Texjun Tales

A Texas girl's view of the world from Cajun Country and beyond.


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For now…

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For now…

It’s become my new mantra. Last week, I was blessed to spend a few days with my dad and Sallie in their new retirement home in Wiggins, Mississippi. Located on the 15th hole of the Country Club golf course, sitting outside provided such an escape. You really had the feeling that you were in the middle of nowhere until a golf cart came by. Even that was a delight. I had the privilege of attending a block party and a Monday Night Football dinner, and let me tell you, the people there are some of the kindest, most genuine people I’ve ever met. I actually stayed there because I had business in New Orleans and later Baton Rouge. My parents are, ironically, closer then I am to those locations. It was so nice to be able to stay with family instead of in a hotel.

While I was there, I helped Sallie unpack several boxes for her dining room. I counted 6 big moving boxes and at least 5 smaller totes. It was probably modest in comparison to what my sisters Ruth and Sallie Jean had done, but it felt like we accomplished so very much. As we unpacked and tried to put so many items into a new configuration, we often declared, “This is a good spot…for now.”

“For now.” Seems like a very good statement. It declares that I am content with where things are at this very moment but that I can also choose to rearrange them. It is being comfortable with change. It is accepting the here and now but recognizing the potential for so much more. And isn’t there so much more out there?

I serve an awesome God. Mercifully, he loves me just as I am, and he loves me too much too leave me there. I am the very definition of “for now”. The candlesticks pictured were going to be discarded. They were cloudy, chipped, and, frankly, not very pretty. I brought them home and sent them through the dishwasher once. They began to sparkle, in spite of the small chip in the side of one of them. They will, indeed, make my holiday table quite beautiful.

1 Corinthians 13:12 says, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” My God knows me, through and through. He sees me and all my potential. He looks at me and tells me there is so much more ahead. One day, I will know as I am known. But I’m perfectly content with where I am…for now.

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Hurricane Rita Reflections 10 Years later

Tomorrow is the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Rita – The Forgotten Storm. I know I’m a day early, but I thought I’d post my memories of that crazy, miserable, amazing, life-altering event. Here are my recollections of what happened over basically the course of a month.

Ten years ago today, September 23, 2005, my husband woke me up very early in the morning. He said, “Honey?” My response was immediate. “It’s coming here, isn’t it!?! We’ve been ordered to evacuate, haven’t we???” You see, all week I’d been saying we needed to leave. I said we needed to find a hotel somewhere far north of here. First, the computer models all said Hurricane Rita was going to hit Mexico. Then my family in Corpus Christi prepared for a direct hit. My dad even stocked up on Spam! But I felt it in my bones. This one was destined for us.

And so, very early on what was a Thursday morning, we began tossing as much as we could into cars. We didn’t have anywhere to go, really. Hotels were already overloaded with Hurricane Katrina folks. We just knew we needed to head north. We couldn’t call out. All the lines were jammed with people trying to contact others and make a plan. People could call us, though.

And the first call came. It was from my dear friend Lea in Uvalde, Texas. She told me if I could get to Little Rock, there was a place her family owned waiting for us. Another option was to make our way west to Houston to my Aunt Sue’s house, but Houston had become a parking lot. Then the next call came in. It was our cousin, Rhonda, saying to come to Mt. Pleasant, Texas, to stay with her and Larry. We decided to head there. I must say, it was the most arduous drive I’ve ever experienced.

We decided not to cross into Texas at I-10, but traveled a bit north. They were closing the borders. We later learned we crossed the border into Texas right before it closed. The powers that be decided that was a form of traffic control, but it certainly seemed to complicate things. People were simply trying to get to a safe place. Our three cars made their way up the road, painfully slowly. And then, a truck passed us on the left, going the wrong way. Then another. And another. With that, contraflow began. So much better.

I have to pause here to say that my husband, Erich, was leading the way with my middle daughter. My father-in-law, Doug, had his elderly mother with him. I brought up the rear with my oldest and my youngest. My mother-in-law, Sherry, was on a road trip with her parents on the East Coast, trying to get back to us.

