Tuesday, January 29, 2008

You Deserve a Break Today...

I received one of those 'get to know you' emails today from my cousin. You know, the kind that asks you all kinds of random questions. You always learn something new about someone, even if you have known them your whole life.

It was so hard to answer some of those questions with the obligatory one or two words. Take, for instance, the question, 'what is your favorite restaurant?' Sounds easy, right? Well, that depends...is this a date night restaurant? a family meal eatery? a work day lunch? a girls night out? The reason for the meal and the persons I am sharing it with affects what my choice of 'favorite' would be.

Date night would be Texas Land & Cattle Steakhouse, hands down. Jim and I both love the smoked sirloin and they make a pretty mean house salad. For a family meal it would probably be Chili's Bar & Grill. They have a diverse menu so it is easy to please everyone...hamburgers to pasta. A work day lunch: for a sit down meal would be Las Palmas, a great little Mexican place near the office; pick up would be Jason's Deli, I love the turkey wrap. Girls Night means a definite trip to La Madeleine French Bakery...because heaven knows Jim would not be caught dead in there. It is a great place to sit and visit uninterrupted.

As I was driving home this evening, I found myself thinking about how I struggled to answer this question. The fact that I would need a qualifier to answer the question is just a sign of how my life have changed.

I grew up in the late 60's - 70's. Eating out was a HUGE deal. If my memory serves me correctly, we ate out maybe five or six times a year. My kids see that in a month, easily. I don't remember having many eateries to choose from. I think there were three in my hometown.

The most frequently visited would have been The Little Pig. This was a hamburger joint, painted red with razorbacks on the signs. It was tiny. Back in the day, you walked up to the window to place your order and wait for your food. I think they added room for a few tables inside later on. I remember the awesome, homemade, never frozen hamburgers. Real hamburgers with real onion rings or french fries. They probably served bar-b-q sandwiches too, but right now I can only think of the hamburgers.

On the south side of town there was a truck stop. I can't remember the name of it...Trudy's maybe. I remember eating there only a few times. I had my first club sandwich in that diner. I thought I was all grown up with the frilly toothpicks in each quarter of the triple-decker sandwich; pickle slice and potato chips on the side. Highfalutin'!

Further down the highway, at the edge of town was THE place to eat...The Catfish Inn. It is the only one of the three that is still open today. And it is still THE place to eat. My father-in-law and mother-in-law still make it a priority to eat there on their visits to the area. Don't dare go into the place if you are on a diet. Heaven have mercy, everything in there is either fried or cooked with bacon fat. It is a buffet with fried catfish, fried shrimp, fried chicken, green beans, turnip greens, fried okra and that is just the first steam tray. For dessert, the homemade cinnamon rolls call your name, but you better hurry and grab one or the tray will be empty and you will have to wait for the next one! Walk in on any fall evening and you will find the women dressed up for dinner and the men in camouflage...some straight from the deer stand. My last time to eat at the Catfish Inn was last spring after my niece's graduation. I met my cousin and her husband there after the ceremony and we ran into one of our relatives that I had not seen in twenty+ years. It is the place to see and be seen!

When I was in junior high, the Big T came to town and we kids were so excited to have a real live drive in. The line would be wrapped around the building every Friday and Saturday night. If you wanted pizza, you would have to drive to the next town for Pizza Hut.

My kids eat drive through at least once a week...and pizza was a pretty common delivery item until we moved out here to the boonies! It is not that I don't like to cook...we just find ourselves grabbing something quick after a ball game or I need to run errands after work so I pick up chicken on the way home.

Here is my question to you, what is your favorite restaurant? Can you answer in two words or less? Or like me, do you need a qualifier?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Sun Is Peeking Through The Clouds

What a relief to wake up to actual sunlight coming through the windows this morning. It has been a dreary, rainy and cold week here in our part of Texas. We have not experienced any harsh thunderstorms, just a constant drizzle since last Monday. Our place has become water-logged mush. Even the driveway is soggy. I am sure that all our comings and goings around here do not help the situation at all...but I think we are going to need a few loads of gravel on the driveway as soon as spring arrives.

