Sunday, April 12, 2015

Continuing the Vacation That Wasn't

Florida was off the table.  My heart was crushed.  Even if I did understand why (you can read the first post by clicking HERE) we didn't get there, it didn't make it hurt less.  I was going to meet an MG friend I've "known" for years. I was going to see 2 old college friends.  I was going to meet my life coach Kristen and her family; our sons are pen-pals!

I was still recovering from being so sick when we arrived in Pigeon Forge, TN. Think Dollywood.  Think Wisconsin Dells.  Think tourist trap. 

When we arrived, there was about 3 inches of snow on the ground.  No biggie.  We checked into a hotel, kind of unpacked, and then we were off to see what there was to see.

{crickets}

There were more shops, businesses, entertainment spots, even restaurants CLOSED than open!  Now I understand that this (Pigeon Forge) is considered "the South", but WOW!  Having lived in Michigan my whole life I can't even FATHOM a business NOT opening for the day because of snow!  We arrived on Tuesday, and it was Friday (the day before we were going to leave to head to North Carolina) before nearly everything was open.  It was a total bummer.

Every afternoon/evening, I sat in the hotel room and rested while Doug and Jacob went to the swimming pool for a few hours.  Jacob LOVES to swim and play in the pool.  So do I.  But alas, too many kids splashing, too loud and echo-ey, and they had the heat set on "just shy of the surface of the sun."

Doug would drag me out lovingly encourage me every day to go out with him and Jacob to try and find some things that were open to see and to do, and I was still weak.

The absolute highlight was going to the Ripley's Aquarium in Gatlinburg, TN. I would recommend it to anyone.  It was SO cool.  The only bummer is that Doug has to push me in a wheel chair through the whole thing.  There was NO way I could have walked.  I felt bad for making him push me all over, and I felt bad for Jacob having a mom in a wheelchair.  But at least he HAS a mom!

It was really incredible.  They had a whole section where you were "under" thousands of gallons of water.  A small people mover gave Doug a break from pushing. You could just concentrate on the amazing scenery.  Stunning tropical fish of every kind, sharks swimming right over your head.  A giant sea turtle gliding effortlessly above you.

It was tranquil and beautiful. I was awestruck.  Amazing.

The other 2 highlights were the amazing purse store there...OOOh-la la!  I got 2 new purses.  They had hundreds to choose from.  I could have stayed there all day!  And then there were Gigi's Cupcakes.  Oh. My. Delicious-ness.  Their frosting is OFF the hook crazy good.  Not too sweet, just perfect.  And they put a metric Cr@p-ton of frosting on it.  I would start picking at the frosting a couple of days ahead of time until there was the right amount to match the cupcake.

We seriously need one of those up here.  Oh yes we do.

SO. On our very last day in town Gigi's was open, we got our cupcakes and prepared to go from Pigeon Forge, TN to Avon, NC (on the Outer Banks), driving all day Saturday.

I was still sad about Florida, but was looking SO forward to our gorgeous oceanfront house on the beach... Couldn't wait to look for shells, walk the beach...and I KNEW they wouldn't be closed because of snow!!

Stay tuned...Did North Carolina turn out to be the saving grace of this trip?  Or did our fair heroine find herself in dismay once again???

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Book Review: Evening Prayers

photo courtesy of amazon.com
Evening Prayers For Every Day of the Year by Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt is a wonderful, richly Scripture-saturated book of prayers for every day of the year.  The book is divided into months and days, and each day begins with a Scripture passage.

This is the kind of book you could use for your own personal devotions just as it is, or you could use the Scripture passage and prayer as kind of a springboard for your own more in-depth study of the verses and topic.

It could also be used for a family devotional, say, after supper.  The passages are short enough to keep everyone's interest, but in depth enough to spark real conversation.  The fact that the author lived from 1842-1919 does not make this a stuffy, old-fashioned book.  The language is plain and succinct, and there are no "thees or thous" to confuse younger readers (not that there is anything wrong with that language...this author just does not write that way).

Evening Prayers really could be a contemporary book; you wouldn't know it wasn't written last year, let alone last century. I highly recommend this book.