What should have been a 5 hour trip took 12 hours. We stopped (purposefully) once at a gas station along the way. It was the nastiest place I’ve ever seen. They had a port-o-potty set up outside, but it was overflowing with filth, and the line was longer than you could imagine. The men went in the woods, and me and my girls elected to hold it. Erich’s grandmother was the only one brave enough to venture into the line. My son, who was 2 at the time, had needed to go long before that. I’ll never forget driving along at a snail’s pace and my then 12-year old having to hold a soda can for him to relieve himself in without cutting him. She was so awesome.

We eventually made it to Mount Pleasant where people showed us the most amazing kindness. We arrived very late on Thursday night. Rhonda had laid out pallets and air mattresses. We squeezed in where we could. We watched as much as we could online and on TV as Hurricane Rita devastated our area.

On Friday, the storm followed us. It headed straight up to Mount Pleasant, Texas, knocking out electricity at Rhonda and Larry’s house. My son had become ill, so we headed to the home of Jack and Kay McKay, across the lake, until the power was restored. They were so welcoming. Turns out my son had pneumonia.

People came out in droves to help us. Folks from Rhonda and Larry’s church brought meals. Two campers arrived – a pop-up and a larger camper. The doctor’s office that I took my son to not only didn’t charge me for the visit, but lent me a breathing machine and supplies for him free of charge. The only cost we incurred was medications. Phenomenal.

The next few days were a huge blur. The men left to go check things out at our houses in Sulphur early the next week. Turns out we had 3 trees deposited in our house, and the in-laws’ home was pierced by extremely twisted large parts of trees. No one else could come back into the parish (county), so the rest of us stayed put.

On Tuesday, Rhonda lost one of her dear friends to a heart attack. Then, the McKay home where we stayed over the weekend burned to the ground. Next, my mother-in-law’s father ended up in the hospital in Kerrville, Texas, with what was eventually diagnosed as cancer. A couple of days later, my father-in-law, Doug, fell and broke his femur in Sulphur when they were within 5 minutes of leaving to return to Mt. Pleasant. It was a spiral fracture with fragments just below his artificial hip. He was air lifted to Houston where they did surgery using a cadaver bone.

Erich and Larry headed back without Doug. We celebrated the most impromptu of birthday parties for my son. He turned 3 while we were evacuated. I literally took him to the Walmart in Mt. Pleasant, let him pick his own gifts, and took whatever cake they could give us. It was a wonderful party in spite of it all. I knew we would need to move on quickly to get Sherry to Houston to be with Doug. I called my Aunt Sue and Uncle Gary, and they welcomed us with open arms.

We spent the next week north of Houston with Sherry driving into town to be with Doug. When she felt he was stable enough, and the parish was opened, we decided to head home. My son was still on a breathing machine, so I was a bit worried about hooking that up to a generator for breathing treatments! I called Sherry’s house every 10 minutes or so on that drive. I knew that if her answering machine picked up, we had power. Indeed, somewhere around Beaumont, it did pick up.

It was about a month later before we could return to our house. All services were knocked out – gas, electricity, phone, cable. That wasn’t the worst of it. FEMA, in its wisdom, declared we didn’t suffer any damage during the storm. They deemed we didn’t qualify for a trailer. Given what I know about them now, I’d say it was a blessing in disguise, but we had to spend the next several months in half a house. We literally lived in a construction area. There was nowhere else to go.

So many other things happened to us after that. For example, Erich had a bad wreck, and we both lost our jobs. If I continued, you probably wouldn’t believe me. Yet, I tried to keep a smile on my face. In fact, I often laughed out loud at the craziness. People often asked me, “How do you keep smiling with all that has happened?” I can’t say it was an easy thing, but there was definitely a reason I kept on smiling.

