Road trip to see a waterfall

Springfield waterfall
Springfield waterfall

Recently I went on a spontaneous overnight road-trip to see a waterfall while my husband Ray drove to Texas to visit his widowed mom Judy and to do chores around the house that she needed done. I LOVE waterfalls and it’s on my bucket list to visit some sites this summer, at least in Missouri and Kansas.

Speaker Rochelle Valasek
Speaker/author Rochelle Valasek
a.k.a. my friend “Shelley”

.For the last several years, I’ve been wanting so much to visit my friend Shelley (Rochelle Valasek), but it would have been much more expensive to ride the train from Lee’s Summit, MO, to Nashville, TN, where she lives and stay several days there at a hotel.

Ray was a little more open-minded to me traveling somewhere here in Missouri and staying overnight at a hotel...that is, after I begged, pleaded, and threatened his life (not really. I did have a few tears that he was going to get to go somewhere, and I’d be stuck at home, bored!)

 I took what I could get, because the man holds tightly to his wallet! To be fair, he’s often paid for me going places, but that doesn’t mean he exactly likes it!

Springfield is only a few hours from where I live, so the morning (the SECOND!) Ray left for Texas, I took off driving as fast as I could within the legal speed limits before he changed his mind, drinking my big water bottle and practically shouting, “Whoo hoo!” out the window all the way down the highway, K-Love radio blaring, and me singing (off-key). I do love to travel!

 God answered my prayers for clear, sunny weather, instead of the perpetual rain Missouri  had been having. (I intently dislike driving in rain, snow, or ice!)

Since I’d never driven there alone, I used GPS on my new iPhone 7 (my dinosaur iPhone 4 just DIED, so I had to get a new phone!) and had printed out directions, just in case I needed a back-up! (GPS isn’t always right.)

 “If you don’t know where you are going, any road can take you there.”–Lewis Carroll, Alice In Wonderland

me in the car
me in the car, ready for the road!

My plan was to go to the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden first  (by the Botanical Garden), and then maybe visit other waterfalls in Missouri (which didn’t happen, as I explain later).

yellow daylilies
yellow daylilies

When you arrive, you come to the Botanical Garden first. It has beautiful flowers, trees, and shrubs, including a grafted cutting from the oldest cultivated fruit tree in North America, the Endicott Pear. Presumably brought from England, it was planted in Danvers, Massachusetts between 1632 and 1649.

I didn’t write down the names of the flowers, but maybe you can identify them. Pictures can’t do its beauty justice. I especially loved the purple lavender and the quaint sundial.

 A Latin phrase says of the sundial: “Dona præsentis cape lætus horæ [ac linque severe]. (Take the gifts of this hour.)”

oldest pear tree
oldest pear tree

 

white flowers
white flowers–I believed these are called “snowdrops” flowers

 

lavender
lavender

 

sea holly
sea holly

 

rock garden
rock garden

 

sundial
sundial

Past the Botanical Garden and the Butterfly House (which I’ll cover in another post–something really cool happened there to me!) is a beautiful waterfall, which was the point of my trip. It is man-made, but still beautiful and peaceful.

Botanical Garden Waterfall
Botanical Garden waterfall

There are chairs and little tables here to relax. When I attempted to take a “selfie” picture by the waterfall, a young woman who was sitting in one of the chairs apparently mistakenly thought I was taking HER picture! She got up, leaving in a huff. Oh well, more peace and quiet for me! (I did feel a little bad!)

tables & chairs by waterfall
tables & chairs by waterfall

I stayed here awhile, just admiring it, listening to the sound of the waterfalls, and thanking God for being able to see it–an answered prayer.

me by the Botanical Garden waterfall
me by the Botanical Garden waterfall

 

falls
falls

Then I went on to see the Japanese Stroll Garden, which is in another section (about half a mile from the visitor’s center. It was hot, so I drove there!)

The Japanese Stroll Garden was so peaceful and pretty. It includes well-manicured landscaping, winding paths, three small lakes, koi (goldfish), a ceremonial teahouse, a moon bridge, and a meditation garden.

Japanese Stroll Garden Springfield, MO
Japanese Stroll Garden
Springfield, MO

The Botanical Garden is free, but the Japanese Stroll Garden costs $3. You are free to take pictures and videos to capture its beauty.

