Monday, March 30, 2009

Beep Beep Beep

We interrupt this sightseeing trip to bring you this delightful announcement.

Delightful Announcement

I'm SO excited... I got an award. And what's even more exciting than the award is finding out I have a reader that I didn't know I had! Whoo Hoo!!!! And that means I have a bloggy friend that I didn't know I had. How fun is that? Way way fun!

Melanie, aka "An Uncool Mom" passed the Friendship Award on to me. Thank you, Melanie!
You all need to stop by her blog, Innermost Thoughts of an Uncool Mom (click here) and say hi. She has a nice blog, and be sure to read all the way to the bottom of her page. She has a picture of our new president who, we all know, is way too dependent on the teleprompter. I laughed and laughed, and for the first time, applauded the man. Finally something he does really well!

In acceptance of the award, I say thank you. Like the other awards that gracious bloggers have bestowed to me, I thank God and give Him all honor and glory. I blog for Him.

Now to follow the rules and pass this along to five other friendly bloggers.

“These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to those bloggers who must choose at least 5 more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.”

So, it is my honor to give the Friendship Award to these 5 bloggers:

1. Tricia @ Mundane Musings and Humdrum Happenings because she is one of my daughters and my daughters are my three best friends in this whole wide world. She has a nice blog and some very cute pictures of my perfect grandchildren. Stop on over!

2. Alene has a beautiful blog and ministry to women. She appreciates friendships and recently blogged about it! You'll be blessed from your visit.

3. A man who calls himself Walter Mitty but is sometimes known by his friends as Dave, has an interesting and unique blog--Proverbs 30:2. He gets this award because in real life, he really is a friendly guy! Go see for yourself.

4. Mom's Ministry, and More is a very welcoming, helpful, informative, funny, provoking, encouraging, ... Well you just need to check it out for yourself. Tell Stonefox I said hello.

5. Travis calls himself The Blundering Discoverer. He is a good writer and a Texan. Everyone knows how friendly Texans are! Be sure to visit him and say howdy!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

In Total Darkness

After the Fort Knox fiasco we headed across the Ohio River into Indiana. (Needed to put some distance and a state line between us and the trouble we almost found ourselves in.) Plentiful in this area of Kentucky and Indian are caves and caverns. We visited the Squire Boon Cavern. (Squire Boone was the brother of Daniel Boone.)It wasn't the most impressive cavern I've ever seen, but nine stories below the surface of the earth, it had a unique beauty all it's own.
Photos were difficult to get as the lighting was not good (but what can you expect below ground).
Creepy looking! Try clicking on each individual photo. If it works correctly, they should "blow up" for you and you will see some remarkable detail!
There were several "named" formations, some I could see and some I couldn't. (Kind of like seeing animals in the clouds.) Our guide had ADD or ADHD or both. She talked really fast as she twitched and paced and flailed her hands. The echo of the cavern and the high speed of her rote made it very difficult to understand what we were looking at. I think this is a wedding cake.
I hope you can see the stream of water falling from above.
Drip, Drip, Drip
An underground waterfall. This cavern had a river flowing through it. I'm not talking about trickling water working its way through cracks in the stone, I'm talking a real underground river. I've never seen water so crystal clear. (I got thirsty!)
Water dripping from hollow "soda straws."
Some day they may actually get together!

I was surprised how well some of my photos turned out considering the darkness of the cavern. I won't bore you with all of them.

If you have ever visited a cavern, I'm sure your guide pulled the usual stunt of turning out all the lights so you could experience total darkness. Before our twitching fast-talker hit the switch she explained that in total darkness, our ears would work better and we would be able to hear the sounds of the cave. I got excited!

But then I was sadly disappointed because she never shut up long enough for me to hear anything before she turned the lights back on. Oh well, maybe next time. I did, however, have time to try to see my hand in front of my face. I couldn't.

I've ponder the phrase "total darkness" several times since returning to the light of the sun which illuminates the surface of the earth. In Genesis we read about total darkness and how God spoke, dispelling the darkness.

There are a lot of scriptures that talk about darkness, both physical and spiritual. God created the sun, moon, and stars to take care of the physical darkness. Yet still it's His signature to speak, dispelling the darkness of our souls.

So the next time you find yourself in total darkness, listen carefully for the voice of the Lord. (Hopefully your tour guide will hush long enough for you to hear Him.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

All's Well That Ends Well

The day started out great. My in-laws were here for a visit. Rick took a couple days of very light duty paperwork so we could do some sightseeing and visit with our company. The evening before we had made a list of things we wanted to see and do. The first thing on the list was the Patton Museum at Fort Knox.

So, we loaded up in the in-law's Suburban, programed our destination into the GPS and took off. Now I'd like to give you a word of warning here--When trying to enter an Army base, the invisible lady who gives turn-by-turn directions might not always know the best way in. She may even try to get you into some trouble by taking you in through the area where shipments, and trucks and such are supposed to enter. Without proper military I.D., a very BIG guy wearing a uniform and a stern face with a gold tooth, might look at you funny when you try to explain that you were just obeying the woman trapped behind the dashboard.

