On Eagle's Wings

On Eagle's Wings
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:29-31


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Happy 7th Birthday, Noah

Sweet baby!

Cool dude!
You have six behind you!

A great future in front of you!

So fun!
Sweet Noah.
Receiving the Gummy Bear Award
for being the caring and huggable one

Always a winner in my book!

You beautiful boy!!

Lucky us! 
But, really, luck had nothing to do with it!
You are not here by chance, but were meant to be because God made you for His pleasure.
You are His workmanship, and He created you to do good things.
You please Him with your giving personality that likes to help and encourage others.
Know that God has a purpose for you.
We love you and are so proud of you, Noah!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Thoughts of Loss and Aloneness

Within the last few months, I have lost four friends. While I am sad to lose these precious friends and will miss them, I take comfort in knowing they are with the Lord now and at perfect peace because they trusted Him.

My thoughts of them this morning are the loneliness they felt in different ways, and the loneliness experienced by those they left behind. Being alone is a fear I must confess is frightening to me. I talk to the Lord about it frequently and am always comforted by His Word. Sometimes people are alone by choice and I myself enjoy my solitary moments. It is easy for me to be alone with "just me." But the knowledge that my love is near, I can call out to him, go put my arm around him, feel his hugs, enjoy his kisses, sit with him for a meal together, go out with him, that is always available to me.

My fear stems from when my first husband passed unexpectedly, and I was left alone. Alone in a quiet house, alone in my bed, no one to share the events of the day, the joys, the sadness, the frustrations.

Our friend, Joe, was a happy and very fulfilled man, with a sweet wife of 45 years and children and grandchildren. He was a man who lived life to the fullest. His aloneness in the last few months of his life were caused by ALS, which rendered him helpless and unable to communicate verbally or physically. Although his wife was his constant companion, the loneliness I am talking about is a being alone with yourself in a way I can't describe. His passing has left his wife in that "alone" state of wondering "what now?" She has support from friends and family, but there is nothing like being with someone for all those years and suddenly not being with them. We go from being comfortable where we are to having to find our place again.

Our friend, Kevin was and had been a single man for many, many years. He had friends and family, but he was alone when he found out he had cancer. He wanted no treatment at all, he simply wanted to be with Jesus, and so, in a matter of weeks, we said good-bye to him.

My friends, Ramona and Ken, were married for 45 years also. (What is with that number?) As a young woman, she had been divorced, devastated by her husband deserting her with three children. When she met Ken, he was alone, a bachelor, and he fell in love with her and her family and made them his. Their love was deep, but about ten years or so ago, Ken began the "dark journey of dementia" as my friend describes it. Ramona worked hard through those years because the long term care required for him was expensive and was eating up what they had saved for retirement. At 70, she was exhausted from trying to make ends meet, be caregiver, and had been ill herself off and on. Then, her oldest son was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and passed away about two years ago. She took it so hard, and my last conversation with her, she was inconsolable over that loss and the fear of losing her beloved husband. She was weary, grieving over her son, and also the possibility of losing her little dog who was her little buddy and companion at home. She isolated herself from all her friends and would not allow us to come see her or Ken. We were bewildered and hurt, but tried to stay in touch with her by phone and cards. She who had mentored many women and taught in our church for years, was fun, encouraging and an inspiration to us, isolated herself from people who would have gladly surrounded her with love and support.

Ken passed away a couple of weeks ago, but there was no memorial for friends to attend and lend support to Ramona, but rather a simple graveside service at their farm out of state.

Another friend and I were planning to contact her upon her return home to try to bring her back into relationships. She didn't answer her phone and it was a rare thing for her to return a call. It is a helpless feeling when you want to reach out to someone who won't be helped. I can still recall my conversations with her. She wept and wept with bitter tears and wondered why God had forgotten her and why He allowed this and at the same time, she knew her Father God loved her, but she couldn't get over the loss of her son, the loss of her husband through all those years of dementia and finally his death.

Last week, I sent her a card letting her know I would be calling her in a few days. I wanted to give her some space.