As dreary as the weather was this week, it was appropriate for my mood. Our family received some shocking news last Monday afternoon that has sent us all to our knees. A family member has received an overwhelming medical report...an 8.9 on the Richter scale, if you will. Over the next three days there were hundreds of telephone calls and emails sent among our close knit family. (We may all need loans to pay those cell phone bills.) It is in these times that I realize how great a distance 500 miles really is. Since this is the World Wide Web and the story is not mine to tell, I am trying to be very discreet. I have not posted much this week because it is hard to write when the thing that consumes your thoughts cannot be disclosed.

Like today's weather, we are hoping for brighter days ahead. We are asking God for the miraculous and trusting Him with our loved one. He has given us seeds of hope and peace through these trying circumstances. His Word has brought us comfort. "Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." (Psalm 30:5)

And so, I close this morning's post with one of the scriptures that has spoken to me this week. Maybe someone else needs this encouragement today:
"...a righteous man will be remembered forever. He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes." Psalm 112:7b-9

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Our New Fancy Eating Table

Our last Christmas present was delivered this afternoon. The dining room set was moved into the breakfast area to make room for this:

And yes, the table tennis top can be removed to reveal the 'fancy eating table' (Beverly Hillbillies style). Jim and the boys have been at it since we finished putting the last piece together. This was supposed to be placed in the 'bungalow', but we stored all of the boxes from our house in the city there this past weekend. I wonder how long before the adults in the house get tired of the tap-tapping and banish it out to its originally planned location?

Hanging On To Truth

And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

Sunday, January 20, 2008

What's In A Name?

I saw this link on a couple of blogs that I read regularly: Shalee's Diner and A Chelsea Morning

Since my name is in so few baby name books...I thought it would be fun to see whether or not I lived up to my name. What do you think?

What Fonda Means
You are loving, compassionate, and ruled by your feelings.You are able to be a foundation for other people... but you still know how to have fun.Sometimes your emotions weigh you down, but you generally feel free from them.

You are well rounded, with a complete perspective on life.You are solid and dependable. You are loyal, and people can count on you.At times, you can be a bit too serious. You tend to put too much pressure on yourself.

You are very intuitive and wise. You understand the world better than most people.You also have a very active imagination. You often get carried away with your thoughts.You are prone to a little paranoia and jealousy. You sometimes go overboard in interpreting signals.

You are balanced, orderly, and organized. You like your ducks in a row.You are powerful and competent, especially in the workplace.People can see you as stubborn and headstrong. You definitely have a dominant personality.

Several years ago, I gathered up my courage enough to ask some of my closest friends "If you could only use one word to describe me, what would it be?" The unanimous winner was "serious". I have tried to lighten up a little since then...but in all fairness to them, I am pretty serious most of the time. As to the going 'overboard in interpreting signals'...Jim would give it a loud "Amen". Another area I am trying to work on. Today, I will choose to focus on the positives though...loving, compassionate, loyal, dependable with an active imagination (that is why I don't watch scary movies, they stay with me long after the screen fades to black!) Hope you have all had a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I Am Still Here!

I am okay...really I am. It has just been a very busy week and I have not had the chance to post lately.

Monday night I had dinner with a couple of ladies from our former church. We call ourselves the 'North 40 Group" because we live/work in the far northwest corner of Houston and quite a distance from the church. It was great to see them. We had not met since October due to all the holiday comings and goings.

Tuesday night was Bible study. Yes, I went. I will continue to go until the Lord makes it clear to me that I should be someplace else. It was good, as usual. I was a little more involved during the praise and worship and the lessons are always moving.

Yesterday I started clearing out our house of 13 years. We had left a lot of stuff that would not fit in the little trailer when we moved. Rather than pay for storage, we left it where it was. It is now time to do the emotional work of sorting through all the stuff a family of seven can accumulate in 13 years. We have already been used to bless the lives of friends who just moved into their first home with some furniture and taken a truck load of stuff to Purple Heart for donation. Today Meagan and Kelli will help me sort through the kids rooms to try and distinguish what has enough sentimental value to keep and what does not.