It was hot, so if you go now and during the summer to early fall, be sure to take or buy some water. They do offer some drinks and snacks when you pay to go into the Japanese Stroll Garden. I sat here a minute to rest and drink my water.

me with water
me with water

At the entrance are little signs, “Please stay on the path.” This is so that visitors won’t disturb the garden’s beauty, and there can also be ticks in the trees and bushes which might get on you. The signs made me think of how we as believers need to stay on God’s path and purpose for our lives.

 

Stay on God's path for your life
Stay on God’s path for your life!

 

meditation garden
meditation garden

 

Beautiful landscaping
beautiful landscaping

 

Japanese writing
Japanese writing

There were brooks in the Japanese garden, which had small, more natural waterfalls. I enjoyed looking and listening to these. It seemed extra peaceful in these spots. 

brook with natural waterfall
brook with natural waterfall

 

me with the pretty flowers
me with the pretty flowers

 

purple iris
purple iris

As I walked around the garden, looking at the trees and flowers and hearing birds, I thought, “It’d be wild if I saw a red male cardinal here.”

Beside the eagle and dove, it is my favorite bird and a special sign to me of God’s love and presence in my life. Then suddenly, I saw both a male and female cardinal. The male even seemed to follow me around! God is so amazing and good!

To me, it was like a little kiss from God, letting me know He was right there with me in the garden, even as He was with Adam and Eve at the beginning of Creation.

The tea house and its interior were interesting in their design and plainness (but pretty). The tea house is a space used for tea ceremony gatherings, one of Japan’s 3 classical arts of refinement, along with flower arrangements and incense appreciation

The tea house was originally designed by Zen monks seeking simplicity and tranquility, and a place for poetically-inspired aesthetic pursuits, when the country was in chaos with wars and uprisings. (source: Wikipedia)

Right beside the tea house was a green-brown pond, where I saw a male and female mallard duck, another one of my fave birds. I stood there taking pictures of them and watching them.

mallard ducks
mallard ducks

 

tea house
tea house

 

tea house interior
tea house interior

Although the waterfalls in the Japanese Stroll Garden were man-made, they were so beautiful. I didn’t know any waterfalls would be in here, so it was a double blessing from God!

Japanese Stroll Garden Waterfall
Japanese Stroll Garden Waterfall

As I was leaving, I noticed a Japanese family entering the garden. It amused me a little, so I quickly snapped a picture of them. The little Japanese girl was so cute!

Japanese kids
Japanese kids

After I left the garden, I was famished and found a Mexican restaurant to eat lunch, for my chips and salsa and chicken taco (being a salsa magnet and God was smiling on me!). After I ate, I asked the owner of the restaurant if there were any hotels nearby. She said yes, right around the corner. To my delight, the Day’s Inn was clean, safe, and an even lower price than I had figured for a hotel room! More favor from God!

I went back to the hotel room to cool off, journal and relax for awhile. I need to find this Jarritos orange soda Mexican restaurants sell; it is delicious. 

chips & salsa after the garden!
chips & salsa after the garden!

Then I went shopping at Bass Pro Shop across the street from the hotel, where I saw more (man-made) waterfalls, live alligators that I thought were fake at first, one of the biggest polar bears ever shot, and I bought some chocolate fudge. (Yes, I ate the whole thing–eventually!)

alligators
alligators

 

polar bear
polar bear

 

chocolate fudge---yum!
chocolate fudge—yum!

As I was leaving the Bass Pro shop, there was a sudden, bad thunderstorm, so I went through the Chic Fil A drive-through and ate supper [safely] in my hotel room. This storm in Springfield and the area I was planning to head for the next waterfall was the reason I had to cut my trip unexpectedly short (as well as a very sore throat! Boo hiss!)

Chic Fil A
Chic Fil A

I will blog more this week about this trip and the next waterfall I saw locally, so stay tuned!

I had so much fun on this trip seeing the waterfalls and the beautiful gardens, and can’t wait to see more waterfalls this summer.

What is on your bucket list to do this summer? Leave your comments below!

