Vintage Valerie: Vacation 2008 Finale

I’m not sure why I didn’t share these photos of the last leg of our 2008 vacationย when I shared all the others.ย I think I just got bored with writing about the trip, or maybe it was taking me too long. Anyway, I recently connected on Twitter with a friend of my brother’s, and someone I knew when I was about nine years old, Pastor Dolton Robertson. He now lives in Alabama and I mentioned on Twitter that I had been to Helen Keller’s home which is located in Tuscumbia, Alabama. We passed through there on our way home from visiting my sister in North Carolina just to see this historic site. It really meant a great deal to me since I had spent many happy summers listening to my mother read The Story of Helen Kellerย .ย Mom always got choked up when we got to the part where Helen finally understood that the words being spelled out in her hand represented things. W-A-T-E-R was the cool, wet thing she felt coming out of the pump as her teacher spelled the word into her hand. It was the moment that turned Helen from a wild, animal-like child to a civilized human being. In a way, she received sight that day, because the darkness in her mind was suddenly taken away and she was connected to the world in which she had previously only been existing. She went on to attend college, graduate, and live an active and inspirational life despite her blindness and deafness. If you are ever in the area, and assuming you love history (and why shouldn’t you?), you should stop by this lovely home and learn about Helen Keller. On a side note, Dolton recommended a restaurant called the Woodpecker Cafe in Florence, Alabama, which I’d like to try if I’m ever back in the Heart of Dixie.

So, after eight years, here is the finale to our 2008 vacation, our trip to Ivy Green:



Mitchell was so little eight years ago…well, all the kids were!



The dining room where Miss Sullivan wrestled Helen for control of her very strong will.


I don’t know if this picture adequately expresses what I was feeling! I was so excited to see something in person that I had imagined so many times in my childhood. I only wish my mom could have been with me, since she is the reason I know anything about Helen Keller.



Lauren, age 8.


Mitchell, age 5.


Leslie, age 3.


Laci, age 1 1/2.

I now own the well-worn and well-loved copy of Lorena A. Hickok’s book that Mother read to me. I have read it to my own children, even before we took this trip, but they were all pretty young.

I think I should pull it out one more time.

With love,


Vacation Journal ~ Part Five ~ Church, North Carolina Style

Well, here it is, December already, and I hadn’t even finished chronicling my summer vacation!! Mercy! I suppose I got a little carried away with my love story and other exciting happenings. Life gets pretty crowded when you’re busy with things like roasting marshmallows, watching Doris Day movies and helping my cappuccino and marshmallow creme to reconcile. You know, matters of international importance. I believe all is quiet on the morning beverage front, for now anyway, so I can get back to telling you about my wonderful vacation!!!

On July 29, 2008, we spent the day together as a family. It was the fourth anniversary of my Dad’s home going. If possible, I try to be with family on this day. Not so we can all sit around and grieve and mourn, but so we can be busy enjoying each other’s presence. I try to be with others so that I will NOT grieve or mourn. I tend to be sad when I am alone. When other’s are with me, I find myself getting wrapped up in talking, helping, listening, and even laughing. It worked! It did not even occur to me that it was the anniversary until late in the day. I do miss my Dad, but I try not to grieve anymore. After all, he has never been better. Tears of sadness do still sweep over me, but not like they used to. Time may not heal, but it surely does help!

Here are some photos of that day:

Laci is stylin’ in her Mr. Potato Head glasses! I believe it’s the newest trend!

For some reason, whenever Laci hears “Cheese” this is what she does. I see so much of her Dad in her! (wink wink)

Laci and her sweet cousin, Andrew.

All of my kids are just like their Dad! I can’t get over it, they are just carbon copies! Here’s Lauren with her injured cousin, Stephen.

My three nephews! Andrew, Stephen and David Allen.

David Allen was called away for emergency surgery, or something like that, so Laci stepped in to take his place.

