Thursday, September 29, 2011

Waller Homecoming 2011

(Warning: This is a longer than usual post...but I decided to include the whole weekend's festivities in one post instead of writing three or four!)

Last week was Homecoming week at Waller High School. So, instead of just football pictures, I have included photos from the week's activities.

Thursday night was JV Maroon football at the field of the Spring Woods Tigers.  My camera was acting up a bit, so I didn't have a lot of pictures that turned out.

Will during pre-game drills

Will waiting on the sidelines.

Wanted: Popcorn Thief Davin!
He ate nearly all of my popcorn and ran off with my Diet Coke!

Will taking the field
 Will had twisted his ankle the day before the game, but he was able to play.  The team has shrunk due to players moving up to Varsity to fill in for the injured, so Will played a lot of defense this game too.  One of the hardest plays to watch was when he was on punt return.  He went in to block the punt but ended up with a 'Roughing the Kicker' call.  It hurts a Momma's heart to listen to the crowd complain about her boy.  I don't know if I am ready for Varsity next year!!!

The Bulldogs pulled off another victory 30-10 against the Tigers.  Woo Hoo!

Friday morning, I got up early to snap a few pictures before he left for school.  Will had a date for the Homecoming dance!  Now, I know that I have a very handsome son, so the date was not a surprise.  It was that he (unlike his older brother) let his sisters make a Homecoming mum for his date.  The girls were over the moon excited to get to make another mum.

When they were in high school they would not trust a boy to provide their Homecoming mums.  No, sir!  The Goode Girls mums had to be top of the line!!!  They worked for weeks to get it just right.  This one did not take weeks...but it sure turned out cute!

Waller Bulldog Mum 2011
 I just LOVE that white feather boa around the mum! 

Will with the mum
Look how long that thing is!
 Sorry, that picture was taken with my iPhone at dark thirty before he left for school, but I had to show you how big and how long that mum is!  Did I mention that my girls like the bling?  The only thing that mum didn't have was flashing neon! 

I didn't get to see Will again until Friday night at the Varsity game.  Not only does he play Junior Varsity, but he is also a Maroon Man.  The Maroon Men are there to help the cheerleaders and to involve the crowd in the game.  Among other things they:
...prepare the 'Dawg House' for the team to run through at the beginning of the game and at the half... the flags ahead of the players as they take the field and after every touchdown...
...throw swag to the crowd...

...they also help the cheerleaders with stunts, but I noticed that mostly (since the majority of them are also football players) they stand around and talk about the game.
Oh, and Will's date?  It is that cutie pie right there in the middle.  No, not one of the brunettes.  Not the blonde is the gray headed one.  Wilma, the Waller mascot...or the girl in the costume to be exact.

The hometown really showed up in all their maroon and white glory to cheer the Bulldogs on to a 42-7 victory over the Spring Woods Tigers! 

I even sported the colors...even though maroon makes me break out in miniature hives sometimes!  (Especially this week as the Arkansas Razorbacks prepare to take on the Texas A&M Aggies!)
As long as there is a Bulldog on it someplace, I think I can bear it though!  (Josh snapped this picture just as I stuck out my tongue at him.)

Saturday was another full day for Will.  Saturday morning was the Waller County Fair Parade that he had to march in with the other Maroon Men.  After two late nights of football, I didn't get up and go. Who has a parade at 9 AM on a Saturday? 

Saturday night was the dance and he wouldn't let me get a picture of him all dressed up in his jeans and boots.   This is the one thing I don't like about being the mother of the don't get pictures!  After the dance they headed to the Waller County Fair with friends to watch Jack Ingram perform.  All in all, I think he had a good weekend...but boy, was he wiped out on Sunday!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Lord, I Believe. Help my Unbelief!

"Why?"  My dear friend looked at me from across the table, her eyes filling with sincere tears of empathy.  "Why has God allowed your family to suffer so much?  I just can't understand how He could take a child like that."

We were gathered for a small group Bible study and everyone knew that I had spent the morning at Desi's graveside for her balloon ceremony.   These three women (along with many others) had been earnestly praying for us since this whole nightmare began.

I took a deep breath and searched deep in my heart before replying.  How was I going to 'explain' the loss of our granddaughter at thirty-two weeks of pregnancy?  How could I begin to rationalize the heartbreak that I have witnessed in my daughter's eyes since that fateful August afternoon? 

"I don't know why.  I just have to believe that someday God will be glorified through all of this.  I cannot see His glory right now, but I am beginning to see how He has been preparing me."  I then began to list some of the circumstances that our family had endured over the past few years and how they had helped to equip me during our current trial of loss.

To me, this is one of those BIG QUESTIONS of faith.  You know the ones I'm talking about.   The ones that do not have easy answers.  The ones whose answers sometimes sound simple when spoken BUT are often very difficult to flesh out.

So, imagine my surprise when that very evening, the Lord sent the following words to me during a Ladies Bible study at church.

