Friday, October 26, 2007

False Advertising

From every person who recommended I leave all my winter clothes in Utah, I would like a refund.

I will also accept a long sleeve shirt, a glove, a hat, or a nose warmer.

I did not in fact leave all of those items behind, but they are in fact buried in storage since I was not prepared to actually need them. I was saving them for sentimental reasons.

Except the nose warmer, I did think I would be using it as a decorative accessory around Christmas time.

This is October. In Ohio, Indiana, Michigan or Utah, I would expect to be cold this month. I would expect the first frost to have already happened, and I would expect to be wearing long sleeves and gloves by now. I even expected to need gloves in Texas around the first of the year.

But the idea that I wouldn't need my winter clothes more than a day or two here and there was a significant overstatement. I had ice on my windshield this morning, in October!

So I declare false advertising.

Fortunately, this works out okay for me because half my wardrobe is not as obsolete as I was led to believe. I may be able to wear that half for the next four months.

The flip side is, my children need winter clothes because I have no idea where last year's clothes ended up. On the 105-degree August day that we were arranging the boxes in storage, I wasn't keeping an eye out for winter things.

I bought Jesse a terrific red windbreaker last year, but it's in one of those boxes. I have a feeling that by the time I find it, he will have outgrown it. Oh well. You try to plan ahead and something always comes up...

So cheers to you who must be living through the dark part of winter already, if this week in Texas is any indication. Today I will be drinking hot tea, wearing slippers, and thinking of you. Maybe later I'll get out to the garage to look for my nose warmer.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Happy Birthday Whitney

Oh what fun it is to write of a horse lovin' girl's birthday...

Today was Whit's special day. She turned 29 “for the first time,” not to mention that she just got some other happy news... but that's not my story to tell!

We celebrated with flowers and a very special balloon, birthday girl's choice dinner of fettuccine alfredo (olive garden recipe sauce), sourdough garlic toast, sauteed broccolini, and salad tossed with Italian dressing. Also by special request, the birthday cake was actually a blueberry pie, made with love by Momma Dawn.

There were fun presents, and good hang out time. If you know Whitney, ask her about our birthday afternoon walk with the dogs and the kids. Appropriately enough, it turned into an adventure!

It's pretty fun to have birthdays around here. We'll have to do it more often.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

'Til the Cows Come Home

In general, you might expect life in the country to be quiet. It certainly gets darker at night when you are away from the city, allowing you to see more stars. The air is definitely cleaner, allowing you to take a deep breath and feel like you are doing something good for your body. This in contrast to the city, where you cringe and hope you're not giving yourself cancer with every respiration.

But quiet? That depends what you are listening for. For the first time in years (ever?) I don't sleep to the sounds of trucks on the interstate, jet planes taking off and landing, or even distant emergency vehicles. There is a train a few miles away, but by the time the sound reaches Red Boot it has been distorted into a pleasing sort of tuneless harmonica noise.

Usually the most obnoxious sound you hear around here is the barking of dogs, and the occasional rifle report from the hunting property that surrounds Red Boot Ranch on three sides. Otherwise, the natural symphony gets going at dusk when the owls and coyotes are talking to their pals, and at sunrise when the birds greet the day. And occasionally you will hear the lowing of the 20 head of longhorn cattle that roam the hunting property. They tend to meander past our fence every day or so, but we can hear further than we can see, so we hear them at least once or twice on any given day.

But today is different, and what bugs me is that I don't know why. It seems to me that the cattle have been lowing continuously for more than 24 hours, from a fixed location somewhere in the woods, across the road. Yesterday morning, after school, last evening, even in our room ready to go to bed last night we could hear them lowing. I'm about to go over into the woods to ask if they've spotted baby Jesus.

Seriously, Monday was a long rainy day, and they've been at it since Tuesday morning. I wonder if there is a connection, like maybe they got stuck on the wrong side of a flash flood. I don't know. Yesterday as we got out of the car after school, Maren declared her opinion: “Mom! One of those cows over there just had a baby!” Jesse claims they woke him this morning, and I believe him.

