Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Texas, Beth and Friends {old and new}

I'm already quite overwhelmed by the thought of re-capping my weekend in a length that anyone will actually read all the way through. But, since this blog is also for me -- like a journal -- I guess even if no one makes it to the end, that's ok! Right? Ok, here goes!

We had a wonderful, wonderful few days in Houston! Oh, where to start? As some of you know, I was part of a group of women that covenanted to memorize 2 Scriptures each month for all of 2009. It was a challenge from Beth Moore and I decided to take it. It was great! You can look back to the 1st and 15th of each month throughout all of 2009 and see which verses I chose, if you want to. Anyway, at some point in the year Beth announced {via her blog} that she was going to have a celebration event after 2009 was over to get together and honor all the women who had fulfilled the challenge. How cool is that idea? But since the celebration was in Texas {and I was in Minnesota} I didn't give it much more than a passing thought. And a little wish that we had enough extra money that I could some how afford a plane ticket for a quick trip to Houston. And then, that was that. As the time grew closer I kept on memorizing my verses and talked a little with Kirb about the celebration event and how fun it would be {not at all thinking that we would ever go, just -- honestly -- mentioning how cool I thought it was that they were putting it on}. In November we considered -- for just a day or two -- the possibility of me going. Or of us going together {and Kirb doing other things while I was "with Beth"}. But we decided it just wasn't feasible for a few reasons. Fast forward to Christmas and my "present" {we don't usually get presents for each other, so to speak} was the announcement from Kirb that we were going to Texas. Together. For a long weekend. I was so excited!

I also have to say that Beth Moore has been so important in my life. I had heard of her a little off and on for a couple years, and then in the fall of 2005 I did my first Beth Moore Bible Study {Believing God}, thanks in part to Jennifer and Siri -- a couple of my friends that were planning to go and invited me along. I was hooked. For the first time I really, really enjoyed studying the Bible. She is such a gifted writer and speaker and teacher and it opened up something in me that had never before held a passionate place in my life. I am so blessed and thankful and grateful for the opportunity to have learned from her for the past nearly 5 years. If I could pick anyone in the world that I would love to meet and be able to spend some time with Beth Moore would be right up there {along with Sara Groves. They both have ministered to me so much in my life!}. I had heard Beth live when she was in Minneapolis in 2008 {on my birthday, no less!} thanks to my friends Laura and Nicole who hooked me up with some extra tickets they knew of. On a side note, I'll always remember that Beth Moore event because it was probably my first time of lengthy separation from my sweet, new little Anna Grace {7ish until noonish on a Saturday is pretty long if you are without your not-quite-4-month-old, nurses-every-few-hours baby . . . and also without a breast pump!}. It was a great time though and I learned a lot and enjoyed seeing her in person, albeit from not-too-close in a stadium that seats thousands and thousands and was pretty full.

Ok, so we leave home early on Thursday morning and fly to Chicago and then on to Houston. We land, pick up our rental and drive to the home of some people that Kirby has a connection to through work, who have graciously allowed up so stay in their {very, very nice} home. We have an entire "wing" to ourselves. Crazy stuff! I could go on and on, but I'll try to be quick. We get introduced, visit a while, get the tour and, since they have evening plans that they had committed to before knowing we were coming, we go our separate ways. Them to their dinner and us to "The Galleria" a HUGE {more retail space then Then Mall of America, I'd say} local mall to eat and shop and people watch and just enjoy each other and our time together.

This is the home we stayed at in Houston {and our rental car!}

We drive "home" and are in the door about 27 seconds {literally!} and my cell phone rings. It's a 218 number. Which means Kirb's family. It's nearly 10. This is NOT a good sign. His mom, who just recently has had some heart trouble, is in an ambulance on her way to the ER {which is over 20 miles away from where she lives}. That's a story for another time, but did -- obviously -- profoundly affect our weekend and our mood and put a damper on our fun weekend away. Kirb "slept" with his cell phone next to the bed and got another call a little before midnight that she was settled at the hospital and would be staying for, at least, the night. {She is home now, and on some new medications that will hopefully take care of her until it can all be investigated further}

Friday morning our very gracious hosts feed us a great breakfast {lasting over an hour with devotions and prayer time} and give us the whirlwind, see-it-all driving tour of the Houston area. I don't think there's anything they left out. We also headed to Galveston to see the Gulf and, while there, toured the Bishop's Palace, a huge, Victorian mansion on the island.

