Thursday, December 30, 2010

Home-Day 2

This morning I am missing the best grits ever. Now I know that to some of you that statement is an oxymoron, but the breakfast buffet at the Inn has the best stone ground grits every cooked. Quaker Oats instant grits doesn't hold a candle much less a burnt out match to these wonderful grits. Since we decided to go to Rosemary Beach in May, it will be a long time until those grits and I meet again. Of course that breakfast buffet whipped my rear end with all the carbs I consumed. Now I have to get back on track because my diet was a train wreck during the holidays. About the only meal that I was consistently good on, lunch. Go figure.

Roy had to go into the office this morning, so I have been using the time to get things put up and organized around here. Of course with the attention span of a gnat, I have several projects up and running this morning, with no completion in sight. Laundry is going to be a long and consuming chore. How can two people dirty so many clothes in so little time? I did complete paying bills since that was a pressing issue to take care of. I'm not looking forward to the Am Ex bill that will soon come. I will not complain and I will give thanks that we could afford this trip for Christmas. When we booked it in July, we did so because one of my Doctors told me if I had anything on a bucket list I should probably do some of them this year. Now that I'm starting to turn a corner with the latest heart things, it is looking like the bucket list was a bit premature. But I did get to do some fun things. Riding behind the jet ski on Lake Bain had to be one of my favorite and fear conquering things I have done this year.

Yesterday we did what all good Texans, residents not the football team, do upon returning from a trip out of state. We went for some Tex Mex. I'd been thinking about good salsa and chips the last few days of our trip. Think we are going to have some barbeque tonight for dinner. Goode Company is calling out to us. We were in the land of pulled pork and Cole slaw. We need some brisket.

I'm not too sad today that we missed the Texas Bowl game last night. When we had planned our return home it did not consist of driving all day on Tuesday but since plans were adjusted, that is just what we did. We were both so tired and I was aching something fierce from my fall on Sunday. We did miss being with good friends but not dealing with rain and having to rush around yesterday afternoon. I did get to see the season premiere of Toddlers and Tiaras. That show is addicting. It is so horrible yet so entertaining. It is sad that some of these little girls are already dealing with body image, beauty and being perfect. Of course friends let friends know about season premieres. So I emailed and left a message for Dena so she'd be able to catch the show. McKenzie was back and there has been very little change in her. She still loves her Ni-Ni.

Well, I better head out the door and get more accomplished. Sequisha is so much fun to drive but parking her in our parking space is difficult. I so want to say something else because it is more applicable to how I feel when attempting to park. Yesterday, I had a little more trouble than usual but I'm blaming Roy. He was making a face the whole time I was pulling know the I disapprove of the job you are doing face. It didn't help that is was pouring down rain either, but I finally got it parked. Don't think I will be taking the paint off when I back out today. Well at least I hope I don't.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Even though we have just returned from the birthplace and home of Thomas Wolfe who wrote You Can't Go Home Again, we have returned home once again from Asheville. Yes, we can go home again. Actually our trip is filled with literary references. We went past Monroeville, home of Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird. We went through Mobile, the setting of The Bad Seed and then Thomas Wolfe. I would write about other literary drive bys, but most of you wouldn't have heard of the places from Southern fiction. This trip and our Christmas was just about one of the best ones in recent memory. What would have made it better would have been getting to drive over to Nashville to see family. But the Blizzard of 2010 made it impossible to cross the mountains in Western North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee. We stayed an extra day at the Biltmore. Some trapped in train stations, airports or with too many long staying relatives, but we were trapped in one of our favorite places to be. Once we transfer pictures from the laptop, I will post some of the best snow pictures. Gee, I only have 2500 pictures to chose from. Roy was in the snow taking pictures for a good majority of the days. Christmas was extra special this year because we got to spend time with good friends in Atlanta and a great breakfast visit with my cousin and her husband. We saw beautiful God given scenery, treated like a Vanderbilt guest and in the midst of all the fun, we remembered the why and Who of Christmas. God came down here with us. Emmanuel!

Monday morning was filled with indecision. The weather reports were not good but we felt like we had a small window of opportunity to hit the road. The Inn held our room for us until 10:00 am when we would have to make the decision of whether to stay one more day or hit the road. I noticed that even though we were talking like we would stay the extra day, we kept packing. We prayed and asked God for wisdom and the wisdom came from a fellow traveler who had just made the trip to the estate on some of the very same roads we would be traveling. That is what we needed to hear, so we called the bellman and gathered our things together. Uh, we totally over packed and I am happy to report I was not the worst over packer. Just saying... With Sequisha loaded and covered with snow we headed out. The worst roads were on the estate. They had been plowed and de-iced but with snow falling and the wind blowing snow onto the roads, it was a difficult path. The streets in Asheville were not great either but once we made it onto the Interstate, we had clear roads. We even had clear roads for the 16 miles we went in the wrong direction. As South Carolina came closer we saw less accumulation of snow. We saw snow all the way into Alabama but nothing was as bad as the snow in Asheville. I think the total inches of snow was 10 inches. Since we started out at 10:45 am, we knew we wouldn't get very many miles under our belt our first day. We had totally planned an easy going route back. Spend Sunday in Nashville, head out Monday, stopping in Oxford to go to Square Books and then make our way to Hammond, LA where we would spend the night and only have about 4 hours on the road yesterday. On Monday we did make it to Greenville, AL. We had stayed there on our way up. We were comfortable with the town and knew where we were going. We stopped around 5, ate dinner, filled up the car, made a Diet Coke run and I was in bed asleep by 7:30 pm. We got an early start at 5:20 am yesterday morning but we made several stops along the way and arrived back into Houston around 3:20 pm. One stop was a car wash. Sequisha was covered in road salt and we wanted to get that off her. Several stops for Cracker Barrel and gasoline made up our second day journey. It was 21 degrees when we left Greenville and for the longest time basked in the balmy temps of 37. Buddy was so happy to see us. In fact she hardly snubbed us when we all arrived home. She was more upset that I wouldn't sit down so that she could crawl into my lap. Finally with everything in, she and I had our bonding time.