I will check back in with you soon. In the meantime, ya'll have a wonderful week!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Monkey Shines

We had an overnight guest last night. Little D, or Monkey as his mom calls him, was all aglow as we were all getting ready for bed. Who can refuse a few minutes play time to a smile like this?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Guess Who's A Teenager?

Our youngest has just joined the ranks of the 'terrible teens'. In celebration of his 13th birthday, here is a list of thirteen things about Will that you might not know.

1. This was Will's first year to play real football. By the end of the season, he was playing offense, defense and special teams.

2. William is named after both his grandfathers. His first name comes from Jim's dad and his middle name from my dad.

3. This fall, Will got his first bow. He and Jim may someday work on taping that hunting and fishing show that Will has always dreamed of.

4. Will was due to be born on what would have been his great grandfather's birthday, December 27. Instead he came on the birthday of Jim's dad, Poppy.

5. Will has quite the sense of humor. Sometimes it gets him into trouble...and sometimes, it makes for great Kodak moments like this:

(that is his camo stocking on his head, sort of Elf meets Realtree Outdoors)

6. William's favorite food is anything that comes out of the ocean, especially crab legs. The boy was eating raw oysters at the tender age of 10! (He had both tonight for his birthday dinner.)

7. Instead of the traditional birthday cake, he has requested a sweet potato pie this year. Now that is a boy with deep southern roots!

8. William has the love language of gift giving. One of our favorite stories is of the Christmas that he was about five. He was not happy giving the gifts that I had bought for him to give the family so he went around the house gathering and wrapping his own gifts. (Regifter extrodinaire). Imagine Kelli's surprise when she opened his gift to her on Christmas morning to find a three week old banana. NICE! Here he is playing Santa for our family Christmas this year.

9. Will plans to move to Arkansas after he finishes school to live at the fish camp. That would be his dream come true right now...to hunt and fish every day.

10. If our pets could choose who they would spend their time with, it would be Will. This is him and Pib hanging out around the firepit.

11. Will loves playing paintball. He and Brian have set up a course in the back of the property. Paintball tournaments are held here almost every weekend.

12. During spring break this past year, he and I both learned how to run a trotline. This was our only fish of the week. (You know what Hank Jr. says..."can skin a buck and run a trotline, a country boy can survive.)

13. Will loves to work outside with his dad. The two of them can do some real damage to the groves of tallow trees on our property.

Happy Birthday, Will!

We love you!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Oh, Sweet Mercy

Guess what I just read in my devotional this morning? An answer for yesterday's post! Don't you just love the mercy of God?

The scripture reference for this morning's reading was from Acts 16. In this portion of scripture it records Paul desiring to go into Asia to preach the gospel but 'having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching' he came to the border of Mysia and tried to enter 'but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.' He travels on to Troas and receives a vision instructing him to go to Macedonia.

The reading came from F. B. Meyer's work Paul, in which he says: "Beloved, whenever you are in doubt as to which way to turn, submit your judgment absolutely to the Spirit of God, asking Him to shut every door but the right one...In the meantime, continue along the path you have already been traveling...Just be careful to obey even His smallest nudging or warning. Then after you have prayed the prayer of faith and there are no apparent hindrances, go forward with a confident heart."

Sweet Merciful Father, may my heart be sensitive to Your nudges and warnings today. Should I encounter the closing of doors, may I remain faithful to follow Your open road as I await Your instruction. Thank You for hearing my heart and for providing me with encouragement for the path ahead. Amen

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

No Excuse Offered

I don't know why, but this has been a very difficult post to begin. Maybe it is the 'transparency' issue and laying it all out there. For some reason I am able to write it in my head but when I sit down to the computer screen, I just sit and stare and struggle for words.

