The people in my neighborhood

It’s been nice being on Christmas break because it has afforded me time to really focus things I know are important: faith, family, fitness.

I’ve been dwelling a lot on Barry Cramm’s message this week.  (Barry was guest speaker at last Sunday’s worship.)  What I got out of his message was this: I don’t need to bring people to church, I need to bring the church to where I live and work; I should live my life like I’m on mission.

And this got me to thinking about the people in my neighborhood.

– about my next-door neighbor who we watched pack up and move his household after he sold it recently.  We never went over to see if we could help him in any way.  (When we found out this past week the actual reason was his wife had died and the house had gone into foreclosure, we were ashamed.)

– about the man with “Antichrist” tattooed across his back who walks his dogs past my house two or three times each day.  His house is along one of the routes I use when I walk the Barky Boys.  Each time I see him, either walking past my house or when I walk past his, I pray for him.  And I think about that tattoo: Maybe he didn’t realize someone tattooed that across his back.  Maybe it all happened during a night of drinking. Or drugs.  Maybe … (he growls whenever we walk past each other on the street and I’ve said hello to him; he kind of scares me, so my plan is to continue loving him from a distance)

– about the family just a few doors down that moved in 3 or 4 years ago and really seem like good folks

I confess: Hub & I have lived in our home for over 10 years and we don’t know all our neighbors.  With the exception of our neighbors on one side and the family next to them, we really know no one.  I’ve been praying about how to change this.  How do I live my life missionally in my neighborhood when I don’t even know anyone I’ve lived with for over a decade?  Looking past this, what did Jesus do?  What would Jesus do?  He addressed the physical and spiritual needs of the people.  How can I … we … bring the church to our neighborhood; how can I … we … address physical and spiritual needs?  How can we … Hub and I … be the church to our neighbors?

  • say hello to our neighbors when we see them outside
  • plan, organize, and HAVE that neighborhood barbecue my next-door neighbor & I have been talking for years about doing
  • invite neighbors over for coffee & conversation
  • invite the women of the neighborhood to join me in Bible study

My word for this year is “Focus.”  Realizing there will always be urgent issues that require my attention, my goal is to live my life intentionally focusing on the important things that will give glory to God.

Who are the people in your neighborhood?


Tardy to the Party!

I hope I’m not the last to know about this … and if I’m not, let me share with you something amazing!

I’m talking about water. Infused with fruit.  Oh, yum!

Giving credit where credit is due, I happened upon some photos of lemon in a pitcher of water while cruising Pinterest last week.  I like a slice of lemon in my water, so I thought, “Why not slice a few whole lemons and throw them in a pitcher of water?”  That started it!

I even have Hub hooked!

So, headed to the local grocer yesterday morning to pick up more lemons but discovered they were all green.  Impatient as I am, I decided to pick up limes instead.  Heading further down the produce aisle, I saw cucumbers and remembered a photo the Writer had posted a few months ago of a water glass filled with cucumbers.  So I thought, “Why not?”

I did a little internet exploring about limes and discovered that people actually combine limes and cucumbers in their water, sometimes even adding mint.  I don’t have any fresh mint but opted to slice up some limes (3) and a cucumber and added them to my gallon pitcher of water to chill for at least 30 minutes.  In case you’re interested, everything I read said to use filtered water.

So, here’s what’s chillin’ in my fridge …


*** 30 minutes later ***

I poured myself a glass and gave Hub a taste and … WOW!

The taste?  Wonderfully fresh.

So awesome!

Reflection on Christmas Past

I was determined not to let the commercialism of the season “get” to me this year.  Instead, I looked for the meaning of Christmas in the world around me.  Boy, did I find it!  More than “it,” I found Him … Jesus … the Christ … in so many little and big ways!

