I Left My Heart in South Carolina

by Terrica Joy in

When you think of the Carolinas, isn't this what you imagine??

Moss-covered trees.  Sandy docks.  Quiet beaches.


It certainly is all that and more, even complete with moments of feeling like you're walking thru the pages of a Nicholas Sparks novel.  But what really makes any place beautiful, are the people.

A couple weeks ago Josh and I went to Charelston to visit some of our dearest friends in all the world.  It really is amazing how a few days with real, covenant friends can prove so life giving that you feel you can live on those moments and conversations for months on end.

We filled our days full of chats, quiet moments on the screened-in back porch, beautiful farmers markets...


...salted caramel fudgsicles on the shore, examining sea shells, splashing in the waves...


...old fashioned candy stores in search of salt water taffy for pregnant momas...


...lovely dinners out at some of Charelston's finest...


... lovely dinners in, cooking together, chattin' about life over chopped veggies...


...twirling little girls with blue eyes and ringlets, because that's what life is about...


...laughing, a lot, because that's just what we do together.  At each other, at our husbands, at giggly little girls bubbling with bliss...


We wandered down memory lane to a place where we all met a decade ago as singles--to college, where we played and studied and established an even deeper friendship as married couples.  We discussed life and God, asked hard questions, real questions, provoking questions.  It's been far too long since I've been challenged in such a way.  It was a breath of fresh air I desperately needed.  Authenticity.  Vulnerability.  People who really love us and want God's best, with no agenda of their own.  I'm learning every day how very rare that is, and when you find it, believe me, it's worth traveling half way aross the country for every chance you get.

And sitting on their back patio under a canopy of stars and moonlight, we prayed together long into the night, even knowing a daylight flight awaited us in a few short hours, desperately wanting to soak in every last moment together.

Refreshed.  My very soul refreshed, revived, inspired.  A sense of feeling so understood, known, and celebrated. A pastor said to me years ago, "Be in the place where you're celebrated, not tolerated."  I'm embracing that life giving concept in a whole new way these days.

I say again, it's amazing how a few days with real, covenant friends can prove so life-giving that you feel you can live on those moments and conversations for months on end.

See you soon, South Carolina.  Take care of my heart while I'm away... ;-)


Do you have friends who according to scripture 'provoke you to life and godliness'?  If you don't, seek them out.  It makes all the difference in the world.

Healing Waters: Our trip to the Brazos

by Terrica Joy in

After all the recent transformation in our life, beautiful though exhausting, we so welcomed a long weekend.  We desperately needed a little escape from the noise and distraction of the city, just a few hours to get away and breathe.  

Several years ago we discovered this quiet little strip of the Brazos River around an hours drive from Dallas, stretching from Lake Whitney about 8 1/2 miles thru farmland and forest, nothing to see or hear but nature in all its splendid glory.  (and perhaps an occasional air boat or kayaker, maybe a fisherman or two)  It takes several hours depending on the current and for whatever reason has become quite a healing escape for us.  Whenever we need to think or pray, or even just get away from everything to play and be together, it's proven the perfect spot.  

We were determined to get there this weekend despite the heat and low water levels, so we packed extra sunscreen and an ice chest full of ice cold kombucha, apples, and buttery chicken sandwiches to strap to the back of the kayak.  Arriving it appeared we were the only people headed out, which delighted us to no end, of course.

You can tell just by looking at the photos how quiet it is...


Tranquil.  The hum of locusts and splashing catfish the only sounds for miles and miles.


Clear, shallow water.  Swallows nesting.  Rocky outcrops.  Iridescent dragonflies.  


The swallow nests are everywhere.  They chirp and dart in and out of their little mud nests constantly, a symphonic, God derived community.


We always stop for lunch a couple hours in.  The shallow waters under the shade of this rocky outcrop made the perfect resting place.  


I could sit and examine the underwater rocks and vegetation for hours and hours.  I'm serious.  I grew up fossil and artifact hunting with my Dad.  He'd take me down to the river a mile or so from our house and we'd silently wander up and down the gravel dunes in the riverbed until daylight faded to night, forcing us home.  Indian arrowheads, shark teeth, pottery remnants, sometimes even human bones from the ancient Indian burial grounds eroding into the river.  It was one of my absolute favorite things, spending time with him doing something he so loved, but also the thrill of the hunt, the possibility of uncovering untold treasures.  At just 5 or 6 years old, it's where my love of treasure-hunting very first began.