On July 30, 2008, we were privileged to attend the Wednesday night service at my sister’s church, Gospel Light Baptist Church in Walkertown, North Carolina. We happened to be there during the National Sword of the Lord Conference! It was amazing. We heard Bro. Bobby Roberson, my sister’s pastor, preach, followed by Dr. Clarence Sexton, pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Powell, Tennessee. My husband attended the morning and some afternoon sessions of the conference. I only attended the regular service times. I know, how terrible! But, you see, I had not been to North Carolina in about ten years. I had to squeeze in all the fellowship that I could! ๐Ÿ˜‰

We heard “Bro. Bobby” (as they all call him) preach on the previous Sunday. I must tell you that this man is the most humble man I have ever heard. His church runs about 2,800 – 3,000 and yet he does not get up and boast about the the attendance. I am sure he has some faults, for we all do, but many of us have one glaring fault.: we are not able to admit that we do have faults. Bro. Bobby knows he isn’t perfect, as the following story will demonstrate. Forgive me for paraphrasing!
“Many years ago when we first started our Christian school, we began hiring teachers. They had Master’s degrees and Doctorates, and PhDs. They spoke good grammar. I became intimidated. I’m just an old country boy. I don’t know good grammar. I went to the Lord and said ‘Lord. I believe I’ve done all I can to build this church. I don’t fit here anymore. I’ll just be happy to go up on some mountain somewhere and preach in a small church.’ It was just then that the Lord got a hold of me and said ‘WHO did you say was building this church? It isn’t you! I’M building this church.’ I said, ‘Lord, you’re right. I’m sorry. I’ll just stay right here if that’s where you want me.”

I had tears in my eyes listening to this godly man say how he felt inadequate. I believe that’s why Gospel Light Baptist Church is the great church that it is. It is a great church because Bro. Bobby let’s God run things. He gives God all the glory for the great things that are done at his church. Yes, Bro. Bobby is a faithful man, but God does all the rest. If you are ever near Walkertown, North Carolina, do stop in and visit this wonderful church. You will not be sorry. My husband has invited Bro. Bobby to come preach at our church and do you know what? He said yes!! He actually agreed to come here to the tiny town of Hope, Arkansas, and preach for a very unknown preacher, in a not-so-large church. He talked to my husband himself!! What an honor! After visiting this church for the first time in many, many years, I can see anew why my sister loves this place so much! There are so many good people, under such a good pastor, serving our Heavenly Father, in that place. Who could ask for more?
After Bro. Bobby preached, Dr. Clarence Sexton came and preached. It was a very good message; very convicting! He preached about how we have lost an entire generation of children in our churches. It was a wake up call for sure. After the service, we were able to go to the gym to see the various booths that were set up with items for sale. We were able to meet Dr. Sexton, and he signed a book that he was giving away. He made a point to speak to Lauren and sign her book. He talked to my nephew, David Allen, for a moment. David Allen now wants to attend Crown College! He was very kind to me and Terry. It was such a blessing to meet him.
Here are some photos of the evening:

What a great photo of the banner!! Yes, it is! You can get great photos of the ceiling when you are on the very tip-top row of the balcony!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Here are some of the kids right before church started.

Here’s a photo of the amazing choir! I could only dream of being in a choir that size! I love the “new look” they have given their auditorium. Yes, I know it was several years ago, but like I said, I hadn’t been there in a looooong time!Here is Bro. Bobby preaching! Do you see the couple in the choir loft? Anyone can go sit in the choir loft during the preaching. I would love to do that, but no one wanted to join me. I hated to be all by myself in the choir loft. Wouldn’t it be cool to look out at an auditorium this size that was full of people? I think so! ๐Ÿ˜‰ We could smile and wave and look for folks sleeping! Let me know if you want to try it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Here is Dr. Clarence Sexton preaching. I guess the couple left. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

We had a wonderful time attending the services. My husband learned a lot from the morning sessions. In fact, Dr. Shelton Smith will be with us this coming Sunday. Terry would like to talk to him and get ideas, or counsel. Dr. Smith pastored for many years, and has been down the road farther than either of us have been. A leader should always be learning. I’m thankful that my husband doesn’t believe that he has the corner on the “ideas” market. I’m thankful for the teachable spirit that he has, and I long to be the same way.

See you soon!

