MOAB

When I saw the news report last night and saw that they called the bomb, “MOAB”,  I didn’t think of it as an acronym. I thought of the ancient nation of Moab and God’s great promise.  I found it most interesting that the bomb was called MOAB.

Israel and our great nation share the blessing of our creator God, who promised to bless those who bless His people. Moab an Israel are related, they share a great-grandfather in Terah, the father of Abraham (Gen 11:27), and Deut 2:9-12 gives Moab a similar history to Israel, displacing an indigenous race of giants in order to claim territory given to them by Yahweh (God).

In the Hebrew Bible, the relationship between Israel and Moab is an enigma. On one hand, Moab is the enemy. Moabite history begins with an ethnic joke that goes back to Lot’s incestuous relations with his daughters, implying that the similarity in Hebrew between Mo’abi (“Moabite”) and me’abi (“from my father”) was no coincidence (Gen 19:37). But Abraham counted Lot like a son and gave him preference and protection (Lot’s descendants founded Moab).

When Israel began taking back the Promised Land after they were released from slavery in Egypt and their 40 years in the wilderness, they fought every inhabitant of the land promised to Abraham (and Israel) except Moab. They were not even allowed to walk through it.

The Moabite king Balak hires Balaam to curse the Israelites but is foiled by a talking donkey (Num 22-24), and a later Moabite monarch, Eglon, oppresses Israel until he is assassinated by the clever Ehud from the tribe of Benjamin (Judg 3:12-30). The victorious King David was not allowed to destroy Moab. 

Other traditions present a more favorable view of Moabite-Israelite relations. The genealogy of David is traced to Ruth (and on to our Lord Jesus), that most worthy of Moabites (Ruth 4:17-18; and see Matt 1:5-6). Prior to murdering Moabite captives, David sent his father and mother to take refuge with the king of Moab while on the run from Saul (1Sam 22:3-4).

There are many in this nation and the world who curse the leaders The USA and Israel, but I have found a scripture that speaks straight from of God’s own mouth about these who stand against Him and His people: Isa. 44:23-29

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, And He who formed you from the womb: “I am the Lord, who makes all things, Who stretches out the heavens all alone, Who spreads broad the earth by Myself; Who frustrates the signs of the babblers, And drives diviners mad; (witches). Who turns wise men backward, And makes their knowledge foolishness; Who confirms the word of His servant, And performs the counsel of His messengers; Who says to Jerusalem, ‘You shall be inhabited,’ To the cities of Judah, ‘You shall be built,’ And I will raise up her waste places; Who says to the deep, ‘Be dry! And I will dry up your  rivers’; Who says of Cyrus,* ‘He is My shepherd, And he shall perform all My pleasure, Saying to Jerusalem, “You shall be built,” And to the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid.”’.

There is nothing new under the sun. I am not afraid by this, but I am watchful. God is always involved. He sees the end from the beginning.

Thoughts?

*President Trump has been called the “Cyrus” of our day.

Home Away From Homeless (part 2)

After volumes of document requests supplied to our mortgage broker, we told him we would be out of the country on a cruise for seven days beginning March 5th, so if there could possibly be ANYTHING else he might need let us know prior to that date.  A closing date was set for the week after our return, so we and left for a much needed cruise with close friends. 

Cruise: We joined three other couples for a seven day cruise on The Norwegian Dawn to Mexico, Roatan, Belize and Mexico (again). This was R&R for all eight of us; long awaited and much needed.  While on the cruise we celebrated two important events:

(1) Three of us couples renewed our wedding vows on March 6th. The fourth couple officiated and took pictures.

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And (2) we surprised sweet husband with a belated, 70th birthday celebration.  Our friend, Kay, made tiaras with black netting for the women and the men got pointed, dunce caps (except sweet husband who wore the cake).

Sweet husband’s favorite shore excursion was to crew the 1987 America’s Cup sail boat race winner with good friend, Curt.  They raced a Canadian ship and won by mere feet.

Naturally, in spite of our telling our broker we would be out of the country, we got several urgent texts and calls while at sea ($50.00 worth) requesting yet more documents for underwriting, more signatures, etc. By the time we returned back to the wonderful shores of the USA, our closing date was delayed, the contract on our house expired and the seller’s wouldn’t extend it.  We became officially homeless.