I am still really sore from my fall on ice. Not a good candidate for skating with the stars. On Sunday, Roy and I went to Antler Hill Village so that Roy could take some pictures of the snow there. For Houstonians, we were better prepared for snow than others. We both had waterproof boots on and heavy duty ski gloves. I had walked in the deep snow for a photo op and returned by the same path. I stopped for just a second and thought, wow, I did pretty good walking in 9 inch deep snow and the very next step, my foot got hung up on ice and down I went onto the hard, cold, icy sidewalk. So the Bible is true, pride comes before a fall. I have my volleyball playing days to thank for taking falls. I was able to catch myself and keep my head from hitting the sidewalk. I was so embarrassed and I was trying to get to my feet as quickly as I could. I still am sore from that fall. My arms, shoulders and neck still hurt and since I'm still on blood thinners I have a lovely case of purple bruising all over. My knee got a little twisted too, so thus add more limping to my stride. Add that fall to the embarrassing fall of several weeks ago, not good. So glad we have heated seats in the car because that really helped for that long duration in the car.

We were going to the Texas Bowl this evening to watch Baylor play but I know that even though my heart wants to go, I need to punt football tonight at Reliant and watch from the friendly confines of home. I also should really be unpacking and doing laundry but blogging had much more appeal to me this morning. We need to make a trip to the grocery store today because we don't have much in the pantry. Roy went out for breakfast with his Bible study group and I foraged through the freezer and found some old Eggos. Also defrosted some sliced peaches from this summer. Both Roy and I have to get back onto the healthy diet plan. We were somewhat remiss in our food choices over the past week.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Snow on Snow, Snow on Snow...In the Bleak Mid Winter Just a Day Ago

Sunday morning, all is calm, all is snow, all is good and all is well. Our route to Nashville is frozen over and the local paper reported all the wrecks and crashes on I-40 that started happening yesterday. We made our decision last night not to venture out onto the highways and stick around the Biltmore for another day. I know you might be thinking, yea, that's a real tough decision. It was, because this means we won't be able to visit with family and celebrate Christmas with them. Although I would not be honest if I said being stuck at the Biltmore is not too bad at all. I mean, we could be stuck at some airport. We extended our stay one more night but as of 11:00 am today, we are off the Elegant Christmas plan. So we enjoyed our last inclusive meal of the plan this morning. They prepare such great food and meals here and the breakfast buffet has to be one of the best ever. Breakfast is totally off the charts and ruins my healthy meal plan but I figure I have all day to burn it off. Roy and I have had a window table seating at every meal. Ah, the favor of the Lord! Our joke on this trip at meal time is saying to one another, "you always get the best view." I did have to remind Roy that sitting across from me at every meal is the best view. He just smiled and looked out the window.
This is the fireplace in the main dinning room. All the fireplaces here are beautifully decorated and very warm and inviting. In the library in the lobby there are two fireplaces with overstuffed chairs and couches arranged in front of them. I have this obligatory check list in my mind, so last night as we sat in front of the fire, I checked that off as having been done. Same goes for drinking hot tea by the windows that look out unto the fields which this morning are really white for harvest.
These are the stairs that go from the lobby down to the dining room or up from the dining room to the lobby. It is one of those half empty or half full observations.

This is one of the fireplaces in the library. The other one is next to it.

Santa Claus came to town and we got to spend some time with him. Very nice man and he has a great sense of humor. Funny it wasn't children wanting their picture with him, it was all us adults who are kids at heart. Guess the kids had already done their business with Santa and didn't want to ruin anything. See those people sitting on the chairs and couches behind us? They were working up the courage to have their picture taken with the Claus.

Lots of women use a photo of themselves with Beth Moore as their Facebook profile picture, I think I am going to do that very same thing except mine will be with Santa. He and I became close personal friends in a wink of an eye last night.

We awoke this morning to the beautiful scene of snow covered trees and mountains. The snow has stopped falling but the wind has really picked up. Bellmen once again are shoveling snow off the sidewalks and pathways. The snow plows are out creating a way to the village and to the house.
This morning I cannot help but think of these verses from Psalm 147- "He sends the snow like white wool; he scatters frost upon the ground like ashes. He hurls the hail like stones. Who can stand against His freezing cold? Then, at his command, it all melts. He sends His winds and the ice thaws." My prayer is that He will send that command this afternoon so the melting and the thawing can begin.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Come on We're Going for a Sleigh Ride

It's a beautiful sight, we're happy today, walking in a winter wonderland. Merry Christmas! Last night and is our custom when here at the Biltmore, we leave the curtains open at night. We have enjoyed some beautiful sunrises this week. This morning we were not greeted by a sunrise at all, but heavy flakes of snow falling from the sky. It began around 7:30 and has not let up at all. It is now just a little after noon. The snow plows are out, bellmen are shoveling snow off the sidewalks and riding lawnmowers with large plow like apparatus continues to clean off the sidewalks and walkways. Roy and I ate breakfast in the library and had a ring side table to catch us some snow watching. After having a lovely breakfast we hurried to the room to get all our winter snow gear on. Actually, we are rather prepared for Houstonians. We both have water proof hiking boots and ski gloves. We started out on our snow walk and Roy is taking a massive amount of pictures. I made a little snow man and from the top floor of the Inn I hear a man yell out, that is the smallest snow man I have ever seen. I responded, not bad for a girl from Houston. He said wait for more snow, then roll the snow down a hill. You will have the perfect snow man. I see some kids out there now doing just that. Roy and I walked around to the front of the Inn and even stopped by to see how Sequisha is doing. We took a picture of her covered in snow. Roy is now on one of the estate shuttles taking pictures of the area. He said the house looks beautiful and the snow is deep. The bus has to wait for the snow plow to carve out a path. So, it might be a little longer than an hour for him to return. We are having a wonderful Christmas Day and we are having a wonderful Christmas trip.

