Mothers’ Day with our beautiful daughters and my flower garden

Abraham Lincoln quote on mother

“I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.”–Abraham Lincoln

I had a great Mother’s Day weekend and hope you did, too. The best part for me was seeing our precious, beautiful daughters Heather and Leah. I went by to see our middle daughter Eden, but she was working late until that night. Hopefully I can see her this week when she is off work. 

Heather bought me a sweet card and beautiful fresh red roses, my favorite flowers–so thoughtful of her!

card & roses from Heather
card & roses from Heather

Heather works full-time, stays constantly busy and on the go, and lives almost an hour away from me here in Butler. So it was a real treat for her to drive here with her girls Annabelle and Violet and take me out to lunch at the Mexican restaurant, El Charro. 

Me & our beautiful daughter, Heather Mothers' Day 2018
Me & our beautiful daughter, Heather
Mothers’ Day 2018

 

Heather opening her card & gift from me The girls watching her Mothers' Day 2018
Heather opening her card & gift from me
The girls watching her
Mothers’ Day 2018

Heather and the girls then stopped by our house to see our black cat with green eyes, Natalya, for the first time. Violet loved her! Natalya is shy, so I was really glad she allowed them to pet and even hold her!

Heather seeing our cat Natalya the first time
Heather seeing our cat Natalya for the first time here

 

Our granddaughters Violet & Annabelle seeing Natalya the 1st time
Our granddaughters Violet and Annabelle seeing Natalya for the 1st time here at our house

Their visit was very short and sweet, because Heather had an errand to run, but I’m so thankful that I was able to see them and spend time with them for this special holiday!

On actual Mother’s Day Sunday, our youngest daughter Leah treated me to lunch at El Charro, too (we both love Mexican and I can never have too much chips and salsa!). Seeing our daughters made my whole weekend!

Me & our precious, beautiful daughter Leah on Mothers' Day 2018
Me & our precious, beautiful daughter Leah on Mothers’ Day 2018

 

Mexican lunch
Mexican lunch

 

I'm addicted to chips & salsa!
I’m addicted to chips & salsa!

The restaurant staff also blessed me with a free dessert for Mothers’ Day: it was a creamy, yummy cake with strawberries!

the yummy dessert: Leah & I shared it!
the yummy cake with chocolate & strawberries: Leah and I shared it!

I’m so thankful that I was able to do this with Leah. It made my whole day.

My husband Ray bought me a beautiful butterfly card (I love butterflies!) and a Chicken Soup for the Soul book, The Empowered Woman. What the card read inside about me being beautiful and what he wrote about me as a mom meant the most to me and deeply touched me.

butterfly card & book
butterfly card & book

To treat myself afterward, I planted some flowers in my flower bed that I’d bought at the Mennonite store in town, the Stoplight Market, where I purchased them last year. All this is a lot of hard work, and I was very sore the next day! I posted a meme on Facebook which read, “My glutes are on FIYAH!”

 

flower bed
my flower bed. I started gardening last year and am happy to have fresh flowers again!

My friend Stephanie urged me to buy mulch for the flower bed, so the rains wouldn’t wash away the petunias. I went the next day to buy the mulch and put it down to protect the flowers.

mulch
mulch

 

petunias
petunias in a variety of colors

 

cute little sign-fairy
cute little sign: fairy crossing

 

yellow daisies
friendly daisies for our back steps

 

purple potted petunias
purple potted petunias

 

gardenias
red gardenias for my sunroom

I love having creamy coffee and drinking it in our sunroom in the morning. It’s a great place to just pray to God and watch the birds, squirrels, butterflies, and bunny rabbits.

coffee in the sunroom
coffee in the sunroom

My mother-in-law Judy bought me this beautiful, little glass table for the sunroom. I love it! It is perfect for my coffee, flowered cactus, and aloe vera plant.

glass table
glass table

Our cat Natalya loves our sunroom as much as I do, but for different reasons. She intently watches the birds and the squirrels, anticipating a kill if she could only get outside (she’s an indoor-only house cat!). 

