We Need Sun, And Maybe Winter Too

I walked out the front door this morning and wanted to stop in my tracks. I was suddenly inclined to cease my doing and my going and maybe even my being, right there on my sidewalk. I wanted to stretch my arms out to the left and the right like that Timothy Green kid, soaking up the sun that peeks today between gray dots of clouds in the sky.

I need the sun.

It’s times like now when I’ve hardly seen it’s warm face that I miss it so. I find myself wishing to be a bird or bear so I could migrate or hibernate and just avoid the cold.


The lack of sun in January and February has depressed my mood. The forecast of more winter has my soul groaning. I know, “You’ll be whining in the July heat ,” you say. I won’t. Well, maybe I’ll complain a little by midsummer. My upper lip will be beaded with what I’ve come to call a SETX sweat-stache. That will be after days and days of sun and heat. That will be when the sun has come out of hiding and it’s face becomes so familiar that I forget to appreciate its warm rays.

There might be the one thing that makes winter bearable. The gray and the cold makes the uncloudy days seem brilliant; the rain, the sun so fine.

Maybe I need winter too.

If sun is the reality of all things bright and beautiful, then surely the dark days are where hope is made.

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul-and sings the tunes without the words-and never stops at all. -Emily Dickinson

Tomorrow I’ve been told the cold will come back to pay a visit. It’s chill will attempt to invade not only the uncovered parts of my skin, but my soul. But I’ll be that bird. Not flown away to a warmer land, but singing a hope tune.

And today, when the sun is to be found, I’ll be a glow stick positioning myself to take in all the light and warmth I know how. I’ll carry the sun within me into the cold of tomorrow. I’ll be wrapped in warm feathers; thoughts of sunny days past and bright days to come.

I’ll remember that the sun, wouldn’t be fully known as the sun without the clouds.

And I’ll be thankful for the sun

and for the clouds and cold too.

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Angels? Hooligans? or just Kids?

To bring up a child in the way he should go-travel that way yourself. -Josh Billings

I probably shouldn’t be writing about this on a Monday morning. The kids just left for school and there’s a shower curtain and rod in a big jumbled mess on the bathroom floor that nobody knew was there. The girls were shrieking in frustration this morning indicating that the brother who has felt too bad to antagonize them is returning to good health and good pranks. Someone’s eyeglasses are lost again. Their last known whereabouts is Hico (in Central Texas) at the visitation for Jason’s grandmother who passed away last week. We have a picture to confirm this lasting sighting of the glasses. So. The lost eyeglasses are somewhere within a three-hundred and fifty mile radius. Since we usually have a great deal of difficulty finding them when they’re lost in the house, this should be fun.


I’ve been thinking a few days about a phrase we hear every now and then.

“You have good kids.”

I’ve had a few people say this to me through the years.  The opposite has been thought as well, but we know most people won’t say your kids are bad until they know you’re out of earshot.

When I’ve been told my kids are good, my response is varied.

  1.  I say something like “You should have seen them this morning”  countering the compliment with information that they’re typical children with typical behavior that’s not always good.
  2. Very rarely, do I say thank you. Here are the reasons.

Saying thank you feels like I’m taking credit for such goodness.  I am in a constant state of awareness of how difficult parenting can be.  I know I make mistakes.  And I make mistakes that I don’t even know I make. It’s a tough gig. Not to say that parenting is without reward and joy; parenting is full of both. But, this parenting path is one I walk blindly on; depending completely on God’s grace to see me and my children through. Neither my parent’s path or my neighbor’s is just like mine.

Hearing from someone that my kids “are good” feels like too flat a description.  It doesn’t quite describe their complicated nature which is at times opposed to good. My kids do good things like the one who spent her own money at the bookfair to buy an overpriced cat poster for her sister when I know she would very much like the cat poster for herself.  Or like the brother who rescued a lost dog this past weekend and then found the owners returning the dog to them.  I’m reminded of a time or two the dishwasher was unloaded without my asking.  These kindnesses are counterbalanced with episodes of fighting over things like the DS game charger and chores left undone. My kids do good things.  They misbehave too.

Saying thank you scares me frankly. In my own experience, the moment I brag on my kids, they go and ruin it.  I remark how nice they’re being to each other only to hear them fight over feeding the dogs.  I listen to one of them tell the life story of Winston Churchill and swell with pride over their depth of knowledge only to check their grades online hours later to find a zero and a two terrible test grades.  Saying, even thinking that my children are doing good seems to have a jinxing effect.  How much more, if I accept a compliment suggesting that they’re GOOD kids.

As parents, I think we all appreciate that person who takes notice of our family.  We’re thankful for a kind word saying that we, or our kids, or both are doing a good job.  We’re likewise thankful for people who encourage even though “good” is not how they see our kids present behavior (or our attempt to manage it). Our world is made brighter by kind words with encouraging intentions.