Last night we had dinner in the Vanderbilt Room. Dinner was served buffet style and there were so many choices. I have totally blown my healthy diet at a few meals. Tonight we have Christmas dinner in the dining room. Thursday evening we did the candle light tour of the house. Wow, blown away by the decorations. There were choirs and chamber music all evening long. We also enjoyed watching dancers perform in the late 1800 style of dancing. How elegant and beautiful. This trip we have spent a lot of time at the farm. The lambs are so friendly and the goats just like to eat and then produce fertilizer. So, you must watch your step. I have gotten in a good amount of shopping time. There has been plenty of book reading time. Yesterday I sat and read Luke 2 several times, just taking in the whole story. There was an article in the paper about modern day shepherds and how not much has changed since the day the shepherds were abiding in their fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. The shepherds could not contain the good news of the Savior. God came down, here with us...that's the song of Christmas.

Merry Christmas is used here more than I ever remember it being a greeting at home. It's a wonderful way to bless people while passing through halls and the lobby. I have thanked every staff member for working on Christmas Day, just so we can enjoy our time and stay here. We've been asking about road conditions because we are to leave for Nashville tomorrow. Even though they try to keep the roads clear, we've been discouraged to take I-40 especially through the high part of the mountains. They said it stays like a sheet of ice when the weather is like this and it is not supposed to get above freezing until Monday. We may have to punt our trip to Nashville and start our journey home on Monday going back the way we came. Roy needs to get into the office for some time before the year ends and well Buddy surely is missing us. I do miss her but it has been kind of nice not being awakened every couple of hours by Buddy so that she can change her sleeping position.

Looking out the window, the sidewalks that were just cleared show not one sign that they ever were. I'm thinking I need to make another snow walk here in a few minutes. Going to see if Roy gets back any time soon. Maybe he will want to join me again.

They are doing carriage rides today. think I want to check into that. Seems like we are living out every Christmas song out there....Come on We're Going for a Sleigh Ride, Christmas time is here again.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Darlings

Merry Christmas Eve Day! I'm trying to upload pictures from our trip but everything is kind of slow uploading. So I may have to wait until later to post any pictures. It is a beautiful day and there is a chance of snow tonight and 70% chance of snow on Christmas Day. Oh, good some pictures just popped up. Think this will have to do for now.

We are having a fabulous trip. We came through Atlanta this time and we were able to spend some time with a long time dear friend Mary Madeline, her husband Al and all their five kids, spouses and children. We had a blast with them and it was such a special and treasured time. We got a double portion of blessing because we met Al and Mary Madeline for lunch at Pappasito's and then had dinner at their home that evening. It has been 23 years since I've seen Mary Madeline, oh we email and text and call but no visit in person. It was as if no time had even gone by. We were able to pick right up. While in high school and college Mary Madeline and I were extreme opposites in almost every way, but the Lord did a wonderful knitting job with our hearts and our love for the Lord. Mary Madeline was used by God in such a deep and profound way in my life and her influence is a big part of who I am today.

This isn't even all the family.

My skinny cousin Lois and me.

Lois and her husband Jim.

We met my cousins for breakfast on Wednesday morning. We had a blast catching up with one another. Lois has lost 70 pounds in the last year. So we weight losing cousins wanted some pictures together! Our time was short but every minute was full. And did I mention the pumpkin pancakes? :) Lois took us on a tour of her office that was near by. It was difficult to say goodbye but she needed to start her working day and Roy and I needed to get onto the road for Asheville. We arrived in Asheville with about 1000 of our new best friends. We did a quick drive through McDonald's and then headed toward the Biltmore to check in. We were a little early so our room wasn't ready. Not a problem there is so much to do here. We headed to Antler Hill Village. The Christmas decorations here are so beautiful. They are over the top good! The lobby has a huge Christmas tree with vintage toys underneath the tree. There is a huge gingerbread house decorated as the Inn. Lights and Christmas arrangements everywhere. Wreaths are plentiful too. Looks like they have hauled out the holly and sliced up the fruitcake and hung some tinsel on the evergreen boughs...

Now this next part is sad. Truly an eye opening experience. The people in the room next to us got into a huge, Huge, HUGE fight on Wednesday night. It was so loud it woke me up. Lots of f words flying around and it was so loud it sounded like they were in the room with us. They must have argued for about 3 hours. Someone on our hall knocked on the door and the man had a fit. We began yelling in the hallway. Roy slept through all of this and I was never so glad for his snoring because it muffled their voices at times. I was afraid to call the front desk because I didn't want this guy pounding on our door. I was also nervous that one of them might have a gun. From the topics being argued, I thought it must be a young couple... Finally, at some point it got quiet. In the morning after breakfast we went to the front desk to see if we could move in case the people weren't checking out. The front desk assured us that the people were checking out. The desk clerk then asked me a strange question, did I hear the "service animal" at anytime during the fight. No, but now I knew who the couple was. They had checked in right before us and he had thrown a fit about the room not being ready. It was an older couple. Wow! I will tell you during their BIG argument, I was praying for them, asking the Lord to save them, and give them peace. I heard the Lord speak into my spirit as I prayed for them, " people can be in one of the most beautiful, peaceful, serene places, but if they don't have God's peace in them, all the atmosphere and scenery doesn't make one difference." Last night, ah it was a silent night.

