Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A different perspective

Dear readers and blogging friends,

In November did you miss my list of things for which I am thankful? Are you wondering what happened to my Merry Christmas post? Never fear, they never happened.

Oh yes, I agree. I've not been diligent with my blog the last few...well...for most of 2009. I don't know about you--how things have been around your house or in your life--but 2009 has been a tough year for my family and me. The past twelve months (for various family members individually and as a group) saw marriage, death, job loss, long periods of unemployment, new careers, moves, surgery, serious illness and hospitalization, stressful times of separation, joyful times of coming together again, accomplishments, disappointments, distractions, financial stress, disagreements, unity, dreams born, cold reality checks, mistakes, successes, depression, lessons learned, accusations, affirmations, tears, answered prayer, trials, temptations, victories, hurts, healing, moments to cherish and days we hope we can forget.

I want my blog to be a place you can come to find hope, encouragement, joy...I write my blog for my readers and for Jesus. I don't write it for me. This past year I have struggled, like a cow caught in quicksand, to be a joyful vessel, a positive pen, for Jesus. I do have a long list of things for which I give thanks, and I did want everyone to have a very merry Christmas. But all year I found it very difficult to put into positive words the things that were in my heart. So, I've been a bit silent. It has been a hard year, but we come to the end, knowing that still, through it all, we have been blessed by God. Though blessed more than I deserve, still burdens and trials and so many difficulties have taken from me until I am left tired, worn out, discouraged, and hoping for a better year in 2010.

I looked at the calendar today and realized that a new year is just a couple days away. Boy, am I ready for it. (But only if it promises to be a really good year for me.) Do I hear an AMEN? Surely at least one of you out there shares my sentiment.

Seriously! How cool would it be if 2010, like a McDonald's Restaurant, sat on the corner of This Way and That Way, had a drive-up window, took orders and filled them accurately and promptly? (Okay, maybe Burger King instead of McDonald's.)

I'd drive through and order me up some thinner thighs, natural brown hair, two extra hours for every day, a good health with plenty of wealth combo, and all the little packets of happiness they could poke in the bag! Too bad life's not like that.

Sometimes life is hard no matter what, and sometimes life is what we make it. Now if you've read my little blog long enough to know me, you know I'm not much for making a New Year's Resolution. I can barely deal with one day at a time, and I'm sure not going to stick my neck out and announce something I plan to accomplish or "stick to" all year long. The way I do things, I'd have it messed up and be a failure before the sun went down on my words.

So, what AM I going to do with the new year ahead? Pray for a different perspective. Let me explain.

Two weeks before Christmas, Rick (my hubby) was sent to the Seattle, WA area to work. (Now that was a PRAISE THE LORD kind of thing because work has been scarce this year.) He planned to fly home for Christmas and some of our kids planned to drive home so we could all be together. It was a good plan until the December '09 blizzard blew across the country leaving hubby stranded at DFW and the kids spinning off the highway into a ditch.

Everybody finally made it home and Christmas was not totally ruined, (we did have a good time together) but snow and the white Christmas so many people dream about really dampened my spirits for a while.

On the 27th hubby and I got on a plane headed back to Seattle. On the last leg of the trip from Las Vegas to Seattle, I had a window seat. Clouds were thick, I was tired and grumpy, so little did I see. But, for a few minutes, we flew through a clear area. Take a look at what I saw out my window.

Snow and ice--absolutely beautiful--from the air. A different perspective changed what I thought about the elements that had caused my family so much distress days before.

If 2010 doesn't deliver what I've ordered, I'm going to try to remember to ask God to change my perspective so I can find beauty in the midst of something ugly, hope in hopeless situations, joy in the middle of the things that make me cry, faith in fearful times, love in lonely hours, and God himself in control of it all.

May you each have a very happy new year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Waltz Across Texas (Part 3)

What kind of a blog writer leaves her blog to the spiders and crickets for months at a time?
One that is busy, overwhelmed, preoccupied, lazy, discouraged, bumfuzzled, disorganized, depressed, dazed, ... or one that has spent too much time of Facebook perhaps? I won't make a lot of excuses or offer good reasons why my blogging has been neglected. I'll just say I've been a bad blogger, please forgive me, now let's get back to whatever it was we were talking about before I wandered away.

Oh yes, my trip across Texas.

It has been so long ago now I think I may have a hard time recalling details. I do have photos though! (You know you could count on that, right?)

After Big Bend National Park, we visited our kids in San Angelo where I spoiled the granddaughters as much as possible.
And do you blame me? Spoiling is so much fun! Now you can go ahead and tell me how cute they are, and I'll tell you how sweet and perfect they are, and we will all agree that grandchildren are the greatest reward a person can get this side of heaven.
I'm obviously into my grandkids a lot more than I'm into blogging because the past few months are represented by many more pictures of them than blog posts. Again, can you blame me?

From San Angelo we traveled on to Austin to visit some good friends. (Brittney and Terry Crain) And to see some sights and kill some time before the weekend.
If you are ever in the Austin, TX area, be sure to have dinner at The Oasis on Lake Travis. The view at sunset might take your breath away!

Believe it or not, this was my first time to visit my beloved Texas' capitol.A part of me wishes I could have been around when Texas was an independent nation--The Republic Of Texas. I like the sound of it!