Natalya watching the birds
Natalya watching the birds

 

Natalya by the sunroom screen
Natalya by the sunroom screen

 

Natalya in the sunroom
Natalya in the sunroom

I bought a few herbs for my sunroom: wonderful-smelling lavender, oregano to use in cooking dishes like spaghetti, and beautiful purple Salvia. I never leave our cat alone in the sunroom with the plants, as some can be toxic. The door stays locked when I’m not in there.

I have the herbs in a big, white crate that was filled with goodies the attendees blessed me with last year, when I spoke at a retreat in Liberty, MO.

herbs: lavender, oregano, and Salvia
herbs: lavender, oregano, and Salvia

 

faith deco in sunroom
faith deco in sunroom

Last year I planted a big butterfly bush to entice butterflies, which I love. It blossomed well, and drew butterflies in my garden. But Missouri can have harsh, cold winters and it’s likely the ice and the snow killed the poor, little plant. I wasn’t able to find a big plant I really liked for that corner, so I bought a Celtic Cross.

I am proclaiming it is a prophetic declaration for me visiting Ireland, one of the things on my bucket list! Irish legend says that Saint Patrick was trying to convert the pagans to Christianity. Some of these pagans worshiped the sun, so it is said that he combined the cross with the circular pattern of the sun as a way to associate light and life with the Christian cross in the mind of his converts. I think it adds a unique touch to the garden.

Celtic Cross
Celtic Cross

I also put new bark mulch around my roses. Last year I planted my first rose garden. Two of the rose bushes look somewhat sad this spring, so they may have to be uprooted and replaced. I’m not sure they survived the winter. The other two rose bushes are doing well, and one is already blooming beautifully.

rose garden
rose garden with stones

 

my roses from this year's garden
my roses from this year’s garden

I bought bags of black sunflower and other little seeds to draw the red cardinals, sparrows, purple finches, blue jays, and other beautiful birds in our yard. I’ve already seen the male and female red cardinals in our yard. The red male cardinal is my special sign of love from God, and it makes me so happy to see one!

I’ve also seen purple finches and mourning doves. Doves make beautiful sounds in the morning and are among my other favorite birds. An interesting fact about doves is that they mate for life. 

red male cardinal Image source: Pinterest
red male cardinal
Image source: Pinterest

 

purple finch
purple finch

Last year my mother-in-law Judy bought me the squirrel-proof feeder on the left in the pic below. The squirrels are greedy, and practically do acrobatics on the feeders, even going upside down, to try to get to the seeds and eat them. 

bird feeders
bird feeders

I also put back out the hummingbird feeder with sugar water, and have already seen hummingbirds at them. I love the hummingbirds; they are so little and cute!

To make safe hummingbird food (there is controversy whether the red dye is safe or toxic to hummingbirds),  mix 1 part sugar with 4 parts water and bring to a boil to kill any bacteria or mold that is present. Cool and fill your feeder. They love it! This morning I saw a big black and yellow bumblebee at the feeder; they like it, too, so be careful. I was stung by a bee on my foot as a child, and my foot was swollen to twice its size, so I’m allergic to bees. 

“Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.”–Ashley Smith

hummingbird feeder
hummingbird feeder

The previous owners of this house had planted two pink peony bushes on the side yard. They are now blooming beautifully. My friend Stephanie said these are her favorite flowers, and that if I take care of them, they can grow as big as saucers.

pink peonies bush
pink peonies bush

 

pink peony
pink peony

I have a few more goals for our yard. One is to get a white trellis for the Wisteria tree, that Ray suggested I buy and plant last year. We put it in the front of our house by the little porch. It is now taking over our house, and friends of mine advised to get a trellis to train its growing “arms,” so it won’t destroy the siding on our home.

Wisteria tree
Wisteria tree

My other planned project is to buy 3 giant rocks at The Grass Pad in Martin City, MO, and make an attractive fairy rock garden on top of it. This is where I bought my stones for my rose garden last year. 

I had a very good Mothers’ Day this year and am so thankful.

Me on Mothers' Day 2018
Me on Mothers’ Day 2018

What did you do for the holiday? Leave your comments below.

