confessed and forgiven. High school graduations, birds leaving the nest one by one, figuring out how to help pay for college, job changes, hurting together as we watched our parents’ health decline. Grieving with our grown children in their losses and struggling with them in health issues. Losing my dad. The birth of beautiful grandchildren.

Bits of 32 years in a paragraph. But woven all through every struggle, triumph, joy, argument, excitement, achievement, loss, confession, physical change, emotional strain; through the brightest of days and the darkest of storms, there has been the deepest love that has grown exponentially. God has walked with us through every event, and we have praised Him and talked with Him every day. I’ve held the same hand for more than 32 years as hands larger than ours guided our steps. Only recently has my husband begun to show signs of age – deep laugh lines around his eyes and mouth, graying hair dignifying his already handsome face. 32 years ago, I would not have thought it possible to love him more than I did then. 32 years ago, I think I might have laughed to think he would be more attractive to me at 52 than he was at 20. But it’s all true.

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I never want to detract from the love that Micah and Courtney share now.  It’s real and deep and true. But I have an idea of what’s ahead for them, and it’s even better than they imagine. Experiencing life and love together, with the guiding hand of God, with His love and blessings raining down upon them in whatever they encounter – they have so much to look forward to! Praising God for His gifts of love, marriage, family, memories and blessings that flow from one generation to the next!

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“Help Me To Be”

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We are blessed to have sweet Nancy as a member of the church here in Dripping Springs. She is from Fort Worth, and, as a matter of fact, she and my mother knew each other as children, because Nancy’s mother and my Grandma were friends. Nancy has been blind since birth, and she has some other impairments as well. Her father and mother have both passed from this life.  Nancy now lives at Hill Country Care, the same healthcare facility where Grandma (who will be 102 on August 3) resides.

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Nancy is not bitter in the least about her condition. If you ask her how she’s doing, without fail she will reply “Hap-PY!” with decisive emphasis. She loves Lawrence Welk, and she LOVES to sing. She sings her heart out. Bless her heart (and you know, when a southern girl says “bless her heart”, something uncomplimentary might follow, but I mean this sincerely) she sings with gusto – the kind of gusto that makes small children turn around and stare.

We sat in front of Nancy yesterday, and as we sang the song “Purer in Heart” I couldn’t help thinking to myself that there might not have been a purer heart than hers in that assembly. As she warbled her way through the song, with some squeaks that might not have been pleasing to human ears – I thought that God’s heavenly ears must have been pleased with her pure, heartfelt worship.

In fact, there are probably other aspects of worship that aren’t pleasing to us that are pleasing to God. Looking back to Old Testament worship – sacrifice in particular, I wonder what it was like to be present as animals were slaughtered. It’s hard to imagine a pleasant scene – but numerous times it is described as a “sweet savour” or a “pleasing aroma” to God (Exodus 29:18,  Leviticus 1:17, 8:21 and many other places). I’m thankful it’s different today.

But who am I to have a different opinion than God? My opinion is unimportant. He is seeking people who will worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24). Nancy’s voice may not win any singing competitions, but she is not competing for any reward except for God’s favor. Shouldn’t that be the goal of every Christian?

One of Nancy’s favorite songs is “Amazing Grace”.  “I once was lost, but now am found – was blind, but now, I see.” I wonder if perhaps Nancy doesn’t see better than any of us.

My Silly Personal Pity Party

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I have a confession to make: today, I had a tiny bit of a personal pity party.

You see, I woke up with a headache – the kind that doesn’t go away. And John is out of town again. Then I didn’t push my coffee cup lid down hard enough, and I poured hot coffee down my chin (so it has been cherry red all day) and on my shirt (the one I wanted to wear) and it dribbled on my white pants (which I wore anyway.)  Then on the way to take Micah to school, someone a few cars ahead decided to be nice and let another car in…but it slowed us all down, and the teenybopper with the phone in her hand behind me didn’t slow down with us. By the time she did decide to slow down, I could see her uvula reflected in my rear-view mirror. THEN, Flores put beans on my taco, which (as Mike Rowe is fond of saying) was unfortunate.  And when I went to have a pedi to make myself feel better, the lady (who was very sweet, but I think we were each having a conversation that neither of us understood) rubbed some kind of lotion on my legs that I must be allergic to, and now I have these cute little red bumps.

And it was my birthday, and I had absolutely no plans. With anyone.