All I do know is that I can't think. My writing desk is positioned in front of a window overlooking the pond and the woods behind it. And every bit of silence is filled with cows mooing. I hope they are okay, because somewhere in the back of my mind I sense they are mooing for help and I can't talk myself out of it. So I think I will be experiencing writer's block until it stops. I am not so much annoyed as curious, and curiosity is completely distracting!

They are out there somewhere

Curiosity in this case must go unanswered, because while we know the first names of the owner and the property manager, we do not have phone numbers. And actually I'm pretty sure “Bubba” isn't even listed as a first name. Nor am I venturing over into hunting property. This city girl has no idea if it's a hunting season, and doesn't even know how to find out. Not to mention it just sounds like a bad idea to investigate the whereabouts of a herd of Longhorn cattle. What, so they can trample me? No thanks! I will live with (or die from, I suppose) this curiosity. I am sure they are fine, and if not there is nothing I can do about it.

But it still bugs me, and I am really looking forward to the next time I see them meander by, just to reassure the crazy person in the back of my head that she can stop worrying, the cows have come home. Hopefully it will be soon, or Crazy may just take the driver's seat...

Good news, I think I just heard an ATV out there on the property. Crazy can stand down. Ya'll have a nice night.

*Post Script: I finally found what I think is an answer, at least enough of one to satisfy Crazy and me. Apparently this is weaning season. The calves have been taken off the property (for whatever reason), and the mothers are both uncomfortable and calling for their babies. We think they are penned up, which explains why the sound is coming from a fixed location. It should only last for a few more days.

Knowing an explanation for something, whether it changes the situation or not, makes the situation much more bearable. And since everything in my life links to whether or not my house has sold, there is your link. If I knew how long it would be until it sells, I could stand it better, make plans accordingly, etc.

But here's the catch: I believe God is asking me to just put plans on hold for as long as he asks me to, and keeps speaking quietly in my heart, Am I enough for you? If your house doesn't sell for two years, if you have to give up every bit of self-respect and continue living in someone else's house for that entire time, Am I enough? If this is all there is for you, Am I enough? If you never get an explanation for any of it, Am I still enough?

Man, I hate character building.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Trouble in Trainville

A monster came to Trainville today, a cat of gigantic proportions. There have long been rumors of a mountain dwelling creature, whose name is only whispered for fear of summoning it, Catzilla. This beast of doom made his ponderous way to the middle of town as residents scattered in fear. He seemed to be searching for something, but what?

To add insult to the destruction of town square, the giant feline then flopped down across the tracks, the town's only link to the outside world.

The townspeople launched an assault. After some poking and prodding, Catzilla was coaxed to his feet and made his lazy way to the edge of town. To show his disdain, he launched an airborne bioweapon into the faces of the villagers as he left.

Suddenly they realized he had captured one of their own. Trusty the policeman had sacrificed himself to lure the beast away. They were too tiny to rescue him, who could save them?

Then help arrived on the scene! Ranger Jesse J, patron saint and guardian of Trainville, came to defend his tiny kingdom. He dared the monster to return, and time stopped for a moment as the two locked in a long stare.

Ranger J moved in for his attack. He drove traincars right up onto the back of the reclining invader. At this the cat gave up the fight. He promised to behave better in the future, and not destroy the town again. Then he put his head down and went to sleep.

After the rescue, the question remained: what had brought the fabled Catzilla out of the mountains and into town? Then the villagers remembered that a train loaded with catnip had passed through a day earlier, and spilled some of its cargo.

That would be the last load of catnip to pass that way for a very long time.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fall Festivities

Another of the many things I have learned in Texas is that slicing and dicing of pumpkins is best left until the last few days before Halloween, as the warm temperatures here cause jack-o-lanterns to degrade faster than they do up north. But that's ok, because we can paint them instead. Whit loves to paint, Maren and Jesse love to paint, and I love being able to work on my own pumpkin instead of helping the kids work with sharp knives.

Saturday we had Pumpkin Painting Craft Hour and had a blast. See our handiwork! Whit painted the Wasatch Mountains in Utah, Maren painted and embellished a kitty, I painted sunflowers, and Jesse... well Jesse just painted.

