Time Traveling Through Texas

Howdy Ya’ll. Last week, we returned from a week long visit to the Lone Star State or as my wife and every Texan I know calls it “God’s Country.” We flew in to Austin on the 21st of July and immediately were made aware of the extreme heat they were suffering under. Before landing, you could see how drought stricken and brown the countryside was. Renee’s parents picked us up at the airport and headed for Copperas Cove. Before leaving Austin, mom was nice enough to stop and pick up some food for us as we hadn’t eaten since United charges for all its meals now. Where did we stop, but none other than Texas own, Whataburger. Tasty burger for the win. We arrived in Cove and would later go to dinner with mom and dad at Logan’s Roadhouse. The next morning we met her brother and dad for breakfast at Lil’ Tex in Cove and then we headed north.

We arrived in Henderson, TX and met up with Renee’s best friend Michelle despite getting lost thanks to the GPS giving us faulty directions to her place. We drove past her work and then went to dinner at the Cotton Patch restaurant where I enjoyed “real” chicken fried steak. We spent the next few hours laughing and playing games at the home of Michelle’s friend Kizzi before calling it a night. We enjoyed breakfast with Michelle and headed to meet our former neighbors and fellow CFNI grads, Sam and Shari Bristow for lunch in Palestine, TX. We hadn’t seen them in 17 years and they brought their son whom Shari was carrying last we saw her. It was amazing how after a 17 year separation, we picked right up where we left off. We laughed and joked through out lunch and thoroughly enjoyed every second we had with them. We left them and headed west toward Dallas/Ft. Worth.

We arrived mid-afternoon in Burleson, TX and checked into the La Quinta. We relaxed in the room for a few hours and got ready for the main event of the night, the wedding of Joni Gingles to Jarid Yankus in nearby Cleburne, TX. When Renee and I were students at Christ For the Nations(CFNI), we started serving as youth pastors for a small church outside of Ft. Worth. One of the very first youth to join us at Aledo Christian Center was the pastor’s granddaughter, Joni. We left Aledo to attend Oral Roberts University in 1996 and Joni would join us there a few years later. We kept in touch over the years and were very excited for her and her announced wedding date. After following a winding country road, we found the location of the wedding. It was a scorching TX afternoon, but the wedding was set in the shade of several giant trees providing much needed relief for the wedding party and witnesses. It was great to see so many families and the men and women we had known as teenagers after 15 years. One of the ministers had been a young man in our youth group along with many of the bridal party. There were a few that were barely recognizable after so many years. It was a beautiful ceremony and reception that we were very grateful to witnesses and attend. It was a pleasure to see and talk with so many people that we knew while in Aledo.

The next morning, we drove south to Copperas Cove and after dropping our luggage off, we headed to our home church, Trinity Worship Center. We met and married there 21 years ago and I have been a minister through the church for 22 years. It was great to see many of our church family and especially Pastor Kirby. After service, we were treated to BBQ brisket at the home of our good friends, Tim and Patty. Tim was my roommate for a short period after I left the Army and before I married Renee. I also performed their wedding 21 years ago this week. We enjoyed catching up with them immensely and were summoned to dinner by Renee’s brother Scott that evening.

Renee’s mom took off the next day from work so they could go shopping. I was along for the first part of the trip as they visited Best Buy and I helped pick out a new monitor and printer for mom. I returned home to set everything up while the ladies continued their shopping. We met for lunch and went to Dairy Queen to enjoy one of my Texas favs, the Dude. It is a chicken fried hamburger only sold in TX. The next day, we did a little touristy stuff as we took dad with us to the Blue Bell Creameries in Brenham, TX. Blue Bell has and always will be Renee’s favorite ice cream and I can’t argue with her on how very good it tastes. The tour was a half-hour and then we were treated to a scoop of ice cream of our choosing from 14 different flavors. On our way back to Copperas Cove, I detoured through Elgin, TX to stop at Meyers Smokehouse. I enjoyed a two meat combo plate of brisket and hot gut(sausage). We got back to Cove in time to go see Captain America with Scott at the cinema. Later that same night, we went to catch up with Carol, Renee’s classmate and former youth group member at Trinity Worship Center. We hadn’t seen her in several years as well, but spent several hours laughing and catching up with each other.

The next day, we were up and packed to return to California. Before leaving, we had another important event to attend, Renee’s mother was having a retirement party. We traveled with the family to include her sister Carla that flew up from Houston to mom’s office in Temple. We laughed and joked until the ceremony began. After meeting all of mom’s coworkers and enjoying some refreshments, we headed back to Cove. We went to mom’s favorite, Red Lobster, for lunch. We spent a few more hours with Renee’s family before mom and Carla drove us to Austin to catch our flight home.