"God may not always answer our questions, but He will always answer us."  Beloved Disciple by Beth Moore (Video Response Sheet/Group Session 2) 

Beth went on to quote Psalm 65:5, 'You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness, O God our Saviour."  Notice He doesn't say that He will tell us everything we want to know.  But He moves on our behalf with awesome deed of righteousness.  (Can I get an 'Amen'?)

My thoughts went back to earlier in the video when she spoke about Moses on the mountain with God.  (Exodus 33:21-23)  God set Moses in the cleft of the rock, placed His hand over him and then passed by.  Moses was told that he would not see God's face, but he would be allowed to see His back.

Beth drew a parallel between us and Moses, asking if we had ever considered that it was so dark because God had His hand over us right now.  She went on to add that though we do not get to see His face and know the answers to why right now, perhaps...with time and a little distance...we will be able to see an answer as we gaze upon His back.

I still can't answer my friend's real question.  I don't know why children die before they get the chance to live.  I don't know why this happened to us.  And, in all honesty, I'm not sure that I would be satisfied with the answer if I did know, since it wouldn't bring Desi back.

So, I hold on to the faith that the God who has held us through heartache and loss in the past will hold us now.  I trust that He will work all things together for our good because we love Him and are called according to His purpose.  (See Romans 8:28)

There is a tradition that I have heard practiced in various churches and forms throughout the years.  The Pastor or other leader will stand before the congregation and greet them with the affirmation, "God is good." The congregation will then reply, "all the time!"  More often than not, the Pastor will follow up with the words, "And all the time."  To which God's people declare, "God is good!"  That simple truth, filled with things deeper than my mind can even conceive, is what I find myself clinging to when the answers don't come.

He may not always answer my questions, but He always answers me.  The proof is in the fact that He sent me that very statement...just when I needed it most.

Linking up with Michelle at Graceful for:

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bulldogs VS Falcons: 2011

Last Thursday, the Foster Falcons came to Waller to play a little football.
The Bulldogs and Falcons took turns pushing...
...and shoving...

...and hitting pretty hard.

But since last year's contest involved two ambulances and Life Flight and this year's game didn't even require a was all good.

I can't remember the final score, but I think the Dawgs fell by two touchdowns.  Ouch!

This week is Homecoming and I will try to get pictures up before too long!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

In Memory of Desi

Today was the doctor's estimated date of delivery for our sweet princess, Desi.   In memory of her, a few of us met at the cemetery for a balloon release.
Her final resting place is called "The Garden of Innocence"...a lovely place filled with flowers and trinkets that will tug at your heart strings.
Meagan chose soft pink balloons on which she wrote the things she misses about Desi.  Bri wrote notes to Desi on hers, Jim's were sent up with prayers and mine... is hard to see in this picture, but mine were sent up covered in her Nonna's kisses.
I couldn't get them all in one picture, but those dots are some of the balloons with the tranquil moon resting in the center.

It was a beautiful way to commemorate our sweet princess, Desi.  Meagan will be posting more pictures this week on her blog, Desi's Song, I'm sure. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Family That Shoots Together...

...laughs together?  ...endures wildfires together?

Sunday, September 3

Bri's shotgun skills were honed by a little bit of sibling competition.
The goal is to shoot in turn.  If you hit a skeet that someone else misses, they are out.
It  is a fierce competition.  I always get knocked out by the third round.
Will won this competition pretty handily.

So, next we moved to my kind of competition.

Target practice with a .22 rifle.  I need time to aim and think!
Bri won this one...hitting 5 of 5 targets in the semi-finals and 4 of 5 in the final round!  That a pretty good marks woman, if you ask me.

Here are a couple of my favorite shots from the day:

Mountain Man Brian

Will - up close and personal!
I know what you are thinking.  How can we stand all of this excitement? 

Well, this is basically what we were doing on Monday afternoon when the wildfires broke out too.  Does that sound exciting enough for you?  Ha!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Beginner's Luck?

Sunday, September 4

While Josh was offshore, he contacted Bri to let her know that they had been invited to go Teal hunting with friends the weekend he came home.  Bri had never bird hunted before...hadn't even shot a her dad decided to give her a little lesson the week before her big hunt.
She studied his stance...
...learned how to load the gun and operate the safety...
...and how to use the open sights.
Then she braced herself for her first shot.
She even hit more skeet than she missed!

Fast forward to Sunday, September 11, where she limited out on her very first Teal hunt!
Her daddy was so proud!!!

Two birds are awaiting a trip to the taxidermist!
She is her daddy's girl.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I Wanna Be A Cowboy, BABY!

Saturday, September 3

I mentioned in last week's wrap up post that I had been to see Kid Rock in concert at the Cynthia Woods Pavilion with Robin and friends. I wanted to show you just how close Section 103, Row C, Seat 16 really was!
Yeah, Robin got us great seats!  This was without any kind of zoom used on my cell phone!  One row of seats, the walkway and the security guards between me and Kid! 
So close, that we could really feel the heat!

