Saturday, November 8, 2014

Road Trippin' in the Fall

Nothing soothes me more than a road trip.  When I'm stressed and busy, there is nothing quite like a road trip to help me unwind.  Last month, it was almost as if God just placed the perfect opportunity for me to enjoy a road trip.  In the midst of an incredibly busy schedule in multiple areas of life, plus additional stressors flying at me, we had a missions meeting scheduled in St. Louis.  My hubby was at a Mercy Chefs site in Mississippi the full week prior to the event and was going to have to drive to St. Louis directly from his feeding site.  I considered flying to St. Louis and meeting him there, but in the end, decided a road trip was truly what I needed-alone time with God on the road.

I stopped many times along the way; the first stop was in Hulbert, Oklahoma at Sequoyah State Park.  I just enjoyed the beauty of the area for a little while...the changing color of the leaves, the view of the lake, pine straw (we don't have pine trees in our area of Texas), the sound of the leaves crunching under my feet, even the smell of the forest.  As I was leaving town, I saw a tin man that I just had to stop and take a picture of. 

Spavinaw State Park was my next stop.  This was a gorgeous little park...a dam was on the far end of the park, and a huge cliff ran the full length of the campgrounds, with a creek running below the cliff.  The foliage here had lots of colors spread throughout.  Most Oklahoma State Parks are free to visit (camping does have a charge), so it was nice that I was able to stop at several of them without paying an entrance fee.

Once I left the state park, I crossed the bridge, and drove up a small incline on the other side of the lake to this gorgeous view.

Later I stopped in Bernice at Grand Lakes State Park.  It had a nice cement trail along the lake there.  I was very impressed with the parks in Oklahoma.  As you can see, it was starting to get dark, so it was my last stop of the night.

I spent the night in Miami, Oklahoma, one of the stops along Historic Route 66.  I did a quick check on TripAdvisor and Yelp to figure out what unique restaurants were in the area, and came across multiple great reviews for Waylan's Ku-Ku Burger.  I wasn't incredibly hungry, so I ordered the Ku-Ku fries (essentially chili cheese fries) and a drink.  I'm not sure why I forgot tot take a picture of dinner, but this was a great choice that I would love to go to again with my hubby or kids.

The next morning, I decided to drive along Historic Route 66 for a little while.

I stopped briefly in Riverton, Kansas at the Rainbow Bridge.  It is the last surviving Marsh arch bridge along the whole road.  It is only open to one direction of traffic, and a new bridge is just east of it, which most traffic now takes.

After that I stopped in downtown Galena, Kansas just a block or two off Route 66 to catch a glimpse of Tow Mater.

It was at this point that I realized my slow trip was about over, as I had to get on the road to our conference.  I had a wonderful time decompressing, and my road trip with detours was just what I needed to relieve stress.  I got back on the interstate in Missouri to be greeted at the welcome center by this guy.  I thought this might mean I would be experiencing a great deal of road construction, but thankfully the slow-downs were minimal.  

It was great to be reunited with my hubby after about a week.  We had a wonderful conference, and enjoyed a little bit of St. Louis before having to head back home.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Visit From My Mom

This summer I promised my mom we would come for a visit....and then my boys' schedules got in the way.  Since we couldn't go there, we flew her down here for a few days.  We had an enjoyable time!

Saturday we stopped at Barbec's, a local breakfast joint that boasts the best biscuits in Dallas.  I ordered the SOS since the biscuits were my whole reason for visiting.  They did not disappoint.  What did disappoint was my photography skills.  The pic I took was so blurry I am not sure you could identify what was on the plate.  We all loved the food-and the great prices!  

After that we stopped just down the road at the Dallas Arboretum.  I have been wanting to visit the arboretum for a long time, and I am really glad that when I finally got around to going, they were celebrating Autumn at the Arboretum.  Such a pretty time of year!

Aside from the pumpkins and gourds, the views of White Rock Lake were gorgeous as well!  The weather was ideal.  I am glad I finally got around to visiting this Dallas gem! 

We also ate a whole lot this weekend!  My hubby fired up the smoker, and he smoked pork ribs, pulled pork butt (and made some Carolina bbq sauce to go with it), and chicken leg quarters.  The boys wanted to take my mom to El Pollo Regio as well while she was here (she loves Mexican and always requests it when she comes to Texas); she ended up treating us for our birthdays this year there.  We went by the Dallas Farmer's Market, and she picked up a first for her...fresh (not dried) pintos.

Sunday after church we were having a special buckle series for kids (mini rodeo), and it was the first week of that.  Mom enjoyed getting to see the little kids participate.  My hubby got some great shots of the action!

We had a great visit, and she is already planning her next trip down.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Fall is coming

Most people have a favorite season.  Mine is summer.  I love the warmth, the sun, the beach.  I love the ability to go outside barefooted late at night without getting cold.  Taking the top off the Jeep without having to look for a jacket.  Sand between my toes.

These days I am reminded frequently that fall is coming.  Morning dew has arrived back on the scene on a daily basis.  There have been a couple mornings where I didn't dare leave home without a jacket.  Fall allergies are, well, just that.  It is definitely the changing of a season.

And while my favorite season will be gone for a while, I take comfort in knowing some of my favorite things are about to go down in the upcoming months:  hot soups to bring warmth, pumpkin-flavored anything I can think of, cozy evenings by the fire, and the beauty of fall foliage that God created for us to see.  Even today on my walk, I have begun to see the pretty colors, and heard the sound of the leaves dancing in the breeze along the pavement.  Knowing the season is changing isn't always easy, but realizing it is just a season helps put things in perspective.

