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. 

Liam and Mariner

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.

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.

What’s In A Name – Actually a lot more than I Realized

We have a birth name, a family of origin name, nick-name, and many other relational-names like friend, sister, mother, wife, husband, dad, cousin, uncle, or son. There are also gender and age (or maturity level) names like male/female, infant, teen or elderly. Then there are organizational and educational names like teacher, engineer, accountant, clerk, CEO, president, pastor and so forth. They speak to who we are and what we do, our identity and our purpose. Each name produces a mental picture. Our name also speaks to our realm of responsibility – our own expectations and the needs and expectations of others in those realms of responsibility.

For example, the Queen of England is the Head of The Church of England where our President is The Commander and Chief. Both are the leaders of nations, but are given responsibilities in two different realms; one is religious and the other military. As I mentioned them, you pictured them and who they are in those positions – didn’t you? We have expectations of these positions and when they are not met we become disappointed.

My former boss has a given name, relational names and a job title. She is a wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, daughter, friend, supervisor, Christian and The Chief Executive Officer. She is all these, all the time, but functions as the CEO in her position with our company. All these other names influence all the areas of her life, however some become more dominate with the occasion, location and need.

Likewise, our God has many names; they speak of him as relational, and as the authority in various realms of responsibility. We will look at one of these, later and examine the promise of it.

There are people in our lives who have not lived up to the expectation or need in relational areas of responsibility with us. We have missed the mark on many occasions, as well. These disappointments translate into all our relationships until new trust is built. Knowing this is there any wonder as to how easily the devil puts the goodness and faithfulness and dependability of our God on trial in our minds as circumstances arise where trust is needed.

It would be an effort, crowned with failure and even prison if I attempted to function as the president of the United States. As my bosses executive assistant, however I can speak in her behalf in selected areas, I can arrange meetings, travel and make purchases, but termination would be certain if I attempted to function as the CEO. Yet, I found myself trying to function as, “God” in circumstances which required trust in my God’s realm of responsibility.

Off and on for a number of years I have been the source of supply in the areas of emotional comfort, encouragement and finances for three close family members. I put myself in that position for a couple of reasons; one, I thought I needed to pay for the guilt I felt from my failures (Duh! Hadn’t God forgiven me?!). And because I obviously wasn’t really trusting that God would rise to the need…and He just sat back and let me attempt to be Him. I was told once that God doesn’t force Himself into any situation, I can testify to the truth of this.

Several years ago my husband purchased a small blanket/throw which has woven in it the names of God. It is usually wrapped around me when I have my coffee-quiet time in the mornings because my chair is leather and usually cold to sit on. On a recent morning I was filled with the overwhelming responsibility of these circumstances and the ongoing needs. I bowed my head, began to cry and said, “Lord, I cannot do this anymore, I am just not sufficient and I am running out of resources.” I’m sure there was a collective gasp from the living creatures surrounding the thrown of God that morning when I finally gave up…I could almost hear it. After a few seconds, as my tears dried up, I opened my eyes to the blanket across my lap to see the words, “El Shaddai – The ALL Sufficient One.” That’s the kind of thing to make you laugh and cry at the same time.

I grabbed my Bible to get a better understanding of this Name/Job Title. The first time was in Genesis chapter 17, God told Abram that he and Sarai (now elderly) they would become parents. God introduced Himself as El Shaddai: the ALL mighty, the ALL sufficient, the ALL bountiful, the nourisher, strength giver, satisfier, the supplier of the needs of His people – in short The ALL God.

At the same time He changed their names (job titles) from Abram, which means exalted father to Abraham, which means father of a multitude. He was telling Abraham what he would be, not what he (Abraham) thought he was. He changed Sarai, which means princely to Sarah, which means the mother of princes. The second time is in Genesis chapter 35 when He wrestles with Jacob. God changes Jacob’s name, which means surplanter to Israel, which means God’s Prince. There is so much in the meaning of these old to new job titles, but for the sake of time we won’t go there today.