Roy in front of the Christmas tree in Antler Village

Me outside of Cedric's Tavern where we had dinner.

The trees in front of the Biltmore House. Over 60,000 lights were used in this display.

Roy is already out and about with his camera taking loads of pictures. He is having so much fun doing that. Of course I have been Biltmore shopping and I love that. In a minute I am going to drive over to a store on the grounds and get a metal sculpture. For the most part I use the shuttle bus that takes one everywhere on the estate. Mornings, we have the lovely breakfast buffet. Tonight we have Christmas Eve dinner at 5:00. Then Santa is in the lobby beginning at 6:30 and Christmas carol singing around the piano at 9:00. Looking forward to that.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Overwhelmed, God's Peace, Kojak-Bang Bang!


This passage reflects the stages we go through when we are overwhelmed and looking for peace. For time sake we will skip over the really “meaty” first portion of this chapter and look at the end, with tangible results of what happens when come to our wits end and everything we know to do and LET GOD BE IN CONTROL!
All this happened because they were feeling pressed for time

We secured the skiff with Using cables to under gird the ship was a customary practice sometimes called “frapping.” It helped prevent the ship from breaking apart in a storm. This is called frapping…so guess this is the first mention of a frappachaino in the Bible.

1. They let out the ship’s anchor to slow their movement
2. When the storm was as relentless the next day, they began throwing the ship’s cargo overboard.
3. Followed by throwing any of the ship’s gear that wasn’t essential. Lightening the load would help the ship sit higher in the water and reduce the strain on it.
4. The ship would likely take on water from the rough seas.
5. The storm continued to pound the ship and the passengers for many days.

Acts 27:21- Should have listened to Paul! Shouldn’t have left Crete. YOU WOULD HAVE AVOIDED ALL THIS DAMAGE AND LOSS!!! Could have avoided trouble and trial!
They couldn’t see the stars or sun- thus not able to navigate. Gave up hope…the sailors and guards had not listened to Paul. He had been shipwrecked 3 times and spends a night and day in the sea. He had been down this road before. He knew what he was talking about.
• I believe God that it will be just as it was told me
“If they missed Malta, there would have been nothing for it but to hold on for 200 miles until they struck the Tunisian coast, and no one could have expected the ship to survive that long.” (Bruce)

Three things in common? Bread…No it is the resulting peace that came out of the chaos!
• Out of the chaos of fear- came peace in seeing Jesus just as they had 100’s of times breaking bread. Their hearts burned within them as Jesus taught on the road to Emmaus LOOK FOR GOD IN OUR EVERYDAY, DAILY TASKS AND LIFE!

• Out of the chaos of unrealistic expectations came a renewing and freshness with God. God gave Elijah the chance to draw near to Him and by drawing near to God find out His plans. God spoke to Elijah in a personal way, not a RUBBER STAMP experience like Moses
• Out of the chaos of being overwhelmed- comes peace knowing the essentials ad ridding ourselves of the stuff that hinders our experiencing peace. Most of the stuff that the sailors threw overboard was good but not necessary for their situation.
God let Paul know they would be safe, but didn’t let him know everything like the name of the island
Out of all this chaos came peace! Chaos helps us find God in our situations and then trusting Him. .
• Peace of God isn’t something we can just sit down and figure out
• God’s peace is not a denial of reality
• God’s peace is not an escape from reality
• God’s peace is not a stupor that dulls our senses
• God’s peace is not an elimination of responsibility for addressing hard issues and difficult circumstance
No, God’s peace is an undergirding rock solid foundation so that no matter the tears we cry or the sorrow we feel, deep down inside we know with an abiding assurance that God is with us, God is in control and the joy of the Lord is going to emerge far greater than any depth of agony we may be experiencing.
Foundational truth that Paul knew- God’s peace, though mysterious and impossible to comprehend rationally, is able to see anyone through the journey of life-on a routine day or in the midst of any trial.

• Most people believe that peace as being very fleeting not a constant
• Greek word for peace means to bind together something that has been broken or disjointed
• Greek word also means a prevailing sense of quietness and rest in a person’s heart and emotions-being unperturbed or ruffled
• Peace is synonymous with being tranquil, serene, untroubled and calm. It is the real state of the soul
Trouble can come on us quickly and catch us off guard. We may respond with panic, anxiety and fear. The person of peace will quickly feel a power rising up inside and regaining control at the helm of their life. We know:
• God is here
• He is still in charge
• Nothing is beyond His strength or understanding
• Don’t be afraid!
Tonight I am sharing with you out of personal experience and this time was filled with many times of chaos. We took hope in Phil 4. Familiar passage…but we saw that Paul LEARNED how to content with whatever he had or didn’t have. Roy and I began a very wild ride in 2008. We began to learn how to experience God’s peace. I asked the Lord to give me something, a visual, that would help me see how this works. Each time we have been overwhelmed, had unrealistic expectations and talked out the problems in frustration and fear, not faith, this scene from the movie Foul Play comes to mind. I will end with this visual but because half of y’all weren’t born when it was made.