And of course I couldn't resist wading thru the water to climb onto the rocky ledges!  Country girls have to climb, you know.  When I was tiny my Moma called me 'monkey'.  I'm sure you can guess why ;-)


Several miles still to go, we finally climbed back into the kayak and headed downstream.


With the heat of the day creeping up, our skin and muscles beginning to burn, we decided it best to cool off...


Into the water Josh goes, all refreshed and smiley.  Into the water I go, for about 2.5 seconds until he lifts himself onto the kayak and freezes, "There's something down there."  "What?!?"  Panic washes over me as I begin to thrash and scream and scale the kayak like a tree, clinging to it passionately for dear life!  I'm hoisted up, totally awkward, eyes big as saucers.  He starts to laugh, louder and louder barely able to speak,"It's just a log or something!  Good Lord!  What did you think I meant?!"  I stare at him entirely serious, "Josh.  The find alligators in these rivers all the time."  He laughs harder, "Oh please!  You're ridiculous!"  

This of course leads to a half hours worth of explanation and documented proof that stupid people do in fact buy baby alligators all the time, until the stupid people realize that of course it's stupid to have an alligator living with you, so said stupid people then do the absurd and release their now teenage alligators into nearby lakes and rivers where they in fact grow into monster alligators who eat innocent peoples legs off when their kayaking.  I see it on the news.  All the time.

He rolled his eyes a lot.  And continued to swim.  I, however, did not re-enter the water.

All in all it took us about 6 hours start to finish, including the many stops along the way to eat and play and snap endless photos.  Of course there was lots of laughter and processing all of what we've been thru the last few months, too.  And one incident where I burst into tears and he stopped the kayak, climbed in front of me, stared me down with truth, and prayed.  Right there, in the middle of the river, he didn't give darkness a moment to creep in.  He took authority and sent it packing, then climbed back in and continued to speak the truth out loud, over and over and over just so I could hear it.

And when our stop came into view and we paddled up to shore, I inhaled deeply, thinking how much better I felt, looking back down the river and acknowledging how healing it was.  Water.  Healing water.  There's just something about it...

"I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean;  I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols." Ezekiel 36: 25

And better still...

Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." John 4:13


Italy, Erin, and the Long Lazy Summer Ahead

by Terrica Joy in

Thanks to rain and hail, yes hail, I didn't take a ton of photos in Italy.  However the shots I did get turned out quite dramatic and romantic, which of course I love.


My itinerary suggestions: Do stumble into a quiet, random cafe for a lovely dinner.  Don't worry, it's hard to go wrong regarding food in a city like Florence.  (This one happened to feature a menu of organic ingredients.)


Authentically Tuscan in every way, from the simply roasted herbed potatoes to the tender white beans in tomato broth.


After lingering over a delightful meal, take a long evening walk thru the city simply taking it all in...


Do stop to stare at the Duomo for long moments every time it towers into view, as often it will.  And don't fail to take in the many sculptures and fountains throughout the city, as well.  It can be overwhelming, but even if you stop to really examine only one, I promise you won't regret it.  

Perhaps sit and sip an espresso at any number of street cafes, too, just because you should.  (And look, I stumbled upon more love locks ;-)


And lastly, stop frequently for gelato.  I'm not kidding, as often as possible.  You'll be walking so much your waistline will never know the difference.  And trust me, gelato in Italy isn't like anything you've ever had elsewhere.  There are at least 1,021 flavors.  Try them all.  In multiple pairs and combinations.  It will make you so happy.

And that my friends, ends both our 'Epic Adventure 2011' recap, as well as quite the season of travel for us.

I must admit, I'm exhausted.  I'm much looking forward to a slow, lazy summer.  All adventures for the next couple months will be strictly limited to floating down rivers in kayaks, trips to the country to wild berry and garden pick, treasure-hunting expeditions, and anything else we happen to stumble upon here in our own beloved Northeast Texas!

