A Special Hunting Trip by Cindy Hester

This writing is dedicated to the Davis family who provided the hunting trip of a lifetime for my Dad, my brother, and my husband. It turned out to be much more than just a hunting trip. It became the memory of a lifetime for Dad and these guys. We miss you Dad. 09/15/1931 – 07/23/2011

Once upon a time there were three hunters. (Well actually there were only two hunters and one great adventurer.) These three men had an urge to take off one December on a journey to a hunting lease down in southwest Texas. This lease belonged to friends who were kind enough to offer a southwest Texas hunting experience for my husband, my little brother, and my dear, sweet Dad.

There is no comparison between hunting in southwest Texas versus hunting at the farm in East Texas. I have personally sat in stands at both places.They each have a beauty all their own, and they both offer serenity as well as the chance to see a doe or buck. In East Texas you tend to be surrounded by lush woods possibly overlooking a clearing. Your eyes must be well tuned to all movement as deer are stealth experts in that part of the woods.


The lease near the small town of Sanderson, Texas, has a beauty all its own. Sitting in the stand one can see for miles with low brush and tumbleweed being the main source of vegetation. Its rocky, desert like terrain with the mountains of Mexico lining the horizon lend a wild west feeling to the beautiful, open land. What appears to be still and lifeless at 4:30 in the evening mysteriously becomes a hotbed of activity within the hour. Mommas bring their baby fawns out to play and cautiously lead the way for those bucks who seem to instinctively know they are the prize of the day. The surrounding ground becomes covered with rabbit and quail scurrying around looking for dinner and playing in the open. It was a memorable trip for me, and one I could hardly wait for my Dad to experience.

My grandfather was not a hunter. He raised cattle and farmed. He always enjoyed visiting with the hunters in the area around the farm, but he felt that a farmer didn’t have the time to waste on hunting and fishing for pleasure – even if you did eat your kill. He concentrated his time on his crops and his cattle. As a result, Dad never did get into hunting or fishing…well, that coupled with the fact that being a full-time minister along with keeping up the farm did not leave much time for fishing and hunting. I think that is one of the joys opened up to him whenever my little brother came along. Andy had loved it from day one. Dad enjoyed watching the pleasure it brought to him, possibly living vicariously through Andy’s experiences.

It was not easy talking Dad into taking the trip. It was evident he wanted to go, but unbeknownst to us, he was already having issues and was concerned about bathroom accomodations. He was especially concerned about the nine hour trip. After much coaxing from my little brother and reassurance from Charlie that they would take their time and stop whenever he needed a break, Dad agreed to go. Once his mind was made up, he never looked back…and I am so thankful he didn’t.

He reminded me of a giddy little kid the morning they got up at 4:30 AM to head out. Giving Mom a quick peck on the lips and swat on the rear, he promised to return late Sunday evening. His answer to her warning to behave and be careful was a grin, a chuckle, and a retort that she had better talk to the two boys he was riding with. Sometime later that morning he called Mom asking her if she could hear him clearly. Thinking they were in an area with low signal, she replied that he wasn’t breaking up at all. Dad’s reply? “Well, you know I’m riding with Charlie, and as fast as he’s going, I figured it would take a little while for my voice to catch up with real time!”

I don’t know if the Davis’s will ever know just how much their kindness in allowing that trip  truly meant to my Dad, my brother, and my husband. That was one of the last trips Dad was able to enjoy, and he had the time of his life. He came back with stories galore, but his favorite was the one about the older man whipping the younger man’s behind over stealing a seat at the hunter’s feast. I am not sure whether something like that has ever happened before or will ever happen again, but it truly cracked him up.

God saw fit for it to snow while he was there, and that was another source of joy for him. Dad was never one for especially liking to have pictures taken of himself. On this trip, however, there were several times he would pose somewhere and ask Charlie to take the picture and “send it back to the girls.” One of my favorites is the one below where he was hamming it up by the Davis road sign at the lease.

As the trip wound down and they drove into the driveway tired, smelly, and happy as clams, Dad asked for one more set of pictures. Before heading back to Livingston he wanted to take pictures with Charlie and Andy because he “never wanted to forget the trip he was afraid to take but was so thankful he made.” That was the closest he got to the river trip he so wanted to make at Big Bend with all of the guys. After raising three girls, he loved having his son and son-in-laws in his life. There was no mistaking the fact that he loved us all, but I am so thankful for the times Dad was able to have guy time. He so deserved that after all of the estrogen he put up with for so many years.