So I realize as I’m meditating on all this that when God introduces Himself as El Shaddai to someone the next step is a name change. The Spirit spoke to my spirit and asked, “In one word, what is the opposite of ALL?” It was a quick answer, I said, “nil or none or nothing.” He smiled and agreed, “Your new job (name/title) is ‘nothing’. You do nothing and say nothing unless I tell you to do or say something. You are to pray and trust Me. I AM the ALL, you are not”

What a load He has taken from off my shoulders – I really understand and am understanding to trust is to have the “yoke” removed – His burden is easy and His Yoke is light.

(Daniel) saying, “Blessed be the name of God, forever and ever. He knows ALL, does ALL:

He changes the seasons and guides history, He raises up kings and also brings them down, he provides both intelligence and discernment, He opens up the depths, tells secrets, sees in the dark — light spills out of him!” Dan. 2:20-22 (THE MESSAGE)

FEBRUARY BIRTHDAY EXCURSION

We have several family birthdays in February and since all are located in Mississippi and Louisiana we decided to take a trip down south to celebrate with them and get away from yet another snow event here in East Tennessee.  Sweet husband has a birthday tomorrow, but we will celebrate alone together.

STOP ONE: Wilmington, NC to see new friends, Mike and Karen. They live two blocks from the Atlantic, so even with the cold ocean winds, we had to walk down.

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Wilmington is home to Arlie Gardens. 67 acres of paths, lakes, formal gardens, live oaks (one is 500+ years old), 5,000 varieties of camellias, birding trails, thousands of azaleas along with historic, contemporary and primitive garden sculpture. Beautiful even in February.

STOP TWO & THREE: We visited Sweet Husband’s sister and brother-in-law, Martha & Del, in Orlando on our way to stop four and spent a couple of fun days catching up. We also met Del’s sister and husband (Eileen & Stu) in Lakeland for lunch. They are now official Snowbirds from Maine.

Also in Lakeland we toured Florida Southern College designed and built by Frank Lloyd Wright. We count his architecture art work and tour each structure when possible.

STOP FOUR: We had met and developed close friendships with several people in Yellowstone with promises to visit; we keep our promises. Couple number one: Rose and Robert live in Cape Coral, Florida. They crammed in island visits, lunch on a fabulous pier and dinner with Robert’s sister and her husband.

STOP FIVE: Navarre Beach, FL to spend two nights with dear friends, Jim & Sharynn Singleton, from Mississippi, now in Florida.

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STOP SIX: Another Yellowstone couple Jerry and Mel. They live in Texas, but were visiting their son in Ocean Springs, MS. We stopped for a great lunch and sweet reunion.

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STOP SEVEN: Super Bowl Sunday in Baton Rouge with my daughter, Trish, and her family. We had two birthdays to celebrate: Nicholas #6 and Aubrey #16, sweet 16. Aubrey and I exchange flamingos from time to time and have since she was about three, so I had a special cake made for her. Our friend from The Rose Parade and co-conspirator, Teegie (who lives in Baton Rouge) joined us for dinner and the celebration the night after the super bowl.

Teegie

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STOP SEVEN: Jackson, MS. We visited several close friends, John, Curt & Sherry, Kay and her Mom, Gay, my Brother (Bubba) and my sweet son Tony.

Due to circumstances beyond our control we didn’t get to see Leonard’s daughters or precious Grand-Wonder, Liam, for his 3rd birthday, but we left gifts on the porch.

Liam 3

STOP EIGHT: Didn’t happen. We hoped to spend time with my son, Joe and daughter Lorie and their precious families (no birthdays), but they were all fighting a virus and/or the crud.

FINAL STOP: An evening with Rogers and Hammerstein at the Knoxville Symphony Pops for our valentine gift to each other.

KSO

All this in only two weeks. We are getting good at this.

 

Texas Hill Country – December 2014

On our route through Texas in December, 2014, we stopped and spend a week with Leonard’s Brother and Sister. Ken Long and wife, Tomoko (a transplant from Japan) and Anna Martin. We both wish they lived or we lived closer. They live in the Wimberley/Austin area of the great (country) of Texas.

(L to R) Ken, Anna & Leonard

(L to R) Ken, Anna & Leonard

When we left, I had notes of all we saw and did, but lost them in transit. I had to ask Ken to reconstruct this for me, so I am finally getting it down to share with you all.

From our visit with them we stopped off at Big Bend National Park on our way to meet Leonard’s other Sister, Martha Harriman (w/husband Del) for Christmas in California.

