This past week, as part of my Christmas present, I got to go with Stephen to the annual Tri-Synodical Gathering in New Braunsfels, TX. Yes, I consented for it, and yes, I was excited, so yes, I guess that makes me just as much of a nerd!
All kidding aside, I really went for a few reasons.
1. Road trips with Stephen will be far and few between in the coming months and years.
2. Kenda Creasy Dean, one of our favorite authorities on Youth Ministry was speaking at the conference.
3. We took some extra time to get down and back and were able to do a little Texas sight seeing on the way.
(4.) As a nice side benefit that was somewhat unexpected...the kitchen remodel finally began so we were able to be out of the house for some of that.
For those of you unfamiliar with Texas geography, New Braunsfels is located just outside of San Antonio in the Southern tip of Texas, a fair distance away (8 or 9 hours) from Amarillo. We went two ways - through San Angelo on the way there (which is nothing to write home about...) and Austin which alotted for a quick pop through Barnet where we met up with some old Southern Seminary friends.
As big as Texas is, it was fun to see some of the different geography on the way there and back. Unfortunately I'm not able to tell you where some of these were, but here's a glimpse of what we saw.
One thing we learned, just because a town is listed on a map, it doesn't mean it's going to be a place to stop! We had to take mostly country roads and let's just say driving with a pregnant lady whose bladder is compressed and body needs to move every two hours proved to be challenging!
We were able to find places, but sometimes we, and by we, I mean me...came close to not making it!
For some reason, I can't get this one to flip, but it was a really pretty sunset as we arrived in what is referred to as "Texas Hill Country". A definite foreign concept from what we're used to in Amarillo. Although, I will say, Amarillo can have some pretty impressive sunsets. I can't really speak all that much to sunrises...;-) Although I'm sure they are equally gorgeous!
After what seemed like a very long two days of traveling, we arrived in New Braunsferls and stayed at the "Historic Faust Inn." I wish I'd thought to take pictures. It was a cute quaint room, but very tiny!
We even ran into some of the interns from Southern Seminary who were first year students when Stephen graduated. Hard to think we've been out that long! They were a sight for sore eyes...say hello to Christine and Curtis!
That first day we heard from Kenda Creasy Dean who has written several books on youth ministry. She was absolutely fantastic and if you want to read about what we learned, hop on over to Stephen's blog on the BSLC website. Click on "Tri Synodical Day 1". I stole Stephen's pen because I forgot one and took a furious three pages of notes - you may reap the benefits on this post! Check on day 2 and 3 for other highlights from another speaker, Diana Butler Bass.
Yes, this post is all kinds of imformative now!
After our three days in New Brausfels, we decided to take the long way back and go home through Austin, Barnet, and Abeline.
For those who don't remember their third grade capital memorization tests, Austin is the capital of Texas. We decided as official citizens of the state of Texas that we needed to do our civic duty and stop by the state house. We took a brief tour which I felt like I needed to have learned more Texas state history in school to understand but if you would like to know more about South Carolina's state house, I could probably help you out more. Never-the-less here are some fun pictures, complete with our stop at the Texas gift shop for a little spoiling of our own little Texan.
If you think I look excited about this pink t-shirt dressing my belly up that says "Made in Texas" you would be right. I was so tickled! The shirt is a size 2 and so she won't be wearing it any time soon but I still couldn't resist! I think baby girl clothes might be the death of me and my "blow money" in our budget.
This lady has a story that I don't remember...but the important part is she's holding up the ever present Texas star!
Here is Stephen pictured underneath Davy Crockett. Add Sam Houston in the mix and we're convinced the best Texans come from Tennesee first!
After our visit to the state house, we went to this hole-in-the-wall place called "Magnolia's Cafe" after a recommendation from a friend of Stephen's at first call thelogical education. It was yummy. I think I could eat there every day and not get sick of it. We were told we had to get the "mud" which was a bowl of layered dip with beans, guacamole, pico-de-gallo and cheese. Another menu item that got me all kinds of excited was a comibination of my two favorite middle-eastern foods - hummus and tabouli. The tabouli was the best I have ever had. The cracked wheat was soft and tasted like it had soaked up the best of the lemon juice. I'm salivating just thinking over it. The oranges and strawberries tasted fresh too. Stephen ordered a side salad and split my plate and the "mud" and we were two happy eaters! The place even had fantastic service. After spilling a little "mud" on my white shirt, the waiter brought by soda water free of charge as a suggestion and empathizing with me about a stain on his pants which he just recently got rid of having discovered the miracle of soda water!
The people in Austin were so nice! Of course, this was the "artsy" place to go if you wanted to get a real tast of Austin culture. What we loved most were the bike lanes, the walking paths and over all commuter friendly nature down town. These weren't the last friendly faces we'd see that day though!
Ricky and Cricket Leapheart were friends of ours at Southern. Ricky was a classmate of Stephen and Cricket got to do a few things with the spouses group while we were there. They are tride and true South Carolinians who also got uprooted and called to be among God's faithful people in Texas. It was so good to see them, hear their story and the good things God's got going on in Barnet. Like us, the seem to miss home and the family there (who woundn't?) but seem to have also found themselves in a place where God is at work and the people are taking good care of them. It is so wonderful to be on this side of seminary and see the good things God is up to - especially when we think back on all those days where we though "What in the WORLD have we gotten ourselves into!"
It also helps us feel less "alone" because we have history with them - kind of like family, and eight hours sounds a HECK of alot better than eighteen! We had fun talking about how different things are and some funny things about Texas culture compared to where we come from. It was nice to have that kind of conversation and have someone else understand where you are coming from - what your home looks like and the towns and places around it. Well, I could go on for hours and we only spent about two with them. Let's just suffice to say, it was a sight for sore eyes!
We arrived home yesterday and the reality of the kitchen remodel sunk in...we concurr with about everyone we've ever talked to. Remodels are NOT fun. We don't have any pictures yet as there's not much to report. Like we figured, the electrical has taken longer to figure out, but the good news is, the new part of the kitchen floor has been laid down (without grout yet) and it already looks fantastic. Stay tuned as I'm sure we'll have more pictures once we can get in there.
Coming home to a torn up house when we were both worn out and sick with head colds was not easy to take, but I did have a very bright spot come in the mail! Kelly, my best friend of 26 years who will be an aunt to my child no matter how far away she lives (currently in Rock Hill, SC) sent a package of the cutest onsies and outfits for her niece. I'm telling you, it may stink being so far from everyone we love, but I get constant letters and packages that say you all love us very much. This was NO exception! Check out my favorite onsie of the bunch!
Mommy...tee, hee! That's me! :-)
On Monday we get to hear all the good news from the ultra sound a few weeks ago, so expect an update soon! Thank you all for loving and praying for us!