it's the journey

it's the journey

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


It's July 4th, 8:45 am, from the next room, I can hear strains of Tony Orlando's, "Knock Three Times," and I'm wondering what in the world the Today Show producers were thinking.  It's Independence Day for goodness sake!  Couldn't they come up with something a little more patriotic?

Maybe I'm just getting older, but it seems when I was a kid, this day was much more revered.  People stopped and reflected on what it meant to be free.  We thought about our founding fathers, braving the elements to come to a strange and frightening place, all for the promise of freedom.  We thought about the courageous men and women who have left the comfort of home, putting themselves in peril to defend our country, many of them paying with their very life's blood.

So for today, let's stop and think about the many things we have to be thankful for. Our faith, our freedom, our families.

Okay, now I feel a little guilty, I can hear Tony singing Neil Diamond's, "Coming to America."  Looks like I judged a little too quickly.  Well, I guess I have the freedom to be wrong sometimes too...

Have a safe, blessed and thankful Independence Day.  Let freedom ring today, in all you do!

(originally posted 7/4/2006)

Thursday, June 21, 2012


When life isn’t going so well for my friends, it comes naturally to me to give them a hug and a word of encouragement.  Sometimes we’ll share stories of God’s faithfulness over coffee. I might send them a card or an email and remind them that no matter how dark their situation, God is in control.  And I’m not simply tossing out platitudes here--or trivializing what they’re going through. When I pray for them, I release them into God’s care with total confidence. 
But when the winds of trouble blow at home, the situation gets a bit stickier.  I can believe it for my friends, for my husband, for me, but what about my kids?  Why is it so hard for me to just hand it all over to God when it’s about my kids?  
As our children grow into adults, their problems and concerns are more serious than when they were children.  They’re facing things like heartbreak, disappointment, career decisions, choosing a life partner, health issues.  There’s no possible way for me to fix those kinds of things!  Still, I’ll lie awake at night mulling them over, worrying, exploring every possible outcome.  You know what?  That’s CRAZY, and here’s why:  God’s promises are not something I can pass down to my children like a family china pattern. Those promises already belong to my children.  I’m not the one sitting at the right hand of God, pleading their case for them--Jesus is! 

What a relief, it’s not up to me. Certainly, I’m going to continue to encourage my girls, to pray for and with them.  But ultimately, God’s got it all in control and they are in His tender care. 
And as for me, I need to let go! 

What about YOU?  Is it hard for you to let go?
For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.  1 Timothy 2:5 
It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.  1 Corinthians 3:7
Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. Proverbs 22:5-7

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


“Jesus take the wheeeel, take it from my hands.”                        

Oh, I do love that song, and when it comes on the radio, I’m singing every word right along with Carrie-- much to the chagrin of some unnamed family members. 

The last time I heard that song, I thought to myself, wouldn’t it make more sense to just let Jesus KEEP the wheel? Now it’s a great song, and I’m certainly not knocking the idea that once we come to the realization that we’ve made a mess of things, it’s time to call on Jesus. But when I am saying is, once we’re out of calamity, we tend to subtly say, “thanks Jesus, I can take it from here.” The truth is, that’s how we met with disaster in the first place.

I’ve always been a doer, fixer, problem solver kind of girl, so it’s not easy for me to scoot over to the passenger side. But it’s not enough to cast God in the role of consultant or co-pilot, He want’s me to put Him in the driver’s seat. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart, do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path."  There’s a reason we shouldn’t depend on our own understanding; we can’t always see the big picture, but God can. He knows every curve in the road and what’s best for us, not only today, but in the future. His word says He delights in us and orders our steps. (Psalm 37:23) We need to learn to seek His wisdom at every turn and let His word be the GPS that maps our journey.

I love this translation of Mark 8:34-35 from The Message because it’s plain and simple!

Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, "Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how.’ 

 Is it difficult for you to surrender your control to God? How is He teaching you this lesson?

Monday, May 28, 2012

To Those Who Sit Upon the Walls

Having grown up in the South, the weekend before Memorial Day, or Decoration Sunday, as we called it, was the time our family made its annual pilgrimage back to the little country church my dad attended as a boy.  It usually marked the end of the school year as well and I couldn’t wait to meet up with my Alabama cousins.  We spent endless hours roaming the red dirt countryside talking, laughing, swimming and mostly sweltering in the Alabama heat.  There was All-Day Singing at the Burnwell Bible Church of God and afterward, the entire community  turned out for dinner on the ground.  We’d spread our quilts, break out the lawn chairs and sample some of the finest cooking south of the Mason Dixon line.  All of this took place right next to the cemetery, which was freshly manicured and bursting with colorful wreaths and floral arrangements lovingly placed in honor of those who had gone on before.  Late in the afternoon, we’d gather to share a quiet moment around the headstones marked with Goodman and reminisce about our loved ones. It was a time I looked forward to for months, a family reunion of sorts. I was just a girl then, and knew very little of loss.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve become acquainted with grief and loss, but I still can’t begin to fathom burying a son or daughter who has paid the ultimate price in defense of our nation. It takes an individual of exceptional courage to place themselves in harm’s way for another, day after day.  Today we remember them, we honor them and we say thank you.  And to those left behind-- the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, spouses and children whose lives have been irreparably shattered, we remember you as well.  
Today our hearts are filled with sadness, and a swell of pride for our fallen heroes.  We honor you all across America, from rural cemeteries with dinners on the ground, to the rolling hills of Arlington and every resting place in between.  
And thank you to those who still sit upon the walls, who defend them with their very lives so we may rise and sleep under the blanket of freedom you provide us. ++  
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.     John 15:13
++ paraphrase from, “A Few Good Men,” screenplay by Aaron Sorkin

