Monday, December 9, 2013


I saw a sign similar to this when we were driving back home from southeast Arkansas after Thanksgiving.  It was in several store windows around the town square in Bastrop, La.  The Lord has been bringing it to my mind over and over again this holiday season.  Hope it brings some of you the peace that it has brought to me.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thankfulness: Day 13

During my prayer time yesterday morning, I had three words that laid heavy on my heart:


I am not quite sure what I am supposed to do about them yet.  Well, I guess I kind of do...but, no clear instructions.  So, I wrote them on the ceramic easel that sits in my kitchen to bear witness to God's work in my life while I wait to hear from Him.

I am thankful that I can cast my cares upon the Lord who cares for me. (1 Peter 5:7)  And that when I lack wisdom, I can ask Him for it and He will give it liberally and without reproach.  (James 1:5)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thankfulness: Day 12

Twenty-nine years, 
nine months 
nine days.  

That is the amount of time that has passed since Jim and I last lived alone as a couple.  I'm sure that the actuality of the boys being gone has not really hit me yet.  Somewhere in the back of my mind they are probably expected in from a weekend trip to visit friends.  The reality of their 'empty' rooms will no doubt hit me at a moment when I least expect it.  But the truth is...they have moved on to a new chapter in their lives.  And I can honestly say that I am happy and excited for them.

Yes, I am also a little lost without them.  I thought I was doing so well last night as I bought groceries for two.  Then, as Jim helped me put them away, he joked that we needed to call someone over to drink all this milk.  I am so used to picking up a gallon of milk every time I go to the store that I didn't even think to look in the 'frig' to see if it was needed.  It wasn't.  We had over half a gallon left over.  Now we have a gallon and a half.

While I do miss my boys, I am also excited and looking forward to the next chapter in mine and Jim's lives together.  I pray that the adjustment is easy and that we find a routine that satisfies us both.  We have reminded each other for years that one day the kids would grow up and be out on their own. That is the way it was supposed to be.  But he and I, we were meant to be together 'until death do us part'.  

Now that the empty nest has arrived, I am thankful for the time Jim and I made for each other throughout our marriage.  I am thankful for the 'older women' who reminded me that even though it seemed easier to lose myself in our children's lives, my relationship with my husband had to be my top priority.  I am thankful for the twenty-nine years, nine months and nine days of first-hand parenting the five Blessings that the Lord gave us.  I am thankful for the wonderful people that they have become.  And I am thankful to be able to live out the words of Proverbs 31:25 (NLT)..."She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future."

Lord, may Jim and I both embrace the future that lies before us with strength, dignity and laughter...lots and lots of laughter.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Thankfulness: Days 6-11

Day 6: I am thankful for those who share their bounty.  Deborah's parents sent home extra 'valley lemons' with Brian after their date on Sunday.  It took me a few days to get around to them, but once I figured out that they are actually delicious Meyer Lemons...there was no way they were going to waste.  I made two lemon pound cakes.  Next up, Meyer Lemon Jelly!
Day 7: I am thankful for dear friends that always make time for a little fun in our lives.  This particular trip was to spend the evening visiting and shopping at the Fort Bend Junior League's Sugar Plum Market.  In the past few years we have helped Robin out with a booth; but this year it was just for fun.  No set-up, no tear-down...just food, laughter and a few glasses of wine to help us shop. A perfect Girl's Night with Stacy, Robin, Kelley, Jennifer and I.  We had a great time!
Day 8: I am thankful for inspiration.  I have been wanting a little spot like this in my backyard, but couldn't really express my idea to Jim.  On Friday, we were visiting a dealership to take possession of a couple of company trucks.  While waiting I found these quiet little nooks...just what I had in mind except with a fire pit.
Day 9: I am thankful for the opportunity to make memories with my family.  Jim and I set out Saturday morning for a weekend visit to Atlanta.  Rosa and Steve gifted us with tickets to a Falcons game for our birthdays.  We chose to go this particular weekend so that we could also celebrate the birthday of our favorite Atlanta Falcons Cheerleader, Naiz.  She is truly a beautiful girl, inside and out.  (This picture is from her birthday celebration dinner at Chops.)
Opening ceremony at the Falcons vs Seahawks game.

