Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!


And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11

Friday, December 24, 2010

Of Christmases Past

I have been stuck in a state of nostalgia reminiscing about the Christmases of my childhood. This is directly related to the Christmas Traditions radio station I am listening to that is playing songs from the 40’s to 60’s. Music is a powerful evoker of memories.

My earliest memory of Christmas was the year my granddaddy died. I was around five years old. Both my family and my uncle’s family were gathered at my grandparent’s farm in central Texas. This farm was actually my grandmother’s birthplace. As the baby of her family, she inherited the farm from her parents. Her brothers and sisters lived on nearby farms that were all a part of their parent’s original acreage.

The house was built similar to a dog trot cabin and modified over the years. There was a central hall down the middle of the house that opened in the back to a screened-in porch. The house had a big porch across the front with several steps leading down to the yard. We used to sit on the porch and snap peas. On one side of the hall was a large room with a fireplace that my grandparents used as a bedroom. On the other side of the house were the living room, dining room, and large kitchen. There were two large bedrooms upstairs with a storage area in between them. To get to the upstairs bedrooms you had to go outside on the screened-in porch and go through a narrow door to get to the stairs. The one bathroom was also accessed off of the screened porch. It was obviously an addition to the original house. (I can remember it being quite chilly having to go out there on a cold night.) There was always a pail of water by the back door with a dipper hanging above it so that you could come in from the fields and get a fresh drink of water. The water came from a well in the back yard and you actually had to let a bucket down into the well to draw the water. There was a smokehouse in the backyard in which we played. I loved everything about that old house in the country. This city girl was enamored of that Walton-like lifestyle before I even knew what it was!

I’m sure this particular Christmas Eve we were all gathered there because we knew it would be the last one with granddaddy. Both my two cousins and their parents and my sister and I and our parents were sleeping upstairs and anxiously awaiting the arrival of Santa. As if on cue, the cousins got up while it was still dark to check to see if Santa had come and gone. I remember sitting in the dark stairwell waiting until my grandparents awakened and we could go in their room where the Christmas tree was located (for my granddaddy’s benefit) and open presents. I got a beautiful Madame Alexander doll that I wish I still owned.

A couple of days later my granddaddy died and within a year the farm was sold and my grandmother moved into town. Not too many years later the farmhouse burned to the ground. I’m sure that is why this memory is etched so vividly in my memory.

From that time forward until Judy and I were teenagers, our family tradition was to celebrate our immediate family’s Christmas on Christmas Eve because we were either going to relative’s houses the next day or were busy preparing for them to join us for Christmas dinner. After dinner on Christmas Eve, daddy would “say let’s go look at the Christmas lights.” Then he would tell us to go ahead and get in the car. So grandmother, Judy, and I would obediently go get in the car and wait for Mama and Daddy to finish whatever they were doing and join us. Judy and I, being the smart girls we were, knew that what they were really doing was putting the Santa presents under the tree. So…after a few minutes of waiting, we would get out of the car and tiptoe up to the picture window in front of which stood the Christmas tree and peek through the venetian blinds to see what Santa had brought. I think Grandmother enjoyed this charade as much as we did – she loved Christmas. We would ride around for a while looking at the lights until daddy said “Do you think Santa has come yet?” We would drive home and what do you know!!! Santa had come!!

Tomorrow we will be making more memories to hold close to our hearts. I hope that you will, too!

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Good Read

I am a voracious reader. In fact, one of my favorite things to do is go to Barnes and Noble and spend an evening browsing, topped off with a café latte. A dear friend and I like to go to see authors at area bookstores who read portions of their books and answer questions. We have seen Amy Tan, Isaac Stern, Edmund Morris, and too many others to name. My sister and I saw Condeleeza Rice and bought her most recent book earlier this month. I am not picky about genres, however I would probably say that historical fiction is my favorite and science fiction...not so much.


I am currently reading a book that is certainly not a light read, but one that is convicting to a Christian, a professed disciple of Christ. It is a biography titled Bonhoeffer, Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a theologian during the rise of Hitler and Nazi Germany. The book chronicles his journey of faith.