"To everything there is a season; a time for every purpose under heaven."  Ecclesiastes 3:1

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Day in the Life of a U.S. Missionary

About six years ago I taught a weekly discipleship Sunday School class to teenagers, and one of the things we did each week was pray for one of the missionaries our church supported.  I would email the missionaries in the week before their prayer emphasis to find out what their needs were.  During this time, I frequently found myself wondering, "What exactly does a missionaries day look like?"

Fast forward six years.  My husband, John, and I have now changed roles into U.S. Missionary Candidates with the Assemblies of God.  We work with an organization called Mercy Chefs.  In short, we respond when disaster strikes to feed the victims, volunteers, and first responders a restaurant quality meal in the midst of their hurting.  Today I found myself laughing when I had the same thought, "What exactly does a missionaries day look like?"  No two days are alike.  Today was unique, with its own set of challenges, but God had His own way of blessing us as always.

We have been on Fall Tour the past two weeks-meetings with pastors, where we give a brief explanation of our ministry in hopes that they can help us reach one of our current goals:  becoming fully funded.  We have traveled all over North Texas during these two weeks.  I still have a full time job that I have been juggling-and am very blessed to have a boss who is understanding of our role and love for missions by allowing me to take vacation time!  Ultimately, I will join John full time on the field, but for now, I am working while we are raising our budget.  Today there were no Fall Tour stops, so I got up extra early, made sure to get my devotions in, and then headed to work to get caught up on what I have missed the past few days.  Part of the U.S. Missions process requires we meet with a coach every few weeks, and today happened to be a coaching day as well.  So I took a break from work for a conference call.  During this call I had a realization that I am still not sure how to handle, "Do I have time for my job?"  The one day I was able to work this week, and here I am still doing my missions job.  Please pray with me about this-I absolutely love my job, but I don't want to stay a moment longer than the Lord wants me to work.  Since we are not fully funded and my department is in the midst of a major transition, this decision is a difficult one to make!

After the coaching phone call, John left to pick up the mobile kitchen.  We drive a dually 5th wheel truck which tows the 37 foot mobile kitchen trailer to each disaster site.  It has been in the repair shop getting a new hot water heater, and some other repairs.  While towing it back home, one of the dually tires had a blow out, and hit the tire next to it, causing it to blow out as well.  Did I mention he was in a school zone while school was dismissing?   Praise the Lord, He kept John safe!  Yes, life is always interesting with large equipment involved.  We are no strangers to vehicle issues.  Nearly every trip we have been on we have experienced some sort of truck or trailer trouble.  He called me at work-thankfully I was just a few miles away and was able to bring him a better jack than he had on board.  Again I found myself questioning, "Do I have time for my job?"  Wow, twice in one day I had this thought.  What is going on?  Lord, I need you to provide! Trailer removed from the fifth wheel, two tires taken off the truck, one spare put on, trailer re-attached to the 5th wheel, and driven just a short distance to a local restaurant.  I was grateful today that we live in a small town where I knew the restaurant owner by name, and she had no problem with us leaving it there a while.

My boss happened to be away from the office when I left work for the tire incident, so I had texted him to let him know what was going on.  He asked if we were getting rained on, because where he was, less than 20 miles away, it was pouring rain so hard that he had to pull off the highway.  Wow!  The Lord was really watching over us!  Thank you Lord for holding off on the rain!

Fast forward four hours...all six tires on the truck are replaced, and I head back to work while John heads back to the restaurant to pick up the mobile kitchen.  I spent an hour at work, and meanwhile, John gets a call...there has been severe flooding in Arizona and New Mexico, and we need to respond.  He brings the Mercy Chefs trailer to the house to load it-when it was in the shop, we had pretty well emptied all the equipment out of the kitchen into our garage.  We began by pulling all the equipment out of the garage and into the driveway...speed racks, warmers, coolers, a grill (not usually taken on our trips, but the generator has been acting up, so we need an alternative method to cook in the event it wants to quit, and thus not allow us to use the stove), Cambros, 18 cases of to go boxes, 6 folding tables and chairs, 2 easy up tents, 2 boxes of t-shirts for our volunteers, and lots of other boxes.  John worked on repairing a wheel on one of the warmers, and then...the rain began.  Again, the Lord was watching out for us.  It never rained too hard, mostly just a light sprinkling, but the cool air that came with it was a welcome change.  About that time, our boys, 16 and 18 years old, got home from church.  We wanted to go to church tonight, but had been a little pre-occupied!  They helped us get the mobile kitchen loaded a lot quicker than we could have ourselves.  Again, a little miracle from God that he sent at just the right time!

Partially unloaded from the garage awaiting to be uploaded onto the trailer

The rest of the evening has been spent moving the truck to a large parking lot for deployment, getting necessary laundry done, ironing a chef coat, packing a bag, and making final plans.  Well, there it is..a day in the life of a U.S. Missionary.  A day unique to itself, with its own bit of challenges, but time and again God proving Himself to have it all taken care of.

Would you please pray for the victims of this terrible flood?  Would you please pray for John as he heads towards southwest to respond to this disaster?  Would you please pray for volunteers to help in the relief effort, not just with Mercy Chefs, but also for all the other relief organizations?  Would you please pray for us and we continue to raise funds?  Will you please pray for God to speak to us about His timing for me to be able to join John full time on the field?