Life in Texas

City of Alpine Ward 1 deserves better than Judy Stokes. Please read and consider running for City Council

By Joy A. Kennelly

Have to admit, when I first drove through Alpine, Texas on my way to Florida last year, I was surprised it was called the alps of Texas. I didn't appreciate the rugged terrain, the wide open vistas, or stop to explore any of the art galleries, the quaint candy store, unique restaurants, and shops, I just kept driving on to Austin, TX because my sister had given me a deadline to arrive at her house by 10 pm due to her work schedule. And I still had 6 hours of driving.

Never in a million years did I think I would ever end up living here as I drove through. I was going to live the rest of my days in Florida, enjoying the sun and the beach, and Governor DeSantis. HA HA HA. When man plans, God laughs. Isn't that the saying? 

I've moved so often it's hard to count, but I blame it on the fact as children my mom and dad took us to South America when we were very young and then as teenagers, moved us to Africa for a year. I've traveled through 27 countries, and 4 continents, and have either lived in, gone to school in, or traveled through most of the U.S.

There was a study done years ago by a California university on the effects living abroad has on children and one of the long-term effects was determined to be the need for movement.  At least that's my recollection of my participation. Can't find it now so we'll never know if I'm right, but I have been a nomad for most of my life. That's why it's a natural fit for me to finally own and operate a travel agency because if you want to go somewhere, I've probably been there. I also am becoming certified in all kinds of vacation spots because it's also a way to learn where I want to move next, truth be told.

That's why, waking up at 5:30 am to the sounds and vibrations of construction, bright lights, and loud horns blaring sporadically combined with the beeping of equipment backing up makes me want to pack up and leave immediately. I didn't sign up for a year-long construction site outside my bedroom window. What I thought I was going to find here in Alpine, TX was dark skies, and quiet, peaceful living while I build my online empire.

However, what I wasn't taking into account was a city council that, despite their claims they care about the city, allowed not one, not two, but THREE Dollar General stores into this community with a population of 6,000. Who does this without understanding the ramifications of such a ghetto store being here? 

Because I watched Ozark, have to admit, it has made me wonder if the cartel isn't using Dollar General as a money laundering tool because the research my friend gave me regarding where Dollar Generals tend to end up is in small towns with naïve city councils. In case you haven't seen it, here's the trailer:

I've really tried to hold my tongue, but having drilling previously on Sundays at 10 pm and lights on at 10:30 pm at night with a generator making a horrible noise, I have to ask, why aren't there ordinances in Alpine to prevent this? Why isn't there an ordinance to protect the quaint, small-town experience that generations have enjoyed year after year?

Guess what? Turns out, we don't need a noise ordinance to sue according to a criminal defense attorney. It's considered a public nuisance and  I would like to start a class action suit because I'm sure neighbors would want to participate since it's affecting their quality of life as well. If you're interested, contact me via email ( and we'll get it going. I know a law firm that specializes in class action lawsuits very open to receiving this information to start one. And if you have an Alpine news tip, send it to that email too.

Filing a noise nuisance lawsuit is easy peasy to quote said attorney.

What I find interesting is that I watched B.J. Novak's Vengeance film prior to moving here and was shocked to learn he had shot some of it right here in West Texas. And that a lot of the issues he references in the film, are currently happening. What? You haven't heard of this film either? Let me give you a taste of what you're missing. Here's the trailer:

After experiencing what I'm seeing lately, I think he could easily write a follow-up script using the greed of the land owners who sold the land for $37,000 to Dollar General (click here for stories about other small towns being decimated by this company) now live behind gated communities (yes, those even exist out in the middle of nowhere believe it or not) with their addresses blurred on Google maps and continue to build their coffers on the backs of small-town people who don't have the legal knowledge or money to fight back.

The classic class struggle.

The other day I sold a compact burner to a woman for $4 who told me her son was going to use it to warm up their house because he has no heat. That reminded me of a single Mexican mom I once rented a room from who couldn't afford to pay for heat in the apartment, rented to me to afford her living expenses because she stayed in a low-paying job believing the owner would eventually compensate her loyalty, and slept on the couch in the living room giving her teenage daughter her own bedroom. She slept with the oven on and the oven door open to keep the house warm which I don't believe is healthy for anyone.