You can purchase this book on amazon by clicking HERE
Both Kindle and Hardback versions are available.

You can purchase this book from Barnes and Noble by clicking HERE

Disclaimer:  I was given this book in return for a fair and unbias (not necessarily positive) review. All opinions are my own.


Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Vacation That Wasn't

Vacation.  That all too often elusive dream.  Finally, we were going to make that dream a reality.  It has been 3 years since our last family vacation, and I was MORE than ready for time away from my house and animals.

Now before I start my most recent vacation saga, let me just tell you that we don't have the best history as far as family vacations go.  Our very first family vacation, when Jacob was 3 1/2 years old, was to Florida.  The first week of our vacation in Florida, they had the coldest weather in the books.  It was colder where we were (on some days) than it was back in Michigan.  We had towed our fishing boat all the way down to Florida, and were staying at a fishing resort.... Along with the price of an apartment-like dwelling was a slip for our boat. 

For the second week of our vacation Doug we had booked a motel online.  It was voted "cleanest hotel on St. Pete Beach."  In retrospect, I think the only people who took that survey were either homeless or from third world countries.  It was nasty.  I mean N-A-S-T-Y.  We're talking schmutz-on-the-inside-of-the-earpiece-of-the-phone nasty. Jacob got horribly ill.  You can read about that by clicking .HERE

If you want a funny-but-insane story about this trip, click HERE. 
You can read how I felt about being home from that horror by clicking HERE.

Fast forward to 3 weeks ago.  I had been packing for a MONTH.  Literally. We were going on a fantastic vacation on which I was going to see four wonderful ladies: My lovely MG friend Nancy whom I have never met; my long-time friend from college, Diana (and her SIX children!); another college friend Tracy (yup, the same one from the first trip); and I was going to meet my friend and life-coach Kristen!!  I was beyond excited to see/meet these amazing women.

Two days before we are supposed to leave (Tuesday), I'm in bed with a fever. Flat out sick. I couldn't believe it. I prayed and prayed and asked everyone I could think of to pray that I would make a miraculous recovery.  Then I started coughing up blood and figured I had pneumonia.  Again.  So I called my pulmonologist to see if I should start taking antibiotics.  Yup.  Lovely.  So even if/when we went on vacation I would be taking those. Ugh.

Wednesday I was still in bed.  Doug called me from work; the power steering had gone out on the van and he didn't know if it was a quick fix or not.  I was starting to think we weren't meant to go on vacation.  At the same time, we were experiencing a horrible winter storm.  Doug found the problem on the van, and called around to find parts. They had to be ordered.  I felt my long-coveted vacation slipping away...

Because of the horrible weather, the parts truck at the van dealership didn't make it in on Thursday.  The truck which SHOULD have the parts on it would arrive Friday at 4:00. They were open for a few hours Saturday morning and Doug went and got them, and fixed the van. I however, still wasn't feeling well enough to travel.  At this point, it seemed like Florida was totally not going to happen.  I was devastated. We had so many plans...Legoland with Kristen and her family.  Grilling out at Kristen's house.  Spending an evening at Tracy's house.  Spending Friday with both Kristen AND Tracy (who have known each other forever).

By now we were just hoping and praying I would be okay to make it to the rental house (we had already booked and paid for) in North Carolina.  I had to tell everyone that I was planning to meet that it wasn't going to happen. All I could think was why, why, why??  Why wasn't God fixing this situation?  Why were my plans ruined? Even though I was beyond disappointed, Doug and I both felt that God was protecting us from something.

On Wednesday, my mom called. She told me to turn on the weather.  I was like, Mom....  On the Weather Channel they were showing a map of southern Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi and even Alabama.  The worst ice storm in history was traveling the very. same. exact. route. that we would have been driving.  People were stuck in their vehicles on the freeway for HOURS.

Doug and I looked at each other and I almost sank to my knees.  With my medical issues, the trach, all my medications (not to mention the need to go potty quite frequently), I couldn't even fathom being stuck in that mess.  Or worse, get into a terrible wreck!  I thanked the Lord right then and there.

