Category Archives: Relationships

A little photo journal of Austin 2021 <3

For the record, traveling to see our son for the first time after a year and a half of Covid crazy (thankfully he has been able to come home but we have not been to see him) during the 20th anniversary of 9/11 for someone who carries far too much emotion any one human being needs to deal with may have pushed the envelope for this girl right here.

So as I decompress and hydrate myself from water loss due to tears, here are some photos from our little getaway to Austin this past weekend.

First off, I never ever ever get tired of having a window seat on a plane. While I suffer severe fear of heights when my feet are firmly planted on planet earth, I find looking out a plane window to be one of the greatest delights and can’t resist snapping pictures…

We also enjoyed the snacks tremendously since we could remove our masks while eating and drinking…we stretched that out as long as we could…

John had a bunch of fun and interesting things planned for our visit, but first we made a stop to his new office…

and I think all the moms would agree that stuff like this is just the best to get to sit and watch.

I am picture-hanging challenged so I just enjoyed watching these two work their magic.

We took in a baseball game at Round Rock with one of John’s high school buddies who also migrated to Texas.

John wanted us to see Fredericksburg this trip and particularly the National Museum of the Pacific War. Fredericksburg is the home of Admiral Nimitz and let me tell you, they have spared no amount of square footage or ink to detail the entire story of the Pacific portion of WW 2.

It was like taking a history class…we literally spent three hours walking through and reading as much as our brains could absorb.

If you remember from my opening paragraph, my emotions were already on high intensity overload and when I read the dates of things and thought about my own parents being married several days before Christmas 1942, it hit home what things they lived through and just soldiered on with little complaint of the hand they were dealt.

My dad was born into the first great pandemic and the opening shots of WW1. My mom was born a year later. They lived through the Great Depression, the terrible flood of Louisville the year my mom should have graduated from high school. They were married at the onset of WW2.

They worked hard to make life good for me and to serve others and I am so thankful for them increasingly as the years pass.

The museum was hard. The hatred and conflict and horrors of war was not played down in the displays. Things our country did..things other countries did…showed the depth of cost that wars bring.

And so it was rather sweet to step outside and visit this lovely garden…

a gift from the people of Japan.

This sweet sign explains the heart behind it:

My mom and dad served in Japan after the war and made lasting friends with several Japanese families. They loved the country and their time there and I am grateful that is my memory planted from the war as a gift from my parents.

We returned to Austin in time to watch this one play softball..

which was fun to be cheering him on again from the bleachers and he still blows me kisses when he scores a run so that was sweet.

Afterward we made a run to Home Depot, cause that’s our thing…

We ate lots of good food, enjoyed being a part of a slice of his every day life and as always unsuccessfully fought back tears when we parted ways.

Always fun to visit Texas and always hard to leave that boy behind….but thankful he is always close at heart.

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Growing pains <3

I finished the book “Boundaries” in July and wanted to share a little life lesson God gave me as I was working my way through it.

It is a fact that if I am learning or studying or teaching something, God will faithfully let me live out the words I am underlining and taking notes on.

At the same time I was reading this older book, I was doing the new Truthfilled Bible Study by Ruth Chou Simons where she walked me through the discipline of preaching God’s truth to my heart in all the seasons that seem to present themselves in our Journey with Christ. 

So my testimony begins on a Saturday when Zach was working and we invited Rachel and the kiddos for some summer fun to help fill the hours until dad would be home. We went to the pool and had a nice lunch and then topped it all off with the cheapest “amusement park” known to man…Scheel’s. 

We did all the things and had a blast and when it was near time to part ways, Rachel relented to the many appeals presented and we got tokens to ride the big Ferris wheel.

Graham felt he was old enough to ride alone, Caroline was characteristically glued to her mom’s side, Emmett of course had snagged Papi and so it was only natural that my little Achille’s Heel would ride with me.

I was more than happy to be able to be a protective arm around him and knew I would draw comfort myself from holding him close. 

Only Joel wasn’t having it. 

There we stood in the line and this goober, who I have defended in the most precarious of circumstances where his innocence was non-existent…but those eyes saved him every time…started tearing up that he didn’t want to ride with Lola. 

Have you ever been standing in the middle of a normal setting and yet inside you feel like the earth just opened up and swallowed you whole? 

As he fought back the tears, I fought back my own.

I was embarrassed and every insecurity within me rose up kind of shouting…”What kind of grandma are you? Your grandson doesn’t even want to sit by you on a Ferris wheel?”

Rachel worked her magic and somehow conveyed to her first born he needed to bail Lola out.

Joel was moved to join Team Papi/Emmett, and Graham and I rode together.

As it turned out, when the Ferris wheel started climbing higher and there was a slight sway that was about to make me ill, he took my hand and said he hadn’t realized what this would feel like and he was sure glad we were riding together. 

It was sweet and it helped a lot. But there was still an ache.

And the voices that tell me often that I am not enough and I don’t do relationships well and all the other lies that have crept in over the years were hard to silence.

But God. 

God used the two books I was working on to remind me of some things and solidify the reading into application. 

When we got home I went for a long walk and I talked to God.

