Our summer… in pictures


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Date nights. Hiking in the mountains. Indoor skydiving. Lots of pool time. Spending time with family. Playing outside. Can it be summer every day?


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Scrappy 9-Patch Quilt for my Mother-in-Law

One of my biggest goals for 2013 was to finally make a quilt for my mom and my mother-in-law. And I’m proud to say that I was able to accomplish both – one while horribly sick with morning sickness (love you mama) and the other while I was nine months pregnant and big as a house (love you, mother-in-law).

MIL quilt 5

I chose the scrappy 9-patch pattern for two reasons: (1) I’ve never tried it before and had been hankering to give this pattern a whirl – I just love the look of scrappy quilts; and (2) this pattern really has no pattern, which meant almost no getting up and down off the floor with this giant belly of mine. Quilting is a lot of work physically, and I just wasn’t as mobile as normal, so this quilt allowed me to do almost everything on my sewing table.

MIL quilt 3

I almost named this my Steve Jobs quilt, simply because I listened to his biography on audio books while I sewed. That book is amazing (and 25 hours). With every quilt I make, I can tell you what book I “read” or TV series I watched while doing the work.
MIL quilt 2

For the front fabric, I used a Moda jelly roll (again, it saved me time on cutting), and because it was so traditional, I wanted to do something absolutely nutty on the back. I found this fabric at Joann’s and immediately fell in love. It’s one of my new favorites in my stash, and I have enough left over to use it again sometime.

I bound it with this adorable polka dot fabric that I’ve had in my stash for years and never used. It matches perfectly and reminds me of a tie I bought my dad as a child.

MIL quilt 1 I am so thankful to have such an amazing, godly, FUN mother-in-law, who welcomed me into her family and treats me like her own daughter. Thanks Ann (MoMo to the grandkids) for being so wonderful, and happy birthday!


(PS – It takes every ounce of my being to take pics at this point… 39.5 weeks pregnant. But, I want to be able to look back at this year and remember the good times… even if I was carrying around a TON of water weight. And baby weight.) Plus, my mother-in-law looks fabulous.


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Sigh of relief

Dinner at sunset

This past weekend my in-laws hosted 70 people for a family reunion at their home for three days… four meals… and lot’s and lot’s of fun memories. I think it takes a little bit of insanity and a huge dose of hospitality to be willing to have that many people at your home for that long. They did a fabulous job. And we introduced a bunch of Oklahomans to the greatness that is Babe’s Chicken.

Visiting the horses and cows with my niece

I sported what I like to call the Texas Summer Layered Look – a layer of sunscreen, then a layer of bug spray, then a layer of sweat, then a layer of dirt. North Texas enjoyed its first weekend of 100-degree temperatures and I survived by the grace of God and the gift of wick-away fabrics.
A prize-winning bull enjoying a temporary stay at my in-laws’ place

And now that it’s over, I’m enjoying a much-needed day off from work (hooray for vacation time). Mr. Right has generously suggested that I go get a massage, and then I’m going to spend the rest of the day holed up in our home doing absolutely nothing. Okay, so I may do a little bit of sewing, but nothing that requires any thinking.

In other news, my good-looking man made a brief cameo on our favorite photographer’s blog last week – if you look closely, you can see me too… or my hands.

Which reminds me… I need to print our wedding pictures. After all, it has been 18 months. I’m adding that to the top of my to-do list… as soon as I get back to doing responsible things… which won’t be today.

I am thankful for my in-laws

Today, on Day 17, I am thankful for my in-laws. 
When it comes to marrying into a family, I feel like I hit the jackpot. It’s probably no coincidence that I started praying that God would bring me a Mr. Right who had a good family back when I was 22. I had dated someone whose mother I didn’t get along with, and from that day forward I prayed that God would bless me with good in-laws. 
My prayers sure were answered. 
My in-laws are wonderful. They are supportive and encouraging and generous, and they love their family. They raised Mr. Right to be independent and self-sufficient (and his mom taught him to cook like a rockstar). They strike that perfect balance of wanting to be involved in their children’s lives while letting them make their own decisions. They are peacemakers.
They are incredibly interesting people. My father-in-law is a team roper who competes in local rodeos and who has a passion for horses. He is also a church planter who helped launch their latest church a few years back and has built a large men’s ministry reaching out to cowboys who never felt at home in a church setting. My mother-in-law is a BSF leader and accomplished golfer–she could smoke me on the golf course with both her eyes closed. She is an incredible cook.