Sunday the family endorsed our homage to traditional fall in Michigan. We can't visit an apple orchard here, but I will always feel that cider and donuts are an essential part of fall no matter where I am. The Texas gang agreed that this is officially a new fall tradition for here too.

And don't they all look happy? Times are good in Texas this fall...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Weekend Expeditions

Since the weather is finally starting to cool down, this is the time of year all the local towns have their annual events. You know the kind I mean, with the concessions and the craft booths and the regional specialty.

In September the town of Caldwell held their annual Kolache Festival. Kolaches are a Czech pastry, and owe their regional popularity to a strong Czech population in at least this part of Texas. So we piled in the car and drove the 30 miles for the privilege of getting kolaches from our choice of about 25 vendors, and comparing them with each other. Fun, educational, and tasty, too!

We also enjoyed walking around the town square to see all the local arts and crafts being offered for sale. There is definitely a regional theme bias toward tractors, horses and stars. I have to admit, I never thought of a tractor as a decorative theme option until moving here. And now it seems perfectly natural! The highlight of this festival for the kids was the petting farm enclosure.

The first weekend of October we could have gone to an open house at an alpaca farm, but we had previous plans. We hiked ourselves 90 miles over to Temple for the 31st Annual Early Day Tractor Show. There, from all over the nation, were assembled literally hundreds of antique tractors illustrating America's rich farming history. Maren's thrill of the day was getting to ride a pony. For the rest of us, the highlight of the event was getting up close with a steam tractor. We were invited to ride this ear-splitting beast, and felt like royalty on parade as the crowd parted in front of us.

Every tractor got its moment in the spotlight during the tractor parade past the grandstand, including a 5 year old girl on her little purple tractor! At the end of the day we scored some homemade ice cream as a bonus. We developed a whole new appreciation for tractors that day, and Jesse keeps asking to go back.

Last week on my birthday we headed south 35 miles to Brenham, where the St Clare Monastery maintains a miniature horse farm. Again, the kids loved the experience of petting horses, not to mention the friendly dog that accompanied us on our self-guided tour. We captured some humorous video of five or so of the horses working together to gang up on the dog, who seemed to deliberately plant himself in their enclosure so he could get them mad, then jump up and bark to make them run away! We considered the possibility of bringing one of the horses home, since it could carry the kids for another couple of years, but decided to keep looking and researching the best mix of livestock to put in the empty pasture.

This morning we are headed up to the country feed store for some fun kid games, door prizes and wiener dog races. After that we'll hit the local pumpkin patch for supplies for our afternoon craft time. Found out from the paper this morning that we could have gone to the Mushroom Festival (or, “Fiesta de Hongos”) over in Madisonville today. Ah, the missed opportunities.

Fall is definitely a good time to be in Texas. Viva la small town festivals!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Promote Literacy

We have been doing a lot of reading around here this month. Maren is crossing over from pre-literate to being able to sound out and read cereal boxes, charts, newspapers, anything with words. What a magical time in a kid's life!

Jesse is getting on the bandwagon, too. In the last 2 weeks he has started singing the ABC song. We sing it together in the car (ad nauseum), and he sings it for anyone who walks through the room. He sings it under his breath, and at the top of his lungs. JJ is very proud of his new song.

So this morning when I heard him singing his ABC's in the far part of the house, I smiled and kept on working. Shortly after that, he trundled into my room chanting “ABC” under his breath. As I turned to greet him, he held up something he had found: a fortune cookie from last night's Chinese dinner. He pointed to the cookie and said reverently, “wook Mom, ABC's!”

Of course I had to give it to him. So I opened it and pulled out the fortune, with him whispering “ABC” as he looked on. And his fortune? No joke:

“Promote literacy. Buy a box of fortune cookies today.”

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Birthday Fun

My birthday this year was especially meaningful. Everything else in my life is on hold waiting for our house to sell, but birthdays just come on their appointed day. For me, that day is the 13th of October. Last year my day still got a little lost as I was traveling and reuniting with Justin's relatives in preparation for a family wedding on the 15th. So....