Rosa, Steve, Jim and I getting ready to fly to Augusta for dinner.
We didn't make it up, but we certainly made some memories!

Rosa and I with our headsets on...ready to fly.
Day 10: I continue to be thankful for the opportunity to make memories.  A Falcons game, an (almost) ride in the private plane, followed by a relaxing evening spent sitting in the Doubletree Lounge with Rosa and Steve for a little conversation. Priceless!

Day 11: I am thankful for the answers to prayers.  As you all know, I love to travel and to experience new places.  What you may not know is that my husband is the total opposite.  He would rather stay home than to be any place else.  (I attribute that to all of the travel he did in our early years of marriage as a sprinkler fitter.)  Any way, even though he doesn't love to travel as I do, he graciously does it because he loves me.  As we set out on this trip to Atlanta, I prayed that the Lord would pave the way before us and that it would be 'painless' for Jim.  Well, did He ever deliver!  Exceedingly, abundantly more than I could have ever asked or imagined.  No Houston or Atlanta.  Straight shots through security at both airports.  In Houston we did not even have a wait -- that never happens to me.  Our flight to Atlanta (on a small express jet) was only 1/3 of the way full.  Our flight home was overbooked but still made it off the runway on time.  The Lord provided us with a wonderful driver in Atlanta.  Shoot, even getting in to the Falcons game was relatively crowd-free.  And I captured a great photo of the Atlanta skyline on my phone:
It has been busy...but it has been good!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Thankfulness: Day 5

"Be still, and know that I am God!"
Psalm 46:10a

As I contemplated my busy day yesterday, I thought and thought about what I was most thankful for.  The moment that kept coming to mind was my Morning Quiet Time.  Most mornings, I make a pot of coffee, grab a cup and head off to 'my chair' with devotional, journal and pen.  

This thirty minute (or so) span of time grounds my day like nothing else.  And yet, it is also the first thing to go when I get busy, travel or we have guests come to visit.  I wish that were not so...but I wanted to be honest with you about my tendencies to 'not do the very thing I wish to do'.  

As I find myself surrounded by younger women in their child-raising years these days (namely my daughters and the girls at the office), I was reminded of how 'Morning Quiet Time' used to be just a dream.  A goal I aspired to during my own child-raising years.  

I now find myself in a different season of life and I am thankful that I have been able to achieve that goal on more mornings than not in 2013.  I am thankful for a husband who is a night-owl to my morning-lark...ensuring that 19 out of every 20 mornings I have time to sit long without any distractions.  And I am thankful that the Lord hears the cries of our hearts and that He doesn't forget.  During the toddler years, I remember crying some mornings just wanting time to go the bathroom by myself.  During these grandma years I am going to remember to enjoy the quiet...and the time.  

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Thankfulness: Day 4

Okay...I give.  I have come to accept that I will remain a day behind in my Thankfulness Challenge.  This year I am trying to look back on my day and focus on one of the many things that I am thankful for FROM that day.  I often know the "what" right away, but it takes me a bit to find a picture or to form the words of why I am thankful for that person or event.  So for yesterday...

Yesterday I met these two for lunch.

I picked up money from the livestock auction from them  (They took Jim's calves to auction for him on Saturday.)  But while we were enjoying our burgers and chicken fried chicken we were daydreaming about our upcoming trip here...
In May of 2014 Jim and I will be flying back to South Africa.  It is his belated 50th birthday present from me.  Bri and Josh have decided to come along for the adventure too!  It will be so much fun to share South Africa with the two of them.

We are planning on spending a couple of days sightseeing in Paris and then traveling on to Polokwane for Safari.  I love to travel.  And I especially enjoy traveling with people that I love.