The guard ended up being a lot nicer than he looked when he told us where to turn around, but he was quick to promise that if we didn't do as we were told, he would come after us with sirens blaring!

Rick put Ms. Navigation into shut up mode and following the nice soldier's instructions, we made it to the museum in good time.
Rick thought his dad might really enjoy it.It is hard to tell from the picture whether he enjoyed it or not, but at least he tolerated it well.There were tanks, many tanks. Big tanks and bigger tanks. Old tanks and newer tanks.
One tank (like the ones used in Operation Iraqi Freedom) had these cute little "windshield wipers." They are barely big enough to wipe raindrops off my grandma-reading glasses!But its gun was too big to get in one photo. These words, painted on the barrel, made me want to clap and shout, "Yeah!"My favorite tank was called an anti-tank tank. I know that if I met this one on the road, it would be an anti-EVERYTHING tank!
Just looking at the picture makes me want to throw my hands up in surrender! Where's my white flag? (I sure am glad the guard with the gold tooth didn't have one of these parked at the gate!)
There was other cool stuff in the museum too. Like a hunk of the Berlin Wall. Do you remember the Cold War?
And the head of a statue--one of the spoils of war. Can you name this evil tyrant?
After we tired of reading plaques and looking at tanks, we watched enough of a film about Patton to learn that he was not a very nice man. A war hero yes, but a likable fellow? Not so much.
We climbed back into the car and headed for--what I wanted to see--the attraction that makes Fort Knox famous. The nation's GOLD.

I knew I wouldn't get to see the gold itself, but a glimpse of the building where it is stored would be enough to satisfy me. I always want to share my adventures with you, my faithful readers and friends, so I needed one thing more than a glimpse. A photo!

Now for those of you who are one step ahead of me here, you must understand that I don't have a criminal bone in my body or thought in my head. That's my disclaimer for what happened next.

Rick at the wheel, his dad riding shotgun, my mother-in-law and I in the back seat, and the loudmouthed know-it-all trapped behind the dash, traveled the not-too-far distance from the museum to the entrance near the Fort Knox Bullion Depository. As we drove past the Depository (which was probably at least a half a mile from the road) I fumbled to get my camera out of its case. Rick was driving too fast, I couldn't get the zipper opened in time, trees got in my way, and I didn't get the picture.

No problem. The building up ahead had signs posted that read, "Visitor Center." There was a little parking lot where we could park, and I could walk a few yards so that I could snap my picture without trees blocking too much of the view.

It was a good plan and we followed it to the point past parking, getting out with camera in hand, and starting our little walk to a clear view, but stopped short when...

"NO! NO! NO!

Someone was yelling, and I mean LOUD, HOSTILE, yelling. I turned to see who was yelling at whom and saw another uniformed guard RUNNING toward us. And YELLING AT ME!

It took me a minute to realize I was the object of his hostility. It was a surreal moment when I didn't know whether to run, try to hide, or throw something at him. Instead I froze. As it turned out, that was the right choice. I don't remember everything he shouted at me, and he may have yelled some instruction that prompted my correct choice, I don't know. But I'm just glad I didn't throw something at him!

He approached quickly and with full authority informed us we couldn't take another step. Apparently taking pictures of the Depository is a no no. And standing around looking at it isn't permitted either.

He said that we must not have seen the sign forbidding such activity when we turned off the main road, then mumbled something about it falling down some time back and that no one has bothered to put it up again. (Yet I was the stupid one for trying to take a picture.)

Rick asked him if we could pick up some information in the visitor's center. The uniformed official said that the building was not really a visitor's center but a security check point. (So the signs that lead us to believe it was a visitor's center were just a decoy meant to trap criminals or terrorists?) The guy went on to tell us that the base went into some high security mode in mid January and visitors are no longer allowed on base. (It was nice of them to get the word out.)

I tried to explain that I had no evil intentions, but simply wanted to show my friends where I had been. He suggested going back to the museum, buying a postcard picturing the Depository, taking a picture of the card, photo-shopping myself onto that photo, and then telling my friends I was there. (With that one I rolled my eyes. No disrespect intended.)

By now the guy was starting to understand that we were innocent tourists but he still had little sympathy. He said that if we wanted to know anything about the Fort Knox Depository, we should watch the Discovery Channel. (Thank you very much.)

Because we were being watched by hidden cameras, I showed him my camera so he could be certain that I had not taken any pictures. That, he said, would insure that we would not be surrounded by dozens of cars with flashing lights and loud sirens as we tried to leave the area. (Thanks for the favor.)

I didn't ever tell the guard my name and I was so glad that we were in my in-law's Suburban and it was their tag number caught on security film!

So I don't have any pictures of the Depository to show you. You're simply going to have to take my word for it-- the building is there, and so are the security guards! If you want any more information than that, watch the Discovery Channel and buy a postcard!

