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Come Visit my New Blog

We’re making some changes around here, and the first one is that you can now find my blog here. I hope you’ll drop in for a visit soon!

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Summer at Last

It’s been a long time. Too long. And I’ve missed blogging here and have really missed hearing from those of you who follow along. With the start of summer, I’m feeling inspired to begin again, so here goes!

Last Friday was the last day of school. I love that! Mason is officially a 4th grader and Maddie and 8th grader. Yes, I have a teenager since I wrote last and am still trying to wrap my brain around that. After school was dismissed early on Friday, we went to a Fun Day for a homeschool co-op that Maddie will be in next year. It was fun to meet up with some of the moms and kids while Maddie and Mason slipped and slided down the water slide and ate ice cream. Later that evening, My Man and I went to dinner (P F Changs) and enjoyed a wonderful time just being together and talking without interruption. Lovely!

Gerry worked this weekend, so we enjoyed time at home and then had the special treat of seeing Doug and Sue Twigger and two of their children (friends from Springfield) when they visited our church Sunday morning. I’ll post¬† picture when Sue sends one my way! We had lunch with them afterward and left the restaurant in a torrential downpour. The rest of the day was spent blissfully at home. Gerry took Mason to the pool while Maddie played with a neighbor friend and I explored the internet making summer plans. We closed out the day watching Extreme Home Makeover…like we always do on Sunday nights. This is the one night of the week that the kids get to eat in front of the tv…quite a highlight. They eat, I cry, Gerry makes fun of me…the perfect end of a restful day.

Here we are with the Twiggers at Mamacitas…

Gerry and I ventured over the our little town’s Main Street for a while on the morning of Memorial Day and then picked up three live oak trees and two roses, which will soon find a new home in our back yard. In case, you’re wondering why I pointed out that we bought “live” oak trees instead of dead ones, live oak is actually a kind of tree. Must have been short on creativity the day that tree was named!

The highlight of our Memorial Day was pulling our lawn chairs and grills out into the street along with our neighbors and sharing a mighty fine feast. We had a great time getting to know each one a little better and are already making plans to do it again. Jared and Kathy (my sister) and their kids came too with some uber-delicious lettuce wraps in tow. I’ll be adding that recipe to my stash for sure.

This was everything a weekend should be. Some sun. Some rain. Some rest. And a good time with family and friends. Thank you Dearest Lord for days like these.

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Summer in Review

School starts one week from tomorrow. This is the longest summer we’ve ever had, and we’ve loved every minute of it. The first three weeks were restful ones spent mostly at home and at the pool and recovering from our move, a round of sickness and the end of the school year. My Mom, my sister, Kathy, and her family arrived here on June 14. Everyone stayed with us for a few days, and then Kathy and her crew moved into their new home. My Mom was able to stay for two weeks, and we had loads of fun going to the pool and poking around doing not a whole lot of anything but really enjoying the time together.

July Fourth rolled around just after my Mom returned home, so we celebrated by meeting up with Kathy, Jared and the boys in the tiny town of Comfort. Their annual Independence Day parade is about as homespun and good as America gets. We loved all the homemade floats, tractors, fire trucks, hometown beauty queens (complete with beauty pageant waves) and especially the enormous truck bed loaded with military men and women for whom we all cheered. We closed out the day in Kathy and Jared’s driveway watching fireworks. And for everyone who insists on how hot south Texas is in July, I must mention that I had to go get a sweater after the sun went down!!!

A couple of days later our good friends, the Steelman’s (aka Steel-Babies) made the trek to south Texas. Here’s the run down of all the fun we had…

Monday: Arrival, unpack, house tour, catch up on life

Tuesday: Visited the King William Historic District and the Alamo; Waited out a downpour at the River Center Mall; Played dress up with all the cowboy/cowgirl clothes in one of the shops: Had lots of fun enjoying the beauty of the Riverwalk; Charlette and I made a stop at Cotsco because I needed some things and she’d never been there; She and I went to the Bible study I led this summer (I loved having her there!)