I felt sorry for myself for a while. I didn’t feel very special. Then I started feeling really ashamed of myself. I was humbled. And I started questioning myself.  How often have I made other people feel special on their birthdays? (Not very often, I’m afraid.) Have I been as thoughtful towards others as I should? (Not always.) Have I been self-absorbed, instead of serving others? (Yes.) How spoiled am I, to think everything must revolve around me? How silly, to feel sorry for myself when I have so much to be thankful for! How blessed am I, to have been made to feel special all of these 45 years I’ve been on this earth!

Every time I’ve looked at my phone today, I’ve seen birthday wishes from treasured friends everywhere.

The most wonderful man on the planet loves me. ME!

My family is happy and healthy.

I ate a Flores taco (which I haven’t allowed myself in two years.)

I enjoyed my pedicure (despite the bumps.)

I got a birthday call from Rig!

My dog just licked my elbow, which I take to mean “Happy Birthday” (or maybe, “may I please have the leftover chicken?”)

And Micah and I are about to sit down for another few episodes of LOST.

Life is good. I am blessed beyond measure. Thank you, God! Happy birthday to me!

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A Fire Pit Would Have Been A Whole Lot Easier!

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Several weeks ago, Jake asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I’d been wishing for a really nice fire pit like Alice has in her back yard. (Of course, her back yard also has 100-foot pine trees – with bears occasionally in them, summertime highs of 60 degrees, a salty ocean scent, and views of snow-capped mountains to go with her crushed rock fire pit surrounded by really cool log stools to sit on. And her back yard has Alice, too, but I can’t have EVERYTHING!)

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So, I told Jake I wanted a back yard fire pit surrounded by crushed rock with really cool log stools (except I don’t think our scrawny cedar tree stumps would have quite the same effect) and twinkly lights in the trees like Bonnie’s.

Off we went to Lowe’s, where John was in hog heaven dreaming of all of the projects he could accomplish with unlimited time, patience, and money. He and Jake started pulling out bricks and stacking them in a circle, calculating how many they’d need and how high the pit should be and what color would look best and all of those boring details. It started looking like some serious money was going to go into a project I thought would cost MAYBE $75.

While we were there, I got to looking at tile and thinking “if we’re gonna spend THAT much money, we might as well spend a little more and get something that I REALLY need and want.” Our house was built in 1994. Vinyl flooring was standard in most kitchens, and I also made the most unfortunate choice of carpet in the dining room.

Carpet. In the dining room. With three boys. And their friends. And Joshua. And Grant Garrett spilling an entire plate of spaghetti sauce. And who knows how many football boys who didn’t ‘fess up to dripped pizza roll sauce. And several dog accidents. Need I say more?

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So, we decided to bite the bullet and pull the trigger and take the bull by the horns. Some expressed doubt (*cough*Doug*cough*) and others said things like “man, that killed me!” (*cough*Jonas*cough*) but those same people loaned tools and advice and space in a dumpster and a “YOU CAN DO IT” pat on the back (thanks Jonas! And Tim! And Darrell! And Bill! And Doug!)

And our kids. They were amazing. I can’t even say how much work they did – and did with a smile (except for the times that John and Jake butted heads because they are too much alike…) Jordan was a whiz with the tile saw and all of the angles that had to be figured. Jake muscled through that stubborn vinyl down to the bitter end, and Alyssa did a lot of dirty work with an iron, boiling water and a scraper. Erin was a grout master and always has vision for projects like this. Micah willingly helped with everything. I can’t say that the project itself was FUN, but it was FUN to be with all of our kids and laugh and make memories with them. John is a fabulous handyman – I’ve always admired the way he tackles a project, and he does things right the first time.

Yet…the project isn’t completely finished. I still have to seal the grout. John has to put new baseboards down. The carpet seam has to be re-stretched and tacked down. Our stove is still on the deck and fridge is still in the living room. There are still about 6 tiles that need to be laid in the pantry. And if this project is like some others in our history, it might be 2016 before some of these things get done. 😉

For those of you who have read this far and are wondering – what does this have to do with weight loss? Well, for one: laying tile for 8 hours earns you 35 points plus!

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And for another: my blog is about struggle, determination, and balance and I guarantee that those were all involved in this project.

But I have to laugh when I think of what Jake said a couple of days into the endeavor: “A fire pit would have been a WHOLE lot easier.”

Here are some “before” photos. Pardon the mess and don’t judge! 😉

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If you’ve ever wondered what’s underneath your carpet…here it is:

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SICK!!!