They’re also adoring grandparents to our niece Ella. I am thankful that someday when we have kids of our own, that they’ll make great babysitters, and their house out in the country with horses and cows will make for some really wonderful childhood memories.

They’re there. Whether it’s meeting Mr. Right for lunch or coming out to my work events to support me, or coming up to meet our ESL students (which my mother-in-law is doing tonight), they do a great job of showing their support by just being there
When we had to fix up Mr. Right’s house to get it ready to go on the market, my in-laws spent days helping us – my father-in-law did a ton of manual labor outside in the blazing heat, and my mother-in-law cleaned like a banshee. When our house got broken into, they came and sat outside with us in lawn chairs while we waited for the police to arrive. 

On a side note – I was on Facebook pulling pictures for this post, and I came across these wedding photos. When I’ve talked in the past about marrying into a big family, I’m not sure if you really understand how big I’m talking about. So here’s proof – these are just the relatives who made the drive in from Oklahoma and elsewhere to cheer us on at our wedding.

But back to my in-laws… they have worked so hard to make me feel welcome in their family. Thanks Audie and Ann for all you do for us. I am so blessed to be your daughter-in-law.

Happy birthday Sarah!

Happy birthday to my beloved sister and one of my very best friends… Sarah.

Sarah is one of those rare finds in life – she’s the laid-back middle child who goes with the flow and gets along with everyone she encounters. She’s a hard worker and an uber talented interior designer (go check out her new design blog), painter, and crafter extraordinaire. She’s one of the most creative people I know, and she has a sense of humor and the gift of mercy, making her a favorite of a lot people. Oh, and my dad will tell you that she was an All State softball player back in high school.

For my wedding my mom dug up some old family photos for a slide show, so I thought I’d let you enjoy some “classics” of Sarah and me over the years (and of our youngest sister Lindsay).
When Sarah was a born, I thought my mom had given me my own personal, life-sized baby doll. What a treat she was! From the looks of this picture, I think at first I enjoyed her a bit more than she enjoyed me. I can see the panic on her poor baby face! (Oh, and why did my parents insist on dressing us in bonnets? You’re about to see more…)
For three years it was just the two of us, and then our sister Lindsay entered the scene. It was just about this time that Sarah blossomed into her uber cute phase, and I hit my tremendously awkward phase, which didn’t let up until the eighth grade. Enjoy these and feel my pain…
My parents were cheap when it came to Halloween costumes (as an adult, I certainly don’t blame them), so I was a pumpkin five years in a row. The suit went from rather large to rather tight. After that I was a karate kid for another five years, which might have been slightly creative, except we took karate, so it was the same suit I wore twice a week to class. From the looks of it, this particular year Sarah was a homemade clown, and I think Lindsay must have been Mary from the Bible. Obviously we were good Baptist trick-or-treaters… I guess this was foreshadowing that we would both marry ministers.
Ahh, yes. The year our Easter dresses sported shoulder pads that rivaled any football player. So. darn. cute. (and another bonnet…) And fitting, since both of us happen to be sitting like football players. The adult version of me wishes I could go back in time and tell 11-year-old me to CROSS YOUR LEGS LIKE A LADY! (Oops, was I shouting? I apologize)
Most of our childhood summers were spent either (1) playing softball or (2) watching baseball games. My dad had season tickets to the Rangers through his work, and anytime Nolan Ryan pitched (plus any other time we were in the mood) we’d load up the free Pizza Hut jugs full of Coke and Dr. Pepper and head to Rangers Stadium to cheer on our favorite team. It looks like on this particular night poor Sarah got bonked on the head by her sweet little sister.

We finally grew up (sort of) and lived some fun adventures as semi-adults. We overlapped one year at Baylor, and we shared some wonderful memories while we were there. Sarah changed my life when she introduced me to the hair straightener (her roommate had one of those crazy things… my hair has never been the same since) and I returned the favor by letting her lay on the floor of my apartment bathroom for a day while she battled the stomach flu (it was more comfortable than her dorm room). It was a fun year.
A few years later we were both back living in DFW and I convinced her to visit my beloved church. Soon she was hooked and we spent about four years hanging out with the same group of friends, serving alongside one another and generally just having a ball living life together. We traveled, just the two of us, to New York to watch a Yankee game one summer, and another time we took 15 of our closest friends to our favorite spot in Colorado. In between we got hundreds of pedicures, ate a lot of dinners, talked a LOT about boys, and watched a lot of High School Musical movies. I will always be thankful for those years.
Now we’re both married and have houses about ten minutes apart. She continues to be a total blessing to me, and I am so thankful to have her as my sister. Happy birthday Sarah!