I am thankful for the opportunity to share a dream trip with not only my husband, but with one of our children and son-in-loves.  I am thankful for having fun and exciting things to look forward to in 2014.  And I am thankful for the excitement that fills the table as we talk of our upcoming trip.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Thankfulness: Day 3

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Colossians 3:16 (ESV)

On this, the Lord's Day, I am thankful for my new church home.  This has been a huge leap for me.  I have been out of regular fellowship for nearly five years now.  (Since moving out into the country and finding the drive back to Alief too far to make on a regular basis.)  We have visited different churches but hadn't been able to find one that we felt at home in.  Finally, I just made the leap and joined one in our community.  

Don't get me wrong, the people are nice and I am beginning to feel at home here.  It is just such a huge difference from attending in a place where you have history to attending where you know not a soul.  (Well, technically I knew one soul...but it wasn't a personal 'knowing'...rather a child's friend's parent.)

Anyway, back to the thankfulness challenge.  Today I was able to carry on 'familiar' conversation during the break between Sunday School and church service.  That is the first step toward building relationships, right?  I am so very thankful for the friendships that have began in other congregations and that carry on until today.  I am looking forward to seeing how the Lord will work these people into my heart and life -- and me into theirs.  

And so, on Day 3, I am thankful for Fellowship at Field Store...for the time of study and worship there today...and for the sweet moments of familiarity that I experienced today.

(NOTE: This is posting on Monday because my iPad blogger app just would not cooperate with me last night.  The photo above is one of my favorites taken while Jim and I were back in Ashley County hunting a few weeks ago.  We got caught up in a rainstorm that filled the forest with an eerie fog and made it shine at the same time.)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Thankfulness: Day 2

I am thankful for the joy and life that fills our home when these little people visit.

And the very fact that I didn't get this posted last night because I sat down in front of a movie and fell asleep as soon as they left gives testimony to the follow up--I am thankful that all of my precious grandchildren have loving homes to return to after a visit with Nonna & Pappaw!

(Maddux, Brooke, Delayne and Elliot playing blocks on the back deck. Weston was asleep and Davin was on a hunting trip with his other Pappaw.)- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, November 1, 2013

Thankfulness: Day 1

“Sisters is probably the most competitive relationship within the family, but once the sisters are grown, it becomes the strongest relationship. ~Margaret Mead”

Perhaps never have those words been more true than of Rosa and myself.  As children, we did NOT get along.  In personality, we have always been polar opposites.  But as adults, she has become my best friend.  There is nothing I wouldn't trust her with.

I couldn't help but think of her today...after all, it is the anniversary of the day she became my sister.  So, I begin my month of Thankfulness remembering one of God's most grace-filled relationships in my life -- the joy of being her sister.

Happy birthday, Rosa! 

    I respect the Godly woman that you have become.  Your fierce loyalty to your family and friends makes me aspire to be more like you.  You always say you look up to me...I don't think I tell you enough how much I admire you.  May the Lord richly bless you in the year to come. 

I love you dearly!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Too Sweet Not To Share

I snapped this picture just after Christmas. Kelli and the kids were going to travel with us to visit Jim's parents in NE Arkansas. Since we were planning to leave early on Friday morning, they spent the night with us.

Our sweet Elliot just wasn't herself. She didn't want to eat and she fussed a lot. Friday morning Kelli decided to take her to the doctor instead of going with us. It turns out that Elliot was suffering from an ear infection.

But while they were here, poor Pib was worried about her. He can't see or hear very well but he knew she was not happy. While Kelli was loading the car, he decided to soothe Elliot.

It was so sweet!

Don't worry, we made him move right after I snapped this photo.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Sometimes Silence Is The Most Powerful Scream

I guess you all may have noticed by now that I'm not writing much lately.  I could give you a list of reasons why.