Monday, May 21, 2012

Thank you Mrs. Welborn

Aly and her beau went to the peach orchard this weekend and picked some lovely fresh peaches which she later transformed into delicious cobbler.  Watching Aly work her magic in the kitchen took me back to a time long ago...

When I was a young girl, there was a huge white farm-style house with a pristine lawn and white picket fence, just down the road from us.  I was fascinated by it, and one spring day, I took it upon myself to meet the occupant.  Peeking through the fence, I saw a gray-haired lady working in the flower bed and called out to her in the cheeriest voice I could muster.  She opened the gate, invited me in with a big grandmotherly hug, and we became instant friends.  

Mrs. Welborn had a large strawberry patch behind her house and I earned lots of quarters picking berries every June.  I spent many hours, helping her with her yard work, and afterwards, we’d retire to the squeaky white glider on her porch.  There she served up good old-fashioned conversation and an endless supply of ice cold lemonade in bright aluminum tumblers.  
She was an excellent cook and would occasionally invite me into her kitchen to sample a slice of one of her homemade pies.  My favorite was her chocolate pie, so one day I asked her for the recipe. Mom and I have been making it ever since, and it’s a must at every holiday meal at the Sykes house.  
Looking back, I’m not sure how much Mrs. Welborn really needed my help, but I certainly needed her.  Mrs. Welborn happily spent hour after hour investing in me, a little girl who had no grandmother living close by.  She taught me a little about gardening, how to pick the perfect strawberry, and how to make my now “famous” Iron Skillet Chocolate Pie.  

Thank you to all the "Mrs. Welborns" out there. Your kindness, your generosity and the memories you help create will always be remembered. 

Who would you love to go back and say thank you to?

Iron Skillet Chocolate Pie
1 baked pie shell
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp flour
3 tbsp cocoa
2 tbsp butter
3 egg yolks (reserve whites for meringue)
1 cup milk
vanilla to taste

Mix sugar, flour and cocoa in a small mixing bowl.  Melt butter in an iron skillet over medium/low heat.  Stir in sugar mixture till well blended.  In a separate bowl, beat eggs yolks, add milk and blend well.  Add the egg and milk mixture to the sugar mixture in the skillet a little at a time, stirring constantly.  cook slowly while stirring until thick.  Remove from heat, add vanilla and allow to cool slightly before pouring into a baked pie shell.


reserved egg whites

1/8 tsp cream of tartar

2 tbsp sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Beat egg whites with hand mixer on high until stiff white peaks form.  Add cream of tartar and sugar.  Top pie with meringue and bake for 8 minutes at 400 or until golden brown.  Allow pie to cool before serving.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Clean Sweep

When we moved to Texas I told myself I HAD purged my closet of all unnecessary items before we moved.  Well, I was kidding myself.  Day after day, I would have to dig through my closet searching for this blouse or those pants.  There was just too much stuff.  Every few weeks or so I’d say, I’m going to clean out the closet this week... sometimes I’d even make a half hearted attempt and toss away a thing or two.  Well, yesterday was D Day!  I got out of bed and tackled the job before I’d even had my coffee.  Four bulging trash bags later I was a little sweaty and disheveled, but so gratified!  It felt SOOOO good!  Why had I put the task off for so long?  My mornings will be so much more peaceful.  

Why are we so compelled to hang on to our “junk,” not just the material, but the spiritual and emotional as well? There are things we know we need to get rid of, like worry, unforgiveness and jealousy.  They’re useless things, they crowd out all the good and cause us nothing but heartache.  Trust me, we’re never going to need them!  It’s time to let them go, give them all to Jesus, he’ll gladly take them off our hands.  Just think how good it will feel!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Hebrews 12:1

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Here we go again...

When Michael and I packed up and moved to San Antonio a little over 18 months ago, I guess I misplaced the box where I packed my blog.  I told myself that this cross country move and all the adventures that followed would be excellent material for new posts, AND, they probably were.  The only thing is, I procrastinated.  And the longer you procrastinate, the longer you keep procrastinating.

I haven't been totally remiss though.  At least I had the presence of mind to jot all sorts of little thoughts and bits and pieces for future use.  Now to find the time to flesh them out. Any who, you'll be hearing from me more often.  And if you don't, feel free to give me a nudge.