Hollison Journey

“The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.” – Don Williams Jr

Winter Wonderland

Some of you know I live on a horse ranch. In a small town. Or as my sister puts it: “123 Horse Ranch Dr., Boonies, TX”

Today was our third snow of December. To people up north, this is not unusual. To everyone in Texas, this is weird. I came home from work just a little bit after the snow had started and found out one of the big bonuses of living in the middle of nowhere:

It’s BEAUTIFUL when it snows.

The other bonus of the day is that my new camera came in. So take pretty snow on a beautiful landscape and combine it with a brand new camera that has a beach/snow setting and this is what you get:


Eve’s of Christmases Past


It’s a word that gets thrown around a lot, especially between November and December. Everyone seems to have their favorite traditions for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Mine are disappearing.

For as long as I can remember, we celebrated Thanksgiving in Houston with my Grandmother. Many years, it was also with a considerable amount of cousins, but even when it wasn’t, Thanksgiving daymeant waking up early, driving down to Houston, and the yummy desserts my Grandmother made (and when she got to a point where she couldn’t, my mom). Then we’d watch football games with my uncle and return on Saturday or Sunday, depending on church commitments.

My grandmother died on November 2, 2o07. For three Thanksgivings, we’ve struggled with what to do and how to do it. For three years, we’ve celebrated with various members of my dad’s family. Don’t get me wrong, I love them — they’re just not who we celebrate Thanksgiving with.

My Christmas traditions have been going away too. Growing up, Christmas Eve was celebrated by eating a small snack around 4:30, then going to the 6:00 service, then over to our friend’s house for a Christmas Eve party. As kids, we would pile our plate high with desserts, get a cup of punch, and site in the game room watching the latest Disney movie. As we got older, we started talking in the front room, and our punch got a special “adult” ingredient in it, and we went to the party before the 11:00 service.

Now, the party is gone. The husband and wife who hosted it for so many years (has to be more 15+) don’t. The husband died a few years ago of cancer and the wife now travels to her out of state grandchildren for Christmas. Tonight we went to the 6:00 service, then home for dinner and television. A good, fun, night; but it’s not the same.

Even now, I’m reminded of a tradition from when I was a kid. My sister and I were never the best of friends, but on Christmas Eve, she would come into my room and we would play games until we got tired and then we would both sleep in my room. When we woke up super early, we would play games until Dad said we could come out. Now, my sister has to be dragged out of bed 5 minutes before we open presents (and she’d be thrilled if we would move present time from 8:30 to 11:30).

Some traditions haven’t died: My mom still makes the same Christmas morning brunch that she does every year. My sister and I still buy presents for each other after Christmas. My mom still hates that. My dad still wakes up super early on Christmas morning and my uncle still comes over Christmas morning to watch us open our gifts (even though we are 28 and 24).

4 years ago, my cousins Kara and Chris had a Christmas party for the DFW relatives, about 15 of us. We’ve had it every year since then, at rotating houses, and this year there was 30 of us at my parent’s. As some people left last Saturday, my mom told one of her cousins that next year was his year to host. A newcomer said, “Oh, are we going to have it again next year?”


It’s tradition.

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Quick Takes: December 18, 2009

1. My birthday was Tuesday and it has been a blast this week. Last night was the family celebration and we had delicious Italian food, including to-die-for Tiramisu! From my parents I got some new bedding (desperately needed and wanted) and they framed my college degree. Yes, it’s been 5 years since I graduated. When I graduated, we didn’t do it, and over the years I’ve just needed to spend that money elsewhere. So, it has sat in the portfolio it came in (a very nice one by the way – Tech does good in that department). But it is nice to have it in a frame and it will be nice to hang it on the wall over my desk.

2. My car saga continues…in addition to Tuesday being my birthday, it was also the day that I put down a deposit to get my car fixed. Yeah, that’s right, the repairs are so expensive they required a deposit to order the parts. Now I just have to wait for the part to come in. No word yet, but I think early next week is when I will get the call.

3. I’ve decided to learn guitar. Carrie has an extra one that she is letting me use, and of course I have lots of great teachers (aka friends). In the past two days I have learned three chords fairly well. Which means there are a few songs I can play. Slowly. But that’s ok. I do need to speak to one of my teachers about strumming. I know all the chords to the verse of a favorite song (one more chord and I can do the whole thing), but it doesn’t sound right. It’s because of the strumming, but I haven’t figured that out yet.

4. The cold is finally here. I don’t mind cold weather at all, as long as it is not snowing or iceing. And when I say cold, I mean 50s. 40s. Anything lower than that, I am not a fan of. I don’t know how you Yankees do it.

5. One week til Christmas! Zero shopping has been done! Yay!

6. Moving update: I still have a few items at my former residence. I am picking those things up today. Then everything will be in my new place. In terms of unpacking, well, there’s still a little bit to go. By a little, I mean a lot. I’m going to do what I can tonight and then the rest might just get shoved in my closet for our Sunday parties.

