Thursday, May 22, 2014


This week I attended the funeral of a friend of mine. She was just a few years older than I am, which always makes you start reminiscing. From my own experience, and others who have told me, your body starts creaking, snapping, popping, and your metabolism seems to all but stop working. The body I once had has rearranged itself, and I sometimes don't even recognize it. You are probably wondering where I am going with this! (grinning) Back to the funeral--the pastor referenced 2 Corinthians 5:1 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.  That tent expands and contracts through the years. It gets wind blown, rained and snowed on. The tent's original fabric gets tattered, dry, torn, patched up, it shrinks and gets threadbare, and sometimes it just collapses. The rigging needs reinforcement and some parts need to be replaced. Would you rather live in a tent or a permanent home?

Our earthly bodies are the tents in which our soul live. Our bodies grow from the time we are born until we are in our early twenties. Sometimes our bodies grow because we are gaining weight, having a baby, or taking a medication. Other times, our bodies shrink from weight loss, chemo, or just plain getting older. We weather storms in our lives-sickness, death of a family member or friend, wayward children, loss of jobs, divorce-but we make it through. Just like a tent, we may have to be patched because of bodily injury. We may need new hips or knees, or have to have back surgery, or even deal with amputation. We may feel so tired that it seems we can't take another step, threadbare. Our skin eventually gets dry and wrinkly, and shows scars. Sometimes our scars don't show. There are times that we simply want to give up, collapse. 

We have to keep in mind that our earthly tents WILL be destroyed. We will die, and our souls will be set free to live in an eternal house in Heaven. We won't hurt, crack, pop, be tired, or feel like collapsing. I will get a permanent home. Praise God for giving us a hope and a future!

Friday, May 9, 2014


You just never know what to expect in the Texas Panhandle as far as weather goes. I always get antsy about springtime. The grass greens, the trees bud out, and I get flower fever. However, I usually try to wait until at least after Easter or even Mother's Day to plant flowers. It's a good thing I waited this year. Just when I thought we were past the worst of winter, we had a hard freeze and a snow in April! Our trees already had beautiful leaves, and now the leaves are brown on the edges and a little yellow in hue. Many of them have fallen off in the ferocious spring wind.
As I looked at and fretted over the trees, it occurred to me there was a correlation between seasons of our lives and nature's seasons. There are times when we feel comfortable, warm, and like we are blossoming. We get complacent and feel invincible. We feel in control. Then, BOOM, something dark and cold hits us like a freeze in nature. We curl up like the leaves on the trees. Some of us stay curled up for a very long time, some just give up and fall into a deep depression just as the leaves are blown from the trees, helter skelter with no direction. Others decide to hang on for dear life, seeking strength from the fragile stems clinging to the branches. We search for answers, pray, plead, and seek advice and consolation from those we consider to be oaks, strong and steadfast. The sun shines on the leaves, causing them to surge with new life and urges them to continue with the business of photosynthesis bringing oxygen to our lungs. The Son shines on us, reviving us and gently prodding us to get on with the business of taking care of our families and jobs. We can breathe deeply and feel new life and hope surging through our veins. God is always there, during the bitter cold, the sweltering heat, and the comfortable temperatures. It reminds me that we have to have the extremes to appreciate the calm even more.
To everything there is a season,
a time for every purpose under the sun.
A time to be born and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill and a time to heal ...
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance ...
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to lose and a time to seek;
a time to rend and a time to sew;
a time to keep silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.
ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Thursday, April 17, 2014