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Summer Bucket List

84 degrees
84 degrees

Summer has definitely arrived. It’s 84 degrees today in the Kansas City, MO area. Today I texted my husband Ray, reminding him of the hot temperature and asking him why he uses the freaking electric blanket in the summer. Here’s my text:

 

My text to Ray today

He never answered the text.

In the summer time, I always freeze my family cranking the A-C, so that might explain it a little. I’m trying to stay cool drinking lots of water.

water

Recently I also discovered Sonic’s mango lemonade, which is very dangerous. I’m trying to avoid them, but they are so tempting! The medium size is almost as much as the large, so I just go for the large, with easy ice.

But if I want to hit my summer goal of losing _____ pounds (for me and God to know only!), I can’t do this very often! (Confession: I’m drinking one right now as I blog!)

I will tell you that the morning stop drinks are cheaper than the afternoon Happy Hour 1/2 off drinks! Some employees let you get the lemonades at the cheaper price in the morning, and some don’t.

Sonic's mango lemonade
Sonic’s mango lemonade

A lot of people plan family vacations for summer. Our family has rarely done this, due to cost, but a girl can dream, right? My place of peace and restoration is the ocean, and I want to go so bad!

I’ve written down a goal of going to Destin, Florida this year, the location that was the setting for my first fiction book, Storm Tossed.

Right now I’m writing the second book in this fiction series, called Afflicted, where the main character Rachel and her husband Jackson are kidnapped by extremists while on a mission trip in Africa. (Stay tuned for details!)

me on the beach, my place of peace & restoration
me on the beach, my place of peace & restoration

Ray’s dream vacation spot is Bora Bora in the French Polynesia Islands, and I fully intend on sending him there one day.

If you could go anywhere this summer, where would it be? Are you taking a family vacation this summer? Where? Leave your comments below!

Bora Bora
Bora Bora

Ray and I need prayer for this summer. Our landlord is selling the rental house where we live. We’re not sure what exactly is going to happen with our housing situation or where we’ll live, so please keep us in prayer for God’s leading, wisdom, and His provision.

But one thing I do know is that I’d like to do some FUN things with Ray, our kids, and our grandkids this summer. What’s on your summer bucket list? I’m busy making mine! I’d love to hear from you below!

Summer bucket list

 

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It’s time to pivot

My new haircut/color
My new haircut/color

“You’re wonderful just the way you are. You don’t have to be perfect to be liked, loved, or looked up to. You don’t have to be perfect to take a first step, the next step, or a giant step toward your future. You don’t have to be perfect for your dreams to come true. You just have to be you!” – A Moment for You, Woman’s World magazine, January 12, 2015 issue

How are you doing with this year’s goals? I don’t make new year’s resolutions anymore, but pray and ask God for a “word or phrase” and a Scripture for the year, that acts as my compass for the entire year.

My word for 2015 is pivot/pivotal and my Scripture is John 20:16, The Message.  

So far, so good.  [Forbes magazine says that a study shows only 8% of people achieve their resolutions, so keep your list short and your goals specific.]

Health Goals

Smoothies: adding green veggies to your family’s diet

One of the changes I’m making this year (the way I am pivoting) is to aim for drinking a lot more water each day and adding green smoothies to my diet.

I use a blender, adding a little water after putting all the ingredients into the blender (you also can use a food processor). 

IMG_2948[1]
blender
 I found the smoothie recipe online. Here it is:

  • 1/2 cup fresh pineapple
  • 2 large cucumbers
  • 1 bunch kale without stems (4 cups chopped)
  • 1/2 lemon squeezed
  • 1/4 inch ginger
  • 1 bunch mint (1/2 cup)

You can substitute spinach or other greens for the kale and add or substitute blueberries (or any berries) and other fruit like bananas or mango. If you’re just starting out, you can add less greens until you get more used to the taste. 

I halve the ingredients of the above recipe, and save 1/2 of that for the next morning. I like to add a little cinnamon to it, too. Cinnamon has amazing benefits.

The smoothie is a pretty Irish-green color once well-blended, and to my surprise it tasted okay. Not coke or coffee good, but still okay! Leah thought it was okay, too. And it is so healthy for you!

Smoothie with greens
Smoothie with greens

Wildtree Meals: Not having to cook over a hot stove! Love it!