I also have a number of unfinished home projects I'm looking forward to tackling, stacks and stacks of unread books, and dozens of recipes I'm dying to try, but mostly I'm looking forward to settling in and letting God finish the transformative work He's been doing in my heart the past few weeks.  I will certainly be sharing those revelations and illuminations, just as soon as I can articulate them in fullness.  Sacred sharing requires a bit more forethought and consideration, you know.  But believe me when I say, it's brewing.  Been brewing for a while now...

So what summer plans do you have?? 

Paris: The best and the worst.

by Terrica Joy in

Ah, Paris...  City of love.  City of beauty.  City of markets and monuments and picnics beneath the Eiffel.


My proposed agenda:  Start with browsing one of a dozen gorgeous markets.  My fave is one minutes from the Eiffel.  I suggest picking up anything that strikes your fancy.  Baguette? Of course!  Cheese?  Why, yes.  Fresh figs?  Don't mind if I do...


What kind of cheese, you ask?  Who cares!  Surprise me.

With your arms full of goodies, meander towards the lawn of the Eiffel and stake out a nice little spot to chow.


Next, spread your fare on the grass like a feast.  If you want to feel really Parisian, use your scarf as a picnic placemat like I do...


Look at my feast!  (Yes, I did say 'my' not 'ours'.  This was my lunch.  There might also have been a huge jar of Nutella somewhere that didn't make it into the photo...  And maybe a few bites of Caleb and Dakotah's lunches...  And maybe Josh's too... maybe...)

Once you're tummy's full, just sit for awhile and enjoy the ambiance with your love ;-)


Afterwards you'll definitely want to walk off that delightful lunch, so head over to Notre Dame to gawk at all the gargoyles and flying buttresses.


And don't miss this bridge just steps from the church, where lovers lock padlocks and throw the key into the river as a sign of undying love...


Stunning, huh??

Paris is lovely...


Truly beautiful...


But I do fear the sun has officially set on my love affair with this oh-so-lovely place...  

Why, you ask?  

Well, something to do with an encounter with the rudest women I've ever met in my entire life, all my travels combined, times a million.  Something to do with her berating and screaming at us for absolutely no reason other than the fact that we spoke English.  Something to do with me losing my cool in a way that I've never, ever done before.  Something to do with me embarrassing myself beyond belief in front of a dozen Parisians, Josh and my brother and sister-in-law as well, when I got so upset that I literally punched the glass divider with my fist (which the unbelievably rude woman was sitting behind) and screamed such horrible, unspeakable things that they can never, ever be repeated.  Ever.  

And then she called security on me and we had to run away with a load of luggage to avoid me potentially being thrown in Parisian jail.  Nice.

It.  Was.  Awful.

I can't even believe I'm telling you about it.

I was in a bad place.  I hit my introverted max by like, a thousand percent.  Jesus was nowhere in the vicinity.  (maybe I left Him in that quiet little square in Amsterdam... I think that was the last place I saw Him...)


I can't even believe I'm telling you all this.  BUT.  True to my commitment to always be transparent about both my victories and failures as a believer, well, there you have it.  MASSIVE.  FAIL.  I apologized profusely to Caleb and Dakotah.  (who giggled hysterically and declared it their favorite moment of the trip)  I tried to get over it, but I couldn't shake the humiliation and sheer disappointment in myself.  There was lamenting and tears and more tears.  There was apologies and repentance and more humiliation as I obsessively re-lived the moment over and over and over in my head, tears welling up in my eyes every single time.  That meltdown is precisely the kind of thing that happens when an introverted, artistic type like myself reaches their limit.  If we don't withdraw to refuel, we begin to fall apart.  Period.  And boy, did I.

I eventually got over it, once I was certain my family and Jesus still loved me.  (and decided to forgive the evil woman behind the glass even thought I really didn't want to at first)  But I can't say I'll ever forget it.  It goes down in infamy as the ugliest moment of my life, to date.  Thank goodness for Grace.  That's about all I can say about it.