7. Speaking of parties, and family, tomorrow night is the family Christmas party with my mom’s family. I LOVE THEM. Seriously, they are the best. A few years ago my cousins decided that those of us in the DFW area should get together before Christmas. We’ve done it every year since, rotating homes. However, it is no longer just the DFW people. This year we have 6 coming in from Houston, 2 from Austin and I think 5 from other places (not entirely sure). It will be something like 25 – 30 people at my parent’s house. And we will be eating yummy El Paso food (my grandmother and her siblings were born and raised in El Paso and several of my cousins lived there also). I’m so excited!

Have a great week and check out more quick takes at www.conversiondiary.com

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Twenty Eight

I figured I’d better do a post about my birthday, especially since a lot of the people who read this aren’t in my town and couldn’t celebrate with me.

Tuesday was my 28th birthday. I don’t feel old, until one of the seniors in high school reminds me that I was 10 when they were born. Whatever. 🙂

Anyway, I went to work Tuesday morning and my boss greeted me with a card and a gift card to Cinemark. Yay for movies! My Dad came around lunch time and we went and had fish tacos at Fuzzy’s. I received several phone calls, texts, etc throughout the day that made me smile as well.

The big celebration was that night.  My friend Amy threw me a fabulous dinner/party at our favorite spot: Applebee’s. I was blessed to have several friends from various parts of my Denton life come and celebrate with me.

Tonight the festivities continue as I go out to dinner with my family at a yummy Italian restaurant, after some birthday coffee with a very good friend.

Here are some photos from the Applebee’s dinner. I tried to put captions with them, but something is very weird. Sorry.

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Novena Before Christmas

(Begin on December 16th)
Recite the following prayer every day for 9 days..

Divine Infant,
after the wonders of Your birth in Bethlehem,
You wished to extend Your infinite mercy to the whole world
by calling the Wise Men by heavenly inspiration to Your crib,
which was in this way changed into a royal throne.
You graciously received those holy men
who were obedient to the divine call
and hastened to Your feet.
They recognized and worshipped You as Prince of Peace,
the Redeemer of mankind,
and the very Son of God.

Show us also Your goodness and almighty power.
Enlighten our minds,
strengthen our wills,
and inflame our hearts to know You,
to serve You, and to love You in this life,
that we may merit to find our joy in You
eternally in the life to come.

Jesus, most powerful Child,
I implore You again to help me:

(State your intention here…)

Divine Child,
great omnipotent God,
I implore through Your most Holy Mother’s most powerful intercession,
and through the boundless
mercy of Your omnipotence as God,
for a favorable answer to my prayer during this Novena.

Grant me the grace of possessing You eternally
with Mary and Joseph
and of adoring You with Your holy angels and saints.


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Quick Takes: December 11, 2009

Whee! I’m back! (in the sense of 7 Quick Takes). Let’s see what I can come up with this week:

1. My car has been pretty much a pain these last two weeks. I think I already talked about it earlier this week, but dang.

2. I HOPE to get 100% moved in this weekend. I’m taking a carload over tonight, spending the night there, then making another trip on Sunday (Saturday is busy with several things). The irony is that Carrie has been desperate for me to stay the night there and the first time I will be doing it, she will be in Virginia. Looks like Sunday night will be our first time in the apartment as roommates.

4. When I say moved in, I actually mean “all of my stuff under the roof.” We still have plenty of boxes all around and I have lots to unpack. What’s my motivation? The fact that we are hosting not one, but TWO parties next weekend. Oh, and I’ll be gone most of the weekend at my parent’s for a family thing, arriving back just in time for the parties. So, all my stuff  has to be in presentable fashion by Friday night. Did I mention that next week I have events/activities/meetings on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday night? Yeah, this will be fun.

5. Last night I had to giggle. I’m on Parish council and we had our Christmas party/December meeting at the home of one of our members. It struck me as funny that on  Wednesday night I was confessing my sins to our priest at our parish penance service, and on Thursday night, he was refilling my wine glass. I giggled in my head so he wouldn’t think I was weird. (pretty sure he thinks that anyway).

6. The youth minister and a couple of the teens (well, one of them) have been writing a song about me. Lord help me. The verses I’ve seen are, well, special. One of them isn’t entirely truthful, but the non-truthful part makes it rhyme. I haven’t decided whether I’m going to let it go or see if they can make it correct and still rhyme.

7. Ok, I have to post this. I read the Cake Wrecks blog and they are doing something pretty neat. Over the next 14 days, Jen and her husband John are donating $200 each day to a different charity or cause. They are challenging their readers to donate $1 a day. I think I might participate. I mean, $14 isn’t bad at all. Full disclosure, I don’t promise to donate to every charity/cause that they do. There are certain causes that I can not support. But, if one of them is no the list, I will donate a dollar to another charity/cause.

Read more quick takes at jen’s conversion diary

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P&W Wednesday: December 9, 2009

Today’s song is: O Come O Come Emmanuel

I tried really hard to find a version of this song on YouTube that I liked. But I couldn’t. The instrumental version by Casting Crowns is good, but I love the words. And I love it when it is sung by a man. Who isn’t Clay Aiken. So, this week, you’ll have to use your imagination and sing it yourself.

