Category Archives: SOWER Projects 2013

SOWER projects worked in 2013

Ten Years ago…

I was wandering around the blog this evening, and landed on this post from 10 years ago. It’s a little melancholy, but let’s face it –
sometime it IS hard!

Oct 12, 2013 – IT’S BEEN A ROUGH WEEK

Don’t get me wrong.  If you’ve stopped by this little corner of the internet before, you know that we love this life.  That we feel both blessed and honored to serve our God and King as we travel.  We find joy in the simple life we lead, the beautiful places we’ve been, and the amazing folks we’ve met and worked with.  And the way we’ve seen God working all around this country.  All good. All very good.  But this week the pull to be home was very strong.  Very strong indeed.

First there was this little guy.
It’s one thing to say in your head that you’ll be OK not holding that precious baby until Christmas, but it’s a whole ‘nuther thing when he’s actually born and your Gramma heart starts to melt.  Toby went back to work on Tuesday and I know any sleep deprived mother of five would be a bit overwhelmed on that first day going solo. Tammy has a wonderful network of friends and family in the area and I know she handled it well. There were meals in the freezer and big sisters eager to take a turn holding Reis, but still. Oh, how I wanted to be there to fold the laundry and make a batch of mac and cheese and pack lunches and help with homework and take MY turn at holding that little boy.

It was hard to be so far away.

Then there was the phone call on Wednesday from our other son saying he was in the ER with his wife who had fallen at church and might have a broken arm.  When all the dust settled and the X-rays were read, it was a radial fracture of the elbow with a seriously sprained wrist.  Way better than a broken arm to be sure (no cast, just a sling and some PT), but still tough with a 2 year old.

They got the crisis worked out just fine without me, but still. Oh, how I longed to be there to tuck Abigail into bed and tell her not to worry. That Grams was there to care for little Weston, and make sure meals were made and laundry was done.  And tuck Weston into bed, too.

It was hard to be so far away.

And then there was Thursday, and Uncle Rich’s Memorial Service in Massachusetts. We would have loved to have been there to celebrate his life with those who also loved him.  To cry and laugh and remember along with that dear family.  And to hold them.  They were surrounded by a host of friends and family who loved their Dad and I know they were hugged long and well through that hard good-bye day, but still. Oh, how we both longed to be there and to give our own hugs. And to maybe get a couple ourselves.

It was hard to be so far away.

We don’t have many weeks like this. Not many at all. And for that we are thankful. Because even though it was a rough week, with the heartstrings pulled taut, we still feel that we are right where we are supposed to be.  For now. For this time.
Sometimes you just have to bloom where you're planted!
And we’ll do our best to bloom where we’ve been planted.

Mondays are for Memories – Canyon Lake and the Hill Country of TX

A good friend left a comment on my post about our New Neighborhood asking whether or not Austin was pretty. Well, truth be told, I haven’t actually formed any “pretty” opinions about Austin since what I mostly see in Austin is TRAFFIC. Perhaps we’ll get a bit more into town later in the month and can form a more accurate opinion (especially since I’ve heard that it really IS a lovely city!), but in the meanwhile I did want to report that the Austin Area is in one of the prettiest parts of Texas. Austin is located in the Hill Country, filled with lakes and winding roads and, yes, hills! Several years ago we stopped for a couple of days at Canyon Lake in the Hill Country, and I thought I’d share that post today. As you can see – it IS a beautiful part of Texas!

October 5, 2013 – Canyon Lake


What a beautiful couple of days we had at Canyon Lake. It’s just outside (north) of San Antonio and in the beautiful Hill Country area of Texas. Our good friends Jo and Roy had raved in the past about the beautiful Corp. of Engr. parks on the lake, so we thought it would be a great stopping over place before we completed our final leg of our journey to the Rio Grande Valley. And the fact that Jo and Roy were actually going to be there = well, we couldn’t not stop!
Unfortunately, due to the partial shutdown of our dear Federal government, the COE campgrounds were closed, but J&R found nearby private campground (still on the lake) and soon we were settled in nicely!
And look, nice quiet neighbors!
Canyon Lake-1
Our buddies had some in-town errands to run on Thursday, so we were left to our own devices. It seemed like a good morning to check out Canyon Lake.
The morning walk at Canyon Lake. All good!.
Canyon Lake-5
Canyon Lake-3
Canyon Lake-12
Canyon Lake-13

It’s always a treasure to find tiny pockets of color appearing in the pot marked surface along the water’s edge.

