Tuesday, August 22, 2017

You Can Take the Girl Out of Texas, but...

You can take the girl out of Texas, but you can’t take Texas out of the girl!


Yep, I was born and raised in the great state of Texas and proud of it. Lived there (except for seven short months in 1976) from birth until 2011. Then, after living in Houston for 13 years, my husband and I decided we’d had enough of the heat, humidity, and mosquitoes—not to mention a couple of hurricane scares. So we packed up and moved to Tulsa, where friends living there said we’d enjoy the “milder” climate.

Fast-forward five more years, and we were ready to leave Oklahoma’s “mild” ice storms, tornado threats, and 110-degree summers behind! By then, one of our daughters was living in North Carolina, and the other daughter thought her husband might also be transferred there (it didn’t happen). Still, with the possibility of living near all the grandchildren, we relocated once more.

For the record, North Carolina is by far the most beautiful place I’ve ever lived. And yes, the climate really is mild, with four seasons but comparatively few weather extremes, at least in the six years we’ve been here. We have good friends, a church we love, and at least one half of the grandkid generation to enjoy. (When they’re in town, anyway. Another long story—this daughter and her family are dedicated to mission work, and they just left on another lengthy overseas assignment.)


But Texas . . . ah, Texas. Nowhere else can you find those amazing fields awash in bluebonnets every spring. Nowhere else can you find authentic Tex-Mex or real Texas-style barbecued brisket. Besides the longtime friends and extended family we left behind in the Lone Star State, those are the things we miss most.

Texas is definitely a state of contrasts—the lush farmland of the Rio Grande Valley (where I grew up), the piney woods of East Texas, the high desert beauty of Big Bend Country, the flatlands of the Panhandle that seem to go on forever, and—one of my favorite areas—the rugged, rocky Texas Hill Country.

I don’t get back to Texas much anymore, bur I revisit every chance I can through my books, and the latest is Her Hill Country Cowboy, my September release from Love Inspired. With longstanding family ties in the Texas Hill Country, plus fond memories of horseback riding on my brother’s ranch, how could I resist setting my story there? About an hour’s drive northwest of San Antonio, the fictional town of Juniper Bluff is home to Serenity Hills Guest Ranch, a small operation run by (of course) a handsome cowboy.

Naturally, there’s a pretty girl in the story, exactly the right woman to heal this cowboy’s wounded spirit and fill the empty place in the lives of his motherless children. And while she’s falling in love with the cowboy, it isn’t long before this quiet little Texas town starts feeling like home, and all the people there like old friends.

Here I am several years ago in Texas taking my grandson for a horseback ride.

Is there a place where you’ve lived or traveled to that remains dear to your heart, no matter how far away life takes you? What makes it special? Do you return often . . . or wish you could?


Award-winning author Myra Johnson writes emotionally gripping stories about love, life, and faith. Myra is a two-time finalist for the prestigious ACFW Carol Awards, winner of Christian Retailing’s Best for historical fiction, and winner in the Inspirational category of the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Awards. Originally from Texas but now residing in the beautiful Carolinas, Myra and her husband love the climate and scenery, but they may never get used to the pulled pork Carolinians call “barbecue”! The Johnsons share their home with two very pampered doggies who don’t always understand the meaning of “Mom’s trying to write.” They have also inherited the cute little cat (complete with attitude) their daughter and family had to leave behind.


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16 comments:

  1. We're glad to have you in NC, Myra. I lived one summer during my college years as a missionary on the Eastern Shore of VA. Thirty plus years later I still return at least once a year to visit my ESVA family and church. A bonus has been getting to return with my imagination in writing 7 ESVA for LI.

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    1. Loving it here, Lisa! I imagine that part of Virginia is beautiful, too. Nice that we can revisit favorite places in our novels!

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  2. Myra, as a native Texan who has lived in here all my life, I can relate. Texas will always be home, although the summers can be brutal and my husband and I talk of one day moving to the mountains, until that day, I write about the mountains in my books. But even if we do move to the mountains, I'll always be a Texan at heart.

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    1. Mary, I do miss Texas, but not the weather extremes. And you can find just about any type of terrain you want--coastal plains, hill country, piney woods, desert. I guess we don't have any "real" mountains in Texas, though. :)

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  3. Myra, you made me want to visit all the portions of Texas...though maybe not in the heat of summer. The bluebonnet photo is gorgeous!

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    1. Oh, I do love those bluebonnets! Thankfully, they bloom in springtime, when the weather is ideal for getting out to the countryside to take photos.

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  4. Myra, it looks like you feel about Texas almost the same way I feel about Nevada. I wasn't born and raised here, but I've lived most of my married life here and raised my children here. Dry, desert heat with constant threat of drought and earthquakes...but the most beautiful sunsets. I figure every place has its downfalls. Thanks for sharing. :)

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    1. Yes, Leigh, we have to take the good with the bad no matter where we settle. I've seen some gorgeous Texas sunsets, too. And when we visited our daughter in Montana--WOW!!!

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  5. I've lived in eleven states, and there was something about each of them that I loved. I once wrote a paper called "No Roots for Me." At that time I had only lives in half as many places. When my kids were young we lived near Atlanta, and I did love our neighborhood and springtime there with all the dogwoods in bloom.

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    1. Merrillee, the dogwoods are one of the things I love about where we live in North Carolina. Oklahoma had some of the most beautiful magenta-colored redbuds I've ever seen.

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  6. I am not a native but moved to Colorado when I was young and have been living here ever since (with a short jaunt to Seattle, which was beautiful, but too rainy for our liking.) Colorado has four distinct seasons, and we're close enough to the mountains to be able to take a day drive and see the spectacular trees turning reds and golds in autumn. And we have *real* mountains, LOL. But as you know, I write Texas stories and love it.

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    1. Deb, my husband has a lot of family in Colorado. Haven't been there recently but we've enjoyed our vacations in the Rockies over the years. We do enjoy watching the seasons change in the Carolinas, where we have the Blue Ridge Mountains only a couple of hours away.

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  7. After growing up in rural Oklahoma, we lived 34 years in Texas, but we've been all over the country (and the world) with my husband's work. Our oldest son was born in Florida, and two of our kids went to college there. Six years ago, we moved to Arkansas to be near the grandchildren and dearly love these Ozarks and the beautiful changes of season here. Now our youngest son, a native Texan, lives in North Carolina with our youngest granddaughter, so we're beginning to spend a good deal of time there, too. It's a BEAUTIFUL state. I'll say this, though, summertime weather aside, Texas is a GREAT place to be.

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  8. I agree, Arlene--the Ozarks are beautiful. For many years we owned a week at a timeshare in Hot Springs, Arkansas, but it's just too long a drive from North Carolina to get there as often as we used to, so we finally gave it up last year.

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  9. I lived most of my life in one county in GA. We moved 60 mi. away..to the country to be close to hub's family (my small family all deceased). I still miss my "home county" though and try to get back at least once a month to see my friends there!
    And thankful we can keep in touch via E mail, Facebook, phone calls!

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    1. Nice that you've been able to stay fairly close to your "home county," Jackie! Yes, what would we do without the convenience of online connections? I'm especially grateful since both our daughters now live thousands of miles away and in completely opposite directions!

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