Time Away and Two Hearts Inn

In October, our church graciously showered us with love for “Pastor Appreciation Month”. It was quite an unexpected surprise. We feel loved by our church family each and every time we see them, but this was certainly a blessing.

One family gave me and Terry a gift certificate to spend a night away at the Two Hearts Inn, a bed and breakfast, in Edmond, Oklahoma. They also recommended that we eat at a restaurant they love called Texas de Brazil. While my mother was visiting us for Christmas she watched the children so we could go on this little getaway.

Before our check-in time, we visited a bookstore in Oklahoma City called Full Circle Books. It was the most charming bookstore I’ve ever visited! We also visited the mall – which was crazy-busy due to the holiday rush.

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Every room had these wonderful rolling ladders! We only bought two books here, but the temptation to buy more was real! After this, we visited Barnes & Noble and then headed to Two Hearts Inn.

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You can select different suites at the Two Hearts Inn. We chose the “Suite Hearts” room. It’s lovely, with almost every imaginable amenity.

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The hot tub had a gas log fireplace above it. It kept the room warm enough that we didn’t need to have the central heat on in the room.

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There was a large screen TV, and this very interesting couch – it was comfortable, but hard to get out of!

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There was a stocked fridge and lots of goodies to snack on.

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They were kind enough to leave us this cheesecake dessert free of charge. It was delicious!

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Coffee, tea, and snacks, and don’t forget the wine glasses (no, we did not drink wine or champagne, but they did have sparkling water!).

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I’d never used a shower like this one – it was like a rain shower, the water came down from the center.

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My first time to stay in a hotel that had robes!

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The view from the balcony.

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Selfie with the view.

For supper, we ate at Texas de Brazil, another first for me – a restaurant that required reservations! This restaurant offered a salad bar with all kinds of unique things on it: salmon, sushi, paper-thin pineapple slices, potatoes, cheese, the list is endless! The male servers all dressed in Brazilian attire and carried the meat around the restaurant on skewers. If you wanted some, they would stop and slice it for you, and you take it with the tongs provided at your table. Each time we got up to get something from the salad bar, our server came and folded our napkins for us. We sampled lamb, filet mignon, some type of Brazilian steak (which was my favorite), and Terry tried some sausage and pork. And they offered us more! We finally ran out of room. They also brought us mashed potatoes, fried bananas and some cheese rolls. It was so delicious. We are both hoping to make this an annual tradition. haha!

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I tried my first sushi! It was really delicious! The restaurant was dark, so it was hard to get good photos.

The next morning, we enjoyed breakfast in the sunroom at Two Hearts Inn. Terry ordered strawberry waffles and I simply got the plain ones. They gave us these delicious cranberry scones served with lemon butter -wow! I wish I had just ordered a plate of those! They were so good.

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I loved the dishes!

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Love his smile in this one!

After breakfast, we visited two other bookstores and then headed home.

It was a wonderful trip made possible by some sweet and thoughtful friends. I certainly felt spoiled and very undeserving of this time alone with my husband. This holiday was nicer than our honeymoon. The Lord has brought us a long way in 19 years, and I give Him all the glory! Thank you, Lord, for your blessings on me.

And thank you, friends, for reading.

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It’s the Thought That Counts

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On Thursday, March 3, my youngest child, Matthew, started running a high fever. On that same day, Lauren began having very bad cold symptoms. We took Matt to the doctor and found out that he had an ear infection. Lauren, we thought, was improving, but it was a temporary improvement. Pretty soon after that, the whole family started feeling horribly. When it was all said and done, the kids had missed a whole week of school.

Way back in early February, my husband purchased two tickets to hear Sandi Patty in concert on her farewell tour. The concert was on Friday, March 4. Terry had seen an ad for the tour and knew that I had been a huge fan of Ms. Patty when I was a teenager. He even got us VIP tickets, so that we could attend a special Q & A with Sandi, get a free album, and front row seats. Well, when Matthew got so sick, and my babysitter, Lauren, got sick, I knew that the concert wasn’t going to happen. It was an hour away, and since I do not have any family nearby, there was no one to watch the sick ones at home. It was a disappointment. My husband, once again, was so thoughtful. That Friday, when everyone was sick and when we should have been attending the concert, he worked from home. He helped me take temperatures, get ice water, bring meals to the sick ones and well, he just stayed close. He even bought us some special takeout for supper that night.

I know you have heard the adage, “It’s the thought that counts”, and I really understand what that means now. Even though I missed the concert and my chance of meeting Sandi Patty, I was blessed by my husband’s consideration. He thought about me, and acted upon those thoughts when he purchased the tickets. He knew what I liked and planned a fun outing for the two of us. Nothing can diminish the beauty of his gift – not even the fact that it all fell through. I also still have the tickets. Maybe I’ll laminate one for a bookmark? (I do love to laminate!)

I am thankful that we have such a wonderful church that is able to pay Terry a full time salary. When the bottom dropped out of our weekend, my husband was able to rearrange his schedule and work from our kitchen table. This would not have been possible if he had to work an extra job on top of his church work.

Another blessing is that our children were not terribly ill. It was just bronchitis and ear infections. It could have been worse.

I have peace in knowing that God orders the events of my life; that even something as minor as a concert is in His control.