Kind of opens your eyes to what white privilege really is when you think about it. Or is it life choices? Because after I moved out, her daughter became pregnant at 16 years old like her mom, dropped out of high school, and is raising this child on welfare. At a certain point, you make your bed and you lie in it if we are being brutally honest. I left after the daughter kept threatening suicide and the mom finally recognized she needed to have her apartment back to deal with her daughter's issues. 

But I digress. I didn't sign up for an excess of Dollar Generals in this quiet community and neither did my neighbors. Click to read the story of  "Dollar General: The staple in small towns throughout America. Are they harmful or helpful, and why is there another Dollar General for the “wealthy”?" because this is happening all over apparently.

"‘When a grocery store closes up and it’s your last one, you feel it immediately’ Rural areas are losing grocery stores but gaining other kinds of food retailers, such as dollar stores, according to the USDA." Click that link to read the full story.

Even the New York Times has written about this issue, ‘Everything Going the Wrong Way’: Dollar Stores Hit a Pandemic Downturn

Here's a link to the zoning map of Alpine that hasn't been updated since 2013 apparently: Why is that? Isn't it time we begin to be proactive? Prevent more bad business decisions? Apparently, there has been a lot of corruption over the years here, but that doesn't mean it has to continue.

That's what scares me the most about this current city council member representing our area, Judy Stokes, is that Ward 1 covers the small local airport too. Who's to say she won't allow more construction, more planes flying at all hours and wherever they want, and other encroachments on our civil rights? Or worse yet, illegal immigration via planes! Don't believe me? Read this article in the Big Bend Sentinel: Pilot in plane crash involving undocumented migrants pleads guilty to felony human smuggling charge

I tried to speak to her at the last city council meeting and she refused to acknowledge that I had the right to add the noise and disruption of the Dollar General construction to the next City Council meeting's agenda. Who does that? If she's not representing her constituents, WHO IS SHE REPRESENTING?

Because apparently, this has been a pattern with Judy Stokes since she came into office if this Big Bend Sentinel article indicates anything: New Alpine City Council throws out top city administration  

"Though citizens, the city attorney, and a fellow council member asked Stokes to provide her reasoning or motivations for the terminations she had slated, Stokes refused to talk. “We don’t have to have those, we are at-will employment,” she said. “I put it on the agenda and I feel comfortable in my position.”

Stokes did not return requests for comment, leaving the public with little reason as to why she initiated the swift terminations. On social media, some citizens responding to the terminations complained about Zimmer’s salary and his use of a city vehicle to visit his family in Albuquerque – something that had been contractually agreed upon by the city when Zimmer was hired."

So, to the anonymous person who chose to challenge my blog via email hiding behind your anonymity, here's why I write what I write and where you're wrong. Something is fishy when someone is doing a good job and is fired for no reason. You have to read the above article because it details exactly what went on when this city council chose to unceremoniously dump people who according to the community at large who came to speak on their behalf, were doing a good job.

"Erik Zimmer grew up in Alpine and was one of the most productive city managers in many years.  When he was hired in late 2013, the city had serious financial problems with a debt of nearly $10 million, almost as great as its total budget. When he left in 2017, it was about $6 million." (THIS IS WHO JUDY AND THIS CITY COUNCIL FIRED) You can read the full article here: Erik Zimmer returns as Alpine city manager

You know what's really ironic? At the last city council meeting this current city council voted to keep the city attorney who gave bad advice regarding Dollar General in his position as city attorney. WHY?! You just can't make this up.

So Judy, when are you going to listen to us? When are you going to act in the best interests of Alpine, Texas? Or do we need to find another candidate to run against you? I hope the person I've been talking to will do so because we need open, transparent representation, not someone who has her own agenda, refuses to listen to her constituents and isn't acting in the best interests of the area she was hired to represent.

And if you vote Judy Stokes back on the city council this May, you deserve what you get. A town that will continue to be run by someone who doesn't care and will do whatever this puppet wants to fulfill the bidding of her masters. At a certain point, we have to recognize that just because someone grew up in a small town doesn't mean they understand how to run it effectively, or that they're not being manipulated behind the scenes.