  • We are very busy at work OR
  • Our Internet service at home is spotty due to the much needed rain OR
  • I am in the middle of a Bible study and have little free time OR
  • We don't have exciting things going on OR
  • I forget.

But the honest answer would be that I am having a hard time finding 'my voice'.  I am just now realizing that I have been struggling with expressing myself for fear of failure or of disappointing someone.

You see, I started this blog in hopes of keeping our extended family in Arkansas (and beyond) updated with more of our day to day happenings.  A way of staying in touch, if you will.  But I'm not sure many of them actually drop in very often...or if they do, I am not aware of it.  By then, the blog had become my external hard drive.  When we wanted to revisit an event or be reminded of when we did what...we could almost always find a reference to it on the blog.  I even stored some of my most often visited recipes here.

And then the subtle criticisms began.  Once when I posted about a book I had read, someone anonymously commented that they wished I would quit talking about books and go take a walk instead.  Nothing was ever said harshly, but I felt like I was letting people down.

After the subtle criticisms came an even scarier prospect, expectations.  Those who love and support me in so many, many ways began making comments like I should write a book...or a Bible study...or how they loved my travelogue stories even though they were there for the travels.  And I began to shrink away.  My words became sparse.  I felt my voice growing squeaky as though my throat were clinched tight from the fear of disappointing. 

...Fast forward to October...

Several things are converging at once in my life right now. 

First of all, a few friends and I are completing the Kelly Minter Bible study, Ruth.  This has been a deeply moving study for me...especially as we dive into this last section on Legacy. 

Second, there are several blogs that I follow that are participating in the 31 Days Series.  If you are not familiar with it, in the month of October some bloggers choose to write for 31 days on a single topic.  Michelle DeRusha (formerly of Graceful) has been writing on the subject 'Authentic You'.  In a post a few days ago she talked about when she found herself mimicking Ann Voskamp's 'voice' and failing miserably.  She spoke about her struggle to realize that just as there is only one Ann...there is also only one Michelle.  (And I, for one, am grateful for both of them.)

Another blogger that I follow is Emily P. Freeman.  (I found out the hard way the other day on Amazon that I must include the P. in order to find her!)  In her "31 Days of Living Art", she wrote a post entitled 'This Is Your Courage, Fully Released'.  In that post was a sentence that took me back a bit and helped me to see my 'quietness' for what it really was...fear. 

"Was I me? Did I offer my genuine self into the presence of others as myself? Or did I show up as an imposter?"

So what if someone doesn't want to read what I think about a book?  That person, anonymous or not, doesn't have to keep reading.  They can come back in a few days to find pictures from that walk around the 17 acres...or not.  So what if I never write a book, or a Bible study?  Those friends who love and encourage me will still be there loving and encouraging me in whatever I do. 

And the topper...this quote from Lysa Terkwerst over at (in)courage today.

"Not everyone will be published but having your thoughts, life lessons, and creative stories captured in a place outside your mind is good. I would treasure one page of wisdom written by my great-grandmother. But all her words died with her. And that makes me sad."

If I want to leave a legacy for my very own family...I need to just be me.  I wish I had blog pages from my grandparents and great-grandparents to return to and to be reminded of where I came from.  I would cherish a book, a page, a paragraph...even a sentence of heartfelt sentiment from my grandmothers today.  So, why am I so hesitant to leave my own?

If you made it this far, thanks for reading!  I'm pretty sure either you love me dearly...or you deserve the medal of honor...maybe both.  I would appreciate your prayers for me as I 'find my voice' again and gather the courage to use it.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Meeting Mr. Weston

Monday afternoon we met our newest grandson. Weston Miles Ham was born on September 30 at 1:07 pm. A whopping 8 pounds and 13 ounces, at 20 1/2 inches long, we tease Kelli that he is already half grown. He was a stubborn little thing, making his mother wait for over eight hours before he made his arrival...but she said he was worth the wait.

Matt called at noon to tell me that he should arrive around two. But he came before I could make it halfway to the hospital. Brooke and Maddux were able to meet him first, and Elliot eventually came around and gave him a kiss on the forehead.

