Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Fireflies, Cicadas and Humidity- Hello Texas!

credit:flickr.com/people/ikewinski/9

I have lived in Texas for nine weeks. I have been nesting here in my new home for almost six weeks. (The first 3 weeks were spent at our son and daughter-in-law's home. Thanks kids!) This born and bred California girl has been enthralled with some beautiful firsts

My only previous experience with fireflies or lightening bugs was on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland! Tiny pulsating lights hanging from a dark ceiling do not do justice to the SIMPLE MAGIC of real fireflies! 

OH MY GOODNESS! Fireflies are not flies at all. They are a species of beetle with BUTTS THAT LIGHT UP to communicate with the opposite sex! Come on! God must have been having a silly sorta day when this idea came up. The male firefly cruises around flashing a specific pattern to announce his availability to mate. An interested female will reply with the same pattern so that he can find her. 

An early form of texting? But beware the habit of some female fireflies that will flash back a matching signal in order to entice the male of a different subspecies in...and then the "femme fatale firefly" will eat him! 

There are even two places in the world where a mass SYNCHRONIZED flashing occurs; Southeast Asia and Smokey Mountain National Park here in the U.S. in the late spring. Don't want to speculate on what's happening there! 

My first lightening bug sighting was in Writer Son and Sassy Bride's backyard during the first few nights we were here in Texas. I literally jumped up and clapped my hands! MAGICAL I tell you! I loved sitting out there every evening watching them. Butts that light up! Is that a goofy creation or what? 

Another fascinating first for me has been hearing the sound of cicadas in the trees. Wow! I have read many novels full of descriptions that include "the song of the cicadas" and in my mind I just translated it to the sound of crickets at night. But no, this is totally a different "song"! 

As I tried to describe it to Rocker Son who still lives in California, I said that it sounds like hundreds of rattlesnakes in the trees shaking their tails in warning. Not a pleasant picture at all, but still pretty accurate in my opinion. It is an amazing sound that just fills the air at certain intervals. It was nearly constant in our first weeks here. 

Now I hear them in the trees behind our house, but it stops and starts with crazy abruptness. How do they all know when to stop? Is it even a lot of cicadas or can just one or two make such a big sound? I have no idea. I DO know that they are not a pretty creature....but neither are fireflies. Except for their butts that light up. That still makes me giggle!

The third FIRST for me has been the opposite of a beautiful first as mentioned in the first paragraph. The humidity here in Texas caught me off guard. Yes, everyone told me about it...but I did not believe it. I have spent time in Fiji and in the Philippines. Both have very high humidity. The thick moisture in the air in Fiji caused men and women to tuck dirty "sweat rags" in their waistbands in order to dry their faces off every once in a while. I now have a small collection of hankies in my purse at all times! 

I am still stubborn (and old) enough to continue to put on make-up when I leave the house.  But I am not sure why I do this. It melts within minutes, especially when I am getting into a hot car. I get in and FRANTICALLY start hitting buttons and directing the air conditioning at my face! 

I remember entertaining visitors in California from out of state and they would talk about how our heat was a "dry heat". NOW I GET IT! Texas has an extremely WET HEAT! The numbers on the temperature gauge or the weather man's chart mean nothing without considering the humidity that accompanies it. We had tons of 100 degree days in Cali that are NOTHING like a 100 degree day here! NOTHING! In my former town we had heat-waves each summer that reached 116! BUT IT WAS A DRY HEAT!! I so get it now. 

But I am becoming accustomed to it. Really I am. Now I know the secret. Texas is not an outdoorsy kind of lifestyle. It can't be...at least not in the middle of the day. We hop from our air-conditioned homes to our air-conditioned cars to the air-conditioned stores. Otherwise everyone waits until evening to hang around outside. The Hubs and I have an old habit of sitting outside in the early morning hours and again at night. We did it in California and it works perfectly here in Texas. 

So the Texas education of this California girl continues. Fireflies, cicadas and humidity were the first lessons. After only 9 weeks here, I have much to learn. But it feels full of promise and new possibility. Still don't care for guns or football and I seriously doubt THAT is ever going to change. I have found that people are people no matter what state or country you call home. Kind people, mean people, gentle people and harsh people...every flavor can be found everywhere. Small town or big city, we figure out ways to live together and look for the good in one another. 

At least that's what I plan to do. 

And I hope to jump up and down clapping every single time I see a firefly flashing it's butt. (Speaking of jumping up and down....I also "met" fire ants for the first time too! More about that next time.) 


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Friday, August 15, 2014

Shaking My Head


Hi Friends,

This is going to be one of those weird posts where I really have no idea what I am going to say, but I feel a need to communicate with you. Because it's been too long. Even though I have had SO MANY ideas of things to say....for some reason that seems to make me freeze up...and say nuttin'. Makes no sense, but there it is.

Before opening my laptop just now I stepped outside for a bit and took the photo you see above. 

When we walked through this house for the very first time, we had already bought it. Dependent upon a video by my son and the realtor pics, we knew it was to be our new house in our new state. (Moved from CA to TX) 

On that first and only walk-through, I stood in the master bedroom and my hand went to my mouth as I cried upon seeing this swimming pool through the bedroom window. I had seen the pictures, but photos can lie. Today we have been in this home for exactly 28 days...and I am still tearing up as I look at this beautiful swimming pool in MY backyard! 

