Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Candace Bushnell, Part 2

Looking back at my last post, it seems I sort of went on and on. I do that sometimes.

So a briefer review of another point from the book.
"They considered me a little farm girl who didn't know her place," she'd tell Billy on the long afternoons they used to spend together. "And they were right. I didn't know my place. As long as one refuses to know one's place, there's no telling what one can do in this world."

This really struck me. I came from the farm life. Was I a little farm girl? Absolutely. I rode horses, raked and baled hay, gathered eggs, burned brush, sprigged coastal fields. I did it all. Did I want to? No, but that is another story.

I went to Texas A&M because I visited the campus while on a livestock judging team with FFA (Future Farmers of America). That was all it took. I became a computer programmer (yuck!!!) because my high school counselor said I could make a lot of money. That ended up being true.

Bu all of that is ancient history now. In the 1990's I searched for more meaning to my life. Oh sure, I made a lot of money, drove a Cadillac, had a great house, great family, but none of it seemed to mean much.

Enter a sewing machine as a Christmas present and waalaa, life is changed. I wonder now how God manages to hang in there when we take so long to figure things out. I had always been around quilts and loved quilts, but had never made a quilt. Once I made that first quilt, life would never be the same. Now 14 years later, I have a quilt ministry. I did not know my place, but God did. I did not know what I was capable of, but God did.

Now I am making quilts and spreading God's love in a world full of hurt. Thank you God for the gift and the guidance to figure out how to use it!!!

Friday, December 2, 2011

One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell - Part 1

Most of you know that I am an avid reader. Well I watch "Sex and the City" with my daughters, horrifying, I know!! So I thought I should check out a book written by Candace Bushnell and see what I thought. I am still reading the book, but she has some interesting statements that I want to take a closer look at.

From the book:
"I can count the days I've been truly content on one hand," Mindy wrote now. "Those are bad numbers in a country where pursuing happiness is a right so important, it's in our Constitution. But maybe that's the key. It's the pursuit of happiness, not the actual acquisition that matters."

I loved this thought. You have this high powered woman, with a large townhouse on Fifth Avenue. She is married to a Pulitzer prize winning author.  She has a computer genius kid and she is still not happy. It begs the question, is she not happy because she cannot see what she has, because she continues to pursue material things in order to get happy, or some other reason?

I see this all the time, even in my small town of 9,000.
Big house - not happy.
Fancy car - not happy.
Smart kids - not happy.
Money to spend - not happy.
Loving spouse - not happy.  

Nothing is ever enough to make us happy. I think we have lost our way. Shouldn't we be thankful for all we have? Shouldn't we be glad we can pursue?

"Happy" is a state of mind. We have gotten so caught up in the acquisition that we have lost the joy of everyday. If I only had.... has replaced I am so lucky. Our focus should be on God and not on things.

 I think Psalm 144:9-15 speaks to this issue.
9 I will sing a new song to you, my God;
on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you,
10 to the One who gives victory to kings,
who delivers his servant David.
From the deadly sword 11 deliver me;
rescue me from the hands of foreigners
whose mouths are full of lies,
whose right hands are deceitful.
12 Then our sons in their youth
will be like well-nurtured plants,
and our daughters will be like pillars
carved to adorn a palace.
13 Our barns will be filled
with every kind of provision.
Our sheep will increase by thousands,
by tens of thousands in our fields;
14 our oxen will draw heavy loads.[b]
There will be no breaching of walls,
no going into captivity,
no cry of distress in our streets.
15 Blessed is the people of whom this is true;
blessed is the people whose God is the LORD.

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary explains the meaning of the scripture.

Commentary on Psalm 144:9-15

Fresh favours call for fresh returns of thanks; we must praise God for the mercies we hope for by his promise, as well as those we have received by his providence. To be saved from the hurtful sword, or from wasting sickness, without deliverance from the dominion of sin and the wrath to come, is but a small advantage. The public prosperity David desired for his people, is stated.

It adds much to the comfort and happiness of parents in this world, to see their children likely to do well. To see them as plants, not as weeds, not as thorns; to see them as plants growing, not withered and blasted; to see them likely to bring forth fruit unto God in their day; to see them in their youth growing strong in the Spirit.