I actually did a couple of blogs, which you can find in the archives dated December, 2014 about our visit in Texas to The Harry Ransom Center in Austin. They have the largest collection of memorabilia from the movie, Gone With The Wind and our visit to Dick’s Classic Car Museum.

 

Dick’s Classic Car Museum in San Marcos, TX is another of those acres and acres, but under roof. He has cars I have never seen before, cars I have never heard of and some that are probably the last in existence. I took pictures of the hood ornaments while Sweet Husband captured digital pictures of the actual cars.

Our days were filled with warm visits, long walks, a gourmet meal prepared by Anna in Austin and a few uniquely Texas activities. I will do my best to do the visit and the area justice with just a few words and pictures.

Leonard and Ken played both Duplicate Bridge and Poker, coming in second in the first event and poorly in the second. Tomoko took me to her Texas Line Dancing Class. I actually used to be able to do that kind of thing – someone stole my balance, coordination and breath in the last few years.

Lind Dancing

Tomoko treated us to a traditional Shabu Sahbu dinner. It is like fondue, only different. It is cooked on the table in a ceramic hibachi. Tomoko is an award winning cook, fun to watch, impossible to compete with.

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We drove to the little town of Fredericksburg, TX to eat at Hondo’s famous, “Boot Skootin’ Bar”. I felt like we were in a John Belushi movie. As it happened it was the same evening as their Christmas Parade.

On our way home we drove through Johnson City, TX to see their famous Christmas Light display – literally every tree and building is covered in lights – millions.

Wimberley has a monthly Market Day where you can buy handmade items, junk, crafts, food, clothing and probably live critters…acres and acres. It would take two full days to see it all. We purchased a piece of needle work from a booth who sells items made by children in an orphanage in Viet Nam. All the proceeds go to support the orphanage.

Then the piece de resistance was our liquor tour. This was an all day, totally unforgettable adventure.

First stop was a small micro-brewery called Real Ale Brewery. One simply drives up, pays one small fee and gets to stand there and “taste” their ale for as long as you like. We tasted one of each they had available, but knowing we had a full day of tasting we limited our time with these kind folks (BTW: everyone, but us, wore cowboy boots and Stetsons.) Their ale was quite good.

To clean our palate, we stopped at Golden Orchards (Peach orchard) and enjoyed some homemade peach ice cream – yum! Somewhere in this route we passed the Lyndon B. Johnson ranch and Presidential Library – we didn’t stop – just saying.

Peach Icecream

Stop three was Garrison Brothers Bourbon Distillery. In theory I understood that one cannot call their product “Bourbon” unless it is actually made in Kentucky. Texas, I believe thinks they can trump Kentucky, so they call it BOURBON. Don’t mess with Texas, as the saying goes.

We took a short and interesting tour of the distillery and were given a “taste” and our very own glass to keep at the end of the tour (I gave mine to my son, Tony, for his shot glass collection).

The distillery is so small that when they are ready to bottle their product (after ageing) they invite locals to come in to “volunteer” to help. They take home a bottle for their trouble. While there Ken signed up for the next event. He thought it would look good on his resume.

Final stop was at a vineyard and winery called Pedernales Cellars for a “tasting”. Here we also walked away with our very own glass to keep for sentimental reasons. The wine was excellent. I was surprised at the number of vineyards in the hill country of Texas, but they all make a fine wine according my Ken.

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I highly recommend a tour of this part of true Texas, I wish I could recommend Ken and Tomoko as personal tour guides, but not everyone rates this degree of grace.

INFLUENCE

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.” — Jesus. (Matthew 10:34 NKJV)

 CULTURE

I’ve been told that 30% of Americans consider themselves evangelical Christians. The Screen Guild, Planned Parenthood and the Gay/Lesbian groups seem to be having more influence on our culture than we do. These, and many more, are part of the new religion: progressive-liberalism. I know, I was once a part of that mindset. I was also a part of that passive, let’s not shake the boat mindset…peace at any price, mindset.

 Why do you think that the progressive-liberals are having a great influence on our culture? Should Christians be non-confrontational and only peaceful?

Should Christians never be politically involved? I’ve heard Christians say they were not going to vote because the candidate isn’t a Christian. Really? People that is a cop out. One doesn’t need to be a Christian to be a great leader.