It was great to see so many of our very good friends and family while time traveling through Texas. It was amazing to see how much time had passed, but we were able to laugh and talk as if we were only gone a day. If any of you care to reciprocate, our home is always open. We may not have Blue Bell, BBQ, DQ, or many of the other TX delicacies, but we will share with you all that we have here to include a warm embrace. Thanks again to all of you for making the week we spent there so very special. Special hugs to Michelle, Sam & Shari, Joni & Jarid, Pastor Kirby, Tim & Patty, Carol, and Renee’s whole family. We love you so very much. A note in closing, Jesse actually took great care of the house and pets while we were gone. Thanks son.

It’s been a couple of months…

I was waiting to post until things settled down a bit around our place. The end of May and beginning of June were quite busy as Jesse prepared for and then graduated from Apple Valley Christian School. It was a long time in the making as he began in K-4 attending Jenks Road Christian School while I was working on my degree at Oral Roberts University. After our move to Kentucky and a brief stint in public school, Renee began a long journey with him in the realm of homeschooling. He had a couple of years mingled in where he was attending classes at Excelsior Education Center (7th grade) and AVCS (9th grade), but most of his time was spent with Renee teaching him. They did well enough that he only needed 4 classes each semester of his senior year to graduate.

We had several family members fly in for his big day on June 3rd. His grandparents came in from Texas and his grandmother from Florida. We also had his youth pastor and fiancee along with one of my childhood friends and his wife at the graduation ceremony. It was a cool day as each of the graduating seniors had a slideshow of photos from their life play as they received their diploma. Jesse presented us with a letter and flower after leaving the stage to embrace all the family.

The Monday following graduation, Jesse mailed off his application for an internship he greatly desired. After waiting and waiting, we finally received word that he had been accepted to intern at the Los Angeles Dream Center, a ministry that focusing on meeting needs of those facing challenges from substance abuse, homelessness, poverty and other maladies society has. He wants to devote his life to helping others and we are very proud of him for that decision. He has to wait a few more months before he can begin as they currently don’t have any vacancies. He is hoping to begin the internship as soon as possible, so please pray patience for him and that he finds work while he awaits the call to begin the 4 month internship.

Man, he isn’t a boy anymore!

We celebrated Jesse’s 18th birthday on Wednesday. I was directed by Jesse to get donuts promptly in the morning before I left for work. He decided that since it was chapel day at school, he would dress in his suit and wear his fedora. I left work early to pick up his cake and get home before he did from school. Renee and I put on our best as well. He pulled in to the driveway to see Renee in a fancy dress and me wearing a nice tie and shirt. He was quite surprised as he thought he would be taking his mom to lunch and jokingly asked her to get dressed up so he wouldn’t stick out. After opening his card and birthday present (an iPod Touch), we left to enjoy a fancy lunch at the high-class eating establishment called “Subway”. We ran into someone from church coming out to the truck afterward catching them by surprise as we don’t dress up on Sundays. We then went to Best Buy so he could get a case for his birthday present.

On arriving home, it was the right time for cake time. He decided that the Over-The-Hill candle would do the trick on his gigantic cake. He didn’t care what kind of cake he got as long as it was big. This wasn’t because he expected a lot of people for his birthday, but because he wanted a lot of leftover cake to enjoy afterward. We laughed as he proceeded to cut a piece that was just under a quarter of the cake. He managed to eat almost all of it before he called it quits and put what was left in the fridge for the next day. That evening we went to Nick’s Pizza so he could enjoy another of his favorite foods: Pizza with Canadian bacon, mushrooms, and pineapple. So all in all, he had a good day full of his favorite foods and a cherished present that he will put to great use in the years to come.

Considering how I spent my 18th birthday(activities that are best left unspoken) and that Renee went with me to get a marriage license on hers, I think Jesse had a great birthday. He is less than a month from graduation and is finalizing his application for a 4 month internship that would begin in July. I will reveal the details of the internship after he has been accepted and his start date is confirmed. Hope everyone is well and that all the students finish their school year well.