I said what I said.














Porter's Update, Upcoming February Events, City Council Review, and what lies underneath the surface of #Alpine, #Texas

By Joy A. Kennelly

Since I'm writing in my personal blog I will just share like you're my friend and interested in the latest hometown gossip, I mean news. First off, Porter's is having a soft launch tomorrow which will be great because when I went shopping at their older store, almost all the shelves were bare as they had moved all the sale items to the new store.

Speaking with Frank, Porter's employee, he says they will have the launch officially on March 4, 2023 with lots of delicious food and other fun activities for the community to enjoy.

Front Street BooksOur local bookstore, Front Street Books, has lots of interesting book recommendations which you will receive if you complete the newsletter sign-up here. They also will have 2 authors discussing their books on Thursday, February 23 at 6pm.  Front Street Books2

Now there are two big annual events happening later this month that sound interesting. The Lone Star Cowboy Poetry Gathering is being held February 17 - 18, 2023 in Alpine, Texas and people come from all over to participate. 

Cowboy poetryThe featured highlight is Charlie Goodnight: His Life in Poetry and Song happening Saturday Night, February 18, 2023, which will be a true western opera comprised of 15 poems and 14 songs written and composed by Andy Wilkinson, a distant nephew of the famous cattleman.

For more information, please visit the website to buy tickets, check out the schedule, and see the delicious menu offerings.

Now if poetry and old Western stories aren't your cup of tea, then maybe you'll enjoy going to Valentine, Texas about an hour and 30 min from Alpine to participate in the 11th annual Valentine's in Valentine festival which is also a reunion.

Valentine_s in Valentine_Page_1

Valentine in Valentine, TX is a throwback celebration that combines live music, small-town vibes, and good old-fashioned surprise.  An authentic party celebrating the Western lifestyle, this unique experience feels more like a get-together of old friends and family. Held in an old refurbished Mercantile store from the early 1900s situated next to a rodeo corral, the venue alone adds its own charm & mystique to the annual celebration. 

Heading into its 11th year, the 2023 headliners will be Austin, Texas natives, Shane Smith & The Saints; who you also may recognize from the Season 5 Premier of the hit tv show Yellowstone. And speaking of which, did you hear the news? Yellowstone’ Spinoff With Matthew McConaughey in Talks Amid Report of Kevin Costner’s Uncertain Future. I think Kevin Costner's wife's demands that he stop spending so much time in Montana is partly the reason, but I digress.

Back to Shane Smith & The Saints.

Additional acts include The Pulpit Ramblers, Mariachi Santa Cruz, The Rosweels, and a special appearance by Sheverb. Sheverb has a surfer western twang to their music I find very unique and fun. Doesn't this video showcase what I'm talking about? Ironically shot in Southern California.

For more info and to purchase tickets, please visit:

And if you're wanting to camp while attending the event, be sure to check out my friend's campground, Desert View RV Park. They have 5 spots left and they will go fast because it's about 15 minutes away from the festivities vs traveling by bus back to Marfa, Van Horn, or Alpine.

JTA Facebook HeaderI know quite a few people in Valentine having spent months on a ranch nearby and now that I'm a certified, insured, and bonded travel agent under my banner, Joy's Travel Adventures, I'd be happy to help you with any accommodations you may have questions or want to book in the surrounding areas. And if you're wondering where to fly into, El Paso, TX is the closest airport.

Dallas Fort Worth is about an 8-hour drive to Valentine, TX. Trust me, driving hours on end with nothing but the Texas desert to look at is very tiring. However, the sunsets and sunrises are stunning. And every so often you'll see wildlife. Just be careful not to hit them. They will ruin your car according to locals.

What you can hit is Van Horn, TX from El Paso, because then it's only about an hour to Valentine from there. Plus, if you're into funky, unique art installations, Prada Marfa, is along the way. If you click the link to the Desert View RV Park above, I added a bunch of pictures and information to give you perspective on the area too.

Moving right along...

So, now to the City Council meeting tonight. I'm always curious who runs a city and what their personal agenda is because oftentimes, they're beholden to certain business owners, developers, and others with a financial vested interest in controlling the community as I experienced in Hermosa Beach, CA.