Out of chaos, God creates.  Out of the storm, God speaks.  Through testing and trouble God forges faith, the way steel is forged in fire.  We sometimes think that God is working in our lives when everything is peaceful and quiet, when our lives are in order, health is good, marriage is strong, family is at peace, the sky is blue, and the sun is shining.  But, the Spirit’s work goes on in the storm, in the chaos of suffering, testing, and temptation, in the unexpected hurricanes of life, when we suddenly realize we have no control.  This is when our faith is tested.  This is when Jesus will calm the storms if we but ask him.


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A Mother’s Prayers

Last week, my oldest daughter, Kiah, was on an urban mission trip to New York City. She is an assistant youth director for a local church. On Monday evening following their mission work, her small group headed back to the church where they were staying in Jamaica, Queens. Her group consisted of people from the Lake Charles area as well as people from Maine. Upon their arrival at the church, they were approached by a man holding his hands in the shape of a gun. He asked the two men in Kiah’s group what they would do if he had a real gun. The men both responded that they would probably die.

The man then threatened them all, saying that he would be back with a real gun to avenge the death of the people in South Carolina the week before. Ultimately, the police were called, but they stated there was nothing that could be done because the man didn’t have a real gun. The group was told not to walk around Jamaica, Queens, anymore. They had been enjoying the area until then.

The two groups there called their respective pastors to see what they should do. The Maine group elected to leave the mission trip and head home, driving through the night. The pastor of the Lake Charles group advised that each person could contact their family, and if any wanted to come home, arrangements would be made. Kiah called her husband then her dad and me to tell us what was going on and ask what we thought she should do. I told Kiah I think she is there to do the Lord’s work, and there she should stay.

A friend asked if I wanted Kiah to come home. My answer was, “No.” She was there to do God’s work. I knew he would protect her, or he would call her home. As a mother, that is a difficult thing to say, but my trust is in the Lord. As I prayed for my daughter and her friends, I also prayed for the man who threatened them. It took every part of my being, but, through Christ, I am able to offer him grace and forgiveness in my heart. That is what Christ offers me.

When this was happening, I chose not to post it on social media but to ask for prayers directly from those I knew would pray. To post it on social media would only have fed the beast of hatred and anger. I would much prefer he starve. I will say that the congregation of the host church responded beautifully. They were incredibly supportive of the mission team. They prayed with them and said, “We know you aren’t like that man in South Carolina, and we aren’t like that man who threatened you.” The healing began at that moment, I believe.

Kiah is now home safe. Her experiences were phenomenal, and a single act of hatred could never undo the positive works of the Lord. They made such a difference in the lives of those they met.

Today, I have spent most of the day in prayer. My middle child – Paige – is embarking on a grand adventure to Europe. So far, there have been many challenges. First, she and her friend Jennifer were put not only on different flights by their tour company, but they flew out of different airports. Paige’s flight to Atlanta has been delayed, and she won’t make her connecting flight to London. She has been reassigned to a different flight, which she might make if she hauls butt. I have prayed and called on others to pray.

And do you know what? It’s working! As I write this, she is finally in the air to Atlanta. A friend of mine who is a pilot for Delta sent me the gate numbers of her flight and her connecting flight. My sweet brother-in-law in Germany has said if worse comes to worst, he will go to London to get her. Others have offered their prayers and support.

In retrospect, I thank God that Paige and I had the inconveniences we had when we flew to Disney World last December. We had a last minute change which wasn’t conducive to our trip. Our airline contracted with Delta to take us there – via Atlanta. Because of that trip, Paige knows that area of the Atlanta airport. It will be familiar to her. Just try to tell me that wasn’t God’s doing.

It never ceases to amaze me that God is answering our prayers even before we utter them. He has the perfect plan for each of us, and he will carry out that plan in the most marvelous of ways. It is that knowledge that keeps me praying my Mother’s Prayers.


