Friday, September 24, 2010

A Tribute to Lucky

Rest in Peace. Three little words with a big meaning. Today, September 24, 2010 our family said goodbye to our cat Lucky. Lucky has been a part of Sweetie and I's life for 16 years. He was a spunky kitten who learned to fetch. YES, a cat that fetched. There was a small piece of rope that he would playfully bat back and forth, and one day Chad threw it. That cat brought it back! And so it started, this would go on for quite a while until, in true cat fashion; Lucky would quickly decide he was finished and would curl up for a good snooze on the arm of Sweeties recliner.  This cat, like most pets strongly let us know when we needed to be punished. When we moved my mother and sister to NM, he was left in the care of Sweetie's sister. He gave her a run for the money. They had a love/hate relationship from that point on. Sweetie and I learned a lesson and made sure there was someone who would stay with him from then on. Someone popping in and out of the house whenever they felt like it was just not up to his criteria.
Lucky was playfully referred to as "un" by my father in law. All Richard had to do was roll up a newspaper and Lucky was gone. I smile because Lucky spent quite a bit of time at their home whenever we were gone. That cat rode with me out to Texas. Poor thing, I had to give him sleeping pills and as he fought that sleep he would howl and howl just to make sure I knew he was miserable. A car riding pet he was not. In Texas, while Sweetie was going through fire school, he and I hung out and helped Sweetie study at night. That cat met a lot of people. He was quite popular at the fire school, and yes I took him with me! He tolerated everyone but children. Then came the big move to TN, as Sweetie and I moved to NC, he stayed with Ginger and Richard until we had our home set up, and he moved out there with us. We missed him so badly and couldn't wait for them to bring him to us.
Lucky and I have had our coversations..he would lazily follow me around the house during the day depending on his pranks of the day he would hear me tell him that he was lucky he was still living with usl. IF I cat could smirk, I think he did. He knew he was loved. When Cory came along, well, he didn't quite know what to think of this screamer. But he got to where he would let Cory hold him and yes, he got over it. The guys from the fire department enjoyed hanging out with him and some would share about how they had a cat at home or a favorite pet memory. Lucky entertained them with his game of fetch. Then Lucky had to deal with Brian. Brian being such an active baby, that didn't set well with Lucky, and he would swat at Brian and give him a growl just so he knew to stay away. Over time Lucky got used to Brian and his activity and would occasionally allow him to pet him. In our move back to TN, Lucky again told me what he thought about that. But again, he adjusted.
In Lucky's final years he  has met many people who have visited our home. He has survived two small groups of 12 or more adults, two Middle School boy groups of 15 and more, and various other meetings held here. Sometimes someone would warrant his attention, other times not.
When I brought home Sasha, our rat terrier two years ago, Lucky once again gave me his opinon. He was NOT pleased. Sasha wanted to play, but as Lucky was in his senior years and long past playing fetch, he mearly tolerated the puppy. Sasha loved to police him and corral him like a sheep dog does the sheep. She followed him everywhere until he had enough, and he would growl and swat, she would get the hint and go away.
Lucky was a good cat, and his attitude, deep purr, and silent presence will be missed BIG time around here. We love you Lucky! Tonight, we will have a sunset burial and lay him in his final resting place in our backyard. He has definately left a pawprint on everyones heart that met him.
Rest in Peace, dear friend, Rest in Peace.