Group is out to kill the Pope
Detective and friend commandeer a limo to get to the opera house
IMPORTANT-watch the couple in the back seat!
Kojak-TV show Detective based in New York City that is something they recognize and know
With that confidence-the rest of the ride is different. When we know God's peace the circumstances are still the same but our attitude toward them is different.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ode to Mustang Sally

Today is kind of a happy/sad day. Mustang Sally is going to a new home. Roy just dropped her off on his way to pick up Saquisha Sequoia.

Mustang Sally has been so much fun and we've had so many good memories together. Many an evening Roy and I would just drive around town with the top down. It felt so good to have all that fresh air hit your face. The nieces loved Sally at Christmas time because we always took off for adventure, wrapped up in blankets and throws, with a hot Starbucks in our hand. Sally was also the official car of the Royal Ride. The Kings and Monarchs would ride around at Christmas with the top down looking at lights and making great monkey noises just to aggravate Jenea. Good times! Dena and I always enjoyed a cool ride in the spring and fall and Sally was great to go look at Bluebonnets. I will always remember the fragrance in air during the seasons, floral during spring and summer, wood fireplaces in the fall and evergreen and pine during winter. One of my favorite memories is when I still worked for Jason. We took my car to Highpoint and I let Jason drive. Matt Powell was sitting in the backseat. We would get sympathetic looks from other drivers. Well, probably Matt got the sympathetic looks from people thinking, what a nice young man letting his dad drive and letting his grandmother sit in the front seat. Mustang Sally was fun at staff retreats. CourtneyS, Michelle and Catha rode around with me in Galveston and we sang our little hearts out. One night before a Nord special shopping night, we sat in the parking garage, top down and Tina Turner blasting. Amy P, Lisa P and Peggy B and I did all the choreography beside the car to all of Tina's song. One Christmas Lisa P rode in the back seat covered up in a blanket to save her voice. She was the black Madonna paying homage to scary angel in River Oaks. Sally got us up close and personal viewing scary angel. Ah, good times! Running errands was never mundane with Sally. Even though Sally was 7 years old, she only had 51,000 miles on her and most of those miles were great fun. It was time for someone else to enjoy her. My knees were complaining because of the low entrance and exit. Roy thought it was too hot in the car during the summer and of course I remembered during thunderstorms that although being in a car was safe, not one with a soft top. She was the car that brought me home from the hospital after surgery in 2005 and she took me to the cardiologist in 2008. I'm going to miss Sally and she will always have a soft and special place in my heart. Mustang Sally, I bid you adieu.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Now Back to Peace-Unrealistic Expectations

I'm glad my little story from yesterday brought joy to so many. That's why I shared because it was just too humorous to keep to myself. I cannot tell you how sore I am from that little bitty slip and slide fall. Actually I am just sore on one dancing cheek to cheek for a while. Now to the second point of what robs us from experiencing God's peace.

Do We Have Unrealistic Expectations?
Example of family member’s unrealistic expectations for Christmas and mess that this causes.
When we have unrealistic expectations on others, it puts them in a box where they are required to be a performer, not a person.

I Kings 19
Elijah’s background and story.
• He comes from Tisbeth near Gilead. This is not a place of polish, sophistication, and diplomacy. His manner probably would be very coarse and crude. He’s thrust into the national scene, lives by a brook and is fed by ravens and lives with a widow woman during the time there isn’t any rain. He is probably thinking he is so due.
• Things go bad for Elijah when he is threatened by Jezebel and is so moved by his fear, he doesn’t stop and inquire of the Lord. He hits the ground running and goes to Beersheba where he leaves his servant. Beersheba is 80 miles away from Jezreel. It’s in Judah and about the farthest place to get away.
• Elijah is not thinking realistically or clearly, the threat came from Jezebel, not God.
• Elijah was physically and emotionally exhausted. He’s been living on the edge for quite some time.
• Elijah has to be thinking, “I am so due!”
• Elijah had unrealistic expectations that Ahab and Jezebel were going to come to their senses and worship God. Instead Jezebel threatens Elijah with death.
. As he is sleeping an angel touches him and tells him to get up and eat. The angel has a jar of water and hot bread. I love the details of the Bible. Not just some dry old bread found in Beersheba but fresh, hotly baked bread. I love bread and I think that is why I stop and ponder this, hot bread. Again the angel wakes him and tells him to eat.
Let God set our standards and expectations. Look for ways to affirm, encourage. God is always faithful!
God allows Elijah a time of rest and refreshment. Elijah eats and rests.
We find Elijah in a cave. God asks Him what he is doing there. Elijah whines he is the only one left serving God.
God passes by Elijah at the mountain and a mighty windstorm hits the mountain, tearing rocks loose, then an earthquake and after the earthquake, a fire. God isn’t in any of these, but Elijah hears the sound of a gentle whisper. This is the same mountain where God met Moses. Maybe Elijah was looking for a similar experience? But God deals with us personally and knows how to refresh us, renew us and get us back on the right path.
He goes to the mouth of the cave and God asks him once again, “What are you doing here?” And Elijah whines again about being the only one serving God in all of Israel. Elijah is like Moses in that he goes and investigates the sound of the gentle whisper just as Moses investigated the burning bush.
We need to keep our eyes open to see what God would have us inquire of or investigate.