Plenty is to be desired, that we may be thankful to God, generous to our friends, and charitable to the poor; otherwise, what profit is it to have our garners full? Also, uninterrupted peace. War brings abundance of mischiefs, whether it be to attack others or to defend ourselves. And in proportion as we do not adhere to the worship and service of God, we cease to be a happy people. The subjects of the Saviour, the Son of David, share the blessings of his authority and victories, and are happy because they have the Lord for their God.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Why can't it be easy?

"Why can't it be easy?" she asks.
That is the eternal question.
Why do we have to struggle?

School is hard.
Study. Take a test. Make a bad grade.
Study some more.

Friendships take work.
Friends who boss you around and get in your business.
Overlook their shortcomings.

Relationships take dedication.
Words are said. Feelings are hurt.
Decide to work through it.

 I read somewhere, "If we did not struggle,
we would not need faith."
Faith should get us through it.

But sometimes it does not feel like enough.
What do you do when that happens?
What sustains you then?

God does. Even though we feel alone, He is there.
Holding us together when we are falling apart.
His footprints in the sand remind us that he carries us in the hardest times.

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Relentless God

In the last two weeks I received three calls from West Bow Press. Not one call, not two calls, but three calls. You know sometimes God is just relentless!!! I worked on my book for a month or so and then put it aside. When I received the first call, I just blew it off. I did not even listen to the voice message. When I receved the second call, I thought, "Well that is just weird! Maybe I should talk to them if they call again." Well, you know what happened - they called again!!!

I was driving home when the call came. I answered and she wanted to know how my book was coming!! Arrrrrrrrgh! What could I say? What book? She was so nice and even made excuses for me - Are you really busy right now? Don't really have time to work on it?

But then it came - the big question. When do you think you will be ready to publish? Publish, are you kidding me? I cannot, or maybe should say, have not gotten the story down on paper.

Oh, the pressure. She said, " 3 months, 6 months, a year?"

I said, with great hesitation, "6 months or a year?"

Why do I insist on doing this? Putting what God wants me to do aside for everything else? So, I went home and got out my spiral. The story really is good. The writing needs work. But maybe all I have to do is get it down on paper and then they will help me make it publishable.

Praise God that He keeps pushing me when I am kicking and screaming and digging my heels in.

Forgive me God for doubting you. That is really what I am doing. Doubting his ability to help me get the story written.

Monday, October 17, 2011

God or Santa Claus?

"Screw praying, it doesn't do anything."

These words showed up on Facebook a week or so ago. A young man frustrated with his circumstances. He had car trouble again. He had to walk again.

It made me wonder about our view of God. Why do we think God will fix all of our problems just like that? He is not Santa Claus. He provides so many things - peace, strength, courage and yet we still look to Him to provide the magic answer the instant we demand it.

The photo reminds me of how life smashes us down. We get overloaded by our everyday circumstances and yet do we really have it that bad? Here are some examples of real suffering:

My friend's father has leukemia. He is not old. He has been in treatment since May of this year. He had a bone marrow transplant last week. Praise God that a match was found.

One of my daughter's friends just had surgery for a brain tumor. She is only a teenager. She is now going through radiation and then chemo. She will miss the rest of this school semester. Thank God they found the tumor. Thank God she came through the surgery so easily.

My good friends lost their home in the Bastrop fire. They lost everything except a small suitcase of clothes, the wedding pictures and a few guns. Everything was gone. Thank God they had good insurance and will be able to rebuild. What about all of the other 1500 homes that were lost. Did they have insurance?

My good friend lost her 11 year old son to cancer. Will her heart ever heal?

Another friend lost her 19 year old son to a heart virus. Just like that he was gone. How does she go on knowing she will never see him again?

A tragic car accident, just driving too fast. Five teenagers are involved. Two require major surgery. One girl dies.  How does the family of the lost girl go on? How do they face each day? 

Life weighs us down. Life mashes us down. But our reward is in heaven. In Ecclesiastes 2:11 it says, "Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun."

Our life here on earth is not meant to be heaven. We chase things that do not matter. We toil to achieve greatness. There are problems. There are deaths. There are illnesses that cannot be recovered from. And yet, God is there, available to hold us up as we meet each challenge.