It was a spectacular show!  We had the best time and I would highly recommend his show to anyone who enjoys his music.  You can check out Robin's pictures here if you would like to see more.  (She actually remembered her camera so her pictures are much better than mine!)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Close Call

Many of you have called or sent emails to ask how close to our home the fires came.  Here is the lastest map released by Waller County.  The fire area is in red.  I have roughly marked the location of our house with a purple star on the left hand edge of the map.  We estimate the nearest fire line to be between 3/4 to one mile away, as the crow flies.

Too close for comfort, that's for sure!

Bulldogs VS Rangers: 2011

On Thursday, September 1...the Terry Rangers came to Waller to play a little football.
Will started out the game playing pretty aggressive.  It ALMOST felt like fall as the temperatures were in the mere mid-90's at 7 pm. 
He was pretty easy to spot for the first half as his left shoulder pad was hanging out of his uniform for most of that time! 
And then came a hit that stretched him out a little farther than he wanted to go.
So, he spent the second half on the bench trying to stretch out a groin strain.  But while he was playing, the Bulldogs pulled off a sweet touchdown that Brian captured on camera.
The final score was
Waller Bulldogs      7
Terry Rangers        13

It came down to the final moments...again...but this time the Bulldogs were not able to pull out the Win.
Since it was a home game, we got to see Wally, who graciously stopped and had a picture made with Davin.  (Sorry, I had to take this with my cell phone as we had the long lens on the camera!)
Davin was so thrilled! 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A (Rather Far Off) View To A Wildfire

I didn't take many photos. I didn't get any the first few days because: (1) the fire was not as close as the last one, so we thought we wouldn't be affected AND (2) when we were evacuated, we were sure it would only be for a day at most. I finally got my head about me around Wednesday and started snapping a few pictures.

It is hard to be prepared for the views that sometimes catch you by surprise...especially when you are driving. Thank goodness for my trusty iPhone. I think most of my pictures were taken on it.

The Riley Road Fire: Taken from 362 around Howell Road at 11 AM on 9/7/11
 Our home is located roughly two and half to three miles from where this picture is taken just to the left of the tallest tree.  A little too close for comfort.  Things looked to be coming under control when I snapped this picture as we were going on our daily recon mission.  But it wouldn't stay that way for long.

Riley Road Fire Spreads To 1488: Photo taken from Joseph and Rice Road around 3 pm
This photo was taken from roughly two miles away from the new flare up...but our home is no where near this end of the fires.
 We were going to check on the neighborhood as we went to pick Will up from school when the south end of the fire flared up in just moments.  It was a scary sight as just after I took this picture a school bus rounded that curve!

Riley Road Fire: 9/7/11 at around 10 PM
This is the view of the fire at night from roughly the same place as the first picture was taken.
Things were looking very promising as we returned to the neighborhood on Thursday morning.
Riley Road Fire: 9/8/11
Photo taken from 362 near Howell Road
As you can see, the smoke plume was no longer black but a white color.  We REALLY, REALLY thought that we would be able to go back home within the next 24 hours at this point.  But, as was the pattern of this fire...the mornings looked calm but the afternoons found higher wind speeds and flare ups that lasted into the night.

Riley Road Fire: 9/8/11 afternoon
This picture was taken at 362 looking down Reids Prairie...the street into our neighborhood.
 Things were not looking so good for the home team here.  The smoke was horrendous.  We couldn't even tell where the fires were because we couldn't see the plumes.  Our home is about three miles down this road.  And did you notice the 'Burn Ban' sign under the speed limit?  Yeah, someone needs to tell this wildfire that!

The smoke at our house on 9/8/11 (the game cam date is off by one day)
It is hard to see in the game cam picture alone...but when you look at the prior photos you can really tell how smoky it was at our house that day.  BUT look at that nice cool 67 degree temperature!  Too bad we missed all of those beautiful fall-like days worrying about a wildfire.  It is now back in triple digits!
Riley Road Fire: Photo taken from the Waller City Limits on 9/9/11
This is what it looked liked from our hotel.
Still quite a bit of smoke on Friday...but we were just sure that they would be letting us back in within 24 hours!

Not quite, but we were able to go home Sunday evening at 5 pm.  Someone was very wise and turned off our air conditioning before heading out the door.  Jim or I neither one can remember doing it...maybe Derrick did.  All I know is that because of that the smell of smoke is very faint inside our home.  Thank goodness!

It took us until this morning to get the house cooled back down...but it was so worth it!!!

This last picture is from my drive into work on Monday morning.  I found myself in this military convoy of about ten trucks hauling heavy equipment.

Military Equipment being moved out on 9/12/11.
You can still see the haze in the air...but what a wonderful sight to know that the heavy work is completed and that we are now on the downhill side of these forest fires! 

We aren't totally out of the woods yet, but we get closer with each passing hour.  This thing had so many names...The Magnolia Fire, The Tri-County Fire, The Riley Road seemed like a mythical hydra for a little while, they would stop it here and three more would break out there.  We are thrilled to be home but we know that so many of our neighbors are still in limbo or worse yet, suffering loss.  Please continue to keep this area in your prayers!