A Poem to my Grandchild, My Sweet Little Tripp

by Cindy Hester
There’s a new little boy in my life named Tripp
Just holding him close releases my grip
On all of those countless, pent-up fears
Freeing those cleansing, heartfelt tears.
So happy and free are his sweet little smiles
No worries, no cares, no unresolved trials
The face of this baby, this dear, little one
So special to me, my second grandson.
With only one gaze in his gentle blue eyes
You’ve glimpsed into heaven, up past the skies
A place filled with infinite hope, peace, and love
A place here on earth we can only dream of.
You can count on my love to always be near
I’ll guide you, uphold you, your ways try to steer
Toward the divine, unique plan for your life
If God’s plan you follow, He’ll shield you from strife.
I’m so glad you’re here, my prized little boy
The latest sweet bloom in my bouquet of joy
I pray that you’ll flourish, and grow strong and free
You’ll always be priceless, invaluable to me.

Bloom Where You’re Planted by Cindy Hester

What an incredible weekend it was. I got to spend time visiting with my Momma back home. My husband even took me for a ride on the four-wheeler at the farm down to what what my Dad always called “the bottom.” I suppose it was so named because it is the farthest acreage nearest the creek bottom. He ran cows on the land for years except during hunting season when they were brought to the front acreage where the old home place once stood.

The wind in my hair and the contrast of the clear blue sky against the trees created the perfect setting for letting go of all worries and cares. Once we reached the creek Charlie killed the engine of the four wheeler. I closed my eyes, inhaled the scent of pine and allowed the warmth of the sun to bathe my face. I drank in the sound of birds singing a symphony to our good Lord, and I allowed my body to relax to the sound of gentle breezes blowing through the surrounding tall trees. I couldn’t help but smile at the fact that no human sounds could be heard. Only birds singing, squirrels running across the carpet of pine needles and moss, and ducks flapping their wings as they quickly scattered from their previously undisturbed spot where Rocky creek meanders past a clump of trees and brush. For the first time in a long time I felt calm and free.

 I sat quietly watching the leaves dance slowly to the ground and stared in amazement while a woodpecker kept perfect rhythm as it pecked away at an old tree trunk searching for breakfast. Oh how it soothes the soul to return to one’s roots. There is nothing more peaceful than pure and simple country life. Everything moves at a slower pace. Priorities seem to be better aligned, and people tend to regard the value of other human beings by remembering to say thank you, hello, and you’re welcome. Gentlemen tend to still open doors for a lady allowing her to pass through first as they tip their hats as a sign of respect.

Within hours we were headed back to a vastly different way of life. I closed my eyes remembering the serenity of the woods as we crossed over the ship channel bridge, the landscape filled with oil and chemical plants as far as the eye could see. To be fair, I owe a debt of gratitude to one such plant since it has provided a decent paycheck and numerous opportunities for me since moving to the area. I have also met wonderful individuals with colorful personalities, generous hearts, and diverse backgrounds. However, I could not help but ask myself the question, why here?

Three reasons came to mind right away. It took this journey to meet the beautiful girls who have loved and changed our son’s lives for the better. It is through them I’ve had the honor of becoming a grandmother. These precious babies have brought so much joy to this very different phase of my life. In fact, we were returning home in preparation for a special Sunday at church – our newest little grandson’s dedication service.

I walked into church the next morning feeling as if I had walked into an intersection in time. Hearing the welcoming voices of my church family today reminded me of those at Chesswood on the Sunday my Dad held the dedication service for my little brother. I looked around at the presence of aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents…the same roles, but different people filling these roles. I thought of my own son’s dedication service, allowing my heart to absorb the fact that today it is my son who is once again the Dad, and me the grandmother.

It was then God reminded me of the special heritage this day represents – a heritage of faith. No matter where we are, no matter the number of miles between us, on Sunday as I sit in church I can rest assured my Mom, my brother, my sisters, their families and I are all in one accord worshipping the same Heavenly Father to whom those birds at the farm sang their songs of praise. We may be in different towns, singing different songs, and praying different prayers, but we are under one heaven singing and praising with the angels in heaven, including my Dad, Randy and Tripp’s Poppy, and our grandparents. This heritage of faith must be taught and lived before these new little lives entrusted into our care.

