Another First has Passed

Good Sunday morning, my friends!

Here in the Hill Country of Texas it is a gorgeous morning!  The sky is a lovely shade of blue with wispy white clouds just hanging in the sky.  I think it is setting up to be another hot one…not in triple digits but warm nonetheless.  It is relatively quiet this morning with sounds only of insects, the humming of a lone hummingbird and the breeze blowing through the oaks.  That’s entirely okay with me.  Quiet can be a great blessing!

When I wrote my post last week I had begun to really feel the pressure and sadness of Steve’s upcoming birthday.  I wish I could say that my mood improved over the course of the week but I would be lying and I don’t wish to lie!

The rest of the week just continued to spiral.  I cried every single day.  More than once.  I hate to admit it but I am not one of those women that look sweet and more beautiful when they cry. (Oh, is that only in the movies?!). I am one ugly crier let me tell you.  Red nose, puffy eyes that get smaller as I bawl.  I will leave the rest of the description to your imagination.

Steve’s birthday was on Thursday.  I went by his gravesite in the morning before going over to my daughter’s house. It was a lovely day and the cemetery was dotted with color from flowers brought by people whose loved ones currently reside under the ground at  Holy Cross.  I bawled and wrote yet another letter to him.  Leaving after about a half hour, I called my son, Matthew, picked up tacos for Lauren and Leah and spent the morning over there.  At 2:30, I hauled butt back to my house where I had just enough time to shower, change and get to SA to meet my mom and Lauren’s family at the restaurant.

I made it!

Steve had to be laughing his head off at what happened next.  Lauren and family arrived right as I was walking in so I turned around to help get the kids out of the car.
I had taken great care to wear something bright and with no collar as that was required dress for my evening adventure.  I took Leah out of the car and she cries, “My tummy hurts!” and proceeds to vomit all over me!  As I struggled to comprehend what was going on another volley of stomach contents spewed out and down the front of our shirts.  Finally, my brain kicked in and I put her down where she threw up a third time.  Poor Lauren is standing there, wringing her hands saying, “What do I do?”  “Do we leave?”   I asked for water and cleaned us up as well as I could and we went in to dinner.

A trip to the restroom made me, at the very least, presentable but, oh my gosh, I cannot imagine how badly we must have smelled.  Leah was fine, just car sick and hungry.  We decided to hold our noses and we just laughed and laughed!  Why did I say that Steve was probably laughing at what went on?  Because when the kids were little he was the one onto whom they ALWAYS threw up.  Never me…just Steve.  At the house, in the insurance office, at the doctor’s office, in the truck.  You name the place, he had most likely experienced being thrown up there!  I guess it was finally my turn.

After dinner, Lauren gave me her blouse (yup, she gave me the shirt off of her back) and Mom and I moved on to the next part of Steve’s birthday celebration.  Every time Steve and I drove past the iFly Indoor Skydiving sign he said, “One day we should look into that!”  So I did!  It was such a blast!  The instructor, Dave, was phenomenal.  I felt safe, did a great job of controlling my body and even did some 360s which they said most newbies don’t/can’t do!  I am going back.  I’ve even put “sky diving” on my bucket list.  Steve is probably cringing at that one!

Funny thing is…after Steve’s birthday everything started to fall back into place.  Spirit has improved a bit each day.  Productivity has increased as I have finished binding two baby blankets,  began two more and  designed a wall hanging for a Wounded Warriors event.   I attended a small theatre production of You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown last night which got the juices flowing for a new painting.

Remember…

“weeping may endure or a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Psalms 30:5

Enjoy the photos and have a glorious week!

 

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Hard Times

Hurricane Harvey…you are welcome to leave the great state of Texas at any time! You have become similar to the guest that overstays his/her welcome…you stink like days-old fish. Bye-bye!!

Although we only received 5.5 inches of rain over three days at our home, the communities of East Texas were not as fortunate. Houston and areas south and east have received over 50 inches of rain in places. It is estimated that over 30,000 homes have been destroyed in Houston alone and literally hundreds of thousands of people are now homeless. As of this post, six people have lost their lives, among them a first responder who drowned while attempting to get to his assignment and a mommy who died trying to save her 18 month old baby. The tragedies are many but for each sad, depressing story there are many, many more that are uplifting and filled with hope.

Texans take care of their people. When the first responders became overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of people needing to be rescued from the swiftly rising flood waters, their neighbors rose up to help. Boats of all sizes were used to traverse the waters to pull people from the roofs and through the windows of their flooded homes. People used social media to connect those who needed help/shelter to those who could provide what was needed. Businesses opened their doors to any who needed shelter and volunteers poured in from all areas of the Lone Star State and neighboring states to provide a hug, a blanket, water and a hot meal to those affected by Harvey. Celebrities donated monies to help the relief effort while others set up foundations to raise funds and take donations. There is an old saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” and boy has that been true of Texans this week.  Although there were those who tried to put a political spin on this tragedy, the following were non-issues: race, wealth, gender, life style, politics. People helped people. It’s that simple.  All else just faded away.

Houston and the rest of the coastal area will survive. They will rebuild. They will heal and move forward. But my heart breaks for the loss of homes, possessions and, most importantly, lives.

And the rain continues to fall…

My heart is so heavy tonight. One of our sweet neighbor friends passed away this evening. His illness came on fairly recently and after a brief procedure in the hospital he was released only to return soon after. Four days later, he is gone. Michael was such a sweet man. He and his precious wife, Angel, lived across the street from us for over 29 years. They were the very first people we met…even before we moved into the house. When Steve and Mike got together they talked for hours about everything and about nothing. One thing was always certain with those two…stories were told and laughter was loud. Mike was the kind of man that would give you the shirt off of his back…literally. He always had a smile on his face and a chuckle in his throat. The ONLY annoying thing about Michael was that his lawn was ALWAYS the greenest and the most beautifully mown in the neighborhood.  Shrubs were trimmed neatly and flowers grew bigger and brighter than any others!  It didn’t matter what we did, when you compared our lawn to his, ours always looked dry, brown and raggedy!

My heart breaks for him, Angel and for his family. His death will leave a real void in their lives…and in ours.

Though rain, high waters, adversity and death surround us, we must remember that…

“God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling.
(Psalms 46: 1-3)
and

Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.
(Psalms 46: 10, 11)

We are not alone! God holds us in the palms of His great hands and we WILL prevail!

Adversity

I went out to water the garden today and noticed a couple of weeds growing up through the crushed granite.  They were just behind the containers where I had planted some of our favorite tomato varieties.  Absentmindedly, I bent down to grasp the stem where it met the rock and then I stopped.  The plant was NOT a weed but a tomato plant.  In fact, as I stood up, I realized that there were two tomato plants growing up through the stone.  Paying attention now, I looked around and there was a third tomato plant growing up through the rock.  How in the world did that happen?  I laughed aloud as I wondered how those seeds had found a foothold in the soil beneath the crushed granite and how it was that they were growing bigger and stronger than the plants in the containers!!

In some ways, the lives of people mimic what is going on with the stone and those little tomato plants.  When do we grow the most?  When do we become the strongest? We become stronger only when we go through adversity.  When the world of hard knocks comes around, we learn new skills and/or strengthen those we already have.  We push through, pick ourselves up, straighten our backs, lift our chins and step out to continue on for another day.  When the world treats us less than well and we come out successfully on the other side, we have overcome!

God is waiting to hear from you so He can help!  He is there for YOU!

What do you need today?  We will pray for you!

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“…but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that  tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. ”  Romans 5: 3,4