Friday, August 28, 2009

The Rock

Have you ever been rock climbing? Like "legit" rock climbing outside on an actual mountain?
That is a goal for me but for the sake of safety I figure I need to start slowly and with professional help from the savvy people at Texas Rock Gym:-)

Although I've never personally experienced climbing out in the elements I have gotten to see some amazing "mountains" in Big Bend this past March; amazing by Texas standards. Seeing them from a distance I could tell places were jagged and trecherous.

When we'd hike go hiking up the steeper trails you could tell the wind got stronger and the air thinner. Take that description and multiply it a few million and then I imagine you'll get something close to Everest. These past few months I've felt like that's what Charlie and I have been tackeling...Everest.

It is a dangerous mountain that at times mocks our desire to climb it. It is a route with no consideration for struggle or self-pity.
It can be scary and lonely and dark.
Have you ever been here? Have you ever felt like you were in over your head before you even began?
I’m standing in a spot very familiar to me...the beginning.
I have made several attempts to get my grip on places that will not give way so I can truly make progress.
I back up to have a clearer perspective of the terrain and find the right niche where my fingers can slip through.
It seems like I'm missing the mark with each reach. I can hear the voice of the enemy saying too closely, "You can never reach the top. You're too weak. You can't even get off the ground. This is too hard."
And he's right...alone, We'll never be able to make the assent.
Alone, our measly progress leaves us emotionally exhausted and disoriented.

“What strength do I have, that I should still hope? What prospects, that I should be patient?” ~ Job 6:11
I think, I’ll pray more. I'll try harder. I'll choose the higher ground, I'll just be better somehow...
But that road is wide and will never lead to what is on the other side of the summit.
I want to dance through this valley with grace and trust. To fight the good fight and prove I'm up to the task of making the climb. I want to see the beautiful prize beyond the heart ache.
What will it take?

We receive grace from a God who died to bring us restoration.

“I will restore to you the years the swarming locust has eaten.” ~ Joel 2:25

We praise a God who championed Calvary so we wouldn’t have to climb alone.

He pulls us close and tells us, we are His children, He loves us and his will is for us to get to the other side.

We catch glimpses of it. We can almost taste it.
But the climb isn't over and this time we're not alone.
Jesus is there to hold and protect us. We just have to surrender our selfishness, our worries and be available to be carried. Just because it is hard doesn't mean we're alone, but are safe in His arms.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Summa Time III: Sack Hounds

Toby is wonderful company for me. From evening walks to playing with his mailman doll (thanks to Karen and Toby our sponsor couple from our wedding) we have a great time together. One of the many reasons why I love him is that we connect through an activity near and dear to my heart...NAPPING!

Here we are in M.P. when he was just 2 months old...

and then in College Station last Christmas when he was about 4 months. No matter what mischief he may have gotten into my heart instantly softens when I see these cuddly pictures. No doubt he is the laziest dog in the morning...he likes to stretch, yawn really big and then plop back down on his little doggie bed. Some times we actually have to carry him outside to go potty in the morning....but believe this "thatz only in da monin" the rest of the day he's heck on wheels!

Summa Time Part II: He Lacks Discipline!

Another fun summer activity was taking Toby to obedience classes at PetSmart. Toby is such a sweetheart and makes me smile every day so it's hard for me to imagine him pestering anyone. But it became obvious he was in need of some serious "dog whispering"... While I'd like to think he is getting the hang of things, we're still working on not jumping and/or gnawing.
Part of me feels like because he's a puppy, it's stuff he'll grow out of. Let's just say I do not have a snowball's chance in hell of being the alpha dog in this relationship...Jenny has told me in Germany if you see a dog acting up it's usually an American dog. Go figure!
Here'a class picture of Toby and his new friends, Milky and Boomer. They all got along very well and we all had a great time in class together. Thanks to David, our trainer, I learned the power of the spray bottle. Toby likes to voice his opinion (a.k.a barking) about strangers walking in front of our house or even his reflection in a mirror (I have to admit he is pretty cute) but come on...barking at 2 a.m. just isn't going to work.