Monday, September 6, 2010


Smiles of genuine welcome greeted us as we made our way into the building where GracePoint is meeting. GracePoint is a new church, that is opening their doors to everyone, and folks are noticing, attending, and bringing their friends. Coming around the corner, there is Daniel Doss one of the co-pastors welcoming everyone with vigorous hand shakes, and hugs.
Rounding the corner my senses jump for joy! WOW! There is coffee of all flavors, and some amazing volunteers in their GracePoint aprons ready to serve. My eye follows the wall further down and there is a buffet of fruits and pastries calling my name. Here is where I meet another amazing volunteer who enjoys cooking so much, she prepares items to share with her church family each Sunday. The next item along the left wall is a lemon-aid stand. (here is where they are selling tshirts, lemonade, and taking donations for this fresh water for Africa mission)
Sweetie, the boys and I are eagerly waiting in line to share in the joy of giving. Coming away with t-shirts we keep walking and notice that there are more booths with various Christian books to read, music cd's, and some Bibles. Up front is a small stage area where the band has set up for worship this morning. In the middle of the room are several rows of chairs with a information sheet on the Lemon-aid  project. To the right is a bunch of curtains leading to the back, but what do I see? An amazing area for the children to hang out while their parents are in church service. We are greeted warmly even though we don't have anyone to check in. The sweet volunteer shares how she was part of the church previously located in here, and how she is so thrilled to be a part of a growing and reaching church. Following the wall back towards the enterance door is the tech area, there is a nice camera for recording the services, and rows of electronic equipment to help with sound and lights.
It's almost time for service! The lights dim, and the chatter stops as the first note is played. Wow! There is nothing quite like worshiping our Lord with fellow Christians, and other folks who are just learning who God is! After we get all warm and our hearts are overflowing with love for our Savior..Daniel comes out and we all take a seat.
Yes! Time to dig into the WORD! Today Daniel preached on Joshua and his leading the people into the promised land. He starts pouring water into cups set on a table on stage; all the while leading us further and further into the story. Each one of us is drawing pictures in our own minds eye with his illustrations. He then describes the priests as they step into the river seperating them from the promised land on Joshuas word, as they carry the Ark of the Covenant.  As he describes how the water moved away and the ground itself was dry land for them to step on..I hear a child behind me inhale sharply. That kid was really into it! Praise GOD!
They are currently in a series called STEP. Its all about finding your next step in your life. That step could be to learn about God, learn to pray, learn to give, take a step to forgive, community groups, volunteering, or even to take a step to end something.
When Daniel closed in prayer, and the service was over, the folks there didn't rush to go out! No, they started picking up trash, stacking chairs, and helping break down! Again, I say WOW! About an hour later as the last piece of equipment is being loaded into the truck, I stand in amazement and say a quick prayer for all these hard workers who are making such a difference in others lives each week by their service.
If you are ever in Valparaiso, Indiana..stop by Grace Point. Jesus is there, He is walking amongst the people of that town, and through this little church, changing lives. He is using the people that make up this church to extend His love and grace to not only this town, but to surrounding areas as well. This upcoming Sunday, the 12th of September is their 1 year anniversary! Join me in prayer this coming Sunday as they again share their Savior with whomever stops by.

The Hill

Children have various rights of passage, and this weekend, the boys and some of their cousins experienced another one. The Hill. Just on the other side of the pots and down a little ways is a steep hill. Apparently this is something Sweetie and his cousins loved to climb down and play in the bottoms, splash in the creek and come back to the chowder covered in dirt and mud. Some of the boys carve their initials in the trees on the bottom. According to some of the grandparents they too, slid down the hill and created their own memories of the hill. All smiled when they shared their stories with me, and boy, did their eyes sparkle! I sense mischief!
Sweetie and the boys charged down the hill laughing the whole way! They came back all dusty and dirty, but now they shared a memory with their dad as he showed them where he played as a child. While the boys were off being boys, I sat and listened to stories being shared about various experiences in the past at the chowders.
Lastly, the boys got hugged so much this weekend, they just didn't know what to do with themselves! Family is a blessing, the stories shared, memories made, and a bond that grows from generation to generation. One day when the boys have families of their own, I hope they take their kids down THE HILL.

The Elm River Chowder

Folks have been been coming to this spot in the woods for over 100 years. The oldest member I could find at the chowder was George and he was 87. He has been coming since he can remember. Many families gather here for some good 'ole gospel music and good food.  There are several towns up in Illinois that host these gatherings at different times during the summer/early fall months. Basically there is a cow pasture with trees on it where folks from town gather together and eat vegetable soup. There is a donation bucket to help pay for the veggies and beef for next years gathering.
This year there were 30 pots. Sweetie's cousin Rodney had a pot going. He told us he was up at 330 am and out there to start cooking at 5am.
This is a LOT of food! It sure was yummy! For those folks that don't like soup, the local boy scout troop was selling drinks, hamburgers, and pulled pork sandwiches. Everyone brings a pot so as the soup is ladeled out, you have something to carry it back in. Then you find your family sitting around in folding chairs and serve it up! The fun thing is everyone may be gathered in their family groups, but folks wander around to see what everyone has for dessert, and shares! Good times!