In spite of this lovely news, we continued our pre-planned visits by spending another few days in Baton Rouge.  Then on to the metro-Jackson, Mississippi area to meet the newest grandson, visit my eldest son, my brother, several friends and Sweet husband’s other grandson who had just turned four.

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Above my only granddaughter dressed for Jr./Sr. prom night in Baton Rouge. 

From there we drove to Meridian to participate in the induction of two of my grandsons into a nation honor society. 

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The plan was to drive back to Tennessee to rest and pick up our “stuff” out of storage and move into our new (to us) home in Long Beach, MS…NOT!

Instead we drove to the Mississippi Gulf coast to find a home.  We gave ourselves three days.  We were successful on the second day and had a day of rest planned before heading to Tennessee to “wait” on the mortgage process (again) with a new mortgage company.

Our last evening there, I stepped off a curb in the dark and fell hard on a concrete surface.  I thought I broke my wrist, but I sprained, skinned and bruised just about everything else:  a rib, both wrists, my knee and my ankle.    At this point one might think, “Perhaps God doesn’t want us to move back to Mississippi”, but not me.  This has only made me more determined.

Speaking of God, the next day while in the ER, our friend in Alabama called to check on us.  Sweet husband told her about my fall and she insisted we come and recover at her house, which was only a two hour drive as opposed to the two to ten hour drive back to Tennessee.  We happily agreed.  Thank God for sweet Marie.

Home Away From Homeless (part 1)

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So we had this great, yet small, condo (1,000 sq. ft. +/-) situated at the front door of The Great Smoky Mountain National Park, our long desired retirement location. 

After much prayer and angst we decided to sell it to find something with a bit more room and a lot more autonomy (a unhappy association with our many investor neighbors was also a huge consideration).  In this decision, we failed to take into account the recent fire in Gatlinburg, which resulted in the shortage of available homes to purchase at our price point…DUH!

SIDE NOTE OF ADVICE:  If you buy a condo in a resort area, make sure that there are a large number of owner-residents onsite. We had a poor experience living in a condo community owned mostly by investors. Investors and homeowners are two different creatures…one treats it like home the other treats it like monthly income.

Pictured below are two examples of the devastating fire that swept through our beautiful park and the upper neighborhoods of Gatlinburg.

We had made plans, prior to selling, for a visit family and friends, out of state, and to go on a cruise out of New Orleans with close friends. Therefore, not being successful in finding a home to buy, in a timely manner, we packed everything and put it all into storage in time to head to Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

First stop, Orange Beach for Mardi Gras with friends. Sweet husband’s 70th birthday fell on Mardi Gras this year and his youngest daughter gave birth to her first child that very day.

Did you know that south Alabama has a replica of the Stonehenge, called “Bama-Henge”?

Above Bama-Henge

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Second stop, Biloxi, MS for a Yellowstone Employee Reunion. Wonderful friends we had made in 2015 who lived and worked with us at Grant Village.  Two fun-filled days of catching up.

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Prior to this trip and because housing prices were on the rise daily in Pigeon Forge, we decided to move to the Mississippi Gulf Coast (for many reasons, much too long and an unnecessary rabbit trail for this post).  WE placed an offer on a house and started the painful mortgage process…UGH! So while on the coast, we went to tour the house in Long Beach, MS we were purchasing…yep, made the offer sight unseen.  (This purchase has another chapter to it to follow in Part 3).

From there we drove to my youngest daughter’s home south of Baton Rouge for a long needed visit with a cruise sandwiched in the middle of our visit there.

Cruise blog and pictures to follow in Part 2

American Soup

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We canceled our Netflix effective yesterday and will pick up Amazon after our trip down south starting next week to visit friends, family and children.

We don’t watch much commercial TV, so I was watching programs about “American” arts, crafts, etc. on PBS.  

The many cultures that have melded to make America the culturally diverse nation we are have brought many wonderful artistic gifts with them.  I could list them, but to better understand, I recommend looking for the shows.

My point, however, is that all these wonderful cultures have made us rich in beauty.  Rich in music.  Rich in craftsmanship.  These cultures have other distinguishing qualities in common…strong family values and strong cultural values.  Over the centuries they have woven together to make us unique and united and all genuine Americans.  We are not African Americans, French Americans, Irish Americans or Native Americans, we are simply American.  Each culture has enriched our nation with the gifts each nationality brought into the mix.