This entire house fills me with awe and profound thankfulness. There are so many big and small touches that bless me and make me whisper "Thanks Father" throughout the day. 
  • I adore the wood floors that are so warm and cozy and gentle under our feet. 
  • I smile as I close a closet door or a kitchen drawer and it shuts solidly and silently.
  • My heart is blessed to lean over my own bathroom sink...all mine...he has his and I have mine!
  • I take a deep breath and automatically relax when I sit down in the small room that I grandly call "The Library". I am only decorating it with peaceful and contemplative items. My very own writing and reading room. Such extravagance!
  • When we get home from buying groceries, I am giddy as I stow them all away in the expansive pantry closet in our kitchen. PEOPLE, I STILL HAVE EMPTY KITCHEN CUPBOARDS! In our last home, which I LOVED, I called my kitchen cupboards a jigsaw puzzle, because it took skill to find the perfect spot for each thing and patience to get things in and out of the limited cupboard and drawer spaces. Think Jenga.
  • The lovely tile floors in the bathrooms and kitchen and the granite counters make me feel humble to have such lavishness in my life. 
  • I have two empty rooms that will be welcoming guest rooms in the days to come hopefully. We were even surprised to discover a pretty Murphy Bed in one of the guest rooms! 
  • I can easily envision a big rustic farmhouse style table in the now empty dining room. We always eat in front of the TV, but want to have a lot of company and is there anything better than a riveting dinner discussion that goes long beyond the meal? 
  • BUT.....
THE SWIMMING POOL.

I can't really say what it is about having this "concrete pond" for my own. It makes me shake my head in wonder. How can it be? Will I wake up from this? As the bills begin to arrive, are we going to regret what we have done? Is the fun going to go down the drain? 

Years and years ago my husband came home to a couple of garden hoses stretched out in the backyard in the shape of a pool. I had seen an ad in the paper for a free pool! Someone did not want their pool and all we had to do was go get it and dig a hole for it. (It must have been a molded fiberglass thing or something.) It was completely impractical for our yard and lifestyle. BUT I wanted it so badly I could SEE it. It did not happen. It made no sense to do such a thing.

What made my eyes fill with tears when I saw this pool in "person"? This pool is not just your ordinary rectangle concrete hole in the ground filled with water. There is no diving board that would have made me a nervous wreck to have kids near. There is no DEEP deep end. The deepest it gets is 6 feet. I love deep water and have no fear of it for myself. I was always the last one back on the boat when swimming in the ocean. But with family around I want to be able to relax and enjoy our time together. 

But this pool is beautiful and contemplative and serene. It is the kind of pool that leads you to relax and talk to God. It curves, there are no straight lines. The tiles around it are so pretty. They look like old tuscan stepping stones. There is a little waterfall, for goodness sake!! I am shaking my head as I write this out. Serenity....this home leans in that direction a lot, now that I think about it. 

I would have been pleased with an ordinary pool. Not just pleased, but thrilled! I recall sitting on a bench with the Hubs in a dog park in California. He had just said these words..."Well I guess you have to really decide if you want a swimming pool or not. Because that will make a big difference in our house hunt from now on." 

I had not considered it as a serious possibility until he said that to me. I did not give an immediate answer. The upkeep on a pool is a pretty big deal. What if I turned it green and it cost tons of money to fix it? What if it springs a leak or crumbles beneath our feet? Yes, I took some time to think about it. MAYBE three minutes!! Umm YES, I want a pool!

BUT such a pretty and serene pool was not even in the picture. Just having a pool that I could use every single day was a wild fantasy that I thought we had passed somewhere along the way as we aged out of the millionaire possibilities. (At 25 we all think it could happen some day, right?)

Here I am...in a home beyond my dreams...near part of my family...expecting a grandson in a few months...being loved by a hardworking husband...have a goofy dog and a few writing jobs here and there. 

I am happy. I am shaking my head at so much goodness in my life. After some yucky years that included intense sacrifice, food stamps, funerals and hospitals. I am happy. I am shaking my head in wonder. How did I get here? It wasn't anything I did or said. It was not great faith or perseverance on my part. 

But now I have hope....the missing ingredient that makes all the difference in the world. I am looking at this word I have just typed...hope. To follow this stream of thought will make this post much too long, so I will stop here. Hubs just arrived home from work with some flowers to put in the birdbath by the pool. Oh my goodness, this life!!!

Thanks for caring!



By the way, Layla now has free reign of the backyard. Hubs blocked off the potential escape routes and she is no longer on a chain! She is very curious about the pool but has gone no further than this first step you see in the pic. 

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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Random Journal Day: Sometimes God Does Not Make Sense, But that is Fine With Me!

I finally unpacked the box that contains My Precioussss.....
I am joining up with the Random Journal Blog Hop today after skipping it for a few months. (Better late than never, right Dawn?) To read other journal keeper's entries click on over HERE. Please feel free to link your own Random Journal Day post too!

My journal entry for Feb. 2, 2014...