Then last evening at church, about 6:30 p.m., one of her old friends told me she had learned from a mutual friend that Ramona was now in hospice. This was shocking news to say the least, and all we could think about was that Ramona had simply given in to her exhaustion and her grief and no longer wanted to live. And less than an hour later, at 7:20 p.m., Ramona had passed away.

This hurts my heart. I know that she is at peace now, but I wonder and so does my friend, should we have forced ourselves on someone who wanted to be alone? Someone who didn't want us to know where her husband was during those last times? My offers to come bring her food or meet her for lunch or come to the place where her husband was, were rejected. She only wanted to talk on the phone. And so, I listened.

I guess I'm wondering now how do you prevent a person from crossing that line into deep despair? Right now, I know that God heals the brokenhearted. And so, I believe that my friend is at peace and her heart is healed. I believe that her husband is healed of his dementia and that there will be reunion with them one day. And my friend Kevin is also in perfect peace with His Lord whom He loved with all his heart and that he rests and enjoys the company of those witnesses in heaven. My friend, Joe, is healed of his ALS and enjoys perfect rest and peace.

I awakened this morning with the one I love and hold dear to my heart -- thankful.

Appreciate! Be thankful. Tell those you love that you love them -- often. Enjoy them. Bless them. Talk with them. Tell them your appreciation. Be kind, tenderhearted, looking for ways to encourage one another and build each other up. Be kind and gentle to those outside your family and friends. We never know the pain someone else may be experiencing when we see a sad face. An encouraging word can lift a downhearted spirit.

I'm thinking maybe Ramona did not give up -- maybe she gave in. God knew her pain and He, the One who holds the breath we breathe, released her from her heartbreak to bring her into the joy of His presence forever.

"You saw me before I was born. 
The days allotted to me had all been recorded in your book, 
before any of them ever began." Psalm 139:16

Friday, June 26, 2015

My random thought this week in Hodgepodge was the wish to just sit down with and have a good conversation with a friend. It never seems to happen because everybody is so busy.

Today my wish was fulfilled with my dear friend, a/k/a sister-in-love. RuthAnn is an incredibly smart, successful, sweet, and spunky lady who resides in Hawaii, but makes a couple of trips to Big D a couple of times a year. This is one busy lady with many things happening on her business and social calendar, so I feel privileged to have spent time with her again on this trip!

First stop was lunch at Fernando's Mexican cuisine where we munched on chips and sampled four different salsas before our lunch of enchiladas with the standard rice and refried beans. It was delicious.

After lunch, we walked around the shops on Travis Street in Highland Park. RuthAnn bought a cute, frilly apron and I bought space robot Popsicle molds for the kids. It is always fun to hang out with RuthAnn. Last time we were together, we checked out the Nebraska Furniture Mart.

Somehow the topic of drugstores and soda fountains came up during our conversation. We were reminiscing about drugstores in our childhood, the soda fountains, the stools at the counter and the crisp, clean smells there. I shared with her my memories of my sister and I carrying pop bottles or glass milk jugs to the grocery store to redeem them and then making our way over to the drugstore to spend our windfall of about 20 cents on a chocolate soda which we then shared.
 Uh-oh, look what just happened to be on Travis Street!

 RuthAnn always strikes a lovely pose

Mine tasted just as I remembered from way back when.

Let's see now. A chocolate soda back in 1963 was 20 cents! 
Today? $4.99 each! 
I'm not sure what a pop bottle is worth these days, 
and I don't think milk is packaged in glass jugs any longer,
so I don't know how many empties I would have to redeem for these yummy treats.

What a great day!
The soda was worth it for the sake of the memory, 
but enjoying it with this special friend was the deal of the day.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Happy Father's Day visit

A happy Father's day for my Dear Heart

With his babies, Sara and Jason

Sara with her boys

Jason with Kate and Jack

Sara and her sons, Brady and Noah came to visit for a few days for Father's Day.

Papa reading his Father's Day card from the boys.
Poor Papa was down in his back almost the whole time they were here.

While they were here, I took them to play Top Golf twice.
Once with the pouring rain and wind blowing like crazy, 
and the second time with sun blazing down on us.
Texas weather!
Come rain or shine, those boys are up for anything.
They loved the Bingo game I brought out for us to play.