I want to be the type of person that recognizes God is not Santa Claus, but God does provide in big ways. I cannot imagine getting through my youth without God by my side. I cannot imagine getting through my miscarriages without God by my side. I cannot imagine raising teenagers without God by my side. Only He can hold me up when nothing else can.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Little Miracles

Have you ever seen something in nature and you just could not believe it? I think those are little miracles that God provides to remind us He is still there. Here are a few things I have seen that just amazed me.

This is a volleyball in our pool. The grasshopper is resting on the volleyball. How cool is that? This reminded me that there are no coincidences. That grasshopper could have just as easily ended up in the pool. The pool is huge and can be dangerous, just like the world. The volleyball is tiny but powerful. God is like the volleyball - always floating nearby for us to grasp onto. Will we grasp for him or flounder in the deep waters? 

These are baby grasshoppers on the rock rose plant in my backyard. They were less than half an inch long. They were sitting enjoying the sun. They were so little and yet perfectly formed. I think they had just hatched and were drying in the sun? I loved that God created them and they knew just what to do. God's creations are perfect in whatever shape or form.

This is the most amazing example of all. A week or so ago, my neighbor came over. He said, "I think you have a parakeet living in your attic vent!"

I was like, "Whatever!"

Well a few days later, I heard a bird chirping and chattering. Sure enough, there was a blue parakeet sitting on our attic vent. Besides that, he has some little wild bird friends that hang out with him. I check on him every day. He sits in the tree and talks all day. He flies around but seems to "roost" in the attic vent. I added a bird feeder way up in the tree for him. I love to hear him chatter and get out the binoculars to try to see where he is sitting in the trees.  

I looked it up on the Internet because I was concerned about him surviving the winter. I am not sure what I would have done if he could not survive - Can you catch a parakeet?? Good news though. He can probably survive. There are parakeet "populations" all over. There is a large one in Brooklyn. There is even one in Austin!

Keep your eyes open. What have you seen lately that was little reminder that God is out there?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I am technically a middle-aged woman now. My hair has almost more gray than brown, and yet when I look in the mirror I still see an attractive person.

About 12 years ago, I decided I would start dying my hair so that the gray would not show. I am a brunette and so I chose a shade of brown. The dye did strange things to my hair.  All of a sudden I had a lot more red showing and a lot less brown. The gray was gone but in it's place reddish tones appeared.

I was on a vacation in Utah when I saw my image and could not believe it. I was riding in the backseat of the truck and the sun was shining from the west. I glanced in the external mirror and saw a redhead. Oh weird. Oh my, that is me!!

I came home and never dyed my hair again. There is a lot of comfort in having gray hair. It says, " I am proud of who I am".

I have noticed so many Hollywood starlets changing their appearance to remain younger. My sisters laugh because I will say, "She did something to her face!" The telling sign is when your favorite star is on the front of a magazine and you have to do a double-take to recognize them. Oh, how we have let our insecurities drive us.

In Genesis1:27, it says:
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

Somewhere along the way we have accepted the fact that God's image is not good enough. We want to look better, look younger, look thinner, look taller. I wonder what God thinks about all of this? He designed us this way for a reason; to age at a certain rate, to get gray and wrinkled and slower in our pace.

Maybe we should embrace our age. Love our gray hair. Brag about our laugh lines and crows feet. Be happy that we are not at the front of the pack anymore. I mean, haven't we earned it? We have lived full, productive lives; raising children, working, serving, providing, and giving.

Can you imagine God being a young twenty-something? I think the image God gave me is good, really good. I want my insecurities to be less and God's image to be more.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Have a Little Faith in Me Song Lyrics - Written by John Hiatt

This song was written by John Hiatt. It was used in the 1996 movie, Phenomenon, with John Travolta and Kyra Sedgwick. I think it perfectly represents what God wants us to do. Have a little faith in Him. I like to think this is a song that God sings to us.

The song, Have a Little Faith in Me, was sung by Jewel in the movie.

When the road gets dark
And you can no longer see
Just let my love throw a spark
And have a little faith in me

And when the tears you cry
Are all you can believe
Just give these loving arms a try
And have a little faith in me

Have a little faith in me
Have a little faith in me
Have a little faith in me
Have a little faith in me

When your secret heart
Cannot speak so easily
Come here darlin'
From a whisper start
To have a little faith in me

And when your back's against the wall
Just turn around and you will see
I will catch, I will catch your fall baby
Just have a little faith in me


Well, I've been loving you for such a long time girl
Expecting nothing in return
Just for you to have a little faith in me
You see time, time is our friend
'Cause for us there is no end
And all you gotta do is have a little faith in me
I said I will hold you up, I will hold you up
Your love gives me strength enough
So have a little faith in me

(From: http://www.elyrics.net/read/j/john-hiatt-lyrics/have-a-little-faith-in-me-lyrics.html)

Click on the arrow below to hear Jewel sing Have a Little Faith in Me.


