A walk through the fields


Toby relaxing on the back patioToby and I went for a morning walk at 7:30 a.m. January Lane was pretty busy with folks heading off to work, so we walked through the neighbor’s yard and then around the perimeter of Brent’s dad’s yard. Toby sniffed every step of the way.

It was a good 15-minute walk and Toby got some much-needed exercise (He’s been a bit mischievous lately). I took another 30 minute to walk on my own. It’s nice to have time and space to walk and enjoy the fresh morning air. The immaculate background of Texas landscape doesn’t hurt either!

When I returned, my husband and his father were outside on the patio enjoying the lemony morning sun rise over the nearby homes and ranches. We have been truly blessed. Just having a simple place to live and thrive where we don’t have to worry about safety is a huge deal. And we don’t have to wrangle with weirdo neighbors anymore either (the “Old Man” I’ve mentioned before at our last place asked Brent if he had cancer the day before we moved. He also insisted that Brent and his twin look exactly alike — and he has never met Brandon. Oddly enough, the guys are fraternal twins and look nothing alike. But when I asked him how he knew about Brandon he looked at me from behind aviator shades and nodded his head. “Oh, I know. I keep to myself but I know things. I know about you too.” I felt a tingle go down my spine).

Ponder is just a whole other world. Sometimes I get turned around when we’re driving and can’t tell which way is North. The other day, we drove through Gainesville, Texas, missed our turn and ended up across the Red River in Oklahoma. That’s what I love about it here–you can just get lost by stepping out the front door. It’s really a magical feeling.

___________

To read more about the “Old Man,” click HERE.

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10 things to know before moving with your mate


A dozen or so Longhorns graze near our new home in Ponder, Texas. Aren't they beautiful?
A dozen or so Longhorns graze near our new home in Ponder, Texas. Aren’t they beautiful?

My husband and I just moved this past week. It wasn’t a long move, just about 4.5 hours. But we’re home here in North Texas, and ready to begin the next chapter in our life together.

While we’re glad to be here, I admit we had some hiccups, stubbed toes, obstacles, bumps in the road, or whatever you’d like to call them. Who would think a simple move would be so challenging for two people to accomplish? I’m here to tell you that if you don’t think relatively “normal” happenings in a new marriage are challenges, you might want to crack open that couples’ self-help book you got during marriage counseling.

In the mean time, here’s 10 things to consider while moving with your mate:

Don’t leave packing until the last minute. Most likely, you’re going to forget about 14 dozen little items you didn’t think would be so irritating to pack. It’s a good idea to get boxes, bags and bins ahead of time, just to make sure you’re not left toting 12 of those miscellaneous things in your arms on your way out.

Speaking of bags, never, ever throw out your last plastic bag. First off, you’ll likely forget about the water and cereal bars you plan to take in the car with you. Also, a last-minute bag is great for those last-minute 14 dozen items ;0)

Movers are a great idea! Just make sure you have all your “to go” stuff separate from the things you’re still going to need. Example: You’re probably going to need a screwdriver to pop the screws out of the walls before you spackle. Don’t let the movers inadvertently pack the tools! Even if you say not to pack them, they will get packed. Trust me.

It’s a good idea to have an air mattress on hand for your last night. Just make sure you also have a pump to fill up the thing. You don’t want to be making any last-minute Walmart runs at 9 p.m. the night before you hit the road.

Remember, you’re in this together. Work together as a team. It’s important to help each other get adjusted to a new environment, and leaving the old one. Don’t forget to do something special for your spouse during the move — they’re going to need the pick-me-up.

Back to the movers. I can’t stress this one enough. If you have movers, you definitely want to make sure they know what they’re in for way in advance. Here’s an example: If they’re packing your stuff and loading it into the moving truck, they might need more than one day to get all of that done. The last thing you want is for them to show up and tell you they will have to come back for a second day of work. Trust me on this one too!

Stock up on large plastic trash bags, as in, boxes of them. We went through about 50 bags full of trash by the time we turned in our apartment keys. File this one in the late-night Walmart category too.