"What kind of home do I really want in TX? It's been hard to answer this question because Hubs wants NO yard work at all. No mowing, trimming or weed fighting. I want room for Layla and some kind of access to a pool. 
So this has led us to small condos in senior living type places. Some are cute, but most are ugh!
What I really want is a normal size house with low-maintenance yards or a place that cares for the yards for you. I want a pool within walking distance and large open areas inside for family and creativity. Big windows and sunshine.
I don't think my wish list is possible, but there it is. I do not want a tiny claustrophobic old-folks place that feels like an apartment. Small is not bad, but it must be open and feel spacious. I want Grandma and Grandpa's house to be inviting and comfortable, not a place you sit on a couch and watch the clock until it is time to go."

This morning I am sitting in an amazing 9-year-old home that far exceeds my wish list. MY swimming pool is definitely within walking distance because it is in my backyard! The main rooms are large and spacious and I can't wait to have a crowd of people here to enjoy it. Our new home is the total opposite of a tiny claustrophobic granny apartment. 

Our only compromises are that the inside is not sunshiny and Hubs does have to do a LITTLE bit of trimming to keep the yard nice. But the mowing is so tiny compared to our corner lot in CA. I do miss a sun-filled kitchen in the morning....but that is easily solved by taking my coffee cup out to the backyard and getting some sun as I look at the pool and the forest of trees behind our house. It is all good, my dears, all good! 

To those that are happy for our new circumstances and say that I deserve it, I might nod, but... no. I may mumble something about God being good. But He was good back when we were on food stamps for nearly a year, two years ago. God was good and loved me even when I scribbled this in my journal...

"I am in the worst and longest depression ever in my life. I can't see why we even live. I have no life basically. I am too chicken to get a job and help Hubs keep our home, all our friends have moved away. The kids do not need me. Gonna have to get rid of the stupid dog because we are not active enough for her. I am 30 pounds overweight and feel awful all the time. 
I hate this life! It is empty, hollow and have no clue how to reach God. I can conjure Him up if I try hard, but He doesn't stay. A good friend is actually giving me a monthly money gift and still I am miserable. It is not about the money, it's about having a reason to get up in the morning. Feel like a such a spoiled brat." August 2012

I honestly have no clue why I have been blessed in this way today. You may be in a home you hate and a town you cannot wait to leave. You are serving God, being kind to those around you and working hard to just survive. You may feel like you are in a deep dark hole with no escape route that you can see. I know that place and it is awful. 

I can say that God is still good. I will not say that He has placed you in that situation to refine you or make you into a better christian. I don't think He works like that. Yes, He CAN and may USE the circumstance to make you stronger, but I believe it hurts His heart to watch His children suffer. 

God does not hurt you to help you. 

But God will help you when you are hurting. 

A blog entry two months after the August depression entry...

"Father - I ran back to you today...back to your open arms and your indulgent gentle smile. You KNOW me. You have watched and listened and you DO care about my life, my heart and my hurts. In my blog this month I have been intentionally going after JOY because I feared that it was gone forever. 
It was so hard at first. How can I write about JOY every day when it feels so far away? But soon my spirit caught up with my words and it became real in me once more! 
I NEED You. Not self-talk and mind games....YOU. I am dependent upon You Father. In the depths of my grieving and sorrow and depression, I thought about wishing I could just die and be done with it all. But these last few weeks have been a total turn around from that kind of thinking.
We are still lonely and have no clue what to do next or where to move, but a sense of hope is rising and with the hope came a sense of YOU near us. My dear friend Dawn sent me the devotional "Jesus Calling" and it is sweetly helping me and challenging me each day. Thank you Father for these words from you. I am clinging to them for my life!" October 2012

My friend, as you read this, I hope that it begins to chip away at the tough or negative place that your heart and thoughts may be lingering. God is good whether we "get" Him or not. I still believe with all of my heart that He hurts when we hurt. That today as He watches what the world is doing to itself in so many horrible situations, His heart is torn and full of pain. (I will not try to answer the "Then why doesn't He just FIX it" question. It is too big for this blog.)

I had given up on the idea of living in a "dream house". I honestly was content to downsize at this stage in my life. I was not grumbly about it because it made sense. I am a practical person, married to a practical man. BUT for some, still unknown reason I am sitting in a much larger home with a gorgeous pool and trickling waterfall in the backyard, behind our brick home is a thick forest of trees and a creek. And it cost less than our former, smaller house. It makes no sense at all. No sense at all!

But I am not going to argue about it! If it is a gift from God, I will not turn it down. If it is just a quirk of the economy in different states, fine by me. I do not feel any obligation to make it make sense. I don't feel like this blessing requires me to "use it for God's glory" in order to deserve this bounty. There are no strings attached. I am going to bask in this surprising gift and enjoy this new life we have stumbled into. 

God is good. Fact. 


A few BEFORE pics while moving in.








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Saturday, July 12, 2014

First Impressions of Texas From a California Girl


Photo by Me

I was born in San Francisco, California and in all of my 59 years I have never lived more than 2 hours from my city of birth. My homes have always been in the small towns surrounding The City. Until now. Would you care to hear some first impressions of Texas from a small-town California girl? 