Peaceful Life?

I saw this picture and it reminded me of a peaceful country town. Some people would say that I live in a place like this. I suppose in some ways I do. It is a small town. It has a grocery store, a library, some local shopping, and the always needed Wal-Mart. There are so many things going on though that are not peaceful. Challenges to be met.

A young man I know wants to go in the military. He is very smart. He scored through the roof on his entrance exam. He has his pick of military careers. He takes his physical and finds out he has a hearing problem. What? How can this be? What about his plans? More tests will follow. What if his lifelong plans have to change? How do you deal with that?

The end of the six weeks is approaching. A student is struggling to get her footing with so many hard classes. I cannot do it. I am a failure. The constant battle to manage her time. You can do it. This is just preparation for college. Stay focused. Turn your phone off while you study. You can do it. Go get tutoring from your teacher. The challenge to manage things on her own. The ability to have success even when it is hard. The preparation for doing it on your own in college. You can do it.

The first virus of the school year. Laying on the bathroom floor. "I don't feel good." Throwing up all night long. Missing two days of class. Eat a Popsicle. Get sick. Drink a Gatorade. Get sick. Finally the virus gives in to the constant bombardment of fluids. Lay on the couch. Allow your body to heal. Now all that make-up work for school. Hang in there.

A new part-time job at a church nursery. Can I do it? What if the babies don't take to me? What if I do not know what to do? The hours are good and work with the school schedule. Get up early and drink coffee. Get organized. Wash clothes on my day off. What will I fix for supper tonight? Run the dishwasher before I leave in the morning. Feed the dog and cats. Don't forget to bring the trash dumpsters up. What about breakfast? Take something to eat for lunch. Breathe. 

Plan a college visit. No hotel rooms available. Football game. Tailgate party. Dorm room accommodations for the kids. What about the campus? Do you like it? Is this where you want to go to college? Do they have your degree plan? It is so far from home, is that a good idea? You have to share a bathroom with several other students. Can you deal with that? Submit a dorm request. Make a deposit. College life is approaching fast.

The challenges of everyday life. Sometimes they are overwhelming. How can I get through each day?

Ecclesiastes 7:14
When times are good, be happy;
but when times are bad, consider:
God has made the one as well as the other.
Therefore a man cannot discover anything about this future.

God knows our future. God planned our future. Why do we worry and fret over each day as if it is the end of the world? Shouldn't we trust more in God? Why is that so hard? We should be happy in all circumstances because of God. I am not saying to give up and have a fake smile. I am saying trust God to get you through the situation. Work hard. Be diligent. Trust God.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Blogging Variety

Today, I spent some time reviewing other blogs. It is amazing what you can see out there.

Photography Blogs
People who are photographers with wedding pictures, engagement pictures, children's photographs and nature shots on their blogs. And then people like me who just take random pictures of things, like this moth on a quilt on our front porch.

Family Chronicles

Lots of families now have blogs. They have pictures of their kids, pictures of their weddings, pictures of their vacations. Eating breakfast, sitting on the porch, yard shots, flower beds, anything that captures a moment of life in the family. Like this picture of a t-shirt Avery and Ashlyn made me for my 47th birthday!! 

Decorating Ideas and Implementations
So many blogs about decorating. I think HGTV has made decorating a national pastime. It is do-able. It is achievable. Get out your paintbrush and go for it. Like this picture of the wall in our backyard. It was glaringly white. I painted it a soft green to get rid of the glare and reflect the bottom of the pool.

I am not much into philosophy. I see lots of blogs that publish their thoughts on life. Very deep thoughts. I sometime wonder why I do not dig deep into the meaning of life. But as Q says, "Keep it Simple." My philosophy is pretty simple. God created us. God loves us. We are tasked to love one another. Be nice. Be responsible. Be respectful. Be honest. My new mantra is "respond in love". Easy to say, but much harder to do.

