Texas Tour, Part I

In case you haven’t ever picked up on it, we love to travel.  We love to see different places and enjoy the change of pace that comes with a get away, be it long or short.  The girls have been begging us to take them to the beach (they speak their mother’s language).  Matt and I lobbied hard for Lost Valley, because as much as I love the beach, Lost Valley is the most magical place on earth when it comes to vacationing as a family.  But, the beach won out.  So we looked into road tripping it to Florida and the beautiful beaches we heard about there but we (Matt) just couldn’t get our (his) heads around the idea of driving 17 hours each way.  So, we looked at other options.

Throughout and right after high school, Matt was involved in a home schooling ministry that resulted in him having wonderful friends all around the country (and the world, in some cases) and a whole slew of those friends live along I35 in Texas.  So, after consulting some of these friends and Google Maps, we decided a Texas Tour, complete with a stop at the beach in Port Aransas, was in order.  Little did we know the “excitement” that lay ahead of us.  😉

*photo disclaimer – I did a horrible job taking pictures of the people we visited on this trip and I’m really annoyed at myself for that.  So, all these friends I’m going to mention over the next few days….not a single picture.  😦  I do have some great ones of the girls, though, so enjoy!

We left our home early two Saturday’s ago (i.e. 1:30 a.m.).  We loaded up a truck full of sleeping babes and headed south.  We stopped near Dallas, Texas, to see our sweet friends Justin and Melissa.  We enjoyed coffee and visiting with them, seeing their sweet new baby girl.  It was so great to visit and catch up, even if only briefly.

After Dallas, we headed on down to Austin.  Grace managed to get car sick between Dallas and Austin.  I rummaged through my purse and found the benadryl and we were up and running again. (Our family doctor said once that benadryl is good for nausea.  I question whether it actually affects the nausea or if it just makes you so darn tired you don’t notice how sick you feel.)

In Austin, friends Drew and Jessica put us up for the night.  We enjoyed catching up with them and loved having dinner with them and more friends (Brian and Peggy and family).  Mother’s day was slow waking up, coffee, very yummy breakfast tacos (in Kansas we would call them breakfast burritos – but they were tacos all throughout Texas), and getting back on the road.  Oh, but not before duct taping our car top luggage carrier back together and saying a quick prayer that our suitcases all stayed securely on top of the vehicle.

After Austin, we embarked on what seemed a very long drive to Port Aransas.  I think we had meant to take the interstate as far as possible, but the GPS took us down state roads through little towns.  It was scenic, but we all just really wanted to be out of the car and on the beach.  The highlight was taking the ferry across the waterways to Port A.  This was quite a thrill, as I was the only one of us who had ever done that before.

We stayed at Port Royal and were thrilled with our accommodations.  Two bedrooms, full kitchen, balcony overlooking the gulf.  We seriously considered staying another night, until Monday happened (I’ll get to that).  The wind on the beach was rather brutal, but the sand was wonderful and it was just fabulous to be near the ocean, soaking up warm sun and moist air.  The hotel also had a great pool, so when we wearied of the wind we headed over there.

Sunday night we (of course) were craving Mexican food.  (Because, let’s be honest, if we are what we eat, our whole family needs green cards.)  The parking spots at the resort were a little unusual.  These are privately-owned vacation homes and each parking slot was designed so that up to three vehicles could park in a line, one behind the other.  Since most of the parking garage was empty, there weren’t very many slots filled three-deep, so Matt just assumed they were deep enough for two cars.  Each bay of three slots was partitioned off with concrete columns.  Matt carefully counted back enough columns for two parking spaces, slowly began to turn to go out of the garage, when we suddenly heard a horrible crunch.

So, let’s pause a moment and begin a running talley of misadventures, forty-eight hours into our trip:

  • car sickness
  • shredded & duct taped car top carrier
  • smashed bumper

All right then.  Moving on.