So why here? Only God knows for sure. All I know is I want to be faithful wherever I am placed for whatever length of time God sees fit for me to be there, and for whatever purpose I am given.

“Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them.” I Corinthians 7:17

“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:6-9



Precious Memories by Cindy Hester

I awoke, a peaceful quiet surrounding my dreams. The only audible sound came from the whirring of the box fan at the foot of my pallet. I don’t know why I sleep so well to the sound of a fan. Perhaps it is because the house I lived in growing up had an attic fan cooling those hot summer nights. Or possibly it has something to do with the countless  naps taken at my grandparent’s homes in front of metal-bladed oscillating fans. All I know is I carry my box fan wherever I go…winter or summer…Hyatt Regency or Motel 6.

Slipping into my houseshoes I made my way to the kitchen of the one-room cabin seeking a cup of coffee to ease my way into the day. I looked around the room that a short week before echoed with laughter and was permeated with the scent of Christmas. It is amazing how events of the present so quickly become memories of the past. Relishing that thought, I made my way over to the recliner in front of the large windows facing the pasture. I became enamoured with the beauty of the morning mist floating over the hillside. The movement of a red bird over by the old persimmon tree caught my eye, and I watched as it flitted and danced from limb to limb perfectly content to be alive. The warmth of the steam in my coffee cup made its way to my lips, and I slowly relaxed deep into the comfort of the recliner. I allowed my mind to wander back to memories of Christmases past.

Within seconds the recliner was replaced in my mind with a green naugahyde rocker, most likely bought in the 1950’s. My feet barely dangled off the edge as I rocked with all of my might attempting to make the rocker go back as far as possible without turning over. Maw Maw Hood’s tiled floors were polished reflecting the shimmer of lights and silver icicles hanging from the Christmas tree. The smells of the fresh tree mixed with pies and the welcoming fragrance of pine kindling smoldering as Paw Paw started a warm fire in the fireplace were comforting beyond compare.

Melody and I were the only grandbabies at the time, and Paw Paw Hood treated us like royalty. Although he was known to be a little gruff when it came to work or his cattle, when it came to us girls he melted like butter. During the day while Paw Paw was working, we were helping Maw Maw feed the chickens or watching her churn butter on the front steps of the old place. Every so often we would get in a game of Go Fish with her. However, at the end of the day when the chores were done, it was Paw Paw Hood’s footsteps we followed. I loved that man dearly. To this day I can feel the starch in his collar and the slight scratch whiskers whenever he picked me up to give me a hug and swirl me around as I giggled the whole time.

Long before we were ready dinner was over. Soon after, my sister and I found ourselves in our flannel pajamas having said our goodnight prayers and sinking deep into the feather mattress in Paw Paw Hood’s four poster bed. We lay there staring at the ceiling weighted down by warm, heavy quilts. We competed to see who could blow the biggest steam clouds resulting from our warm breath coming in contact with the cold air of the bedroom. The sounds of our giggling reached the living room, and Dad yelled out a warning that Santa was close to flying over the farm. We knew we could not be awake whenever he arrived or he may not be able to sneak our presents under the tree.

We got quiet, and the next thing I knew, Dad and Mom were waking us up with the news that Santa had made it down the chimney! We wanted to run into the living room, but Dad made us wait until he could get in place with the big old 8 mm movie camera (with lights that must have been as bright as the star of David!) Just as the anticipation became more than we could bear, the bedroom door swung open. There stood both sets of grandparents, my Aunt Judy, and our cousins Bonnie and Carolyn waiting with as much anticipation as we were experiencing. My eyes searched past all of the people to the tree where I saw toys and presents galore! I scooted around the tree in wonder to the empty glass of milk and the saucer of cookie crumbs. My hands shook at the thought that Santa himself had touched these items only a few hours before. Just then the sound of the four wheeler brought me back to the present.