And it wasn't hard to see it's the same here. Apparently, 3 new city council members got on the council and immediately fired the City Attorney, the City Manager, the secretary, and the police chief. Doesn't that seem fishy to you? Especially when others I've spoken to said these people who were unceremoniously fired were actually doing a good job.

Why the sudden sweep? And why did they put back in office an attorney who was fired from the job before? Why was a woman who had sued the city and is in bed (literally) with one of the public works officials now our city manager? And why is a local apartment complex that wants to expand being held up for a feasibility test, when Dollar General didn't pay for one? And I hear this means NONE of the Dollar Generals were held to this accountability. Not to say I'm for random buildings, but let's get things figured out people. Do we have the water, or don't we? Will adding another structure to certain water mains reduce water for residents down the line? Or not.

What I also find very interesting is that the woman who is supposed to represent our area, Ward 1, has been in her position for one term and wouldn't acknowledge my request to have the noise issue from Dollar General put on the next meeting's agenda. Small towns are super shady because they are generally run by certain wealthy people who hide in the shadows and allow others to face the public wrath for their complete and utter disregard for the community as a whole as evidenced by the Dollar General fiasco. 

And speaking of the fiasco, now Biden's EPA has made it a Federal Mandate that all the lead and copper water line materials need to be inventoried all over Alpine. Probably all over the US, but this is where we are, so here is where I speak. 

And you want to hear a perfect place for fraud to happen? There was a grant offered in 2 phases that this new city manager decided to request for the city as a Planning Mobility Study for all of Alpine. And I don't remember her saying she consulted anyone when she did this too. Meghan, did you?

She didn't request infrastructure updates for this grant. No, a plan to be established at the cost of $280,000 with the city on the hook for 20% with the possibility of a $100,000 grant. Now apparently she has been speaking to local businesses to see if they would help offset the costs and there has been some interest if/when the city moves into Phase 2 of the grant process.

Now, on a positive note, the Alpine Tourism team has been very active and very successful in drumming up interest in people from other parts of the state coming to visit. The largest amount of visitors have been from Midland-Odessa and El Paso areas. However, the ones who spend the most money are from San Antonio, Austin, Houston, and other cities further away. When the reps were participating in the Dallas State Fair many said they had never heard of Alpine, but were interested after learning more.

In case you didn't know and are more auditory, the Alpine TX podcast ALPINE, TX: HEART OF THE BIG BEND PODCAST, is released every other week with discussion and news on travel to Alpine and the Big Bend region of Texas. “Heart of the Big Bend” won the 2022 Texas Travel Award for Best Travel Destination Podcast in Texas! This way you can get a taste of what is available here. I think Alpine, TX is a great place to vacation because it's central to numerous small western towns with lots of art, museums, history, and hiking.

However, to live here? Not so sure. There is definitely a territorial vibe from those who have lived in the area for generations, however, with more and more remote workers, contract medical workers, and those seeking to escape Austin and California, there are more people who have moved here in the past decade than usual. This has caused a housing shortage and why now there are numerous requests to split lots, build new apartment buildings, and other housing considerations.

One thing I find interesting is that there hasn't been a city plan in place for this growth which is the reason we ended up with the debacle of four Dollar Generals in a community of 6,000 people. Be careful Fort Davis, they're probably coming for your quaint city next. Can you tell I'm bitter? 

In any case, the infrastructure of the town is in desperate need of an overhaul which is why there are huge ponds of water gathering at intersections during the last heavy storm and why having enough water for residents is a concern with new developments. 

What struck me with the current city council is how little many of them see to understand or know what is involved in creating a functioning infrastructure. One guy is lying in bed recovering from surgery being asked what he thinks about everything and all he can say is a great report, good job as usual, etc. Then you hear others unsure of whether or not to move ahead with a new apartment complex because the water issue has never been explored. One woman works for the apartment complex in question and when I asked her if she would recuse herself should it come to a vote due to being a conflict of interest, she said yes. She seemed to be the one with the most wisdom of all I heard tonight.