I did not want this first post to be all about the famous hot weather of Texas......I have convinced myself that it is all a head-game. If I do not expend too much energy "fighting" the heat, it will become my new normal a bit sooner..... but to address the intense weather of Texas is simply inescapable.

WARNING: The following post may not be considered a "proper" conversation for a genteel church lady, especially in "mixed company". But you must remember that I am a recovering church lady, and I am breaking free from the social restraints about what is the acceptable and correct behavior of a "lady." (Especially a CHURCH lady.) 

You've been warned.

You know that dark colored band of sweat that forms around the crown of an old cowboy hat? It looks manly and adds a subtle character to a true working cowboy's headgear. It does not look disgusting at all, does it? Well, I have learned that there are other, more hidden bits of clothing that gain that same band of sweat-stain. I never knew or experienced that before! And yep, it IS disgusting looking.  Eeeew!

The humid Texas heat has also given me a new signature move that I have noticed the last few days. I find myself raising my arms away from my sides in an upward motion. Similar to a chicken-dance kind of thing. Hopefully I will get over this need to separate my arms from sticking to my sides and I will learn to just let them be glued together like a straight-jacket. 

~ And then there is the issue of make-up. I have always worn the bare minimum of make-up. Growing up in the era of hippies and "the natural look" led to a habit of wearing very little on my face. This is a good thing, because here in the Texas heat, what little I am wearing slides right off my face within the first 20 minutes of being outside! I am "glowing" all the time, but cannot use the excuse that my pregnant daughter-in-law can use. Need to do some research on using powdered foundation or liquid....though the powdered BECOMES liquid all by itself! I may be leaning toward forgetting the whole effort. BUT, that is probably not going to happen because I still have a lot of proper church lady in me.

~ But my main first impression of Texas is that it is quite beautiful and very friendly! I will admit that the California snob in me expected an entirely brown, flat landscape full of people who hated Californians. Not true at all. Although some are surprised at our choice to leave Cali for Texas, like our new banker. He said that he seldom heard of anyone who would want to leave CA for TX. He agreed that family is an important reason to move here and we gained his blessing. I mean he LITERALLY blessed us as we left. 

Okay, now I am remembering all those skits about the South, where women say "Well, bless her heart", when they really mean just the opposite! But I want to believe that the "bless you's" that we have heard from random store clerks and waiters are sincere. 

We DO feel very blessed...to be in Texas...to be near Writer Son and Sassy Bride...to be just days away from moving into a beautiful home WITH A POOL! (Sorry to keep mentioning it, BUT OH MY GOODNESS!) We are also enjoying this fun get-to-know you time with Sassy Bride's family! I am so thankful for the warm (HOT!) welcome they have given us. Everyone is so excited for us and happy to have us here. (Future pool invites COULD be involved. Haha!) 

Thanks for coming along with me on this journey into a new land...more to come in future posts. 

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Who Would Buy a House Sight Unseen?

What do you do when so much has happened, so many feelings have been felt, so many tears and chuckles have been released, so many muscles have been worn out, so many lists have been checked off  AND SO MANY miles have been crossed that you just do not know where to begin?

All morning, here in Writer Son and Sassy Bride's cute Texas home, my mind has bounced around various ideas to convey this slightly surreal moment the Hubs and I are in right now. As mentioned back in my post Suddenly At Last, the activity of the last several weeks has been crazy. Little did I know while writing that post, that it was just the BEGINNING of the crazy.

I began packing for this move nearly 9 months ago. I knew we WANTED to move. I knew we NEEDED to move, and I knew WHERE we wanted to move. But the HOW to do this big transition was beyond both of us. Hubs did not have a job in the new state. We had lived in that CA home for 19 years and I had NEVER lived more than an hour from where I was born!!

So I packed little things that no one would notice. Hubs did not even know what I was doing. But I theorized that when you want to sell a home, it needs to be clutter-free and impersonal so that the buyer can picture themselves in the home. We had a garage sale, took a few things to the goodwill, donated books to the local library. Still with no clue how to bring about the change we were beginning to feel was desperately needed.

Want to know what else I began doing so long ago? As an avid Internet lover it was natural to begin checking out the homes and apartments for sale in the town we wanted to live in, near our son and his wife. It became a bit of an obsession. I have Pinterest Boards bursting with Real Estate pictures and homes and yards and sights to see in the state of Texas.

Every once in a while I would show the Hubs a cute place that I thought would suit us. At the same time we told ourselves how silly it was to be "house shopping" like this because who in the world would actually buy a home long distance? We knew we could not do anything about it even if we found the PERFECT HOME.

But still we looked and pinned and forwarded.

And prayed.

Nothing big and dramatic. Our faith is real and deep, but more low-key than it used to be. My main prayer was more like ...."Um help please?"

And then THE CALL CAME. My husband's supervisor had contacted the supervisor of the same company in Texas and he had told them about Hubs and the Texas store had an opening for him and wanted him!!!

Yay and much rejoicing happened.

They wanted him there in 7 weeks!! GULP!

Could we ACTUALLY DO this?