Think about some of the top three or four events celebrated here annually:  St. Patrick’s Day, Mardi Gras, Chinese New Year, etc.  

I’m saying all this because it struck me as I watched these programs is that 99% of us came for a better life. I’m aware some were brought here by force and some were invaded, but we are all NOW AMERICAN.  We aren’t here to takeover.

Unfortunately, some coming in over the last several decades have come to takeover.  They believe it is their destiny and duty.  That, beloved, is not dramatic news reported by a conspiratorial, radical group.  

We are the United States of America, many colors, many cultures, many hopes for our children.  

We have always taken in the refugees escaping tyrants, and immigrants.  We still do, everyday.  We are, at least, most of us, those very refugees and immigrants.

Let us be good and wise protectors of this wonderful culture soup called America. There are many mindsets ready to destroy this gift we call America.

TREES

Trees

I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mount is prest

Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.

–Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)

 We have, over the past two or three years, had the privilege of visiting many of our National Parks and some other worthy sites in our vast and beautiful country. I’m not a loco-tree-hugger, but I have become a huge fan and I appreciate the necessity of keeping as many as proves to be healthy for them.

 This is my holiday blog. It is not about Christmas trees, as beautiful as they are, but a note to honor the creator of these magnificent living partners in His world.

 I begin with my most recent trip to visit Pearl Fryar. Topiary Artist. In Bishopville, SC Mr. Fryar has spent his life creating this garden from a corn field. It was featured once on CBS Sunday Morning and I was spellbound. I never dreamed I would see it, let alone meet the sculptor. He is ageing, but still the strongest and most agile person I have met older than me. He has started to hire help and has started a foundation to carry on his work. www.gardenconservancy.org

 

ODD TREES:  A few odd ones we move to next:  a work of art called a singing tree, a tree with wonderfully shaped root system, a frozen tree archway and a shoe tree we saw in Montana.  I have no idea what the purpose of the shoes in the tree were.  I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a picture of a tree with such unusual fruit.

 

 

SEQUOIA:  These majestic giants are native to our west coast.  A few have been moved to other continents during the Victorian era, before the environmental protection laws were written.  These laws are meant to save other trees from un-native insect pests.  A good Idea.  Sweet Husband is standing in front of one exported to Scotland over a hundred years ago.  It is still quite young.  These trees live to over 2,000 years making them the oldest organism on our planet.  Pictures cannot capture their grandeur.

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Banyan Tree:  These trees are characterized by their aerial prop roots that grow into thick woody trunks, which can become indistinguishable from the main trunk with age. Old trees can spread out laterally, using these prop roots to cover a wide area. In some species, the effect is for the props to develop into a sort of forest covering a considerable area, every trunk connected directly or indirectly to the central trunk. The topology of this structure of interconnection inspired the name of the hierarchical computer network operating system Banyan Vines.

This photo was taken at Edison’s summer home in Florida.  It covers an acre of ground.

When near the Edison & Ford Winter Estates' west entrance, see t

REDWOOD:  Superlatives abound when a person tries to describe old-growth redwoods: immense, ancient, stately, mysterious, powerful. Yet the trees were not designed for easy assimilation into language. Their existence speaks for themselves, not in words, but rather in a soft-toned voice of patience and endurance.  I can only express my reaction in tears of gratitude to my wonderful creator.

Exactly why the redwoods grow so tall is a mystery. Theories continue to develop but proof remains elusive. The trees can reach ages of 2,000 years and regularly reach 600 years.

Resistance to natural enemies such as insects and fire are built-in features of a coast redwood. Diseases are virtually unknown and insect damage insignificant thanks to the high tannin content of the wood. Thick bark and foliage that rests high above the ground provides protection from all but the hottest fires

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Monterey Cedar: These are medium-sized coniferous evergreen tree, which often becomes irregular and flat-topped as a result of the strong winds that are typical of its native area along the pacific coast of California. It grows to heights of up to 40 meters (133 feet) in perfect growing conditions, and its trunk diameter can reach 2.5 meters (over 8 feet). The foliage grows in dense sprays which are bright green in color and release a deep lemony aroma when crushed.  I fell in love with their wind-shaped beauty

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Live Oaks:  As a resident of the deep south, all of my life, these magnificent trees never fail to make my heart stop each time I see one.  They do not become lovely until they are at least 100 years old.  The trees below are 300 to 500 years old.  They lose their leaves in the spring when the new leaves push out last years leaves.  Therefore they are evergreen and probably why they gained the name LIVE.