I told Him what He already knew. I told Him that my heart was hurting and asked Him what just happened and please fill me with what is the truth. 

His Spirit reminded me of the fruits of the Spirit first as I walked and let Him talk to me.

I wasn’t sure how this was fitting into my question, but I kept naming them, which is always a challenge because I will leave one and then another out and have to go over and over until I get them all remembered.

So I said them until I could say them straight without forgetting and then I asked Him if these were the fruits, why do I fail at producing them. Where was the peace and joy and why was I so bad at having that?

To which He reminded me that branches don’t work to make fruit.

Branches just stay connected to vines and trees and such and the roots feed them and the fruit is borne on them but their job is just to stay in their lane. Being a branch. 

His Spirit whispered to me that was what I was doing. By walking and talking to Him and focusing on truth about Him, He would bear that fruit of joy and peace in me. Gradually as I walked and just was in His presence, I began to feel at peace.

So that was the Truthfilled lesson applied. 

As I preached this truth to my soul, I was reminded of the Boundaries book that was supposedly making such an impact on me and yet I had not yet had opportunity to apply.

Now I did. 

In the Boundaries book it talks about how we have to learn what is ours and what is not and we protect what is ours and what is not by saying “No”. We need to learn what our “no’s” are and whether people like it or not, they must eventually respect our boundaries JUST AS WE respect theirs.

Joel had given me a “no” because he associates me with his being the youngest boy. 

Riding with Papi and Emmet was a right of passage into being a big boy. Riding with Lola was like Caroline riding with mommy. 

It wasn’t me, it’s what I represent. 

As I walked, I realized that my relationship with each of the children is going to change. But the changes are not a rejection.

I need to respect their “no’s” as I except them to respect mine.

The truth is the big boy that didn’t want to have to ride with his Lola on the Ferris wheel, has come up multiple times since that day when he is tired and needing reassurance and reached up to be held for a brief moment just like always. 

These times will lessen in the years to come, but his love and mine will not change.

Our love will be expressed within the boundaries of growth.

He is growing up. 

So am I.

We both find growing pains to be difficult at times, but thankfully we have a God who loves us and understands us and will guide us through <3 

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Beach life, best life <3

I should have labeled this a bunch of randoms. Also be forewarned, it is as much photos as words, but both are important so bear with me.

We stayed at Santa Rosa Beach this time and found it to be quite family friendly area. The condo we stayed in provided public beach access within walking distance, lots of food and ice cream places and miles of walking.

It is not as congested and built up as some areas closer to Destin and we enjoyed the beach area, although one day we did enjoy a beach located in a state park area.

Once again the trip coincided with dear friends and the kiddos had a blast whether on the beach, in a pool, ordering ice cream while their parents had a date night…

or stalking reptiles in the wild…eeeeek….

all good.

I pray protection over these ties that bind in the years to come and hope these two families grow up and grow old together. We have been blessed to enjoy the ride and be included in the fun.

Friendships are fragile.

Sometimes they are lost on ground that one or the other or both cannot move past.

We know the heartache of this kind of loss and we know the joy of longevity that decided there was nothing more important than the relationship.

One day we enjoyed a little “golf” outing on Zach …

reliving Rachel’s childhood.

We took our three to Big Kahuna’s back in the day and as far as we can tell they have not changed one single thing except the prices….$$$$$$$$$$

Rachel proved she still has it with a couple of holes in one…

and while we sweated off several pounds of water, we had a great time.

And this one proved you don’t even have to swing a club to enjoy Big Kahuna’s:

Russ treated us to a Dolphin Cruise again.

We did one two years ago and enjoyed it thoroughly.

The first one we did was on a smaller craft, this one was a double decker – both wonderful.

We saw a lot of dolphins and even some jelly fish which was interesting to watch.

At the end, the captain thanked us for joining the fun and reminded us that Jesus loves us.

That was a perk we weren’t expecting <3

As I looked through other photos, I realized that beach pictures can reveal more of us and our children than we need…but I am vulnerably sharing this one because it represents a most tender realization that this may have been the last year Caroline comes to tell me she’s tired and would I please hold her so she can rest a widdle bit.

I also share it as proof positive for those of you in my life who, when I say I cannot just wash my hair and go and you have told me you are sure it would be fine…it isn’t.

Now let’s all thank the good Lord I live in an age of blow dryers, curling irons and enough hair product to transform that hot mess into something that is presentable <3

We talked some with the kids and adults about the value of returning to the same place annually and landed on the fact that it is exciting to go and see new places, but there is also a kind of comfort in returning to an area and visiting familiar restaurants, doing the same night time crab hunt, ordering ice cream at the same window, hitting up the beach one night in your good clothes for a sundown pic…that feed the soul.

In a crazy world that changes hourly, there is something about the ocean that reminds me of the constancy of God.

Day in…day out…

the surf rolls in, the tides ebb and flow…

They bring their treasures up from the deep and return for more…

while we go on with the daily…

trying to keep our footing on calendars and schedules and relationships….

God is in control.

He created the vast ocean and all that lives in it and He created us.

He cares for us and He holds us together.

He sustains our lives and our times are in His Hands.

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