As I was driving along to one of my schools, I noticed a burned-out area of grass. It was the remains of a fire that could have been started by any number of things: a hot tire, a cigarette butt, ... Who knows? What really caught my attention, however, was that in the area where the fire had destroyed the dead grass, there was lush, beautiful, green grass growing. Tall, yellow, dead grass surrounded the charred area. What was untouched by the fire still remained dead and lifeless.
I started thinking (of course) about how that applies to my life. On Easter Sunday, it will mark three years since Trey joined Jesus in Heaven. The date lies ahead, foreboding, telling of a terrible tragedy that leaves a searing hole in my heart. It's like a fire that destroys, kills, and leaves you feeling charred and helpless. It stinks, it hurts, it makes you feel like you have some fiery scarlet letter tattooed on your chest that screams, "I've joined the club that no one wants to be a part of!"
At first, all you can think about is what has been taken from you. The words "dead" and "death", when spoken, stop your heart. You can't breathe, as if you are being choked by some unknown force. You want to smother any flames of happiness and roll around in the ashes. I still feel like getting all of Trey's pictures out and just rolling around on them to soak up more of him.
As time passes by, you stumble around in the smoke, the fog of having to go about your daily life, even when you don't feel like it. You wonder how the rest of the world gets to move on, and wonder if they know your heart still feels as if it is being enveloped and choked out by the haze of disbelief and grief.
Anger flares up at anyone who dares to tell you they know how you feel. No one knows how I feel, except another mother of a son whose life has been snuffed out. Then the atrophy begins. Just as a fire makes everything brittle, my body becomes a shell, my inner self dead. I function because I know I have to. I do the everyday things that a wife and mother does. I try to be "normal", but I only go through the motions because my senses are numb. I get angry with myself because I want to be "better". I pray and plead with God to help me. But I don't let Him help me, because in some twisted way, I feel that if I get better, that means I won't miss Trey as much. I don't want to forget anything about Him, and I don't want anyone else to either. I am saddened that no one really wants to talk about Trey. It seems awkward and makes people uncomfortable.
As time has gone on, I feel God's presence more and am thankful that Trey is safe with Him. I allow God to enter my heart and breathe life into this shell. I still yearn for Trey's physical presence, his voice, the smell of his cologne, that crazy laugh...I slowly begin to learn that it's alright to laugh again, to have fun. I don't even realize the slow progression of joy creeping back into my life. I continue to listen to my Christian radio station, I claim gratitude, and start to notice the green "sprouts" in my life. I unwittingly become a counselor for other mothers. I discover that my burned body can feel love, desire, joy, and and a new awakening.  I have strength I never knew I had, God-given, mercy, grace-touched strength.
The new life in the burned-out area and and in my spirit mirror one another. I am thankful for the parallelism. Do I still stumble and choke and look back at the "fire" that scarred my life? Yes, but do I stay and let the flames of despair totally engulf me? No, because God has shown me His mercy and reassured me that I am His child. Trey is His child as well, and already experiences the eternal kingdom I will someday enter with thanksgiving.
Fire represents many things, including bringing renewal and new growth. Thank you, God, for reminding me of your great mercies!

Revelation 21:
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
"but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Proverbs 40:31