Last dip in the pool for 2007

This year we went all out, all day. First Mom B made birthday creme brulee french toast. Oh, wow, you really need to experience that sometime. In the morning we went to a miniature horse farm with Justin's parents and brother. When we got home I went swimming for the last time this year, just to say I did. And then we got out one of my gifts, a party game for the Wii called Carnival. We all, even Maren, had fun playing Skee Ball, Hoop Shot, Ring Toss and more.

We had my favorite dinner, Killer Shrimp, with German Chocolate Cake for dessert. We ended up eating in front of the TV as we watched A&M play Texas Tech. Mom B pulled the coffee tables together and set them with tablecloths and candles.

The football game was a blowout loss, but I really enjoyed having family time together. Thanks to everyone who made the evening what it was!

What I wanted this year was either flowers or balloons, a wrapped present to unwrap, and to be with people I love. What I got was completely spoiled. As you can see, there were both flowers and balloons. There were several presents to unwrap, some that had been sent by far away family and friends.

Balloons AND Flowers!

Since all my jewelry that hasn't been lost to children rummaging through my collection is now lost to storage in an unmarked box, I told anyone who asked that I would love gifts of jewelry this year. Except my friend who manages a Starbucks, bet you can guess what I asked her for.... Anyway, I feel so pampered that I essentially now have a complete new jewelry collection. I was even given a gift card to go to my favorite bead store and pick out and make something myself!

Another gift was my children posing so well this day!

In addition to jewelry, my mom also sent a little round rug she picked up in Fiji last summer. And the moment I laid that on the floor next to my bed, our upstairs bedroom in my in-laws' home suddenly began to feel like my own space. That made it a pretty cool gift. Here you can see my new rug next to my side table, on which are all the gifts that made my heart so happy this year. Laugh at me if you want, but presents were really good for my heart this year. You can also see my stuffed orange kitty, a thoughtful gift from Whitney, which has been helping my heart heal from the sad loss of Milo.

I really hope that by next year's birthday we will be in a much different place. But I still had a fun day that was much needed and appreciated.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Red Boot Recycles!

Ok I am post dating this entry, I admit. October 15 was officially Blog Action Day, in which bloggers were asked to post entries to do with the environment. I intended to but missed the boat. So here is my entry acknowledging the importance of being aware and active in preservation of the planet:

We lived in the San Francisco Bay area in the late 90's. I learned from watching "Dirty Jobs" last year that San Francisco actually recycles 67% of its trash. That is so exciting!

In Salt Lake we had a great curbside recycling program. We found that we filled the recycle bin as much as the trash bin, except during remodeling. We have definitely gotten in the swing of recycling and enjoy feeling like we are contributing to less waste. Salt Lake also ran its metro transport system on electricity. It was great to drive around downtown and have a sense of clean air in the midst of buses and trains.

Here in Texas there is open space; so much in fact, that it is challenging to persuade people and governments of the urgency of environmental responsibility. I have not seen this many big trucks and SUV's in years. I believe the local governments of College Station and Bryan are trying to become more politically correct, environmentally speaking, but it is difficult to turn the tide and not just build community support but also physically construct facilities to recycle.

We are starting out by doing what we can. We collect recyclables in a bin, sort them ourselves, and take them to the Bryan Recycling Facility a couple times a month. Can't go to College Station because they charge you for your efforts, but at least there is another place to go.

Unfortunately, this particular facility only accepts about 5 kinds of recyclables. I decided early on that I wasn't going to spend my life driving around town to each place that accepts one kind of recyclable, so we are kind of limited in what we do here. Red Boot Ranch recycles #1 and #2 plastic bottles, steel and aluminum cans, and clear and brown glass. We also collect newspaper and thin cardboard such as cereal boxes. It adds up to one large storage bin every 5 days, which is significant, I believe.

What else can we do? I would love to contribute more. I wouldn't call myself a bleeding heart activist, but I believe that we were given stewardship of the planet, and conservation and wise use of resources are part of our responsibility.

Early this year we watched a special on the Discovery Channel, "Green: The New Red, White, and Blue." That really helped us see what options there are for us if we want to go above and beyond what city services provide (curbside recycling, green waste collection, etc.).