Back from Europe and on to graduation

Jesse returned safely on March 27th and even managed to stay up until 9 that evening. He had a great time and thanks the many of you that offered support both financially and with your prayers. He returned with over 1300 photos and a few souvenirs. We pared down those photos to the top 100 or so which can be seen on our Facebook page if you are a friend. If not, send a request and you can check them out. You can also see some of his exploits on the trip through the eyes of his teacher at: http://www.everlater.com/rockylockwood/2011-avc-europe-trip/los-angeles-california–2. There are several photos of him and even a video of his presentation at the Omaha Beach Cemetery in Normandy. Watch for the red beret that appears halfway through the trip. It was his way of standing out and helping others in the group to see where they were going. Just look for the 6 ft 4 guy in the red beret. 😛

Now that he has returned, he has under two months before graduation the first week of June. Time to focus on the finish line and work hard. He has a goal for after graduation and I will share more on that at a later time. For now, we want him to do well on his remaining studies and complete his high school education. We are proud of the young man he has become and know that he will accomplish great things in life. We wish each of you a happy Easter in the next few weeks and pray that you know the power of His resurrection in your life. Behold He is not here, but is risen!

Off on his great adventure…with another to follow.

Yesterday afternoon, we dropped our son Jesse off at his school to join his classmates, history teacher and a number of parents on a two week trip across Europe. They will be visiting Rome, Paris, Normandy and London during their time overseas. It was the culmination of 6 months of asking for help from family and friends, selling off his childhood (his words), and doing odd jobs. We told him he would have to raise the money himself if he was to go. It was a test of his faith and the Lord came through for him. It is a wonderful experience for him and it will broaden his worldview.

Though I joke about when he moves out, I found myself pondering what lay ahead for us. He will be graduating in a few more months and has plans to begin a 4 month internship in Los Angeles. Jesse and I sat outside the church building Sunday afternoon while Renee attended a meeting and joked and laughed together. The realization is setting in that the boy we raised is soon to be off on another adventure, life. Our time with him in our home is dwindling despite Renee’s wish that he stay until he is older. I left home two weeks after graduating high school and returned 5 months later for a year before leaving home for good at 19. Renee married me at 18 while she was still in high school and moved out.

Now it seems, we will have an empty nest as Jesse spreads his wings and embraces his destiny. It is an accomplishment that we are glad he has achieved, but also one that is bittersweet. We are now entering the post-parenting part of our lives. We will always be there for him, but he won’t need us as much or be around our home as frequently. As he graduates high school, we graduate as well. There will be grandkids at some point, but we aren’t in a hurry for them to arrive. Enjoy your great adventure son, we are so very proud of you and will await what lay ahead on your journey and ours.

February – One month to go for Jesse

It’s been a month since I started the year of thankfulness on Twitter. At times, it has proved to be challenging as I try to find something to be thankful for that I haven’t already mentioned. Some days are no-brainers as important calendar dates arrive and other days I find myself contemplating longer and posting later in the day as something happens or comes to mind. I am grateful I undertook this challenge as now I am searching for things to be thankful for which is a good thing in itself.

Jesse is a little over a month away from his trip to Europe with the other members of his senior class. He has one final payment due on the 14th of February and he is within $200 of the amount needed to make it. I am very grateful to all our family and friends that have helped him realize this goal. He still will be raising money up until the day he leaves to cover the cost of a camera for the trip and extraneous travel expenses not covered by EF Tours(tips, lunches, etc.). When he first approached us about the trip, I told him he would have to raise the money and trust the Lord for the finances to cover the trip as we were already paying his private school tuition for his senior year as well as all the additional costs associated with being a senior(ring, cap & gown, etc.). As he finishes his senior year, he will have a significant milestone going forward of how his needs were met and stronger faith in the Lord to supply his needs in the future.

February is always a month of celebration in our family. Renee’s parents celebrated their 45th anniversary on the 5th. Renee celebrates her birthday on the 13th with Valentine’s Day the following day. On the 17th, we celebrate our 21st anniversary. On the 22nd, we remember my parents anniversary which would have been their 47th if dad were still with us. On the 24th, I acknowledge another trip around the sun as well.

Hope that each of taking time out of your day to read this are well and that you know the love of the Lord and family in your life. We appreciate each of you and your presence in our lives.