Wrays Fruit Farm

1 mile south of U.S. 50 at Clay City, Illinois is a small 12 acre fruit farm. Mrs. Wray has been working on this orchard with her husband since 1982. Her husband died a few years back so now she and her daughter keep it going. She had some fresh peaches, some Ozark Gold, Gala, Jonathan, and Red Delicious apples when we stopped by. Also inside her little store was some local honey, fresh apple cider, various jellies and salsas.
The boys enjoyed the orchard very much, as there were lots of apples to pick and enjoy. It was great to take the boys to an orchard as I have fond memories of doing the same thing.

The MUG Tree

The Mug Tree - I know. I never heard of such a thing either. But there it was in all its glory as we were driving past corn field, after corn field in Illinois. Just south of a little town called Yale, population 100, there is a mug tree on the side of the road on Mike Fisher's property.  We stopped and pulled over to get a closer look at this tree, and here came Mr. Fisher. He told us how an uncle of his had seen a mug tree in his travels all over the U.S. and how when this tree died, he decided to make one of his own in September 2003. Some Amish boys from down the road, helped him chop off the dying limbs so one wouldn't get conked on the head nailing a mug to the tree. They were also kind enough to take some recycled wood and build that little clubhouse of sorts to the top so that no water would come in the hole in the center of the tree. This hopefully will preserve the tree a little while longer. Right now there are somewhere around 108 mugs on the tree. Mr. Fisher said that its a challenge in the winter as he has to come out and empty the snow or rain water out of the cups and rotate them so that the liquid in them doesn't freeze and break the mug. 
So, if you ever find yourself along highway 49 keep an eye out for the mug tree!

Gnome-tastic Labor Day weekend!

Our little gnome got quite the attention this weekend!  He visited corn fields in Illinois, a chowder in Illinois, an apple orchard in Illinois, Daniel, Emily, & Manny Doss in Indiana, and the southern tip of Lake Michigan in northern Indiana.

Moonshine, Illinois Population 2

I had never heard of Moonshine Illinois before. But Saturday, I visited it. Moonshine, Illinois , population 2. The two it is referring to, is Roy Lee and Helen Tuttle. See, they live upstairs above the little restaurant. Roy chatted it up with Sweetie about how he and Helen bought this store in 1982 and turned it into a landmark. When we started asking folks about it, they told us it was the best hamburger around. Actually called a moon burger. Sweetie and I weren't able to wrap our lips around one of these famous burgers, cause by the time we got up there, Roy was locking the door. BUMMER! That's okay, its now on our list of things to do.
In order to find this place, you literally have to go to the wide spot in the road in SW Clark County in Illinois. All that is there is this building some picnic tables and the outhouse, and we were told to count the outhouse as one of the town buildings. This spot in the road has become quite the landmark for people from all over the country to come meet. It is surrounded by cornfields and unless you are purposly looking for it, you might just miss it. There are not big signs directing you.. just little pieces of wood with the word MOONSHINE on it with an arrow. I fully intend to eat one of these famous moonburgers one day, and when I do, I will add to this article. But in the meantime, 'ol Roy was fun to chat with as he told us all about the people he has met and the amount of dust that flies all around when it is full of people. The most burgers Mrs. Helen has cooked so far was on April 10th this year, and it was 1, 910.  She was tired that day, and very glad to close up shop!
They have a little store where you can get your soda pop in the glass bottles and look at all the interesting memorabilia on the walls. She only keeps the grill going until 1230 so after that you will just get a cold cut sandwich!

Driving Tractors

Whew! Nothing like 914 miles on the road to make a person tired! One thing our little family has always done is cram as much as possible into these little mini vacations. We get a lot accomplished in a short period of time.
This Labor Day weekend has been no different. Friday after work we drove up to Illinois and spent the night with some of Sweeties cousins and Saturday morning the boys got to have some tractor driving time in the corn fields. The boys had so much fun!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

About 200 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning associated with home fuel-burning heating equipment. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is produced when any fuel is incompletely burned. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to flu-like illnesses and include dizziness, fatigue, headaches, nausea, and irregular breathing. Carbon monoxide can leak from faulty furnaces or fuel-fired heaters or can be trapped inside by a blocked chimney or flue. Burning charcoal inside the house or running an automobile engine in an attached garage also will produce carbon monoxide in the home.