What a precious blessing memories are. God knew how desperately we needed these connections to our past moments – moments we are creating every second of every day. My heart goes out to those who are dealing with the dreaded disease of Alzheimers. Please pray for someone today who is dealing with the disease either directly or through a family member. I have several friends whose parents are at different stages of the disease. It is heartbreaking to see them lose their loved one a little at at time to Alzheimers. I cannot imagine someone I love who is a part of my memories being here in body, but absent in mind.

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.” Philippians 1:3

Dear Lord,

Thank You for the ability to remember the good in our lives. Thank You also for Your power to cleanse and make new those things we would rather forget. Dear God, I pray for all I know who are unable to remember, or who have lost the precious ability to reminisce with those they love who were a part of their life story. Give their family members strength and peace. Thank You for the knowledge that You care for us and for the promise that although we will face trouble in this world, You have overcome the world, and You will see us throught whatever circumstance we face.

In Jesus precious name,

My Family

by Cindy Hester
“The lack of emotional security of our American young people is due, I believe, to their isolation from the larger family unit. No two people – no mere father and mother – as I have often said, are enough to provide emotional security for a child. He needs to feel himself one in a world of kinfolk, persons of variety in age and temperament, and yet allied to himself by an indissoluble bond which he cannot break if he could, for nature has welded him into it before he was born.” ~Pearl S. Buck
Three Generations
Let’s face it…in today’s world where individual family relationships are fragile at best, the ability to maintain close extended family relationships is almost miraculous. As we have learned more each day since my Dad went home to be with the Lord, a strong family heritage does not just happen nor remain by chance. Among other essential ingredients, it takes time. For generations before I was born, my ancestors laid a foundation of taking time for family gatherings, creating countless priceless memories and giving us kids the desire to continue that tradition. In order for family members to develop lasting memories, each member must choose and make an effort to make those memories happen.
Singing Christmas Carols
Another important ingredient is love. As the saying goes, “Love covers a multitude of sins.” Not only do family members have to choose to love, they must choose to be loved. There are so many instances in which a family member refuses to be loved or expects to be loved only on his or her terms. As a result, it is often necessary to distance one’s self from that relationship. God is most able to step in and create wholeness in that person and restore fellowship, but God does not force His way on any individual. Therefore it is ultimately a choice each individual makes as to whether to love and be loved as a part of a family unit.

Respect is also essential. Webster defines respect as deferential regard; willingness to show consideration or appreciation. So often we make our way through life giving respect to individuals who have not earned that respect only to treat our own family members with disrespect. It seems to be a natural instinct to do so. Maybe it is because we become so comfortable with those we love that we often take them for granted. Strong families make the choice and effort to show respect to one another. Conversely, each member must make the choice to behave in a manner that earns the respect of others.
To love and respect, add tolerance. Tolerance is defined as the recognition of and respect for the opinions, beliefs and/or actions of others. However, God is a God of balance, and the definition goes on to include “the amount of variation from a standard that is allowed.” There are boundaries. There are standards. This is not a free for all kind of tolerance, but instead a tolerance based on Godly truths that must be upheld in order to remain strong in love and respect for one another. Let’s face it, we are each individual creatures by God’s design. Each of us brings a unique and essential talent or calling to our families. Also, each person brings a unique set of circumstances faced throughout his or her lifetime. We must not expect everyone to think or approach life in exactly the same manner as we do.  Further, tolerance is the ability to withstand pain and hardship. This is not a surface thing. Families go through painful, difficult, and trying times. Strong family relationships are such that they are able to withstand even the most horrendously painful events standing strong together in love.

The last of my list of ingredients that creates a strong family heritage is forgiveness. This is perhaps the most personal and difficult ingredient of all. While it is important to hold one another accountable, it is also imperative to be quick to forgive. No matter how much love, respect, and tolerance there is in a family unit, we are merely human beings. At some point something will be done, whether intentional or unintentional, that hurts someone. Maybe it is a small thing, but if given a foothold, it can create a huge chasm that is hard to bridge. Satan delights in creating confusion. As the author of confusion, if he can do anything to create discord in anything good, he considers himself successful. We must be faithful in searching our hearts, confessing any hurts, and asking God’s help in forgiving. Sometimes forgiveness is a process, but it is one well worth completing. Also, forgiveness does not automatically mean restoration with the offender, but it always means restoration for the forgiver.
In closing, I am so thankful for my family. I honestly do not know where I would be in this life were it not for them. Are we a perfect family? Heavens no! Are we shielded from sin and mistakes? Of course not. We fall and fail just like anyone else. Do we always practice using the ingredients mentioned above? My answer to that question is with a question…are we in heaven yet?! My point is the only way any of these principles can be applied in our human state is through the power of God’s Holy Spirit. The more we pray for one another, encourage one another, and help one another, the stronger that spiritual bond becomes that ties us together in Christ’s love.