We also know as parents, that there are inevitably times that our parenting is questioned.  Our kids cop an attitude in public or act like hooligans in a restaurant.  Maybe they forget what we taught them about responding to an adult with maam and sir. We can be sure that our kid’s name may go home with another kid, mentioned in a story that’s anything but good.  Maybe our kid will act bullyish at one time or another, even if they have the kindest of hearts.  They’ll probably be rude, deal with jealousy and say things that aren’t true. Beyond bad behavior, even the hardest praying, most loving parents may find themselves and their children in a dark season where trouble seems to never leave. Regardless of our kids’ behavior, misbehavior, or the severity thereof; all parents find themselves in the same boat.

We believe we are doing the best we know how.

There are times we are proud, and times we are dog-tired and our efforts seem fruitless.

We have room to improve and room to rely on God more than we already are.

We want people to love our children without regard to their behavior.

More worth mentioning than any of these things is the truth that we have a God who is good, loves our children unconditionally and a God whose behavior doesn’t change.

We have a Father who promises:

His grace is sufficient for the parent who feels they’re not getting it right and whose children aren’t following their instructions.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9

He will guide us and He will guide our children.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Psalm 32:8

We ought to be diligent to pray for each other as parents.  Let’s pray for each other’s children, keeping at the front of our mind that righteousness is only found in God. Pray that our encouragement to others would be rooted in truth and love.

Kids are a precious gift, wrapped in mystery, given by a good Father who leads us all along.

Email your thoughts, your wisdom or a request for prayer.

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A Novice Foodie Blog: La Salsitas’ Mexican Food in Beaumont


Jason sent me a text meant to provoke jealousy this past Wednesday. The text came alongside a picture of a bottled coke and a delicious-looking plate of assorted tacos. Though envious he was eating without me, I remembered why I love that man…..and tacos.

He brought me back today. Salsitas is an authentic Mexican food joint at 3297 College St. in Beaumont.

For those of you seeking the real deal, instead of describing my plate with sense-inducing language, I’m sharing ten ways I knew this place was legit.

1. A telenovela (Mexican soap opera) with a scorned woman was on the tube.

2. You can count on fresh lime wedges and homemade tortillas coming with your meal.

3. Mexican blankets pair as wall decoration and curtains.

4. There was something creepy on the menu that I wouldn’t eat, suggesting that this place serves cuisine beyond the amateur list of nachos and burritos.

5. They serve six kinds of tacos including pastor and azada. (Burger King isn’t the only place that lets you have it your way).

6. We had to use part of napkins to blow our runny noses caused by truly hot salsa.

7. You can enjoy your meal with an Orange Fanta or Coke in one of those tall, thick glass bottles.

8. There’s a taco truck outside with Christmas lights. I can’t explain, but that feels authentic.

9. You get more cilantro with your dish than you do lettuce (the non-tasty filler).

10. The menu is in Spanish and you find yourself making sure you know what a ceviche tostada is. “That is fish, right?”


Here’s Jason’s foodie review to go right along with my ten reasons:

I had a lunch plate of Chile Verdes on Wednesday. This stuff was good. They have all the food stuff made up and on a steam table so you can see what’s fresh and what’s not. Since I was there around 11:30 both times this week, everything was fresh. It was raining Wednesday so there weren’t any other patrons coming through the door, but the drive through line was steady.

The Chile Verdes was tasty, they were spicy and they were filling. That’s what I’m looking for in a lunch plate. I also ordered a Taco Azada. I don’t even know what that is. It’s some king of delicious beef thing. Don’t ask too many questions. Just enjoy.

Since it’s Friday, I took Kristi back with me so we could have a lunchtime date. I was just a little disappointed. Instead of ESPN Desportes playing on three TVs and turned up loud enough to drown out a freight train, they had, as Kristi alluded to above, some telenovela thing going. It was like watching Days of Our Lives, but in Spanish. It didn’t take away from the ambiance. I was just sad I didn’t get to hear the announcer of the soccer game yell “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOALLLLLLLLLLL!”

Anyway, I figured since the one taco I ate on Wednesday was good, why not order 4 more. I did two Azada, one Barbacoa, and one Carnitas. That’s Spanish for Tasty Beef, Delicious Meat, and Heavenly Pork.

These Tacos are simple and savory. Load them up with lime juice and hot sauce and you have the makings for a face full of flavor. I’m still sweating from the red sauce. Go with the green for a milder kick, but you will still be kicked!

Kristi went out on a limb with the Cameron Tostado. When I see and old food truck, my mind doesn’t immediately say, “I wonder what their seafood tastes like?” No, far from it. But she was bold today. And this was one of those days where boldness paid off!

This was sheer goodness on a crunchy shell. She let me have a bite, and when I wanted to go in for a second bite, it was already gone. Add this to your “To Get” list if you get the chance to dine-in. If you’re ordering out, it might get a little messy when you try to sneak a bite on the way home. It’s piled high with Pico, Shrimp, and Avocado.

She also snagged a Chicken Taco. That was about the only English thing on their menu, but it was served up with full Mexican flavor.

I don’t know why we love to take pictures of our food so much. I love taking pictures of Kristi taking pictures of her food.

On the way out, Kristi took a shot of this:

I don’t know what it is. I’m sad that I didn’t order it. This is my reason for going back sometime in the future.