Keep cell phone and GPS chargers within sight at all times! We all feel lost sans cell phones these days, especially with all the moving parts of a relocation. You don’t want to have to think about where that charger is, so might be a good idea for the lady of the house to keep them in her purse.

Make time for mistakes. One of you is going to need clean underwear, a prescription refill or an oil change for the car. It’s a good idea to build time and emotional energy into your move. Don’t let them catch you by surprise or you may end up in tears behind the wheel driving down the interstate. Just saying.

Remember, if you each have a vehicle and you’re driving both of them to your new home, you and your love will be apart for as long as it takes to complete the trip. With the bulk of the work done, you’re really going to miss him, ahem, them (I missed Brent terribly!). Make sure you stop for a break — and if you have a pet, be sure to find a grassy place with access to fresh water — and spend the time alone dreaming of all the reasons you married each other, and the beauty of what’s to come at your new home.

And here’s a bonus idea: If you have a dog, make sure to spend time with him during the move. He’s going through a big change too! Check out how Toby and I had fun in this VIDEO:

What’s so hard about marriage?


couple-body-shot-holding-hands-112188So, I’m thinking today, What is the most difficult part about being married?

I admit, several things popped into my head right away (all said in love):

  • Keeping the house clean with a man!
  • Not mothering my man
  • Making sure we don’t keep score (“I did this last time,” or “You never take out the trash!”)

I’m not sure any of these things qualify as “difficult,” but in my world — that of an independent 33-year-old woman who married later in life — just about any form of ceding control to another person drive me up a wall. I’m not a control freak, I tell my husband. I’m a New Yorker. We believe that we can accomplish anything if we just work harder.

That’s not quite true in marriage, is it? After almost 3 months of wedded bliss, I’m realizing it’s time to shut my mouth and kick off the boots that have always made me stand taller than anyone I disagreed with. “One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you,” isn’t the anthem I want as the soundtrack of my marriage.

Anyhow, I’d love to know more about what ya’ll think. What’s the hardest part about being married? If you want, leave a note in the comments or head on over to my Facebook page and take the poll I’ve posted there.

Utopia feels like hell


Sometimes the doors to utopia look a lot different than what you expected.
Sometimes the doors to utopia look a lot different than what you expected.

Utopia. It’s an ideal place or state. We know it as a fictional island in literature and as something completely unreachable.

Perhaps the closest thing I’ve seen of it was the movie Gatsby, both in Jay Gatsby’s lavish and almost hedonistic parties, to the pristine moments of attraction between Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan. Even her name culls memories of innocence and soft, warm summer days in New York.

Utopia is also the name of a new TV show where a group of people are dropped into a compound in Southern California and left to create their ideal society. Brent and I like to watch it.

Right now we’re going through what I would call “anti-utopia.” We’re in the throes of a big move, big life changes, financial strain, illness, sick babies (cat/dog), family drama, logistical challenges and spiritual battles. Last night, my husband asked me, “What else can go wrong?”

I was tempted to urge him not to say that–but his prompt reminded me of a time in my life about 3 years ago. Satan had thrown the biggies at me: illnesses, doggie health problems, money troubles, housing issues, broken friendships, church disappointments, family illnesses. After standing through those, the Devil began throwing the small things at me. I got in a fight with my landlord, my best friend moved away, I caught a cold, twisted my ankle, and things like that.

I got wise to him, and pretty soon it got to be funny, the way he would try to trip me up.

Can’t say Brent and I are laughing now, but despite feeling like our own personal utopia is miles away, we know God is being glorified in us. That’s what really matters

Healthy marriage matters


Husband and WifeWe’re still really trying to figure out what this marriage things means in terms or the new responsibilities we find ourselves carrying along with the promise of forever love.

One of the new-found things we’ve realized we now need to do for each other is to get and stay healthy. What that entails probably differs from couple-to-couple, but to the best of our abilities, we owe it to each other to take our well-being seriously.