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Ups and Downs and Ups Again

Roof damage

What an amazing week! I say that after a rather rough start. The dear hubby decided that the couple of questionable spots on the soffits of the house might need a look-see. Contractor contacted. Yay! Right? Well, ummm, no. We live in a 47 year old house. If you begin to investigate one problem…you know the drill. Turns out the problem wasn’t from the house being 47 years old (that would be the plumbing problems), but rather from the fact that our contractor/roofers after Hurricane Rita didn’t know what the h-e-double-hockey-sticks they were doing. They apparently installed the roofing materials in the “valleys” incorrectly as well as laid the outer-most shingles too far in. Sooooooo, we now have a rotting roof. The picture taken in the dark doesn’t really show it, but the left side is crumbling and the black and gray wood should be brown. Well, crap. I spent Monday in tears.

Tuesday was a new day even though the insurance company told us it was our problem. Wednesday was better with so much accomplished I can’t begin to list. Thursday was fantastic, and Friday was amazing! What happened? Well, there are still exposed areas of our house awaiting a roofer. We are not sure how much this will all cost. We don’t even know how much of the house is compromised. But what we do know is that God’s got this. He always does. No matter what life throws our way, we will survive. We will rise above and be even better than before. And so we put aside our cares and concerns and celebrate – thanking God for our bountiful blessings.

We spent most of this week with my in-laws, Sherry and Doug. They are such a blessing to us. I am not sure what I would do without them. I know we help them out in little ways, but we could never begin to repay what they do for us. I know that whatever happens, we will tackle it together. I couldn’t ask for more. And that is why, despite all life threw at us this week, I can say prayers of thanksgiving on this Thanksgiving weekend. God has given me the most amazing people in my life.

Next week will bring new challenges, but we will meet them with prayer and faith. Philippians 4:6 says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” I plan to do just that – not just about the roof, but about everything. I will tell God what I need and thank him for all he has done and is doing in our lives. He promises he will be with me through it all.


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Run with Perserverance

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I ran today. Twice. Well, it was probably more of a jogging/walking experience. I jogged a bit and walked a bit. I started this morning by simply going around the block. First steps and all. Then this evening, I joined my son’s scout troop as they completed a running activity. I pretty much did the walk/jog thing again but for a longer period of time. It wasn’t much and it wasn’t pretty, but I did it. Don’t ask what my son thought of my attempt, although my husband was quite proud.

Here’s the deal. I hurt my both my feet last spring in Disney. I now know it was my shoes. Well, that and being out of shape. I tend to walk on the balls of my feet, and after our trip, you could literally see the bruises. It’s hard to heal such things when you constantly must walk. Then, in the more recent past, my precious 70 pound grand dog, Jack (not the 8 pound Rosie in the picture), stepped on my right foot at a full run. Judging by the way my toes now separate, something is most likely broken. On top of that, a couple of weeks ago, I stepped off a stool wrong (while holding a 50 pound container) and hurt my left foot. Ouch.

I needed more support while walking, so this weekend my dear husband took me shoe shopping. Please understand that this is a huge deal. I HATE shoe shopping. I frankly have very uncooperative feet. But that dear man of mine persisted. I walked away (pun intended) with 2 new pair of shoes to break in for my next Disney trip. One is a sensible pair of walking shoes that feel heavenly, and one is a glow-in-the-dark pair of running shoes that are amazing. Nothing like showing your Disney side!

I said some time back that I would start running after I got a good pair of running shoes. My friends told me that I had it backwards. I should run first then get a good pair of shoes. Well, I remembered what I said, so today I strapped on those funky, adorably cute shoes, and I ran. It was freeing. It was joyful. It was exhausting. It was painful. But I persevered.

And that takes me to Paul. Hebrews 12:1-3 reads, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame,and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

I pray I can continue this little journey I am on with my new running shoes – both physically and spiritually. I pray I will not lose heart. I pray that this makes me healthier. It is frankly a big deal posting this so publicly. It is really a challenge to myself by doing so. I want to persevere in my strive to be healthier both physically and spiritually. I know that with Jesus on my side, I will persevere until that day when he says, “Well, done, good and faithful servant!” And there I will find my rest. But in the meantime, be sure to look for the crazy lady with the glow-in-the-dark shoes walking – or maybe running – through Disney World this December!