If you’re in Beaumont, anywhere near 3297 College St., not far from Baptist Hospital, stop by. You’ll fill your belly without emptying your pocketbook.


If you’ve enjoyed this, let us know about other food spots you’d like us to try out. Also, make our day by subscribing to the email list. You can do that by entering your email in the block back at the top of this page.

Check out Jason blog at www.PastorBurden.com.

Here are some of the other spots we’ve been to:

Tracy’s Seafood in Port Arthur

Abbie’s Specialty Foods

Bruce’s Seafood Deli


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Her Own Song

Hallie Kathryn

a gods girlies file

You turn fourteen on Sunday. Last year you were surprised with a new dog.  This year you’re getting advice.  Aging can stink.

My cherished daughter,

You surprised me when you asked me to write a birthday post for you.  You’re the kid always with a strong sense of who you are and what you want. You prefer a pint of Bluebell (Dutch Chocolate) over a compliment and a book as opposed to long conversations.  So I’m all stirred up; ready to answer this invitation to write to you and about you.

You and I impulsively headed out the door last Saturday afternoon to take some pictures.  I have a new camera lens that I’ve been itching to use and earlier that afternoon we’d spotted a couple of cool picture props like that old gold Volkswagen van in a yard we passed.  You remember.  You also recall how I was curious as to why you wanted to use your guitar in your pictures.  You haven’t picked it up in years.  Still, you thought a couple of snapshots of you picking out notes on your guitar would be fun.


It was while I watched you in front of me, guitar in hand, a girl on a mission, that a story swelled in my memory; one that I think fits the occasion.

About seven years ago, every Sunday night we’d sneak out the back door of Dorcas Wills Memorial Baptist at 6:50 on the dot, missing the second stanza of the closing hymn.  We’d hop in the car taking you a few streets down to a tiny house where you took guitar lessons.  You had decided you wanted to learn to play guitar.

You’d had a couple of months worth of lessons when your instructor asked to speak to me one night.  I sent you to the front room to watch one of the handful of worn out Disney videos available for Rylie’s entertainment while we waited for you every Sunday.  She shared, of all things, her concern that you might have Attention Deficit Disorder.   The ironic thing about that suggestion is that you’re the least symptomatic of the disorder out the Burden five.  Attention Deficit is something I know a little about.  I’ve read the book.  I’m probably going to write a book.  And I’ve got the t-shirt.  You do not have Attention Deficit Disorder. All of these thoughts were swirling as she explained, “She never wants to pay attention to the lessons I have for her”.

She said

“She always wants to play her own song.”

Always creating.  Slipped inside your lesson books you’d  bring folded-up pages of composed music with notes unintelligible to anyone but you. Apparently it had become a problem.

I had let you bring your music because I was glad you were writing your own. I was happy you were learning to love music.

You’re still that way. You’re unafraid to write the music to life.  And you’re not afraid to sing your own tune even where others can hear. You’re unmoved, for the most part, by those who don’t understand its notes and verses. You are who you are, not who “they want you to be”.

 a “do it myself” girl.

bday 3  Independence started for you while your legs still toddled in diapers.  Potty training, swimming and learning to ride a bike happened strictly on your time table ignoring any and every encouragement.  You would not be enticed with big girl panties bearing Dora or Disney princesses or the offer of an M&M for potty success.

A picture of a seven year old with a striped tank top and bird legs comes to mind. You were perched on your bike, helmet strapped on, pedaling down that little dead end street beside our house.  Struggling to keep your balance on a carpet of orange, dried-up pine needles, I knew to stay close behind you without having my hands directly on the bike.

Your dad and I shouted encouragement.

“Keep pedaling.”

“Your leaning. Get your balance back.”

“Get ready to turn.”

“You’re doing it!”

  It was YOUR feet that pushed the pedals in dizzying circular motion.  YOU learned to shift your weight when you started to lean one way too hard.  But, you had and have a cheering section that won’t stop.

Remember that you have that in your dad and I.

Know that we experience immeasurable joy when you perform your poems and other things like your humorous monologue about “Wonder Bread”. We’re beside ourselves that you write some of the pieces you perform even though it’s not a requirement in the contests you compete in.

Sometimes you don’t enjoy our encouragement because it’s in the form of discipline. We’re there at your side to urge you to do better when your grades don’t match your smarts.  I remind you OFTEN of the importance of smiling.

We’re not your only fan section.  You’ve had beautiful people placed purposefully in your life all along the way including the crowd of people we call family who welcomed you that morning you said hello to the world for the first time.

What about that prestigious group you’ve been made a part of? You’re a Babybug in a group of Ladybugs; a group of saintly women with life experiences you’ve yet to think of.

God has gifted you with family and friends of all ages.  There are women that listen to you and are wonderful to listen to. You have friends to walk beside you.  You’re surrounded by men who give you a good picture of good company so that you’ll know how to choose good company.

Stay you

- the girl with a determined nature and a mission all her own.

