the moment

We went to a very special wedding last night of one of our dear friends’ daughter. It was a beautiful evening from start to finish. It was especially good to catch up with our old neighbors and reconnect.

To start, any time you plan a wedding in January, the weather certainly can be questionable but yesterday was just perfect. The bride selected the Julia Ideson Building in downtown Houston for her venue. The architecture of this library is stunning. I cannot wait to see her photos as they are sure to be be phenomenal. Wolfgang Puck’s catering team led by Vanessa catered the event, and the band was outstanding. The wedding was held in the auditorium, then we went outside (where the January weather was delightful!) to the courtyard for cocktails, and then moved to the Reading Room for the seated dinner and reception. There was even a cameo appearance of Princess Leia and a couple of stormtroopers in the courtyard as we arrived!

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And to end the dinner with a sweet note, All the Crave crafted some scrumptious mini cheesecakes. Cynthia Hughes and Stephanie with  EnVogue Events did an amazing job of putting together an evening we will not soon forget.

So, I love weddings. And I have seen my share of them having had our own venue at our ranch. I love the festivities, the excitement, the joy. But for me, it can all be summed up in one special moment of the night–those few moments when the bride and her dad dance together.

It’s not the dad and the bride that I have my eyes on, though that is a sentimental moment for sure. I will make a point to seek out the mother of the bride’s face as they dance. I love to see the bride and her dad, but I melt at the sight of seeing a mom realize that full circle moment of seeing her groom dancing with her baby. And so it was last evening as I watched my dear friend smiling through glistening eyes as she took it all in.

This wedding was a great reminder of our own promises we made, as this month, Mike and I are celebrating 40 years together as a couple. As we drove home last night, we cranked up the oldies playlist and opened the sunroof to take in the clear star-filled sky just as it was some 40 years ago in January on the 19 degree clear night when we met.

thankfully, another year

Like most years, as this year draws to a close, it brings pause for reflection and a little optimism for a new start with another year. Did you ever see the Disney movie, “Pollyanna?”  It is a classic and well worth your time if you haven’t seen it. Pollyanna is an orphan of missionaries who comes to live with her aunt. She shares new perspective for her Aunt Polly and much of the her new town as she plays the Glad Game. The Glad Game involves turning bad things that happen to her and to others into a positive, all based on how they choose to look at it. I believe that game can be played on most of what life hands us. Find the good in everything, even challenges.  In almost any situation, circumstances aside, life can be so sweet and rich and full all by how we perceive it. And that is the trick.

The year ahead will be filled with both wild good and most difficult. As we peek around the corner to take a look at 2019, I see challenges ahead for us, but I know that we will tackle each one with all the grace God gives us as we commit to focus on the sweet moments. Mike’s parents will be joining us here at the ranch and that will be a gift to us to spend time with them and take a more active role in their care.  I want this to be a gift of care and love to them as well, but I also know Mike’s and my patience is not what it should be. So, while we approach this task with trepidation, we recognize what a privilege it is to have them with us as our mentors, our example of what love means, and our sacrifice of joy. It will be a privilege to be part of their lives as they round the next corner of their story.

We also will be sharing in the lives of our seven grandchildren as they show us how to look at life with wonder and enthusiasm and wild imagination. We are very blessed to live near them. It is a rare week when we haven’t seen at least some of them.  We will never take this gift lightly, and will continue to soak up every moment, as time goes so very quickly.

Other things I hope to pursue in 2019 will be to return to photography and learning more about light and developing an eye for the shot, and return to writing more here on the blog, whether it’s about spiritual revelations or spicy recipes. It is my plan to share here more, and it might be a place to come to vent a little, too. I suppose that is yet to be determined. The story continues, and one thing is certain. Whatever will appear, it will be from my heart.

How about your new year? Are you looking forward to your next chapter? I surely hope you are. Wishing you a most blessed 2019! Love and hugs~ annie

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Mike and Annette in Denver. Aug 2018

Houston day

Since moving to the country, I still try to make it in to Houston every few weeks. Originally, I came once a week, but now work and the weddings take more of my time at the ranch.

So when I get a chance to go to Houston and visit with my daughter and her girls, I always enjoy it. We had a fun day playing and finished it off with a trip to the Mexican food place. I’ll share a few pics that I took with my Canon 50mm.