Bishop's Palace :: Galveston, Texas:

When we got home we freshened up a little and got ready to head to Houston's First Baptist Church, and the reason we'd come in the first place . . . Beth and the celebration.

Beth {and daughter, Melissa} on Friday night:

We get there and I'm a little nervous {actually, kind of a lot nervous}. I can't remember ever going to something like this all alone. All by myself. I didn't know a single soul in the entire room {well, except Beth, you know!} and was nervous: Who would I sit by? Would they think I was a complete dork when I cried through all the praise and worship time? Would anyone talk to me? So many questions and uneasiness, but it was all worth it in the end! I got a name tag, found a seat {way in the back . . . people got their early!} and waited nervously. Studied my verses, did I mention that you had to bring your "spiral", {the thing you had written your verses in all year long. Beth -- and most of the rest of us -- had written them in spiral bound index cards, which came to be known as "spirals"}, and be able to say at least 10 of them to a partner . . . a partner I didn't even know! So I sit there, anxiously awaiting the start of the evening. There is lots of energy in the room and I know that it's getting close to time for things to start. At some point, I glance over my shoulder {I'm sitting in an aisle seat near the back} and who is standing probably 2 feet from me? Yup, Beth! She goes down my aisle and up to the front. {We were in a large Sunday School room, rather than the main sanctuary. There were about 500 of us there and that room was a better fit!}.

Beth and her spiral:

"Siesta" is what Beth calls her blog readers. The story goes that one day she typed "sistas" in reference to her readers and the spell check changed it to "siestas" and, I guess, the name stuck. SMT is Scripture Memory Team:

There is a welcome, some worship and the first session of teaching {wonderful teaching} from Psalm 119. We wrap up and it's time to go home. Beth heads back down "my" aisle as she leaves. We make eye contact. I smile. She pats me on the shoulder. I can hardly stand it! How cool is that? There was mention of some treats and "meet and greet" time following, but I hadn't paid much attention to that. I didn't know anyone, so I planned to call Kirb and have him pick me up to go back. I was tired and we had to be up early the next morning to get back to the church. Since I was in the back of the room, and didn't have anyone to chat with, I got out pretty quick after it was done. I get to the lobby and Beth is just standing there eating a piece of cake and waiting to "meet" and "greet" so, nervously, I walked toward her. About 4 or 5 ladies get there ahead of me. I wait my turn and then, there she is. I give her a hug and she mispronounces my name {I am wearing a name tag, remember} and asks if that's right. I tell her no, and pronounce it correctly. She says it's a beautiful name and I tell her it's Hebrew and actually means "beautiful". She asks where I'm from and I say Minnesota. I'm too nervous to ask for a picture or to have her sign my book or anything, so I let the next lady have her great, fun, anxiety-provoking, flying-high 30-second meeting. Then I kick myself about being dorky and not trying to get a picture {everyone else is for crying out loud, and I was holding my camera the whole time. Wouldn't someone notice my dorky-ness and my need and offer to take a picture for me? I guess not.} Anyway, it was wonderful and fun and exciting and a little overwhelming too. I buy a book, call Kirb and walk out of the church.