He opened his eyes to check out Pappaw talking to him.

Mom and baby are both doing well and should get out of the hospital later today. I meant to post pictures Monday night but Pappaw and I are tag teaming the care and feeding of the other three. They don't leave me much time with the iPad.

Honestly, I don't know how we made it with five children way back when. Pappaw and I may need a week's vacation when things get back to normal! - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, September 23, 2013

Living Proof...That Is What We Are

Last spring my cousin, Rita, called and invited me to join her, her daughter and other ladies from her church for Living Proof Live in Bossier City, LA. She and I have both taken and led Bible studies by Beth Moore...but this was Rita's first time to see her live.

Well, it turned into a family affair. Steeping in the Word is a great way to spend a weekend with those you love the most. Especially with such a gifted teacher and a heart healing topic like escaping the traps of the Enemy.

Back in June, we decided to invite her mom and mine to join us for the weekend. Then just the Sunday before, Derrick decided to send Meagan along for a girls getaway weekend.

Both mom and my Aunt Fran had three generations attending the event. It was a sweet time of fellowship and a memory I will cherish for years to come. Thanks for the invite, Rita. Sorry we took over your weekend! LOL!

Mom, Lauren (a friend of Brittany's), Aunt Fran, Rita, Brittany and Meagan
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Happy As Pigs In...

My Razorbacks are 3-0! After last year's gosh-awful season, I am taking the time to enjoy every moment that I possibly can.

We have had Game Day Watch parties every Saturday so far...even if it meant we had to pay to the watch the game.  I snapped these pictures on opening weekend ...but they really do tell the story of our season thus far.

August 31
vs. Lousiana Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns
"It's the start of a new season, right?  
It can't possibly be as bad as the John L. Smith year, right?"
Final Score: 34-14
Our first 'W'!
September 7
vs Samford Bulldogs
"We are hopeful (like Bri)...
but still a bit anxious (like Delayne).
Come on boys, we gotta show the world that we are not pushovers."
Final Score: 31-21
Another 'W'!
September 14
vs Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles
"Things are looking up!  
All smiles because we are playing a team that hasn't won a game in two years...
surely we can count on this 'W', right?"
Of course, then our QB went out in the first quarter after bruising his shoulder as he dove into the end zone for our first touchdown.
Final Score: 24-3
Today, September 21
at Rutgers Scarlet Knights
"Our first real test of strength.  
Will Brandon Allen be back in at QB?
Can the Razorbacks handle some stronger competition?"
We are chewing on our fingernails 
(or iPhones, as the case may be)...
and hoping for the best...
Because next week we face Texas A&M and Johnny Football, himself.

Man, it is going to be a long season!


Friday, September 20, 2013

And Since We Are Talking Football...

Here is our office staff in their NFL colors celebrating the kickoff of the 2013 regular season on September 5, 2013.

Houston Texans, New Orleans Saints, Houston Texans and New England's going to be an interesting year!

I confess that at first I cropped this picture so that Wesley's Saints visor said 'aints'...which I found quite humorous but I know a few friends and family who take their N.O. football seriously!!  And, as my grandmother taught me, if you can't say anything good, then just don't say anything at all.  ;-)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Custom Fire Protection's College Colors Day 2013

I love holidays...even the made-up ones.

 And I love college football...even when my team is breaking my heart.

So it will come as no surprise to y'all that I love College Colors Day!  And I thoroughly encourage full company wide participation.  Unfortunately this year we only had three of us here!
Wesley sporting his proud purple LSU Tigers.  Me in my Arkansas Razorback red.  And Danielle representing football widows all across America!  (She cracks me up.)

I even took the day to change out the colors in my office.

Fall may not officially arrive until this Sunday, according to the calendar...but for me, it began on August 31 with the first kickoff to the sound of 'Woo Pig, Soiee!"

