Providence, Philip Phillips and Rosemary

I will not even begin to make excuses for the lack of blogging in the last several months.  Let me just say that I’ve been a little busy.  I no longer live in the wild west.  It’s more like the southwest.  Yep, we are Texans now.

Sometime about a year ago, we began getting hints that a move was in our near future.  This really came as no surprise, our average tenure in each of our homes has been 3 to 4 years.  It looked like the move would occur this summer, which it did, and so that gave us plenty of time to pray through the decision and prepare our hearts to say good-bye.  We were also blessed to experience every season in Colorado knowing it was probably our last one as residents of this beautiful state, and so taking none of it for granted.  That being said, this move was definitely the most difficult we have made.  We have total peace that this is the decision God was leading us to, but we have gotten very attached to the people, our church, and the beautiful place we have called home for the last four years.

I don’t know if they have been just bits of grace to console us or if they will hold some greater value in the future, but God has given us several wonderful gifts of confirmation to let us know that, indeed, we are where He wants us.

The  first big gift He has given us is our proximity to one of my dear friends who lives just north of Dallas.  We met in college, and since the moment I met her I have always admired her poise and her character.  We have actually grown closer in the years since college.  She is one of the ladies in my life that I would call a ‘super-woman’. (no pressure!) And, she has put all of her skills and gifts into action in the way she has helped us out in our transition from Colorado to Texas.  I really don’t know what I would have done without her advice and her friendship these last few months.  In addition, she is also the world’s best plant-sitter.

Sometimes my husband is a little weird.  In a very lovable, wonderful way.  But, weird.  We had some Rosemary growing in a pot on our patio in Colorado, and he decided that this Rosemary was going to make the journey to Dallas.  Yes, they sell Rosemary in Texas.  But, this was a particularly average Rosemary plant, and it was very important to him.  He began working in Texas several weeks before we all made the move.  Our moving company does not transport plants, so he placed the precious, everyday Rosemary in the back of his jeep, drove it 900 miles, and delivered it into the loving hands of my sweet friend, who had accepted the duty of caring for it until we were settled in our new home.  The exciting journey of the Rosemary doesn’t stop there, but you will have to read more of the post to get to the exciting conclusion of our fragrant herb.

The second little gift God gave us was just a ‘coincidence.’  I could blog for pages about the process of finding a home in Texas.  We made so many offers on houses that I was reciting real estate contracts in my sleep.  But, each offer and then even a contract on a home did not work out for various reasons, until Richard ventured up (with the help of our amazing real estate agent.  seriously.  I love her.  If you need a recommendation in the Dallas area, please let me know) into a small town on the north side of the city and fell in love with a neighborhood and a house.  So we made an offer.  It was accepted.  We closed in 2 1/2 weeks.  It was a miracle.  But, not a coincidence.  The coincidence is that the family who owned the house we bought in Texas- moved to Broomfield, Colorado.  Not to Kansas City, Missouri or Nashville, Tennessee or Seattle, Washington.  Not even the Denver ‘area’.  They moved to Broomfield, the very same small city that we were moving away from.  THAT is pretty cool.  Thanks, God.

The third gift has been another big one.  We know a precious family in Denver.  They did not live super close to us, actually about 20-25 minutes away from us, but we went to church together.  They have a daughter who is the same age as our Caroline  They are really genuine, wonderful people.  And, it turns out they have family in the city we moved to.  And, on the first day of school, Caroline introduced herself to her sixth grade homeroom class and told them that she had just moved from Denver, and a sweet girl near her asked if she happened to know her cousin.  Which, of course, Caroline did.  She is the one from the precious family in Denver that went to our church.  AND,  Caroline is not just in homeroom with their cousin, it turns out we actually live on the same street as them!  They have become some of our first new friends here and we already like them.  A whole lot.  A sweet, God-loving family right down the street that is connected to our Colorado faith family.  Thanks, God!

