Monthly Archives: March 2014

Sometimes Joy is Hard

Today was a true blessing.

The Minnie Pause ladies performed for an amazing crowd at First Baptist Church of Houston. The ladies in the audience were ready to have a good time, and that always gets the cast going. There were a few men there, too, but this was a women’s event and the ladies were fired up about it.

The members of the cast were there long after the show ended taking pictures and sharing with the attendees. It is amazing what will be shared in this environment, and many times the only appropriate response is to stop and pray with someone. It is wonderful to watch, and it really does help. When your message is “Joy 4 Life’s Journey” it is important to embody what you are singing and acting out.

Usually, once the pictures are taken, the cast will change out of their costumes and wigs (you can see why!) before we leave. Today was different, though.

A long-time close friend of ours is dying. He and his wife have had a rough few years. Their son was born with special needs and died a couple of years ago. Rick and Patti were supposed to be able to enjoy some time together after going through that tragedy. Instead, more tragedy has followed. Watching your friend die is tough; watching your spouse die is almost too much to imagine.

Patti has attended several shows, and when we found out Rick was back in the hospital today we decided to go see them. After the show we decided that we would do so in costume. I was sure it would lift Patti’s spirits, and I know Rick well enough to know he would think it was hilarious to see these ladies walk in wearing gaudy makeup and two-foot-high beehive wigs.

The reaction was just what we expected. We visited and talked with Rick and Patti, and then Rick asked if we would sing. The sounds that came out of that hospital room sounded like heaven to me, and we attracted quite a crowd that just wanted to come see and hear what was going on. Rick was moving his lips right along with us, and I know his heart was singing to beat the band.

These kinds of moments are special. This is the heart of what being involved in a ministry is all about, and I am privileged to serve with people who gladly take on the responsibility. Sometimes joy is easy, but often joy is difficult. The joy on Rick’s face today is something that I will remember for a very long time; something that I will remember every time I think of Rick.

We love you, Patti and Rick! God bless every step of your journey.

Before the show
Visiting with Rick

Gruene

It’s pronounced like the color.

That’s the first thing you learn when you move to Texas. The Gruene Dance Hall has been operating since the 1870s, and some of the greatest names in Texas music have played there over the years. I saw George Strait there before he was famous, and I saw Pat Green play one of the best shows I have ever seen. You can go any day, but we like to go on Sunday because the shows are usually free.

Gruene is now basically part of the town of New Braunfels, about forty-five miles south of Austin. Peggy likes to go down, look in the shops, eat at the Gristmill and just hang out. Since our Friday night date got interrupted with more important news of our son’s pending nuptials, I decided to take Peggy down to Gruene after church to celebrate in style.

The weather was a little overcast but not too cool for shorts (it is spring in Texas, for goodness’ sakes), and the shops are always too cool. We walked around and listened to the music from the Hall, then we went to eat at the Gristmill. It is right along the river and used to be a working mill, but it is much more popular as a restaurant. You can sit inside or outside if the weather is pretty. Today they weren’t seating people outside. The only problem with sitting inside is you can’t hear the music, but the view of the river and the food are a good consolation prize.

When we were younger Gruene was where we would come to ride inner tubes down the river. When we got a little older we would come to New Braunfels to visit Schlitterbahn with Mike. In this area you can ride the Comal or the Guadalupe River, and the section of the Guadalupe right behind the restaurant is where we used to get out of the river. It was fun sitting here today and reliving some of those memories. It is sometimes hard to believe we have been together for more than thirty-three years to have all of these memories together. I’m counting on at least thirty-three more.

But I am not getting back in that river anytime soon. That water is cold!

At the Gristmill
It’s never official until Peggy gets a picture with the sign

Awkward

As far as Peggy and I are concerned, the story begins December 16, 2011.

This is the day Mike graduated from LSU; a day much celebrated in family lore. In August of 2009, Mike was thirty-three hours from graduating. He was scheduled to graduate in either May or August of 2010. In October of 2009, the wheels fell off. Suffice it to say, when our boy finally reached the finish line. Peggy and I were ready to celebrate. On December 16, 2011. Perhaps that is why we were so oblivious to what was happening.