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Thankfulness – Day 5

Last day of my challenge. I’m still challenging myself to find three things I might not otherwise be thankful for…hmmmm. It would be so much easier to find thankfulness if I hadn’t set that particular challenge before myself. But I am glad I did. I’m pretty good at being thankful for stuff that’s easy to be thankful for. I needed to find reasons to be thankful even when things are rough.

Today, I am first thankful for a change in routine. I have a little bit of difficulty with that. I wake up each day before my alarm clock and spend a few minutes putting my day in order. “I need to do this.” “First I will do that.” And so on. Today, I woke up and immediately realized we forgot to take out the trash last night. I spring into action without looking further into my day. I then go to wake up my son, who is in training to wake up himself without prompting. He’s not in his bed. He’s not in the shower. Crap. Where is he? Dear hubby tells me he’s already up and dressed. Oh. OK. Hmmm. What now? Oh, yes. Make his lunch. And the boy helps me. Something weird is going on here. Something incredible, blessedly weird. And I am thankful for it. 

Second moment of thankfulness…I realize that dear middle daughter must have class today. but I’m not sure since she just moved home yesterday. I haven’t made sure she’s up in a long time. I worry that perhaps I should go check on her. But if she doesn’t have class, she might want to sleep late, right? Oh, the dilemma. I decide that she is all grown up and can take care of herself. Somehow, in the middle of morning off-to-school chaos, I don’t even cross paths with her before the hubby tells me she is out the door. I realize at that moment that somewhere we did something right. We have raised awesome, responsible children, and for that I am thankful.

As my final thankfulness post of this challenge, I am thankful for just enough. These past several years have been rough, to say the least. I won’t get into details simply because everyone has had their ups an downs, their good times and bad. But what I know, without a doubt, is that no matter what comes our way, we can count it all joy. I find that promise in James 1:2-4. The New Living Translation puts it this way: “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” Indeed, I am thankful I need nothing…except the redeeming love of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And I am so thankful that he offers salvation freely.


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Thankfulness – Day 4

Today, I am thankful for my boomerang children. My oldest moved back for the 2013-2014 school year after living 2 years on campus and working summers away. She moved out a couple of weeks ago. My middle child came back today, by no fault of her own. Her 2 roommates pretty much left her high and dry. She ended up paying most of this month’s rent to give the proper 30 days notice, even though all three of them were on the lease. One roommate helped her out with a portion of the rent but cut off the electricity. That means my daughter can either move back here for a bit or drop yet another deposit to have electricity for one month. Not cool.

Well, I guess they aren’t truly boomerang children, as they are still in college. Still, I must say that after having spent the last 4 days redoing what was to be the guest room, having a college student’s stuff promptly deposited on the floor was a bit disheartening. But, I am truly grateful she called me. I’m so thankful that we can be here for her. Even her brother said, “Well, that’s good. I was getting a little bit lonely.” And that’s a miracle. She will pick herself up and find a new place. In the meantime, I will just praise God for a little more time with her. And my little granddog.

The second thing I am thankful for is ibuprofen. Having spent the last 4 days working on the “guest-now-college-student” room and other areas of the house, my body is screaming at me. The 3 blown discs in my lower back are asking “WHYYYYYY????” Scrubbing off wallpaper paste, painting, and going up and down on a step stool, I have used muscles I had forgot existed. They are now reminding me that they are still there and much prefer dormancy. Thus, I am thankful for ibuprofen.

Finally, I am thankful for exhaustion. I don’t usually sleep well. Runs in the family, Unfortunately. I wake up a lot and generally stay awake for long periods of time. However, these past few days I have dropped from exhaustion and slept fairly well. I still wake up, but I don’t stay awake. I painfully roll over, but then I promptly go back to sleep. For me, this is actually blissful, and thus I am thankful for exhaustion.

I wonder what tomorrow will bring in my thankfulness challenge?