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The little things

It’s the little things. It doesn’t take much to make me happy (Ray might debate that!). But simple pleasures give me great joy.

When Ray and I recently traveled to Texas and went through what seemed like the storm from hell, Ray’s mom Judy and his step-dad Leonard had a bird feeder and a hummingbird feeder on their back deck at their house by a beautiful lake.

lake by Ray's parents' house near Quitman, TX
lake by Ray’s parents’ house near Quitman, TX
bird and hummingbird feeders on back deck
bird and hummingbird feeders on back deck

I loved getting up early, sitting on the deck praying, enjoying the lake, and watching the birds. It was the first time I’ve ever seen a hummingbird in person and I was so excited. They are tiny and so adorable! I decided when we came home, that I was getting a bird feeder and a hummingbird feeder, too.

Yesterday, I went to the dollar store and Walmart to hunt for the perfect feeders. I found black shepherd hooks to hang the feeders on and bags of bird seed at the dollar store, and the bird feeder and the hummingbird feeder at Walmart.

The hummingbird feeder came with a kit, which included 2 bottles of nectar. Leah said it smells like Kool-Aid.® I told her NOT to drink the Kool-Aid!®  🙂

bird feeder and hummingbird feeder
bird feeder and hummingbird feeder

I’m going to have to go back to Walmart today to get a bigger bird feeder. At lunchtime, I noticed that some of the bigger birds are falling off the tiny ledge of the feeder when they try to eat, so they need a bigger ledge to be able to sit on it and eat. 

bird & hummingbird feeder in our yard
bird & hummingbird feeder in our yard

 I also bought a few new things for my sunroom, one of my fave rooms in our house: a red geranium, a green (golden pothos) plant, and a red flowered cactus with a white ceramic pot with blue and purple flowers on it. I love it!

My sunroom: red geranium, green plant & red flowered cactus
My sunroom: red geranium, green plant & red flowered cactus

One of the reasons I bought the geranium is because they are so hardy. I didn’t inherit my grandmother Moore’s green thumb, so I didn’t want to kill another house plant. Give a geranium some light and water, and it will love you forever. 

red geranium
red geranium

Same thing with the golden pothos plant and this red flowered cactus. I mean, how hard can it be to kill a cactus? Actually you can. The name of the cactus is a ruby ball cactus or moon cactus, and apparently they only live a few years, so they’re ideal for apartment dwellers.

Since they normally don’t live long, I better start preparing for its funeral. It depresses me when my house plants die! But it’s cute for now. I love the pretty ceramic pot. The blue in the dragonfly goes perfectly with my blue chair.

 You have to keep the moon cactus lightly shaded, protected from the full sun. The sunroom should be perfect for it. You water it thoroughly and let it dry out between waterings.

Red flowered cactus
Red flowered cactus

Right next to our sunroom is the utility room, where we hang our jackets and take off our shoes to keep them from muddying the beautiful wood floors in our house. I decorated the utility room with butterfly art Ray bought for me when he went on one of his missions trips to Haiti and birds that Ray’s mom Judy gave us. Her mother (Ray’s grandmother Hutchins) hand-stitched these.

hand-stitched bird pictures
hand-stitched bird pictures

These are the beautiful butterfly art pieces that Ray bought me as a souvenir in Haiti, which are on the other wall in the utility room. I love butterflies. 🙂 

butterflies from Haiti
butterflies from Haiti

The adjoining wall to this one with the butterflies just has a side window and a tiny bit of wall space, so I hung up these brass butterflies, that Ray’s mom also gave us. 

brass-butterflies
brass-butterflies

This morning I sat in the sunroom, praying, journaling, drinking my hot chai with heavy creamer (my little indulgence now since I’ve stopped drinking Cokes®), and watched the birds. I love listening to the sound of the mourning dove. 

chai tea with creamer
chai tea with creamer

Yes, it’s the little things. 

I have felt happy today. Here I am in a new, warm-weather outfit…peach tank, white wrap, and a long, beautifully-colored skirt. Ray said it’s pretty. 🙂

me in new outfit
me in new outfit

What little things mean the most to you? What makes you feel happy and content? Leave your comments below. 