I did some research and learned that we could purchase units of wind power from Rocky Mountain Power, for about $1.75 per unit. We chose to order 5 units a month, as this was the minimum amount of energy we ever use. Since I still own a house in Utah I am still doing that, although once we cancel our service there I don't know of that being an option here in Texas. I have a feeling it will come, though.

We talk all the time about getting Justin an electric car for his commuter vehicle once the Prizm dies. (If it ever does; that Toyota engine just keeps on working!) That's one way to reduce emissions on the road. Sounds like the investment is about $7K-10K for an older car that has been retrofitted with an EV package. I would love to have a hybrid for my next car, but don't know if they make a hybrid Toyota Sienna with captain's chairs!

We have discussed the possibility of turning our next house into propane power, or installing solar panels, or building a windmill to collect wind power. Any would be a major investment, so I'm not ready to do it yet until I know we're going to be somewhere for awhile. Shoot I may just do it at Red Boot since we know someone in the family will own this house for years to come.

I combine trips to drive my car as little as possible, turn out lights when not in the room, and run the air conditioning warmer when we're not in the house. We re-use grocery bags as trash bags, wash and re-use water bottles, and buy rechargeable batteries.

We dream of living out in the country and being carbon neutral in addition to being completely self-sufficient. We are definitely not even close to carbon neutral yet, but are trying to be responsible especially as simple ways become more widely available.

Are you?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Maren's Response

Well as expected Maren had a hard time with the news about our orange cat. I picked her up from school and took her to Sonic for hang-out time. I waited until we had chatted for awhile and finished most of our snack before breaking the news that Milo had died. Then she climbed into my lap and we cried together for a long time.

She has been sad at night several times, but I think we have done the best we could to work through our loss. She hasn't mentioned it at school, so I think that means she has a good perspective most of the time. Nighttime is the hardest, but thanks to Aunt Whit we have a stuffed orange kitten that Mare and I have been sharing back and forth depending on who needs it more. Maren's own kitty should be arriving in the mail tomorrow.

The first night, she and I sat down together and wrote a letter for him. We printed it out and attached this picture, along with a tuft of fur we found that evening. It turns out Milo was more spirited than we gave him credit for, as evidenced by the size of the battleground. You go, kitty! I hope you gave those coyotes indigestion.

Here is Maren's letter:

I met Milo when he was a kitten. We had so much fun playing with him. I remember flashing the laser pointer so he could chase it.

Whenever we visited on vacation, Milo was here. When we moved into this house, I got to pet him every day. And he was always sitting by his food bowl, when he wasn't sleeping. I loved that I could say hi, and he would meow back at me.

Milo's fur was so soft. I miss him.

by Maren
October 10, 2007

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Eulogy for an Orange Cat

Have I mentioned yet that in addition to three families, we share this country property with two dogs, two cats and a stocked fish pond? Let me tell you about Milo, “the other cat” (as opposed to Gwigsy, “the cat,” who barely tolerates him). He came to the family as a kitten three years ago, about the same time as Otis the yellow lab. Unfortunately, Otis as a large breed puppy loved to pick Milo up in his mouth and shake him like a doll. Not sure how many times this happened, but Milo has just never seemed quite right. Maybe he was separated too early from his mother, who knows. We are pretty sure he's extremely nearsighted, in addition to having an innate sense of his place at the bottom of the pecking order in this household.

Milo has always moved in fear everything, but in moments of danger he has learned to respond by cowering instead of running away. This proved an effective strategy against Otis and Gaila, who get bored and leave after sniffing and licking for a minute or two. But very sadly, last night was Milo's last night on earth. A pair of coyotes found him during the night, and we suspect his possum strategy is what led to his demise.

And so today is a family day of mourning, as we remember Milo the misunderstood cat. It hardly seems real. Every time I walk up the stairs to my room, I pass the landing where he spent nearly all of his daytime hours. I loved stopping and scratching under his chin and behind his ears. Mom B was actually allergic to him, and he was always tolerant of the kids loving on him, so I had already emotionally adopted him, hoping we could take him to fill our home whenever we move out. I think I bonded with that frightened little kitty as much as with kitty Figaro, our figurative first child that we adopted early in our marriage. So this is a double blow, feeling like I lost a member of the family, as well as part of my imagined future home.