I found some very deep blogs regarding religion. Is it really that difficult? Or do we become enamored with our thoughts and how complicated we can make something. My bottom line on religion/faith is: Am I doing what God wants me to be doing today? Making that quilt. Talking to that person at the store that I do not know. Sharing God's love.

Now politics is way out of my league. I avoid those blogs like the plague. I am sure they are interesting and enjoyable to some people (you know who you are!!!) but I am not one of them.

It made me think. What is the purpose of my blog? I would like to think it is a reminder of how God works in my life. I get off track though and post random stuff (like this!!!) But maybe the Photography blogs recognize God's creations. Maybe the Family Chronicles recognize how we are doing at parenting and sharing God's love even in our own families. Decorating Ideas and implementations is a tough one. I think it is aesthitically pleasing, but how does that relate to God? Are our decorating ideas and implementations helping someone else or do they make us more comfortable? I think it could go either way. This picture is from my church. We painted the children's wing with a cowboy/country theme. So, in this instance, I used my abilities for God's glory. The wall in our back yard, more for me and less for God. 

Philosophy is a little harder for me to justify probably because I am not much of a philosopher. It does recognize our ability to think and analyze though and those capabilities did come from God. I suppose even if I have a simple philosphy, it is still a philosophy. Religion/Faith definitely has God in the middle of it. Politics on the other hand, not so much. Maybe if politics had more of God in it, we would have less in-fighting and more responding in love.

Random thoughts today about blogging and why I spend time doing it. I guess the big question is "Is God in the middle of what I am doing?" And if so, am I sharing that with others? God bless you.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Icing on the Cake or Tiara on the Homecoming Queen

This has been a big week for Avery. She turned 18 years old. She won Homecoming Queen 2011. She has now been accepted to two universities. Her future is so bright, she is going to have to wear shades!!!!

Tanner Stevens was Avery's escort for Homecoming.
He was a great escort. He reminded her to breathe when she was nervous.

Avery had lots of visitors drop by to wish her good luck.
Andrew Giese came home from UT for Homecoming weekend.

Cole and Charlie. After this picture, Cole pulled Avery down on the ground in her gown. Then he gave the "thumbs up".

John Johnk also came up from San Antonio. 
He and Avery are friends from church and UM Army.

Avery and Aunt KK.

Mom and Dad with Avery at the football field before the game starts.

Richard Remschel and Avery at the football field.
They have been friends since first grade.  
Can you tell he is 6 foot 7 inches?

Avery and her daddy before the game.


The Homecoming Court and their escorts.
From the left: Hailey Welgehausen and Cord Weinheimer,
Erika Lehocky; her escort Andrew Rodriguez was on the football field, 
Simon Hale and Blair Kott,
Tanner Stevens and Avery Smith,
Shelton McAfee and Alexandra Mercedes.


Homecoming Queen Nominees:
Blair Kott
Alexandra Mercedes,
Avery Smith,
Hailey Welgehausen, and
Erika Lehocky.

Homecoming Queen 2011 - Avery Smith!!
Holding her numerous bouquets after she was announced Homecoming Queen. Note the tiara - could it be her new favorite thing??

Ashlyn and Avery hugging after the announcement.
Daniel's (my nephew) head is in the corner of the shot!!!!
Somehow that is the only shot of Joey's kids. Sorry Joey :(

A big THANK YOU to everyone who made this a special occasion for Avery!

Friday, September 16, 2011

God moves in mysterious ways

Well, people it has happened again. God has worked in my life to push me toward new things. 

Last week, I received an angry email from my church regarding the procedures that I should follow in order to make an announcement in church. It gave me pause. Should I really be spending so much time making quilts for an organization that would send me this type of email? Especially when the announcement I made, regarded our very own Child Care Center that is scheduled to be opening in October. Where does our focus lie as a church, on the people or on the procedures?

I may sound like I am angry, but I am not angry at all. The truth is I have felt the call to move on from doing so much church stuff for several years. Finally it became clear to me that focusing on my other quilts was where I should be spending my time. 

I have been called by God to make quilts. I know that. The church was a safety net to help me get started when I was so afraid. I now know that too. I will no longer be making quilts for the baptism and confirmations. The ministry will continue with new leaders that the quilt group selected. I have confidence that they will provide the love and know-how to continue this ministry. 

