Reflections of Summer

Me & my sweet friend

Me & my sweet friend

During the Christmas 2014 break, I told Hub I was missing my friend.  She lives in a town bordering North Dakota and Minnesota.  I told him I was thinking of heading somewhere over my summer break and inviting my friend to join me.  Hub thought it a good idea and so the planning began.  The summer trip morphed into several different scenarios with the final version of the trip being me heading up to the great white north to spend some time with her.

Two days on the road up and two days back meant Lisa had plenty of time to spend alone with God.  It was some amazing time, too!  I got to thinking we “city folk” have it completely wrong. We need to head out to the country, the undeveloped areas of our continent, to breathe the clean air, shut off all the social media, and listen to the silence.

Most important: look up and look out.

Missouri River Valley, Iowa

Missouri River Valley, Iowa


Preacher’s Cove, Itasca State Park, MN

Red River North, East Grand Forks, MN

Red River North, East Grand Forks, MN

Storm clouds over the Minnesota plains

Storm clouds over the Minnesota plains

My friend has a “little man” living with her part of the week.  Little man’s brother stays with his other grandmother most of the time.  “Lisa, if anything happens to me …” I made the same promise to her concerning “little man” and his brother that I made concerning both her (now grown) children … and to my brother concerning the Princess. If anything happens, I’ll be there.  They … ALL of them … will be loved and cared for.  I immediately fell in love with little man.  6 years old and full of 6-year old little boy energy.  Lots of questions, lots of talking … lots of 6-year oldishness.  It broke my heart when he turned to me one morning as he and my friend were heading out the door to Summer School.  He looked at me with those big brown eyes and asked, “Are you going to be here when I get home?” “Yes, I’ll be here,” I replied.

I shared my heart with my friend over dinner that night. And we became quiet.  She adamant that she will ALWAYS, always, be there for this child. Me adamant that if anything happened to her, I’d be right there for him. No hesitation, no questions asked.

*** * *** *

“B” loved the ‘watermelon popsicles’

I posted the following on Facebook:

Question: How do you take “foodie” pics with a 6-year old in the house?

Answer: You don’t

Love that kid!

St. Joseph's Social Care & Thrift Store, Grand Forks, ND

St. Joseph’s Social Care and Thrift Store, Grand Forks, ND

I told my friend I wanted to join God at work in her community during my stay.  I had the honor of helping to pack over 1,000 lunches for children of low-to-no income families.  I cried … bucket loads of tears … as I left the building.  What an incredible work these people do.  Do they even understand how great their work is?

There were so many incredible moments this summer that I truly want to burn into my memory … driving through the Flint Hills of Kansas at sunrise and over the Missouri River into Iowa, soaking my feet in the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi River, watching the crazy clouds of two storm systems colliding over the plains of Minnesota. In each of those moments, all I could do was praise God for this incredible trip.  And I wondered what these places looked like at the moment He created them.  Did they look like they do today? Was there a freshness, a newness, a cleanness when they were spoken into existence?  What an amazing moment that must have been!

Lake Itasca, Minnesota

Lake Itasca, Minnesota

Where Lake Itasca becomes the headwaters of the Mississippi

Where Lake Itasca becomes the headwaters of the Mississippi

The Mississippi River on its way to the Gulf of Mexico

The Mississippi River at the beginning of its journey to the Gulf of Mexico

In harm’s way

I put Hub and myself in a very unsafe situation last night and I’m still kicking myself for it.

We headed downtown for what was supposed to be a quick trip to my office for Hub to look at some of my materials on Differentiated Instruction and then dinner on the Riverwalk.

Hub was hungry, having just gotten off work, so we opted to head to dinner first.

We had dinner on the River at a restaurant that’s across from the Nix “optical illusion.”  It’s fun to eat there and people-watch as the boat tours float by.  The mild temps and the setting sun added to the relaxed atmosphere.

We decided to take a stroll after dinner and meandered along the River past the restaurants and over to the big canal where the stairs lead up close to San Fernando Cathedral.

We were both a bit disoriented until we realized that if we turned right, we’d be on our way toward the museum.  There’s always a bit of comfort in the realization when you’re not really lost.

We both noticed the cathedral at the same time and whipped out our iPhones to take some photos. This wasn’t a photo excursion, so I didn’t bring either of my other cameras.  Too bad, too, because every. single. photo. I took with my phone was blurry due to the setting sun and decreased light.  I know I could have resolved that if I had been shooting with my DSLR.