Vacation Journal: Part Four

We had survived the broken leg that my poor nephew, Stephen, got on the Saturday we were in North Carolina. We had survived a busy Sunday morning getting everyone ready and out the door for church on Sunday. We had thoroughly enjoyed hearing the preaching of Bro. Bobby Roberson in the morning, and Shelton Smith in the evening. All went pretty smoothly at Gospel Light that day…all except when I left my Bible in the bathroom and didn’t realize it until I was quite a distance away. I then ran (when no one was looking) back to the bathroom to retrieve it. My dress shoes clop-clopped along the floor, and I was sweating profusely in my Sunday dress. I managed to find the right bathroom (there must be 40 bathrooms in that place) but couldn’t recall the stall. I looked in all of them, but found no Bible. GASP!! Fear struck my heart! Had I lost it?? Surely no one would steal a Bible. Would they? Then, I remembered that the little shelf-thingy that I placed it on was behind the door!! Yes! I got it! I then swiftly scooted by (while smiling of course! I didn’t want to appear rude!) two deacons with programs in hand to get back out to Terry and Melanie and get to Sunday School. We made our grand entrance fifteen minutes late. I know! Who woulda thought that getting your Bible could make you so late?!
Anyway, we made it through all of that. And now, thanks to my describing it all play by play, you have too! Whew. Now, we could go site seeing! Our first stop: Mt. Airy!!! What? Know ye not what fine attraction is located in Mt. Airy, North Carolina? Surely you jest! Well, just in case you aren’t jesting, allow me to explain. It’s Mayberry!!! Andy Griffith’s hometown! Yes! And let me tell you, the photos below do not do my excitement justice! As we drove into Mt. Airy, the water tower has a silhouette of Andy and Opie with their fishin’ poles walking hand in hand. *sigh* Doesn’t it sound perfectly wonderful? I know, I’m a bit too idealistic. I admit it. I wasn’t able to get a good photo of the water tower so you could share in my idealistc pleasures. :[ However, if any of you dear North Carolinians have one that you’d like to email me, I’d love to see it!!
We also got to see Mt. Pilot..I mean Pilot Mountain! It was gorgeous! Okay. Enough. I’ll stop gabbing and let you take a look at our photos! I hope you like them!

The day started out calmly enough. The cousins were hangin’ out. For a minute I worried that they were discussing a devious plot to take away my camera. But then, I remembered I’m not only idealistic…I’m paranoid too. So I let the whole thing go.
But I kept watching from the basement window. Where no one knew I was secretly snapping photo after photo.
Oh no!! They may have spotted me!! That was close! Luckily, they are now swinging from trees. That’s much better than sitting around plotting…I mean talking.
Soon after I snapped these photos, we headed out to the promised land! (Don’t worry. I’m only kidding. I don’t really think that Mt. Airy is the promised land. I read my Bible. Please don’t write me and line me out, okay? Please?)
Drum roll please……
Here it is!! Here I am with Andy and Opie!! I was so excited!! I’m grinning just a little too broadly, aren’t I? Wait! Don’t answer that!! I couldn’t help myself!
Lauren and Opie!!
Here’s the plaque beneath the statue. It says: The Andy Griffith Show
a simpler time- a sweeter place-a lesson- a laugh – a father and a son
That sums it up perfectly. That is exactly what I love about Andy!!

LOOK! They have guided tours of Mt. Airy in the squad car! Okay, it’s not the squad car, but it sure is close! We weren’t able to that, but maybe we can the next time we go! Anyone know of a place that gives away all inclusive trips to Mt. Airy?? If you do, please let me know! I want to enter! :]

There’s Otis!

Here’s the Snappy Lunch, which is mentioned on two Andy episodes. We were unable to eat there because this place is the world’s most successful restaurant. I know because they stay open exactly two hours and fifteen minutes. Isn’t that amazing? We ate at Wendy’s instead. Maybe we can eat there next time.
After our quick trip to Mt. Airy, we headed back toward Winston-Salem, stopping at Pilot Mountain on the way. It was so nice. Even the heat (low 90’s) didn’t seem too bad up there. It has a beautiful view. Just thinking about it all makes me miss Melanie, Walter, David Allen, Andrew and Stephen…yeah, I really need to win a trip back out there people.

Here’s one view…
Here’s “the knob”.
Here are some of the kids. (Left to right: Andrew, Lauren, Mitchell, David Allen and Leslie) See that girl in the front with the yellow shirt on? Watch out for her! She’s trouble! I can say this because she’s just like me!
Cousins enjoying the view!!