Wednesday: Spent the day at the Witte Museum, dinosaurs, Egyptian relics, Fiesta costumes, and the highlight, a special exhibit of Leonardo da Vinci inventions; Went home and ate tomato tarts

Thursday: Nine-and-a-half hours at Sea World on a beautiful sunny day…so fun; Ate at McD’s on the way home

Friday: Spent a restful morning at home; Went to The Shops at La Cantera, our favorite outdoor mall that is something like a cross between a botanical garden and a shopping center; Ate lunch at Pei Wei, the fast food version of P F Chang’s (good, but cheaper!); Went home and played around and ate tomato tarts; Took a picnic to the Guadalupe River State Park where we played in the water and enjoyed a perfect evening until sunset: Spotted some really big deer on the way out

Saturday: Go to the neighborhood pool and find out it’s (believe it or not) too cold for the kids; Go home for lunch; Spent the afternoon playing the Wii, talking and eating tomato tarts; Go to church together where we meet up with friends and enjoy a special service in which our new pastor, Randy Frazee, was commissioned

Sunday: Pack up early and say, “Goodbye.” We’re sad to see them go…and they took Maddie along. She spent another week with the Steelman’s and then a week with my Mom. It felt like she was gone forever.

Here’s a look at some pix from their visit…

Mason and I enjoyed the time together and he had a fun day with his friend, Caleb. Gerry, Mason and I spent an entire day at the Sea World water park and had loads of fun. Pretty soon we were packing for Springfield.

We were greeted to Springfield with an oh-so-good dinner at my Mom’s and spent most of our first full day there hanging out with my Mom. My sister, Kim, and her husband, Bill, arrived home late on Sunday, so we pretty much spent the rest of the week, hanging out with family and friends and eating…homemade ice cream, blackberry cobbler, fresh tomatoes, green beans, corn, fried green tomatoes…I could live on all that in that order! We loved being at church on Sunday and catching up with so many friends there. It was a fun trip but too short to see everyone we would have liked to have seen. But we were reminded again of how blessed we are to have such treasured relationships in Springfield…family and friends who love us and make our lives richer.

Mason’s buddy, Josiah, made the trip home with us. Kathy turned 40 two days after we returned home, so Maddie and I made a cake, and we all celebrated. We returned to the Alamo, Sea World and the Guadalupe and had a great time. Josiah made us pancakes almost every morning for breakfast and gave us lots of laughs. Mason was beyond thrilled to bring Josiah home to Texas and we can’t wait for him to come back…with the rest of his family. Here’s a picture of the dynamic duo…

Josiah made his maiden voyage flying home all by himself, and we began the countdown to the start of school on September 2. Some of our dear friends invited us to join them at the beach last weekend, so we drove to Port Aransas on Thursday evening, spent Friday on the beach and welcomed the arrival of more friends later in the day and then returned home that evening. It felt so good to be at the seashore where the awesomeness of the never ending waves reminds me again of God’s limitlessness. We loved sharing this day with people who have become so dear to us over the past year.

I spent this last weekend with four precious friends at a Beth Moore conference at the Alamodome. We talked, stood in line, made mad dashes to save seats, sang, prayed, listened, met new people and laughed until we were completely spent…and very happy. Beth is being used by God in so many lives, and this weekend her life intersected with mine, and I’m changed because of it. My friends, Rhonda, Julie, Kelly and Elisabeth, are wonderful, and I’m grateful to them for lots of laughs and an overflow of sincere love. Everyone should have friends like these.