A trip to the zoo with Oma and Nana.

We gave Noah his birthday gifts early.
Stomping on the packing bubbles was
as much fun as the gifts themselves!

It was rainy most of the time they were here, but that didn't dampen the good times. 
They built a blanket fort upstairs and played in it all afternoon,
then slept in it that night.

He can keep up with the older ones pretty good,
but he stopped for a minute and then was out like a light!

Uncle Jason found a big turtle in the back yard.

They played in the hot tub. It's cute that they are getting so big and are all good swimmers, but haven't outgrown their love for the hot tub - even when the water is freezing! Goggle, snorkels, and diving is still fun.

Every morning they were here, we had waffles or pancakes with bacon. On the last morning, Brady lifted his frosty mug of milk and said "Cheers!" to which they all responded by clinking their glasses together to the toast. (I'm not sure where they learned that.)

Noah had his sad face on. We were headed
for Going Bonkers and trying to get a good pic here
just about drove Grandpa bonkers!!!

My Dad and me

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 225

It's been too long for me! Wednesday Hodgepodge is always interesting and Joyce's questions are fun, so join in, answer the questions and post your answers here.

1. June 23rd is National Pink Day. What's your favorite something pink?

The peonies in my front yard that bloom each year. I love this shade of pink.

Other favorite pinks would be:

I still remember the pale pink, soft wool dress I got for Christmas in 1966 
which was just about the same shade as this strawberry ice cream. :-)
Natural Strawberry

2. What did you enjoy most about gym class when you were in school?


How about the least?

Junior high and high school brought on the dreaded locker room experiences such as:
  • changing into tacky gym suits, 
  • having to shower in front of other girls,
  • trying to cover my tall body with the short towels, 
  • swim class in the thin tank suits provided by the school, 
  • scrunching down your teased hair with a rubber bathing cap, 
  • and then having to go to classes the rest of the day with wet hair!

3. What memory is brought to mind by the smell of roses?

My mom. She always grew beautiful roses and I remember her pinning roses on our dresses for church, especially on Mother's Day.

4. Do you prefer to read or write?

I think reading is more satisfying to me, unless I have something to say. I do enjoy writing in my journal.

5. Sam Keen is quoted as saying, 'Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.' Would you agree? Is laziness ever respectable? How will you be lazy this summer?

Curled up in my favorite chair looking out the window - maybe with a book or an old movie on TV. I think laziness is acceptable for me when I am extremely tired or it is too hot to want to do anything. I'm feeling lazy right now - too much activity and fun these past few weeks with vacation and company!

6. The Florida Keys, Disney World, or a resort somewhere on the Gulf Coast...which Florida destination would you choose (and why) if the trip were today?

The Gulf Coast would be my choice. The sound of the ocean and lying on the soft sand would be very relaxing.

7. What question do you hate to answer?

What are you doing for the holidays?

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

The year is flying by again. There are many people I wish I could just sit down with and have a good conversation. It never seems to happen because everybody is so busy. I remember as a kid, no matter how busy my Mom was, she and her friends were able to get together and talk while we played.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Up a Not so Lazy River

Dear Heart's dream has been to go on a river cruise. He really, really wanted to do the Viking river cruise in Europe, but after many discussions about it, we finally reached a compromise and this past week we vacationed on the American Queen Steamboat from New Orleans to Memphis. A river cruise in the good old USA.

The mighty Mississippi

We saw some new places and learned so much, but I am only going to post a few highlights of this wonderful trip here since it is now a fading memory. So, lots of pics and not too much text.

 On the River Walk in New Orleans.
We had dinner the first afternoon at the Drago Restaurant in our hotel,
the Riverwalk Hilton,
then strolled around the River Walk Mall checking out all the shops.

On Saturday, we did the New Orleans City Tour. One of our stops was Cemetery #3. It fascinated me that so much money is spent to build the tombs, anywhere from $5,000 to $500,000. But, there are entire families buried in the same location. When a person dies, they are placed in the top portion of the structure and then one year and one day later the remains are moved to the bottom portion of the tomb. This allows time for the body to fully decompose and make room in the top for the next body. I wondered what happened if someone died before the passage of that time period and was told they are placed in a "temporary holding" tomb until they could be buried with the family.