Lodgepole pine cone, Pinus contorta, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

This is the cone of the Lodge Pole Pine.  The seeds are naturally glued in and can only be dislodged by fire.  The forest are dense and as far as the eye can see in most areas of Montana and Wyoming.

A Walk In The Park

This past week I decided to have “A pamper me” day, so I went to the local nail shop. I was seated next to a young woman (probably 30ish) at the pedicure station. She struck up a conversation by asking me if I lived here and I answered in the affirmative. Then she told me she was here with her husband all week on business and were staying in Gatlinburg (nice, I thought, I love Gatlinburg).  She went on to explain that since he would be busy in meetings all day she decided to drive over to our side of the valley and visit the Tanger Outlet Mall (I’m nodding in understanding and agreement). Then she asked me if there was anything they needed to do while in our area. “Well, I said, “You have to go to the park.” “It is beyond beautiful”, I said, “and since it is early in the week she and her husband should go either this afternoon or Tuesday before the traffic gets bad.” I also told her about The Roaring Fork Motor Trail right off the parkway in Gatlinburg, which is another truly beautiful part of the park. She nodded and was silent for a few minutes and then said, (wait for it), “What kind of park is it?”

I truly pray the shock of her question didn’t show on my face, but I took a deep, slow breath, smiled and said, (in my sweetest southern accent) “Why, Darling, it is THE GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK!” I took another slow, deep breath and said, “It is the largest National Park east of the Mississippi River and it is probably the only one that is absolutely FREE.”

 “Really, she said, “I had no idea?!” (I already knew that). 

After a brief silence, I realized she had no intention of going, so I added, there is also The Island. The Island has a large eye-type Ferris wheel, like they have in London, a music-water show like they have in Vegas, a Margaritaville, Paula Dean’s restaurant and lots of shopping. She smiled real big at that news.

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Oh Lord, help me! She sits on the edge of one of the most spectacular areas in this nation and she drove all this way to go SHOPPING.

 I came home, told sweet husband and he declared we would go to “The Park” on Wednesday, walk about and have us a picnic. And that is exactly what we did. Besides the Mountain Laurel are in full bloom and I have yet to see them (pictured below).

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 There are two trails near the Sugarland Visitor’s Center that are easy hikes. We chose these because I have some very temporary back/leg issues. We also picnicked at the Chimneys Picnic Area – a MUST SEE and Sweet Husband’s favorite part of the park.  There are plenty of other wonderful hikes, from easy to challenging.  There are actually 900 miles of hikes in this park alone…yes, 900 miles! 

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There is an area with a trail, just off the parkway in Sugarland where you can see the almost lost homesteads of two families.  All that is left are two chimneys and a long rock wall.  These were abandoned when the National Park Service purchased these farms in the 1930s (pictured above).

Below are a few other shots taken along our trail walk.  Tell me, if you can, why would you go shopping when you have this kind of beauty nearby?

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West Virginia Flood – June 2016

WHAT HAPPENED (in summary)

 On June 23, 2016, thunderstorms brought torrential rain to much of West Virginia, resulting in accumulations of up to 10 inches in only a few hours. According to meteorologists at the National Weather Service, this qualifies as a 1,000 year event for the region, Rainfall totals included 9.37 inches in Maxwelton and 7.53 inches in Rainelle. Two-day accumulations in White Sulphur Springs reached 9.17 inches. In addition to the torrential rain, the storms produced an EF1 tornado near Kenna in Jackson County. The brief tornado lifted and rolled a single-wide trailer, injuring its two occupants; minor damage occurred elsewhere along its path.

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The tremendous rainfall produced widespread and destructive flash floods in the state. The Elk River rose to an all-time high of 33.37 ft., surpassing the previous record of 32 ft. set in 1888. Greenbrier County was the hardest-hit, with at least 15 deaths confirmed. Greenbrier County Sheriff Jan Cahill described the county as “complete chaos”. Flooding in White Sulphur Springs destroyed many homes and swept some clean off their foundations. One home was videotaped floating down Howard’s Creek while engulfed in flames. The town of Rainelle was especially hard hit, and was described as looking like “a war zone”.

