Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!!


Yes, it's Christmas time in the Texas Friedrich house.

Well sort of...

Ok, we know it's not even Advent...and we did have a discussion about whether or not we could even put it up yet. But, as I pointed out it is a CHRISTMAS tree, not an Advent tree, so we might as well.

Of course, Stephen played devil's advocate to tell me not to put it up until December 25th, at which point it will come down a little over a week later.

As you can see...I won. :-)

But not without Stephen pitching Jesus, because, he must.


Don't ask who he's looking it. It's an ad.

Going to pick out the tree ended up being a bigger deal than either of us anticipated. We have never had a real tree...well we had a small one in Roanoke given by a friend that was about 3 feet tall (maybe), but that doesn't count...

So when it came time to pick a tree, the question was, pre-lit or strand lighting.

<Enter - 26 years of Christmas histories we never really talked about before --- (new premarital counseling unit?)>

I (Betsy) am used to BIG FAT colored blinking lights. Stephen recalls festive non-blinking less round lights.

I (Betsy) wanted to get a regular tree with BIG FAT colored blinking lights. Stephen reminded me what a pain it is to put up lights every year. I recall Mom and Dad fighting over light strands every year as more of a fond memory than a painful one <hehe, sorry mom and dad>.

And so, when we approach the pre-lit trees at Lowes, much to my chagrin, the tiny bulbs were dissapointing. And they didn't blink.

Then we went to Walmart, the source of all evil devices of Christmas cheer. And guess what I found? Bigger, fatter rounded, blinking, cascading, alternating, ascending lights on a pre-lit tree, that are still LED's! OH yes, it was a winner. But not without a little bit of a fight.;-) Stephen thought it was a bit over-the-top. I dare-say, ugly. TO which I reminded Stephen that he hates the consumerism of Christmas and therefore, I should win because he shouldn't care anyway But it was a compromise, he get's pre-lit, I get big and fat. <Light's, I mean.>


So while you can't tell the tree in all it's glory from the picture. It is a fantastical piece of Christmas glitz!

But of course, 26 years of Christmas histories did not just die with big flashy lights. Stephen says his family arranges the tree theologically with the holiest representing ornaments on top. I think this sounds contrived in a Stephen Friedrich-made-that-up kind of way, but Nancy, Jim, feel free to correct me. :-)

So I think we tried to compromise putting pretty delicate next to holy, so that the cat would not be tempted to go after pretty and holy. <Which, currently, he has demonstrated that he cares less about the fantastical piece of Christmas glitz in our living room corner - WIN WIN!!>

Then comes, the star. Now, for the longest time, my family had the tackiest star from a drug store. It had plastic fringe with lights in the middle. LOVED it. Shortly after, Mom decided we needed an angel, but the plastic fringed star lives on in my heart.

Stephen grew up with a cardboard cut out aluminum foil star. Given my obsession with tacky Christmas trees (only because non of our ornaments matched growing up because they all had stories and were mostly homemade), I really wanted to go get a tacky star. But the aluminum foil star lives just as strongly in Stephens heart. And so, as you can see from the picture at the top, there sits a beautiful silver foil star. Which, I might dare-say, is the classiest part of this tree. We need some more Friedrich classy-ness on our tree.

Either way we have a shining example of memory making sitting in our living room. Our first big tree, in our first house, in our first Christmas together as real adults. <Not to be confused by the past two years of working my rear off while Stephen was in school- that was child's play *HA*.>

So, I hope you all enjoy your Christmas, but before that, I hope you eat lots of food tomorrow on Thanksgiving. :-)

Love and Peace!!!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, today, my (Betsy) family is making the trek to good 'ol Ruffon and Forest City for Thanksgiving. It has always been a tradition that we get to listen to Christmas music on the way, so in honor of them, I've been playing Christmas music all morning!