My girl took this photo. It was supposed to have the entire sign in it. You know what I’m gonna say. Maybe next time! :]

Here’s Mitchell pushing Laci in the stroller. One second after I took this, he fell and subsequently let go of the stroller. She sped down this sidewalk and crashed at the bottom. She wasn’t injured, in fact, she didn’t even cry! Mitchell did scrape his knee a little though. There’s never a dull moment around our crew! :]
Here I am! I was really there, enjoying the view!! I still can’t believe it’s over. I waited so long, and now it’s already over. It was a blast!
Here’s David Allen. I thought this pose was great! I said “Give me fear” and he nailed it! (just kidding)
Here’s some of the gang taking a rest in the shade. I think I’ll go take a rest too.

It’s been great telling you all about my wonderful dream vacation. I have still more to share. I have to tell you about the Sword Conference, about meeting Bro. Clarence Sexton, about seeing our friends, the Collins’s, and about not seeing the Tylers, oh and about seeing Helen Keller’s home in Alabama! Thanks for staying with me. If you didn’t visit me here in cyberspace, I would be of all ladies most miserable. Thanks so much for stopping by.

Vacation Journal: Part Three

On July 26, Melanie and I had made plans to go to Olive Garden with two of her friends. I’d already heard many nice things about Angie and Wendy, but it was so nice to put a face with the name. Right as the server was bringing our salad, Mel’s cell phone rang. It was her husband, Walter. He called to tell us that Stephen broke his leg while jumping on the trampoline, and it looked bad. We didn’t know what to do. Leave right then and go to the hospital, or stay and eat and then go?? Well, we finished our meal, but it was definitely a meal shrouded in fear. At one point, Walter called to say the doctors had said Stephen might need surgery. We praise the Lord that he didn’t. He got a cast, and some heavy pain medication and was able to go home.
I hope to one day get to return to Mayberry…er, oh, I mean, Winston-Salem and visit with Melanie and her friends again. Maybe next time I won’t take my little ducklings along!

Thank you for visiting with us, Angie and Wendy! It was so nice to finally meet you!
July 27 was Sunday. We were able to attend Gospel Light Baptist with Melanie. (Walter had to stay with Stephen) We were privileged to hear Melanie’s Pastor, Bobby Roberson preach the morning service. He preached a wonderful message! I really admire that man! He’s so humble, so genuine! I will be posting more about that soon. Sunday afternoon we went home and the kids played in Melanie’s gorgeous backyard! I used to be so jealous of North Carolinians when I lived in Texas. But now I live in Arkansas!
Below are some random photos from the day:

While in North Carolina, we discovered that Leslie loves to swing!
Oh, and she never stops talking either. But, we already knew that she loved to talk, so that was no surprise. She takes after her Dad in that respect. He just talks and talks and talks…;] Yeah, right! :]
Here’s our little invalid. At least he’s smiling…that’s a good sign! He has a smaller cast now, but I bet it’s still a pain. :[

Here’s Terry’s “artwork” on Stephen’s cast. I thought it was so cute. But, I am a little biased. :]
Well, I’m still not done chronicling my vacation. I hope you’re not bored to death. This is all I have time to post right now, but no worries! I shall return! :]

Vacation Journal: Part Two

On Friday, July 25, Melanie and I took the older kids to the SciWorks Museum in Winston-Salem. Terry stayed at Melanie’s house with Laci.Walter slept that day because he is on third shift at the plant he works at. Originally, Leslie was supposed to stay home too, but she asked so sweetly about going that I said she could go too. Melanie bought us lunch at McDonald’s and brought it over to the museum so we could eat in the cafeteria at SciWorks. McDonald’s put our food in the world’s largest McDonald’s bag! I should’ve taken a picture! You wouldn’t believe it! Others in the cafeteria were staring at our huge McDonald’s bag. I kid you not. While I was eating, I sat and looked at that bag and got so tickled I could barely eat. But only for a minute or two. I don’t let much stand in the way of me and a cheeseburger, even an enormous McDonald’s bag.
The kids had a great time. FINALLY, here are some photos! :]

I just love these pictures! My three little astronauts!