Canyon Lake-9 Canyon Lake-7
Canyon Lake-8 Canyon Lake-10

Given the heat (it was in the 90’s) and the fact that we were on our own, I confess that we spent the rest of the day in the cool (relatively) of the RV. (I had a couple of deadlines to meet, so it was really a good thing!) But Friday was a play day for sure!
With Jo and Roy as our guides we set out to Gruene, TX (pronounced Green). It’s a quaint Texas town located along the Guadalupe River, just outside of New Braunfels.
Along with interesting architecture and touristy shops and places to eat, it is also home to Gruene Hall – one of the oldest (if not THE oldest, depending on who you ask 🙂 )dance halls in Texas.
Apparently, on this very stage, George Strait got his start!
Oh, the historical significance of it all! But Country & Western legacy beside, it really was a fun little town!


It’s all about tourism these days in Gruene, but they do it pretty well and Jo and I even found a bargain or two! After a lovely late lunch in Gruene (check out the Gristmill River Restaurant for great riverside dining if you ever get to town), we took a little drive to nearby New Braunfels but found we were too late to get into some of the historic buildings there. Besides, we had one more important stop to make –
As you can see, Mrs. Bush also sells Texas sized cookies!
But that Key Lime Pie – My.Oh.My.
Mrs. Bush's Key Lime pie. Oh yeah, baby!
We showed great restraint in not eating the whole thing!
So it was a wonderful couple of days. We shared meals when we could, got in a couple of games, and just hung around and caught up with each other. We love that we have such dear SOWER friends that we can go for years between visits, and still pick up right where we left off.
But – like many good things, it came to a prayerful end on Saturday morning. We hugged and prayed and promised to keep in touch (thank-you, Facebook, for making that easier than it used to be!).
And then we hit the road!
Final leg of our fall journey. The long road to the Rio Grande Valley!
300 miles later, we were parked and getting settled in the Flame of Truth Campground in Alamo, Texas.

And here we will be for the next little while. Gary’s been asked to head up the A/C installation at the new school building for Macedonia Christian School. There is one small glitch, though. The actual building isn’t up yet. Soooo….we’ll see what the weeks ahead will bring. Right now we’re thankful for our safe arrival and are looking forward for tomorrow’s cold front. Right now, it’s 93 and the A/C is a humming away, trying to catch up from the hot drive. And I think it might just be time for a nap…….
…………….and I might just be dreaming about that pie……………..

Gary’s Journal

I know this post is overdue – but let’s face it, sometimes those days just slip by until suddenly it’s been a week – then the weekend comes and goes, and here it is Sunday night and I still haven’t figured out what it is that I should be writing about.  I’m pretty sure you don’t care about the yummy pork fried rice that I made out of leftovers this week and while the fact that we are the proud owners of a brand new mattress (and now feel like we need a ladder to get into bed)
New mattress=need to find a step stool .
– well, that’s pretty exciting to us, but probably not so much for you!
So I thought, for a little change of pace, I’d give you a little look into Gary’s Journal. Every day since we’ve been on the road (that would be three thousand four hundred and fifty eight days) he has written in his DayMinder “Week at a glance” notebook. Now if you know Gary, you are not surprised to learn that his entries are more in the form of phrases than sentences – no point in wasting his daily word allowance on this, right?
Each day starts with a “Gary Summary” of his morning quiet time, and continues on with snippets of his busy days. At the end of the day he notes where we are parked.

Here goes –
Monday – One Plants, another waters but God increases
Put up electrical boxes in last section of Class End. Filled hole in mech room w/concrete.Put up drywall in bathrooms for plumbing work. Started door opening into plumbing chase


Tuesday – No Sleep? God can give you rest 
Drilled holes for wire runs, Cut out floor above electrical boxes, Finished green drywall for plumbing pipes, refrigeration copper (wrong 90)no armaflex short 3/8″


Wednesday – Do not worry about tomorrow – God provides
Fixed outdoor water spigot at old school. Pulled power wires and hooked to boxes on gym side of firewall. also pulled some of the intel box wiring

Dinner @McD’s – community group at Juan’s.

Thursday – Prayer is work
Continued to work on wiring. Built temporary refrig pipe supports. Met w/fire alarm people and looked over prints.Put mud rings on wall boxes.


Friday – Viewing Eternity affects our lives today
Started suction line piping – had problems w/torch. need new tip or something. Met manager of Mattress Firm @new site. Went to store and bought a new mattress. Met with Kim & Joe T… @ Corner Bistro for 3 hrs.

And so it goes! Little snippets of his workday (and weekends too!) that are recorded with great regularity. While this is certainly not a “so how do you feel about that?” kind of journal, I think it’s a wonderful journal nonetheless.  I can’t tell you how many times it has come to the rescue when we’ve been trying to figure out just where we were when.  And I’m pretty sure that will only come in handier as the years go by (and our memory goes bye-bye!).

But back to the actual entries of this past week.  Please, please don’t think he’s been all alone in these endeavors. We have been blessed by the arrival of 10 new, hardworking SOWER couples – and the whole building has been hopping with activity!