For me, that (so far) has meant getting cortisone shots and other treatments for my feet (ouch!), getting 2 very painful abdominal ultrasounds (no, not for pregnancy), lots of blood tests, an endoscopy, being properly medicated and treated for certain other ailments, getting exercise and losing weight. Especially losing weight.

I’ve dropped about 25 pounds since June, which is better than the course I was headed down. Right now, that means two or three decent walks each day, bottles and bottles of water, cutting back on sweets and eating less overall.

I also have some sort of stomach condition that brings painful gnawing to my upper stomach. I’m taking pills for stomach acid and trying to avoid the foods that seem to make me sick.

My husband has a few habits (nothing sinful, FYI!), just like I do, that I’d like to see him leave behind for the sake of his own health. Though we each have different goals toward becoming healthier, we’re using our mutual need to challenge and encourage each other to rid ourselves of the things “which so easily beset us” (Hebrews 12:1).

So our goals are:

  • After I drop another 30 pounds, he will give up one of his things
  • After I drop 20 more, he will give up the other one.

I won’t specify his habits because as his wife, I choose to honor him. It’s up to Brent if he want’s the world to know the blips on his health radar. Meanwhile, we’re both checking our blood pressure each morning and trying to be more active. I want this man to be around a very long time!

‘Doggie comfort songs’


So a few weeks ago we were all sick, except for the cat. Brent and I were able to deal with our stomach ailments, but poor Toby dog just couldn’t keep his tummy from doing flip-flops.

The Lab was obsessively licking … anything! It started when Brent noticed Toby heaving a bit. Nothing came out of his mouth, but my husband noticed Toby’s bed was soaked. No, it wasn’t urine, but it was clear. I started to get worried.

Toby began to lick the carpet — non-stop! We got him up onto the bed, where he began licking the pillow, the comforter, the towel I used to dry the comforter. He was soaking up the bed so much that I had put that towel underneath him to do double duty, and become his new licking surface. It was weird.

Yes, I’ve heard the saying, “Dog can’t hold his licker,” and Toby is definitely a smoochie poochie. But this was more. He was beyond the borders of canine OCD, and I was sure he hadn’t gotten into anything bad for him (I’m a bit of an obsessed, myself!) So I called the 24/7 emergency vet who assured me as long as he wasn’t vomiting and didn’t have diarrhea, he would likely be just fine.

I still worried.

The vet tech also told me that dogs often lick when they are nauseated, and she thought it was likely that Toby had an upset tummy. She also said sometimes dogs obsessively lick when they’re nervous or uncomfortable. I decided to wait it out and try to get the dog to calm down. I petted him, rubbed his belly, laid down next to him, gave him kisses, sang to him and tried to distract him from the licking.

His “bologna” tongue was really out of control.

Out of nowhere, I heard piano music. I wasn’t sure where it was coming from, and then realized my husband’s iPod was the source of the serenade. Since it was dueling with my lullaby for Toby, I asked Brent what he was playing.

“Doggie comfort songs for Toby.”

I smiled and looked at the iPod. My man had hunted YouTube and found, “doggie comfort tunes.” It wasn’t a joke, and I scooted up on the bed and kissed him on the cheek. There’s nothing mom’s love more than seeing their man taking care of her little one. Sweetness overload!

For the record, I think that vet tech was right. We took Toby outside after a while and he went at the grass goat-style, chowing down like a beast. After that, he seemed to be feeling better. And no more licking ;0)

Two months ago, I married…


Brent and I went back to the spot where we got engaged to celebrate our 2-month anniversary.
Brent and I went back to the spot where we got engaged to celebrate our 2-month anniversary.

September 12th is turning out to be a whole lot different from July 12, the day Brent and I got hitched.

Today, I’m sitting at my dining room table, the dog laying by my side, Brent napping and Gary Chapman’s “Sweet Glow of Mercy” playing.

It’s rainy and dreary today. We lost power last night and it was an unbearable night without a fan or air conditioner. We normally have the central air, a window unit and two or three fans going at the same time. And it’s still sweltering in some rooms.