This song always makes me think of the 1st week of Advent, specifically the service at my parent’s church. I always loved the way that this song was interspersed in the service between hanging the wreaths, bringing in the bells, changing the colors, and the poinsettias. I can still tell you that when the layreader says “Bells…” that’s the cue for the acolytes to come in with the bells. And all good acolytes knew that you had to give a good shake to get all of those bells ringing nice and loud.

Side note: this is my father’s favorite song. Not his favorite Christmas song, mind you. His favorite song.

O Come O Come Emmaunel

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height,
In ancient times did’st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.


Weekend Update

I didn’t do a Quick Takes this past Friday because life was busy. So, I thought I’d do some short updates on what’s been going on and what went on this weekend:

* Saturday was glorious! I got up and went to my monthly 6-hour class. I am the person in charge of setting up the room and until this month, I’ve had problems and stress every time. This time, however, no problems and no stress! This month we had 6 hours of scripture lecture by my new favorite teacher. Loved it!

* After that, I headed out to the retreat center in town and set up for XLT. This month we had XLT in the middle of a retreat that the other parish held and it was wonderful. Great songs, lots of singing teenagers. And we were in this small room with horrible wood paneling and a semi-bad air system. When the lights were lowered and the candles on the altar were the only thing we could see, I thought “This must be what it was like in the early Church…meeting in rooms with no decoration…just a table and candles.”

* The move is going ok. I’m really hoping to have all of my stuff in the apartment by this weekend. And since the only thing I have going on this weekend is a birthday party Saturday night, I hope to be unpacked and stuff by Sunday’s meeting at 3. Add in the fact that Verizon will be coming out Friday to set up the internet and we might actually be good to go!

* My car became quite the annoying thing this past week – and quite the money hole! Monday, I went and renewed my registration ($). Tuesday, I had a flat tire after work. Daniel came and put my spare on, and then at the house, we put more air in it. Wednesday I got my car inspected ($) but it failed because of a) the tire (whoops! forgot it can’t pass with a spare), plus another tire having low tread and b) an engine light. My mechanic reset the light and said that if I could drive 150 miles without it coming on, I’d be good. 40 miles later, it popped on. 😦 Now, I have to get either a sensor replaced ($) or a new catalyctic converter ($$).  Thursday morning I paid a ticket I had received ($). Thursday evening, 4 hours after my tire had been put back on after it held air for 24 hours, it went flat again. Daniel came out again and put on the spare.  Now, I have to go get two new tires ($$). Thank goodness for a budget. I just may pull this off.

* We did something very cool with our teens last night. But since I’m not sure who reads this and we haven’t delivered our final project, I will resist the urge to tell you all. But I will in the future for sure!

* Did you read the second reading yesterday? It is beautiful! I was Lector #2 and got to read it and I was so happy when I saw what it was! Here it is:

A Letter from Saint Paul to the Philippians (Phil 1:4-6, 8-11)

Brothers and sisters:
I pray always with joy in my every prayer for all of you,
because of your partnership for the gospel
from the first day until now.
I am confident of this,
that the one who began a good work in you
will continue to complete it
until the day of Christ Jesus.
God is my witness,
how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
And this is my prayer:
that your love may increase ever more and more
in knowledge and every kind of perception,
to discern what is of value,
so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,
filled with the fruit of righteousness
that comes through Jesus Christ
for the glory and praise of God.

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In a recent Why Catholic? group discussion, I had an interesting thought. We were discussing the Trinity and the question posed to us was something like “describe the way you pray to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.” I’m fairly certain it was worded better.

But anyway, I was sitting in Brian’s living room thinking about it and vaguely listening to everyone. My first thought was a slight bit of Type A panic: “Oh no! I never pray to the Holy Spirit!”

Then I started thinking about the way I pray. When I pray out loud in front of people, I tend to start with something like “Dear Lord,” or “Dear God,” or “Hevenly Father,”. When I pray in my head or outloud by myself, I start with “Dear Jesus,”. The more I thought of it, the more I affirmed my thought – I pray to God outloud, but Jesus privately. I seem to reserve Jesus for my more personal, intimate prayers.

This still didn’t address the Holy Spirit issue. But, the more I thought about it, I realized the I recognize the Holy Spirit all the time through my friends and family and such. The Holy Spirit is the action. In my head, God is static and stationary, Jesus moves with me, and the Holy Spirit moves around and through me.

I don’t think I have ever analyzed the way I pray. It was an interesting thing.

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P&W Wednesday – Advent edition

This post kicks off 4 weeks of Advent related Praise and Worship Wednesdays.

This is a new song by Chris Tomlin, but he is joined by Audrey Assad – WHO I LOVE. And, since it is snowing in Denton today, it’s perfect.


Winter Snow by Chris Tomlin, featuring Audrey Assad

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