What I was always taught as a child is if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. I think it's time we have a plan in place for the City of Alpine, but I highly doubt the entire current City Council is qualified for the job which is why I'm encouraging anyone in Ward 1 to consider running during this upcoming election in May. The deadline to apply is February 17, 2023 at 4pm. You can find out all the details here:

Please don't let this small community suffer because it's continuing to be mismanaged. We need people in office who understand zoning, city development, and infrastructure and not just home girls and guys who are in office by virtue of having lived here forever. The city has way too many empty businesses and too many for sale signs everywhere for this to be an endorsement of the current job the current council is doing for the City of Alpine.

We need someone with vision, a background in city planning and development, and someone willing to take on the obvious corruption inherent in the current new group of city council members willing to fire FOUR people without cause. They were doing a good job so why FOUR at once? And the replacements are subpar? I will never understand people sometimes. If I was a screenwriter, I could write a movie in a few days there's so much evidence of something not right here. 

More will be revealed. Stay tuned. 

In other news, Porter's new grocery store set to open February 8, 2023

By Joy A. Kennelly

First some great news. Big Bend National Park was recently named a "Best of the World 2023" destination by National Geographic Travel! Check out this image to see why. Now, do you see why I moved here? Why don't you visit Alpine, TX? Just ignore the Dollar Generals ok?

Big Bend National Park Photo Credit Ryan Buonaiuto Photo Credit Ryan Buonaiuto

Now on to the story at hand.

Ever since moving to West Texas, I was surprised to see only one grocery store brand called Porter's covering the entire area of Van Horn, Fort Davis, Marfa, and Alpine. Otherwise, it's just Dollar General or Family Dollar as your local stores and I have to admit, this took a little getting used to and still does. 

However, all that to say, I was very happy when Porter's sponsored the recent Women's Empowerment Seminar Hosted By SBDC. Click the link to see the wonderful women who put this event on. I think there must have been over 300 women in attendance. I won a free massage with Mary who works over at the local Whole Life Center and it was just what the doctor ordered when I pulled a muscle over my clavicle. It was so painful until she gently helped ease the pain. Highly recommend her services!

What I've grown to appreciate about Porter's is the free item you receive when you purchase $10 or more if you use their app. I like that it's family owned and operated since 1945 and they respect their clientele. Whenever I have had an issue they have quickly and efficiently resolved it. I appreciate that they have a wide variety of grocery items to choose from, their staff is very helpful, the stores are clean and well-maintained and overall the selection has been fairly priced. I even picked up 3 chicken breasts for $2 once! I'm a little sick of chicken now but was glad I froze it.

Very happy to report they are moving into their newly renovated location effective Wednesday, February 8, 2023 if the store member who informed me is accurate. Here's a glimpse at some of the grocery prices in case you're living in CA and curious, click here.

That's all for now.


Why did certain Alpine residents sell this community down the river with yet another Dollar General?

By Joy A. Kennelly

Never in a million years did I ever think I would be living next to a Dollar General construction site, let alone one that decides it's ok to be working at 10 pm at night on a Sunday, or 10:30 pm with a generator creating a huge rumbling for hours last night.

But I am.

ImageAin't this the truth? If we count the two existing Dollar Generals and the one Family General we are about as full up of these kinds of stores as we can be. Now to prevent more from coming in and fully creating a ghetto.

As a result, I did some research to see what makes a successful small town and discovered that there are certain elements which are as follows:

"The research found that small towns with strong economic performance share several key traits, such as travel, tourism, and recreation as key industries; the prevalence of professional services; a culture of entrepreneurship; and research universities and 4-year colleges."

This is taken from the article entitled: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Small Towns If you want to read it in its entirety, click the colored link. But in the meantime, I'll showcase the main points because they're so interesting and I quote...

  • "Have a greater awareness of local entrepreneurship and support it.
  • Work with local community colleges and high schools to encourage entrepreneurship as an alternate career path.
  • Train young people in the skills that major employers demand.
  • Focus on their niche industries.
  • Refine their central value proposition.
  • Recognize the importance that arts and museums play in attracting people and firms.
  • Constantly evaluate the total portfolio of offerings as a business destination."

