It’s been a little while since our family vacationed anywhere. We decided to get away this past Labor Day weekend to the Texas Hill Country, about an hour outside our home in San Antonio. I love road trips. Thomas and I dream about RVs and traveling all over the US to see everything and everyone. Because my recent pregnancy had me slightly confined for nearly a year, driving out on the open road, even for an hour, thrilled my heart. We were on an adventure with our three kids in tote.

The original plan was to spend the whole vacation visiting with Thomas’ grandma, letting her get acquainted with our newborn, one month old Levi. After a bit of discussion with family members, we opted for a much shorter visit with Grandma and a longer detour into the small German town of Fredericksburg. We realized that seeing our family for an entire weekend might be too much of a good thing for Grandma, and we didn’t want to overwhelm her.

We didn’t come to this decision until the night before we left, so finding a hotel room in a very popular little get-away town proved slightly difficult with elevated prices and not much room in the inn. We finally found a room at the Hampton Inn. It was their last room with only one King size bed; but the hotel had a great pool, so we packed the kids’ sleeping bags and set out for a fine emprise.

As long as we have small children, I will always stay at the Hampton Inn in Fredericksburg. Their pool proved the biggest hit of the weekend. What fun. There was a bridge over the pool, a large waterfall feature with two places to swim under the falls, floating toys to ride on, and best of all a high water slide. The atmosphere was serene and accommodating for both children and adults. In fact, being there made me appreciate the fact that we hadn’t gotten out in a long time. Our kids were so grateful and joyful. It was a true treat. We swam and swam, watched movies and Discovery channel, ate usually forbidden snacks, went window shopping in the little town, and swam some more. The pool was such a hit, the kids talked about it non-stop. Caleb kept asking if we could live there in what he called the "apartment.” Apparently the thought of sleeping on the floor forever was overshadowed by the pool. He kept asking me, “Isn’t this the nicest apartment, mom? Don’t you love it?”

All I could do was smile and say, “Yes, Caleb, it is fun, isn’t it?” Thomas and I finally gave up trying to explain to Caleb that people just didn’t live in hotels, that it would be too expensive. We had to settle for, “Maybe we’ll get to come back here someday. You pray that Jesus gives us the opportunity!” To which he immediately set to praying.

Finally, we drove a short ways to Kerrville to visit with Grandma over Sonic hamburgers. We always love those visits. We took several pictures of the kids with their 90 year old Great Grandma and chatted about events and people and the way things used to be. We thought it was the perfect end to a perfect weekend.

Little did we know that the adventures were far from over. Just before heading back to San Antonio, we stopped in to say hi to Thomas’ aunt and uncle. Uncle Sam (yes, we actually have one!) gave Thomas directions for a scenic “short cut” back to San Antonio. We decided to try it since we were in no rush to be home. Thomas said, “This will either save us thirty minutes or cost us an extra hour.”

Rather than costing us an extra hour, we spent an extra unexpected two hours on an exciting escapade, wondering if we would ever see civilization again! Clearly we were lost. For a long leg of this journey, we drove at 15mph on an unpaved road where herds of cattle crossed back and forth. We talked about the possibility of having to settle there in the uncharted territory should we never reach the paved road. For some reason turning back seemed ridiculous to both Thomas and me. So we made command decisions on which roads to take based on the location of the setting sun and our estimation of where San Antonio was located in proximity to us. Things like littered beer cans gave us hope that not just cows walked this lonely stretch of unpaved trail. We hoped that we weren’t trespassing when we passed signs for a ranch, and discussed whether Texans were more likely to shoot first or say “howdy” when encountering trespassers.

Finally, we hit paved road, with a bit of sadness at the end of a true adventure. We decided to extend the trip another two hours by stopping in at my parents house, when we found the paved road back into San Antonio passed close to their home just outside of the city, west of where we would have come back into town if we had taken the road more traveled by.

Now we’re back, nearly in the swing of things. Piles of laundry, pictures on the digital camera, and some lasting memories are all that are left of a small holiday in the country. I’m truly grateful for a husband with whom I share an adventurous spirit and a love for family and friends. My life is abundant and full.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

All my life I escaped to fantasies. I daydreamed of being beautiful, being loved, being the center of someone’s world. I imagined what circumstances would lead me to a deep satisfying relationship with the man of my dreams, where we would live, and how I would be fulfilled. It always seemed harmless. Often I would insert my current crush into each scenario and comfort myself with ideas of his affection. I was more often than not able to separate the fantasy from the reality. There really seemed no cause for concern. In fact, it is probably a common pastime of any normal unmarried girl or woman beginning around age 10. I was normal, but the reality is that this normal is problematic.