Leslie enjoyed the golf. She and Stephen and Mitchell also loved the play room. They had a toy cash register and small groceries. They played there a long time.
Don’t let it eat you!
Whew. I’m glad I have a strong nephew and daughter! That was close!
Here we are in the planetarium waiting on the show, which was so interesting, by the way. The man let everyone hold a meteorite.
One thing Lauren couldn’t wait to do at Aunt Melanie’s was ride the boy’s go-cart. She had so much fun…and so did a few other people! :]

“Can I please have a turn, Dad?”

Even Terry got a turn on the go-cart. No, I didn’t give it a whirl. Though I seriously considered it.
Well, I better get started on the day. Thanks for stopping by…there’s more to come!

Our Vacation Journal: Part One

Day One July 21: Destination: Knoxville, Tennessee. We cheered when we crossed into Tennessee.We arrived in Knoxville at 8:00 PM, and were exhausted. We had planned to stop on the east side of Knoxville to put us a little closer when we left town. But we couldn’t go on.We stopped on the edge of the west side. We were hungry and so tired of sitting. We had driven about ten hours that day. We ate at Shoney’s where the server shared some interesting information with us, that caused us to rejoice. She said that a storm had just blown through earlier (we had missed all of that, praise the Lord) and that a huge power line had fallen down on the East side of Knoxville on I-40 stopping the traffic. We thanked the Lord that He had led us off of the Interstate when he did. We missed the rain, and the traffic jam.
Day Two July 22: Destination: Winston-Salem, NC. We head out for the remaining four hour journey at 9:00. The day held a lot of twists and turns as we passed through the edge of the Smokey Mountains, which were gorgeous. We got way too close to some eighteen wheelers, but the Lord kept us safe. Our kids loved the two tunnels we passed through. We finally cheer as we cross into North Carolina! Melanie, Andy [Griffith], here I come! We got to Melanie’s house around 2:00 that afternoon. Her house is so beautiful! I can’t believe it, but I didn’t take any pictures that first day, or the second. I guess we were focused on getting there, and then resting.
Day Three July 23: Terry was scheduled to preach for our friend, Pastor Ben Graham. Terry and I have known him most of our lives. His Dad, Ken Graham, has been my home pastor for over 20 years. We drove two hours to York, SC with Leslie and Laci. Lauren and Mitchell went to church with Melanie and her boys at Gospel Light. My kids were eager to attend Master Clubs, even if it was only for one time. They had a blast! We enjoyed seeing Ben’s family. His wife, Candace is very sweet and his boys are adorable. They were kind enough to show us around the property – which is very impressive – and to go out to eat with us. We had a great time laughing and talking over old times. We later went to their home and visited until…uhhum…1:00AM. I told you, they are very nice people! Once again, my camera is MIA. Camera? Yoohoo! Where are you??
Day Four July 24: Travel back to Winston-Salem from York, SC. Then, we played kickball with the kids, ate and sat on Melanie’s wonderful screened in porch and relaxed. As I sat there, I felt like I was on an episode of The Andy Griffith Show. Have I told you how I love that show? NO?? Well, let me tell you, I do!
More to come later…and I promise, I do have some pictures! I have to stay in order though! ;]

Happy Birthday, Stephen!

I want to wish my nephew, Stephen Pledger, a happy 5th birthday today! We just got to visit him and his family in North Carolina for our vacation. I can’t believe you’re really FIVE!!! Here are some recent photos of the birthday boy, and a few friends.

Stephen and Leslie having fun. Look at Stephen’s sweet smile! Oooo, and notice Leslie’s black feet…she’s fitting in here in Arkansas just fine! She never wears shoes! I guess North Carolinians are similar because no one said anything. Or maybe they were just silently appalled. :]
Here’s Andrew, Laci and Stephen. Stephen sure did love Laci! He loved playing with her and kissing her!

On Saturday, July 26th, he broke his leg while jumping on the trampoline. :[ He has to wear the cast above for another week, and then a smaller cast for three more weeks after that.
Stephen, I hope you have a wonderful birthday! I hope that cast isn’t bothering you too much!
We love you and miss you!!!