We showed up for the graduation with my father in tow. He had been with us through the dark time and had spent a lot of time with Mike. He was ready to celebrate, too. We met up with Mike’s girlfriend for the ceremony. There was another girl there we had not met, so we introduced ourselves to her. We assumed she was a friend of Ann Marie’s, in our opinion a very good friend if she was willing to sit through the monotony of a college graduation ceremony with her.

The commencement parade finally reached the “S” part of the program. Mike was announced and walked across the stage. As Peggy said, if she could have played “The Hallelujah Chorus” at that moment, she would have. We cheered, he waved, we laughed. When the ceremony was completed we went outside to take pictures. Here are a few of the pictures from that day:

The proud parents…
…three generations of Tigers…
…Mike and ?

My Dad drove back home while it was daylight. Peggy and I were spending the night in Baton Rouge before driving back to Houston the next day. We offered to take Mike and Ann Marie out to dinner and wherever they wanted to go. They wanted to eat and then go bowling. Mike asked if it was OK if Caitie went along, too. We had no problem with him wanting to take Ann Marie’s friend with us. We were partying — the more the merrier!

The rest of that night is a blur. Peggy and I left the kids and went back to the hotel. A restaurant a short walk away was serving “gold” margaritas. Somehow we made it back to our room. Like I said, we had waited a while for that celebration…

So, tonight we get a call from Mike. He and Caitie got engaged tonight on the one year anniversary of their first date. Their first date that happened fifteen months after we were there celebrating his graduation. Caitie wasn’t a friend of Ann Marie’s, she was a friend of Mike’s. When he was ready to break up with Ann Marie, Caitie was ready to start dating. We had no clue and therefore created some very awkward moments for all of them during our euphoric celebration. Of course, someone could have explained to us that Caitie was not Ann Marie’s friend, but that person should have been Mike. And he wasn’t too worried about it.

He found the right one despite his parents. His parents who were out tonight celebrating the 33rd anniversary of their own first date. Here is the picture Mike texted to us while we were out:

Nice ring…

Now, that picture doesn’t look awkward at all. Congratulations, my son!

Stafford Opera House

Every once in a while you get to do something that is truly memorable.

A couple of years ago we did a Christmas show at the Stafford Opera House in Columbus, Texas. It is a beautifully restored turn-of-the-(last)-century theater that hosts touring plays and musicals each year. We were honored to appear on their stage, and the audience really enjoyed the show. Apparently they enjoyed it enough that the Opera House invited us back to do our “regular” show as part of their season package this year.

There are real benefits to doing the show in a theater. In many of our venues my most important job is figuring out how the stage is going to be set up to accommodate our show and the necessary props. In this theater that is not a problem. Well, maybe the stage is a little too big, but we aren’t going to consider that a problem.

The show tonight was incredible. Frequently our audience is mostly women, which is understandable since we are hired by a lot of women’s groups to come perform for their events. Tonight the audience was basically half female and half male (the makeup of the room, not the individuals in the room).

I have always said that men enjoy the show at least as much as the women, at least once they get permission from the misses to laugh. Every once in a while one of the men will laugh a little too loud or too long and will get a little side-eye from his neighbor, and we do see an occasional elbow. But most of the time the ladies are laughing too hard to notice what the men are doing. 

Tonight’s audience was ready to have a good time from the jump. Every time we asked for a little audience participation the husbands were encouraging their wives to get up and dance, and several of the men joined the conga line along with their wives. When the show ended we had several of the men tell us they had never had more fun going to a live show, and for the first time I can remember we had as many men as women waiting in line to take pictures with the cast.

It was hard telling everyone goodbye when it was time to leave. Nights like this are so much fun and are why our group is so close-knit.

Laughter is good medicine. We all got a good dose tonight!

The historic Stafford Opera House
The historic ladies of “Minnie Pause and the Hot Flashes”