I do believe that the local SBDC is very proactive in building up entrepreneurship. I have been very impressed with the people I have met there and the classes I have taken. Also, the women's business lunch was really fun last year and it looked like 300 female small business owners attended. This group of people really care about the community and building it up.

Back to the article...

"He (Ross DeVol, the lead researcher and a Walton Fellow at the Walton Foundation) cites places like Effingham, Illinois; Bardstown, Kentucky; Spirit Lake, Iowa; and Auburn, Indiana as towns that get economic development right. 'Look at them. Most have community colleges that engage with local employers,' he says. 'They focus not just on recruiting large companies; they attract smaller firms from other locations, and they pay attention to business retention and expansion. Those things get overlooked in most small towns. They don’t in the most successful ones.'

He adds, 'It’s important to reiterate that it’s not just about being a travel destination. It’s what you do with your attributes. It’s about quality of life and place. All the top small towns have positive net in-migration. People want to move there.'"

I quote this because to me it's very dishonest to hide behind an LLC when you live in a community and then work to get the zoning changed to allow a "small professional business office" back in 2018, but then years later sell out to Dollar General!  Especially when you hide behind a gated community and are on the Historical Commission board of Texas and an Investments Officer at West Texas National Bank.

According to other research, Pete "is the past president of the Board of Leadership Big Bend, a member of the Boards of the Alpine Public Library, the Museum of the Big Bend, the Friends of the Center for Big Bend Studies, the Davis Mountains-Trans Pecos Heritage Association and the Alpine Ambassadors. Pete is a member of the Rotary Club of Alpine, and member of The Big Bend Friends of NRA Board."

Why on earth did this man and his partner, Pate, think this small town of 6,000 people needed yet another Dollar General?

We already have two, what about a clothing store, or something that will benefit the community overall? Like a recreation center, boys and girls club, or indoor activity center for when the weather is freezing cold for the community to enjoy?

So in light of all the vacant buildings either for sale or for lease in this town, thought we might want to consider the following article to determine what will work best for Alpine, Texas moving forward. Additionally, maybe it's time to update the local ordinances to restrict construction after a certain time because it's not included apparently. And it needs to be.

35 Small-Town Business Ideas That Every Community Needs

Fortunately, Alpine does offer many of these businesses already, but one thing I and others would like to see is a mid-price range clothing store. We have a high-end one that is very nice. But we need one that serves the broader community at large with children. Now that we're possibly losing Dimestore Cowgirl, where can people go to find clothes that they will wear on a daily basis?

I hope we begin to be proactive, rather than reactive as Alpine moves forward and we, as a community, consciously begin to work together to create an environment that preserves the quaint, unique, family-friendly, artistic community that appreciates the wide open spaces, wildlife meandering through downtown at dusk and other unique aspects to Alpine.


Today's message and prayer during Church of the Highlands 21 Days of Prayer is on fire!

Romans 12:1-2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”


Today's message and prayer at the Church of the Highlands was on fire! Here's the link if you want to hear and watch and see how thousands of people around the country are lifting up prayer requests for things that matter to you and society right now:

Today's 21 days of prayer is all about spiritual attacks on the family and encouraging us to put on the full armor of God. We need to step into our place of authority and fight the devil.