I am sad that tenderhearted James had to find the coyotes after working late last night, see what they had done, chase them off, and wrap the rest of the poor kitty in a bag so the rest of us could be spared the horror. But I am also thankful that we did not find any remains this morning when Maren was outside ready to go to school. I am so sad as I think of how I will tell Maren in a few hours. This is one of those moments she will likely remember forever. But again I am thankful, as I realize I would rather we learn how to deal with death on this level, than as a result of losing a human member of our family. We have some growing to do today, and God will give us strength to get through it.

But I just have to say for the record, losing a pet to the coyotes SUCKS.

Sweet kitty Milo, may you rest in peace, and be frightened of nothing.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


Useful Things we could have been told when moving to Texas!

1. Save all manner of bacon grease. You will be instructed later how to use it.

2. Just because you can drive on snow and ice does not mean we can. Just stay home the two days of the year it snows.

3. If you do run your car into a ditch, don't panic. Four men in the cab of a four wheel drive with a 12-pack of beer and a tow chain will be along shortly. Don't try to help them, just stay out of their way. This is what they live for.

4. Don't be surprised to find movie rentals & bait in the same store.

5. Remember: "Y'all" is singular. "All y'all" is plural. "All y'all's" is plural possessive.

6. Get used to hearing, "You ain't from around here, are you?"

7. If you are yelling at the person driving 15 mph in a 55 mph zone, directly in the middle of the road, remember, many folks learned to drive on a model of vehicle known as John Deere, and this is the proper speed and lane position for that vehicle.

8. If you hear a redneck exclaim, "Hey, y'all, watch this!" Stay out of his way. These are likely the last words he will ever say.

9. Get used to the phrase "It's not the heat, it's the humidity". And the collateral phrase "You call this hot? Wait'll August."

10. There are no delis. Don't ask.

11. In conversation, never put your hand on a man's shoulder when making a point, especially in a bar.

12. Chili does NOT have beans in it.

13. Brisket is not 'cooked' in an oven.

14. Don't tell us how you did it up there. Nobody cares.

15. If you think it's too hot, don't worry. It'll cool down-in December.

16. We do TOO have 4 Seasons: December, January, February, and Summer!

17. A Mercedes-Benz is not a status symbol. A Ford F-150 is.

18. If someone tells you "Don't worry, those peppers aren't hot" you can be certain they are.

19. If you fail to heed my warning in #18 above, be sure to have a bowl of guacamole handy. Water won't do it.

20. Rocky Mountain oysters are NOT oysters. Don't ask.

21. If someone says they're "fixin" to do something, that doesn't mean anything's broken.

22. Don't even think of ordering a strawberry daiquiri. What you really mean to say is 'Margarita.'

23. If you don't understand our passion for college and high school football just keep your mouth shut.

24. The value of a parking space is not determined by the distance to the door, but the availability of shade.

25. If you see a slower moving vehicle on a two lane road pull onto the shoulder that is called "courtesy".

26. BBQ is a food group. It does NOT mean grilling burgers and hot dogs outdoors.

27. No matter what you've seen on TV, line dancing is not a popular weekend pastime.

28. "Tea" = Iced Tea. There is no other kind.

29. Everything goes better with Ranch dressing.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Cooking with Grammy

Every Thursday Maren comes home with a new library book from school. This week's selection was "Cook a Doodle Doo" about the great-great-grandson of the Little Red Hen who decides to make her recipe, only he finds three friends to help him. Between the four of them they learn how to assemble ingredients and follow a recipe.

Of course Grammy saw this as her golden opportunity for bridging the gap between school and the kitchen, and proceeded to use the book to work with Maren to make Marvelous Strawberry Shortcake, with stellar results!

Both Grammy and Maren were understandably quite proud.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


I want to go home, I want to go home
I feel so broke up, I want to go home.
So hoist up the John B sail...

We have been in Texas for almost two months now, and boy am I homesick today. These words, penned by a well-known mid-century philosopher, have been running through my head all day. I am ready to hoist the mainsail and set sail for home. (Although it's not the worst trip I've ever been on for sure).