Don’t stop writing your own music

and keep on pedaling

remembering these two things

1. Let those who love you join in on a couple of verses. Life is more beautiful when shared.

2. Look to the left and to the right and you’ll see people cheering you on.  There won’t be a time in your life that there won’t be people to guide you along.  Learn, my dear, that sometimes you will need them and there will be times you have to ask.  People need people.

 Life is about balance

Your dad and I love you fiercely.

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Love and the Smelly Eraser

He clutched it.  He pinched it between his thumb and index finger and held it up, eyeing it as if it were a diamond.  He rolled it between his fingers and then across the table.

“Smell it,” he urged.

It was too much to concentrate on his paper which asked “What number sentence best represents an estimate of how many people attended the park on Monday and Tuesday?”.

He was in love……with a simple, round, orange smelly eraser.

Love and Smelly Eraser

He had bought it that day at the library.  And when I came to grab a small group of third graders for remediation, he brought it with him.  He opened up his math workbook just as did the other two.  But rather than becoming engrossed in the word problems in front of us, this little guy couldn’t get his mind off of that eraser.

“I just love it so much!” he grinned.

I tried to capture his attention, tapping my finger on his Math page. Normally I would have told him to put it away in his pocket.  But I guess I was weak.  I mean, who couldn’t be enamored being witness to such happiness? As I asked the kids to line up to go back to class, half for kicks, half because I kind of wanted to, I asked him if I could smell his eraser one more time.  He proudly held open his hand and allowed me to take in the orange aroma once again.  The other two girls followed suit and took in its sweet smell.  I suppose his love for that “fixer of mistakes” had rubbed off on us a little.

Such a picture he painted for me;

a picture of a child who was swept up.

Overtaken by the simple.  Not distracted, but wholly focused. And neither I nor my repeated requests to bring him back to earth were granted. He was single minded. He was overcome with admiration.

On any other given day I wouldn’t have allowed such behavior.  He was missing out on an opportunity to strengthen his problem-solving skills.  But that day I realized that maybe the life consistently snatched by the world’s demands is the one that’s lacking.  We’re missing out when we lose the ability to focus on what matters.  Some times it isn’t math.

We’re like that church in Ephesus; we forget our first love.  We’re consumed with Facebook and our list of things that need to be fixed.  We rush to go at the first sight of the green light and don’t stop even when our heads have hit the pillow for the rest God gives his beloved.  And it seems when we do try and put our heart on better things, the world finger-taps the page luring us back to its grips.

It shouldn’t be.

We should delight in such a sweet aroma that surrounds us in Christ. And the fragrance of a life lived singly for Christ should be so sweet that it takes hold the people around us ….just like my little friend with the smelly eraser.

     ….Thank God!  He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession.  Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God…….to those being saved, we are a life-giving perfume.

2 Corinthians 2:14,15

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This Valentines: Things I hope you won’t be giving me


To my Dearest:

You’re a great gift giver, really you are; even though I’ve told the world several times over that you got me ten pounds of bologna for our first anniversary.   I know that I completely under-reacted the time you got me that cool dust pan with the built-in slot for my foot so I wouldn’t have to bend over to sweep the muck up. You were thinking of my lower back problems.  You’re always thinking of me.


Considering the things you give me on Valentines, and well, every other day of the year, I’m making a list of things I hope you won’t be giving me this time around.

You deserve a little help

1. Unending patience- It’s not that I don’t love the patience you have with me, and it’s definitely not that I don’t need it.  I do.  But I figure you probably get tired of hearing me whine and complain about “how nothing’s going right”.  I know I exceed my text limit while messaging you that “we’re STILL waiting for our appointment” and “when will you be home?”.  You can’t run and you can’t hide.  Well I guess you could, but you don’t.  You’re so very patient.  My desire is that I’d be the wife that allows at least a pause to your patience by being less short-tempered and not so needy (By the way, could you pick up some bread and ice at Market Basket?)…..kidding.

I’m hoping that this Valentines you won’t give me….

2.  a response to everything I say, as well as a response to all facial expressions- I’m kind of a champ at ping-pong.  Some times I think marriage is a game of lobbing words and feelings to the other player with the hopes that the ball will be returned with precision  (right smack in the middle of my paddle).  In my better moments I’m aware of my overbearing need for to you respond to everything…….(respond positively, that is).  I really don’t want you to respond honestly.  I want you to respond how I want you to respond.   I want you to be appalled when I’m appalled.  But I can tell if you’re faking.  I want you to be interested in everything I tell you including what I read happened to a couple in Armenia.  You’re supposed to be able to read all of my facial expressions, like the one I make as to say “Can you believe that?”

I feel much better (well a little) when you return the expression: “No, I can’t believe that.  I’m flabbergasted alongside you!”

But this Valentines?

- I want to make a better effort to appreciate your steadfast nature which doesn’t have the need to respond to everything.  That nature is just what I need to calm my crazy. No,  I’m not asking for a response to every little thing I say.

Something else that you’ve given me in years past that I’m asking you NOT to give me this time?