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And in case you wonder what you might find under your stove that hasn’t been moved in 17 years…here ya go:

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We had to cut the carpet to divide the living room from dining room. I was at work during this “no-turning-back” moment, so the guys handed off the scary job to Alyssa. 🙂

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Then, the really dirty work started. John thought the vinyl would come up easily. NOT. We hacked away at it, scraped, beat it, screamed at it, and seriously thought about TORCHING it. In the end, we had to sit a hot, steamy iron directly on every square inch of vinyl until it heated enough to be pulled away from the paper backing and adhesive below it. Then we had to pour boiling water on top of THAT mess and wait for it to soak in, then scrape it away with scrapers and chisels and any other sharp-edged tool we could find. This was HARD, and SWEATY, and SLOW, and AWFUL. Just looking at these pictures makes my stomach hurt. 😉

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My glamour shot: I was tired. It was late. 🙂


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No yuppie women here! 🙂

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Hanes, anyone?

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HINT: If you have to ruin some irons, get them from Goodwill for $3.99.

Well, we finally got the floor uncovered, but found that the builders had spray painted the trim on the concrete floor so we worried that the paint would have to come up before the thinset would adhere. Thankfully – Bill said it would be fine as it was.

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Next John “popped a line” of chalk to get a straight line to start thinking about laying the tile. We had originally thought we’d lay it in straight vertical (or horizontal?) rows but John’s friend Darrell (who does a lot of tile work) said that while laying it diagonally would mean more cuts and more work, we would like the results better.

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The first bit of mortar (or whatever it’s called…) in the kitchen/dining room is laid…

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Awww.
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Lots of cutting and figuring:

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2013-01-03 001 2013-01-03 002(Kim would be proud that John knows how to use a quilting tool.) 😉

2012-12-31 002 2012-12-31 005Of course it had to be nasty, cold and rainy while this project was going on…

And THIS picture was taken after we got home from the New Year’s Eve party, about 1 a.m.:

2012-12-31 001 2012-12-31 006It started to take off!

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John didn’t want to lay the tile diagonally in the laundry room because there would’ve been too many cuts and wasted tile. So we decided to put a fun transition piece between the kitchen and laundry (and also between the game room and dining room.)

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This is my favorite part!

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No BUTTS about it…this was a tough project! 😉

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Had to crawl through a few windows…

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And make a few tricky moves:

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We made a *few* Home Depot runs…

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And the grouting started. Isn’t she pretty?

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John did a lot of “figgerin'” in his head. Which is funny to look at but is really smart, because as your momma and daddy always told you… “If you do it right the first time, you don’t have to do it again!”

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The LAST TILE! (Well, except for those few little ones in the laundry room.) Hint: save the last pieces for the ones that won’t show (under the stove, etc.) because by then you almost won’t CARE what it looks like. 😉

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Grouting the kitchen/dining:

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MESSY.

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And the (almost) finished result!

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I sure do love these people!

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Thanks for letting me share! I know it’s certainly not the biggest or most amazing or fantastic project, but we are pretty excited about it! A fire pit may have been easier, but this is A WHOLE LOT BETTER!

No Regrets

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While digging through cabinets looking for our missing Christmas DVD’s, John discovered our old video camera and some tapes. They contained footage of old Christmases, Jacob’s *stellar* performance as Daddy Warbucks in his 8th grade musical, and Jordan’s summertime 7 on 7 football games.

Plenty of laughs. There were Jordan and Jacob in 1998, with their arms around each other, standing on the hearth singing “Joy to the World, ‘cuz Barney’s dead…they barbecued his head…” (Wow, really? Where did they come up with such violence??) Micah’s statically-electrified bedhead hair flying around on Christmas morning as he pushed his new Fisher Price Toddler Trike around the living room. John and me, both at least 50 pounds heavier, which didn’t exactly make us laugh but DID give us extra incentive to head to the gym tonight. 🙂 And there was my Dad at one of Jordan’s middle school basketball games, with considerably more hair on his head.

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I found myself swallowing tears too, and wondering why. It’s just so bittersweet. At the time, you might not think much about your little boys throwing their arms around you with unrestrained happiness and unfeigned love. It’s easy to take little things like that for granted.

But I got to thinking about how much more “sweet” we have than “bitter” – and how thankful I am that God gave us a handbook to guide our steps. Thankful for a husband who led our home spiritually and emotionally – and in every way. Thankful that our memories are a blessing and not a curse. And thankful that we don’t have serious regrets about our boys.

Food log….been kinda iffy on that for the last week or so, for obvious reasons. I think I’m going to start posting a screen shot of my Weight Watchers log instead of re-typing it here. Starting tomorrow. Because I’m regretting the food choices of the last week. 🙂