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Lost in a Texas storm

my husband Ray, by the plaque dedicated for LeTourneau University's original EMS program
my husband Ray, by the plaque dedicated for LeTourneau University’s original EMS program

This weekend my husband Ray and I traveled to Texas for the plaque dedication service/reunion for LeTourneau University’s original EMS program, of which Ray was a part as a student and working as an EMT for the city of Longview, TX, about 30 years ago. He was so happy to see his old friends there, and longed to spend much more time with them.

Ray has worked so hard and faithfully in the emergency services field for his entire career serving as a Navy corpsman for over 14 years, a fireman and a firechief, a police man and a police chief, SWAT team medic, and a paramedic since he was 18 years old.

Since I’ve been married to him, he’s always done nearly back-breaking work like War Horse, going days and nights for years without sleep, going into work even when he was sick, exhausted, or just needing a break, all to put food on the table for our family.

In my eyes and our children’s, my husband is a hero every day of his life.

Ray’s mom Judy and his stepdad Leonard live near Quitman, Texas, which is close to Longview, and they graciously offered for us to stay with them at their home while we were there.  They live near a lake, which is so beautiful and peaceful. 

lake by Ray's parents' house near Quitman, TX
lake by Ray’s parents’ house near Quitman, TX

They have a big back deck with a large bird feeder and a hummingbird feeder. I’d never seen a hummingbird in person before, but this time I did and was so happy! They are so cute!

I’m planning to get me a hummingbird feeder for our house here in Missouri, to put near my sunroom. In this picture below, you can see the yellow goldfinch on the white bird feeder. It was the first time I’d seen one of these birds in person, too. 

bird and hummingbird feeders on back deck
bird and hummingbird feeders on back deck

I really enjoyed waking up early before everyone else got up, cooking my egg, and then sitting on the back deck looking at the lake, watching the birds, and praying. The sun was shining through the trees.

I’ve been needing to get away from everything and just relax. This time of peaceful solitude was balm to my soul.

Me by the lake
Me by the lake

The first morning I saw a male red cardinal; each time I see one, I feel it’s God’s “sign,”  letting me know in a special way that He loves me. Interestingly, this often happens on very bad days (although this time was a good day).

Sun shining through trees near the lake
Sun shining through trees near the lake

Ray and his parents would then join me on the deck for coffee, which was so relaxing. Ray’s mom put my coffee in a sunflower coffee cup (I love sunflowers!), which she blessed me with to take home.

My cute sunflower coffee cup
My cute sunflower coffee cup

The first night Ray’s stepdad Leonard smoked ribs for us. Ray was very happy about this, because on the way driving to Texas, Bodacious BBQ (allegedly the best bbq anywhere) was closed by 7 p.m.

Ray’s mom Judy also cooked fried chicken (Ray’s fave dish of hers, which I’ve never been able to master!) and fried fish (which I love!). It was all so delicious!!!

She also cooked breakfast, telling me she enjoyed doing something special for Ray that he liked:  she made biscuits with home-made plum jelly and Mayhaw jelly (a berry I’d never heard of); scrambled eggs; bacon; and fresh strawberries. I’m not a morning person and hate cooking, so Ray was thrilled with this. (I repent in dust and ashes.)

 

Ray, his mom Judy and his stepdad Leonard
Ray, his mom Judy and his stepdad Leonard
Ray and his mom Judy
Ray and his mom Judy

Ray was so disappointed about Bodacous BBQ being closed and about a store in Bogota, TX, running out of hot links when he arrived there. He did get some on the way driving home.

Bogota, TX store where Ray always gets his hot links
Bogota, TX store where Ray always gets his hot links

When the beautiful black woman working at the store asked Ray how many hot links he wanted, he said, “All of them.” He cleaned them out! He also got boudin sausage, another Cajun favorite in Texas. 

Ray in line for hot links
Ray in line for hot links
hot links and boudin sausage
hot links and boudin sausage

A girl sitting at the cafe in the store was eating crawfish. Yep, we’re definitely in the south now! I’d never eaten one before and asked her if I could take a picture of them.