3. Constant companionship (at least companionship in the way I’ve always framed it) You come home from long days of work and sometimes you’re worn out from talking. Your ears ache from listening-  No matter to me.  I have a whole day’s worth of events to tell you about.  I proceed to tell you what happened to Hallie at lunch using more words than Hallie herself used to tell me about the event.  I share with you what the third graders are doing in Math this week and how HEB doesn’t sell those Nature Valley Dark Chocolate Granola Bars that I like so well. Don’t get me wrong.  I want to hear about your day too -and about what nightly news event has you stunned.  You just don’t always work like that.  Companionship, you know, can consist of being in each other’s presence

-not having to say a word.

Companionship should include silent understanding; respecting the other person’s need to be at rest. This Valentines I vow

to give you space,

moments without words,

and afternoons without a play by play.

This isn’t the first time I’ve made a commitment not to need these things from you.  And I’m sure it won’t be the last.  Working on being the wife you deserve is a slow process (I think the process slows and maybe even reverses when you turn forty, and when you have teenagers), but I’m working on it.  That’s why there’s one gift that you always give me that I’ll be thankful to get from you again.


Grace that hangs in there when I fall apart over burned out light bulbs and messy kid closets.

Grace that just listens when I complain about my figure while nibbling on a brownie instead of going to the gym.

Grace that guides me in things you weren’t designed to care about like how I should get my hair cut next week.

And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.  John 1:16

You are a vessel of his grace.  Thankful for you this Valentines and every day.

I love you.


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The Writing on the Guitar


I saw the writing on the wall this morning…….or on the guitar rather.

It was written in blue crayon. The strokes mimicked the disorder that is looming large in our house this week. The messy letters were written a couple of years ago, but stuck out to me today like a sore thumb.


Just take yesterday morning for example.

Jason had somewhere to be at 6:00 AM. I had an appointment at 7:30. Throw in the teenager’s missing car keys. Then there was that tooth that was supposed to be missing from underneath the nine year old’s pillow, but was still there. Yesterday morning was filled with appointments and frazzled disappointments. 

Now copy and paste the like into Monday morning and afternoon.  The events may not have been exactly the same, but Monday was a messy challenge too.

Go back and there was weekend vomiting. There was saying goodbye to the second family member within a couple of weeks. Bad news from friends.  We’re dealing with grades again already and the six weeks has just begun. Yesterday there was time spent trying to help a college two hours away track down a misplaced school transcript that we’ve already found for them once.  There was also the lost prescription for medicine that called for a trip to the pharmacy then the doctor’s office and then back to the pharmacy.  This week has held forgotten lunch boxes and tests we’re unprepared for. We have more appointments this week than we know what to do with. Even my website keeps “burping” whatever that means…. It’s as if all nature around me has a bad case of indigestion.

The writing on the wall, or uh the pink guitar on Rylie’s untidy floor was a reminder of the messy. The cold, wet dripping outside the window like my mood is slightly soggy.

Two moldy pieces of bread with life stuck right in the middle.

Sometimes that’s just how we feel.

Sometimes we’re face to face with the writing on the wall.

 The book of Daniel recounts the origin of the phrase “the writing on the wall”.  The words “Mene, mene tekel upharsin” which appeared on a palace wall foretold of the destruction of Belshazzar and his kingdom. It spoke of impending doom.

Now look. I really have no place speaking of impending doom. My troubles are real, but they’re small in the right light.  It’s just that my human condition views through a magnifying glass.

I guess it’s fair to say sometimes I’m swept up in impending gloom.

I looked up the exact meaning of mene, mene tekel….. Mene basically means your days are numbered. It was the meaning of the word tekel that caught my eye.

TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.

There’s nothing that could be closer to the truth.

My circumstances and certainly my attitude, being weighed, is found wanting. Faced with frustration and disappointment, my vision becomes nearsighted. It’s rather dark on the inside of that sandwich I find myself in.

Incomplete on my own…….I’m lacking.

Things outside my control have me grasping;……..I’m found wanting……

It’s times like these that we need to remember the words written on our hearts that outshine anything “written on the wall”

2 Corinthians 4-

6 For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.

7 Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us. 8 We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; 9 we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed.

16 ….our inner person is being renewed day by day. 17 For our momentary light affliction[c] is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.

18 So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Jesus answered, “Man (and this moody woman) shall not live on (moldy) bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4 

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To my kids’ future spouses


Hallie was half-engaged to be married at four years old. She had a little friend who was at church every time the doors were open, just like we were. We loved her friend’s parents. We still do. The mom taught Hallie her first Bible verse at the age of three in Cubbies. I’ll never forget hearing her quote that verse. She’d quote it just about anywhere. One time it was in the restroom at our favorite Mexican food place in Marlin. With her little legs hanging over the side of the toilet she recited- “Chust in the Lowod wif all you hawt and lean not on you own undewstanding . Pwovubs 3:5″

When we moved from Chilton a couple of years later, we got a letter from her special friend (written with a little help) reminding her that she was his. I’d be delighted if that worked out.