From Austin we headed for Houston to visit more of our children.There we attended the Wings Over Houston Airshow. That was a first for me also. All I can say about that is WOW! It was money well spent and even the sunburn I got was worth it.I saw planes flying straight up and straight down and backwards, right side up and right side down and all the directions in between. There were wing walkers and parachute jumpers and mock water rescues. A reenactment of the bombing of Pear Harbor created lots of smoke. I learned that you can actually see the sound barrier quivering around an aircraft as it flies at the speed of sound straight toward you. And then there were the Blue Angels. Oh--My---Goodness!!!

I took WAY too many pictures. Most of them didn't turn out and few of them can do justice to the show. Take my word for it. Wings Over Houston is one of those must see kind of things. Next year it will be held October 23 & 24 and will feature the USAF Thunderbirds . If you can be in the area, don't miss it!

From Houston we drove back to Amarillo--home--where daughter #3 keeps a candle in the window for us. She's a good kid and I don't know what we would do with out her. Here she is with Michael W. Smith. I sure hope he doesn't mind my posting this picture of him on my blog, but it is the only picture I could find of my kid!(Michael was in concert at Trinity Fellowship Church in November. That was another WOW experience. If you ever have the chance to hear him in person, don't miss it!)

Whewww! That was quite a trip!
Almost everywhere we go (outside our home state) people comment about how "PROUD" Texans are. That, I can't deny. Yes, I am proud of my state and my heritage as a Texan. I won't apologize for believing that Texas is the best state in the union! (If you don't believe me, ask any other Texan and he'll tell you the same thing!)

We Texans have a lot to be proud of! We live in a beautiful state with beaches, mountains, rolling hills and flat plains. We are a strong group of people who (for the majority of us) believe in small government and freedom and independence for the people. We are friendly and hospitable. Texas...there's no place quite like it!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Waltz Across Texas (part 2)

As I promised, here is Big Bend National Park as seen through the viewfinder of my camera. You know I get snap-happy, and like always, I took way too many pictures. Believe it or not, I'm only sharing a small part of my Big Bend collection.
I'll be honest with you--when hubby said he wanted to "waste time" in Big Bend while we waited for the weekend when we could visit our kids in San Angelo, I was not too excited about the idea. But I was wrong, and our few days there was no waste of time. The weather was perfect and the park is beautiful. The months of October and November is a good time to visit this picturesque desert.

If you decide to make the trip this winter or next spring, be sure to take hiking boots, a walking stick, and a couple of good canteens. (If you are planning a summer vacation, go to Colorado instead!) As you hike the trails and drive the paved and dirt roads, be prepared to marvel over the scenery, wildlife, and dessert vegetation.

I hope you enjoy my pictures--forgive me if this is vacation picture overload but I just couldn't help myself!

Look on the map of Texas and find our southern boarder, the great Rio Grande River. Typically the Rio Grande can be crossed easily on foot in many places. But due to some good rains and water released from a Mexican reservoir, the river was flowing deep and wide--and VERY muddy.

Across the river is, of course, Mexico. Here you see some Mexican citizens who were operating a little illegal business on American soil. They were on their side of the river, watching me through binoculars as I watched them through my zoomed camera lens.
And here are four more amigos who hiked down river a short distance from the camp. They too were keeping a close eye on me.

Here is their business--hand made bracelets, necklaces, wildlife trinkets made from twisted wire, and walking sticks. The items and the prices are written on the butchered milk jug. There were several of these little stores set up on big rocks on the American side of the river.

The Mexicans cross the river in their canoes, leave their merchandise, return to the Mexican side and wait for park visitors to leave cash in the jugs. (They are happy to take donations if you don't want any of their goods.) Then, they make their way back across the river to collect.You can buy the same trinkets in the visitor's centers and ranger stations at about three times the price posted on the jug. But the higher priced items have gone through the proper channels to be legal imports. We don't believe in encouraging illegal activity across our boarders, so I just took pictures and kept my money in my pocket.

FYI--Just in case you decide to visit Big Bend, be aware that some drug traffic happens across the desolate and impossible to secure river boundary, so it is important to obey park rules and avoid the illegal business.

It is hard to put into words the beauty of the diverse desert and mountains of Big Bend. I love nice scenery, don't you?
The subject of the photo below is the mule ear peaks in the background. We just happened to get into the shot.

As I tried to take in all the beautiful views I also enjoyed the wildlife. This osprey was just passing through. Though these birds do not live in the area, they migrate through the park. I was at the right place at the right time.
I noticed this sapsucker while we were hiking up a mountain trail.The deer hanging out at one of the camping spots weren't the least bit afraid of us.

Can you see my hidden treasure? I drive Rick crazy when we hike because I notice all the little details of nature.The desert is full of tarantulas and this one is missing a couple of legs. Poor little guy.We saw two javelinas, but those little creatures are fast and camera shy. I tried to follow them through the desert brush, but I lost them quickly. Not only are they fast, they are mean so I gave up the chase.

No picnic is complete with out ants and....

a turkey buzzard! This is one UGLY bird.

Scenery, wildlife, and plants--oh, the endless number of different desert plants. I couldn't photograph them all.
This little beauty takes shelter under other bushes and vegetation.

Very pretty but DO NOT TOUCH!Okay okay. Enough of the pictures. Big Bend National Park gets two thumbs up from me and I have never been a desert lover. But I must say, this desert is full of hidden treasures. Just take my word for it--it is a nice place to visit even if you wouldn't want to live there!

From Big Bend we went to San Angelo and then on to Austin. Part 3 to be posted soon. Come back again!