With love,

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How Welcome is the Rain

Leslie is memorizing her final poem for the year. It has been very appropriate for these rainy, dreary days we’ve had lately. It’s called “Rain in Summer” by Longfellow. When you’re smack dab in the middle of a major drought, this poem holds a special meaning. I don’t usually photograph rain, but I did today. I praise the Lord for each and every drop! We have been praying for rain to fill the rivers and ponds and to water the grass and trees so they “feel better”, as Matt says. We pray we get many, many more drops before summer arrives.

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Rain in Summer

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

How beautiful is the rain!
After the dust and heat,
In the broad and fiery street,
In the narrow lane,
How beautiful is the rain!

How it clatters along the roofs,
Like the tramp of hoofs,
How it gushes and struggles out
From the throat of the overflowing spout!

Across the window pane
It pours and pours;
And swift and wide,
With a muddy tide,
Like a river down the gutter roars
The rain, the welcome rain!

In the country, on every side,
Where far and wide,
Like a leopard’s tawny and spotted hide,
Stretches the plain,
To the dry grass and the drier grain
How welcome is the rain.

Sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God: Who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains. ~ Psalm 147:7-8

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Our New Bathroom

My husband purchased our home over a year ago. Terry toured it, but I never did. I only saw photos. We could tell from the pictures online that the master bathroom would need some work. Terry’s visit confirmed it. But everything in it worked, so we went ahead and bought the house. Terry said, “We can remodel that bathroom in a year or so.” In my mind, the emphasis was on the words “or so”. I figured that it might be remodeled in five years, possibly ten. Or never. I really didn’t expect it to happen. We have five children, and their needs are a higher priority than a my having a new bathroom.

Well, God is truly amazing. I knew that, but I am reminded of it again every day, especially in December. A man who used to attend the church here offered to remodel our bathroom – for free. I was blown away. I couldn’t believe it. But the week before Christmas, it happened! We have a brand new master bathroom.

The problem was the shower. It was made to be handicapped accessible, but it wasn’t done right. The bottom of the shower held water, unless it was squeegeed out by hand.

Here are some before photos:

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This one shows how the water would stand in the bottom. When the workers pulled up this flooring, they discovered the water had gradually been seeping into the wood beneath the shower. It had a terrible odor! I’m so grateful this is now gone!

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Now, drum roll please, the AFTER photos:

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The new bath tub, which lets the water completely drain out! Yippee!

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I love the neutral colors in the tile. I currently have the bathroom decorated in purple, but I may decide to change that someday. There are still a few more things to be done, but the hard part is finished. This blessing is amazing and wonderful and above all that I could ever ask or think, because it was given to me by my Heavenly Father.

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Three Little Things: Gifts from God

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This morning during my quiet time, I pondered the many wonderful gifts that God has given us. Whether saved or unsaved,  we all enjoy these three little things:

1. Music Christians use this wonderful gift to return praise to our Savior. The unsaved use it to wake up,  celebrate or even deal with grief. The most talented musicians in the world are given that talent by a Creator they may not even know. The mere use of their gift is, to those of us who know our Heavenly Father, an acknowledgment of His power and beauty.
2. Color If you’ve ever had an old black and white photo colorized, you know the difference that the rainbow makes! It’s truly a gift from God that I often take for granted. I love the various hues of green in the springtime, the blend of pastels in a sunset, and the subtle differences in the color of sand. Color makes the world fabulous!
3. Spice Even flavoring is a gift from God! Rosemary, cinnamon, ginger and more. They make food tasty and have healing properties. A gift from our thoughtful Creator.

These are just three little things for which I am thankful.

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Rainbows and Mockingbirds

Well, it’s been a busy two weeks. Crazy, in fact. But today, I saw this beautiful rainbow. Then, a lovely mockingbird stopped by and sang a few notes on my front porch railing. I didn’t get a photo of the bird, because he was only there for a bit. I did manage to quickly snap one of the rainbow.

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I thank God for sending some rare beauty into my life today.

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I Prayed for a New Purse

I suppose it’s kinda silly. I was steering my cart through Walmart last April and passed the purses. I really needed a new one, but I didn’t want to spend the money on one. Not only that, but I always seem to pick the lowest quality of purses whenever I buy one, so it wears out quickly. As I walked by the purses, I prayed under my breath, “Lord, could you give me a purse?” I went on my way, forgetting that prayer.

I forgot about it until a few weeks later when the Lord answered. I prayed for a purse. One. Singular. 

I got SIX! Plus four travel size bags and two wallets!

My Aunt Linda just happened to ask my mother if she thought I could use some purses she no longer wanted. No one knew about my prayer, but God knew, and He supplied this for me. Not just in a small way, but in a grand “I-want-you-to-know-I-love-YOU,-Valerie!” way.

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He gave His only begotten Son for me, and that’s far more than I deserve. Yet, He does more! He supplies my silly, temporal wants, too. Don’t misunderstand, the Lord doesn’t say “yes” to all of my prayer requests. I’ve been told “no” and “wait” many times. I’m so glad that He does say “yes” though! Sometimes He even says, “Yes! And let me shower you with more than your arms can hold!” God is so good to me. I’m so ashamed that, most of the time, I don’t even expect to have my prayers answered! I have very weak faith. Remembering blessings like this helps to grow my faith, and to see that I am loved by the Creator.

Wow.

Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.

~Psalm 68:19~

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