I asked her how you eat them and her dad said, “You bite their heads off.” I wasn’t sure if he was serious or not.

It reminded me of the time I visited my sister Maria and her kids in Georgia, and my darling nephew Nicholas said to me with disgust at a seafood place: “Aunt Beth, you don’t eat fried catfish with a FORK! You eat them with your HANDS!”

Ray says you can eat crawfish like lobster or crab and that they are good. I’m not so sure I’ll be eating them at all. Nor did I taste the boudin.

crawfish
crawfish

Paris, Texas is on the way to Quitman, TX. Naturally as a joke, I had to stop and take a picture in front of it. I’ve been to the real Paris, France, twice and would love to go back some day! Our daughter Heather and our granddaughter Annabelle want to go, too.

Me in front of Paris, Texas sign
Me in front of Paris, Texas sign

Naturally, Ray had to act silly taking his pic in front of it. 🙂

Ray in front of Paris, TX sign
Ray in front of Paris, TX sign

For supper, we ate at a Mexican restaurant in Paris (does that sound like an oxymoron?). It was called Ta Molly’s, and silly me, I didn’t realize until we were inside that its name was a play on words (tamales)!

Ray really wanted to eat Bodacious BBQ,  but in my humble opinion, you can never go wrong with Mexican! I thought the restaurant had palm trees outside, but Ray said they are yucca plants. I’d love to get one for my sunroom.

I liked all the live green plants inside the restaurant and the white Christmas lights. 

Ta Molly's Mexican restaurant Paris, Texas
Ta Molly’s Mexican restaurant
Paris, Texas

 

Inside Ta Molly's
Inside Ta Molly’s

Ray was able to go fishing at his parents’ house while we were there. This was one of the highlights of the trip for him. He LOVES to fish.

“And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” ~ Matthew 4:19, NASB

Ray fishing at his parents' house on the lake, Texas
Ray fishing at his parents’ house on the lake, Texas
Ray loves to fish
Ray loves to fish

 

me and Ray on deck by lake
me and Ray on deck by lake

The dedication/reunion

Ray and I got dressed up to go to the reunion. Here’s a good pic of us in front of his mother Judy’s beautiful red fireplace at their house.

me and Ray ready for the reunion
me and Ray ready for the reunion

The dedication service and banquet for LeTourneau University’s EMS program was on Saturday. Here’s Ray with his colleagues. Ray is the first person on the 3rd row in the grey suit, with the military haircut. 

Ray and his colleagues at reunion
Ray and his colleagues at reunion

Here is the plaque unveiling at the afternoon ceremony at LeTourneau University, a private, interdenominational Christian university which originally educated veterans coming back from WWII. LeTourneau University recently added a nursing program, hence the dedication to the college’s original EMS program. 

unveiling of the plaque dedicated to the LeTourneau University EMS program
unveiling of the plaque dedicated to the LeTourneau University EMS program
LeTourneau President Dr. Lunsford, Glen Butts, and Jack Lanier

The university’s vision statement reads: “Claiming every workplace in every nation as their mission field, LeTourneau University graduates are professionals of ingenuity and Christ-like character who see life’s work as a holy calling with eternal impact. Amen!

On Saturday night, the university served a food and dessert banquet. We sat with 2 really nice couples, one who were missionaries in Peru (the missionary wife met her husband there and married him!) and the other woman was from Canada, living in America now. When I asked if she missed Canada, she said, “I miss the snow.” (Ray groaned at this; he hates snow.)

Ray and I shared some of our missions stories with them about Haiti, Israel, and Africa. 

banquet dinner table
banquet dinner table

 

banquet
banquet

Afterward, they had the dessert banquet in another building and those who had attended the university’s EMS program and worked as instructors and EMT’s for the city of Longview shared both funny and sober war stories.

After this is when Ray and I got LOST IN A TERRIFYING TEXAS STORM. 

Ray’s stepdad Leonard had given Ray short-cut directions to get to LeTourneau University, with which Ray wasn’t familiar (he grew up in Texas and Louisiana, and normally knows Texas roads and highways).