I will focus my energies on making quilts for the hospital and memory quilts. The hospital uses the quilts for each family that loses a child. This is close to my heart since I too had two miscarriages when I was younger.

The memory quilts will also get the much needed attention they deserve. I use pictures and clothing to capture memories for families who have lost a loved one. I know this is where God wants me to spend my time.

Also, the call to write my story is still there. So, now I will spend more time focusing on getting it down on paper. Why didn't I write it down as I went? It is so hard to remember the details.

Dear God,
Thank God for the guiding me. Thank you for helping me start the quilt ministry 8 years ago. Thank you for the women who rose to the challenge to help me. Thank you for helping me grow both emotionally and spiritually. Thank you for a ministry that continues to grow and change through quilting and now writing. Help me use these gifts to serve you and grow your kingdom.
In Jesus name I pray,

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Well it has finally happened. My baby girl turned 18 today. So many memories.

It took three tries before we finally got lucky and got a full-term pregnancy with Avery. It was an easy delivery. Avery was born at 12:12 noon on September 15, 1993. She weighed 8 pounds and was 20 1/2 inches long. She had a lot of hair and all of her fingers and toes. We named her Eliabeth Avery Smith.

Donna moved from Kilgore to San Antonio to live with us. She would got to college at night and watch the baby during the day.

I remember after we had been home from the hospital for a few days, I thought, "Oh no. We have named her the wrong thing. Avery does not fit her at all."

Donna was the voice of reason and said, "Her name fits her perfectly!" 

She was an easy baby and slept through the night (8 hours) when she was 10 days old.

She used her first curse word at age 2 1/2. Thank you Quentin for teaching her that!! She promptly got her first time-out too.

Here are some examples of the cute things she said as she grew up.
Woowoo = dog (sitting in her bedroom window looking out at a
     dog across the street)
Packback = backpack
Hopticopter = helicopter
Yellow jacks = wasps
Higher my seat = raise the seat on her bicycle 
I'm gonna be crazy tonight! - Avery to Mom and KayKay after
     drinking coffee (age 5)
Wanton cookie = fortune cookie
Arc tic tac = architect
Rush Limbo = Rush Limbaugh (said at age 10)

Katie and I took the girls and went to Starbucks one evening. They tasted, or should I say guzzled, our coffee drinks on the way home. They promptly started singing at the top of their lungs. We had to open the windows in the car so we did not go deaf!!!

She started playing volleyball in 7th grade. She LOVED it. She played in 8th grade. She joined a club team and really excelled. She played as a freshman and a sophomore. By the time she reached junior year volleyball tryouts, she had grown weary. She did not think she had a real future playing in college and it took about 25 hours a week. So after much thought and prayer, she decided to quit volleyball. It was a difficult decision and weighed heavy on her for a while. The positive outcome was that she could spend more time on her art.

She could really get off the ground and hit that ball.
Quentin called her "The Hammer".

Group shot with the Kendall County Juniors Club Team after they won a tournament. Coach John was a great coach for Avery. She remains in contact with some of the Boerne girls.

She has always loved art. She and Ashlyn have been making art since they were small. She started quilting at age 4. She made her Aunt Donna a small quilt for a wedding present. She has made jewelry out of hot glue. She has beaded. She has knitted. She took art at school every year since 1st grade. She draws and paints. Quite accomplished for someone aged 18. Here are some samples of her work.

Pencil sketch. Pencil is her favorite medium.

One of her attempts at watercolor.
Someone at the KCC Art Show offered to buy this painting.

Pen and glitter.

She entered the Battle of the Flowers Band Poster Contest 2011.
She won Honorable Mention (4th Place) out of 517 entries.

This a a close-up of her entry. They loved her fonts.

She was nominated for Homecoming Queen 2012. They will announce the winners on Friday night during half-time at the football game.
Avery is the 2nd from the right. Good luck Sweetie!!

She has always made good grades starting back in elementary school. She has been accepted to Texas Tech University, which is one of six schools she applied to. Avery has an exciting future ahead of her. She plans to major in Business (Marketing) and Minor in Art.

I am not sure where her life will take her but I know she will be successful. She has always made good choices and applied herself to the task at hand. She has been a real blessing to us. I am so proud of her and the beautiful, kind, wise, mature, Christian woman she has become.