I recognized it as a problem one day, at age 24, when I caught myself daydreaming about a friend on whom I held a secret crush. He had recently become engaged, and I felt a twinge of guilt. I had few boundaries in my daydreams, and engaged or married men were definitely beyond the boundary. What was more, just before this man became engaged, I had an open opportunity to reveal my crush and see where it might lead. In agony I had prayed that the Lord would give me wisdom, knowing my actions could cause huge problems for this friend and his girlfriend. The strong impression on my heart was to let him go. I knew it was the Holy Spirit prompting the impression, because although I felt the weight of sadness, I also knew a gentle peace at the wisdom of the thought. There was no guilt or condemnation, just a pure reality that this man was not mine. So later, when I found myself entangled in a daydream with my friend as the star, I knew I was wrong.

I must have prayed something like, “Jesus, I’m sorry. Help me not to do that, I know he’s not mine,” when another strong impression hit me. “Why is it more wrong for you to daydream about this man than any other man?” It never occurred to me that I was playing with people in my mind as if they belonged to me, when in reality no one really belongs to me. I tried right at that moment to stop daydreaming. The attempt led to one failure after another. I was addicted to this form of self soothing. It was the balm I used to hide a broken heart. I wrestled with myself and was defeated time after time. I hated my daydreams now, but could not escape them. The chains of failure weighed me down, and I felt lost and hopeless in this battle. I did not know who to talk to. I was ashamed of my problem. Finally, after several days of this, I found myself praying quietly after church, “Jesus, I can’t do this by myself. Help me. Who should I talk to? Who will understand and really help me?”

I turned to the side of the church and noticed an older woman in her 70’s. Her name was Jody Lundy. She was recently widowed, and that was all I really knew about her. But she glowed with a joy that was supernatural. She stood out so strongly, that I found myself compelled to go to her. I didn’t know what to say, and really could not bring myself to a full confession, but the Lord knew my heart and had grace on me. The conversation went something like this:

“Hi, Jody.”

“Oh, hi Beth! How are you?”

“Well, I’m struggling with something and I feel like God wants me to talk to you about it.”


“I keep having these thoughts, and I don’t know how to get rid of them.”

“Well, when that happens to me I just imagine a great big animal cage with Jesus standing outside. If I have a thought, I say, ‘No that belongs to Jesus,’ and I imagine myself putting the thought in the animal cage and Jesus closing it. If the thought comes back, I do it, again. In fact, I keep doing it every time it comes back. If it comes back 15 times in one minute, I put it in the cage 15 times and eventually, it stops coming back.”

“Thanks, Jody,” I smiled at her, realizing that was the most practical advice anyone could ever give me. It reminded me of a verse I had memorized several years earlier that spoke of bringing every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. I immediately set to work on my fantasies, “putting them in the cage,” taking them captive to the obedience of Christ. It brought me the freedom I needed, more quickly than I would have expected. I had escaped the ugliness of self-indulgence.

To this day, I use this practical wisdom for any thoughts that enter my head, good and bad. When my thoughts are in Jesus’ control, I respond in faith and love rather than fear and uncertainty. I also have a good friendship with Jody. She is a great wise woman, full of the Holy Spirit and willing to follow His direction in her life. It has still taken me some time to talk freely about the sin in my life. But the closer I get to Jesus, the less concerned I am about how people would judge me. I become more and more consumed with being free. I know that it is only Jesus’ love that could bring me to this place.

The Mixer Mishap and Freedom

This is dedicated to Tia Booker. May our paths cross again someday. I miss you.

You might have heard a story about a girl whose lip stuck to a hand held mixer attachment when she inadvertently flipped the ON switch while licking the irresistible cookie dough clinging to the end of the attachment? The story is true. That was me, when I was 13 years old. For about 3 or 4 years that was the most humiliating thing that ever happened to me. I shivered with horror at myself, often recalling the look of shock and awe on my then 7 year old brother’s face when he came running out with my parents to see what I was screaming about! His mouth, wide open, suggested I had embarked on the most wonderfully horrific trauma any young boy could dream up! I’m sure I swore him to secrecy when I had the presence of mind to talk with him. The worst of the story is that my parents could not detach the metal spiral mixing part from my lip, and my mom rushed me to the ER with the part still clinging tightly to my face. I think it was the most exciting emergency those medics had encountered in a long time, from the way they jumped at the chance to relieve my pain. It is still to this day the only time I have not had to wait for health care at an emergency room. Still, at 13, I would have given almost anything to have stayed home without the humiliation of 50 plus people witnessing my ridiculous lack of sense.