The Way of Love

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

English Standard Version (ESV)

13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.




The Brokenhearted

by Cindy Hester

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit” Psalms 34:18
I was busy blow drying my hair this morning getting ready to start a day of cleaning and Christmas shopping. The TV was on in the bedroom next to me, but I was not particularly paying attention. Not until I heard the sound of breaking news and learned of the horrific school shooting in the small town of Newtown, Connecticut.
It is not my purpose to dramatize or capitalize on a subject that has already been somewhat exploited by the news media. Please do not get me wrong – I appreciate those who bring us the news of the day and who attempt to help us understand the loss, grief and needs of those who are involved. It is just that I sometimes wonder the motivation and wisdom behind continuously repeating the images and details for hours on end.
I thought of my little grandson who is about to begin pre-school and kindergarten. I suppose we cannot help but personalize these happenings to a certain degree. I believe it is God’s way of helping us to empathize with other human beings with whom we have no close connection. The fact we are brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins causes us to relate somewhat to the excrutiating pain and loss that has blindsided these dear people.
I sat listening to the tearful account of one of the teachers in the classroom next to the shooting. I thought of all the brave, loving teachers in whose hands we place our children each day. I thought of several young friends who are in their first or second year of teaching. The thought of them being placed in a situation such as this broke my heart. I thought of my daughter who is a counselor at a local school. I thought of all of the questions she will be facing from hurting, confused students who might possibly fear coming to school even though this happened thousands of miles away.
I also couldn’t help but ask God why. Why these babies? Why these innocent teachers? In the midst of questioning, God reminded that His heart was broken as well. God is not a God who delights in our pain. It is such a reminder that we live in a broken world with broken people who have forgotten the source of healing. It is a condition of anger, selfishness, broken minds and souls from broken relationships. The fact is, there are mean people out there who do bad things. I cannot imagine attempting to make it through the losses they cause without my faith. Moreover I cannot imagine trudging through grief, pain, and loss without the hope Christ brought to this earth over 2,000 years ago. It is a hope that lives on because He died on a cross, and rose to live again. He lives to provide forgiveness of sin and a daily relationship with Him…a relationship that empowers, comforts, loves, guides and directs, and a relationship that “binds up the brokenhearted and heals our wounds.”
I hope you will watch the video I placed at the beginning of this blog. It is a song that I played for my own father whenever he was battling with questions, fears, and discouragement in the later stages of dealing with his cancer. It has carried me through many times of questioning and searching to acceptance and peace. May God bless you all with peace and joy as we celebrate the reason to have hope – the birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

“I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart. All my longings lie open before you, O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you. I wait for you, O LORD; you will answer, O Lord my God.”

Psalm 38:8-9,15

Divine Protection by Cindy Hester

“The Lord will guide you always;
    He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.”

I have had a rough time writing this past week or so due to the busy holiday season. I hope you all had a blessed time of Thanksgiving with your family and friends. It seems that time passes much too quickly when we are all together having fun and making memories. We all had a great time relaxing and playing together with my family out at the farm once again, and I am anxious to spend time with my in-laws during the Christmas holidays. I never ceased to be amazed at the blessing of family.

As always, it is tough returning to the “real world” of work and taking care of those daily responsibilities that tend to weigh you down. In the midst of taking care of one such responsibility, I had the sobering experience of having my car broken into in the parking lot of a brand new store just a few miles from my home. I have only had my car about a month, and it is one of the nicest ones I have ever owned. I am especially proud of it because we were blessed to get such a great deal on it giving us much more car for less money.

I had only been in the store for approximately 10 to 15 minutes, and I was not prepared for what I found when walking back out to my car. As I looked up and saw the shattered glass, my mind could not comprehend what I was seeing. I even argued with myself that it couldn’t be my car. As I got closer and the reality sunk in as to what had happened. I looked into the front passenger seat to find shattered glass where my makeup bag and lunch kit had been only a few moments before. My console and glove compartment were open, and items were strewn all over. Broken glass had made deep scrratches in the paint on my passenger door.