Before coming to Texas, I’d seen weather reports and didn’t have a peace about going there. I’d been caught in a bad thunderstorm cell, driving home after a movie one night last year, and the rain coming down sideways and the lightning striking so fast and close to my car really scared me. I didn’t want to go through that again!

Joyce Meyer says, “Let peace be your umpire.” 

Longview had just had a tornado, which totally destroyed Jack Lanier’s house (one of Ray’s colleagues there at the reunion).

I sensed the storm before we went to Texas

 I was very concerned that if Ray and I went on this trip, we’d run into a storm(s). It just wasn’t the weather reports; I sensed it spiritually. But my family and my friends thought I should go with Ray, so I went with him in faith, to show my support for him.

Things changed fast

It was a clear night when Ray and I left the university to go back to his parents’ house near Quitman, Texas. Suddenly it began thunderstorming badly.

 The rain was coming down sideways, hard. There was small hail.

The wind was blowing so violently that Ray had trouble controlling our little Toyota Yaris on the road. I was yelling for him to slow down, and he said if he drove too slow, the wind would knock us off the road. 

The worst part was that whole trees had fallen on the highway. It was like an obstacle course.

Ray kept swerving to avoid hitting them, and he did accidentally hit a couple of them. By a miracle, none of our tires were punctured!

I was pleading the blood of Jesus over us and taking authority over the storm, rebuking it. Ray and I were both praying in the Spirit.

I was trying to have faith, but I felt terrified that we’d crash or another tree would fall on top of us.

Later I soberly realized that if we had left the reunion earlier, this is exactly what would have happened and we would have been critically injured or even died. 

Then we got lost.

We were on the right highway, but the visibility was so poor that we couldn’t see the road that had a gate leading to Ray’s parents’ house. 

Ray accidentally left his phone at his parents’ house. (He always carries his phone, so this was rare!). I didn’t have Ray’s mom’s phone number with me, just her email address.

I called our grown daughter Heather to pray and alert intercessors to pray for us as we were in real danger from the storm.

The phone cut off just after I told her we were in danger and to pray. I tried to call her back to ask her to call Ray’s mom and have her call us with better directions, but I couldn’t get through again.

We were both stressed out trying to find the road with the gate. Ray said he felt we were going the wrong way and turned around in someone’s driveway.

As we pulled up into it, I saw a big white sign with large letters that said something to the degree of, “Prayer changes things.”

I knew it was a direct sign from God to KEEP praying and taking authority over the storm. God amazes me how He does these kinds of things!

Ray told me to call 411 information for his parents’ phone number. They answered and gave us the number immediately (a miracle!).

Ray’s mom answered frantic. She had messaged me on Facebook that she’d seen the news and a bad storm was coming, and to come back immediately.  She got Leonard on the phone.

They didn’t know exactly where we were, but Leonard was able to determine enough to tell Ray to take a different highway nearby, which was the highway we were much more familiar with. We were able to locate a church on that highway, where we turned that took us to Ray’s parents’ house.

All I could do when we got inside his parents’ house was get on the floor with my head in my hands and praise God for our safety.

I’m not afraid of dying; I don’t want to live and suffer, crashing in a storm! 

The storm died down shortly after we arrived at his parents’ house. While we encountered some heavy rain traveling on the way home to Kansas City, MO, it wasn’t real bad. Thank God for travel mercies!

My sister Maria said this when I told her about what happened:

“I think it’s very interesting y’all weathered a storm together but came out unscathed, together. I feel it is significant that you two went through the storm. And were still together. I feel it may be God saying, “I will keep you together, no matter what comes because you belong together. No matter what the storm looks like, I am in control. And you are through the storm.” Not a thus saith the Lord, but that’s why I found it interesting.”

Interesting word, isn’t it?

I’m thankful that Jesus is the Master of the Wind and He can speak peace to the storm. (Matthew 8:23-27)

The storm outside of us in the natural, and the storm inside of us emotionally and spiritually. 

I’m so thankful to be home safe and sound!

Have you ever been caught in a sudden, violent storm? Share your comments below. 

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