Here's the situation...I have not been to church since the first of October. (With the exception of Baby Dedication in December.) For some people this may be no big deal...for others, they may wonder how on earth I have survived this long. I lean toward the latter group. I can give you a million and one excuses...but as George Washington is quoted as saying, "It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one." (I wish I could remember my friend Laura's definition of an excuse...it is priceless!)

As a result of this lack of spiritual nourishment, I have become very dry of soul and spirit. Just before the new year, I went into a local bookstore and picked up a devotional book that has readings for 365 days (366 during leap year) to get my toes back in the water of the Word. Last week, while picking up a few last minute gifts, I splurged and bought a new Bible study to do at home. Yet there was still a 'check in my spirit'.

Yesterday, as I was working, I realized the date was also the start of a popular Bible study here in the Houston area. I talked with Jim about whether or not I should attend, as this will affect a couple of Brian's basketball games. He encouraged me to go and even told me that he and the kids could handle dinner every Tuesday night. So, I went. It took me an hour and a half to get in the parking lot due to all the traffic on our always under construction I-10...but I went. I admit, when I found myself stranded in a turn only lane for the second time, I almost went home. I even called Jim to tell him that the traffic was just too much. He reminded me that sometimes it takes perseverance. (Don't you just love it when the Lord uses your spouse to speak truth to you?)

The thing is, all through last night's study I found myself asking the question, 'Am I supposed to be here?' It is difficult being in a sanctuary full of other women and feeling all alone. So many attend with their best friend or with a group from church. I have done both in the past, yet this time I sat alone. During praise and worship (usually my favorite time), I only recognized one song and I was still tyring to de-stress from the traffic while the rest of the crowd sang it. The speaker is a truly gifted servant of God. I know many people have traveled far and wide to hear her speak for two days or less, myself included. Yet, there I sat still seeking the answer to my question. As I drove home last night, I asked the Lord to give me clear direction. You see, I don't know how well I pick up on the still, small voice when I have been out of the Word for so long.

I looked online for local churches that might have an evening women's Bible study thinking that maybe I need to find connection closer to home first. Nothing to be found. I popped in a new Mercy Me CD on the way to work this morning. Talk about theme music for the study -- it certainly seems to fit. It dawned on me, that even if I took the 'wrong' Bible study...it is still the Word of God and will not return to Him void. So, I am pressing on. Please, pray for me!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Balmy January Night In Texas

Can you believe that I had the top down on the Thunderbird tonight? Seriously! It is January 7 and as I was driving home I realized that I was running the air conditioner. Since Toby Mac was jamming on the stereo system, I stopped alongside one of the deserted country roads, put the car in park, lowered the top and rode home with the speakers blaring. It is impossible for me to listen to Ignition without turning it up as loud as I possibly can without getting arrested!

Hope whatever the weather in your neck of the woods that you have found a way to enjoy it!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

2007 In Review - Follow Up

This post is almost a week late. What can I say...I have sat down to write it at least a half dozen times since last Monday. Various things have happened in that time frame. I have been delayed by visits, household chores and even the loss of electricity which cleared out the beginnings of my follow up post last Wednesday night. Hope this isn't too much of a let down!

What one word would I use to describe 2007 in the Goode household? Without a doubt it would have to be the word CHANGE. Honestly, Jim and I long ago stopped wasting time wishing for 'normal' to return. We have accepted the fact that change is not only inevitable but a necessary fact of life. However, in 2007, we seem to have taken it to a whole new plane!

In 2007 we moved from our home of 12 years and our neighborhood of 19 years. We moved away from all the familiar faces and familiar places to start again in a new school district, a new county and a new home. We left a four bedroom home to move into a two bedroom mobile home with bungalow and ended up in a four bedroom mobile home that has more square footage than our former house. We had two additions to the family, a handsome grandson born in July and a beautiful granddaughter born in October. As we have watched our two oldest become parents, the two teenagers have learned to drive and the youngest son has taken up the sport of football.