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


We have had a yellow lab for 15 years now. Her name is Hallie. She arrived at our home about the same time as our oldest grandson. She couldn't figure out what that squirming, crying mess was. She soon found out that he was the only human who didn't run after her to get the ball back from her that she had retrieved. Hallie would trot over to Gannen's walker and drop the tennis ball. She did that for no one else. Hallie's domain consisted of our yard, five acres of pasture, and the dirt roads we walked. I wish I had kept track of the miles she and I walked together through the years. She loved taking off after a jack rabbit, tearing under barbed wire fences, yapping and cutting first one way, then the next. Often, we would start up the four-wheeler and ride around trying to corral the rabbits for her. She never actually caught one, but Hallie sure had fun trying. She barked at coyotes, kept rattle snakes at bay, and was always glad to greet us when we got home. Hallie listened to a lot of laughing, crying, stories, and arguing. She had a knack for positioning herself just right over my foot so I could "rub" her stomach. If you started petting her and got distracted, Hallie would shove her nose under your hand to remind you to get back at the business at hand. She was the only dog who stayed around through the years. The grandchildren have tried to ride her, rope her, hug her, pull her tail, and check her teeth--she looked indignant, but never fought back. She saw a lot of shenanigans as well. There are stories in her head that will never be told (kids coming in after curfew, sneaking out of windows, having parties, and Lord only knows what else)! Once an errant golf ball caught her in the leg, breaking it. After a trip to the vet, she promptly chewed the casting off. She gave birth to fifteen puppies, and thirteen of them survived. They were the fattest, cutest little things. Poor Hallie looked like the wrath! She got so skinny and poor being a good mom. We gave the puppies to families who were happy to have them (with a little help from our precious red-headed, pigtailed granddaughter at Walmart in Plainview). Great tactic, eh? Hallie watched all five of our children grow up and go off to college. She also made her way into most of our family photographs.
We moved from the Texas Panhandle to east Texas, where Hallie was introduced to a body of water bigger than her water bowl. She nipped at the waves, and when we tried to get her to swim, she sank like a lead weight. So much for Labs and swimming for her! Here she had the run of the lake house, as well as 12 acres at our home. She had to get used to the idea of jackrabbits in the trees (squirrels). She would sit for hours on end as still as a statue waiting for them to make a move. Hallie and her friend from across the street had fun staking out those squirrels. She actually caught one, which surprised her more than anyone. Hallie looked so sheepish as another squirrel (possibly a member of the dead squirrel's family) came halfway down the tree and proceeded to give her the what-for! When we would all load up in the boat to ski, Hallie would wait at the dock until we returned exhausted. She managed to nab a few bites of whatever "fell" out of our plates or off the grill at supper. Hallie made friends with our neighbors, and would look forward to them rounding the corner. She would join them on their walk, and return when they told her it was time to go home. Hallie was deathly afraid of thunderstorms and fireworks, and we had to be very careful because she would run away, trying to get away from the storm. Once she ran off during a storm, and we couldn't find her for a week. Another family had taken her in, got her groomed, renamed her, and let her stay in the air-conditioned house watching TV all day! She probably wondered why she couldn't do that at our house. When we got the call telling us Trey had died, I went out on the porch, and it was Hallie who stayed by my side. Every time I stepped out, she was right there.
As we all do, Hallie aged. When we moved back to the Panhandle, she had to live confined in a yard surrounded by a fence. Slowly, we noticed how hard it was for her to get around, especially in the winter. She lost interest in retrieving her ball, and quit wagging her tail as much. Hallie still managed to position herself by my foot, even though she couldn't stay in one position very long. As always, she greeted us at the patio door and was happy to see us. We put her on pain pills for her arthritis, and built her a house with a nice soft pad to sleep on.
On March 3, 2014, at the age of 15, we had to put our dear Hallie to sleep. She was suffering, and the vet told us it was time. We held her as she slipped away peacefully. There will never be another dog like our Hallie. I know she is in Heaven with Trey, playing ball and positioning herself under his foot so he can rub her. What an impact Hallie had on our lives during those fifteen years! As I think about the qualities she had, I am going to say that she was as close to being a perfect Christian example as there can be: she was loyal, devoted, happy to see us, kept secrets, loved us no matter what happened, protected us, fellowshipped with us, forgave us, and was always there to lean on or cry with. Hallie, you are loved dearly and missed terribly! Thank you for the life you shared with us.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Every Day

Every day, I get to travel to rural school districts in the Texas panhandle to work with amazing teachers, staff, and administrators. Every day, I get to witness the bursting forth of light from the heavens as I am traveling. Every day, it washes over me and fills me with gratitude.

I couldn't help myself from stopping to snap these incredible photos. Although these will never do sunrise justice, they can serve to continually remind me of the everyday blessings that come my way. There are times in our lives when we feel swallowed up by darkness, fear, disappointment, and sadness. We can't always see beyond our situations. I have felt this way more than I care to admit. After Trey died, I wondered if I would ever laugh or feel joy again. In fact, breathing was sometimes a chore. God was always there with me, even when I didn't feel His presence. The picture with the light shining through the clouds reminds me that little by little, I can feel joy and be cognizant of the gifts God showers upon me daily. I am opening up more each day and learning to live a fuller life. I can even feel the overwhelming beauty of life, full of color and adventure, as shown in the other photo. 
In the course of this journey, I realized that I have been clenching my fists and pointing fingers. I closed myself off in my need to mourn and try to make sense of a terrible loss. Something I read recently made me realize that as long as I clench my fists and point my fingers, I am actually pointing to myself. Try it! So the more I open my hands to receive what God has for me, and to lend a hand to others, I am directing attention away from myself. Therefore, I am becoming less self-centered and more able to give and receive.
Every day, I am thankful for the day.  Every day, I am thankful that my son lives in Heaven, and that I will one day see him again. Every day, I feel blessed beyond what I deserve. Every day, I see God's grace and mercy in my life. Every day, I am thankful for ..."a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over" that is being poured into my lap. (Luke 6:38)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Son is Always Shining