We saw the French Quarter and had lunch at the Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville Restaurant, then walked around the French Quarter for the time we had. Er, that is, I walked around while Dear Heart sat in the shade waiting for our bus.

We toured the city and saw the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina. I can't imagine living through such a horror and wasn't surprised to hear that 75,000 never returned to New Orleans after that. 

Our boat was waiting for us

First stop was the Nottoway Plantation in St. Francisville, Mississippi.

Our guide informed us that the dishes set out on this table
were very expensive. She wasn't kidding. According to her, these exquisite
dinner plates are worth $1,000.00 EACH!!

Gorgeous old trees everywhere.

Vintage dancers demonstrating for us.
Times have changed!

Graceful home and furnishings. The 
lady of the house hid her jewelry in the bedpost
when the Yankees occupied the home.

A bit of a change at our next stop:
Accommodations not quite so inviting here.
This excursion was not only interesting but very compelling

LSP a/k/a Angola Prison has a very bloody history and many sad tales to tell.
Horrible things happened here, but I won't go into the detail of that.
The focus here is on the redemption that has happened and is happening to many of the inmates there.

Here is a brief description of the book Cain's Redemption, a very good book I bought and read on my return home:
"Formerly known as America's bloodiest prison, the 18,000 acres that comprise Louisiana's Angola State Penitentiary are now home to 5,000 inmates, a full range of seasonal crops, a 9-hole golf course, yearly rodeos, a Bible seminary, a museum, and much more. All of this came into being at the behest of Warden Burl Cain, who is now the longest-standing warden in the history of Angola prison. Under his leadership, the inmate population of 5,000 has gone from regular knife fights to Bible studies. Cain is a strong believer in the ability of the gospel to turn the most incorrigible of sinners into productive, moral citizens. Because eight out of ten prisoners are serving life sentences without parole at Angola, Cain has taken upon himself the task of making the lives of these prisoners productive and educational. Through a partnership with New Orleans Baptist Seminary, prisoners have the opportunity to get a bible degree and even be transferred to other prisons as a missionary. 

The Angola phenomenon has been covered by such media outlets as Time Magazine, Christianity Today, and in the award-winning film documentary, The Farm: Angola, USA. Author Dennis Shere combines his background in journalism and law to bring readers this account of redemption and life change in the most unlikely of places: a maximum security prison." quotation credit

 They grow their food.

They have opportunity to learn.

 Make use of their creative talents

Perform a play of the life of Christ

Show compassion to fellow inmates in their time of need.

Build a special carriage to carry the deceased to a final resting place with dignity.

Jesus came to set the prisoner free. He certainly does that at Angola. Because of Him, they have hope of eternal life beyond the life sentence here on earth. He hears the moaning of the prisoner and demonstrates His great power by saving those condemned to die. Psalm 79:11.

We next toured the charming town of Natchez. 
Below are two of the restored mansions we saw.
I never tire of going through these historic homes.
 Rosalie Mansion
Stanton Hall

Vicksburg, Mississippi
We took a 16 mile bus tour around the grounds of this famous Civil War Battle.

I like this African American monument.
Two black union soldiers holding up their wounded brother, a field hand.
One soldier is looking back, the other forward.
This represented leaving behind the oppression of slavery
and looking forward to freedom!
Love it!

Rockin' and

Rolling down the river. Each night the
American Queen Steamboat Company offered extremely talented entertainers
who were absolutely fantastic! We were very impressed. The food was outstanding!

Dan, Dear Heart, Tom, Peggy, Chuck, Tina, me, and Char.

Our dining partners each evening was a group of delightful people 
with whom we quickly felt we had known for a very long time!
Tom and Peggy were our neighbors on the boat, so we spent a lot
of time visiting on our veranda.

The Lord blessed me every day with the some of the most amazing sunsets.

Who could ask for anything more?

Well, I do believe we have some pretty nice sunsets here at home, too.