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