As I was driving to work this morning, this was the wondrous sight that bedazzled me. It was just before sunrise, and I was going through the list of people and things for which I'm thankful. I stopped to snap this picture with my phone, knowing full well it wouldn't do the moment justice. The morning before, it was still very dark when I drove away from home. The moon and stars were shining brightly, and I could hardly keep my eyes on the road for wanting to gaze up into the sky. As I was processing these beautiful moments, it occurred to me that the sun is always shining, even when we can't see it. When it is nighttime here, somewhere else it is daytime. Translating that into our spiritual lives, the Son is always shining, even when we are in a dark place. He is always waiting to reveal His glory when we seek it.
I recently spoke with a very dear person who lost her daughter in a traffic accident. Her daughter, like my son, was 25 years old with a bright future ahead of her. It breaks my heart to know that my friend will walk through that dark valley of grief and loneliness. It seems during that difficult time, everyone else gets to go on with their normal lives, and you can barely breathe. God carries us through the valley until we can get back to the light, where we can recognize His glory.
My mantra (not a resolution) for this year is to have an attitude of gratitude. I am taking the time to "see" the sunrise and the little things in life that I previously had taken for granted. I am abundantly thankful for the gifts God has bestowed upon me. I am thankful for the Sonshine!
Romans 13:12  "The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light." 

Monday, January 6, 2014


It took me a long time to create a name for this blog, one with which I could both be content and identify with. After a respite, I have finally gotten back to writing.
Let me first explain the title. -Rendered Humbled Learner-
Rendered means effected or brought about. Humbled, to me, means brought to my knees or taken down to a lower place. Learner means that I am always, and will always be learning.
When I first thought about creating a blog, I was in a very content and happy place. I had what I thought was my dream job (a tech director for a small school in East Texas), lived in a beautiful place with several acres near a lake, and my family was healthy and intact. I could get home from work, and my husband and I would hook up to the boat and have the boat down the ramp into the lake within minutes. I would ski around until I couldn't hold on any longer, and we would sit on the deck at the lake house until we were ready to go back home. What a life!
It came crashing to a stop on April 5, 2011 when I received a call from my husband. His voice belayed the urgency I immediately felt. He was in the midst of a heart attack. I got him to the local hospital, and he was airlifted to Tyler. After five days and a stent procedure, we made it back home. Things weren't the same because my husband had faced death and was angry. 
The worst possible phone call came at 3:15 a.m. on April 20th. It was the call you never expect or wish on anyone else. My son's gun accidentally discharged killing him. He was in the Army and was in Fayetteville, North Carolina. I was in Texas and had to wait a painful week to even see his body. Fighting with grief and denial, worrying about my husband's weakened state, and dealing with overwhelming decisions consumed me. We had visitation, a funeral, a memorial service at Ft. Bragg, and Mother's Day within a few weeks.
Shortly thereafter, I received a text from my superintendent saying I would be performing my tech director duties and teaching second grade for the coming school year. Needless to say, it was a challenging year.
Everyone kept telling my husband how much better he would feel after receiving a stent. He didn't. The humidity was hard on him, I was so sad, and life sort of did a u-turn. We decided we needed to get back to the Panhandle where a lot of our family lived. We made a hasty decision to move, thinking all of our unhappiness would magicly be healed. I took a pay cut, went back into a jr. high classroom, and my husband went to the ER five times that year. Grief swallowed me up that year, and I was more miserable than ever. None of what we foresaw happening came to fruition.
Fast forward, and I am now at a job that I absolutely love but not necessarily living in a place where we'd imagined. I will continue my story through the coming months. Let me leave you with this: sometimes God has a plan for you that you would never have chosen, and may have even fought. But He does have a plan for you:
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
Heavy on the word HOPE! Until next time...