It's blurry, but it's the best of the bunch I shot

San Fernando Cathedral at sunset

And this is where I put us in danger:

In my never-ending pursuit of the “perfect” shot, I began to wander closer to a group of, shall we say “less desirable” people.  Hub continued to tell me to hurry up, that we should head back down to the River, and to protect my phone.

I let him know I was being both careful and almost done.   As all of this was going on, we watched as one of the group headed quickly over to us and stood almost in front of me, ready to swipe my phone from my hand if I held it up to take another picture.

I didn’t look directly at him, but saw all of this in my periphery.  As the kid was moving toward me, I began to bring my phone close in to my body while Hub & I talked about my not being sure if my shots were blurry and I’d have to wait to find out after I uploaded to the computer at home. The kid took off at some point, I remember he wasn’t there for long.  Hub & I stood there a few seconds longer as we continued our conversation.

I asked Hub if he thought the kid was going to take my phone.  He did.  I felt horrible.  For taking too long.  For not listening to my husband.  For being plain “stupid.”

I’m not one to intentionally put myself or others in a dangerous situation.  I don’t think many people are.

I told Hub later I wonder what I would have done if the kid had taken my phone.  Mentally, I knew that even though I have a few half marathons under my belt, I don’t run long distances at a time and I wouldn’t be able to chase him more than a couple of blocks.  He looked at me and said simply, “I’d have tripped him.”

My sweet Hub.  Always ready with a logical response.  Love him. ❤


Jumping in with both feet

I am so excited to finally have made up my mind!

Sounds weird, I know.

It took me over a year to finish NYIP Unit 1.  The only one holding up my progress was me.  I started with enthusiasm and as is typical with me, quickly peetered out.  Picked it back up a few months later … put it on the back burner.  Got to the unit test, took it & passed, and was gun-ho and finished the unit.  AND THEN it took me 5 months of shooting thousands of pictures all over San Antonio before I finally narrowed my choices down to the final three.

I’m printing them today and sending them in for critique.


The staff at NYIP had said completing the first unit is typically the hardest because students report the heightened sense of insecurity leading up to their first submission.

Truer words have never been spoken.

I took this pic …


Bus stop at Blue Star

It’s amazing the memories or feelings some pictures evoke.  I took this picture over Christmas Break after the Writer & I had finished 7 miles out on the River.

We were wandering around the parking lot of the Blue Star Brewery trying to find good location shots for her for her blog.

I remember waiting for the light to turn red at the corner so I could jump out into the street and snap a shot without getting hit by an inattentive motorist.  This was actually taken from the safety of the sidewalk.  My photo from the street didn’t turn out at all.  It was a good morning.

We hadn’t spent anytime together in the last couple of years due to circumstances … “life” if you will … and so this morning was time for us to just BE in the moment and enjoy each other’s company.

Hub & His Dad

Hub had a very stressful day yesterday and in the moments leading up to the cause of all his stress, I helped him calm down by flipping through an album of our favorite pictures.  Pictures of places we’ve been during the last year; pictures of our favorite people.  I had forgotten there were pictures of him & his dad in that album and I wasn’t sure how he would react when he saw them.  I watched his face as he gazed on the photo of him & his dad, how his countenance softened.  He told me later that he really misses his dad.  I held him tight & told him I knew.

There’s power in capturing moments in time, preserving memories.  All I can say is …


The Riverwalk runs through it

Charles Barkley once called the San Antonio Riverwalk a “stinky little canal.”  Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban never has anything nice to say about the Riverwalk, either.  I think Charles Barkley, like Mark Cuban, are jealous.

If there is one place in San Antonio that I like to shoot, it’s along the Riverwalk.  There are so many different facets to it’s personality.  From the river taxi turn-around point at the Pearl Brewery to the Espada Aqueduct, the River is an amazing geological and engineering gem.

Tourists don’t typically experience all parts of the Riverwalk and truthfully, I haven’t either.  The difference is I, and other like-minded locals, know there are many parts of the River that don’t get shown on TV in the Visit San Antonio promotional spots.  And honestly, that’s about how we like it.

I was introduced to some of the lesser-known areas of the River earlier this year and since then have become an ambassador for exploring the hidden gems the River has to offer.  I don’t recommend exploring the southern reaches alone.  As beautiful as it is, there is always a possibility of harm.  As my alma mater ingrained into us: “Just 2 It!”