2011 – A year to be thankful for

On the first day of 2011, I felt impressed to express my thankfulness each day via Twitter. I am going to say what I am thankful for each and every day of this coming year. In this life, I have so much I take for granted and so much to be thankful for that goes unexpressed. I think I could stand to be more thankful so I intend to do just that. 2011 – a year to be thankful! If you want to read each of these tweets, follow me at www.twitter.com/Hairy_Baldman.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Time for the monthly, (used to be bi-monthly) blog post. Since the last post, Mom Zeliff came and spent Thanksgiving with us. We enjoyed having her visit and had a wonderful meal together. Mom also treated us by bringing back Bluebell ice cream from her visit to see Aunt Loretta in Yuma. We can’t get it here and my Texan wife Renee was very pleased to have some. During the time off, we got the Christmas tree up and the lights hung outside. Since that time, the wind has beat the heck out of the lighted garland we hung leaving it unlit for the rest of the holidays. I may take it down and try and fix them, but that isn’t a priority with Christmas bearing down on us quickly.

After mom returned to Florida, we were happy to be visited by the Lantz family before they left Ft. Irwin for Texas. Verna was in our youth group oh so many years ago and is now an Army wife with a wonderful family. It was great to see them again and share the Bluebell stash. We hopped her kids up on sweets for the long ride back to base. I feared that would have put us on her naughty list, but she informed me that everyone fell asleep on the ride home.

We did sneak in a couple of movies in the last couple of weeks. We saw the 3rd, and probably final, Chronicles of Narnia movie: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. We all agreed that is was bit plodding at times and that the sea monster scene was a bit intense for the many toddlers we saw in the theater. We went to see Tron: Legacy this past weekend. We enjoyed the graphics and CG effects, but the story also seemed a little slow. The ending was kind of anti-climactic as well. We had not seen the 1st movie, so maybe that would have helped our enjoyment. We will revisit the original on DVD and see what we think then.

Jesse continues to raise money for his trip by working odd jobs(raking leaves, hanging Christmas lights, etc.) and selling items online. He has raised 60% of the $4000 goal with his next payment of $586 due January 15th. Thanks to all who have sent contributions or offered your support in prayer. He finishes 1st semester finals this week and is looking forward to Christmas break.

If you didn’t receive our Christmas card and would still like to read our annual letter, you can read it here. We wish each and everyone one of you a blessed Christmas filled with love and joy. Know that we love each of you and are grateful to count you as family and friends. We look forward to 2011 and all that it holds for us. Hopefully that includes visits from or with many of you. Merry Christmas and happy new year.

Give thanks with a grateful heart…

I am so thankful to all who have offered a prayer or financial support to Jesse for his senior class trip. He passed 50% last week and continues to sell items online and through craigslist. He has another $586 due on December 14th.

This time of year always brings thoughts of family and holidays past. We are celebrating our 5th in our home in Apple Valley. Our 1st Thanksgiving in this home, we had our friend Julie visiting from France. Last year, we had my mom visiting from Florida and she will be joining us again this year. I remember other Thanksgiving meals in Oklahoma shared with Renee’s best friend Michelle or her co-worker Warren as we moved over the holiday weekend. Another time, we gathered Renee’s youth group at Tim’s house in Copperas Cove, TX. We used to travel to see Renee’s family or mine, but we seem to stay put nowadays. We are thankful to all our friends and family that have shared a Thanksgiving meal with us.

On another note, this past Friday we went to Knott’s Berry Farm to take advantage of their Veterans get-in-free special. I made the mistake of eating a steak and egg burrito before hopping on the many roller coasters there. Due to the cloudy weather and most of the schools being in session, we only had to stand in line for 20 minutes on the very first coaster. After that, we literally walked up and got on each of the coasters. In 2 /12 hours we had been all the way around the park and had been on each of the coasters we wanted to ride. We decided to leave and head back home as my stomach continued to protest. We stopped at Panera Bread Co. and my stomach forgave me for the burrito/coaster adventure after treating it to a Frontega Chicken sandwich and some black bean soup.

That’s about all for now. We wish each of you a happy thanksgiving and hope that your holidays are filled with joy and laughter. If you desire a newsletter and Christmas card, please send us your address.

November and things are looking better for Jesse.

Jesse has been working hard and has raised 1/3 of the money he needs for his senior class Europe Trip. He raised $350 at the yard sale, mowed a lawn, sold a bunch of items through craigslist and a store at half.com. Donations have come in also for which he is very grateful. To allow him more time to raise money, we agreed to sign-up for a monthly payment plan. This means 4 payments of $586 are due the 15th of each month through February. He has about $375 more to raise for his payment this month. Our weekends have involved going through everything and taking photographs to post them online to sell. We have a bunch more items to post and pray that they sell to help Jesse.

We will most likely have a sparse Christmas so we can dedicate money toward helping him take this once-in-a-lifetime trip. Thank you to all who have offered there support. He is really looking forward to spring break and this wonderful opportunity.