(More about my outing to come later.)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Time Flies

Where have I been the last several days? Texas, aka home, that's where. And more specifically, I've been wrapped around all twenty fingers of two precious little girls.Grandchildren are God's reward for all the blood, sweat, tears, and prayers invested in our children!
I also took all our tax information to our CPA. So what's the state of our personal economy? With our little money can as a witness, we've made it beyond "dirt poor," hovering near "poor." But I'm not complaining. God has enabled us to put food on the table, clothes on our backs, AND pay our taxes. He is good even when the economy and the government are not.

Now today, as time continues to fly, I'm back in Kentucky trying to recover from sudden changes. Spring is full of them. I still feel like the switch to Daylight Savings Time has me dragging with every step, and then I had to go and fly back and forth across the imaginary line that divides the eastern and central time zones. I don't know what time it is anymore.
Oh yes, it is spring. And the weather has me just about as confused as the clocks. I hope you enjoy these photos of spring, all taken within a seven day span.Before I left Kentucky last Thursday, buds were starting to swell.
Then...Snow fell in Amarillo on Friday.

Now back in Kentucky (and in Amarillo too) those buds are opening.
All in white, no one can redecorate quite like God.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Living Simply and Simply Living

I’ve lived on both sides of the fence, so I have a right to straddle it without condemnation. I’m talking about the fence that divides living simply and simply living.

Two blogs that I enjoy reading are, The Old Oak Swing and Joyful Noise. I suggest you take a look at these if you have not already. I love to go there and relax. These women and their families live simply. By that I mean they grow much of their food, have chickens and fresh eggs, don’t own a microwave, cook all their food from scratch, use their skills and talents to make handmade gifts, etc. Old fashioned you might say. Women after my own heart.

That’s how I grew up. I lived on ranches, never knew what a microwave was, seldom had a telephone, and TV was no big deal. Sometimes we had one and sometimes we didn’t. I didn’t need video games for entertainment—I knew how to use my imagination. (I really wanted to be a horse when I grew up.)

I know about chickens—from hatchling to fryers and laying hens. I know how to grow my veggies in a garden and preserve them for winter’s use. Homemade jellies and jams I’ve done. I know how to milk a cow (though I’m not very good at it), then strain straw and flies out of the beautiful white liquid, skim the cream, and make butter. Been there done that.

I could go on and on, but basically I’ve lived, as some say, simply.

I’ve also been on the hamster wheel of life, running my little self silly, and getting nowhere as I tried to acquire, achieve, accomplish… I’ve worked six part-time jobs at once all while homeschooling my kids. I’ve been in complicated circumstances where most of the time I felt as if I was only surviving, just making it to the next day—simply living.

A few days ago, after reading one of these beautiful blogs, I had a little chat with the Lord. I confessed to Him that I sometimes envy the authors. I often miss the simple things of life. I didn’t want to be living in sin, so I inquired of the Lord to see if my envy was a sin.

Here is how He answered me. (Forgive me if I make God sound a little too common or somehow less holy than He is. That’s not my intent. But He speaks to my heart in a way that I can understand—middle class average intelligence English.)

God: What’s so simple about raising chickens? There are trips to the feed store for their food. You have to water them every day, and in the winter that’s easier said than done. You’ve got to clean out the nests, gather the eggs. There’s almost always some poop to be washed off the eggs before putting them away. And speaking of chicken poop, don’t forget the cleaning of the shoes after your daily trip into the henhouse.

Me: hmmm.

God: When you want eggs or chicken, all you have to do is go to the store, pick them up, and come home. No poop washing or scraping, no feather plucking. Which is simpler for you?

Me: Okay, well—

God: Gardening is great, but is it really simple? There’s the tilling and the planting and the watering and the weeding and the picking and the preserving. I’ve placed you where you are in this season of your life and all you have to do is open a can—green beans are yours. How simple is that?

Me: Yeah but--

God: And as far as baking a cake from scratch. I know you and how prideful you can be about your cooking and baking abilities. It is not as easy for pride to come between us when all you do is open a tiny little bag of dry mix, add a little bit of water then microwave it all for a minute and fifteen seconds. And right now do you need a cake that serves more than two people?

Me: No.

God: It's not simplicity you long for. It’s contentment.

Me: Oh.

God: You like the sense of accomplishment you get from doing things the less convenient way. You want to satisfy yourself with hard work and produce from your own hands. You long for the peaceful feeling you get when you think you are living a simple life. All this is not bad, but that’s not where I’ve placed you right now. Look around you. You are living simply—and simply living.

Me: (silence)

God: Everything you want or need you can find in Me, not in a garden or a chicken coop. Not even on a hamster's wheel.

So, I’m riding the fence, trying not to get splinters in my behind, and choosing to be content with everything I have in the place God has me.

Philippians 4:11-13 “…I’ve learned to be content in whatever situation I’m in. I know how to live in poverty or prosperity. No matter what the situation, I’ve learned the secret of how to live when I’m full or when I’m hungry, when I have too much or when I have too little. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

(But I still think it might be cool to be a horse!)