Beth, eating cake, right before I got to meet {and hug} her on Friday night:

Saturday morning we get up early, are treated to another great breakfast {a 6 am breakfast, no less!} and more devotions with Ed & Renee and a time of prayer {including prayer for Kirb's mom} and leave to head back to the church. The traffic is much, much lighter on Saturday morning at 7ish than it was Friday night {surprise, surprise!!!} and we get there in plenty of time. Kirb came in with me to see the church. I find a seat {right in the front} and park myself in it until we start at 9. We got to the church about 7:15. Breakfast snacks were available for purchase and the resource table opened at 8. I wanted to get a better seat, so I wanted to be early . . . I probably didn't need to be quite that early, but it was just fine. I plopped down in my seat and did my Esther homework for the Beth Moore study that I am in right now {and REALLY enjoying!}. Some ladies came to join me in our row and one of them says to the other, "Hey, she's from Minnesota too" We introduce ourselves and after a little chatting find out that I went to college with her sister and we have many, many mutual friends. Small world. She came alone too and the 2 women she was with she had met since arriving. So, now I have a couple "friends" at least. We chat a little more and wait for things to get started.

The time has come. The screens in the front count down from 5 minutes. Beth {and Amanda and Melissa, her daughters} come up and do a few door prizes {I didn't win any!} and introduce the morning.

Amanda, Melissa & Beth giving away some door prizes:
No zoom on this one, she was right there in front of me.
She's just as adorable as you might imagine too -- inside and out:

We have some more wonderful worship time {I cry through pretty much the whole thing} and then Beth comes up for our final session of teaching from Psalm 119.

Quick overview of our lessons from Psalm 119:

Then from 10:30 to 11 is the dreaded time that I am also so excited about . . . sharing your verses with a partner. I am sitting next to my new friend Amy from Georgia. She admits she is nervous and doesn't think she'll be able to say her verses from memory {we're supposed to say at least 10 of our 24 from memory to our partner}. I admit that while I know mine too, I lack confidence in my ability to "wield" them in this particular situation. We are glad to be on the same page and get started saying/reading our verses to each other. We have a few the same {each person chose their own verses. We didn't all memorize the same ones} and enjoy our time together.

"Siestas" in pairs saying their verses to one another out in the courtyard.
How wonderful is that? Praise the Lord:

After our time of sharing verses, Beth comes up to close the session and instructs us to, again, find a partner, look into her eyes and share a blessing with her -- which we repeat after Beth. Yikes! This part freaks me out. I'm going to be a crying mess. What will I do? Amy {my scripture partner} turns to me and says "I'm never going to be able to do this without crying." "That's great" I tell her, "neither will I. We can cry together." And cry we do as we bless each other with some inspired words from God -- through Beth. We exchange a long hug and email addresses and have quickly become fast friends. What a blessing all around. We end with a few more wonderful worship numbers and head out. It was a great time. One I will never forget!

Here is the recap of the weekend on Beth Moore's blog with links to other posts from ladies who were there. I noticed myself in a picture on this blog. Can you find me? So, that fact leads me to another quirky thing about me: I think it all started when there was this snapshot of Kirb and me in 1993 or so. Young and in love! It was my favorite picture of us for a long time {now, I find it to be ridiculous. That hair. That dress. Those "babies" in the picture}. Anyway, it was just the two of us in the picture . . . well, and this lady in the corner in the background. I don't know her. It always bugged me that she was in that picture. I just wanted it to be us, but there she is. Each time I look at it she's there. I wonder about her. Then I wonder: how many people look at me in their pictures and am bugged that I'm in there. Do they wonder about me? Do they wish that I hadn't walked by right then? Probably they don't give it much though, but it did lead me to think about how many pictures I have been in in my lifetime that I don't know about. How many pictures of me are floating around out there? Since I didn't know I was going to be in a picture, am I doing something embarrassing like scratching my butt? Do I look cute in them? . . . It's just a funny thing that I've thought about quite a few times over the years. And for the first time I saw ME in someone else's picture. The lady wouldn't have had any idea who I was. She was taking a picture with her friends. I just happened to be in the background. Anyway, I told her it was me now she knows. Funny thing! Have you ever thought about that, or is it truly just me? Just wonderin'.

After leaving the church on Saturday afternoon {just after 12}, we pick up a bite to eat and take a little walk at a park {you can't beat upper 60's in January if you're from Minnesota. Even if it is overcast and not too sunny!}. Then we head to Pearland {just outside of Houston} to spend the afternoon, evening and night with my dear friend Melissa.