* in the small, but not insignificant gift of a candy bar from our office custodian

* in the incredibly convicting messages during worship each Sunday to focus on the Lord of this (and every) season

* in the grace I saw people bestow on others

* in the realization that even in the midst of horrid tragedy and displays of evil … HE is here, loving us, pursuing us, never giving up on us

Hub & I didn’t pull the tree or decorations out this year.  Not because we were in mourning, more because the Barky Boys weren’t supervised around the decorations last year and almost toppled the tree.  We had every intent of decorating and really make an outward show of celebrating the season but … the nasty flu knocked me into bed for a few days and Christmas day was upon us before we even realized it.

Rather than an outward show to the world, we focused on what we felt was truly important: spending time with family.  That, much more than the energy put into decorating for the holiday, was meaningful for us.

Marrying right after Christmas means that Hub & I celebrate our anniversary during this time of the year.  While it may sound odd, the highlight of our celebration was visiting briefly with the priest who performed our marriage ceremony.  The only reason it was odd was because we were visiting with him shortly before he was scheduled to officiate over the funeral Mass of my friend’s husband.  When we laughed and shared that we were “still married after 27 years,” he became serious and declared, “Well, I should hope so.”  Talk about convicting!

We have, as a result of this conviction, resolved to live a honeymoon life.  How?  We are busy people working on schedules that don’t allow us much time to spend together.  We have determined to make the most of the time we can share by doing a few simple things:

Hub & me at the finish line of the Cobweb Chaser 2013

Hub & me at the finish line of the Cobweb Chaser 2013

* make time for each other

* run errands together

* talk more

* text each other, even if we’re in the same room 😀

* work out together

* make goals together

Mum & Da commented as I was leaving their house last night that this is the most they’ve seen me in the last several months.  Just as Hub & I have committed to live the honeymoon life, I am committing to spend more time with my family.

What was my greatest take-away this Christmas?  Focus more on God, spend time with family.

It’s not rocket science but it is, sadly, very easy to neglect those we love.  Busyness does that.

Family ties that bind

Spent a very nice Easter evening with Hub & my parents. We invited them over. Something we haven’t done in quite a long time. Too long, actually.

I spent the long weekend cleaning and practicing how to do things like using the iced tea maker they gave us several years ago. The test batch turned out better than I expected so when it came time to make another batch this afternoon, I followed Hub’s advice and did exactly what I did the other night.

Dinner conversation turned to family issues. Namely what’s going on in Hawaii since my uncle died in January and Hub’s family since his father’s death in November.

One thing I absolutely don’t want to happen is the infighting we witnessed with Hub’s siblings and what seems to be going on with my cousins.

I don’t want that to happen with my brothers & me. I’m not sure how I can prevent it, but I definitely do want to work to prevent any potential nastiness. Lots of prayer. No doubt about it.

Middle brother is hoping to transfer back to Texas. It’d be nice if he gets the transfer and nice to have more family closer to home.

Youngest brother is due back from deployment next month. It’ll be nice to have him back in the States. Deployments are tough for the children of the service members but aren’t any fun for the rest of the service member’s immediate family, either

Oldest brother is about to retire from the military. Shocking that we’re now of the age where retirement is a consideration. It’s true, though. As for me, I’ll most likely die in the classroom. Kidding!

Family. I love ’em.

New Day

Sunrise over Schertz

Hub’s asleep.

Poochies are snoozing.

Cool February morning.

Sun’s rising.

The promise of a new day lays before me.

Almost time to get ready for Sunday School & Worship.



It’s love!

I love the quietness of the morning.  The Barky Boys will typically start getting restless around 4am and during the time they’re outside taking care of business, I’ll spend a few moments skimming through my social networks catching up on what’s new with my friends.  My most favorite part of the morning after they’ve come back in, when one of the furry guys will hop up on the couch and snuggle next to me.

I love having my pups next to me, even if it’s for a brief moment.  They crack me up when they take turns snuggling next to me.  One will get hot and move away, another takes his place.

Hub says they don’t do this to him.  I have no idea why they do this with me and not with him.  I noticed that my parent’s poochies are the same way: snuggly with Mum, not so much with Da.