Ephesians 6:10 - 13  

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 

Be encouraged! Do not shrink back and be destroyed, stand in your purpose and your calling. Do not flee, Nehemiah 4:14  “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”
Focus on the home and believe God can do great things. This is what the pastor was preaching and praying for today and encouraged all of us to pray too. That we would have: 
1. Homes built on the Word of God
2. Homes will have a spirit of unity, established in prayer
3. Homes filled with children in love with God. 
I have been so blessed and encouraged as I follow along daily I just had to share and encourage others to join me. Prayer-bible-verse-8
It's been really amazing to see what I'm praying for manifest in real life too. I've been praying for our government officials, our country, my alma mater, my friends and their families, my family, my favorite celebrities, Hollywood, and whoever and whatever God brings to mind as I'm lifting up these prayers to Him.
Prayer-bible-verse-11lI believe in the power of prayer. I believe in God's goodness. I believe in the power of God's truth. love and ability to change lives and circumstances.
I see it in my own life and in certain things happening in the country today which is why I have to write and share this with you to encourage you to join me in the final days of this amazing experience.
Prayer-bible-verse-6There's so much evil and darkness in the world right now. Wouldn't it be nice to have some light and encouragement in the midst of it? That's why I'm doing this. It changes my whole perspective and gives me encouragement that God is in control and He wins over the evil going on right now.
I think of this shocking story which you can read in full detail by clicking the link... Madonna Accused of Pornography and Child Trafficking in Southern Africa – Ethiopian World Federation Urges President of Malawi to Conduct Investigation  By Jim Hoft Published January 18, 2023 
I can't help but wonder if people praying for those caught in sex trafficking, human trafficking, and other abuses against children haven't caused these to come out now. I know I pray for that to end.
When I think about it, all I can do is pray for our borders, for the people caught in the crosshairs and that God will intervene, give our government officials wisdom in handling it, and that we will have law and order once again. It's out of my hands...
And on the flip side, I see positive news happening that makes me feel good: 
I know some may not think Alec being charged is positive, but I've been praying there will be justice in the world and I think it IS manslaughter when someone deliberately points a gun at someone and shoots it, fake or not.
I'm also tired of celebrities literally getting away with murder as Bruce Jenner did in that fatal car crash. I also feel sometimes we have to go through hard times to trust in God, not ourselves. Perhaps Alec will turn to God now?


But enough of me and my opinions of what's happening in the world, let's get back to God and his will for our lives.:)
This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible and I hope it encourages you too: Jeremiah 29:11 11 For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
And here's a musical version with sign language!

So! I hope this encourages and challenges you to join me as we continue our journey through the 21 Days of Prayer with the Church of the Highlands!
They have a great app for pray called Pray First which you can find in both iPhone and Android stores. And I like having the church app too because it makes it easier to find the message. You can also just watch on your computer. Whatever works! Just pray! 
Prayer-bible-verse-1lGod bless your day as my friend Ashley always says. If you'd like some worship music to play in the background as you go about your day, here's some I just found. 

Have a great week! I plan to!


Finding a place to call home after a year of traveling and moving.

Where I traveled in 2022By Joy A. Kennelly

Well, I'm finally settled into my new town after a ton of cross-country trips last year. I had no idea it was so many until Google shared this insight with me. Normally, I don't like being tracked, but this was kinda fun to review and realize I did a lot of traveling last year.

I left California in June to go care for a friend's aged parents in Lakeland, Florida. The opportunity was presented that I would basically be there if anything went wrong at night and I would have the days free to work and travel.

1However, when I arrived, it was clear the parents needed more care and after many months of trying to get the family to provide in-home care, find a way for the couple to move into assisted living, or find help through the various senior resources, it became clear the situation wasn't ever going to change. I made the difficult choice to leave, but it was very sad for me because the couple was really special and I had grown to care for them.

I enjoyed swimming with the mom and helping her regain her sense of balance. Also, helping her remember positive memories of times spent with family and church friends over the years. The stepdad was another sort and I began to realize I never want to live into my 90s. He was in constant pain, stubborn, arrogant to a fault, and determined he would be fine without his walker, despite falling numerous times and injuring himself further. We eventually developed respect for each other, but it was rough going at first.

It was a very sad situation and to be honest, I'm glad I'm no longer responsible because it was too heartbreaking to see them decline so quickly. Last year I experienced numerous friends passing while caregiving for my Dad and visiting my aunt in her skilled nursing facility. I began to feel like I needed to breathe and do something completely different which is why I left California for Florida. Plus, the political climate in California is stifling.

After a month of almost full-time care of the couple I was responsible for, the daughter told me to take off during the day because that was our agreement. It killed me to leave them because they really needed full-time care, but for my mental health, I began to pursue full-time work, look for an apartment to move out to, and explored various parts of Florida I considered moving to.

Downtown Looper Postcard I also joined a fun group of women called Lakeland Ladies and made friends through there that I have kept to this day. Really quality people too. We went and explored a local natural spring and the beach on one excursion. What was funny to me about Florida beaches is the water is warm, like bathtub warm, which was disconcerting when I'm used to freezing in the Pacific ocean. It was also extremely shallow very far out which was also difficult to get used to, especially when sharks were an issue if you went out too far. 