The following Monday I felt ready to travel.  We DID get to have lunch with my girl Joanna... Oh, was that the BEST lunch of my life. Her whole family came and we sat for about 2 1/2 hours and gabbed.

We had decided to head for Tennessee for a couple of days, and stayed in Pigeon Forge. Then on to our rental in North Carolina.  I will continue telling my vacation tale in further posts (probably in excruciating detail)...

But for now, I leave you with this:  Sometimes, when you feel completely abandoned by God, He is just protecting or preparing you for something else.  I don't believe in coincidence.  The combination of my fever, the power steering AND the amount of snow falling ensured that we would not be on the roads in one of the worst storms in the country. I didn't feel loved or protected when I was lying sick in bed crying over my lost vacation... But I sure did when I saw the weather map and heard the horror stories of people getting trapped, going off the road, and worse.

So next time something "bad" happens, try to be patient.  You never know what might be just around the corner that will explain everything.



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cow Recovery Bucket?!?!?

Yesterday was an interesting day.  To say the very least.  Oh. My. Goodness. It resulted in my husband coming in at about 7:30 last night with a bucket.  The Cow Recovery Bucket (we'll just call it CRB. It's easier.)  Which is basically an old ice cream bucket with corn and a rope.

So why, Kerri, do you need a CRB? you ask.

VERY good question.

So yesterday morning the dogs starting barking like crazy.  Not unusual, but it requires investigation.  I look out the south window and see 2 large cows standing in the road.  I was trying to discern if these were our neighbors cows, or ours.  They proceeded to run away from the house, right on down the road. They looked WAY too big to be ours.  I was "this" close to calling the hair salon on the corner, because the woman who runs it is the daughter of my neighbor with the cows. (For my city friends, and those who knew me before I became hick-a-fied, yes, I know I sound like a redneck.)

Well, before I could call, Jacob yells, "Mom, those ARE our cows!"  I'm like, CRAP!

It's 12 degrees outside. There are patches of ice everywhere.  MG + trach + 12 degrees F + icy ground = Kerri doesn't go outside.

Unless the blasted lovely cows gets out!!  I immediately call Doug, panicking calmly informing him of the situation.  He says he's on the way home NOW. I tell Jacob to get dressed, get his coat on, go out and turn the fence off (later I'm thinking, duh, the fence is probably not ON, which is why the COWS WALKED OUT).  Then I told him to open the gate.  I frantically look for the Jacob's bag of apples in the pantry.  Crap.  Just used the last one last night. No apples. 

While he's doing this, I'm on the lookout for giant hoofed animals that are somewhere in the vicinity of my house, running amok. I found 2 half rotten apples and gave them to Jacob who stood by the back door in case they came down one side of the driveway.

I then went up to the front of the house, looked out the windows, and found a big ol' brown cow butt *right* there.  So I frantically move all the stuff in front of the front door (yes I know it's a fire hazard, but we never use that door, and that's a perfect spot for Jacob's easel), whip open the door, and now I'm toe to hoof with 2 animals that collectively weigh close to a ton.

I was shaking in my slippers.  I had my typical morning attire on: tank top, shorts, cardigan sweatshirt and slippers.  (Remember now, it's 12 degrees.)  I am not a fan of livestock.  Especially when they are in my FRONT YARD staring me down....  They are big and they scare me. I'm yelling around the house for Jacob to bring me the two apples we did have.  Finally remembered that he was INSIDE the back door, so I open the front door and holler as loud as I can, and Jacob comes running.

ALL kinds of thoughts are running through my mind....they're gonna charge me.  They're going to decide that door looked pretty good and want to come in.  Can you imagine?  COWS in your house??
Well thank the good Lord that didn't happen. 

Here I am, out in the freezing cold, talking to these two ginormous cows trying to keep them from running away with nothing but my charm.  Oh, and 2 apples.  I hold my shaking arm out to Hamburger, the little cow (probably 600 pounds), who is the leader of the group. I have an apple in it. (Albeit a shaking apple.)  Brown cow (1200-1300 pounds) is a scaredy-cow and hates being out of his pasture.  I'm like then why did you leave it, stupid cow?? 