We did. It has been a very busy, stress-filled 7 weeks, but we worked on our house, showed our house, sold our house, found a moving company that we hope did a great job (Don't know yet!), and packed up the dog and 3 weeks worth of clothes and took 4 days to drive from CA to TX. Bam! (Wow, the word "Bam" makes it sound so so easy!)

The plan was to stay with Writer Son and the adorable Sassy Bride (who is carrying Little Sprout) for 3 weeks until our new home was ready for us.

Oh yah, did I tell you that we fell in love with a house online in the middle of all that crazy packing, selling and cleaning? I had seen it before and was given the sad news that it was already in the process of being bought, so I crossed it off my list. But on my Pinterest Board it still said in all caps...."I WANT!".

Our amazing Texas Realtor (who happens to be the DIL's little Sis) called the place a few days later and discovered quite by "accident" that the sale had fallen through and it was not even re-listed yet....It was AVAILABLE!!!  So now things moved into high gear. Hubs and I would be taking calls and emails about the buying procedure while wrapping dishes in newspaper and stuffing everything we owned in box after box after box. AT THE SAME time the sale of our CA home was going through ups and downs and obstacles and victories!! ACK! We did not sleep well, as tired as we were. And Hubs was going back and forth to work through all of this. He took the last week off and said that staying home to help with the packing etc was more exhausting than being at work!

SO YES, WE BOUGHT A HOME LONG DISTANCE! The realtor pics were amazing. But aren't they all? (Well actually NO they are NOT all amazing. I am shocked at some of the ugly pictures I saw! Clean your kitchen people!) We had Writer Son, Sassy Bride and SB's mom walk through the house with a video camera. That was very helpful and we still loved what we could see of it.

With fear and trepidation we started the buying process on a house we had never seen in person. At each step we assured ourselves that it was not too late to back out. That it is a PROCESS.

Oh this post is getting so long....

During our 4 day road trip out here we took calls about the money from house #1 being wired in time for house #2. It was an hour by hour race to make it work. We would be enjoying the scenery and feeling like we were on vacation, then a call would come and it was back to business. (Layla, the dog was a great traveler by the way. I was so worried!)

We arrived in Texas last Sunday. We spent Monday chasing the money, talking to bankers, brokers, real estate people etc. Tuesday we tried to see the house but an appointment had to be made with the current owners and it failed. Wednesday we got word that the sale was ours if we wanted it and that night (last night) we finally walked through the house for ourselves. And yes, we wanted it.

I was (am) enchanted by the neighborhood first, then the wonderful entryway of the brick home was perfection. Each room made us all sigh and exclaim over the details. It is comfortable and elegant at the same time. As I stood in the master bedroom and peeked out the window to the backyard, my eyes filled with tears and the Hubs put his arms around me. A gorgeous swimming pool. I HAVE A POOL!! I'd seen the pics and the video, but the reality was even better! I NEVER THOUGHT that I would have a home like this. It is beyond my dreams....because my dreams have always been pretty small.

I am SO THANKFUL that God did not decide to fulfill my small dreams. Those first Pinterest boards of homes? They were all tiny condos and apartments meant for 2 and a dog. I made sure they each had access to a local pool. I knew I wanted to be able to be in water if I was going to live in the heat-famous Texas.

But God simply SKIPPED OVER those tiny dreams and Pins. He went above and beyond. And I've done nothing to deserve such an act of grace.....maybe that's why it is called grace. My heart has been so tired and grumpy and full of doubt. And HE GAVE ME a gorgeous pool with a waterfall and hot tub! What??

Still trying to figure this out....I'll get back to you.

In the meantime......





My first view of our new home as we drove up to it.



Thank you dear friends for the ongoing encouragement and prayer, your words have meant so much in this odd season of our life.
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Monday, June 16, 2014

Suddenly....At Last!


Wall Art by Mike at Borderlands


There is a big black garbage bag full of  lotions, shampoo, empty lipsticks, old make up, barrettes, squeezed out toothpaste tubes, broken combs and half-empty sunscreen bottles on the floor of my bathroom right now. I step around it and it doesn't even bother me. In fact, it makes me feel good...accomplished. 



There are framed pictures leaning in stacks against the living room wall. There is a paint brush in my kitchen sink and the cupboards hold just a few dishes. Our guest room is full of cardboard boxes 3 levels high. I am looking at a roll of bubble-wrap in the living room that promises to be 200 feet long. Near the front door are containers with music CDs marked "donate" and "garbage." My clothes closet has just enough to be packed in suitcases for the next 3 weeks. The tall bookcases are bare and the garage is becoming emptier each day. 






Our realtor and a repair man were here about an hour ago and Layla (our disgruntled dog) cried with self-pity from her crate the whole time they walked around discussing this and that. The movers are scheduled, the house is sold and tomorrow we will begin researching dog-friendly hotels to stay in for our 3 day drive from CA to TX. The yellow legal pad that begins with the very first "TO DO" list that I wrote 9 months ago is next to me and it is Command Central for all my research of moving companies, our furniture inventory, the list of items in each packed box, and descriptions of furniture I sold on Craig's List etc, etc, etc.



My home is quiet right now. Hubs left for his last day at his CA job, Rocker Son moved out 3 days ago (He is staying here in CA and I miss him already!!!) and Layla is snoring next to me here on the couch. Though the house is quiet, my mind is not. Moving out of state is a really BIG DEAL! Especially when you've lived in a house for 19 years. 