And of course, when he needed that wire pulled on Wednesday (even though there were 10 guys hanging around to give him a hand), he came and got his trusty helper (me!) to keep those coils moving! It must be love! <3

Have a great week, everyone!  I hope to be back soon, but for now it’s off to (the giant) bed for me!


He’s really wired these days!

When Gary told me last week that he would need my help with “pulling wire”, I was delighted!  Because I had experience in pulling wire. Or so I thought. Remember our Montrose project and all that wire we pulled?

I learned about marking the wire
How you attach a rope on the end and then feed it through a pipe to where it needs to go –
And then you keep pulling it until you have enough pulled through to get to where it needs to go.
And voila – Neat and tidy and where it all belongs. (Thanks to a guy way smarter in wire things than me!)
Looking back, it all seems so civilized.
This Wire Pulling directive was something entirely different.
First of all the wire. None of that sweet little thermostat wire this time.
We were into the Big Stuff. The Let’s-get-the-power-to-the-rooms wire.
The good news was that we were using 250 ft. coils so that several “home runs” could be done at the same time. The bad news was that we were using 250 ft. coils so unrolling them was something of a challenge. Our first try was not so successful.
Way too spirally to run around the outside channel and actually work with.
Nope. That was not going to work.
So they put together a wire “dispenser” where we could load up 5 rolls at one time.
Once again (just like the more civilized wire pulling) we made sure the ends were marked
and Gary wrapped them all together with the rope and started feeding it to Norm (up on the landing).
Hi, Norm! It’s coming, it’s coming….
Here you go!
Since these coils of wire are not on spools themselves, we couldn’t just pull them up and expect them to unwind. Instead of unwinding,  they would just get tighter and tighter. It was my job to manually unwind all 5 rolls at the same time (well, more or less) while one of the guys was pulling it off the ‘dispenser’ while Norm was pulling it up to the second floor, while the other guys were pulling it all around the outside of the building.
and go!
repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat…….
When we had unrolled enough, the guys at the other end of the would work to get it situated into the correct channels.
Needless to say, this was a group project on so very many levels! So far we’ve done 8 runs of wire (5 rolls each). Between the actual “pulling”, Gary gets busy organizing them all!
As he runs the wire to the various outlets and switches, he somehow keeps everything straight,
in a language that I can’t even begin to understand.

While I always enjoy working with Gary, this last stint of wire pulling has made me appreciate anew the more traditional SOWER lady jobs –
Like the mailing we helped with on Monday.
🙂 It’s all good, friends.
All good!


We’ve been Framed!

When we learned a couple of weeks ago that a team from Boone Trail Baptist Church (Johnson City, Tennessee) was coming the week after Thanksgiving to work on the framing we were all pretty excited. The walls were up and roof was on over the classroom section and the lumber was delivered but with only a couple of SOWER guys  the interior framing would have been a long, long job. So a “framing team”? Well, that seemed like a pretty direct answer to prayer! (And of course, it was!)  What we didn’t know was just how much of a blessing it would be!
Even though they had driven two long days to get here, the 17 member crew started bright and early Monday morning.
Framing Day 1-5
Each man seemed to know just where to be and what part of the job needed to be worked on.
Framing Day 1-6
Framing Day 1-12
And once they started – they just kept going and going and going!
Framing Day 1-13
Framing Day 2-2
Framing Day 2-3
Framing Day 2-4
Framing Day 2-8
The building guys were still on the job too – just trying to stay ahead of the framers, I think!
Framing Day 2- 9
This was taken around noon on Tuesday (when this girl and her camera go home!)
Honestly, I felt like we were on the set of ‘Extreme Makeovers’!
By Wednesday morning they were expanding into the “not quite under cover” area of the building –
Framing Day 3-3
Thank goodness for strapping young men!
Framing Day 3-4
Back on the “inside” work was continuing also –
Framing Day 3-6
Framing Day 3-7
Framing Day 3-12
High and Low!

Framing Day 3-18
We also had some very special visitors on Wednesday morning – all of the middle and high schoolers and staff came for a “School Signing”.
Following a short time of worship and prayer,
the students were let loose in the new school to leave their mark (and add their blessing) on the new building!
Truth be told, all of these remembrances will be covered in drywall,
but I believe the impact of these kids blessing their new school will remain. Both in the lives in these students and in the future of the school itself!

Our framing friends left at the crack of dawn on Thursday, so the job site was a fair bit quieter when I got to work that morning.
Bottom line – 17 guys and 4 ladies (the support team!) drove a total of 4 days to work 3 days to further the Kingdom! What a great God we serve!! And what servant hearts that team had! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

PS – if you’d like to see the whole set of framing pictures, you can check them out HERE.
and if you’d to see more of the students signing the building – check it out with this LINK!