Happy Birthday Avery!!! You are 18!!!

Love you more than you will ever know! 222!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fire, Tragedy, and God's Shining Grace

On Monday, September 5, 2011, Labor Day, we found out there was a fire in Bastrop Texas. Quentin and I were sitting on the front porch enjoying our coffee and the weather. Jason, a friend, who lives in Bastrop posted on Facebook that they would be setting up grills to feed hamburgers to people who were displaced by the fire. Jason and his wife were evacuated from their house on Sunday night due to the fire.

I told Quentin, "I am going to Bastrop to help." He and the girls decided to go with me. We took two separate cars so that he could come back early since he had work the next day.

We drove to Bastrop. When we arrived Jason was starting to get organized in the Sears parking lot. He asked me, "Have you ever done anything like this before?"

I said, "No."

He said, "Me either."

Well God had his hand in the whole thing. Bottled water started arriving. Frozen hamburgers started arriving. Condiments started arriving. Hamburger buns started arriving.

Sears provided freezers to store the hamburgers and refrigerators to store the other perishables. Sears also provided a grill for cooking. Numerous people showed up with grills. People began showing up to cook. We set up an assembly line to make hamburgers and pack large trays to be delivered to the workers. People came to take the hamburgers to the fire workers. Evacuees came to eat. It was an amazing site. People rising up in a terrible situation to serve the needs of others that were suffering. This is a picture of the smoke from the fire Monday afternoon.  

In the late afternoon, we headed back to Fredericksburg. On Tuesday, Quentin went to work. The girls went to school. I started cleaning the tops of my cabinets. Time to get rid of some stuff I had been hanging on to for years, but did not really need. Then the phone call came.

My friend, Shelly called. She was crying. "Beth', she said, "the house is gone. Phil was able to get into our neighborhood and everything is gone."

I said, "Do you want me to come?"

She said, "Please."

I got off the phone. I was stunned. Cody and Shelly had been out of town for her aunt's funeral. They literally had only the things they had taken with them for the weekend. So I started organizing some things to take. Two pillows for Cody. A set of towels. Of course all of the nice towels were dirty. A light weight blanket. A large quilt for Cody. A small quilt for Shelly. Shelly was enamored with a quilt I had entered in our local fair a few years ago. It had won "Grand Champion". That quilt had Shelly's name all over it!! I also grabbed two air mattresses and an air pump. Then I got some plastic plates (30) and plastic cups (25) to give to some other friends who had 4 families staying with them. The plastic dishes were reusable and would save money for paper goods.

I sent a text to Quentin, Avery, Ashlyn, and my good friend, Valerie to update them on the situation.

The phone rang again. Shelly wanted me to bring Ashlyn, our youngest daughter. I took a shower, loaded the car and headed to the high school. I got Ashlyn out of class. She had not gotten my text and thought I was there to drop off some homework she had forgotten. I told her the news and she started to cry.

We headed to Bastrop. We were in contact with Cody and Shelly throughout the drive. They were also heading back to Bastrop. They stopped to get face masks. They stopped to get some food. We drove. Shelly called while we were enroute to say that her dad had found a bone marrow donor. Imagine in the midst of all this devastation, God provided. Her dad had been diagnosed with Leukemia in May of this year.

We arrived in Bastrop before Cody and Shelly. We were standing in the Sears parking lot when they arrived. We hugged and then went to talk to the volunteers who were still preparing food. Again God is working. A friend walked up and offered Cody and Shelly a place to stay in Bastrop. The people who had been staying with them due to the fire had moved to a hotel. Cody and Shelly accepted the offer and planned to go over in the evening.

Cody wanted to drive as close to the house as we could get. We loaded up in the car and headed that way. We were not able to get close. All of the roads were blocked off. We went to Wal-Mart to get a few things. We went to Starbucks to sit and talk. Eventually we went to dinner and ate together. We laughed, we cried, we shared. Our bond of friendship grew.

It was now late evening. Phil had told Cody and Shelly that he had taken pictures of what was left of the their house. Cody and Shelly wanted to see the pictures. So after we finished dinner we went to Phil and Casey's to see the images.

It was worse than I imagined. There was really nothing left. One partial wall remained. Phil had pictures of other houses too. So much devastation. Here is a picture of what remains of Cody and Shelly's house.