It’s amazing how just a few minutes of stress can totally wreck you.
Yesterday, while at breakfast with some friends, we got a call that Mr. Right’s dad had been hurt in a horse accident, had hit his head and been knocked unconscious. For just a few minutes we couldn’t get any important details… was he conscious? Was he moving? How bad was it? As we drove to the hospital and waited for more information, we did all we knew to do… we prayed.
After a half day in the downtown trauma ER, we got the very good news that other than some bumps and bruises, he was going to be fine. We are praising Jesus and thanking him for protecting my father-in-law from what could have been a very bad situation.
We left the hospital tired, but went on with our lives and had a very full day. It didn’t really hit us until today… our nerves were frazzled. Exhausted. In need of some rest and some quiet. But a nap, a movie, a quiet dinner, and a molten chocolate cake later, and we feel recharged and ready to go. And we continue to thank God for protecting our family and give him all the credit and glory for performing a total miracle.
We are blessed.

“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing, you have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord, my God, I will give you thanks forever.”
Psalm 30:11-12 NLT

The cat’s outta the bag

So I’ve had this little blog for several years now. Actually, I’ve had this one for two, and had another one for 2-3 years before that. What can I say, I’m a writer… an expressive personality, and a bit gabby. Plus I really enjoy going back and reading about things from the past. Just yesterday I found a stack of notes for the book that has been swimming around in my head for about two years now, and it was so fun to read some of my ideas which I had long forgotten. So this is why I write things down. Why I share those things with you… well that I don’t really know.

But I don’t really tell people about the blog. I let my friends discover it on their own. So it made me laugh a few days ago when Sister Sarah called and in the midst of our typically random sisterly conversation (I have the BEST conversations with her… she’s amazing), she blurted out… “Bethe, I think you need to start a blog. Something for our Sunday School class… you know, like Beth Moore, but only something more ‘you’ instead.”
I had to grin inside and felt kind of silly admitting that I indeed have a blog (although not exactly a Beth Moore blog… mine isn’t even a fraction as fabulous), so I just told her I’d think about it and moved on. I’ve bounced around the idea of writing something simply for girls at my church, but it seems a bit presumptuous, and I do share some scripturely insights on this one anyway.
So fast forward a little…
Tonight I went and saw an absolutely dreadful movie with my family (I won’t even tell you which one… but it was horrendous) and afterward we went to “celebrate” at our favorite restaurant nearby. Again Sister Sarah brought up the whole “blog” idea, and that’s when my mom got a mischievous grin on her face and said, “Well Bethe, don’t you already have a blog?”
Um… my mother doesn’t know about this blog. How embarrassing! But wait… she does.
So I admitted the blog to the family. Turns out my dad knew too. So then I asked my mom… “So if you’ve been lurking all this time, how come you never mentioned it? And why have you never left a comment?”
And that’s when my very own mother said, “Well, it’s not like I read it that often.”
Mmmm… thanks mom. My own mother knows that I write on a regular basis, and yet she doesn’t bother to actually read it. I felt so very loved right about that moment.
But I’m sure that she was overcome with guilt and is now catching up on all my ramblings from the past few months. So hello, mom, and welcome. If you look carefully, maybe you’ll find some nice things I wrote about you, seemingly behind your back.

A White Christmas… and years past

Today was Dallas’ first white Christmas in 87 years. I could have sworn it happened one time back in high school, but my memory must be failing me. I hear that happens with old age.

We had an amazingly lazy Christmas Eve. I learned how to play Rummy Cube (and won two of three games), watched a couple of Christmas movies, knitted on my latest blanket, and ate a humongous dinner. Oh, and we played in the snow. My how beautiful it is.
But Christmas always makes me wax sentimental, so here are some memories from past Christmas blog posts:
Who could forget last Christmas, when I set my hair on fire at the candlelight service at church? (a personal favorite)
Also, a little Christmas video I threw together from last year.
There was Christmas of 2007, the year that I decorated cookies again. and again. and again. It turned out to be one of my all-time favorite Christmas memories, and yet… I also realized that I do not have a future as a professional cookie decorator. Man, it’s hard.
There was the Tacky Sweater Christmas of 2005. The one where we didn’t tell our extended family our plan, just showed up in tacky sweaters and never said anything about them. It was wonderfully awkward, the elephant in the room where nobody wanted to ask us about our tacky sweaters, for fear they were legit. I think this is one of the greatest things about my family–they’re not afraid to look stupid.
As I lie here in my old bedroom at my parents’ house, I’m recounting the many ways God has blessed me in 2009. I hope you and your family also experience, recognize, and give thanks to God for his blessings this Christmas season. He really is good, isn’t he?