• Elijah has been living under constant and relentless stress. Emotional exhaustion and unrealistic expectations open the door to SELF PITY.
o Self-pity lies to us
o Self-pity cultivates victim mentality
o Worse case – you wish to die.
• We set ourselves up to establish unrealistic expectations as a standard that neither we nor for that matter anyone else can live up to.
• Exhaustion can make us turn emotional cartwheels
• Fatigue can lead to all sorts of strange imaginations
o Elijah goes a day’s journey into the wilderness where he promptly asks the Lord to take his life and he falls asleep under a tree. Isn’t it ironic that Elijah has run from death only to ask God to kill him?
• Exhaustion and fatigue will make us believe a lie.

God tells Elijah to go back the way he came…go back to where Elijah got off track.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Taking a Momentary Break From Peace to Bring This Safety Message

Everyone and their cousin must have been in the medical center today. The traffic was backed up worse than usual and people were everywhere. After negotiating several difficult traffic moves I was able to make a right into the valet parking area of the garage. Today everyone must have wanted to be Valerie Valet because the line and the waiting was longer than usual. After a few minutes and nearly being rear-ended by the old fellow behind me, the valet guy cutting through betweem us was the only reason the old guy didn't bump into me, because he bumped into the guy. Bet his car had a suspicious new dent on it when he picked it up. The valet guy was pretty steamed. With a few minutes to spare I decided to use the restroom located on the 19th floor where my Doctor office is. Great timing, the bathroom is being cleaned but the lady working in there must have noticed my face was conveying the message of, please oh please let me use this bathroom. The last words she said to me were, be careful the floor is very wet. Since I take safety seriously I decided to use the handicap stall since it is spacious and I felt I would maneuver the wet floor better there. I mean there is a railing and everything. So if you take one wet floor and new slick bottomed boots and add one klutz what do you get? Uh, you get a great big fall on the freshly mopped floor. Believe me a clean floor was the only thing going for me. For the life of me I don't know how I was able to recover so quickly and get up. I do know that I did a triple lutz toe loop spin that ended in a split, which by the way, I've never been that flexible to do one. Well, it's a new day in the split world for me. I think I scrambled so quickly because the main door to the restroom was open and I didn't want anyone to find me laying or lying on the floor mooning the world. I gathered myself, washed my hands and my arms too, reapplied lipstick and limped out the door none the worse for the wear.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Peace-Our Conversations

What Are We Discussing and Talking About Along the Way?

• Luke 24:13-37 – Emphasis verse 17. NIV What are you discussing together as you walk along?
• In the Expanded Wuest Greek New Testament Jesus asks- “What are these words which you are tossing to and fro to one another in this animated, heated conversation as you walk along?”

  • These people have had their world turned upside down. They thought Jesus was a political Messiah and would rescue them from the tyranny of Rome. Jesus has done more than that; He has rescued us from the tyranny of death to have eternal life with Him.

    Going to narrow down to one topic, what is taking over our conversations.
    • Busy schedules - If all we talk about is how busy we are with children's schedules, our schedules and the hurry of the holidays, we will miss out on those special moments that don't scream out to us to be seen. We have to slow down to find them. So don't let lack of time and busyness be the topic that takes over every conversation.
    • Same people stories - chances are you spend the holidays with the same relatives and people. So aggravating habits aren't going to be a new topic of conversation. Everyone knows that Aunt Mildred talks about every operation she has ever had just as the turkey is being sliced and the cranberry sauce is being passed. It doesn't do any good to call your Sister in Law just to talk about it. Doing so keeps our emotions stirred up and emotions take energy. Emotions are fickle and changing, they want to rule over us and emotions can be addictive.
  • Heart Virus Story - two days before Hurricane Ike only 10% of my heart was working due to a virus that attacked my heart. Basically I was given a prescription, told I hope they work for you and was sent home to die. In the car on the way home Roy said to me our conversations are not going to be "if" conversations. Let's not what if ourselves to anxiety. Instead let's say, when you are able to enjoy life, when you are able to shop at Nordstrom and let's keep forward leaning. Let's not let what ifs take over our conversations.

Do you know how Doctors know what is going on inside you? They look at what is coming out of you. That's why they ask for a sample in a cup and do blood work. They reveal what has been going into us. We can say oh no I haven't been eating cheese enchiladas and chips but when or blood work reveals high cholesterol numbers, what is the Doctor going to believe. Our conversations also reveal the same thing. What we put into our spirit is going to come out in our conversations!

WHAT LIES ARE WE TELLING OURSELVES?- There are so many lies we tell ourselves and so due to the lack of time, I will step on my own toes and tell you two lies that I tell myself.

MRS. MONARCH - You can read about this here. I feel so insecure when I have to be Mrs. Monarch and not Nancy.

WOMEN MINISTRY EVENTS - You can read about it here.

• 98% of the time these conversations never happen. This type of conversation happens usually in front of a mirror because we are getting ready to go to an event where we think this conversation might take place. It goes like; well if they say this, then I'm going to say that. Then we practice the words and look in the mirror.

They said to one another, didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road. Those are the kind of conversations to be having. Encouraging one another, speaking life into each other's lives, that causes our very spirit to come alive.

So, what are we talking about that is robbing us from experiencing God's peace?

Monday, December 13, 2010


Several have asked me to post some of my notes from my December 2 talk on peace at the Celebration Dinner, Hope, Peace and Joy. I type out all my notes and then begin deleting everything except the bare bones for an outline. I'll try to fill in the best I can as I go along.