On Wednesday of this past week, we celebrated a whole year here in Texas. Hard to believe but wonderful to see the ways God has been involved in our lives…giving us a home, bringing amazing relationships into our lives, using Gerry in ways we could not have imagined and now, having Kathy and her family close by, building friendships and a place of welcome and blessing for our children, providing me with opportunities to help write curriculum for our church and lead Bible studies. We’ve done so much more than I’ve listed here, but I figure all good blog posts much come to an end.¬† It’s been quite a summer and quite a year. Never would I have thought I’d live in south Texas, but now looking back over the past year, I see God’s hand more clearly and more powerfully than ever. He’s taught me, blessed me, and provided for me so much beyond what I would have ever expected.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)

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Fun Friends

I know I haven’t written much lately, but it’s not very exciting to write things like…

We unpacked seven boxes.

We hung a new shelf in our garage.

We donated several piles of things to clear them out of our lives.

All those things are true, but they don’t make for very interesting reading. And, uninterestingly enough, we’re still doing more of those things. However, we are also returning to life in the real world, so over the past few days we’ve been able to spend lots of time with some wonderful friends.

You met my friend, Rhonda, in an earlier post. She has three girls, Lyndy, Mallory and Alyssa. Alyssa and Maddie have become fast friends and love spending time together. Here’s a bit of what we’ve been up to this weekend.

I picked up Mallory and Alyssa from school on Thursday. They invited us over for a swim, so we took them up on it and enjoyed a wonderful time swimming and meeting their horses.

I picked them up at the end of the day on Friday too, and then went off to pick up Maddie and Mason from their school. The girls surprised my kids by jumping up from the back of the van with lots of squeals and giggles. Mason loves these girls as much as Maddie and never wants to leave whenever they are around. I must admit, they are some mighty fun girls. We met Rhonda and Lyndy at the local shaved ice place where we found cool treats to satisfy a parched tongue.

Afterward, we went over to their house (I think we might have invited ourselves, but Rhonda insists it was her idea) to watch the girls practice riding their horses. Mason rolled in the sand until it was hard to figure out where his orange shorts ended and his sand coated legs began. Here he is with Rocky, the friendly lab who’d rather lick you than bark.

Later that night, we all went to see Prince Caspian together. Great movie. I still think the first Narnia film is my favorite, but we’ll see this one again.

On Saturday, Mallory and Alyssa were riding in barrel races, so we decided to make like Texans and go watch them. It was fun and they were terrific. Both girls ran great times, and we loved seeing them do their thing. I, however, am going to have to learn a whole new language because I thought we were at a corral, and it turns out we were at an arena. Just chalk one up for giving a real Texan a few good laughs!

Don’t those girls look terrific. Well, they are, and we’re so glad to have them as our friends.

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Home

You might have guessed by my absence here that I’ve been busy moving, and you’re right! We spent our first night in our new home two weeks ago today and have not stopped unpacking since (except for a few days of flu thrown in for good measure). The final week before closing was complete madness…lots of trips to the house to check in on the final work…lots of cokes and tacos to keep the workers happy…and the list could go on an on.

We are so thrilled and so grateful to be in our home at last. It’s amazing how much more settled we all feel now that this part of the journey is complete. It’s been something like Christmas around here as we’ve unpacked things we haven’t seen for the past eight months.

I’ll post more pictures as we paint, unpack and settle in, but for now, here’s a peek…

The view from the front entrance…Walking through the font door and seeing that green paint on the wall in the back makes me feel at home.

The dining room…

The family room…I just picked up curtain rods for these windows yesterday. Hopefully, we get to hang them this weekend.

The breakfast area and kitchen…oh, I am so happy in my new kitchen!

Our very big and mostly empty bedroom…

Those are the most “together” rooms in the house so far. I’ll post more as we progress. Thanks for stopping by. Don’t you just love technology that allows us to stay connected like this?