Last spring, we watched the show American Idol.  We were rooting for the winner, Philip Phillips, all along.  Even if you don’t watch Idol, you would know who Phillips is if you saw any Olympic coverage this summer.  His song ‘Home’ was played as the intro music to a lot of the broadcasting.  It kind of became our theme song during the move, too, especially for the kids.  Caroline was actually the first to say that this song described her life this summer…boy, that just grips my heart, to tell you the truth.  There is no telling how brave that girl can be sometimes…

Anyway, the lyrics are simple.  You can listen if you click here.

‘Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home’

Our first church visit in Texas was with our new friend/neighbors.  They go to one of the big churches here in Dallas.  BIG churches…it was a very different experience for us, but also a really good one.  They showed a video to celebrate the anniversary of one of their new campus sites, and during the video, guess what music they played.  Yes, it was our theme song:-)

Every step along the way, God has assured us of this truth:  No matter where we go, He is there, and He will make it home.

As for the Colorado Rosemary… well, it died.  Not because my friend neglected it, but because it was just spent out.  But, the first weekend of working in our new yard, we saw something in the corner of our yard that somehow we had not noticed before.  It was a pot with something pitiful in it.  So pitiful, it took us a little while to figure out what it was.  Rosemary.  It had been sitting, forgotten, in a corner for almost 8 months, almost completely unattended.  Yet, it survived.  We moved it to a sunny spot, watered it and it is now thriving.  Have you heard the phrase, ‘bloom where you are planted’?  Yeah.

In the hands of the Master Gardener , we all can bloom in the home where He plants us.  Our time in Colorado cannot ever be compared with another experience.  It was unique and special and we will carry our friendships and lessons learned there for the rest of our lives.  Now it is time for a new season of growth, though, and I cannot wait to see what God has in store for the Texas garden.  He is so good.

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If you happen to be in South Dakota…

This past fall we took the kids and headed north to the Black Hills in order to experience the colossal thing that is Mount Rushmore.  It was a great trip, and well worth a blog chronicle (several months late or not).  I highly recommend this journey… if you ever happen to be within 300  miles of South Dakota.  Just remember to pack a lunch.

Apparently, there is no fast food between Cheyenne, Wyoming and Rapid City, South Dakota.  Folks, that’s a long way.  Luckily, my husband had ‘forced’ me to make a picnic lunch so that we could save some moolah.  I am so glad he was right.  (even though I didn’t think so at the time – I confess, I complained about making lunches against my will at 6 am the morning we left)

The roadside picnic lunch was made more enjoyable with the wide-open Wyoming scenery.

Too bad, if we had waited a little longer we might could have had ourselves a buffalo burger in Custer State Park.

Yum.  On the other hand, this guy did not look too keen on the idea.

The monument itself is actually visible from miles away.  Here is our first shot of it:

I hope you can see it right smack in the middle of the picture.  This is still a good 10 to 15 miles away from the entrance to the monument park.

We decided to approach the mountain from the very scenic tunnel route.  There are three tunnels you drive through, and each one has a fantastic view of the carving right through it.  Here is the furthest tunnel:

And, here is the closest:

Are you thrilled to the bone yet?!?

Well, we really were.  Perhaps you have to see it to experience it.  Like this.

And this.

And, after hiking closer we got this fantastic view of Washington up through the crack of a cave.

And, finally our hike rounded off with the ‘family view’.

I will say that one of my favorite parts of the trip was walking through the American history with Caroline, who is old enough to begin appreciating the sacrifice and courage of the men and women who helped form our nation.  Personally, I often take our freedom for granted, and so it was a good thing to revisit the words of our founding fathers such as:

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation….

We just don’t write like that anymore.

The kids were totally thrilled with staring at the 60-foot faces of our presidents carved into a mountain, and they would have insisted we stay even longer if we hadn’t made plans to try out South Dakota’s largest indoor water park….

It was a distant second to the monument in the ‘thrill’ category, at least for the grown-ups, but a worthwhile diversion nonetheless.

Waterslides aside, this trip was quite an experience – to drive through the western plains of Colorado and Wyoming, then the beautiful black hills of South Dakota, and finally to end up at this huge monument in the middle of nowhere.  It was just so…American.  It stirred up the place in my heart that belongs to a pioneer, and that I believe is part of the legacy of our founding fathers.  If you do ever happen to be in South Dakota, it is definitely worth a glimpse.