 Lord, help us. If we ever needed a great leader, it is NOW.

 If you care about our changing culture, get politically involved at the very least. Stay informed and hold your representatives feet to the fire on our important issues. For example: we need term limits, we need to be rid of lobbyist (which is political corruption), and we need some economic and trade reform. These things, left to the politicians, will not get changed. Let us be logical here. Why should they make these changes? They are profiting from them.

 Martin Luther King, Jr. was an unknown, black, Christian, preacher without mega money behind him; actually with nothing behind him. Did he let that stop him from taking the authority and influence given to him to make changes to the culture? Did he allow intimidation to make him back down?

 We don’t have to develop a powerful position like this to make a difference in our culture. Remember, snowflakes are all very small, but in short order they can completely cover a landscape.

 I believe God gave us this country to occupy until He comes and many other very good reasons I won’t address right now.

 Are we influencing our given territory or are we just letting TV, media, our educators, and/or politicians change our culture and the next generation’s mindset without our involvement? We have influence and authority, are we using it in the realm we have been assigned to? Or are we letting intimidation from the progressive-liberals keep our mouths shut?

 Do you know what your children/grandchildren are being taught in school? It may be a good influence or it may be a bad one. However, if we don’t get involved by reading over some of the materials…that is passive neglect of your influence. PERIOD

 Home schooling and private Christian schooling has had its fair share of ridicule. Wonder why? The progressive-liberals cannot control what is being taught.  

 Do you remember the story of Ester in the Bible (if not read it – the whole book is called, ESTER)? She was a beautiful woman from the Israel captives, who became the queen of the kingdom of her captors. She had the best of everything: food, servants, clothing, entertainment, protection and comfort of every kind. Why, I ask you, would she rock that boat? To go before her King with a request, without being summoned was often sure death. Why would she risk that? Because she loved her people and she culture more than her life. PERIOD

 Jesus was born a Jew in a religious culture, ruled by Romans. He fought the religious culture for three years, within the Roman culture. He made an obvious difference. Such a difference, that thousands of people since have been willing to and have died for Him. That, beloved is influence.

Spring … Actually Lasting longer than ONE week.

FEATURED IMAGE BY Doug McPherson Photography of The Great Smoky Mountains National Park (TGSMNP).

I have lived in Mississippi and Louisiana most of my life.  Spring is always the nicest WEEK of the year.  In some places, (like way-south Louisiana) it is the nicest DAY of the year.  Winter is nice, but wet a third of the time, cold a third of the time and warm the last third of the time (honest)…with the occasional tornado mixed in.

Let me testify:  Spring in East Tennessee is heaven, TRULY.  Wild flowers, dogwoods, redbuds, multi-greens as the trees leaf out, rain, sweet breezes, fragrances, day temps under 75 degrees Fahrenheit (often way under), night temps 40s & 50s.  The world is new and fresh every morning . . . for more than a week (honest)!  Pollen is not as heavy (?).  Pine pollen in Mississippi is heavy and turns EVERYTHING green for a month.

Photos taken in the last several days of Knoxville (the dogwood and the cherry blooms were almost gone, but oooooh the Azaleas), TGSMNP, and an attraction (new to us) called Parrot Mountain and Gardens (web link below).

Ornamental Japanese Maple Every yard on the trail had at least one or at least one weeping maple.

Ornamental Japanese Maple
Every yard on the trail had at least one or at least one weeping maple.

Cherry blooms were mostly on the ground, pink pavement, oh my!

Cherry blooms were mostly on the ground, thick-pink pavement, oh my!

Oh how the English do their pomp and circumstance!

English Dogwood:  Oh how the English do their pomp and circumstance!

Stately Southern Dogwood Knoxville, TN

Stately Southern Dogwood
Knoxville, TN

Azalea Riot in the Knoxville Dogwood Festival Trails

Azalea Riot on the Knoxville Dogwood Festival Trails

Rhododendron (lavender)

Rhododendron (lavender)

Rhododendron (red)

Rhododendron (red)

We were greeted with bird, “hellos”, and had them eating out of our hands. . .climbing on our backs, arms, shoulders, heads and pulling on my earrings.  We had smiles the entire tour.

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http://www.parrotmountainandgardens.com/