To my kids’ future spouses:

I love it when things get all worked out. I say that, but I can hardly remember a time when I felt like things were worked out. Sure there are breaths of relief when some struggle has been overcome like Algebra II, appropriate application of eyeliner or the whiny stage. But I reckon God is with us, working all things out little by little, all the days we’re here.unnamed (119)

I bet you’ve heard that there are moms who pray for their kids’ future spouses. Those are wise mamas. I’ve felt terribly guilty in the past because I’d only think to pray for you once or twice a year. I haven’t been diligent, but I’ve prayed for you. For my future daughter in law, I have prayed you will look to God and trust that He alone makes you complete. My prayer for you, future sons in law, is that you will love God more than you love my daughter; that you will be men who will lead my girls in the way of Christ. That prayer is deep-seated. I won’t forget it. God won’t either.

I don’t mention you on a daily basis…yet.  But I’m still praying for you in a sense. Here’s how.

I’m praying for my son. I’m praying that God will be first in his life and that he will learn to give himself time cushion instead of waiting until the last-minute for everything. I pray that his heart grows for Jesus so that he’ll know how to give his heart to you when he learns you’re the one.

Sun's Out

I pray for my girls.

For one, I pray that she will come to understand when strength translates to pure old stubbornness and that she’ll learn to bend when needed. Her strong will comes from me. You’ll probably have figured that out after you’ve been around me a couple of times. I pray that she will do more than just understand the real definition of beauty. I pray that she’ll embody beauty.

For the other one I pray that her need to please people would be replaced with a desire to “be filled with the knowledge of His will…. so that she might walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him. I trust that as she lives to please Him, all the while conscious of grace, she will be pleasing to you.


I pray these things along with a thousand other little prayers; prayers for safety, prayers for illnesses to subside and prayers for each of them to always have at least one good friend. I pray that their heart wouldn’t be broken and that they’d have grace and greater understanding in the overcoming, when their heart does break. I pray for their daily footsteps and for the whole path. I’m just beginning to learn not to let the requests hog my prayer time.  I’m learning to make more room for thanks. And I’m learning to create blank spaces of prayer where I’m simply placing trust in Him.

Thoughts of you are woven into those spaces.

 Here’s what I want you to know

The more I pray, the more I’m coming to understand that

it’s not so much about who I’m praying for

or the things I pray for

as it is about who I’m praying to.

It’s not about the requests; my best thought-out wishes. He knows what I want before a word is on my lips. Even better, he knows what I need. He knows what my son and two daughters need. He knows what you need.

It goes back to those sweet words uttered (Mexican music in the background) in a small bathroom in Marlin ten years ago.  Trust in the Lord.  Those same words stretch forward to today and will meet you any place you find yourself tomorrow. I hope these words will be your truth when you think you have the perfect plan and when you don’t know how to pray.

That’s my prayer.

Trust in the Lord with all (my)heart.

And I’ll lean not on (my) own understanding of what this future blessed union will look like.

We wish for all of life to be tidy, but life is full of tides. Thankful God is in the tides.

I love you even though I (probably) haven’t met you,

Your mom in law


Now.  Here’s a less serious wish list of what I hope you’ll be:

Someone who likes me. Jason too. But he’s pretty easy to like. If you like us you’ll come around (with my kid) more often. It would be nice if your parents like us too.  That way we’ll be better at sharing y’all

Someone who likes to laugh.

Someone who shares your kids. Not one of those parents who won’t let them have a sleepover with the grandparents until they’re like four.

A little money wouldn’t hurt.

To my future daughter in law: Someone who likes to shop (but not like a marathon shopper) and invites me occasionally

Someone who can cook. I can’t cook that well. Which means that my kids probably won’t start out knowing how.

Someone who plays board games without much of a fuss (win or lose). It just has to be that way. We’re a bunch of sore losers (besides Jason). It’s too late for us to change.

A few or all of these things would be great, but no worries.

Life has a way of surprising. 

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A Guest Post: Written by a Recovering Shrew

Taming my Shrew

Written by Jennifer Horner (my baby sister)

When I was growing up I loved to watch old movies (and still do). I loved the simplicity and clean comedy that seemed to be missing from my generation of “mouthiness” and vulgarity.

The comedians like Doris Day, Lucille Ball and Ginger Rogers could make you laugh without your face turning red from shame. I wanted to be like them and other women of the Hollywood golden age.

My desire was and (still is), to have the grace, wit and charm that oozed from their presence on the screen. These movies were down to earth, fun and inspiring. I love everything about them because I don’t have to feel guilty or ashamed if my kids walk in while I watch these movies. These are the kind of films that make me feel good about life…….

And that is what I want my personality to be like!! Good clean humor with a hint of grace and charm.

On my good days I easily live out my dream of being appropriately witty (charm and grace have always eluded me). I am pretty laid back and easy to get along with. I love to make people laugh and smile.

<UGH>…..but there are days I find myself being more like “Kate.”

Who is Kate you ask?