But things in Texas are a little different come Thanksgiving. Richard, who happens to be the son-in-law of Karen and Wally (whom some of you have met), came to finish installing our new screen/storm door. And so on November 23rd in Amarillo, Texas I am enjoying pulling the window of the door down to expose our nice roll-down screen. I'm listening to the breeze and thoroughly enjoying my 70 degree, sunny blue sky day! And while the 71 degree high tomorrow is seriously causing an issue with my traditional Thanksgiving fall ensemble for tomorrow, I am doing a-ok adapting to such beautiful weather.

I will say though, that while Richard was installing the door there came a foul stench in the wind that smelled nothing short of manure. <HEY, that's not nice - you shouldn't think that way - it was NOT Richard!> No, it was the wind coming up from a town called "Hereford"  which is actually akin to it's name...it was cattle feeding day in near-by 60 mile away Hereford. And yes, the smell wafts this way from 60 miles away when the wind is blowing just right. <And although I am incredibly notorious for being a tad too far on the gullible side, it's really the truth. We smelled the same foul smell upon our arrival at the Drury when we first drove into town...and again when the Rodeo was here. So to answer your increasing disbelief, it really wasn't Richard.>

Tomorrow, we will have two Thanksgiving feasts <because after-all my 26 year long tradition of TWO thanksgiving meals (Willis Family Reunion/Ward Family Thanksgiving) in one day would leave me feeling really sad all the way here in Texas>. We start first at 1:00pm with Dorothy Bivens and her family, and then head to Karen and Wally's house (sans Karen and Wally who are in Kansas) to join Richard (the son-in-law) and Ingrid (the daughter) with two other BSLC families. And because of course, my 26 year long tradition of Thanksgiving is NEVER without my mom's dressing, I made two batches this morning. Successfully <felt the need to qualify>.

Before all our Thanksgiving festivities begin, Stephen and I are headed to Big Lots to buy our first Christmas tree! And though my 26 year long tradition of a REAL tree has never been broken <until last year when my parents betrayed me> we are indeed buying a fake one for several reasons.

1. Texas is still in extreme fire danger. I feel the need not only for the church and the sake of the parsonage but as well as for the many houses around us NOT to contribute to fire hazards by putting Christmas lights on what would no-doubt be a very dry tree.
2. The cat has discovered he likes drinking water everywhere but his bowl, and gosh if that tree stand wouldn't be enticing.
3. The cat has never had the privilege of a Christmas tree, therefore his parents aren't sure how many times he will try to climb up it. (Fallen "real" tree = lots of needles to fall, precious ornaments to be crushed, and lights to be smashed, as opposed to normal crushing of ornaments and smashed lights)


<Yikes, why did I say I wanted to do this?>

ANYWAY...

So while we are going to miss our families terribly this year, we are thankful for so many reasons!

1. We are in Amarillo.
2. There is actually a call attached to our stay - Stephen has a job, we have a house, and the world is restoring to it's less chaotic nature...sort of...
3. I am a big girl and can make my own dressing. (Although it will never be good as yours MOM!)
4. Stephen and I are together for the holiday. <Aw, shucks ;)>
5. My back is on the mend, Stephens finger tip has less of a hole and more of a divot, and the cat has stopped throwing up everywhere <at least, I think what I'm finding is old...TMI>
6. People are taking care of us and inviting us to eat with them.
7. Thus, I escaped having to prepare a turkey. <Although one day, I will use the le cruset pot Mari Brooks got us as a wedding gift, and I will be thankful...particular if my back feels good enough to lift that beast of a pot with a turkey in it.>
8. God, the creator of the universe <put that in for you hun ;) >, provides so much for us that we cannot even begin to list it or be as thankful as we should be.

We send much love and many thanks to our family and friends out there! You all have been so supportive the past few months and we are truly grateful!


Peace!


Friday, November 18, 2011

Wow, what a whirlwind!

Ok, I apologize for not updating more on our arrival. My phone just fussed at me for not backing it up in two weeks (which means I haven't plugged it in to upload photos either), so I realized it really had been a while since I let you guys know we are ok.

I have to admit, our first two or so weeks here have all sort of run together. We went over the the church early Monday the 7th and got the keys to the parsonage. This is how we were greeted when we drove around the front of our <SQUEEALL> new house.


