Friday, July 29, 2011

Courage and Partnership on 9/11

I'd been looking forward for my free copy of Thunder Dog by Michael Hingson to arrive. I received it in exchange for my honest review as part of It lived up to my expectations. While the storyline and ending of the book were fairly predictable (being based on such a newsworthy day on our history), I valued the opportunity to relive some of the memories and triumphs as Hingson, who happens to be blind, told of his escape from one of the WTC towers on September 11. He was accompanied by his guide dog, Roselle. In tandem, with humor, perseverence, great wisdom, and faith, they trekked to safety.

The book does a lot to educate the reader on the experience of being blind in our society. I also learned a lot about the training and responsibilities of a guide dog as well as the special bond that is formed with the owner. The author has a warm and positive personality, and I found him to be very endearing as I read. His determination to accomplish great things (a MS in Physics, successful business career, public speaker) without considering his blindness a handicap is inspiring.

Tragedies inspire curiosity. This book helps satisfy my curiosity of what it was really like to be on the 78th floor of the North Tower when the plane hit and what occurred in the following minutes and hours.

As I sat on the patio and finished the book, I heard military jets racing by. In part of Hingson's story, he tells of stopping at a Vietnamese restaurant for some respite during his long journey home. While there, military jets were heard flying overhead. Someone announced that it was the Air Force on patrol. He writes, "The entire restaurant bursts into applause. For the first time in hours, I feel safe." This made a personal connection to me because a month before my dad died, he was with me in my yard, and we watched some jets nearby. He told me, "I love that sound. It makes me feel safe."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Summer Fun

Ice Cube Paints
At swimming lessons

Monday, July 25, 2011

Love this place!

It is hot and BEAUTIFUL in Texas!

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Molly created this outfit from three skirts while putting away laundry. She does apparel changes every couple of hours alternating between nightgowns, swimsuits, princess dresses, leotards and tutus, and the practical play clothes that I bribe her to put on. A couple days ago, I showed her two outfits I selected for her to wear that day. She responded, "None of those is right for a masked ball." Alrighty then!
The next 10 days are forecasted to be at least 100 degrees for the high. This is how we stay cool, the sprinkler in a pool beneath an umbrella!

4th of July

Be sure to check out my friend Laura's post about the 4th here. It is very moving! I haven't seen Laura in awhile and had fun catching up with her at our of our 4th of July outings.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What I've Been Reading

These are three titles I've been reading lately. I really enjoyed all three. Unleashed, Release the Untamed Faith Within, by Erwin Raphael McManus was provided to me by Thomas Nelson publishers in return for my honest review. I greatly enjoyed this book. The author writes with a conversational, very readable style. He insists that Jesus followed a Barbarian, uncivilized life of faith. He urges us to pick up our cross and follow Him and not to take the easy, wide path. McManus' writing is very motivating to me, and I find that it challenges me to be more authentic in my walk with Christ and to take risks as I follow Him. He urges us to live together in community, "We fight violence with peace, hatred with love, and oppression with servanthood. While never violating our uniqueness, we move together, united in heart and soul. Our greatness in unleashed in the context of community. When we move together, God is most perfectly revealed in us."

Isn't that something you want to sign up for? I know I sure do! Please pray for me as I seek to live with unleashed faith!

Day 21. Van Buren, AR to Fort Worth, TX. 313 miles.