Summer Trip Log Four – Sea at Last!

It is September.  Thus, it makes perfect sense that I am finishing my journal about our JULY trip back east.  At least, if you could be a fly on the wall of my life lately, maybe it would be clear that we have been b-u-s-y going back to school, getting revved up for a new year of activities.  Since the fall is coming on strong, though, I do want to finish remembering our journey from the summer, because unfinished projects drive me crazy and take up space in my head that I cannot afford to waste.  Plus, I have actually gotten a request or two to do this – and for those of you who have been holding your breath – or have at least been looking forward to the next installment, cause you would not be reading this if you had been holding your breath this long – I cannot thank you enough for staying with my very sporadic blog as of late.  I’m hoping that with the organization of our day-to-day routine will come enough organization of my thoughts to record them here more often again.  I hope.  It is possible I left all my good brain cells with a big chunk of my heart on the Atlantic coast this summer.  So, at last, it’s time to delve into some nitty, gritty sand.

We became good friends with the rest stops in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia before we finally arrived and saturated our senses with some salt and sand.  Some cousins and boogie boards.  Some boiled peanuts and boiled shrimp.  Some sunburn and sunscreen.  Catch my drift(wood)?

Before I begin to bombard you with my pictorial representations of wonderful times at the beach, I just have to say – in my lifetime of family vacations, they have all been good.  Occasionally, though, they are hugely good, like good on steroids.  Great location, yummy food, clear weather, no trips to the emergency room, no stress.  (okay, okay – one little trip to Urgent Care for an ear infection doesn’t really count) Besides that, perfect memories.  This year was one of those years.

Ahh, the beach house.

It could be ours.  If we sell one or two of our children.

The view might be worth it, especially at night:

All seven cousins in the ocean.

Jumping waves.

Do you remember when you could do that for an entire day?  I can.

They can.

I love seeing them all together.

Man time happens where the waves break.

Caroline & Anna

If 1800 miles on land can’t keep these two soul sisters apart, certainly no silly waves will.

Cat and Will in action.

They formed a pretty

sweet bond this year.

This pose reminds me of something.

Baywatch.

Kinda.

Uncle Wes surprised the kiddos with boogie boards one day.  They were the hit of the week, especially with Marfy.  She is a soul surfer, for sure.

We did a little bit of sightseeing in downtown Fernandina and at the port.

Shrimp are big there.

They have statues of them everywhere to prove it.

It’s no secret that I love my sister.

When I am with my sister, I laugh about 95% of the time.

About nothing.

About everything.

It’s why I took a picture of this shop sign in Fernandina:

And, why I have to include so many pictures of us together.

It’s also no secret that I love my man.

I would love him even if he didn’t fully support me finding a beach house online, sight unseen, then driving 30 hours to get there and spend a week with my family.  And, take lots of pictures of me laughing with my sister.  But, he does.  So, I do.

As a matter of fact, this next photo is his favorite and that is why I am including it.  Some pictures really are worth a thousand words.  This is my sister’s family.  Can you guess how they roll at picture time?

I can’t believe we caught this moment on film.  Perfection.

The girls got into some ringin’ around with Will.

To the left is my nephew, Matthew.

Matthew Bieber.

He is not ashamed of how much attention he pays his ‘do’.

I love that boy.

And his hair.

This trip will be remembered as the year of the turtle.  We had a lot of sightings, so I have to include at least one:

Sorry, it’s a bit hazy, I grabbed my camera from inside the house and took this picture before the little guy got away. (he was faster than the average tortoise)  The haziness resulted from this thing called humidity smacking my cold lens with some moisture.  Being in Colorado, I have almost forgotten what that is.  Almost.

This picture is the opposite of a thousand words for me.  It’s short and sweet.

Family.  Love.  Memorable.  I’d go back if I could.

(Wendy, this one is for you – thanks for the push!  And, thanks for reading!!)

Summer Log Three – (middle) Georgia on My Mind

Our journey continued southeastward (and we were going to drive until we hit salt water!) Before our final destination on the trip, we got to see some fabulous people in Forsyth, GA.  They don’t all actually live in Forsyth, but since it was en route, some of them were willing to meet us there, too.  And eat more pig.  And caramel cake.  And play with little birds and bunnies.