For years I held this story in the secret place of my heart, where all humiliation tries to hide. I heard my fair share of teasing from family, but they seemed to know this was not a story they could share with the outside world without ruining my fragile soul. So the humor was lost in secrecy until my junior year of high school. I can’t recall if I was 16 or had just turned 17, but that school year I took a drama class. The class was different than any other class I had ever taken. On many counts we were expected to be fully vulnerable. The teacher tried to create a safe environment by having us all contract at the beginning of the school year to never tell other people’s stories from the class unless we had specific permission from that person. She reminded us of this contract often.

One day, the daily journal assignment was to write out our most embarrassing moment. I hesitated before I wrote out the story. How would my classmates perceive me if she made us read aloud? It could not be helped. I had to be honest. So with trembling fingers I wrote down every detail of that night. I fought back tears when my teacher said we needed to read our stories to the class, using the dramatic storytelling skills. Bravely, I stood up and recalled to an entire class something I had never told a soul. The students tried to hold back the giggles as I set the stage and described the scene forcing myself to turn my fear and humiliation into acting energy. Finally, my friend, Tia Booker, guffawed loudly at the end of my tale. The whole class burst into uproarious laughter; even the teacher could not hold back her smiles. I could either laugh with them or cry; I chose to laugh.

Tia caught my arm as class ended and said, “Beth! That is the funniest thing I have ever heard. You HAVE to let me tell my friends. They won’t believe it.”

“No,” I shook my head. “I’ve never told anyone that story. It’s way too embarrassing.” Tia was relentless. She begged and begged. I wisely perceived that she was about to tell the story with or without my permission, so I said, “OK. But you have to let me tell it.” I felt only a small sense of power, knowing that if I revealed my secret there would be little to no giggling behind my back.

Tia quickly pulled together a small group of people after school, and for the second time in my life, I told the unbelievable tale of a 13 year old girl who licked a live mixer and suffered atrocities comedians only dream of. By the end of my junior year every single student in the school and many of the teachers asked me to tell the story. By the end of my senior year I had written the story out for a regional dramatic original story telling competition and won second place. I had turned a horrible humiliation into something people raved about. I had found security in making people laugh by letting them into the secret places of my heart and laughing at myself. They related to me, rather than rejecting me for my weaknesses. It was my first lesson in being myself and letting my humanity just be what it was.

Recently, I recounted the story for a small group at a party. A wise woman in the group asked me, “Was that a difficult event for you emotionally? It must have left a big mark on you at 13.”

“Yes,” I responded with certainty. “It was the most embarrassing event of my life, until a drama teacher assigned my class to tell our most embarrassing moment, and a friend begged me to tell her friends, and I won second place for the story in a story telling competition.” It occurred to me then, that this story tied into a bigger picture, where I am being asked on a regular basis to trade beauty for ashes; something ugly becomes something wonderful; and weakness laid bare in the Creator’s hand gives way to freedom.

My name is Beth Hernandez. I live in San Antonio, TX with my husband and three children, ages 5 (son), 2 (daughter), and newborn son! In general, I am what many would consider an extreme extravert, though God seems to be balancing that more lately. Though my husband and I feel most at home when our house is filled with people and our schedule is busy, we have learned to set a few emotional boundaries to keep our health and relationships stable! By trade I am a secondary Math, Science, and English teacher. Currently I am a homemaker who tries to keep her toe in the broader Education field through tutoring and short term, very part time contracted teaching positions (like a summer program called Jumpstart through the University of Texas system or some private school affairs). I home school my oldest kids, which is great fun! I love to read and share what I’ve read with others. I enjoy writing, and I am learning to share that with others. My husband and I are an active part of our church community.

This blog is a place for my memoirs and stories. My hope is that it will be a place for people to find encouragement. Life is hard, but I believe there is meaning behind both the exciting and the mundane. I believe that great joy can only be known after enduring and conquering great trials. I believe in laughing at myself and allowing myself to be human. I believe that I am accountable for my actions, and that grace and loving-kindness lead me to repentance. Repentance is the willingness to accept where I am wrong and respond by choosing what is right. I believe in absolute truth, because without it there is no meaning.

If you are reading this blog, I hope you will find that you are not alone. Someone else has said it or done it or endured it, and there is hope beyond it!