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Fresh Grounded Faith

My friend Jennifer is special indeed. The first thing most people notice about her is that she is, in the words of her husband, “aesthetically pleasing.” That’s PhD talk for beautiful. And she is. The next obvious thing is that she is articulate, geniune and fun to be around. You could learn many things about Jennifer in a short conversation, and then somewhere along the way you’d learn something that surprises most everyone. She can’t see. Jennifer has unwittingly fooled many with her well focused eyes that sparkle with spirit…cashiers, waiters, new acquaintances and a girl on a plane who cursed her up one side and down the next for not returning the offer of a handshake!

Jennifer has written six books (and is working on her seventh) and criscrossed the country speaking and singing and defying all notions of what most think about blindness. She is a friend of purpose and deep loyalty, and I love her dearly, and last weekend I had the unexpected privilege of sharing a stage with her. She has begun hosting a series of regional conferences called Fresh Grounded Faith. You might remember the pictures I showed you of the first conference this past January in Waco. Well, the most recent event was in Richmond, Virginia, and Jennifer asked me to be the emcee.

Jennifer and I have done lots of things together over the years. We began our friendship by writing together. Then traveling together. Doing a lot of life together. Eating lunch in her bathroom together (in the middle of taping for the Billy Graham tv special). Sharing our love of chocolate together. Leading thought provoking classes called, Chick Chat, together. And much much more. But this weekend brought a new shared experience, and I was delighted to be able to tell the 1,000 or so women who gathered in Richmond about my friend. Those of you who know her know what I mean. And for those of you who don’t, I hope you’ll get to meet her one of these days soon.

For now, here’s a peek at our weekend…

Part of the FGF crew…Kathryn, me, Jennifer, Phil, Varyn and Mary Jo

Women focused on a lovely time of worship…

And then during some fun…

Jennifer, on stage, showing the world what God can do…

Jennifer and me sharing some laughs with the women…

Shelley Jennings, Jennifer, Phil and me…Shelley is a wonderfully gifted musician, worship leader and songwriter, Phil is Jennifer’s very own Dr. Phil (He’s her husband who has a PhD, and his name is Phil)! Sharing the time with the people was refreshing and thrilling all at once. They are deeply committed and it shows in their joy and passion. God was honored by their work this weekend, and I’m still basking in the glow.

My friend and me. Can you see why Dr. Phil says she’s “aesthetically pleasing?” Augustine said a friend is “one soul dwelling in two bodies.” So here we are, soulmates doing what God has given us to do. There is no greater joy.

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Rugged Beauty

A few weeks ago, my dear friend, Rhonda, invited the kids and I to spend the day with she and her girls at their family ranch. The ruggedness of this spectacular landscape is so different from the sights I’m used to seeing, and its beauty drew my thoughts to the incomprehensible wonder of the God I love.

It’s hard to grasp that the same mind who fashioned such magnificence out of these jagged cliffs and limestone rocks also imagined the the majesty of the seashore, the quiet splendor of the Ozark hills and the refined beauty of the English gardens. The original creative mind has surely inspired every other one that has followed. Whether an artist takes up a paintbrush, a chisel, a formless lump of clay, pen and paper or some other medium, he will always meet his match in the divine Creator who makes a canvas of the world we see and longs to engrave His wonderful name deeply on our hearts.

The day was perfect and was made even more so because of the delightful people who shared it with us. We ate lunch by the river, fished, swam, basked in the sun and loved getting to spend time with our friends. I have to tell you that the ranch’s caretaker is named J. R. A Texas ranch with a guy named J. R. running the show…How appropriate!

Rhonda has three girls: Lyndy (Princess), Mallory and Alyssa, and they are all such fun to be around. You’ll meet Alyssa in the pictures below, and I’ll be sure to share a photo of all the Wheeler girls with you soon…

Here’s Rhonda, the kids and our wheels for the day…no seatbelts, no doors and lots of fun.

I love the view in this picture. That’s Rhonda in the background and her daughter, Alyssa, there in the pink.

Mason fished and threw rocks most of the morning. We were a little concerned about losing some of those rocks since there seems to be a shortage!

Maddie and Alyssa…sweet girls…sweet friends.

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