Here's Toby playing with our good friends Kati and Adam's dog, Diesel. He is getting much better and basically every day is a training opportunity, positive reinforcement helps too. Specifically Pupperoni treats are a favorite in our house. Toby will do just about anything for a taste of Pupperoni.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Summa Time: Part I

In a sad attempt to catch up on the past 5 months I've been "away" I wanted to share some of the fun pictures from my trip to D.C. with my sweet mama. We left June 28 and stayed for 4 wonderful days. The Omni in Washington was breath taking and one of the oldest properties we have in our line. Stars from Frank Sinatra to The Beatles have performed in their ballroom. We had a great view of the Washington monument from the balcony in our room and the night time lights were gorgeous!

Every morning I'd get up early and walk the block and a half to the subway. I loved the name of the stop closest to the hotel, "Woodley Zoo", I thought of our great friends Kati and Adam Woodley every day :-) Riding the subway was an adventure the first night but after a few failed attempts at jumping on the right train I finally got on what turned out to be the right train, going in the right direction!! After that first day it was smooth sailing...errr...riding for the rest of the time.

For most of the trip I was on my own with my map and terrible sense of direction. Of course understanding the subway helped tremendously and sometimes a security guard would see me walking past the same building a couple of times and would ask if I needed help. God bless nice people!

This was my second time to be at the capital so I had already made most of the touristy stops a few years back...the White House...Ford's Theater...the Vietnam and Lincoln Memorials...Montichello...some of the Smithsonian this time around I got to enjoy discovering where my wanderings took me. One of my favorite places was the Spy Museum. This is the first and only public museum in the United States solely dedicated to espionage.

When you first enter the museum you get a cover than you have to memorize in two minutes and at any point while you are in the exhibit a museum employee can approach you and ask for your personal cover information. Luckily I was never approached because I kept dodging any employee headed my way. I don't know if I'd be a good spy but I'm definitely good at hiding!

In the evenings I would usually meet up with mama for dinner and I found out she has great taste in "adult beverages". She would order a Sidecar with sugar on the rim and I would get my usual SOTB.

Another must see for me was the Holocaust Museum. Although this isn't a "fun" place to go, I have always been interested in WWII history. The museum it self is very cold and uninviting which makes sense considering the story that is being remembered. As you walk through the entrance you are given an I.D. card of someone who was actually in the prison camps and you are to assume their identity during your visit.

It's hard to accept the brutality that occured under the guise of "obeying orders" during that war. I'd like to hope if someone I respected and trusted told me to do something I believed to be morally wrong that I would have the courage to do the right thing. But the thing is, courge doesn't go around wearing a red badge. It does always have "hero" or "glory" stamped all over it. Sometimes doing the right thing means you'll be persecuted too right alot the one you were trying to help. I'll probably never be faced with something quite that earth shattering but there are hundreds of choices I make every day that speak to my character. I have to practice standing for justice in the mundaine moments to be ready if one day I'm asked to stand sacrifice more than just my time and energy.

On the last day we were in Washington mama and I got to do some sight seeing together. I took her to all the neat places I had discovered the days before. I took her to China Town where I had seen a movie two nights before. I couldn't believe the movie was $10.50...I can only imagine how much movies cost in New York!

Then I got to go back to the Fine Arts museum and show mama all of my favorite paintings...

and then she showed me her favorites by henri de toulouse-lautrec, the guy who did the original posters for The Moulin Rouge...
It was so fun getting to know my mom in a new and fun way; just like you would get to know a good friend. It's like a whole new world is opened up when you get to know you parents as actual people and not just guardians who take care of you.The food in D.C. was awesome too! I am proud to say I ate at new places every day except for the first night when I ate at Chipotle. Open City is a coffeehouse/diner/bar near the Omni where mama and I had breakfast before our flight left.

When we flew into Houston Daddy was waiting for us and had beautiful bouquets for me, mama and Mrs. Felton! It was so thoughtful and made us feel like very special ladies...I am so lucky to have such a great Dad.

Then when we got another home coming greeting from Mr. Toby. It may look like I'm hold him but do not be fooled...he would have taken my nose off if I didn't hold onto him tight.

He's such a little lover!