I'm used to swimming to the end of the pier and back and not being able to touch the floor of the Pacific ocean. As a result, I enjoyed the natural springs more due to the refreshingly cool water, deep floor, and opportunity to feel cool during the heat. Because Florida is hot! I bought more shorts living there than I have in my entire life!

I was able to visit St. Petersburg, Tampa, Orlando, and numerous smaller cities around the major ones. What I found fascinating was the brilliant purples and reds in their sunsets. The skies would explode with colors I'd never seen before and many times had to pull over to take a picture to capture the vibrancy. I still have a desire to return and travel around because there is so much I didn't have a chance to explore.

I enjoyed living in Lakeland because there is a burgeoning tech scene and I was able to attend one of their Catapult pitch fests. Very interesting startups and founders. Also, very a unique cool building devoted to the startup community which had a young, dynamic female leader in charge who was very welcoming. I gave her some referrals to the events, VCs, and other tech-related resources I knew from my time in that field.

I also enjoyed living in Lakeland because I was an hour or so from Orlando and the same distance to Tampa. Thus, I was able to explore both areas very easily. I especially enjoyed traveling to Orlando because I was able to reconnect with my friend Lana who had left California a few years before me. We both cried when we saw each other because she had been one of my best friends in the business and we used to do many events together. She recently had experienced a major health scare too and I was so grateful I was able to see her doing so well.

20220720_200256When I left Florida I went to live on a friend's ranch in West Texas which was a very unique experience. I will always remember fondly my time living on the ranch among the horses, cows, and dogs because those became my companions living so far away from any city and my friends being so busy. Plus, the animals were so fun to watch and be around. They always made me laugh at their antics.

The closest town, Valentine, had 200 people. You drive an hour and there's another arts community of roughly 1500 people called Marfa. Drive about 45 minutes further and you arrive in the city where I currently reside with a population of 6,000 people called Alpine.

We have numerous Dollar Generals, one big grocery store called Porter's, a smaller natural one called Blue Water that I just learned about and need to visit, and a nice variety of restaurants ranging from  Mexican to Thai to American to Chinese to Italian to BBQ, one cafe called Cedar Coffee Supply, and Sul Ross University.

This is a major adjustment to living in Los Angeles, but I found an apartment here that I really liked just before I left to housesit in Austin for a week to look for a place there and have decided this is where I will rebuild my life. My friends tease me that they're going to poke a hole in my tires to make me stay still because I've moved so much.

When I mentioned that I wasn't sure I would meet anyone here, my friend said, well, you haven't met anyone while you're moving around.  Maybe it will happen when you're in one place. That made me laugh and I still chuckle thinking of it. Who knows?!

There's a big Valentine's Day celebration taking place in Valentine, Texas on February 18 that looks like a lot of fun. Here are the details:

Now that I'm settled and have my office set up, just need a chair which is being delivered by Friday. I'm excited to see what the year holds and am grateful for the remote jobs I have and the opportunity to begin acting again.

Now to find a local job to help me to meet people and make friends. Otherwise, I will remain in my apartment working all the time and I refuse to be a workaholic anymore. Time to find some balance and achieve some personal goals, in addition to, business and financial goals.

Also, continue exploring Texas. It's so vastly different than anywhere I've ever lived before and I find it fascinating. The sheer expanse of natural beauty with no buildings in sight is healing and inspiring.

I'm going to start a virtual goal-setting group similar to what I used to run in the 90s once I decide which platform to build on. Every group I ran had people accomplish the 3-month goals they set out to achieve and I know having the accountability, support, and encouragement of like-minded people makes a huge difference. 

I'm going to take a few goal-setting seminars myself to learn from others and add to my own experience and background. I'll be sharing more later.

In the meantime, if you want to join me and my friends in starting out the new year in a new way, consider joining us for the 21 Days of Prayer that Church of the Highlands is offering. It's free to participate in and very encouraging. Get ready to see what God can do when you place Him first in your day. 

God bless and enjoy your year! I plan to!