The last day of our trip, we pulled out of the hotel parking lot at 7:22am. I was eager to get home. It's not that I was especially tired of traveling, but I was looking forward to the remainder of our summer at home. We passed into Oklahoma and relished sights of rolling tree-covered hills as I knew that soon our scenery would be mostly ranch land with sun-shriveled trees. Houses and businesses are rarities in eastern Oklahoma, so when Molly told me she had to go to the bathroom, I envisioned a road-side pit-stop. Sure enough, the next exit we encountered had only a sign indicating that a state park was 11 miles away. I found a place to pull off and let Molly do her business on the side of the road. We continued driving and turned southwest toward Texas at Checotah, home of Carrie Underwood. The next couple hundred miles took us through tiny towns and wide-open spaces. We drove over the huge Eufaula Lake. The next time Molly needed to use the restroom, we were nearing a small town with only two sit-down locally owned restaurants and two gas stations. I chose a gas station that unfortunately had an inoperable women's room and a less than tidy men's room. We used it, but I wouldn't let Molly touch anything. The rest of our trip was uneventful, and Molly snuck in a sound nap.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Day 20. Branson, MO to Van Buren, AR. 177 miles.

We woke up bright and early when we heard our tenting neighbors stirring. It got hot very quickly or at least it felt so as I packed up with tent. Molly loves to help with the poles and undoing the clips holding the tent to the poles. We visited the jumping pillow one last time and headed out to the fish hatchery near the Table Rock Dam. We saw holding areas with trout in various stages of growth. Molly had lots of fun feeding them, especially the smaller ones. After driving across the dam we headed to AR in search of the Buffalo River.

A favorite childhood memory is a morning swim in the Buffalo River where my parents' had pulled of the road for a pit stop. Before this trip, I googled the Buffalo River to find its location, which is in Northern Arkansas. I had a rough idea of where it was located, but no good driving directions. We stopped at the very accomodating AR welcome center. Two very sweet gentlemen supplied us with maps, driving directions, recommended points to stop, crayons, Arkansas coloring book and a sucker. Pleased, we continued our drive which soon took us down a two lane road with minimal traffic.

The Buffalo River is protected by the National Park Service and was the first to be declared a National River. We pulled off the road at the first crossing of the river we saw behind a National Park service office. There was a picnic area, bathrooms, and a view that was familiar to me. I think we may have found the same spot I visited with my family 25 or so years prior. We had a very relaxing time playing and a cross-cultural experience talking to some locals. One man we talked with described jumping off of the 80 ft tall bluffs on the opposite side when the river was higher. That is one of my memories- watching others jump- not doing it myself!

Our swim must have exhausted Molly because after we left, and I drove down a very long side road to a campground and river access, she wasn't interested in checking out the river again. Soon after, she was asleep. I was a little disappointed to miss out on some swimming holes that I knew were coming up along our route, but I was thankful for what we'd already experienced.

Now the nice gentlemen at the Welcome Center did not advise making sure I had an adequate supply of gasoline before following our river-seeking route. I didn't realize just how many tens of miles we'd be driving on winding mountain roads through the Ozarks with no cell service and rarely a place of business. I was nervous, but not nervous enough to attempt to buy gas at a little family run deal without electronic gas pumps where I'm sure there was no Pay at the Pump with a sleeping girl in my backseat.

Our gas supply proved to be sufficient, and I enjoyed the drive. It was a good thing Molly slept because it would have been our first opportunity to test whether she is prone to carsickness. I regret not turning back to buy a gallon of blackberries for $10 after we passed a roadside sign (we would have only had to travel with them one more day).

We saw some tornado-damaged areas. One was called Ozone, AR. Just south of the town (it was one of the few towns on the map that had a post office. In one, the only place of business was a church.) there were lots of downed trees in a ravine in the mountains. It was the weirdest sight. I never imagine tornados striking mountainous areas. I saw a lot of damage also passing through Clarksville, where I also found the kind of gas station that I'm familiar with.

Molly awoke as we made it back to the freeway after several hours on a two lane road. I always knew that my dad liked to take the scenic route, but I'm amazed at how remote the Buffalo River was from the beaten path and wonder at how he ended up there a few decades back.

We checked into our clean, comfortable hotel, decided that the pool was too cold and opted for a hot bath, and splurged at Chili's with a giftcard. One of the highlights of the day and quite possibly the best purchase was a car wash and vacuuming of the interior (the second of the trip). We returned to our hotel, watched church online and colored. It was a beautiful day.