SO MUCH STUFF!



But it is happening at last. I am proud of all that we have accomplished since we got the call on May 6th that there is a job for Hubs in TX that begins July 7th! After several months of wishing, hoping and praying, we have our next adventure just around the corner. We'll stay with Writer Son and Sassy Bride (and Little Sprout who will be born in the Fall!) for a few weeks while we shop for a new home near by. 



I have SO MUCH to say and SO LITTLE concentration right now. Thank you for your prayers as we figure out what our new lives will look like. At the same time, we need to tie up loose ends here and leave with love and grace. God has been very evident in these SUDDEN but looong-time-coming plans. I know He is helping us and orchestrating small blessings behind the scenes. We are tired and often feel overwhelmed....but happy at the same time. He is doing it, we are doing it, it's happening! 

I do feel much calmer now after talking to you guys. Thanks, should have done this days ago! Even though I did have to switch the pictures out just now, because I did not write about the subject I had planned to write about. :) 



Layla napping in her new travel crate. 





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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Do You Do This?


Do you ever find yourself doing a creative project at a totally inappropriate time? Being drawn into a crafty activity right in the middle of a more important and time-sensitive job? Maybe I am just weird, but it happens to me once in a while, usually when the important job is causing me stress. One time I gave myself a new haircut on the morning I was expecting a houseful of people for dinner! (No one noticed, apparently it wasn't as drastic as it felt.) 

The last two weeks have been high-stress, lots of joys and lots of disappointments. The roller-coaster of selling a home is no fun, unless you love roller-coasters....and I do not. The physical work mixed with the emotional upheaval as inspectors of many variations comb through my closets and bathrooms is exhausting. 

So, maybe the odd idea to suddenly do a silly project is a way for my mind to step away from the daunting tasks on my yellow legal pad. 

Today after an inspection and a rough meeting about the sale of our home, I was packing my purses, belts and winter scarves. I came across some strips of material I had used for belts years ago and it reminded me of a Pinterest idea I just saw. I live in flip-flops for a good part of the year and have a big basket overflowing with them in many colors. 

So, I immediately stopped my packing and re-modeled the pink flip-flops that were just TOO pink for me to wear very often. Sorry Old Navy, but I like my version better! Cute huh? (Instructions HERE)

Yesterday in the middle of DEEP cleaning my house for that inspector to come appraise the house, I was sorting large pictures hidden away in the back of my closet. A pile was built to go to the goodwill store. I noticed that the frame on one of the give-away pictures was much nicer than the plastic frame on the counted cross-stitch I had created early in our marriage. (I loved the neatness and orderliness of counted cross-stitch. Even the back looks as nice and neat as the front. That's me!) 

So, I stopped sorting and cleaned the glass on the new frame and switched them out. The theme of this stitchery DOES seem pretty appropriate for our current life doesn't it? I cannot wait to hang it up in our new home when we move! 


Am I the only one who does this weird behavior? I am not normally scatter-brained or busy with multiple tasks at once. I love order and finishing a job once it is begun. I love crossing things off my TO DO List. And the current legal pad is full of lists regarding Craig's List items I am selling, moving company estimates, furniture inventory lists for the movers, inventory lists of every box I pack, and repair lists for the house (which seems to be growing instead of shrinking!!) 

But things are getting crossed off and we are moving forward, for the most part. I believe that maybe the "sudden" creativity is a way for me to relax from a hard job. It is something satisfying and restful, even if I am not sure it is going to work. 

For those who want more details about our move; it is still on schedule to happen before the month of June is over. We are in that day-at-a-time waiting, hoping, packing, working, planning stage right now and praying for the best. 

Yay for new beginnings, not forgetting the old, but embracing change with all of it's roller-coastery-ness! 

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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Happy Sunday Morning To You!


Packing Inventory - So organized!

In between packing boxes and boxes of books (yes we STILL have a lot, even after being "ruthless"!), I am writing over at 5 Minutes For Faith today! Come on over and see me, won't you? Thanks!



So exhausting.
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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I Knew This Was going To Happen!



Wowza! Didn't I tell you that after so many months of quiet and spare time in which to write, it would probably all disappear suddenly and I would be super busy? If I did not tell you, I do know that it was in the back of my mind for the last several months and NOW it has happened. 

And it's all GOOD!!!

Layla's solution to feeling the PRESSURE in the house.
Hubs has been offered and accepted a job in Texas where we want to move to be near Writer Son and Sassy Bride AND our FIRST GRANDCHILD who is on the way!!!  (Hmm, need to be thinking of a fun fake name for the little one, don't I?) 

We are selling stuff.
Giving away stuff.
And packing stuff....

...As fast as we can because the job begins at the end of June!! We are also looking at houses online and may even try buying long distance!! Yikes!!

So PRESSURE is all around. Notice all the EXCLAMATION POINTS? 

I know that we are all under different levels of pressure in our day-to-day lives. I have been honored to be a Featured Friend on Barbie Swiharts's beautiful blog, A Freshly Brewed Life today. If pressure has become your enemy, this may be an encouragement for you.....See you there! 


