Family · Music · Travel

The Texas Hill Country and A Story Dump

Have you ever visited the Texas Hill Country? It’s one of my favorite places. Favorite as in a place where I would choose to live if given the chance, favorite.  We just returned from a long weekend in Gruene, home of the music hall where Willie Nelson began his singing career. No kidding.

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We had this weekend on the books for about a year so that Todd could attend a seminar. I was looking forward to the time away. Time to enjoy the Gruene Mansion Inn and a porch on the Guadalupe River. Time to read and write about Nehemiah and reflect. But in reality I was super distracted. And it was frustrating because I felt antsy and well…distracted.

Maybe it was the little shops and the women ohhing and ahhing over tunics that would look “so cute with laygins”. Maybe it was the wafting smells of fajita meat and sounds of live music.  Maybe it was the ghosts of summers past spent in this very town.


I had two days of long unscheduled hours to blissfully fill and instead of being productive, I piddled. I walked alot, had a delightful lunch with a dear friend, sat on the porch staring, and muddled over slices of other people’s stories that were clanging around in my head.  They are still hanging with me and so I’m going to dump them in hopes of getting this week on the road.

1. Nehemiah already! –  This fall I went through Kelly Minter’s study guide and DVD series on the book of Nehemiah with a group of friends. Studying this book was like mining for gold and hitting paydirt. So many lessons to learn from his call to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. But this simple question posed at the beginning of the study has haunted me every day since.

Walls built by the first settlers in Crawford County, Kansas
Walls built by the first settlers in Crawford County, Kansas

I’m striving to answer that question and to let the lessons sink deep. For instance, in chapter four after Nehemiah got the people organized like the ultimate CEO and the wall was built to half its height, he writes…“The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall….Do not be afraid…Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.” This absolutely stirs me and I’m still learning from the story.

2. My Mama – She just finished the year-long process of moving her 88-year-old mother into a newly built addition to their home. I’ve watched in awe as she has taken on the full time job of caregiver with the love and patience of a saint. All the while already having an overflowing plateful of life to deal with. In so many ways it’s an ugly-beautiful place to be. She teaches me with every visit and conversation.

3. My Son – He traveled with a team of 12 from our church to Haiti…while I was sitting on my river porch and eating guacamole. Alright,  I admit this was my #1 weekend distraction. The only reason I wasn’t also with that team was the Texas trip had been scheduled first and well, sometimes you just have to be a grown up and make hard choices. Dangit. I cannot come up with the words to express what’s in my heart about this picture filled with brothers and sisters and sons.


Mission of Hope Haiti is where they are working for a  week. Looking forward to hearing the stories of their time spent working side by side “in the rubble” and watching God, who is “great and awesome” do His perfect thing.

**I’m attempting to read Orthodoxy by GK Chesterson (it kept being recommended and I’m  curious) This quote jumped off the page as I  obsessively checked Facebook for news of a safe arrival. I thought of those boys on this trip:

“The old fairy tale makes the hero a normal human boy; it is his adventures that are startling; they startle him because he is normal.”

4. Friends – Life is seriously hard. For so many of my friends. My magic wand of “want-to-fix-everything” is coming up weak, short and broken. Seasons of waiting, parenting nightmares, job searches, illnesses, painful marriages and death.  Heaviness can threaten. Especially with fewer hours of sunlight. Weird but true in the land of gray November skies. I yearn for stories of job security, mended relationships, health and abundance. As I walk beside the brokenness, I want to do as Nehemiah did. To pray and remember the Lord and fight and build. photo 2 photo-143

Those were just few of the story distractions. The grace filled reality is that my weekend of piddling and browsing and staring felt like breathing both praise and prayer, for family, friends and the gift of just “being”.  Oh and I didn’t even mention the life that was breathed back into my husband by a group of older like-minded men. And if that weren’t enough, we also had the serendipitous chance to hear Sarah Jarosz at Gruene Hall.

So now you know what a story dump looks like! Have a great week. It will no doubt be filled with some ugly and some beautiful and it is as it should be.

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