We are boys, therefore we eat.

By the way, if you’ve never tried white sauce on barbecue, I highly recommend you try it today.  Mr. Kerry, pictured here, makes the best in the world, but you can probably come close to imitating his delicious flavor (he says you can google white bbq sauce).  Trust me, you might not go back to the red stuff ever again.

Richard had a good ol’ boy greeting for Tee.  Yup, that’s how we do it in the south.

Once again, playing with the shutter burst is so fun.  Especially when Caroline, a little bird, and little Tee work their action.

Where’d he go?

These are my fabulous girls.  Minus one, who could only be present via a lovely picture.

These ladies play such a special role in my life.  We were called together during a season when we all lived minutes from each other.  Not a perfect life among us, but we have a perfect God who brought us together.  They know my nitty gritty.  I know theirs.  They call me out on my nitty gritty.  I repay the favor.  It takes prayer, love and humility to be accountable to others.  They are amazing women.  Even hundreds of miles away, when I talk to them it’s like we are only minutes apart again, yet only one remains in our original town now.  I love you, my fabulous friends.

Here are all the kids who were present, plus my nieces who were making this leg of the journey with us, too.  They didn’t have trouble fitting right in.

I am not sure what was going on with little Jack’s eye, but I had 10 shots and this one had the most of his sweet little face.  I love this adorable group!!

Finally, the grown-up group shot.  Taken by Caroline, our budding photographer.

Pretty good pic, sweet girl!  Some people think that in the south we know at least half the people, and we are related to the rest.  Well, it’s true.  We are so blessed with all these folks, sometimes it feels like we are shoving a lot of memories into just a few precious moments.  That is true of our time on this trip, and we treasure these memories as well as the technology that keeps us together when we are apart.  Love y’all to pieces!

Summer Log Two – Georgia On My Mind

Our summer journey saga continues – the first 1000 miles ended in a family-filled week at Lake Barkley in Kentucky.  The next 400 or so miles took us to my homeland of Georgia, specifically Decatur which was loaded with pork ribs, fossils, and good times.  We had a blast visiting with my dad, stepmom, sister and brother.  And eating pig.  And a big orange cake shaped like a T.

My kids had a little bit of fun spazzing out with Aunt Becca and Uncle Hank.  Uncle Hank had a little bit of fun spazzing out with them.  Can you guess where he’s going to college next month?  Hint:  it is NOT the University of Texas.

To celebrate Hank’s impending induction into the Vol nation (that’s University of Tennessee, ladies and gentlemen), my stepmom made him a big ol’ orange T carrot cake.  It was delish.

I forgot to take a picture before we devoured.

But, I got some during and after:

Before we arrived we asked to bring some fried chicken so that Fran would not have to do all this work.  Our offer was rejected.  She wouldn’t really want me to mention much, but she is fighting a battle right now, and in the midst of all the challenges she faces daily, she still insists on feeding us good home cookin’ and laughing with us till we’re all worn out.  She is a warrior.

My dad has developed a new hobby in the years of my marriage.  He loves to go out to the Dakotas or scuba diving in Florida to hunt for fossils.  He is very passionate about his paleontological interest, and Marfy might have caught on to some of that.  After dinner we found she had snuck off to check out some old bones.

Cute thing.

Paleontological is a big word, by the way.

This is the mandatory group shot (sans Ricardo, who was photographer) from the littles and myself, to Becca, Hank and her beau, to my parents.

We were only in the state of Georgia for 18 hours, but it turns out it will take two installments to detail our time of fellowship there.  In the south, there is nothing like a short story turned into a long, tall tale.  I wouldn’t want to depart from tradition.

Summer Trip Log One – I almost forgot I had a blog!

We have spent the last 18 or so days touring around the southeast visiting family and friends.  There was time in the car, time with wonderful people, time in the car, time eating barbecue and boiled peanuts, time in the car, time skiing on the lake, time in the car, time enjoying family and sweet moments at the beach.  Did I mention there was time in the car?  Which might have been a good time to work on the blog.  Except I surrendered the use of my laptop to my eldest to enjoy the occasional DVD distraction.  Don’t judge, the trip home alone was almost 30 hours of time in the car spread over 3 days.  Oi.