Then a large truck goes by. Oh dear Jesus. Brown Cow gets the even crazier eyes. Hamburger, on the other hand, has these kind of big, doey eyes that are very calm.  Brown Cow?  Not so much.  Crazy-eyes.  And he's got them pinned on me.

I am praying, "Lord Jesus please don't let them stampede, and charge me, or run into the street again!" all whilst holding this shaking apple out to Hamburger.  He took it right. from. my. hand. AHH!!  Thank God he dropped it, and it rolled down the hill in the right direction to go back to their pasture.  The I kind of half-threw, half-dropped the other apple in the driveway and it started to roll, and thankfully Brown Cow went right behind it.

Just then Doug comes home.  He ended up whipping off his belt, getting it around Hamburger's neck, and pulling him into the pasture.  Where Hamburger goes, Brown Cow follows.  So crisis over. He's such a show-off cowboy!

Doug went back to work, Jacob and I did school, and I was totally paranoid, and kept looking out the windows, half-expecting to find Crazy-Eyes staring at me. 

Doug got home late yesterday, but he came in with our Cow Recovery Bucket.  It has corn and a rope. Apparently the idea is, if the cows get out again, to grab the rope out of the bucket and shake the corn.  The shaking of the corn gets their attention.  Then you put a rope around one and put it back.

I'm like, seriously?!?!?  I think I'll still just scream like a girl and call my husband.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Out of the Dust: A Book Review

photo courtesy of amazon.com

Avis Goodhart did not have the upbringing you may think a "typical" missionary might have.  She was not a missionary's child, she was not a pastor's child.  She wasn't even the child of die-hard church-going folks.

She was more the offspring of gypsies. 

Avis is the oldest of seven children.  Her father had PTSD from WWII, although back then they didn't really call it that.  His way of dealing with it was to move their family around from place to place as often as every few days!  One particularly unstable year, Avis went to 10 different schools in one school year.

Avis had dyslexia. She was sexually abused.  Not the start one might conjur up for a missionary. I don't want to give up too much of the story, because you will want to read this book.  It's amazing to me how God took the pain of her childhood and used it for His glory, and her good.

Avis had a heart for missions, even when she was a child growing up in such instability.  She went on her first mission trip in 1995, when she was 50 years old.

Mrs. Goodhart now runs an organization she founded, called GoYe Ministries, is Pacasmayo, Peru. She founded a church, school and an orphange called Casa de Paz (House of Peace) in 2005.  Avis, through her ministry and faithfulness to God, has helped thousands of people "Out of the Dust."

To read more about Avis Goodhart and her foundation, please go to this website:GoYe Ministries

To purchase this incredible book, you can go here: Amazon.com  (There is also a Kindle version.)

I highly recommend this book.  If you have had pain in your life, it does not mean that you can not be used of God.  God doesn't waste your pain...and neither should you.


Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Wisdom Of Jacob

Sitting at the dinner table and having a conversation with Jacob present can lead to astonishing things.  You never know what is going to come out of that child's mouth. (And I mean in every way... good, bad, downright shocking!)

Tonight we were talking about my jewelry business (or lack thereof), Kerri's Kreations.
I was trying to decide how long to keep the website up, and I've decided to go through Christmas.  Everything will be 50% off until then.

When I told Doug that I would be shutting it down then, Jacob says, "Wait, mom...what do you mean? No more jewelry?"

I said, "Well, no.  Not after December."
Jacob: "Are you not selling anything?"
Me:  "Very little."
Jacob {without missing a beat!} "Well, mom, maybe you need to do something different.  You know, you have like this box, {and he's shaping a box with his hands on the table} and there's all this stuff in it.  Maybe it's time to set THAT box aside and grab *this* one." {And he pretends to set aside the one and grab another.}  "You know, do something new."

Where the heck???

Then there was the conversation last week in which I was trying to convince Doug to go to our church's Men's Conference.  In reading the description, it might as well have said, "Specifically made for all the things Doug loves to do."  I mean, hunting, fishing, shooting, all that manly man kind of stuff.