We gathered our discouragement and headed on out to dinner, counting the right number of columns this time.  Matt had heard good things about a restaurant there on the island and we went in search of it only to find it was closed for Mother’s Day.  All right.  Moving on.  We found another mexican place with a pseudo patio and had a rather subdued dinner, trying to make the best of things.  Really.

Monday morning we woke up, eager to hit the beach and enjoy a day in the sun.  Matt and I were still seriously discussing the possibility of booking another night as this place was just so wonderful and relaxing.  By that night, however, our tune would change dramatically.

We thoroughly enjoyed our day in the sun, going in only to eat lunch.  We played on the beach until a couple of the girls and I had had all the wind we could take then we headed over to the pool.  Later in the day, we headed back out to the beach for a while longer.  I promptly fell asleep on the sand and Matt entertained all the girls.  By the time I woke up, Emma and Ellie were officially DONE, so we headed back to the room.

I knew when I woke up that I didn’t feel great.  I was hot and felt somewhat dehydrated.  I assumed the girls felt the same.  I took them back to the room and had them take showers.  As our skin cooled from the heat and our eyes adjusted from the sun, I began to see that they were all pretty sun burned.

We headed out to dinner, trying that elusive mexican restaurant again.  They’re closed on Monday’s.  😛  So we tried yet another mexican place.  Halfway through dinner Matt was horribly chilled and nauseous and we were all exhausted.  We stopped by the local IGA and picked up some aloe vera gel (with lidocaine!) and I slathered everyone in that, dosed them up on tylenol, and we vegged out watching Extreme Makeover Home Edition reruns on CMT.

Tuesday morning everyone woke up feeling utterly miserable.  I’ll be honest, I’ve not seen sun burns that bad.  Ever.  We did apply sunblock, but apparently spray-on sunblock doesn’t adhere well when you apply it in 20 mph winds.  Matt and I both felt horrible, not because of our own burns (mine were pretty mild really), but because of how the girls now felt.  It was clear we would not want another day at the beach, so we packed up and headed out as quickly as all our aching bodies would move.

So that we don’t lose track, let’s recap our events once again:

  • car sickness
  • shredded & duct taped car top carrier
  • smashed bumper
  • sever sun burns
  • sun sickness

Honestly, we were all feeling pretty darn discouraged by this time.  Vacation was not turning out at all like we had planned.  Matt stopped us all, we prayed.  We gave thanks for the good times we were having and for the discouragements we had faced so far.  We asked the Lord to be with the rest of the trip.  And then we headed out, carefully counting the columns lining the parking spaces.

Tomorrow: San Antonio and our (mis)adventures at near Sea World.


“Instead of filling with expectations, the joy-filled expect nothing – and are filled.”

Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

I read her book, highlighting like crazy the words that speak to me.  I confess, I was slow to take to it.  Why do I feel bad admitting that?  I have loved Ann’s words for years now, but it took a few chapters for me to sink into the book.  Perhaps it was just where I was at when I started and where I’m at now.  Life changes how we view things.  So much truth, so much grace spill out on the pages and I am reminded, brought back to the center of things I have learned, grace I’ve experienced.  I am reminded “without expectations, what can topple the surprising wonder of the moment?”

It is when I raise my expectations, demand something of God, of life, that I become frustrated, angry, impatient. But when I realize my right position, that I deserve none of it, then it truly is all grace and all a gift and every moment is open to wonder and how can I not give thanks?


1117.  discussions of Haiti

Geese on the still-frozen pond

1118.  him willing to lead, serve, sacrifice there

1119.  open windows, doors

Warm enough we were out in short sleeves, but the water remained frozen.

1120.  a break from school to enjoy a warm day in February

1121.  zoo animals also eager to enjoy sunshine

1122.  open sunroof

1123.  6:20 p.m. and still so light out

1124.  birds flying north, sign of spring

1125.  giant pearl moon hung on blue sky

The male lion was going to town on his tail!

