treasured friends

IMG_8223Yesterday, our old reunion group got together for lunch at the gorgeous new home of one of our original members. The six of us met every Monday at La Madeleine Bakery over coffee for some 25 years.  We poured our hearts out as we navigated  times that we thought so difficult and beautiful and so full of life and blessing and every facet of emotion. Little did we know what the next years would bring.

We called it reunion group but it was our therapy session–truly our lifeline to sanity and everything sacred as we journeyed through what Anne Morrow Lindbergh referred to as the Oyster Bed years in Gift from the Sea–years where family and chores and the busyness of a full house demanded so much of our time that we often wondered if we had lost ourselves entirely in the laundry piles somewhere. We grounded ourselves in those wondrous years with a weekly visit about the deep mysteries of a sacred life and reset the course each week to walk closely with our Savior and to know Him better as we muddled our way through this messy chaotic, and blessed time of life. Finally, we closed the meeting with a prayer for each other and discussed our moment closest to Christ that week.

Yesterday as we gathered, we knew how changed we were from life’s blows. Beautifully, each had managed to maintain an inner glow that only Christ can give. We had all centered ourselves on that inexplicable Peace that comes in the storm, not once we are free from it. Three of the six of us had lost our husbands in the past three years. Another’s husband was recovering from a heart attack that he had suffered just this past November. We had lost parents, suffered serious health issues, breast cancer, and a stroke, financial struggles, and we had dealt with grown children who had major struggles, substance abuse, divorces, and some had lost their way. Life imprinted its indelible scars on each of our hearts, and the captivating result were hearts more full of love and mercy than I ever remembered so many years ago.

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Aren’t these women beautiful! If you knew them, you would know also that their beauty runs through and through coursing through their veins, not simply through their alluring smiles. They survived the curves life has thrown them, and they stand as sweet testimony to a victorious life when you have Jesus deep inside.

I so love these women and am overflowing with gratitude that God chose them to walk with me over all of these years and show me Christ in their love for me and others.  And for the record, this luncheon was my moment closest to Christ this week!

Proverbs 27:17  As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

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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.