Around the holidays everyone is telling you how to have stress less and less cluttered holidays. Stress less and less clutter is the world's vernacular for peace or peaceful holidays. Magazine articles, Internet articles and newspaper articles have all kind of tips to achieve peace. I can tell you right now, none of their suggestions produces real God given peace. I was talking to a friend several months ago and she told me all I needed to be organized was a notebook, pen and calendar. Well, I own all three of those things, so I assumed I could become organized. First you were to divide the notebook into 6 sections and then label them; gift wrapping, cards, food, tableware, decorations, and the all important To Buy section. So they give instructions like, gather all wrapping supplies together, take inventory and store them in your gift wrapping storage box...uh, I don't have one of those. Gift wrapping storage box on my to buy list. Then they tell you how to get your Christmas card list organized and you guessed it. After taking inventory write what you need on the to buy list. Christmas card storage box when onto the to buy list. The next thing just about sent me out of my mind! You take your calendar, go through all the dates where you are responsible for food, i.e. dinners, snacks, cookie exchanges, baked good for gifts, potlucks at church...then go to your notebook and cookbooks and write down every recipe you will need. Next go to your pantry and take inventory and write everything down on your to buy list that you don't have stocked up. Why did this create such a chaos and panic in me? I don't cook! I don't have a pantry, well I do if you consider crackers, peanuts and power bars staples. I would first have to go buy and stock a pantry of staples, then inventory it and then return back to the grocery store to buy all the stuff I didn't get the first trip.

Friend Organizing Me-threw me into chaos…but I know if I make the necessary changes and endure the chaos at the beginning it will iron itself out. The whole organizational process will organize me for the holidays and if I learn the principles from it, this will serve me well during the rest of the year. So that is how we are going to look at peace. First from a holiday perspective that can used in a larger context of experiencing God's peace all year.

From chaos we can come to experience God’s peace!

Peace is a huge subject to cover in 15 minutes, so I’m not even going to try. First thing though, you will never experience REAL PEACE unless you know Jesus as your Savior and Lord.
Right now all over the world there are peace talks going on. No, they are not conferences celebrating peace; they are negotiations between parties that cannot get along, parties that fight about everything and anything.
We cannot manufacture peace.

• We know the fact that peace is difficult because of the multitude of references of seek peace, pursue peace, and live in peace in the Bible.
• Peace is a fruit of the Spirit, so we know that peace is not anything we can produce on our own through determination or will power. We have to depend on God to experience His Peace!

Since this is the season of peace, we are going to look at a few things to be on watch out for that robs us from experiencing God’s peace, the peace that passes our understanding.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

ReCapping the Week

I'm doing my best to keep Buddy from watching Big Cat Week on Nat Geo channel this week. I do not want her to get any crazy attack ideas. She is talented enough in that area. I really can't complain about her because she has been so well behaved and desiring to rest instead of play while I have been home ill. Drat it all, I worked so hard learning words and music for Celebration and on dress rehearsal night, I had a little heart event during Do You See What I See and was never quite the same for the rest of the evening. In fact, I didn't even participate in the second run through that night. I came on home to rest. Maybe I slept all of 40 minutes that night. Thursday morning as daylight dawned I felt like a Mac truck had run over me several times. Usually I wouldn't have even gone to Bible study feeling the way I did but Peggy and I were doing a shortened version of Mildred and Gertrude at the brunch, so I had to be there. Neither one of us felt very good and I kept thinking I was going to faint but made it home safely and then fell asleep for the rest of the afternoon and evening. Needless to say I wasn't up for performance and now by Saturday I know that I probably won't be participating in this years Celebration. I want to be there. The show is so well done, entertaining, some laughs and deep spiritual truths. The two songs John Bolin wrote are extraordinary and Lisa P hits it out of the stadium on Jesus, What a Wonderful Child. All the ladies are wearing this deep red lipstick for the performances and I believe my lips are still stained from Wednesday night. My exhaustion turned into a cold with an allergic reaction to some cough syrup I took. I have so fortunate in not experiencing any colds, flu or sinus infections since before my heart issues. The cardiologist told me to do my best from catching colds or the flu because it would be a rough ride. Boy, he wasn't kidding! I finally feel like I have turned a corner but if you know me, my love for pancakes, my deep fear of Roy's driving and love for cinnamon coffee, you'll know I've been sick because I didn't finish either pancakes from Buffalo Grille or Pappasito's, I let Roy drive us and we arrived home safely but I do think I have a case of the whiplash and I only had one cup of toasted cinnamon coffee at BG.

Finally, Blogger began working again this week so I published my 2009 blog in book form. Of course I didn't get the 15% discount because of their technical difficulties. Previously I had almost decided not to do 2009 because there is a lot of fluff in the year but then I found some deep moments on this journey that I don't want to forget.

I love this time of year when Roy returns home from Celebration and tells me he has to remove his make-up. He even had to buy some mascara this year. Every morning there is still a little shading from the performance the night before. He also sells Cd's after each performance. This years album is awesome. You can download it on itunes. Just look for the choir and orchestra at Houston's First. You'll be glad you did.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Weekend Brunch and Bonding

Saturday morning I met my friends from Summit mentoring for breakfast at, you guessed it, Pappasito's. We had a really good time. I have loved spending time with these young women this semester. We were missing one who was helping a friend in an emergency. See, I told you they are awesome!