I can't describe what it felt like to see the word "home" on our front porch. It was something akin to having the breath knocked out of you and having a deep inhale and exhale at the same time. I can't tell you how tired we were getting of hearing people say "So, where is home for you?". The answer never really felt like it satisfied the question. I had to hold back any smart remarks because it really was not their fault it was such a sore subject. But, here we are. Our home is Amarillo, TX.

As you can see it was rather chilly and a little damp, but the house needed some life breathed into it as well, so we opened all the windows...they were really stiff (remember that).

We were well taken care of with a welcome basket of goodies from the transition committee. The sewing group arrived with dinner Monday and the choir brought dinner Wednesday.  We were so thankful not to have to cook and it was all very yummy.

We arrived that Monday and our stuff came the following Wednesday with only minor damages. But, the one thing that really mattered other than ourselves (and of course Mr. Cat) arrived in one piece and mostly in tune.

HALLELUJAH!!!
My own house, with my own piano. The cabinet my grandfather made for it sits in pristine condition on the wall to the left. I still look at it and smile on a regular basis, so you can imagine how giddy I get when I play it.

So, I guess that's it! We're all happy and settled and doing well. :-)


Wait, what's that? OHHH...you heard we went to urgent care.


Ah yes, remember those sticky windows? They kind of bothered my back a little after my yoga injury a year early. (I like saying my yoga injury because it makes me sound like it was something really tough - not that I have no abs and can't properly support my back...we all can dream a little...)

Well I bent at a weird angle putting books in my grandfather's lovely cabinet made by my grandfather and felt like I had a knife that went in my back and up the angle. I'll spare you any other gory details, but I called Stephen we went to urgent care and I was told to rest, given massive amounts of aleve and some muscle relaxers. I'm still battling the injury and let's just say packing hasn't gone as smoothly or as quickly as I wanted it to go.


Wait, what's that? OHHH...you heard we went to urgent care again?


Ah yes, but it was Stephens turn this time. He managed to slice off the tip of his finger opening a bag of cake mix. 11-11-11 did not prove to be so lucky for us, but it was Jim's (Stephen's dad) birthday and he was flying in so a cake had to be made. So in my slurred muscle-relaxer speech, I did what I could to call Karen (from BSLC) to ask if anyone close to the church could pick Stephen up and take him to the urgent care. Low and behold there was a property committee meeting at the church. (Benefit #11 (no pun intended) of living on church property) So, in comes the property committee bursting through our back door with gauze and band aids to assess the damage and take their young pastor off to the urgent care, not even judging that his wife sounded like she'd been hitting the bottle a little too much.

Needless to say, it was explained we had been there earlier that day with my back and given my current state on muscle relaxers I could not drive, much less stay awake in a waiting room.

Saturday, when Stephen's parents (Jim and Nancy) and grandparents (Roland and Mitzi) arrived in town for the installation, we looked like quite to duo. Me passing out on the couch while their son/grandson took them to the Palo Duro Canyons with a monstrosity of gauze and medical tape over his injured finger.

Sunday came with great anticipation. I managed to grin and bare my pain enough to get through the day. By then the news of my back had made its way around most of the congregation, so lots of people sweetly expressed concern. Stephen even got a shout out from one of the kids in his children's sermon when they asked what happened to his finger. He replied, "I was playing with a knife. Always let mom and dad use the knife. I'd be better off it I had <pointing to his parents.>"

Unfortunately, I do not have many pictures from the installation, but if you hop on over to Jim and Nancy's blog Friedrich Family in America, you'll be able to see.

Wait, what's that? OHHH...you heard the cat went to the doctor too?

Ah, yes, it was Palmer's turn to be rushed to the doctor after a bout of continuous throw up...on our new area rug. Which we promptly took him off of so he could run away puke somewhere else in the house that would be easier to clean like the ONLY room in our house with carpet. He had been throwing up some during the week, but hey, these are big changes, and he wouldn't be my cat if he didn't share my aptitude for anxiety. Except when he does not stop. One shot and an anti-biotic later, this feline is feelin' (tee hee) better.