1126.  allergies in February

1127.  still thinking of that dog on the second floor of the play house

1128.  adoption applications

1129.  phone calls that mean I’m actually doing something toward bringing her home

May your day be filled with unexpected joy!

~ Sara

More Photo Catch Ups

Emma’s birthday follows Ellie’s by two weeks.  She turned nine in early December.  While she didn’t get a party, we did do our best to celebrate here at home.  Enjoy these photos from her special day….

Cupcakes to share with her ballet class

Birthday Girl

The peanut gallery

I have no words


Every horse loving girl needs a horse themed Bible, right?


A "real" riding helmet!

Cake! Actually, brownies!

Have a great Thursday, my friends!

~ Sara

Photo Catch Ups

As I’ve been mentioning, I have photos languishing on my hard drive and SD card.  I have finally decided to start working my way through them.  Last night I worked on photos from Ellie’s 5th Birthday (November) and her birthday party.  Enjoy!

Her pre-birthday birthday celebration (since her actual birthday fell on the same night as a family Thanksgiving feast)….


And her Puppy Paw-ty (because dogs have paws, you know!).  Many thanks to a great friend for all her great ideas!!!

Table prepped for making "dog ears"

Puppy Ellie

Dog house sign welcoming guests to the "paw-ty"

Grace turning Merikate into a puppy with the help of an eyeliner pencil

Making ears

Misbehaving camera wouldn't take a clear shot; this was the best I could get of the whole group.

Table now prepped for making "pupcakes"

Our options; sorry, girls, no white frosting = no white puppy. 😛

Making the pupcakes

Camryn showing off her handi-work

A sampling of some of the creations

Grace's pupcakes

Uh, the pupcakes were harder to make than they looked in the picture. This is what happened to one child's pupcake.

Emma's creations

Where Ellie most likes to be - the center of attention. 😉

Have a terrific Tuesday, friends!

~ Sara


The question is what does God expect of us?  Is His love earned by what we do, or freely given because He is Love?  Is ours a work-based faith, or one founded on grace?

My husband gives incredible gifts and as his wife I am blessed to be a primary recipient of his generosity.  Gifts like rockin’ clothes, iPads, and trips to warm places with beaches and palm trees.  He gives me those gifts because he loves me and because he loves to give gifts and he delights in my happiness.  His heart is good.

But what happens when I take those gifts and set them on a shelf?  What if I never wear the clothes he buys, even though they fit and look good?  What if I go on that trip and do nothing but complain about the food and lodging and the texture of the sand and the color of the water?  What if I take that iPad and set it on a shelf and never use it?  What does that say about my heart?  About my thankfulness for the gifts?  And my heart toward the giver?

What about the hard gifts he gives?  Gifts like expectations about how I will spend my time and money.  Gifts like holding me to a high standard with what I do with my day.  Can I be thankful for those gifts from my husband too?  That he loves me enough to desire more out of me than I already am?  That he accepts me as I am now, but that he wants me to become someone even better?

If I know the right response to gifts from my husband, even the hard gifts, should I not assume that my God who loves me even more perfectly, even more completely, would have similar expectations?  Not requirements.  Not obligations.  Not determining my salvation.  But a desire for a right response to His gift of love.

“The real journey of faith requires that our choices, our actions, and everything else in our lives be surrendered to God’s will rather than our own…Yes, we must believe that Christ loves us, but Christ also calls us to demonstrate His love to others through the good things that we do, what the Bible calls “works.”  Faith without works is no faith at all. But authentic faith, rooted in the heart of God, expressed in deeds done to ease the pain of others; it is imbued with personal sacrifice, and it comes with a cost…This is not an argument that salvation comes through works, but rather an assertion that one who has committed his life to Jesus will bear quality fruit as evidence of the lordship of Christ.” ~ The Hole in Our Gospel

At a minimum, how can I not declare His goodness and record His faithfulness?  By practicing the art of listing the gifts, I am reminded daily as I sit down with my gratitude journal of His abundant, generous – and sometimes tough – love.  His gifts are not always easy to accept, but they are always allowed by love and always for my good.

