— Essentials —

Signs of Hope and Renewal

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This morning I drove to Fredericksburg, a quaint, old German town in the Texas Hill Country. The abundance of spring rains have filled the land along the highways and back country roads with endless carpets of wildflowers. Prairie Angels, Texas Bluebonnets, Indian Paint, Mexican Hat and Evening Primrose are scattered along the roads and hillsides. Wildflowers blanket pastoral fields of sheep and goats, and beauty blooms among the prickly pear cactus. These earthbound bouquets signal rebirth and renewal, and they remind me of the spring my chemotherapy came to an end.


Every day for a month I willed myself to drive the 45 minutes from the city to where Eduardo and Miguel were hard at work, restoring the old ranch hand house James and I named the Little House. During my drives the wildflowers filled me with an energy I didn’t have in the city. Their blooms made me forget how tired my body was from breast cancer surgeries and chemotherapy. Seconds after I left the freeway and turned onto our Hill Country road the traffic disappeared, and I was transported to another world.

Our narrow, two-lane road twists and turns skyward as it cuts through layers of limestone warped by the forces of time and nature. I reveled in the Axis and the Whitetail deer, the Texas Longhorns and the daily progress on the neighbor’s new gate. James and I felt blessed to be temporary stewards of this land. We imagined the high ridges were where the Comanches had watched and waited on horseback for the stagecoach line below. You could almost see them swooping down the hillside to raid the settlers who’d made this beautiful country their home.

Everyday when I got to the ranch Eduardo and Miguel were busy sanding and scraping away the peeling paint on my tiny 100-year-old farmhouse: Mexican colors like turquoise and pink on the walls of two small bedrooms and the navy blue on the old pine floors. I wondered about the ranch hand families who’d occupied our 484-square-foot home. The energy here feels like it’s always been a joyous home filled with love and sunshine and gentle breezes.

I like to think babies were conceived and born here, and women made fresh tortillas and hung laundry, while their men cleared cedar and raised cattle. Their lives were simple, but good, and I prayed we would be as fortunate. The promise of the life we would have here mended my soul and gave me hope I was cancer free. Free to linger and laugh and give thanks for more springs.

This is the fifth spring I have lived in the Little House without James. Our Little House continues to nourish my soul and fill me with gratitude that I’m privileged to live here. Everywhere I look I still see James, trimming the trees and clearing the brush from the canyon, and I will always feel a sense of our history, together with the Mexican families who lived here before us. We’ve been shaded by the same Post Oaks trees that scatter shadows across the same tin roof. I love how its aged: a rust and yellow patina mingled with patches of the original silver.

Sometimes in the evening I take a glass of wine and sit on the patio and listen to the elks bugle on my neighbor’s ranch. I continue to take solace in this respite of calm. Like the spring after chemotherapy, I marvel in the new direction my life has taken. Once again, God had blessed me with another spring of rebirth and the hope that each of you will find solid footing on your journey as well.

Love, Brenda


  • Laura Ann Klein April 11, 2015 at 9:26 am

    What a beautiful picture you paint. I love seeing the rain replenished Texas Hill Country. The bunkhouse is the perfect size, too!

  • Haralee April 11, 2015 at 10:28 am

    A lovely post!!

  • Helene Bludman April 11, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    I also find solace in the beauty of nature, Brenda. Wishing you peace as you are surrounded by the lovely Texas wildflowers.

    • 1010 Park Place April 13, 2015 at 3:53 pm

      Unlike people, nature demands nothing of us. I’ve been trying to get to the country since I was in my early 20s, so I love it here. Wishing you peace and love as well. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  • Generation Above Me April 11, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    Oh, this is my retirement fantasy. I want to live in a little house such as this one. Thanks for giving me the vicarious experience. (I had my kids right before turning 40, so even though I’m a Boomer, I still have a full nest.) Such a little jewel! Enjoy.

    • 1010 Park Place April 13, 2015 at 3:54 pm

      Thank you!. Talk about a jewel box! Sometime I’ll do a post about the inside. It’s wonderful.

  • Jan Baird Hasak April 11, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    Got to get to Texas and see those gorgeous wildflowers. And there are many friends to visit in that big state. Spring brings hope, so it is my favorite season. Enjoy your slice of heaven on earth. xoxo

    • 1010 Park Place April 13, 2015 at 3:56 pm

      Come see me! You can mend from radiation and fuel your soul here!


      • Jan Baird Hasak April 13, 2015 at 7:19 pm

        Would love to once radiation and brain scans are under control.