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saying goodbye

16007StewartsGrove

Tomorrow, we sell the house that we lived in for the past twenty-five years. It’s the house where we raised our children. It’s the place where we celebrated 25 Christmas mornings with wide-eyed wonder after pulling all-nighters putting together kitchen sets and bicycles. It’s where I rocked children with fever through the night, corralled brownie troops with crafts, and tossed a million basketballs into the net to spell HORSE. It’s where music filled the rooms with children’s piano lessons and later, songs from pensive daughters home from college. It’s where we drank wine by candlelight with  chatty neighbors when the electricity went out for a few days after a hurricane, and where we grilled outside and met lifetime best friends with the neighbors that we shared  day-to-day life with. It’s where we lived life and lived life big. And, it was where I experienced the most meaningful part of my life to date.

Selling the house will officially close that chapter in our lives.

I’m not usually sentimental about things like this, but this has me misty-eyed this evening. It’s just a house, but this particular house was the big gift box with a bow that contained all the beautiful memories that became our family treasures.

As I close the door to the old house tomorrow, I’ll say a prayer that the next family will enjoy new joys of their own within those walls. And I will whisper from the depth of my heart an understated thank you for the privilege of having been a family there.

It’s so hard to imagine saying goodbye to this period of our lives, but we are looking forward to the days ahead as we return to the homestead where my grandmother raised her own children,  and we will embrace a simpler life of vegetable gardens and boots with big dogs and hay bales.

But none of us will soon forget the wonder years we experienced at 16007 Stewarts Grove Drive.

Wrestling well – Jacob

Wrestling well before God in Prayer.

Prayer is work. Oh, not the careless “God bless the world and God bless me” prayers which I have often prayed over the years. Not the going-through-the-motions feeling with no real heart exertion type prayers that we all have shot up to heaven many times. No.

I’m talking about the real gut wrenching, sweat pouring, tear flowing moments that absolutely break us into something beautiful before God.  It often isn’t until we are absolutely desperate that God can get our full attention like this. And it’s in those moments where we get to the end of ourselves and avail much blessing. This is where prayer is the hard work, but also where prayer has its work within us, blessing us, breaking us  like Jacob.

According to P.T. Forsyth in The Soul of Prayer, “prayer is an encounter of wills-till one will or the other give way It is not a spiritual exercise merely, but in its maturity it [prayer] is a cause acting on the course of God’s world. It is, indeed, by God’s grace that prayer is a real cause, but such it is.  And of course, there must be in us a faith corresponding to that grace.” With such power access, why would we not spend more of ourselves in this endeavor?

But spiritual matters take much energy. It isn’t in our physical makeup to be focused so long as is often required in attentive prayer. It requires faith on our part and grace on His that we even dare approach Him with our intercessions and heart’s pleadings. Evil wants to attack us constantly and pull us into despair and spiritual defeat. But we must strive to overcome the obstacles to truly wrestle well with God.

We can learn some great tips in how to struggle in prayer from Jacob:

1. Slip away by yourself. Demands on our time, our energy, our attention bombard us daily. It isn’t until we turn off the rest of the world that we can solely focus and get down to the business of prayer.

2. Take care of unconfessed sin. Well, we didn’t learn this from Jacob, but it is worth saying. Get a clean slate up front. Jesus took care of the Penalty of our sin at huge cost to Himself, so we must not ever take this for granted.

3. Keep praying. Don’t get lazy and give up! Have the tenacity of the widow who would not take no for an answer. Wrestle all night if you must and hang tightly to Him.

4. Pray with faith, knowing that He hears and answers every prayer of His children. Jacob was a child of the Promise. He knew his rightful inheritance.–not the one he stole from his brother, Esau, but the rich inheritance of God’s Promise.

That blessing Jacob sought became the most important thing to Jacob, and he got it.The meaning of the name of the river Jabbok where this all took place is “to empty oneself.” Jacob had to get to the end of himself before he could be blessed and used mightily by God. This was happening for years, but that night at the Jabbok River, Jacob wrestled well with God.  And a whole lot happened. His heart changed, he forever walked from then on with a limp, and he was given a new name, Israel because “he wrestled with God and with men and prevailed.” Gen. 32:28

We don’t have to fight or wrestle with God because we will be crippled at best–remember Jacob. But we must wrestle before God with all our heart. And we must be careful not to be lazy and give up.

Let us put up a good, glory-is-at-stake fight and find ourselves empowered with His strength!

Are you wrestling well with God? What lingers this week for you as you read about these patriarchs of the Bible?

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Reading through the Bible chronologically with devotions from Come Boldly: Timeless Daily Encouragements on Prayer that pair with the Scripture readings. Genesis 25-42. Come Boldly, wrestling in prayer, pp. 31, 49, 103, 164 243, 250, 272;  and mentions of Isaac, p. 162; Jacob, pp. 81, 103, 162, 175, 253: & Joseph, p. 162.