Almost Christmas and other stream-of-consciousness

It’s almost Christmas and there’s so much I still haven’t done. I haven’t wrapped ANY presents yet. That’s right, not a one. I haven’t driven around to look at Christmas lights. I haven’t decorated Christmas cookies. I haven’t watched very many Christmas movies. I haven’t worn all my red sweaters. I haven’t even eaten a single candy cane! (although I’ve got one swimming around the bottom of my purse, waiting for a weak moment when I will cave and devour it, most likely right before supper, thus ruining my appetite and yet making me quite content).

But I’m not that worried about it. The gifts will be wrapped… soon. The cookies will be made… although it might be January. The lights may not get seen. But I decided that this year, I’m not going to stress out about what needs to be done for Christmas. I’m just going to enjoy spending time with my family, continue to catch up on sleep, and relish the fact that life will go on if I don’t check every item off my to-do list.
As my family likes to say… “good enough.”
I am quite excited about my other Christmas tradition though–using my time off from work to lie around my house and breeze through novel after novel, catching up on the wonderful stack of books that have been calling my name for months. I’m a good ways into Wuthering Heights, and I love it, but I’ve got a Pat Conroy novel waiting in the wings, and a Barnes & Noble gift card burning a hole in my pocket.
I should save that candy cane for one of my leisurely reading afternoons.
In other news…
The number one question I get, now that I’m finished with grad school, is “Now what?” Apparently the proper thing to do after one finishes a masters degree is to change jobs. Nobody wants to hear my answer: “I don’t know. I sure do love my job. I love my boss. I find my work to be incredibly interesting. I love the enormous amount of vacation time I get. I love that I get to help people. And I love that my commute is super easy. So yes, someday I may change, but I’m quite content where I am today.” I’ve decided that I’m extremely A.D.D. when it comes to hobbies/projects/after-school activities, and yet when it comes to my job and my church, I am loyal and enjoy the stability that comes with staying in the same place for several years (6 years at one, 5.5 at the other). I’m not sure what that means… the psychoanalzation will have to continue for a bit longer. But I do wish folks would stop asking me the “now what.” That, and the “What do you want to be when you grow up” question. Because I honestly don’t know. I have some inklings, but telling someone you want to stay home and write novels while sitting on your back porch in your pajamas, drinking coffee out of a giant thermos, sort of sounds frivolous.
I had a blind date tonight. I really shouldn’t go on these, as they never turn out, but blind dates are a gold mine for funny stories that I can tell for years to come. Tonight’s was disappointingly uneventful–other than a giant pimple that popped up on my forehead about three fateful hours before the date, there was no drama, no tragedy, no humiliation. It was simply a nice dinner, some pleasant conversation, and the quick realization that there would be no need for a second date. But I did have the most AMAZING flour-less chocolate cake for dessert. So totally worth it.
I am officially in half marathon training mode. I squeezed in a run tonight between work and the date. I should know by now that even after I finish running, my face will continue to look like a red, sweaty tomato for several more hours. Yet I so easily forget this minor detail, so I was still a tad red/sweaty for the date. I’m clinging to the hope that my redness was mistaken for a tan… and not some horrible disease. I guess in either case, it really doesn’t matter. Oh… but did I mention that chocolate cake? (sigh)
I’ve got a month off from teaching Sunday School, so I have time to study something that’s just for me. I’ve decided to hang out in Hosea for awhile, and let me tell you, my Bible Commentary is definitely my friend. This book’s a challenge, but challenges are good.
Off to bed… Christmas Eve launches in just a few hours, and I have some wrapping to do! Merry Christmas, and God bless.

Thanksgiving 2009

Overheard at today’s family Thanksgiving:

Me to my sister & her husband: You guys are so photogenic!
Other sister: You know that means you’re going to have ugly children. Pretty people always have ugly children.
My sister, the eternal optimist.
Me to my dad & brother-in-law (before taking their picture): Do something manly!
Dad & bro: (insert grunting noises and muscle flexing here)
We also engaged in a lively conversation about how next Thanksgiving, my new boyfriend (Tony Romo… he’s partial to blondes) and I will take on my sister Sarah and her to-be-named-later husband in a competitive game of flag football. This of course follows the assumption that (a) Tony and I are going to fall in love next year, and (b) my sister is going to meet a guy, fall in love with him, and marry him before November 2010. If this happens, I’m pretty sure Tony and I will annihilate them in flag football.
It was a wonderful Thanksgiving indeed.