So I ask Doug to read it...which he does.  I ask him if he might enjoy going to something like that.  He said no.  I said, come on, be serious for a minute.  Tell me ONE thing you would enjoy about this weekend if you went.  What does he say? "Coming home."

I know he doesn't like leaving me alone with Jacob over night, but I'd figure something out.  I really want him to go to this!  So I say, really...seriously...please tell me ONE thing that you would like about going....shooting?  You'd enjoy that wouldn't you?"

Jacob, in all his 8 year old wisdom says the following:
"Mom. If you crank that rope any tighter it's going to snap and the boat is just going to sail away."

{crickets}

I said, "What?  What are you talking about?"  I had an idea, but couldn't imagine that my child, (brilliant tho he may be) could make such a complex analogy!

So he said, "You know, say there's a crank on a sailboat.  If you keep cranking and keep cranking and keep cranking, the rope is going to snap, the sail is going to fall and the boat will just fly across the lake."

I said, "Okay....but why did you say that?  What were you trying to get at?"

Jacob {waving his hands dramatically}:  "You know, when you encourage someone just the right amount they might do something you want them to.  But if you put too much pressure on them, they'll be sure to not do it."

He put so much emphasis on those words.  I was like, where on earth do you get this from?  This kid is amazing!  I still do a mental jaw drop when I think of that conversation.

So just be prepared when you come to my house for dinner.  You never know what problem lil ol' Confucius might solve for ya!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Seasoning the Beef and Other Farm Tales

It was a fairly decent day weather-wise yesterday, so I was outside several times hanging out with Doug and Jacob.  Doug is scraping and repainting the garage yellow to match the house.  Yay!  It looks awesome.

I'm not sure what came over me, but I heard my voice asking Doug, "Can cows eat pears?"

"Oh, they love them!" says my hubby.  "Just think of it as seasoning the beef!"

So I proceeded to start chucking pears at the cows.  (We have 2 mature pear trees on our property that came with the house...Neither Doug nor I like pears, so most of them drop from the tree and the critters get them.)  The cows actually started chasing them!  I don't think they have the greatest vision however, because Brown Cow (I know, I know..his "real" name is Hangar...as in Hangar Steak, but we just call him Brown Cow.  We are simple folk it would seem.)

Anyway, I digress... Brown Cow would jump and kick up his heels; practically frolic, and chase after the pear.  But then he would lose sight of it, and couldn't find it.  Blackberry Steve (Jacob named her...yes, it's a her) on the other hand, would snatch them right up.  They would even butt heads trying to get them.

Who knew a few unripened pears and half rotten apples could turn bovines into entitled urchins?!?  They kept mooing at Jacob and I wanting more.  I can't believe I'm even writing this post.  It's almost an out-of-body experience for me living here, because it is SO not "me".  I'm still no farm girl, but it's a tad frightening at how the "redneck" kind of creeps up on you.  {Shudder.}

The hillbilly across the street, a.k.a "Bubba", who burned his house down several years ago, still does not live there, nor has anyone cleaned up the wreckage.  I tell ya, if you live out in the sticks you better pray you don't ever have a fire you don't WANT to have... It took forever for the water to get here.  The volunteers arrived, the truck with the POOL arrived; yes, I said pool.  They set up this circus-ring kind of pool, maybe 2 feet deep, and had to wait for the water tanker to come.

Jaw Drop.

I'm like, is this 1950 or.... It was rather crazy.  And frightening.  And reason number 78 to move closer to civilization.

Oh, and then there was the cricket on steroids chirping SO loudly last night that I could hear it over the noise of 3 fans, and oxygen concentrator, and a compressor with a nebulizer on it.  It was like a flipping alarm going off.  A dang CRICKET. 

Doug slept right through it, of course....I was up for probably 45 minutes to an hour searching for the stupid thing.  Yeah, 4:30 in the morning, I'd had about 3 hours of sleep (one of those insomnia nights) and I'm stalking a supersonic cricket.

Sigh.  I love my life I love my life I love my life.....