That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.  God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son.

~ Romans 8:28-29 (The Message)

Counting God’s good gifts from recent days and reflecting as He molds me into the image of His Son….

0876.  everything prepared

0877.  five days

0878.  our favorite place

0879.  just us

0880.inconveniences that turn out to be okay

0881.  dreams

0882.  walking to Starbucks

0883.  Juan’s eleven-year-old daughter

0884.  old issues

0885.  never giving up

0886.  home

0887.  new running shoes

0888.  seven year old giving pedicures

0889.   checking for head lice

0890. a beautiful fall day on the front porch with my daughters

0891.  clean floors

0892.  clean bedding

0893.  being outside

0894.  bike rides

0895.  freeze tag at the park

0896.  volunteers to bring in groceries

0897.  four year old learning to control her temper

0898.  rainy, fall evenings

0899.  staying in for family movie night

0900. organized shoes

0901.  my own private Nutcracker performance

May you have a blessed week, giving thanks for His endless gifts.

~ Sara

* photos from a recent – quiet – get away to our favorite place

Friday Photo Post

Well, so as to not be a total deadbeat blogger this week, and because I’ve missed you all, here’s a little photoblog of a trip to the zoo a few weeks ago when we took our “Fall Break”.  Enjoy!

I hope to be back next week with our regularly scheduled blogging program.  Until then, have a wonderful weekend!

Chandler with a rock

Ellie with a rock. And goggles. Because you never know when you might need goggles.

Four crazy girls on a wooden bear

She's really proud of that rock

We were all so happy for the change of pace!

You can't be serious all the time

Baby Hippo! Just too cute. But you have no idea how close I had to crop this to keep all the "poo" out of the picture. 😛


See y’all Monday!

~ Sara

Weeks in Review

I am reminded again this morning of one of the reasons why I keep this blog.  Two weeks have gone by now without my Friday chronicle of our every day lives and it all seems forgotten already and an eternity ago.  Amazing how, by simply recording, the events come to life again.  We refresh our memories, revive them to relive them, and savor the moments of our every day lives.

The past two weeks have been mostly ordinary, with school and work and the stuff of life.  But last Thursday I decided it was time to do something different.  So this week we did.  We’ve been to the zoo and a farmstead in Kansas City.  We did less school, did some major grocery shopping that enabled me to restock our formerly empty pantry, and purchased some cool weather clothing for the third born.  We’ve had riding lessons and art lessons and, of course, piano and ballet.  And we even stole a few moments one beautiful afternoon this week to take some current photos of the girls….

Matt and I have been out on dates, including one that was a total surprise to a very special place, and I have been blessed by some wonderful times with a wide variety of girl friends.  Today I am stealing away for much of the day with one of my favorite friends to celebrate our September birthdays together.  The past two weeks have been good.  This week in particular has been refreshing.

May your weekend be refreshing as well.  Whether it is slow and leisurely or over-booked with activities and obligations, may you find moments of rest and peace that draw you closer to our Heavenly Father.  Give glory to Him today!

By His Grace ~

~ Sara


…I am completely captivated by the stories of the Chilean miners and still dealing with the fall out of my purse being stolen, so here are some photos of our family trip to the pumpkin patch for our church’s fall festival.  Enjoy and have a wonderful, wonderful Wednesday!

Jumping on some giant inflated thing

I totally wished they would have let grown ups on!

Making "corn angels"

Farmer Matt

One of Matt's most popular things to do with the kids - the Twisted Swing

The Bookends


She's so pretty - but I might be biased

Really wishing I had made her set down that cup

She had a run-in with a piece of firewood while we were camping, thus the roughed up chin


I’ll leave with this quote my cousin shared today on Facebook:

“There are actually 34 of us, because God has never left us down here.”

~ Jimmy Sanchez, Chilean miner

May we all have such faith in our day to day troubles.