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Sunday, May 11, 2014

You Are A Great Mom, Even If You Stink At It


I have noticed an interesting and disturbing trend online regarding Mother's Day this year. The negative articles and posts have outnumbered the positive. Some writers are just against the holiday for the principle of it or the commercial aspect of it. They claim it's a "made up holiday". Well, what holiday is not a made up holiday? Others are reminding us to be sensitive to women who cannot have kids or have lost children or their own mother's have passed away. I understand and my heart goes out to those that suffer such pain at this time of year. 

But the majority of writers who are complaining about this holiday are moms right now. They dread it and cannot wait to get it over with. It is a day of feeling small and inadequate and unappreciated. I am reading women who know that they are not great at the job of mothering. These blogs and article authors list their failures. They talk about misbehaving toddlers, rude adolescents and grubby bathrooms. 

The greeting cards on display in the stores are like billboards of their own failure as mothers. Even though the mom blogs are full of love for their little ones, they also feel that they are never doing enough. Never living up to the mom-hype of Pinterest. Mother's Day is just another day to point out how they are failing. 

Tonight I was pondering why I enjoy Mother's Day now, more than I did when I was actively being a mom-who-raises-kids. When my sons were little I had many Mother's Day's sitting in church holding back tears. Smiling big all day long because it was my day to be "honored".  While on the inside I cringed at the broad, glowing sermons about the "glory" of motherhood. I knew I could not measure up to the words I was hearing. I remember being cranky, tired and overwhelmed. I did not put my kids first. I was not that generous, sacrificial, creative woman that my kids needed in order to grow up sane and healthy. 

But guess what? Not only did my sons  grow up to be sane and healthy, they are full of kindness, generosity, humor and creativity. My sons are my most favorite people to be around in the whole world. They are good men and I could not be prouder of them. I raised a couple of really neat people! 

THAT is why I can enjoy this holiday now in a way that I could not when I was in the middle of the task. I felt like a failure back then because I did not know if I was doing it right! I felt like I was blowing it all the time. But my kids are awesome people anyway! 

So here I am at 45 minutes before Mother's Day 2014 telling you that you are a great mom. You are doing just fine! Your kids are stronger and more perceptive than the current psycho-babble would lead you to believe. They will forget the short tempers and the forgotten lunch-bags. Your kids will survive your mess-ups. Your children do not need perfect cupcakes to feel loved. They do not need a perky Pinterest parent. They just need you to be you. 

All they need is to be loved. And you got that. Everything else will work itself out. To be loved by you is the only mom-requirement. You love your kids (most days) and that is the only universal need. 

You are a great mother. Believe it, take a deep breath and believe it. 

Now please try to have a wonderful Mother's Day!

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Monday, May 5, 2014

I Entered a Writing Contest....and YOU can Help me Win!





Midlife Collage is a website just for us more "grown-up" writers to enter our short true stories in weekly writing contests. I enjoy reading the other entries and I am learning at the same time, because when I enter a piece, they often send it back with a few suggestions for changes and they are usually right. Cool! 

This week I have a story about the first few days after my mother passed away....what it was like to be in her home and around her things. My title is; House Full of Flowers I would LOVE to win this contest with this essay! The Contest Prize is $$, so that's always good, right? 






The judges choose the winner based on a few different criteria. Facebook LIKES count, so do that. But comments on the website under my story count the most. And (sorry) they want the comments to be "thoughtful", not just "Good story." This is embarrassing to ask you to go through so many hoops....because yep, there is still more. They also will not give the WIN to anyone who is not mentioned in the Closing Arguments page

Here is the judging criteria from their site:

"Judging is not a numbers game. If it was, our contest rules would look only at the highest number of Facebook “likes” and declare a winner. But we don’t. Our Contest Rules provide the winner is selected based upon many factors including the combined placement in three categories:
1) The number of FB likes. This is the (only) quantitative or popular category in which we look at trends, determining the leading stories.
2) The persuasiveness of high-quality comments. Unlike the FB likes, which is strictly quantitative, the judges look for persuasiveness in the high-quality comments following the stories in a contest. We are always very pleased when writers receive many comments and support from readers. In judging, however, we focus only on high-quality comments. Please see the FAQ page on high-quality comments.
3) Opinions by visitors from the Closing Arguments page. To leave an opinion on the Closing Arguments page, a visitor must read all the stories in the contest and post comments to at least three stories in the contest. Visitors abiding by the terms of the Closing Arguments page become surrogate judges offering a top pick. As provided on the FAQ page, a story cannot win first place without at least one favorable opinion by a visitor from the Closing Arguments page."

I know! Making me make you work for my win! Ha! If you still want to help, hop on over there and jump through some hoops....or just give my story a LIKE on Facebook, that will be fine with me. THANKS!!!

My story: House Full of Flowers

Thanks, you guys are THE BEST! 

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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Breathing

I am honored to be over at 5 Minutes For Faith today. Come on over and see me ok?
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Monday, April 28, 2014

Stop Asking God to Change You




The other day I read a prayer request online from a man who asked people to pray that God would release him from his shy personality and make him able to talk to others about Jesus more freely. This morning I read a blog post from a woman who was convicted in her church service yesterday for not witnessing and handing out gospel tracts. She felt that she was "hiding behind her writing" instead of praying for strangers on the bus. 