I’ve invited folks to come with me to walk, run, and cycle along the River.  Each one has come away with a new appreciation of what the River, and San Antonio, has to offer.

So, as it is now a typical thing I do, I invited the Writer to head out to Blue Star with me yesterday.  She ran & I rode along side her as we travelled along the newest phase of the Mission Reach.  The phase had just opened in September and we both commented about looking forward to spring on that part of the river once the flora has come out of dormancy.  The developers are creating a natural habitat with native grasses and other vegetation from the area just south of the Blue Star brewery on down to the Mission Espada dam and aqueduct.  Once the final phases are complete, a person will be able to walk/run/cycle continuously from the Pearl Brewery to the Espada aqueduct along the River trails and walks for a round trip of approximately 26 miles.

Because she needed a little more mileage upon returning to the Blue Star complex, we elected to head north along the River past the Guenther House.  I hadn’t traveled along that part of the River and was so blessed with the trip!  We were, at one point, traveling along the River below water level.  I wish I had my camera out at that point because the perspective was very cool!  Definitely heading back over to that part of the River to explore & shoot.

I invite Charles & Mark to come and explore the River with me.

Perhaps they’ll change their minds and see our River for the gem it truly is.

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.

A Week in the Life

Last weekend kicked off with a fairly relaxing Saturday of puttering around the house, tidying up, and mentally planning for the next week of work.  Mum & I had a Silver Stars game to go to that night and I was really excited about the Jars of Clay concert after the game.  I was also very excited about the Pilot’s arrival Monday afternoon.  Mum, Da, Hub, & I were planning to celebrate the Pilot’s final flight as a Naval Aviator with him and the flight crewe Monday night.  I was looking forward to capturing all of the festivities for posterity.  All-in-all, Labor Day weekend promised to be relaxing and fun.

The game was good even though the Stars lost.  One word to describe the concert: FANTASTIC!  It was a great worship concert and listening to Sophia share her testimony really spoke to my heart.  I even saw a very good friend after the concert: my high school Campus Life director!

Little did I know that the Lord was using that sweet, sweet time of worship and fellowship to prepare my heart for what lay ahead.

Mum called around lunchtime Sunday to share that the Colonel was being called back to Afghanistan.  This time the deployment is for a year.  And, she said, he was due to fly out in a little over a week.  What???  How is this possible?  After all, he JUST. GOT. BACK a few months ago.  Didn’t he?  Reality: he’s been back in the States for almost 18 months.  But still!  I needed time to absorb what Mum had just told me.  I promised her I’d call the Colonel, hung up the phone, and cried about the seeming unfairness of it all.  I know it’s his job.  But still!  (yeah, I’m saying that a lot …)  So I called the Colonel and got his voice mail.  I imagine he had a lot to take care of.  Namely: spend as much time as he could with the Princess.

Got in some awesome worship time while I logged my miles both Sunday and Monday morning.  Bad part was the blisters.  I was forced to lay off my feet the majority of this week just to let them heal.  Think I’ve got another prevention and am eager to try that theory later this morning.

I had a great time with the Pilot and the crewe Monday night and stayed up late editing photos so I could send them out to him as well as post a few in Thru Lisa’s Lens.

The Pilot's final flight as a Naval Aviator ~ September 2011

I’ve basically spent the past week in a very raw emotional state.  So joyful and happy for my oldest brother and the milestone he just reached and so sad and anxious for my youngest brother and all that is soon to take place.  My middle brother, the Spook, thank goodness, is doing well and all is quiet on the Western front for now.

I didn’t begin sharing the news about the Colonel with my colleagues until Thursday.  I told one colleague that I’m just going through the motions.  I’m very thankful for being crazily, impossibly busy: for me, it’s very therapeutic.  All those feelings and emotions I had prior to his first deployment have come flooding back with a vengeance and I have to keep reminding myself that FEAR is simply False Expectations About Reality.  I can’t always stop the fear from creeping back in.  Things are very different about this deployment than the last.  That in itself scares me.  I remember spending every waking moment of his last deployment with fear nagging at the pit of my stomach.  I can’t do that this time.  I’ll keep him lifted in prayer and look forward to seeing him when he returns.

And so my family has entered a new season.  A season we’re very familiar with and one that military families all over the country are in:  One of prayer, of worship, of hope.

Stay safe, Colonel.  We’ll see you soon.

The Colonel & me prior to the Chupacabra Trail Run ~ July 2011