In Kanawha County, heavy rains washed out a bridge leading to a shopping center near Interstate 79 in Elkview, stranding approximately 500 people for nearly 24 hours. About 500 homes were severely damaged or destroyed in Roane County. In Clay County, the communities of Procious, Camp Creek and others were left in ruins.

At least 60 roads were shut down, many of them swept away. Multiple bridges across the state were destroyed. In Nicholas County, the Cherry River flooded much of Richwood, forcing the evacuation of a nursing home. Homes in low-lying areas of the county were flooded up to the roof. Electric utilities reported at one point that 500,000 customers were left without power from the floods.

THE AFTERMATH (in summary)

There are multiple organizations and companies who swarm in on areas that have had some kind of crisis event; FEMA, The Red Cross, insurance adjusters, utility companies for many neighboring counties and states, a large organization that actually does construction (all volunteer labor), local churches and organizations like the one we are a part of: Crisis Response International (www.CRiOut.com)

FEMA’s job is to assess and determine what needs to be done and who best to do it. What should be condemned and what can be repaired.

The Red Cross does a great job of locating people for relatives who are unable to get in touch with family in the crisis region. Usually communication is an issue with phone lines and towers down. They also bring in and distribute food/water for the residents and workers.

The local churches are the heart and soul of this recovery. If you don’t think so, volunteer to go in to the next devastated storm area.

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Twice a day we had worship, prayer and a devotional presented by Pastor Chasteen, this was the greatest nourishment of all.

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(Above pictured in order, our director of Deployment, Mike Wyatt, our Chaplin, Sandy Plummer, our on-site host and Pastor, Dennis Chasteen and our fearless leader with a lost friend, Lee Pridgen)

Our director of deployment, Michael Wyatt, contacted a pastor in Summerville at New Life Assembly, Dennis Chasteen who opened his school gym and kitchen to our group of responders. There is a new group coming in from a different organization the day we pack up and left.

Then the congregation went about feeding us three meals per day along with supplying prepared food to organizations out feeding the people stranded in the devastated towns.

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(Above where we ate, took our baths [so needed] and slept.  New Life Assembly in Summerville treated us like kings, we are so grateful)

All the churches in the general area joined in to bring in clothing, furniture, household items like dishes, towels, sheets and more.

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Flood insurance was a luxury to all but a few since this area was mostly jobless due to our national administration’s policy regarding coal mining. Naturally, the insurance adjusters didn’t have many clients to call on.

Our job was to go to several of the houses we were assigned to and simply clean out and throw away that which could not be salvaged, which was 90% of what was in these homes. The trailers were all condemned; we cleaned them out anyway and saved dishes, pots and pans, washable linens and clothing, a few pictures and important papers and all the items hanging on the walls above the water line. These were boxed up and moved to friends and family homes that were spared. All electronics and appliances were destroyed…think about this.

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(We prayed, we cleaned, we tore down walls and ceilings and we fed the hungry.)

In the structures that could be saved and rebuilt, all the sheetrock, carpet, ceilings, light fixtures had to be removed. We cleaned down to the studs and hoped the plumbing and electrical worked after drying time.

In one trailer lived a retired pastor and his wife of 53 years. We moved what could be salvaged to a house a block down the road, spared from the flood waters. There were boxes of books they had stored in one of the bedrooms. Every box had to be opened and fished through to see if anything could be salvaged. In one such box, our Chaplin opened it to find it full of soaking wet books. These had been underwater for 48 hours. She took one book out at a time to check for important papers and photographs. Midway into the box she reached in to find a completely dry, leather-bound Bible. Beneath it were more soaking wet books.

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There was reported looting in one of the towns and a committee of men from that county gathered and put out a statement something like this: “If the police catch you looting, they will arrest you. If we catch you looting, they won’t need to.” I was told there are more guns per-capita in West Virginia than any other state. Perhaps they were just bragging, but I wouldn’t test it.

Our people found families who had been in their homes, through the flood, who had not had food or water for 10 days because they didn’t know it was available and were afraid to leave their homes unoccupied. May God have mercy, what have we become?

We came home tired only because we are older, many stayed longer than us and many are still there working.

The news media has moved on to Hillary and the police events, but our brothers and sisters in West Virginia are still hurting and in need of our help. Be careful who you give to. My advice is contact the local churches or the Red Cross, they have feet on the ground and know what is needed.

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