Wednesday, November 12, 2014

It's All In The Journey

This post was written on November 12th and for whatever reason, was never posted. Though the date above says November 12, I am hitting publish on December 31. There is now more to the story which I will post soon.

Yesterday morning as I drove in to work, I was listening to a short audio book by Anne Lamott when I heard a quote that stuck in my head and heart.

"We're all just walking each other home."  

Ram Dass - As quoted in Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair by Anne Lamott

I'd never heard of the original author of that quote before yesterday and am totally unfamiliar with his theology. (Though a quick internet search leads me to believe that it is not the same as mine.) However, when I think on that quote, line it up beside one of my life verses (Romans 12:15) and consider the ministry that the Lord has called me speaks to a deep longing in my soul.

I find myself in a very tender place with the Lord these days. He is teaching me to open myself up to Him more fully, to ask Him for the desires of my heart, and more importantly, to trust Him with the answers.  I know that sounds elementary to a lot of people.  It would have sounded that way to me just a few short months ago.

Then, in early September, Jim and I made a trip back to Arkansas to work on the family deer lease.  It was supposed to be a long weekend filled with tree trimming, relocating deer stands and the like.  Unbeknownst to us, the Lord had ordained our trip to coincide with my dad being diagnosed with a metastatic melanoma on his brain.  Our long weekend turned into a week filled with waiting, tests, doctor's appointments, more waiting, and a little tree trimming thrown in for good measure (AKA stress relief).

We didn't just decide to stay the week, it sort of unfolded day by day.  We packed our bags at least three different times to head home. But the Lord was gracious and He either impressed on us that we were not to leave yet or He sent the newest bits of information just before we were to pull out.

The rest of September is a blur for me.  I spent a lot of hours driving back and forth between Waller and Little Rock.  First there were the appointments with his oncologist, followed by ones with the radiologist, and finally a surgeon.  The next trip was for surgery itself, which went so wonderfully that God Himself had to have been in that room.  We were prepared for a long recovery IF daddy woke up. (The tumor was located on the area of the brain which causes you to wake.)  Instead, we were talking to him within an hour.

He had massive radiation in October and his health is still not as stabilized as we would like. The oncologist thinks he is too weak for the chemo right we wait. And we hope.  But mostly, we pray.  Openly. Honestly. We plead for healing and mercy and strength...because really, there is nothing that we can do to change any of it.

One week he sounds strong and nearly back to his old self.  The next, he is weak and tired as he struggles to just feel 'better'.

Please don't take this the wrong way. I am not ready to walk my daddy home. He's not ready to be walked there either. Heavens, he is only 69 years young!

But, in other ways, we are all doing this every single day.  As we build memories, share burdens and joys, listen to one another's hearts and simply 'do life' together...we are walking each other home. We are being the hands and feet of Christ to those He has brought into our lives. As we laugh, cry, and sit in silence together, we are moving a little closer to home.

I, for one, am grateful for the journey...and I am glad for the companionship offered by each of you, my fellow sojourners!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Whatever Happened To Thanksgiving?

This has been on my mind for weeks and I just can't keep it to myself any longer.

It all began when I went shopping the third week of October for our annual "Boomaster" trophy to be given to the winner of our employee pumpkin decorating contest.  I walked into Kirklands to find not only all of the Halloween merchandise marked down to clearance prices but also all of the Thanksgiving.  And when I say 'all of' I mean a small shelving unit of Halloween and an even smaller display table with maybe a dozen Thanksgiving items on it.  But, hey, it was just Kirklands, right?

A week later, I began shopping for a 'Little Pumpkins' diaper shower that our women's ministry is hosting for our local pregnancy center this Saturday.  Pumpkins should be easy to find at the end of October and beginning of November, right?


Walmart's Thanksgiving section is anemic...if you can find it.  A few clearance tablecloths and kitchen towels stood at one end of an aisle.  An assortment of placemats and fall candles stood at the other.  Not a dish or a fake pumpkin to be seen!

Target?  Nope!

Michael's netted me a small bag with one fake pumpkin and four strings of felt pumpkin garlands.

Hobby Lobby is probably the best place for Thanksgiving items...but even that selection tends to be a little sparse outside of dishware and garlands.

Even finding fall candy for the candy buffet has been a challenge.  Candy Corn, which was everywhere before Halloween has disappeared.  And if you think anyone actually carries all those cute bags of M&M's in fall're delirious.  I found two!  TWO!  But if you want the green and red ones for Christmas...I can hook you up!!!

Oh...and HEB was out of turkeys THREE AND A HALF WEEKS before Thanksgiving!

Maybe it's been this way for awhile...the disappearing of Thanksgiving, I mean.  I haven't noticed.

We normally spend Thanksgiving on the deer lease with my Dad's side of the family and I am never responsible for much more than a covered dish.  But this year, we are spending Thanksgiving at home.  Dear friends are traveling across the country to see us before they move to the Philippines where they are retiring.  And last year, with most of our family back here in Houston, I longed to be home with them.

And so it is that I find myself on the great Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt.  I'm pretty sure I will eventually find that turkey...but it sure makes me sad to realize that our whole culture has nearly eliminated a national holiday.  One that's very meaning is to gather with family and simply say 'Thank You, Lord' for our many blessings.

Whatever happened to Thanksgiving?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Girls Weekend: Fredericksburg

Months and months ago, the girls and I sat down with a calendar and chose a date for a Mother/Daughter Get Away.  Since it was April at the time, we booked the weekend of October 16-19 to head over to Fredericksburg for some wine tasting and retail therapy.