I’ll tell you. Ever heard of “The taming of the Shrew” by William Shakespeare? Well back in 1953 Hollywood made a delightful comedy called “Kiss me Kate” based on Shakespeare’s book. You see Kate was a Shrew, not the cute little animal shrew; but the “scolding, nagging, bad tempered woman” kind of shrew. She is so horrible her father can’t find a man to marry her, despite the huge sum of money he offers. She is mean, nasty and uses her words like daggers to destroy others. In fits of rage she hurls objects at people. Her temper is such that no man will come near her. She’s bad news.

Now you know who Kate is. And if you have met me, you are probably wondering why I compared myself to her. You can ask my sister, I have been known to have had shrewish behavior as a child.

I do my best to refrain from this kind of behavior as an adult, but to be honest we all have an inner shrew inside us that can pop up without notice. Perhaps, our behavior is not as dramatic as Kate, but shrewish just the same.

Our words, like Kate’s, can be daggers to the heart of those around us. Our actions can hurl unkindness to others who annoy us. Our Tempers can flare and instill fear into those who have done us wrong.

Kate may have been terrible, but deep inside she behaved the way she did because she was afraid. Afraid she would never be loved so she scared her would be suitors away before they had a chance to hurt her. True, she was spoiled, which was part of her problem, but the hidden truth was she never felt truly loved.

We, like Kate, do many hurtful things out of fear. I for one have hurt others because of fear. At Levi’s basketball game the other day, I displayed my shrewish behavior. He was just getting over a concussion, and had been released to play in Saturday’s game. He was up against a giant and not a jolly green one either. This kid was big and threw Levi around like a rag doll. At one moment he had him in a choke hold and had shoved him across the court several times.

He didn’t just target my son but the other players too. This kid was going for the gold!! Let’s just say the mother bear came out, while I screamed for the referee to get him off my son. I muttered under my breath “this kid must be the school bully.” My parents didn’t help my inner shrew, because they were hollering for the kid to get ejected from the game.

Our coaches were hollering about the aggressiveness of the player. In fact a whole bunch of people were screaming about the aggressiveness of the whole team.

The refs had to stop the game several times to talk to the coaches about the aggressiveness. The kid finally fouled out; to my relief my, son was now safe.

But the damage had been done. In my fear, I lashed out and hollered like a maniac. That was my kid and I needed him safe, but at the expense of someone else’s feelings. The kid who played so aggressively, had a mother and guess what……she was sitting right behind me. Yelp, I bet my noble attempt to keep my son safe by entertaining my inner shrew, had made that poor mother feel terrible.

After overhearing her say she was his mother and this was his first year to play, I felt terrible. Yes the kid had been aggressive, he was told to be that way, but that didn’t warrant my behavior.

To make matters worse, after the game I asked my son about the kid. Levi knew him and told me he was a friend and he was really a good kid (off the court). I asked Levi how this would affect school. He said “we’re good, we told each other good game”…… that was the end of it.

Ouch, just got humbled by my son. What would have been war for me, because I can’t separate “on the court” and “off the court” relationships, was over as soon as the game ended for my son.

With my words I probably hurt this mother terribly. I allowed my tongue to be a weapon and my behavior to be that of a true shrew. The bible has SO many verses about taming the tongue (MY INNER SHREW).

James 3:5-6Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.

See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.

Proverbs 10:1919 In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise.

Your inner shrew may be different, it can be nagging (I admit….guilty, another blog perhaps) rage, your actions or even your temper. We are ALL a little like Kate, and like her, we heap hurt on others.

As much as I love old movies and the way they inspire, that is one film I am NOT striving to model after. However it did have a happy ending, Kate did find love and it was the key to taming her. If I had shown love and mercy to the offender of my child; I would probably not have stuck my size 7 ½ shoe in my mouth.

I guess we can learn even from a shrew!!! Love is the key to taming the ugliness inside us. With God’s love, mercy and never ending patience, He can help us tame the shrew inside us. By showing love and mercy to others, we can follow in His footsteps. And if you’re like me, keeping our tongues under control will help a lot too!!!


Written by a recovering Shrew:

Jennifer Horner

About Jennifer: Jennifer is the baby of my family and was my roomie for ten years of our early lives. Speaking of shrewish behavior and throwing things, we have a story about a small rocking chair that flew across the room while in a disagreement when we were supposed to be cleaning one day.  But our stories are different. Sisterly love.  It was good then and even better now.  Love my sister who’s also one of my best friends.  Here are her three cuties.




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A Novice Foodie Mission: Tracy’s Seafood Deli



Fridays are my favorite day of the week; Jason and I are usually both off work. So we have a thing where we try and find a new eating establishment.  Apparently the extent of our sense of adventure includes nothing more than a fork, but I dig it. Jason posted a picture of yesterday’s day’s eating joint. The picture didn’t do the place justice. Here it is in case you missed it.

Tracy's Inside

Nothing says appealing like a hot pink wave wall painted with pale yellow and turquoise geometric shapes and a nice fake potted palm tree/ivy. That’s why we felt obliged to write a quick post about yesterday’s cuisine.