I attribute it to the differences in how men & women are.  Women are, by our nature, more nurturing.  I think the dogs pick up on this and behave accordingly.

Whatever the reason, I love my poochies and I know they love me.

In the end, that’s all that matters. 🙂

The Rambler

Weather forecasters are saying we’re in for another 9 years of drought.  Nine years!  Yowzers!  I was talking to Hub about our yard and how we really need to explore xeroscaping because there just isn’t going to be any water to spare for water-thirsty grass.  As long as we can get rid of the nasty Hackberry trees in the back yard, I’ll be happy.

Speaking of the nasty Hackberries … I spent the better part of the early afternoon sawing away at this past week’s storm damage.  One of the trees split in half and so I wanted to be sure to get the loose branches cleared from the tree.  Next up: hack the branches into smaller pieces so the trash guys will take them.  Hub wasn’t too happy with me when he saw all the branches stacked in the back yard.  His concern was I could have been hurt by falling branches.  A reasonable concern, but I did take precautions and stayed out of the way of everything that could possibly fall on me.

The weather is cooler today than it’s been over the past several months and so I definitely enjoyed spending time outside during the day and not breaking a sweat … even with all the sawing and hauling I did.  Nice!

Headed upstairs to pull out my NYIP lessons after I finished clearing the storm damage.  It’s been several months since I’ve even pulled the books & CDs out and so rather than picking up where I left off, I thought it best to refresh my brain and start from the beginning.  I can’t believe how much I’d forgotten!  So, while the facilitators were discussing the photos in the lessons, I popped open my photo folders and started evaluating my work since I started my classes.  I can definitely see improvement in my shots.  With regard to the 3 questions, I can honestly say I have several that have nailed them.  This makes me feel better about what I’ve been producing than I did before I restarted my unit.  I’m eager to complete the first unit and submit my project for evaluation.  Shouldn’t be too much longer before I can do that.

Hub & I have a freelance job to work on.  It’s an outside assignment for his sister.  She wants a portfolio of photos of the missions in the area.  It’s been so smokey and hot lately.  Hope the air will start to clear once the “cold” front blows through.  I’m kind of excited to start it but want to make sure we’ve got everything in place so I can get the shots I really want.

We headed over to Gruene a couple of weeks ago and I headed out to Landa Park last weekend by myself.  I got some good stuff from both outings, but that’s not what my sister-in-law asked for, so I’m not even going to show it to her.

Have the Florida-Alabama game on.  It’s not going the way I hoped it would.  Always sad when the Gators lose in the Swamp. 😦

I’ve been thinking about next month’s half marathon and my very sore & blistered toe and how I’m going to crank out 9 miles tomorrow.  I’m taking Tuesday off to take Carl to the doctor and so I’m seriously thinking I’m going to move my long day back two days and swim tomorrow.  But the weather’s turned so lovely and cool and I don’t want to pass up a chance to run tomorrow morning.  Maybe I’ll do 3 and then head to the pool.  I plan to ride on Monday.  The hard part for me is the discipline in following through on my plan.  I can do it.  The question really is … WILL I do it?  I’ll have to let you know on Wednesday.

I’ve got a triathlon in February to also train for and I haven’t been in the pool or on my bike in a long time.  Time to crank my training into gear to incorporate both races.  I have an 8k at the end of this month.  Wrote a question on the race director’s wall asking to verify the location.  Was pretty disappointed when I went back to see if there was an answer and saw that my question had been deleted.  If the race fee was refundable, I’d pull out of the race because of their rudeness.  Unfortunately, race fees are rarely refundable.  So I’ll show up, have fun with my friends, head home, and really think long & hard before signing up for a race again produced by that krewe.

It’s going to be a tough week next week at work.  I set a pretty ambitious schedule for myself.  I’m sure I can get everything done that I’ve planned.  The reward will be sleeping in next Saturday.

I mean, hey Saturday’s going to be a special day and I want to enjoy my reward.  After all, you only turn 48 once.