Cody and Shelly had good insurance and will be physically ok eventually. Emotionally they will probably struggle for a long time. They had both cars with them, so they did not lose their cars. A few days later they found a temporary place to live in Smithville and several friends provided furniture so they can get back to some sense of normalcy. They will rebuild their house. Shelly has gone back to work and will be a strong mentor for the middle school kids she teaches, since she knows exactly how they feel in their loss.

Here are some statistics from the fire:
Fire started September 4, 2011
34,068 acres burned
Resources to fight fire: 21 crews, 131 engines, 4 helicopters,
      8 water tenders, 9 dozers
1554 homes lost
Fire is still burning and is 70% contained

God has provided throughout this tragedy.
Randy Perkins, Shelly's dad will now get the bone marrow donation he has been desperately waiting for.
Over 6,000 hamburgers were served Monday and Tuesday alone.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner was available in the Sears parking lot every day last week. 
Many people were left without homes, but the community has risen up to provide.
As far as I know only two people lost their lives.
Of 22 missing people late in the week, all of them have been located except two (not the same two listed above).
Friendships were forged and strengthened.
Local businesses rose up to provide for the community - Sears, HEB,

The effects of this fire will be long-lasting and long felt. I am so sorry for the lives lost. I am so thankful that a community of people in the midst of a huge tragedy can be the hands and feet of God. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

One of my "kids".

I submitted my first writing this morning to a contest!!!! One of my "kids" has touched my heart is so many ways, so I shared a writing about him for the contest. I am sure I will not win, but I stepped out in faith and submitted an entry. Yea me!!!!

Bobby Keen-Hammond, one of my "kids".

Friday, September 9, 2011

Old Man Cat

Old Man Cat
Fourteen or fifteen years ago, we were having a craft party at our house.
A little black cat walked into the house.
He laid down on the tile, like he had always lived there.

He had long black hair.
He had big green eyes.
He was very friendly.

We decided to keep him.
Someone probably dumped him near our property.
We named him Zachry.

He was playful.
He liked to chase string.
He liked to sleep on the cool floor.

One day, he caught a big snake.
I saw him walking across the yard with it in his mouth.
He deposited it at the front door.

I went to make sure the snake was dead.
Oh my! It was alive.
That snake played possum in front of the cat.

I went to the garage to get a shovel.
Stay out of the way kids!
When I got back the snake had slithered away. Whew!

Over time the big black cat’s name morphed into Zachy.
He loved people’s feet.
He attacked several people’s feet at our house.

Our friend, Robert likes to sit in the rocking chair.
Zachy would go over to him and rub his leg all innocent like.
Then bam! He attacked Robert’s feet.

Robert’s wife is Valerie and she sells Pampered Chef.
One night at a party at my house, Zachy jumped on her feet.
He started biting her and we had to pull him off.

My daughter Avery adopted Zachy as her own.
When she was little, he bit her on the lip while playing.
I was ready to kill him, hurting my little girl like that.

He had this funny way of sitting to clean himself.
He would sit like a human and hunch over to clean his stomach.
Avery said she taught him how to sit like that.

My mother-in-law always called him “Handsome”.
She said he is a good-looking cat.
He was pretty; big and fluffy.

He would walk on the top of our fence.
He had one foot on top and one foot on the railing.
It looked so funny.

He liked to come out by the pool in the morning and get a rubdown.
Then he would sit on the footstool and relax.
A cat after my own heart.

I started calling him Old Man Cat.
He was the oldest of our cats.
The name had a regal sound and matched his demeanor.

As he got older, he quit biting so much.
He couldn’t hear very well either.
He could be sleeping outside and you could walk up and pet him before he moved.

He loved to come inside and get a snack.
He would go to the refrigerator and stand up and put his paws on it.
He liked chopped up ham or tuna.

He would sleep with his feet up in the air.
He was the first cat I ever saw do that.
So relaxed, so comfortable.

Well yesterday, he passed away.
I found him by the garage.
He was wet and the rain was falling on him.

I hate that Old Man Cat died.
I loved to see his face every morning.
For the first time in my life, I hope that our pets go to heaven.

He was such a good old soul.
It would be nice for him to be sitting in heaven with Jesus.
Waiting for me to arrive for his morning rubdown and a ham snack.