I woke up delighted that the power had been restored and my hair was no longer drenched in sweat.

On that July morning, the sun was blazing high in the sky, but I hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before either. I’d stayed up into the early morning hours sewing stripes onto my groom’s USAF blues. He earned them, he deserved to wear them (and boy, did he look handsome!).

I was weary and cranky and so many things to do before 3 p.m. Our wedding was super small, so guests were pretty much able to fend for themselves. Brent stopped by around 11 a.m. and when I answered the door of my hotel room he pulled me into a big, bearlike hubby hug. It was just what I needed.

We celebrated our 2-month anniversary a couple of days ago by going back to the place where Brent asked me to marry him — the Louisiana Boardwalk. After stopping at The Chocolate Crocodile, we had dinner at the same restaurant we dined at after our engagement.

I could still envision the massive Christmas tree that stood at the center of the plaza where we took our first Christmas photo as fiance and fiancée.

It was a quite different scene back in November, as the wintry months were creeping into the heat and humidity of the South. Christmas music piped in from afar, white lights and garland wrapped the entire boardwalk with cheer and holiday spirit. The tiny bridge where Brent proposed was decorated with red garland and ribbon.

Today, life is so very different. I love being married more and more each day. I love my husband more than I thought possible. And I’m secure in his love for me, too. We’re growing together and with the Holy Spirit in our common faith and love. It’s pretty neat to see that happening.

I’ll be honest here, our wedding was nothing like I’d dreamed it would be since I was, say, 8. The church was more modern, the guests fewer, the music less compelling and the dress night as magical as I’d always planned in my mind. But the marriage — that is a world better than I’d thought it would be (already)!

On July 12, I felt like I was a highlander stuck in an English court. Today, I feel like Brent and I are out standing on a bluff high above foggy springs, next to a castle. I am truly in the heaven of my heart (stole that one from Whiteheart. Thanks guys!), even if I’m still having to remind myself that yes, I am indeed married.

And to seal the whole amazing thing, I just received my first letter addressed to “Mrs. Sarah Bays.”

A few of my favorite (Ponder, TX) things


A horse enjoying a summer day in Ponder.There’s something special about Ponder, TX, and it has a lot to do with what isn’t there.

As ya’ll know, Brent and I spend time in his hometown of Ponder visiting his family homestead. We were just there last weekend spending time with his dad, brother and niece.

I enjoyed walking down January Lane into the wild (dusty) Ponder yonder. Brent relaxed in his old bedroom, still decorated with awards and honors from the lives of his brothers.

One thing we both noticed while we were in North Texas was that we felt better. Our digestive tracts were handling food better (ha!) and we didn’t feel queasy like we often do here in Shreveport.

It’s a lot less humid in Ponder than in Shreveport, so the air feels cleaner. But I think the biggest factor for our well-being is the lower levels of stress.

As a couple right now, we’re juggling a whole lot of stressful situations. Neither one of us is working (I gave my 2-weeks notice due to our upcoming move) and income is scarce. I have health woes as does he. Last week our dog was sick.

We’re making a major move, finding storage for our belongings, and calibrating with the USAF to get our apartment packed up and shipped. He’s working on applying to college (for a second degree) and I’m working on job hunting and trying to lower our spending.

We are exhausted.

Here in Shreveport, those things are always on our minds. But in Ponder, they are thoughts that often seem far away, needless and undesired.  We know we’ll be safe there, away from the seemingly never-ending pressure that often hamstrings us, leaving us passionless and unmotivated.

I’m looking forward with great expectations to many years of starry nights under a canopy of indigo skies and a moon the size of Earth. Mornings spent on the patio with my father-in-law and a hot mug of coffee, Toby running around in the yard. Brent resting and enjoying UNT games on TV. Living where my love grew up.

I’m starting to sound like that song from The Sound of Music, but it’s all true. Can’t wait to get home to Ponder and finally exhale.