I’m still making healthy Wildtree slow-cooker meals, prepping and freezing them when I buy groceries. Here is our daughter Heather’s Wildtree Facebook page if you’d like to check out the products.  They are organic:

 •  No GMOs
•  No Insecticides
•  No Pesticides
•  No Irradiation
•  No Preservatives
•  No Food Dye

When shopping, you read labels, too (sugar and salt are in so many things!). I warn you, reading labels like this at the grocery store can add an hour to your shopping trip! But it gets easier.

People are killing themselves with the way they are eating. (I’ve been so guilty of not eating healthy until the last few years!) Remember that the closer we get to nature in our eating (and less processed foods we buy), the better for us. We need to be healthy in order to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives!

Yes, it’s a lot of work in one day, but so worth it!

As I was sharing with a coaching client this week, it prevents that freak-out occurrence of “What’s for supper tonight?”  You know, not thawing anything out and after I work all day, then realize at 5 or 6 p.m. that I don’t have anything planned for supper – so we order pizza or eat fast food! NOT a good choice! The Wildtree meals have been a life-safer for our family…I just wish I’d found it so much sooner!

Donna Partow’s book – Becoming the woman you want to be!

Last January, I joined Donna Partow’s program, the 90-Day Renewal. I lost 20 pounds in the program and have maintained it (I’m still working on losing more weight!).

But the best thing about the program was how it shifted my perspective in so many ways. I realized that despite God’s deep healing in my life from childhood abuse, abortions, and adulterous relationships, basically, my life was still not in order! This was showing up in my marriage, extra weight (gluttony!), emotional meltdowns from stress, and financial struggles.

All the areas of my life are interrelated and impact each other: spirit, soul, and body. 

  • God’s Word and presence need  to be first place every day in my life;
  • My marriage needs restoration and to be more of a priority -it isn’t going to heal itself;
  • My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, not a trash can;
  • I need to live a life of self-discipline spiritually, physically, and emotionally.

Donna Partow book

Donna is a best-selling author and international speaker, and she walks her talk. She shares what she has learned in this book to improve your life in just a matter of 90 days – renewing you from the inside out.

I was especially interested in the health tips, and am now including this regimen in my daily life (besides the increased water, which she strongly emphasizes in this book, and the green smoothies):

  • Warm water with lemon juice first thing in the morning (Lemon juice detoxifies your body, helps with weight loss, adds Vitamin C that boosts your immune system, gives energy, and fights viruses);
  • 2 eggs a day (The eggs help with weight loss, raise HDL (good) cholesterol, add antioxidants good for eye health, and add protein);
  • Essential Fatty Acids (capsules or liquid – EFA’s assist in brain and nervous system function, and regulate thyroid, adrenal activity, and blood pressure);
  • Psyllium husk (Psyllium helps with weight loss, heart health, and regularity);
  • 1 teaspoon Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar and 1 teaspoon *raw* honey in 8 oz. glass of water (helps with weight loss, blood sugar control, and is good for heart health. Vinegar also whitens teeth, removing stains. Honey has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungus properties. It stabilizes blood pressure, balances blood sugar, relieves pain, calms nerves.

Donna also recommends:

  • 64 oz of water (this is a LOT of water – I’m still working on achieving 8 glasses!);
  • a multivitamin;
  • Ester-C (I have this on order at the herb store now);
  • as many fresh vegetables as you can consume a week (I am doing this now with Wildtree meals, salads, and smoothies);
  • a low-carb brand protein shake mix;
  •  healthy proteins (our Wildtree meals include this);
  • apples and/or grapefruit;
  • a rebounder (mini-trampoline for daily bouncing);
  • and an 8-minute workout video of your choice (dumbbells optional) or exercise of your choice.

Some of these I’m doing, and some I’m not. (It’s been 22 degrees Fahrenheit lately here. Too freezing cold to walk outside! I need to break out the exercise videos, right?)

I have been taking new steps since the last quarter of 2014 to enhance my health.

Try one or two of these a week, adding them to your health regimen for 2015. Remember the expression, “Eat the elephant one bite at a time.” 

What health goals have you set for this year? Leave your comments below. 

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