Let's Go Hogs!  2013 has to be better than 2012, right?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Taking Someone Else's Vacation

Way back in August...about the time I quit posting completely...we were honored by a last minute 'mini-vacation' visit from my cousin and her family.  Brandi and Joey decided to take a few days before Tiffany and Sarah started back to school and come down to Texas for a long weekend.

It was such a special time to me.  First of all, I really enjoy visiting with my family.  But even more, it took me back to the days when my children were young and Aunt Fran would come down to Texas for a week of day trip sight seeing or an overnight stay someplace new.

Brandi and Meagan are just a year apart, so many of their childhood 'adventure' memories are the same. This time around, they were able to revisit some of those memories with their children in tow.

Thursday we went to Galveston Island to enjoy a little Beach Time:

Beach Babe Delayne enjoying the waves

Family lunch at Tortuga

The we checked into Hilton's Galveston Island Resort for the night:

Friday morning we spent a little more time in the pool until check out..then we headed to Space Center Houston:

And finally, dinner on the way home...Aunt Fran's choice:

We had a great visit...Bri, Meagan and I teasing them about us enjoying their vacation.  Aunt Fran and I reminisced about watching our children playing in the surf and gazing at all the displays at Space Center while watching our grandchildren enjoying those same sights now.  It was a wonderful weekend.  We just wish that Kelli and the kids had been able to join us too.

I will close with this picture of our entire group from NASA:

Brianne, Joey, Brandi, Aunt Fran, Tiffany, Sarah, Delayne, Davin, me and Meagan

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, August 16, 2013

Flashback Friday: It's (Not) In The Cards

This week's Flashback goes back to a quiet Sunday afternoon in March. Mom and Aunt Sylvia had come down for a quick visit and we decided to play some Spades.  About five hands into our game I was a dealt a hand that was so frustrating that I had to take a picture of it to show everyone when we finished.
The 'perfect' nil hand...all except that unbeatable Ace of Spades!  My, my, my!  At least my partner got a good laugh out of it when we were done.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Happy Birthday, Jim!

In honor of The Love of My Life's birthday, here are a few of my favorite pictures from the past year that have not yet made the blog.
My handsome Chauffeur on our way to dinner.

Our strong shoulder in tough times.

My daredevil (who puts on a helmet only to be a good example for his grandson who is watching as he races).

Hog fan.

Always working on something.
Best Pappaw, Ever!
Jim and Davin posing with their shotguns and talking about dove hunting.

Jim teaching Brooke how to shoot the .22.

Jim and Maddux mugging at a wedding.

Celebrating Elliot's first birthday with a sweet kiss.

Delayne's piggy-back ride.
And my One True Love!
Happy Birthday, Baby!
Here's to many, many more.
Love you to the moon and back!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Flashback Friday: Rodeo 2013 Girl's Night - Take Two

Rodeo Houston, now know as the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, is one of my favorite times of the year.  It is a chance to get together with friends and family for a fun night out on the town...and usually includes a good concert to end the evening.

I normally make five to six visits a year, but this past year was so busy that I made it to the show only three times.  I shared the first back in March when we had Girl's Night with Bruno Mars.  The last visit I shared on a Flashback Friday when the girls and I went to see George Strait on Saint Patrick's Day.  Here are pictures from my only other visit, when Robin and I went to see one of our favorite 'Rednecks'.
Fonda & Robin, ready to roll!
With a slight detour slowing us down, we made it to Reliant Stadium after the rodeo had begun...but with a little time to visit the Wine Garden and enjoy the beautiful evening before concert time.
Our favorite 'redneck'...and Jim's too.  Can you guess who it is?

Mr. Blake Shelton, live and in person.
Robin got to enjoy a little face-time with him before the show.
Yes, she was one happy girl!  And we had a great time, singing along to all the songs.  I didn't realize how many of his songs I knew by heart.

PS...I stole that last picture off of her Facebook page.  Shhh!  Don't tell!