        • 1010 Park Place April 15, 2015 at 10:26 pm

          I keep up with you on Facebook. Let me know if you think you might come to Texas. Even if you don’t get down my way, perhaps I can meet you someplace. xoxoxo

  • Laurel Regan April 11, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    Beautiful post – it makes me feel as though I am there. Thank you for sharing.

  • Rena April 11, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    What a gorgeous place and a truly beautiful peace. I could picture it all and it sounds like heaven!

    • 1010 Park Place April 13, 2015 at 3:58 pm

      Thank you so much! Perhaps I should share more about Eduardo and Miguel. They worked so hard to make this my heaven on Earth.

  • Cathy Chester April 11, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    Six summers ago my hormones took a nosedive after suffering gallstones and kidney stones at the same time. Mixed in there somewhere was an MS flareup. I was in a deep depression. When my dear friend called, the one I’ve loved since I was 3, I asked her what I should do to hold on. Her answer? Turn to nature. It’s always there to heal us.

    You and I are alike in suffering and recovering in nature. It’s the one thing we can depend on to always be there for us.

    Brenda, you are such a gifted writer that you took my breath away. I look forward to getting to know you better and I will crave all of your writings from here on in! I’m sorry that as a writer the only thing I can say about your writing is WOW!

    • 1010 Park Place April 13, 2015 at 4:01 pm

      Oh, Cathy!
      I left you a message on FB. I’m flattered you like my writing. That means everything, coming from another writer. Yes, I think you’re right. We have much in common. The good news is we’re resilient and determined to explore all the possibilities life holds for us.

  • Pat April 12, 2015 at 5:53 am

    Lovely words, lovely photos. Makes me want to ride up to your doorstep on horseback!

  • Carolann April 12, 2015 at 7:52 am

    Visually compelling and a lovely story. I felt like I was sitting on that porch with you.

  • Jennifer Connolly April 12, 2015 at 10:18 am

    Beautiful Brenda! Such a rich history and lovig story.

  • The Queen April 12, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    I always thought I would raise my children in the Hill Country, I thought that was where God lived when I was a little girl. I grew up in a little shrimping town called Kemah. It is bigger now than when I was little, but the memories are vivid. The Hill country was, and is, an amazing place….I am so glad you are still there, but I wish James was with you. I am hoping your little home is where you can feel his eternal love and guidance. Because love never dies…nor are we separated from it.

  • amcTX April 13, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    This is beautiful, brought tears to my eyes.

    • 1010 Park Place April 13, 2015 at 4:46 pm

      Thank you. I see TX in your avatar, so I’m wondering if you’re a Texas girl, too?

      • amcTX April 14, 2015 at 10:25 am

        Yes, I’m LaRhesa’s assistant, the photographer. Your writing style is beautiful, very vivid.

        • 1010 Park Place April 15, 2015 at 10:21 pm

          Ashley, Hello! Thank you for the nice words. Hope to see you here, again!

  • Esther Zimmer April 15, 2015 at 3:40 am

    I agree with amcTX – this is really beautiful and I’ve got tears in my eyes too! Such touching writing, I’m so glad I took some time to pay your blog a visit today! Esther xx

    • 1010 Park Place April 15, 2015 at 10:41 pm

      This has been a crazy week. I’d planned to read more of your blogs, so thanks for stopping by and reminding me.

      • Esther Zimmer April 20, 2015 at 2:43 am

        Oh, Brenda, I know that feeling too well! And don’t worry, I have to admit the blogging has taken a bit of a back seat lately so there’s not much new there! I’m actually going through a planning process to combine my blog and business and to create something really useful. Up until now the blog has been more a ‘personal journey of discovery’ but now I’m ready to turn it into something that puts clients and readers at the heart rather than it being all about me. I’m so glad I started it though, I’ve discovered a passion for writing but best of all – for helping women to live more intentional, happier lives! xx

  • Mamavalveeta03 May 2, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    It sounds so restful, Brenda…something my soul is needing now. Soon, it will be warm enough for me to enjoy my beach and soak-up the Sun’s warmth. And sometimes, even though there’s a crowd of people, I can feel insulated from the craziness around me with my husband next to me, a cold beer in my hand, and my big straw hat shadowing my face.

    I lov this post!

    • 1010 Park Place May 8, 2015 at 5:28 pm

      The warm sun on the beach, a cold beer in my hand, a big straw hat shadowing my face…. That sounds devine! Perhaps we should switch places for a week!
      xoxoxo, Brenda

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