So, I guess it goes without saying that the whirlwinds of Amarillo  prove to keep things rather interesting.

My back is taking it's time getting better...it would probably get better faster if I would stop trying to function so quickly. Stephen got to dig deeper into ministry and I "get" to look at the progress of how his finger is healing every time he re-bandages it. Never a dull moment, my friends, never a dull moment. Home is a very sweet thing. 

TBTG!







Monday, November 7, 2011

Welcome to Amarillo - for good!

Well folks, we made it! Yesterday's drive was the longer half, but again, really wasn't near as bad as we had anticipated. We were so excited when we got here. I was giddy, for sure. In fact, I'm sitting here at 7:00 am in the morning showered and ready to go because I couldn't sleep any longer. Today reminds me of Christmas mornings when you were little and it was killing you to sleep any longer. Except SO much better. I am down in the lobby eating breakfast. I even left Prince Charming in bed!

We left Little Rock and stopped at the Oklahoma welcome center to grab a map and stretch. It was really nice and they even offered free coffee!

We stopped for lunch shortly there after then made our way to Oklahoma City, our last stop before Amarillo. There we gave the cat some more medicine and he finally calmed down. I let him out and he went back and forth between sleeping in my lap, and getting back in the cage to sleep (of course!).

PRECIOUS!



Although I have to admit I thoroughly enjoyed it when he was in my lap and snuggling.


At last we made it to Amarillo, but not without enjoying our ride into Texas. It was absolutely beautiful. First, we encountered a Windmill Farm - something I had never seen again. (Stephen had seen one in Austria - OF COURSE!)

But that wasn't the only beauty we saw when heading into Texas, we arrived 60 miles outside Amarillo in time for a beautiful sunset. Stephen described it as one of those "thin" places where God's glory is clearly present. My pictures did not do it justice. I can't explain how breath-taking it is to see a sunset in 360 degrees. You can see exactly where the colors blend and fade all the way around you. We look forward to more of those.


People often say the mountains are "God's Country" but after experiencing last nights sunset and huge sky, it's clear God didn't forget to spread the beauty to this part of the world!

Today we are heading to church around 9am to meet Cheryl (BSLC's secretary) and get the keys to the parsonage. We'll check it out a little bit and then hang out it church for a while. Around lunch we're going to call Doug our truck driver and see where he is to anticipate his arrival. His target is tomorrow or Wednesday.

After that Stephen is going to work on installation stuff with Cheryl so she can get the bulletin done. I'm going to go shopping and get cleaning supplies, groceries and an air mattress.

Oh and as if our arrival in Amarillo couldn't be good enough, it's raining this morning. :-) Yes, I think they'll love us here - and so are we!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Journey to Amarillo, Day 1



Welcome to Little Rock!

This morning we were sent off from the Friedrich's house around 9 am. Pastor Amy came over with some blueberry muffins (which were/are delicious) and prayed a quick family prayer for each of us (including a quiet day for Palmer, for the sake of both him and his parents!!)

The trip so far has been fairly uneventful. Palmer, not likely the way his tranquilizer makes him feel insisted on making known that he didn't feel good. He whined most of the trip, but was somewhat like a sack of potatoes for the lack of ability to really move all that quickly. Stephen I were able to block him out using our headphones, so the trip didn't seem as bad as it could have been.

Around 5 pm central time we checked in here at the La Quinta and are taking the evening to rest. After setting the cat up with food, water, and a litter box, we were able to go out to eat at Chili's. Stephen is going to an Episcopal church tomorrow morning (if he can manage appropriate use of time devices given the change from EST to CST on TOP of falling back this morning).

Being the sane---ahem--unorthodox - Pastor's wife that I am, I will be staying here with the cat, shoving a pill down his throat (in order that it take effect before we leave) and enjoying some yummy Amy Figg blueberry muffins for breakfast.