I knew I had made a mistake by leaving those items out where they were visible, but a makeup bag and a lunch kit? Walking back into the store trembling I faintly remembered earlier having seen an older white car with its break lights on as I was moving toward my parking space. I stopped briefly thinking it was about to back out. When it didn’t, I proceeded to park in the spot next to the car. I also remembered looking over wondering what happened to the two individuals I could have sworn were there just a few moments before. I suppose they were ducking down as to not be noticed.

A female eye witness had also noticed the car as well as a man getting out and following me into the store. She had apparently gone in right after the man and came out before him. She saw the man come out of the store a few moments before me, get into the white car and leave. It was then she noticed my broken car window and stayed around to tell what she had seen. I was told that he was most likely the lookout. Store employees reviewed the security tape from cameras inside the store. The man had been smart enough to walk into the store with a cap on with his head bowed low so that his face was hidden. Unfortunately, the store does not have security cameras installed in the designated parking area where I parked.

As the police officer began taking the report, he firmly reminded me of how dangerous of a situation I could have been in. He also began relaying statistics of how these types of crimes are on the rise. People are thinking less and less of taking from others The officer’s frustration was evident with the overwhelming task of attempting to protect citizens and make a difference while watching the growing problem.

The theives probably do not know or care, but the crime they committed in less than 10 minutes caused $1,000 worth of damage not to mention the value of the contents taken from the car.
Having said that, I am so blessed that was the extent of the damage. The results could have been far worse. I am also grateful for God giving me a direct revelation of His love and guidance through an individual who chose to allow Him to be seen through her that night. While we were waiting for the police to arrive, the store manager came out to have me fill out paperwork their store requires in situations like this. I began crying as the reality was setting in on me as to what had just happened. The manager put her arm around me, and I will never forget what she said. She looked me in the eye and firmly said, “Be thankful, God is trying to tell you something through this.” This made the tears flow harder as I wondered what I was doing that would cause Him to feel the need to tell me something in this way. She smiled kindly and repeated the words. This time they took on a different meaning in my heart. She went on to say, “God does not allow anything to happen to us in order to harm us, but for our good.’

Since that time I have battled with shock, disbelief, anger, and feeling violated. In the midst of it all, however, I keep coming back to what God told me through that precious lady. He is trying to tell me something, and whatever it is will be for my good. This has allowed me to earnestly pray for those individuals. I pray they will be caught and held accountable for their own sake and for the sake of justice. I pray that God will bless them by sending someone into their lives to share Christ’s love and mercy. I pray that God would change their hearts to be givers instead of takers. I pray for God’s protection around my home since they have some of my personal information.

Most of all, however, I praise God for the protection and comfort He showed to me on a night when I was walking through a “sun-scorched land”. He “strengthened my frame” at a time when I felt so discouraged. I am just a normal person with faults who makes mistakes like anyone else. If He will do this for me, He will surely do the same for you.


Random Facts About Me by Cindy Hester

Okay ladies and gentlemen, if you are looking for a serious writing for today’s blog, you are going to be sorely disappointed. This is going to be random facts about me you may or may not know and may or may not care about! You see, I think we so often get caught up in the seriousness of life and the “perfect” personna we try to present to the outside world, we fail to be real. Quite honestly, since all of the hoopla surrounding the election and General Petraeus’s indescretions, I needed a break from serious. So here goes…
I HATED school as a child. For the first four years, Mom literally had to drag me kicking and screaming to class. Now, this is not something I am particularly proud of, but I was a worrier. It was so bad that I developed a double ulcer at the age of seven! What does one have to worry about when he or she is seven years old and has a loving family and good life? Who knows, but it seems to come quite naturally for me. I am learning, however, that worrying is a waste of time, and 99% of what we worry about never even takes place.
 When I was four, I  buried my brand-new favorite pair of paten leather Easter shoes in the garden because I thought I could grow more shoes just like them. Unfortunately, the dog dug them up never to be seen again. I learned it is not smart to plant shoes.
At the age of eight my goal was to grow up to be the drummer in a band…not a high school band…a rock band. Okay, maybe not a hard rock band. I wanted to be like Karen Carpenter, the drummer for the Carpenters, so Santa brought me a drum set complete with Karen and all of her brothers’ pictures on the bass drum. (I was soooo cool!) I learned that while Karen was a talented musician who paved the way for future female drummers, a set of drums in the hands of an eight year old girl mainly serves to irritate anyone within hearing range.
My favorite toy as a little girl was a toy truck (my grandpa Hood really, really wanted a grandson 🙂 I learned that girls could drive a truck as well as boys!