The first line of defense against carbon monoxide is to make sure that all fuel-burning appliances operate properly. Consumers should have their home heating systems (including chimneys and flues) inspected each year for proper operations and leakage. Inspectors should check all heating appliances and their electrical and mechanical components, thermostat controls and automatic safety devices.

Properly working carbon monoxide detectors can provide an early warning to consumers before the deadly gas builds up to a dangerous level. Exposure to a low concentration over several hours can be as dangerous as exposure to high carbon monoxide levels for a few minutes - the new detectors will detect both conditions. Most of the devices cost under $100. Each home should have at least one carbon monoxide detector in the area outside individual bedrooms.

Gas sensors in CO alarms have a limited life span, typically two to five years. The test button on a CO alarm only tests the battery and circuitry not the sensor. Alarms over five years old should be replaced but they should be checked on installation as well as annually, along with your smoke detectors.

Smoke Detectors - If it's not hardwired in - Change the batteries!

I'm currently working on some home safety articles and so I figured I would share on here also!
Here goes!

One of the most important fire safety devices for the home is the smoke alarm. The primary job of the smoke alarm is to protect you from fires while you and your family is asleep. Your alarms should be located on each floor level of the home, and in each bedroom. There are two types of home smoke alarms available; the ion type and the photoelectric type. The ion type reacts faster to open flaming fires. The photoelectric type reacts faster to smoldering fires and is less likely to react to cooking. Both types provide good protection and can be used without worry.

Fire safety organizations promote "change your clocks, change your batteries" when the change is made back from daylight savings time each fall. Smoke alarms installed in a house may be operated from the household electrical power and not need battery replacement. This type of alarm has a "power on" light to tell you that the alarm has power. Smoke alarms are available which run on house power but also have a battery in case the main power fails. Both types of alarms need to be tested monthly and batteries should be replaced yearly just as with the battery-only operated type. If the testing mechanism does not work properly, the alarm should be replaced immediately. Don't forget! Make and practice your families emergency escape plan!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Philippians 4:10-12 (New International Version)

10. I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances."
This series of verses is one that I come back to often when it seems that life is going well, and am reminded of  when it isn't.
I know that in the life of our family at least, there is inevitably someone who is going through a particular hurdle, or perhaps all of us are struggling through a dry patch that we have to work through in order for things to be 'good' again.
I was smiling as I typed that because just what is a 'good' life? Is it when there are no problems, no one is sick, and all the bills are paid? Or is it perhaps because you were able to get up this morning, your family called to chat with ya - and didn't need anything, or maybe yet because there was food on the table, and you are employed?
I believe it is defined by the person you are talking too. What we value most in this world- that is what we base our definition of a 'good life' on.
 After a lot of thought, a 'good' life to me is one thats impervious to what society tells me I need. I am totally happy with what I have, and I work hard to keep up friendships, and I treasure and even guard my time with my Sweetie and my boys!  Society says that I need a certain type computer, drive a new car, wear certain labeled clothing, live in a certain part of the world, have 2.5 children, and oh, let's not forget to eat and drink certain things also. Upon having all of these things I will be living a 'good' life. Hmmph!
I am a happy person a content person most of the time. I treasure time with my family and my close friends. I appreciate the gifts the Lord has given me, and am deeply honored when HE allows me to use them. As a human being, I do have moments of weakness, selfishness, and pity party time.  However, it seems that someone who is truly experiencing a hard spot in life will cross my path reminding me to be thankful for what I have.
Let's shift gears a minute..being content. Content is defined as a state of being. So where does 'want' fit in?
To want something sometimes to me is the fun part of it. It might be something I will never have, a place I most likely won't ever get to go, or a thing I physically cannot achieve; but I sure do have fun dreaming about it!
This doesn't make me not happy in my current situation, if anything it motivates me to take some steps toward achieving that something I want! So, in closing I leave you with this: Are you content? Are you living a 'good' life?