A lot of things are good. We have had numerous confirmations that this is not just the right place for us to be, but also the right time to have come here. I do trust that the same God who started this work will be faithful to complete it by selling our house at the proper time. And living with family has been so blessed by God. We have our moments, but we come together and work them out, and God blesses us with harmony.

But this week it still seems to have hit me hard, out of the seeming blue: I am ready to go home. Time for vacation to be over, to get back to reality. There is just one problem, aside from the obvious that this IS reality and this IS home. I don't know where I would go home TO. We have been so many places, I have lost my sense of where or what Home is.

Before Utah, there was Michigan. Before that, two different parts of California. Before we were married there was Taylor University, which has changed so much in ten years that it doesn't feel like the same place. In fact, the deeper and further I go, I realize that the place that would most seem like Home, is the house we lived in when I was a kid. If I could go anywhere, I would go to my room there, with the big pink flowers all over the walls. I would crawl under the pink-and-white striped cover and curl up into a ball... and just be.

The truth is, I can never go back Home. My parents don't live there; and the pink-and-white striped cover has long since disintegrated, I am sure. I would have to go back to a time, not just a place. In the 1997 movie, “Grosse Pointe Blank,” main character Marty Blank goes home for his 10th high school reunion, only to find out that his childhood home has been torn down and replaced with a convenient store. As he shares with a friend, you can never go home; but I guess you can shop there. I am not the first to experience this impossible desire.

I learn from reading God's word that I am not supposed to feel at home here, or anywhere on the planet, during my lifetime. Peter refers to his fellow believers as foreigners and aliens here (1 Pet 2:11). The faithful listed in the “Faith Hall of Fame” of Hebrews 11 were looking forward to a country they can call their own... They were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. (Heb 11:13-16). Those who follow God's way have given up their citizenship as members of the world, and joined God's kingdom.

While I am not ready to go to that home, a little homesickness serves as a good reminder that I am also looking ahead to a place and a time that I will be home. So it's time to acknowledge that while this may not feel like home at the moment, nothing else would either. To find home here, I need to go to God, curl up in his lap... and just be. I am working on it, and my hope lies in knowing that God knows my situation, and promises to meet my needs. And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:19).

I imagine that in another year I will be feeling much more settled here. But in the meantime, I ask those of you who pray, to pray for me, for us, and for the kids as we trudge through the daily adjustments that go along with all the good things that brought this move to reality.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Aggie Religion

If you know anything about Texas, you may know that football is big here. That works out well for me, as I grew up in Canton, Ohio, birthplace of American Football. While I wouldn't characterize myself as a sports nut, I did grow up watching NFL every Sunday. When I went to college in Indiana, I found that Hoosiers live and breathe basketball. It was enough of a different language that I lost the thread of football and sports altogether for a long time.

Add to that a college town where students, and by proxy anyone who lives here, are considered the “12th Man” on the team, where nobody in an 80,000 seat stadium sits for the duration of a game, where each year level is given their own cheer and motion to perform during the game, and you practically have the elements of a religious movement. Aggies even pledge that “Aggies never lie, cheat, or steal, and they don't tolerate those who do.” There is a kind of spirit here that is not found very many other places, I believe.

And I have found that not only do I not mind, but I quite enjoy it. For most of my life I lived in places that didn't have a strong dominant culture other than American. And now here, we are in a place where we can enjoy the cultural flavor of the region and even allow ourselves to join it!

Sure, we aren't official Aggies. We didn't attend, and we don't have the rings (it's a bit of a fanatic club, but it's all in good fun). What we have going for us are two children. I think we will be on probation as true Texans and residents of this fine town, for the next 15 years until our children begin to choose whether they will attend here. Of course I will encourage their self-expression, but I laughed the other day that it wouldn't be too difficult for my children not to ever realize they have a choice!

Despite being a transplant, I was reassured by one bright-eyed coed last month that I live here, so we are accepted as Aggie fans. So Whit and I went down to the tent sale last weekend (they have one the weekend of every home game) and got ourselves geared up for the game that was televised Saturday. They won, but even more important, I found myself proud to be part of something that (almost) everyone in this town shares.

Gig 'em Ags!