Having had a few rough experiences in Paris over the years, I just can't say it's a place I care to return to again.  Not saying you shouldn't go, of course!  Just sayin' I can't imagine that I ever will...  I've seen the best Paris has to offer a few times now, and well, I've also seen the worst.  Love Europe, but next time I think we'll plan our itinerary around France, if only to avoid the memory of that horrible encounter. ;-)

Tell me you've made a fool of yourself too in some way or another.  It will make me feel so much better.  I'm in desperate need of affirmation.  Please!!

Amsterdam: How I love this city, let me count the ways...

by Terrica Joy in

Ten years ago almost to the month, I set foot in Europe for the very first time.  Despite its infamous dark and crazy reputation, this city won me over on the spot.  Amsterdam.  I literally had no notion what to expect of Europe, although it wasn't my first time overseas.  At 19 I'd been fortunate to have already traveled quite a bit, so at the time I just saw it as another trip, another adventure. But Europe did something in me I never could have expected.  It was as if I found myself in some profound way.  I walked around staring, daydreaming, astonished at the culture and beauty.  I remember it specifically as the first time I'd traveled somewhere and hadn't wanted to leave.  I'd had no idea such a place existed.  I vowed to return someday, maybe even live there for awhile.  It was the moment in my life I truly fell in love with travel.

And don't get me wrong, it really is everything you think it is upon hearing the words 'red light district': drugs, sex, and all that goes with it.  Indescribably broken.  But it's also so much more.  Tulips, canals, wooden shoes, Van Gogh.  Bicycles, coffee shops, parks and markets. House boats, history, cheese, fine art.  It's unquestionably breathtaking.  

Returning again ten years later I held my breath, hoping I hadn't made it out to be something it wasn't, hoping it really was as beautiful as I remembered... and it is.  Not only in every way I remembered, but a thousand more.  

Here's a tiny sampling of my hundreds and hundreds of photos:


How could you not love a city that specializes in flowers?  Particularly tulips?  (sidenote: Following our UK trip in April, Josh and I flew thru Holland on our way home.  From the air during the height of tulip season, rainbows of color literally stretch out into the distance beneath you.  It's stunning.)


Apparently it was family stripe day.  Fortunately, I didn't get the memo ;-)


The top deck of the most gorgeous house boat.  It seems they utilize the deck for wine drinking...


They really do wear wooden shoes, like, for real.


The most adorable old man I've ever laid eyes on.


Paper cones filled with fries are the snack of choice in Amsterdam.  There are endless shops that sell only, and I do mean only, french fries.  Topped with your sauce of choice, of course.


The most amazing, terrifying swing ever. I adore Vondelpark.


Not owning a bicycle is unfathomable in this city.  It's truly astonishing.


This city makes me so happy.


And look, we even found Jesus.  In Amsterdam.  I knew He was there somewhere... ;-)


We packed our days as full as possible.  It totally helped that it literally didn't get dark until almost 11pm every evening.  Greatness.  

A hundred laughs and one major screaming match later (something about gratitude or attitude or something...), we set off via high speed train to Paris!  

England: An Unconventional View

by Terrica Joy in

I've taken so many shots of lovely London the past few months I thought this time I'd share a few unconventional glimpses, each beautiful in it's own right of course.


Love.  (A little birthday token from my husband.)  An elegant swan in St. James Park.  A moma duck sheltering her babies amidst the daisies.  A delicate flower blossom.


The ornate fence surround Parliament and Big Ben.  A detail of Mary with Jesus at Wesminster Abbey.  The royal horse guard, ever dedicated.  Our shadow family ;-)


A fabric store whose colors stopped me in my tracks, literally taking my breath away.  Compass in hand, a prophetic moment before I even knew it.  So many gorgeous old sewing machines.  Market pastries, always enticing.

And okay, fine, we also took a few 'conventional' shots...  ;-)


Big Ben.  Red phone booth.  Buckingham Palace.  Tower Bridge.

Per usual, London treated us well.

Tomorrow I have SO many gorgeous shots of Amsterdam to share with you!  I fell in love with that city all over again, head over heels in love.  It was glorious.  

And on a different note, the blog has been quiet the past week or so as God has literally and miraculously been transforming my heart.  I've had to steal away and coax myself to breathe simply to wrap my brain around it.  Apologies for the lapse here in blog-world, but I promise, all is WELL.