I looked up the word 'change' in the online Merriam-Webster dictionary to see if perhaps there was a more appropriate word to use. Everyone can use the word 'change'...we have all experienced some sort of change in the span of a year. I found a great synonym...'alter'. According to the dictionary it means, 'to make different without changing into something else'. I think that sums up our year. Everything seems different..but we haven't changed into something else. We no longer live in the city, but Jim and I both grew up in the country. Some people may see our move from a house to a mobile home as strange, but we both spent a good deal of our childhoods in mobile homes. We may be grandparents now, but that didn't change us from being parents to five of the most amazing children in the world. We now spend the majority of our time cheering from bleachers instead of from an auditorium seat (the girls were more into fine arts than athletics), but it is still our children that we encourage. Yes, things are different but we are still the same people we have always been. I just couldn't make 'alter' into a proper title for 2007.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

A Girl After Her Mom's Own Heart

Just wanted to share a picture of our little diva, Miss Brookie Bear:

Kelli made this tu-tu for her using 5 yards of tulle! She is such a doll!!!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Rural Living: Lesson #2

"Do not assume that someone else will call to report the power outage."

About 7 o'clock last night, Jim was watching a movie and I sat down with the laptop to finish Monday's post when all of a sudden everything went black...and an unearthly quiet fell around our house. The electricity was out. This has become a somewhat common occurrence since moving to the country. If anyone hits a light pole within 20 miles, we lose electricity for an hour or so. Sometimes we find out why it went out...and sometimes we never know. After the obligatory checking of fuse boxes, Jim went out to the pole and found that the green light was not on (I was informed that this means there is no power at the meter box.) It was bitterly cold last night, so Jim sat to work stoking the fire to make sure that we would stay warm until power returned.

The kids came in about 15 minutes later and consumed all the leftovers that Jim and I had just taken out of the oven before we lost power. They decided to go outside and shoot the last of the fireworks that were left over from New Years Eve. We decided to go on to bed and be thankful for an opportunity to get a little extra sleep. At about 1 o'clock this morning, I woke up and could tell that we still did not have electricity. It was beginning to get cold in the house. I was getting out of bed when Jim woke up and mentioned that it was not like our power company to not have the lights on by now. He asked, "Are you sure we weren't the only one without power?" Now, just for the record...I distinctly remember asking him that very question about five minutes after the power went out because I could see lights at the far end of the "subdivision" and across the street.

I use the term "subdivision" very lightly. In essence, we live on what was once a very large plot of timber land. At some point someone decided to put in four or five streets, divide the property into 5 acre lots and sell them off as home sites. Let me describe the view from our lot: To the North we have a neighbor who has left at least the edges of his property totally natural. You can hear him working over there, but you cannot see his house from any side of the property. To the West the neighbors placed their home just off the road and left the back four acres totally natural (which is the side that borders our property). To the South there are two lots that are cleared with only a few trees here and there, but they are inhabited by sheep and goats, no homes. To the East (across the road) are two lots that are totally untouched, other than a fence around the perimeter...no livestock, no barn, just timber. Even though we have neighbors within a relatively short distance, we can't actually see them.

All of this to say, that at 1:30 this morning...when it was 24 degrees outside and with ice on my windshield, I got in the truck, rode down the street and realized that all my neighbors had porch lights on. They were snug as bugs in a rug...while we were without power. I called the electric co-op and reported our outage...6 hours later! Jim and I both decided to stay up. He built another fire while I did some picking up of the things the kids had left out in the kitchen (we were sharing a flashlight!) Bless the sweet hearts of the San Bernard Electric Co-operative...they were driving up the street within 30 minutes of my call and they had it fixed within an hour. We had a 'pod' go out and trip the meter at the pole. I don't know what that means...but the end result was that they replaced it and we had power once again. Since Jim and I had missed out on supper, he made us breakfast. We figured that we might get one meal before the vultures swooped in again. It was not to be...it seems that the smell of bacon will wake William from even a deep sleep! We enjoyed a hot breakfast, finished a load of laundry, started the dishwasher and went back to bed.

As we crawled back between the nice warm covers of the bed, I looked at him and said, "Rural Living, Lesson #2: Never assume that you are not the only one without power!" You learn something new every day!