Chad, Aubrey, Lauren, Melissa & Isaac:
"Old Friends":
Chad and Melissa's home
{one of the few houses in Texas flying a Vikings flag} ::

I was thinking hard about it and I think that Melissa is my oldest friend {correct me if I'm wrong, Mom!}. We first met when I was a toddler and she was fresh from her mommas womb. Our moms were friends. We have an audio recording of me when I was about two "showing off" all my words. I was listing the people in my life and included "Baby Minnie" in an adorable 2-year-old voice. Well, that, my friends, was in reference to Melissa.

We had a great time with her, her wonderful husband, Chad, and their 3 precious kiddos. {I was really missing my kids by this point -- we both were -- so it was fun to be with their kiddos on Saturday}. We had a great time -- and a great dinner! -- with them in their home and then turned in for the night. {We must be getting old, all 4 of us were pretty much done in before 10}. We spent some more time with them in the morning and then took off for the airport when they headed to church.

Our flights home {to St. Louis first and then on to MSP} were just dandy and we were happy to be home and reunited with our family! I am so grateful for this time away {Kirb and I hadn't been away together -- for more than a night and further than an hours drive from home -- since we went to the Philippines more than 6 years ago. And that, although wonderful, wasn't quite a romantic trip away. We worked hard! We had a fabulous time and did have one great, relaxing, "vacation" night while we were there, but it wasn't meant to be a couples get-away type trip. We hadn't really done one of those, to any extent, since our honeymoon more than 13 years ago. I think we were about due, don't you?} This wonderful weekend, which I will remember forever! wouldn't have been possible without my fabulous husband arranging it and taking the initiative to plan it all, and my amazing parents who took great care of our kiddos while we were gone {lice scare and all -- don't worry it was just a scare. We are still lice-free, at this point, even though the buggers are back in LJ's classroom again!} I am so thankful!


  1. Beautiful post! It was a very awesome weekend!

  2. This is my first time to your blog but I must say what a blessing to have been able to participate, and what precious memories each one of us have from the rewards of our labor. Praise His Name!

  3. How wonderful! I am so glad you got to participate in this event and to top it off, you got to do it with your husband! I am so proud of you that you memorized all those verses. I only made it until September but I went back and reviewed all those verses this morning and it was so many more than I would have memorized without Beth's challenge. Wish we could talk about it in person! Oh yes, I went to look at your picture in the other woman's blog. She could have "cropped" you out but she didn't! That's kind of neat!

  4. Love your post! (I read the whole thing!) :)

    Your name IS pretty. Is it pronounced "Shanna" or "Shauna?"

    I would've taken a picture of you and Beth! I took lots of pics for people this weekend!

    Have a great week!

  5. Oh! And I saw your comment on someone's post where you said, "That's me in your picture." :)

  6. Marla, it's pronounced like Shane-a (like the man's name, with a long a!)and then a short a at the end. So glad that you could be there too. What a wonderful time it was! {Now I'm back in the cold and snow and wind and sleet! Texas in January is nicer than Minnesota in January, that's for sure!)

  7. It was great meeting you, Shana! I'm so glad you came!

  8. I'm so glad you had a wonderful time! What a blessing!

  9. Sounds like you had a wonderful trip! I would have loved to attend the conference, but our budget wouldn't allow. I'm saving up to attend "Living Proof Live" in October though. Beth Moore has had a big impact on my life also.


  10. Wow ... fun! That was a special getaway!

  11. How awesome that your hubby could come with you! I also was crying through the worship music - Friday night I could barely sing!!! Hard to believe the event is OVER! I'm wondering if I am in anyone's pictures! I didn't meet Beth, wish I could have but I'm one to hang back and watch - I don't have to guts to just go right up and introduce myself - so who is the dork now? :)
    Laura P
    Pleasant Hill, CA

  12. sounds like you had a really nice time in texas! glad you guys got away for a bit...too bad we had to call and bug ya, but we knew you'd want to know how kirby's mom was doing. and it's fun to see all the comments from others who were there too!


Thanks for the comments . . . they make my day!