I want to chronicle our trip in my blog, but there was so much to it, the saga of our voyage will have to be written in installments.

The first leg of the journey (after we survived the drive through Kansas) was the week we spent with my mother-in-law’s family at their lake house in Kentucky and the various home visits we made to Tennessee while there.   Being at the lake is wonderfully quiet.  There is no telephone, we get very sketchy cell service, and thus no internet.  It can be frustrating to be so communication isolated, but it also forces you to spend time doing active things and interacting with flesh and blood folks while you do it.  Face to face.  It’s a little sad we have to lose technology sometimes to really focus on the people around us.  Not that I’m giving up my laptop.

First priority was some face to face with Nana and Grundaddy:

Then, the Pedigo family reunion.  Time with grandma/great grandma:

And with cousins and cousins’ kids (which are also cousins, and look like Shirley Temple):

And,

last

but

most absolutely, definitely not least, Uncle Patrick:

aka the Crocodile Hunter

After all the reunion-ness, my mom and stepdad drove out from Lexington to spend a couple of days with us over the Fourth of July.  The first day of their visit was rainy, and the ladies were trapped inside playing Perquackey while the men braved the wet elements for their own mini British Open.  They called it Geezers vs. Geeks:

The geezers stomped ’em, with a little help from ‘age, wisdom and treachery’.

By the way, Perquackey is one of the most awesome games ever.  Just sayin’

We did have some goofy fun of our own with DeeDee:

Before the weather improved and we got to have some real water fun:

Looking at these pictures reminds me of how much fun we had, how blessed we are to share some family recreation, and how I should wear mascara the next time I partake in water sports where our camera will be present.

We took a break from the lake to visit some Tennessee family.  Grundaddy’s parents, Momma Ann and Daddy John:

And more time with Grandma Pedigo, Uncle Joe and Aunt Marty before heading back to eek out as much water time as we could.  I’ve got to brag on my sweet Caroline.  She is rockin’ the wakeboard.  Check her out:

At the end of the week, we all kind of felt like

and it was worth every fun moment.

Finally, a sweet memory we capture each year on the bench swing.

Hard to believe this is only the first installment of the trip.  It was a full vacation unto itself.

We really do treasure all the time we are given with our family, no matter how much car time it takes to get it.  They have invested so much in who we have become and in spending time with our little ones and imparting their love and faith legacy to us all.

A Date at Sunrise

On our spring break trip last week, Richard and I had a couple mornings together of being some of the first skiiers up the lifts and to make fresh cuts in the new snow.  It was so quiet and peaceful.  Breathtaking.  My heart sang a praise song to our Creator, the artist who rendered this sunrise painting, and luckily no one was around too close because it came right out of my mouth –  loud. 

“Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” (Psalm 90:2)

“Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise him in the heights above.  Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his heavenly hosts.  Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars.  Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies.  Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created.”  (Psalm 148:1-5)

That’s not all that God created.

I have to say that the view in the other direction was also stunning.

Well, hello there, good lookin’.

What are you doing later?

Skiing with your wife?

Lucky lady.

Very lucky lady.

My husband is a much more advanced skiier than I am, but he managed to stay entertained on the blues with me most of the time.  Or at least he did a really good job of pretending that he was.  We had more “date time” than we’ve had in the last year put together.  Not ’cause we don’t try, just that life and 3 kids and commitments have a way of cramping a “couple-on-the-town” kind of style.  So, we try to “date” when our kids go to bed.  Eat a late dinner together, watch a movie, just sit and talk.  Sometimes it works, sometimes we fall asleep.  It’s okay, sleep is good, too.  But, while we were in the mountains we got some fun awake time together.

A girl could do so much worse.  How God has worked in my life through this man is a testimony of His love for me.  I am not worthy of the gifts God has given me, they humble me everyday.  I am so thankful for you, Richard.  You amaze me with your solid love and your ambition to be a godly man.  And on top of all that, you are a total stud muffin.

Hope I didn’t embarass you too much.  I love you.