Here’s our shared blog about the experience:

I’ll let you in on how I found out about this joint. I’ve been in physical therapy for three weeks now because it seems when I behave myself  (instead of freaking out under stress) the stress just builds up in my neck and shoulders. It makes me wonder if behaving myself is good for my health. The stress had been so built up that I ended up having daily headaches, half of a hand going numb off and on and the feeling of creepy crawlies all over my head, all the time.

Anyway, Dr. Hunt here in Nederland is fixing me up. He and his ladies are helpful and super friendly. If you have neck or back problems, go see him.


That being said, part of my therapy includes doing these gosh-awful exercises for my neck and shoulders, usually three sets of twenty. I have to count for myself so I can’t talk. Others that have been at this a while are pros and can do their exercises and talk at the same time. One guy mentioned last Wednesday that he got the best chicken wings “from the hood” a few nights before. He said the place was named Tracy’s and was on Gulfway. I did my best the rest of my time to count my neck tucks and remember where Jason and I needed to go on our next Heyday Friday.

Yesterday was wet and cold but there was sunshine in my soul. I had my favorite food cooked just the way I like it.  I would say I love oysters, but my great-grandmother always told us not to say we love anything besides people.  She was THE boss and I’m still afraid to not do what she says.  Fellow oyster-likers can see how big and juicy and ‘not ruined by too much crust’ these oysters are (I hate having to peel off superfluous crust).  Fries are usually just a filler in my opinion, but these fries were fresh and well-seasoned. They paired well with the homemade tartar sauce which I normally never eat.



I’ve used more than the reasonable word limit and Jason ordered a couple of things so here’s the low down from Jason on the rest of our experience.

There are so many great eating spots right here in Nederland, that we haven’t ventured out lately.  When Kristi overheard some folks talking about this seafood place in Port Arthur that served up some serious chicken wings, I was immediately interested.  We had a little time on our hands this past Friday and a few dollars burning a hole in our pockets so we ventured into the heart of Port Arthur to check out Tracy’s Seafood Deli.

Where Is It?

Tracy's Map

I’m not far off when I say Tracy’s is in the heart of Port Arthur.  It’s a convenient location to anyone working at the Motiva plant.  I’m sure I’d be there as often as I could if I was nearby at lunchtime every day.


What’s It Like?

At some point in the past, Tracy’s was a Burger King.  They have maintained some of the furnishings, but nothing of the menu.  This might be the best repurposing of a fast food place I’ve ever experienced.  Don’t come here expecting napkins and silverware on the table.  This is a place for hungry people to fill their bellies with fried, boiled or grilled seafood goodness.

What We Ate.

I couldn’t just order one thing.  I was hungry for seafood and for their chicken wings.  I checked out the menu online before going in.  I thought the pictures on their website were a little too good to be true.  The first image I was really interested in was a platter of jumbo shrimp that were large enough to live up to their oxymoronic name.  The shrimp I saw on their website could have been saddled and ridden by small children.  I was expecting to be underwhelmed, but I was pleased to find there is still some truth in advertising.  Check out this plate of bad-boys I put down.


When I saw the price for the chicken wings, I was a little taken aback.  I didn’t scope these out on the web first so I came into Tracy’s expecting the WingStop or Buffalo Wild Wing variety.  6 wings for $10.39 was overcooking my grits, but I didn’t come all this way to turn down a culinary adventure.  When they came out of the fryer, my financial frown was turned upside down.  When you eat wings at Tracy’s, don’t think about wing pieces.  Think about the entire wing, except feathers.  This was simple, tasty goodness.


I actually had leftovers!  I brought the box home for the kids to enjoy.  They ate everything but the salad. I’m afraid they even ate the bones.

Kristi is an oyster fanatic.  If a place has fried oysters, that’s her first stop on the menu.  She picked up half a dozen with fries.  There are usually pitfalls that we watch out for when ordering fried oysters. The first is over-breading.  When a restaurant  is serving up pre-made, stale-off-the-truck, variety of oysters, it shows up first in the breading.  The breading can drown out the natural oyster goodness.  The next pitfall is the size of the oysters.  We’ve been to places where you had to search through the breading to even find an oyster.  We don’t go in for the tiny ones.  If we can eat an oyster in one bite, it’s No Bueno.  Third, it should not be overcooked.  These delicate sea goodies cease to be good if they are left in the fryer for too long.

I’m glad to report that Tracy’s gets 5 stars on all fronts of their oyster prep.  Their oysters were HUGE.  These were two, or three, bite delights.  They were lightly breaded.  They were not afraid to let their oysters speak for themselves.  The cornbread breading was just enough to make it interesting, but not so much to take away from the oyster experience.  Finally, they were cooked just long enough.  We like them raw, so undercooking should rarely be a problem.  These still contained significant, natural oyster brine oozing out after every bite.


If you have a little time on you hand and a hankering for goo seafood, try out Tracy’s Seafood Deli.

I’m looking forward to trying the Boiled Crawfish, Crab Legs, and Vietnamese Egg Rolls.

Give them a try and let them know what you think.



Dr. Jason Burden FBC Nederland www.fbcnederland.com

www.pastorburden.com 409.722.0263

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