After visiting America in the early 1930’s, Bonhoeffer commented “In New York (he was attending seminary there) they preach about virtually everything, only one thing is not addressed, or is addressed so rarely that I have as yet been unable to hear it, namely, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the cross, sin and forgiveness, death and life. So what stands in place of the Christian message? An ethical and social idealism borne by a faith in progress that – who knows how – claims the right to call itself “Christian.” …some churches are basically “charitable” churches, others have primarily a social identity. One cannot avoid the impression, however, that in both cases they have forgotten what the real point is.” He also said “I believe that the Bible alone is the answer to all our questions, and that we need only to ask repeatedly and a little humbly, in order to receive this answer. Only if we expect from it the ultimate answer, shall we receive it. That is because in the Bible God speaks to us.”

His utter submission to the will of God ultimately cost him his life as he stood against Hitler and the Nazis and with the Jews. As he was being taken to be executed (although he had not been told where he was going), he said “This is the end, for me the beginning of life.”

If you want to read a book about an amazing man who was mightily used by God, then read this book. If you want to be challenged to live a life in awe and wonder at the grace that was obtained at the foot of the cross, then read this book.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I know, I know, I’ve been missing in action since it is now Thanksgiving and my last post was on Nov. 1. Life has been happening in between and I just haven’t had the gumption to write about it. Do you ever feel like there would just be too much explaining to do?

However, it is a beautiful blue sky morning and I can’t let the weekend pass without publicly giving thanks for the grace that has been extended to me as a daughter of the King. I couldn’t face the future without the assurance that God’s love never fails and His grace is sufficient to see me through, no matter what may come. God is good!

Now to catch up…I have been off the whole week, which has been a welcome respite from a very busy fall at work. My job entails training secondary social studies teachers for the new and much more rigorous end-of-course state exams we will be administering next year. I could write a whole post on this subject alone. Let me just say that this is probably why I’ve not posted in so long.

Monday Amy brought the girls over and we went shopping at the outlet mall. We didn’t buy much, but learned that Katie takes after her Grammy and loves to shop. However, she is either very opinionated for a two and a half year old, or her favorite word is no! She loves to try on ladies’ shoes and pretty much anything that is hanging on a rack. Ha! Hannah just enjoyed being along for the ride.

Tuesday and Wednesday morning I began my Christmas decorating. We left Wednesday afternoon for the Hill Country. Every other year (whenever the UT/A&M game is in Austin) we have Thanksgiving up in the Austin area so we can go to the game. This year Judy and family rented a house in Wimberley for the week. Dan and I stayed in the San Marcos Embassy Suites next to the outlet mall. The San Marcos Outlet Mall is probably one of the biggest attractions in Texas.

Everything was so nice and calm there when we arrived that we decided to stroll around on Wednesday night. I was even able to rack up bargains for next Thanksgiving at the Pottery Barn outlet. But, oh my goodness, what a difference a day made…more on that later.

We got to Wimberley about 11:00 in the morning and spent several hours rocking on the porch and enjoying the view. When I retire I want to move to a house with a front and back porch with a rocker and a swing.



Dan decided he’d just take a little nap before lunch. After all, there was a nice breeze…


Others of us decided the swing was perfect…


This was the view… The windmill in the distance was going strong. The cold front had not made it through yet.


Who said Texas doesn’t have mountains??




I’ll take that little ranch. I wonder how much they want for it?


The house had a pool and hot tub.


Sawyer was enjoying his time on the porch as well. We missed having the rest of our family there. Amy and Chris had Thanksgiving with his family. Erin and Lucas weren’t able to be here either. (They are coming in for Christmas!)


So did Mr. Darcy…


Lunch on the porch…


After lunch relaxation


Judy lovin’ on her daughter-in-laws… They cleaned up after lunch so us “mature” folks could stay out on the porch.




Sawyer was playing peek-a-boo with his great-uncle Dan.


So was Mr. Darcy… (That’s a pretty satisfied face he’s leaning against!)


Speaking of Bevo, it was time to head to the game.


By this time in the afternoon the cold front had arrived and the temperature had dropped significantly. The wind chill was between 26 and 29 degrees…a very cold night for the longhorns. Oh well…there’s always next year.



The best parts of the game…



We left about 10:30 with 2 minutes left in the game. There was a lot of traffic that we attributed to the football game. We were wrong. It was people going to the outlet mall. When we got back at the hotel it was full of people checking in and leaving for the mall that opened at midnight. Whole families were packed into cars heading out for the mall. It was amazing! When we went down to breakfast on Friday morning people were coming back from their “midnight madness” shopping. There must have been some great bargains!
We steered clear of the outlet mall but did take in a few of the shops in Wimberley.





I hope that you have a blessed Thanksgiving weekend and a wonderful Christmas season!