Tomorrow is the long haul to Amarillo. It's not been a big surprise that I was not looking forward to this drive. (I think even the folks at BSLC heard me tell them they were stuck with us because I'd only do it once in 10 years). But, when we arrived in Little Rock, I told Stephen that being pessimistic has it's advantages, like being pleasantly surprised by how quick and comfortable to trip seemed to be.

At this point I would like to thank Mindy Smith for providing the tunes, and the creators and directors of the new Twilight Saga coming out in a few weeks for providing ample interviews to watch on YouTube, and the late Steve Jobs, because my iPhone allowed me to make such good use of a long car ride. :-)

Tomorrow we are staying at a local hotel in Amarillo. Not having furniture or a key to the parsonage, we figured it would be best to drive in and crash for a night before the frenzy of our new life begins. In case you were wondering,

WE ARE REALLY EXCITED!!!!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

See Ya'll!





I love this song by Mindy Smith. I'll go back to it when I miss home. Despite my roots in South Carolina, I have yet to find anything as awe-inspiring and beautiful as East Tennessee. The movers are here loading our stuff, and we head out tomorrow morning on to...browner pastures...! But I'll always be able to come home. For now, I'm looking forward to seeing miles at a time and standing under the biggest sky I've ever seen!

SO LONG East Tennessee! You've been good to me (us)!


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tennessee Wrap-up!

Wow, who would have thought I was going to be SO busy in the month extra we ended up having in Knoxville!

As some of you know, it was our plan to move to Texas by October 1rst after the vote went through positively on September 18th. While we were incredibly enthusiastic about getting on with life and heading to Amarillo, as gut check with all that needed to be done forced us to look a little differently.

First, one of the realities of life in Texas revolves around fires. While Amarillo has escaped the big fires you heard about on TV recently, they're are smaller ones that pop up all over that you never even hear about. One such fire took the home of a family of Beautiful Savior. Lucky for them, the parsonage had been vacated by that point. They have been able to live there while they rebuild their house - which was completely destroyed during the fire. While they have been in the house since April or so, as you can imagine, construction can only happen so fast. When everything about our call started to fall into place, we noticed things weren't falling in as smoothly as we all would have liked. After a number of suggestions of how to treat the family in the parsonage fairly (amongst other things) we all agreed we wouldn't move until November. While initially I (Betsy) was pretty bummed, God has a plan that kept us here where we were most needed.

And so, here are some of the amazing gifts God gave us during our extended stay.

We enjoyed the rain tremendously. Reminding ourselves we wouldn't see much of it in Texas, we find ourselves constantly giving thanks to God for this remembrance of baptism. BUT then, ONE day, were blessed to see, you got it, a DOUBLE RAINBOW!

 While you can't see it well in this photo, trust me, it was pretty awesome. Here is a faith-sharing video from Stephen and myself - a la Andrew Glibbery. It is profound. 

video




This was our view. Behind the trees is the beautiful Lake Norris.
 The week before BSLC voted to call Stephen, we spent some time at the Brook's (family friend) lake house. We enjoyed as much of those mountains as we possibly could. It was a BEAUTIFUL week. With a slight chill in the air, Stephen rode his bike on the trainer on the porch (mine, not the wind tunnel some of you remember from Seminary). I enjoyed the breeze and spent HOURS upon HOURS sleeping, reading, and doing crosswords in the hammock. We made a pot full of chili and ate it all week. It was always accompanied by a fire in the fire place with roasted marsh mellows. It proved to be the most relaxing week ever!

Stephen straddling Virginia and Kentucky.


While there, we took a day to visit Cumberland Gap. Right now, you're looking at Virginia and Kentucky. Yes, it was even more beautiful in person.












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October arrived swiftly, and we were EVEN more thankful that we were able to spend more time around here.


Among one of our extra pleasures was attending a UT football game. Before you laugh, it was the only game they have won yet...against Buffalo. Ok, ok, you can laugh! But we enjoyed the walk from St. John's (Free parking! Thanks ya'll!) Here is the famous World's Fair Ball from 1984. A Knoxville icon.






Below is a beautiful skyscape picture from Stephen, taken on our walk on the way to Neyland Stadium.