Rainbow Lodge

Charlie and I had a wonderful anniversary dinner last night. After our meeting we headed over to the rustic Rainbow Lodge for some yummo steak and melt-in-your-mouth lobster. If you can imagine a 100 year old lodge that looks like is should belong in Aspen, Colorado, then you can pretty much picture the lodge. We are big fans of Colorado and are wanting to visit so badly but in the mean time we'll just have to hit up the lodge to tide us over.

I was trying to show off my wonderful lobster presentation and that didn't work out too well so Charlie got a close rikey the lobster! Charlie gave me two beautiful cards where he wrote words of hope for us and the journey we're walking together. Sometimes you need to hear where someone's heart is at to get a glimps of where you're heading. I have a husband who is trying very hard to be a man after God's heart and that is a great anniversary gift. He also gave me tickets to see my favorite country singer, Brad Paisley! Seriously, he's the best (Charlie and Brad)! We're going to see him at the Woodlands Pavillion on September 11th and I'll definiely have more to write about after seeing Mr. Paisley in person for the first time ever!

Charlie loved the "Lloyd Memory Chest" I made for him...basically a box I painted and then lined the inside with pictures of us. It was bittersweet gathering all the memories to put in that box.

I had no clue we had so many "lovey dovey" notes and special mementos; I almost ran out of space in the box for all of the stuff I had saved. We had a great time laughing and looking through all of the funny pictures Charlie had drawn and the silly things I had saved like the ribbon that was around my wedding bouquet or a fortune from a fortune cookie.

Looking back and reminiscing where we were when Charlie wrote me a poem in 2004 or buying the Napoleon Dynamite lip balm we thought was hilarious was great to do together. Even if we were the goofiest couple in the restaurant at least we were laughing and enjoying each other! All of those items are artifacts of who we are as a couple and how we got to this two year celebration.

Of course my Cajun roots helped me feel right at home amid all the wildlife watching us eat from their mounts. After all what could be more romantic than a stuffed head on the wall :-D

And how could I forget to mention the beautiful roses he had sent to the Omni...Thank you sweetheart for making me feel so special!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I Thee Wed...

This has been a year of courage. I have learned so much about myself and God's true design for marriage. I recently heard on KSBJ, "what we do not understand, we abuse". I did not understand the true meaning of sacrifice or that pain can lead us closer in relationship with Christ and others. If you would have asked me two years ago if the purpose for marriage was to keep each other happy and comfortable...of course I would have disagreed. But I did not understand that nothing is harder than choosing to lose yourself. Marriage is the mirror that reflects our hearts...that the things we do aren’t about us. We don’t “do” to “get.” We are servants.
We have so much to be thankful for!
I am so thankful God is on the throne and I am not.

I believe in something greater than myself.

I believe in a God who knows life is messy and being human can be raw in this sometimes tear-stained world of heartache.

I believe in a God who jumped into the mess and swapped Heaven for Earth because He loves us. He knows we need Him. He knew we couldn’t have true peace without Him.

As we lay our expectations for our lives, full and tender, into the depths of Him I have to hope.
Hope AND Trust. I trust the heart of my Father, even when my own heart doesn’t understand. I trust He knows what He is doing far better than I know what I want. Thank you Lord for humbling Charlie and I, showing us our brokenness and healing our hearts.

I want to love fully. I want to really love others, for who they are and where they are at.

I also want to be loved where I’m at, imperfect and vulnerable.

It is risky to love without conditions and without a hidden agenda.

It is a risk I believe God is calling us to take.

What are the plans for the next year with Charlie and Kristin....

1.) Retrain our tongues to give words that encourage, comfort and edify others.

2) Offer life-giving and grace-filled words to husband and family.

3) Put on grace. To look on mistakes and sins with love and hope.

4) Focus on heart issues and stay away from materialism.

5) Be more intentional about cleaning skills and habits; clutter causes stress.

6) Face our anger, anxiety and fears.

7) Plan regular times away to rejuvenate and gain perspective.

8) Commit to planning fun activities on weekends or and date nights during the week. (music lessons and rock climbing are our recent favorites)

9) Choose to seek out the positive.

10) Ask the Lord: What areas of my heart are causing stress or bringing spiritual/emotional/mental ‘deadness’? What can I do to bring life to those places?

I love you Charlie. I am looking forward to a fresh year full of bountiful blessings and growing in the Lord together.

You and no other...