Monday, November 1, 2010


It’s been weeks since I’ve written a post, so I’m having trouble getting started again. Between conducting workshops on Saturdays, attending the annual social studies conference, and trying to sandwich in depressing football games that we’ve lost for no good reason, it has been a busy October. Add to that a horrible bout of bronchitis and sinusitis that kept me in bed for about 5 days…and you see why blogging hasn’t been at the top of my to do list. Hopefully, things will calm down this month (or not).

Last night we met Amy, Chris, and the girls at their church for a fall festival. Here’s Hannah, our little kitty.



And here’s our little Texas cheerleader… There were some people, ahem, whose school affiliation will go un-named, that told Katie that they shouldn’t give her any candy because she’s a longhorn! We didn’t want their old candy anyway.

There was a lot to see. Oh my, where do we start?


Grandpa was trying to get them to stand where we could get their picture together. Grandpas are nice to have around for a shoulder or a knee to lean on.



Katie is always happy to see her Grammy and Grandpa. She knows we love them just a little. Ha!


You can tell that Hannah takes after her Grammy because we can’t keep our eyes open when someone is going to take our picture.



The closed eyes definitely run in the family!


This is a kitty that’s relieved to get out of the cat suit in our 90 degree October heat.


Hope your weekend was filled with love!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

It’s Fall Ya’ll!

We have been having the most glorious weather – in the 80’s during the day and the 50’s at night – which is one reason that Fall is my favorite time of year. I hope you’re enjoying the season.

Fall is memories of…

Friday night football followed by Saturday trips to Austin to see the ‘Horns play

homecoming mums

drill teams and marching bands

yellows, golds, reds, browns, and, of course, burnt orange

family traditions

homemade Halloween costumes

festivals, bazaars, and craft shows

Pilgrims, Indians, and turkeys

pumpkin pie

apple cider

a nip in the air after a blazing-hot Texas summer

casseroles, beef stew, chicken and dumplings, and all the other comfort food it’s too hot to cook in the summer

anticipation of the holidays to come

falling leaves that crunch when you walk on them


marshmallow roasts

tailgating parties

nubby sweaters and coats

scarecrows and pumpkin patches

Thanksgiving football rivalries





To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven… Ecclesiastes 3:1

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Soothing Sunday

After both the brutal heat yesterday and the brutal Bruin beating, we wanted to spend Sunday afternoon recuperating and relaxing. We awoke to drier air and cooler temperatures which always puts you in a better frame of mind. We decided to do a little shopping this afternoon and then meet Amy and Chris for a late lunch before taking Erin to the airport.

We started out at Plants for All Seasons, my favorite nursery that also has the best gift shop. They carry lots of the Round Top Collection and we all know that you just can’t have too many metal pumpkins! There was even a tree decorated for autumn – which made a very convincing argument for leaving your tree out all year. Ha!


We bought some of those pumpkins for the yard and then went to Laurie’s Home Furnishings in Tomball. Erin and I both found lots of tempting things here, but neither of us succumbed. (I might have to go back next weekend.)


They have some great lamps and light fixtures.


I don’t have tall enough ceilings for this chandelier, but I really liked it.



I really liked this couch.


Here it is in another color. It was reasonably priced and comfy, too. I’m considering it for my living room. IMG_2398 

Although you can’t really tell in the picture, this chest is a sage green. Perfect for my entryway.



These were metal baskets lined with burlap.IMG_2394 They had some really pretty bedding by Pine Cone Hill and lovely beds.


I liked this combination of gray and red…very interesting pillows. IMG_2396

Our final stop before dinner was The Arbor Gate. They specialize in plants that are native to Texas and also have great gifts. Like Plants for All Seasons, they too had a “Christmas” tree decked out for autumn that was gorgeous. The case for leaving your tree up all year is getting more convincing. I’m sorry I didn’t get a picture.




Erin can’t leave Houston without Mexican food, so we ended the afternoon at Gringo’s. Hannah is blurry because she is always on the move. Grammy and Grandpa will need plenty of vitamins before we take both girls to the football games!


Look at those pretty blue eyes!


Katie is going to be so mad at us when she grows up. We have an inordinate number of pictures of her eating. It’s just that she enjoys her food so much. Eating out is definitely an occasion to savor. She’ll be glad to know that Grammy skipped the picture of her with the ice cream cone. Ha!


And, finally, what better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than with a nap! (Especially when it’s in Grandpa’s lap!)


Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:17