It really does take a solid six months to arrange open schedules for three daughters, three sons-in-love and seven grandchildren.  Between holidays, our own birthdays and events on the other side of the families...our calendars remain FULL.

The weekend finally arrived for us to load up my car and head west toward the Texas Hill Country.

I had been praying about our trip for weeks prior to our departure date.  I was asking the Lord to bless our time together...and though our girls are already very close, I prayed that the Lord would knit their hearts even closer together during our concentrated time away.  Well, we had a great time of fellowship and lots of laughs as we drove the three and a half hours from Waller to our destination.

Brianne and Kelli on the trip over
Upon our arrival in town, we stopped for a (really) late lunch at The Fredericksburg Brewery.  With our stomachs sated, we headed over to the house to unload our luggage and for the girls to choose their rooms.  Since this was the same house that Stacy, Robin and I visited back in February, I already knew that I was taking the downstairs bedroom so that the three of the them could be upstairs together.

After unloading all of the bags and wandering through the house, we headed back to Main Street to hit a few of the shops.  Unfortunately, they were all closing up for the night.  So, we decided to run through Wal-Mart to pick up some things for late night snacks and easy breakfasts...and a Chick Flick to settle in with for the night.

Bri fixed us up this beautiful spread while Meagan opened a couple of bottles of wine and I tried (to no avail) to get the movie started.  Well, the DVD player did not want to we decided on a Project Runway marathon instead.
The perfect 'Wine Dinner' prepared by Bri
Salami, cheese, strawberries and chocolates.
It really did seem like old times with the girls spread out around the living room while we discussed what we thought about each designer's choices and the judge's decisions.  It's been a long, long time since I have experienced television viewing and 'girl talk'.  We soon turned in for the night and the sweetest sound graced my ears as I listened to the three girls upstairs talking and laughing only sisters can.

The next morning I rose early and started the coffee.  The girls trickled downstairs and after each one made their way to the coffee pot, my favorite and least expected time of the day occurred.  Each one grabbed a cup of coffee and crawled up in the bed with me.  Sometimes up under the covers, other times sprawled at the foot of the bed...and the moment was so sweet that I half regretted that the limo would be arriving in a few short hours for our wine tasting tour.

Randy of Fredericksburg Limo and Wine Tours picked us up at 11 o'clock sharp.  Now, since the two oldest girls were experiencing their first full night away from children under the age of 1...they weren't moving as quickly as Brianne and I were.  (We had strict instructions not to wake them before 9 AM if they happened to be able to sleep that late!)  But we did pull away from the house before 11:30.

Brianne and Meagan in the limo
Time to go wine tasting!
We didn't take as many pictures as I would have liked...but the reason we didn't is that we were just enjoying the time together.  Phones put away.  Conversation flowing.  Laughter trailing behind us.
My girls and I at 4.0 Cellars
Deborah was able to join us on Friday at our first wine tasting stop.  She ended up spending the whole weekend with us...even joining us in our early morning coffee ritual.

Grape Creek with the girls plus Deborah
We stopped at 4.0 Cellars, Grape Creek Winery (my favorite winery), lunch at Inwood Estates Bistro (not a fan), Alexander Vineyards (they actually make their wine in France and their current location is a trailer...but they have good bubbly, making it Kelli's favorite), and finally Becker Vineyard (Meagan's favorite).

It was now time to head back to the Dalton House and unload all of that wine.  We ended up eating at little open air restaurant beside Grape Creeks Main Street Tasting Room.  I can't remember the name of it, but I knew that live music would begin after dark.  Robin, Stacy and I tried unsuccessfully to get a table there back in February, so we made our way to the restaurant just before dark...and had great seats with great food and some pretty good music.

Friday night found most of us in bed much earlier than the night before...but not until a few episodes of Dance Moms!

Saturday we really took it easy.  I don't think we even got out of the house until around noon.  We made our way to Bejas Grill, and since we had a 45 minute wait, we passed the time strolling through some of the shops nearby.  (AND I ran into a good friend who happened to be in town with her mother, daughter and sister.)  After a delicious lunch, we wandered through a few more of the shops...making our way back to a place that had been on our agenda all along.  Fiesta Winery's Tasting Room!!! (Brianne's favorite)

Between the five of us we had purchased 90 bottles of wine!  

After a full day of shopping, we decided to head over to Crossroads Saloon and Steakhouse for a nice evening out.  We had an hour plus wait for a table, but since the band tuned up in the saloon soon after we arrived, it didn't seem like a long wait at all.  (And we ran into my friend, Phyllis again!  Great minds!!)  We had a wonderful meal and thought we might go back to the saloon afterwards but that place was then PACKED!  Instead, we decided to go back to the Dalton House and unwind in the hot tub with some of our newly scored loot.

Sunday morning, after our coffee ritual, we began packing up the car for the trip home.  We met up with Brian for lunch on Main Street at Wheeler's and a bit more shopping on the north side of the street.  It was then time to say goodbye to Brian and Deborah and head home.

It was an amazing weekend.  And thankfully the girls are already planning our next trip for a weekend away.  They say it will take about five years for them to arrange the husbands and children again...but that's okay by me.  We still get to take time for Girls Night Out between now and then.

Oh, and here's a picture of my haul for the weekend!

50 bottles of wine later...I think I'm good for the rest of the year!

(Don't judge!  Most of these wines can only be purchased at the winery itself and I will not be back for awhile!)

But it's the memories of the time we spent together that are my true treasures!