 In my early twenties I turned down the offer to go with a friend to hear an upcoming singer/songwriter who had a few good songs being played on a local radio station. He was going to be playing at a small venue near Tyler, Texas where I lived at the time. I had no idea who this guy was, and I declined because I wanted to just go home from work and crash on the couch. My friend came to work the next day with a signed Polaroid picture of her and this handsome new singer. His name? George Strait. I learned it is quite possible to kick yourself in the rear end.

 In my mid-thirties my hair started turning this strange white color, so I decided to add blonde highlights to my naturally dark hair in order to cover the gray. Over time my hair became more and more blonde until there was no brunette left. Several years later having moved to a place where no one had known me as a brunette, I decided to go back to dark hair. I cannot tell you how many people told me how I needed to go back to my “natural” blonde color. I learned that people’s view of what is “natural” and “real” is often skewed.


In my late 30’s I met this guy. We watched each other from afar for over three years until we finally got up the courage to talk to each other instead of being together in a crowd and talking around each other. This was a pretty special guy, and he made me laugh.We genuinely enjoyed being together, and we soon learned what had begun as friendship had grown into love. I learned to let go, to risk, and to love again – and I married him!

In my late forties I became a grandmother for the very first time. I was not prepared for the overwhelming emotion accompanying this turn of events. I was so in love with this little boy who suddenly appeared in our lives taking our hearts hostage. A couple of years later, a sweet little granddaughter arrived,and the love just grew. This past year another precious little man joined us bringing further joy and love to our growing family of grandbabies. I learned there is no control over how much love one’s heart feels for grandbabies. It is a wonderfully uncontrollable love that knows no bounds.
 In my early fifties, I watched my Dad, the spiritual, emotional leader of my extended family fight a strong battle against cancer. Along with my brother and sisters, I had the honor of helping to take care of Dad and Mom’s needs after they spent a lifetime of loving and taking care of ours. I was able to say goodbye to him before he went home to be with the Lord. I witnessed and experienced God’s grace during the time surrounding the loss of my Dad, then I watched God strengthen and enable my Mom to move forward and bravely face a new life on her own. I watched her faith carry her with peace and joy despite her grief. I learned that even during pain and hardship, life is rich, and full, and good.
Okay, so I did get a little serious, but that is really okay. Serious, funny, weird, difficult, it is all part of being honest and real. I’ve learned it’s all part of life. A really, really good life. I’m looking forward to see what I do and what I learn in the years ahead.

The Way of Love by Cindy Hester

Longevity, stability, heritage. Each of these words come to mind whenever I think of the opening weekend of deer season at the farm. Over the years it has become a time-honored tradition for all of the Hood family to make the pilgrimage back to their roots at the farm for a time of fellowship, laughter, and deer hunting. The anticipation of cool evenings spent telling stories around the campfire is rivaled by only two other happenings – getting that big buck and eating breakfast at Jerry’s restaurant in Onalaska, Texas.

Jerry’s is a family-owned business that serves, among other foods, a good country breakfast. It is a popular spot with many hunters in East Texas, but it has become more than just a spot for our family…it is a memory. Each year Dad met us out at the farm on opening morning about the time the guys came in from the morning hunt. He would get the campfire started and visit until we heard the familiar sound of four wheelers coming up the hill carrying hungry hunters, and sometimes a deer or two. Once the deer were skinned and on ice, the guys cleaned up and prepared for the next highlight of the weekend, breakfast at Jerry’s.
No matter how many tables have to be joined, no matter how chaotic our ordering process becomes, and no matter how many excited children are running around pumped up on coffee, cream, and sugar, the waitresses always treat us with kindness and patience. The food is always served up hot and fresh, and the coffee cups stay full. The experience, however, goes far beyond the performance of waitstaff and the flavor of the food.