Nathan, the fastest and bestest waiter at Pappasito's took our pictures for us. Thanks Nathan!
After eating, I stopped by church to see how rehearsals were going to Celebrate. Sometimes these rehearsals can be so grinding and tedious but even in all the details everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. I loved watching the teamwork of getting ready for Celebration. Hems being attended to, proper prop placement, blocking, rehearsing and intense concentration and focus. In their midst is laughter, conversation and genuine love for one another, even if you don't remember others proper names. People get called by their biblical role name a lot. Even in the middle of receiving direction, or change of direction, everyone prepares with a wondrous sense of anticipation. Moms are scattered here and there in the audience. They occupy themselves with reading or sewing, yet have ever vigilant eyes to make sure their kids are behaving while waiting for their stage entrance. The stage crew is setting the stage and practicing the correct location of everything, just getting the kinks worked out and the timing to perfection. By next Saturday afternoon with more practice and several performances under their belts, there is the joy in getting it done well but there is also a sadness that only a few more performances are left until Celebration 2010 is completed. These experiences are time consuming but the gift of enduring friendships and memories that last a lifetime is given in return. Mary, Joseph, the angels, the wise men, shepherds, market place sellers and an impromptu Michael Jackson impression...ah these are the things we'll remember all through our lives...

Blocking both stage and in reality.

Roy must have seen that I was taking pictures. Look at his good posture!

Peggy and Stephen in conference.

How to remove stage sets in one easy lesson.

Peggy doing one of her favorite things, telling people what to do. She's good at it! She's headed up the stage crew for a long time. If she loses that piece of paper she is putting in her back pocket...she'll be lost as a goose. I've never seen a lost goose, but word is, they get lost. Who knew?

Lisa and Jordan in first scene but they both must have been contemplating their serious biblical roles that will soon begin after the choir portion of the program.

The creators of Celebration and partners in crime, John Bolin and Stephen Smith. Two of the best!

No Mothra nor Godzilla were not found in the worship center. It's just an angel spreading her wings.

Joseph and Mary at the manger...must been more crowded in that stable than what was first reported. Stable was an overflow area...

Come to Bethlehem and thanks, I'll just stay in my seat for now.

Bottled water in Bethlehem?

An angel gets her just Pamela Hamza trying on her angel garb for any alterations that may need to be made.
Ah, my husband, advisor to the king.

We need a stand in for King # 1. Anywise men in the house? Never mind, we'll get Bolin to stand in.

Jesus, Jesus oh what a wonderful sack. Jesus, Jesus there was no baby in back.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hope, Peace and Joy

This time last night I was freaking out just a bit. I was getting ready to go to the Women's Ministry Christmas Banquet, Dine by Design event. Of course I had waited till the last minute to see if the pants I had picked out matched my jacket and top. First round, uh no... Finally, I got the right combination together, waited for Roy since he was one of the servers and we headed out the door just a little late. Good thing we live near church.

It was a great evening! The food was awesome, the worship so beautiful, and the tables were so festive. Our Women's Director had asked me several months ago if I would speak on peace. I love that peace is between hope and joy. Only Wanda Jean who was to speak on hope could not make it to the dinner. She has a horrible cold and sinus infection. So, we were left without hope. Well, we are never without hope, we didn't have a hope speaker. Kelly Matte, our pastor's wife spoke on joy. She brought it full on, the Gospel, The Good News, Emmanuel has come, and therein is our joy found. Joy is lived out because Jesus Saves! After the program was over I was able to visit with so many friends and believe I made some new friends as well. Several have asked for me to post my notes and I will do that over the next several days.

Church hallway advertising the event. At the Well was our women's retreat with Donna Gaines and it was awesome.
A closer view. If you look carefully at the turkey you will see our faces. No not really.

If you look through the Charlie Brown Christmas tree you'll see my friend Dena. Hi Dena!

Here is a view across the Fellowship Center.

The beautiful blond lady is Kay and she an her husband started C.H.A.R.M Ministries. They minister to the men and women in prison. And the beautiful brunette to the left is Paige. She is the wife of my former boss Jason. She is one of the kindest and most caring people you will ever meet.

I ended my talk with this clip from the movie Foul Play.

Another cross view of the Fellowship Center. Beautiful decorations and lovely ladies.

Carolyn, Women's Ministry Director extraordinaire! She loves her job and you can tell by the thought and good work that shines through all she does.

This is Becky and Carolyn. Becky organized and was in charge of this event. Becky used to work at First Baptist just like me. She was the Preschool Admin and then became the Fitness and Recreation Ministry Associate. The girl rocks with great marketing ideas and she is an awesome Bible teacher and now a brand new mom. Which do you think she enjoys the most now?

This is Carolyn with Paul. He is the Director of Culinary Services at church. The dude can create! Ice sculptures, food, the the chef and chief of it all.

This is yours truly. Stevie at Emmanuel Salon in the Land of Sugar did a rocking job with my hair. She introduced me to Velcro rollers. And they are actually as easy to use as she said they would be. She is still working on my round brush skills, which means I don't have round brush skills but I don't do too bad with a flat brush.

Now the lovely jacket I have on...I bought it from Lisa P at Jo Ann's in Rice Village. Love it because it is reversible. I wore my glasses that are for close up so that the audience would be a blur and I wouldn't get too distracted.

This is Kasi from Tomball. She did the music and it was beautiful. She has such a clear and pristine voice.

This is Kelly Matte, preacher of the Word! She spoke on joy and she brought it! Thank you Kelly. It was an honor to be on the same program with you.

Here's another take. Loved her story about her grandmother's good dishes.

Relief, the evening is over. There's my friend Peggy, aka Gertrude. She and I have a Mildred and Gertrude deal to do on Thursday for our Bible study group. We are just doing the second part of our program. Whew, don't think I have enough brain cells right now to memorize a script and to memorize all our choir Christmas music.

Look at that sneaky Carolyn...we did not know she was behind us. :)

I think this is my new favorite picture of Peggy.
Sorry for all the pictures and believe me I could have posted more. After serving the dinner and waiting on the tables, Roy became my personal paparazzi and took a million pictures during the event.