I was reminded of the time I asked God to..."Please get me out of the way so that you can shine more brightly in me God. Reduce the Susie and magnify the You in me." ...I thought I was making a grand gesture but God set me straight very quickly.

God has convinced me that we are each designed in a unique and wonderful fashion. We are not meant to follow a formula or a system...we are meant to be ourselves. If you are carrying gospel tracts and they are beat up and ragged because you could not get up the nerve to hand them out...dump them! Throw them away. That is not your style...let it go. 

God will use you...already is using you, just as you are. If you are a quiet person...He loves that about you. There are plenty of louder people around...don't you agree? Here is a story of God using this quiet writer just as she is....

I was part of a team that spent 14 days in the Philippines on a short-term mission trip. My usual "place" on these trips is as a mom figure to help the (college age) students adjust in a different culture and environment. Even though I am just as freaked out as they are! 

My journal of that trip records a desperate prayer I sent to God. "Father, please bypass my normal reserve and let me be open and comfortable and as loving to the people I am with as You would be in the flesh. Thank you for this amazing opportunity to express You and Your love to these people who are without hope."

That simple prayer was heard and I still smile when I remember how clearly He answered the desire of my heart. The parts of the trip agenda that I dreaded the most were the slum visits. These are makeshift shantytowns that are the worst I have ever seen in any other country. The "houses" are propped up boards, signs or corrugated metal for the better homes. There is no running water, electricity or sewage system. Dirty diapers, human waste and sludgy mud run freely between the unstable shelters for families as far as the eye can see.

As our group assembled to board the trucks that would take us outside the city to this land of forgotten people, we were divided up into smaller groups to visit different slum areas.  One group was in need of a Team Leader. I was shocked to hear my voice say, "I'll do it."  

I had three students and an interpreter with me. We began to walk among the streets or pathways that led into the strange and unreal neighborhood. The smells were the first obstacle to overcome. Then we had to figure out where the actual front "doors" were to these homemade houses. When that failed we just called out a "Hello" and waited to see who emerged.

At the first place a young, pretty mom invited us into the walk-in closet size home. Her 3 kids were on a bed. There were no chairs, just the bed and a fan and a TV connected to a long cord. When asked if we could pray for any needs she had, she told us that her kids were all sick. I had been watching her infant since entering. She was so still for a six month old! Just laid there and stared into space. No sounds or movement at all. 

The mom told us that the baby had stomach trouble. I had no idea what to do other than pray this simple prayer with my hand on her tiny body, "In the name of Jesus, I speak healing to this little tummy."

The baby immediately perked up and stared into my eyes, cooed and blew some bubbles! We all laughed and she and her mom laughed with us. Our team did not want to leave this wonderful spot of joy. We just wanted to stare into those huge brown eyes that really seemed to be seeing something delightful in us.

After we tore ourselves away and approached the next home, a smiling woman who wanted us to meet her 87-year-old mother invited us in. Entering her house involved climbing over several levels of mismatched cinder blocks with exposed re bar and garbage. We could not tell what was considered inside or outside.

These ladies graciously asked us to sit on their ripped and ragged green couch. The wall was decorated with a plaster, painted clock with no hands. Toothless 87-year-old Lola suffered from bad knees and arthritic shoulders. She could not lift her right arm very high. 

I told her that the day before I had seen a woman with arthritis in her back and hand get healed and that we would love to pray for her. She responded with a huge smile and said that she knew Jesus and was so happy we were there to pray for her!

God totally healed her knees while our hands were on them! She bounced her legs up and down again and again. Then I asked if we could pray for her shoulder and she began to make punching, boxing motions with her arms and said it was healed already! As we left she gave us each a zurbit-like-toothless kiss on our cheeks. So sweet and funny!

Do you want to know the most shocking miracle of that day? After going to several more families and seeing God do wonderful things both large and small, we felt some tiny raindrops as we moved along the path. I looked up and asked the interpreter of we could keep going to the rest of the homes. She strongly said no, that we needed to get out of the rain. I was honestly disappointed to quit. But she was right! Within another 10 minutes the rain was hard enough that we could barely see and we ran for cover under a large tin-roofed basketball court type spot. We had to shout to hear one another!

The miracle? It was that I was disappointed to quit!! Me! The background encourager who likes structure, planning and cleanliness. God heard and answered my small prayer with a minor change to my request. He did not really "bypass my reserve" as much as He gently used it to bring His presence into the homes of women who may have been frightened or suspicious of a louder and bolder personality knocking on their doors. 

God knows me. He knows you. We don't want to ask Him to change us. We want to ask Him to be Himself IN us. He created each of us with unique gifts, traits and personalities and he knows how to express His huge love through us to others. All we need to do is say Okay.



Video by: My friends, Katherine Martin & Daniel Martin - Three Heavens
(They just created this charming video this week! Not with me personally in mind, but the chosen name makes me feel pretty special!) Enjoy!

I'm going to cheat a bit this month and make
this my RJD contribution. Now click the pic and go see some
more Journal reveals! 

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