The experience is in the memories of togetherness and laughter from days gone by. It is in the feeling the heart remembers when seeing the chair in a spot occupied just a couple of years ago by a spirit that lives long past the physical body where it once was housed. It is in the memory of a conversation, a joke, a smile. It is the sheer continuity of family, of meeting once again as a cohesive unit joined not only by blood, but by love. It is the strength that comes from the past, and the hope that shines for the future.




“Dear Lord, thank You for traditions that bring us together year after year to renew and build upon family relationships that mean so much. Thank You for my family and for the joy they bring to my life. God, please protect this and so many other families who understand this precious and valuable relationship. Please also be with those who have been divided for one reason or another. Shower them with Your love and peace, and if possible, let them find one another once again. Be with those who are in situations where it is best to go their separate ways. Fill their lives with the peace that only You can bring. Help us all to trust You for our family’s future, and may we never allow anything to destroy the love and respect we share. In Jesus precious name I pray, Amen.”

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Way of Love

13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Halloween/Fall Festival Fun Memories by Cindy Hester

Growing up I always loved Halloween – not because it was supposedly the “devil’s holiday” (I didn’t even know there was a “devil’s holiday!”) I loved it because it gave me the chance to dress up as something fun and mystical. I also loved the fact that Halloween signaled the beginning of fall, and  two of my other favorite holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas, were not far behind. (Oh who am I kidding? I love all of the holidays.)

We always had so much fun at the school carnivals. I especially loved dressing up and getting to be a part of the costume parade in town. All of the students would start at the elementary school and march throughout the streets waving and having a blast showing off our costumes. We always ended back at the school for the carnival where there were all kinds of games and booths, and even a spook house. I can close my eyes and smell the frito pie, corn dogs and hot dogs cooking in the old school cafeteria, with a whiff of caramel apples and cotton candy every now and then. I can hear and feel  my breath against the plastic casper the ghost mask that fit snugly against my face with a rubber band around the back holding it in place. It was pure, innocent fun.


My sister, Melody, and friends in front of the old elementary school
cafeteria where those delicious frito pies, hot dogs and corn dogs
were served.
Dad and Mom always made the holiday fun for us kids. We usually would get creative and make our costumes since there was no such thing as Party City or even Wal Mart in those days. About the only place to purchase Halloween costumes was Perry Brothers, a local five and dime store. Of course no one wanted to look like everyone else, so we would usually try to come up with something on our own.


I must have been dressed as Madea (way ahead of my time, huh?!),
and I don’t think Mary wanted to stand still for the picture!

I remember one year all of the kids from church went out to the farm for a hay ride as part of our Fall Festival. There were kids and adults enjoying themselves as if they were kids once again. I remember the moon was full like it has been the past few days around here, so it was sort of bright even for night time. Dad turned off the tractor lights as he drove down the dirt road in the woods that led back to the creek. We were singing and having the best time, until someone jumped out of the woods scaring the living daylights out of us. That was the highlight of the evening.
Then there were the times our house got wrapped by some of the teenagers at church. Mom heard them moving around outside my bedroom window, so Dad thought it would be fun to scare them. I remember crouching down beside the bed giggling, waiting for them to come back closer to my window. At the time we had those windows that when opened could be clicked into place at several different heights. When opened quickly, they sounded like an automatic gun going off. Dad waited until they got to the chair right next to the window, then he flung it open as fast as he could. I have never seen kids scatter so fast in all my life. We all sat there rolling on the floor laughing while Dad ran out to tell them all was okay.
Isn’t it wonderful to know that God gives us laughter and fun out of even those things man tries to make into something bad. And isn’t it wonderful to know that we don’t have to dress up in a costume to be a different, new creation. All we have to do is trust in God’s precious Son, Jesus, who died to give us an abundant, joyful life. He promises to make a new creation from our old despondent, worn out, hopeless selves.

Thank You, Lord, that You chose to provide us with new life instead of tricking us like old Satan tries to do. Thank You that You give joy unspeakable to those who simply accept You and who build a relationship with you. Thank You that You enjoy seeing Your children have fun and be playful. Help us to be mindful to share Your love this Halloween season, and please keep our children safe. Please help us to create wonderful, happy, innocent memories for them to look back on.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17