Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Unexpected Smoky Adventure

The other day, Dad was going to drive to Jefferson City to pick up a couple more rabbits from a breeder. He asked if I would like to ride along which was met with a 'yes!' It would be nice to get out and enjoy a drive, plus to spend some time with my Dad. Those times are always special!

Our drive there was pleasant despite the heavily overcast skies and constant rain/drizzle. After getting there, Dad talked with the guy for a bit, got the rabbits from him, and we headed home. Only about thirty seconds later, I noticed something not good . . . white/gray smoke wafting from the dash vents! I told Dad "There's smoke coming out of the vents . . . .", and the words were no sooner out of my mouth when the smoke began pouring out, quickly filling the cab.

Thankfully, the highway had a wide shoulder right where we were, and Dad was able to see well enough through the smoke to quickly pull over and get the truck turned off. As soon as we were stopped, we got out, checked under the hood, and there was no smoke there thankfully. Back in the truck, though, there was some smoke coming out of the vents for another five minutes or so. We were both so thankful for the Lord's protection and that the truck hadn't gotten to the point of starting on fire!

Next to do was to call Mom and Leah so they could come pick us up. Meanwhile, Dad called AAA, and a tow truck was soon on its way.

 In the truck, waiting for the tow truck to arrive

Dad crying because his truck went up in smoke ; ) : ) . . . needless to say, and as the picture attests, we had quite a bit of fun together while we waited! :) (And the picture was taken after the air cleared.)

 After taking the above photo of Dad, he grabbed my phone and took this one of me :)

Our patient traveling companions

Before long, here came the tow truck! The driver was a really nice man, and we enjoyed visiting with him while he got our truck loaded up.

Being winched on

Ready to make the drive to the mechanic

Dad teased that if the tow truck left before Mom and Leah arrived, we would look like hitchhikers standing on the side of the road with our rabbits. :) The tow truck driver was so kind as to offer to stay until they got there, and shortly after the truck was loaded up, Mom and Leah arrived.

Their comment once we got in the car was something along the lines of "you stink!" I guess we smelled a little smoky. :) We turned our unexpected evening adventure into a fun time or all of us, talking, laughing, teasing, and then stopping at Chick-fil-a to get some dinner since it was well past suppertime.

Now our truck is in the shop and hopefully it will be fixed soon and all ready to head to the farmers market on Saturday. Not to mention, so we can also start the process of cleaning the inside to try to get rid of the strong smoke smell!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Heartwarming Moments

Awhile back when Ivan and Abel were here, there were a couple of times that I couldn't resist taking a picture when I happened upon Abel with Dad and Mom. As my phone was all that was handy, the heartwarming moments were captured in a bit blurry form :) . . . .

Dad was doing some Bible study and Abel went and sat by him, snuggled up close, and asked what he was doing. Dad was using a concordance at the time so he showed Abel how it was used. First, he looked up the name 'Abel' in the concordance and then found the places in the Bible that 'Abel' is referenced (Abel thought it was so neat that someone with his name was in the Bible!) 

Dad read each of the passages aloud, explaining what they meant, about the biblical Abel's faith, etc. Abel listened intently and asked some great questions, too. It was so heartwarming to see them reading and talking about the Bible together with Abel soaking it all up!

Another special moment . . . Abel had woken up from his nap and had a long snuggle time with Mom which they both loved!

Yesterday, Ivan and Abel were here again, and it was an enjoyable day! Here are a few snapshots . . . . 

Their first time doing homeschooling all together! Leah is excited to begin helping with his homeschooling!

I was getting ready to make lip balm, and Abel came over right away asking if he could help. So we had fun making it together! We also worked with numbers as we measured and weighed out ingredients. Then when I measured in all the liquid oils, he carefully watched the numbers on the scale and let me know as soon as enough of each was in the pot. He loved doing that!

He's such a helper! Here he is helping Mom get lunch together by peeling carrots. 

The first day of spring felt almost like summer here! The high was in the low 80's, and partway through the day, Ivan and Leah took a break from budget planning and I took a break from work, and we, Mom, and Abel went for a walk (well, Abel went for a bike ride!) It was so nice to be outdoors, spend some relaxing time together, and soak in the warm sunshine! A pleasant visit with neighbors was an unexpected treat as well. 

 Riding on the driveway

And off we are down the road! 

We had a very hard freeze last week which killed nearly all of the open blossoms on the trees. Some though are just now breaking into bloom and it is lovely to see some of the trees covered in flowers!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Back at the Therapeutic Riding Center!

We pulled into the driveway with much anticipation . . . welcomed by smiles, hugs, the smell and sounds of horses, laughter, a buzz of activity, excitement in the air . . . the spring session at the therapeutic riding center started up again last week!

On the day we volunteer, they dropped one of the children's classes and bumped up the veteran's class so Leah and I are back to working with the veterans again. That is so nice! Since my hands and mind were pretty involved during the children's classes, I only took one blurry cell phone picture during the veteran's class and the other is from a friend . . . .

Therapy in progress. K. did a great job back after a winter without riding!
(Photo courtesy of his wife A. Both of them have become special friends of ours!) 

Out on the trail

Note the short sleeves in the photos! The day was forecast to be sunny with a high in the 70's . . . it started out that way and we were thoroughly enjoying it, but an unexpected large storm that arrived shortly after the veteran's class along with a significant temperature drop had us very thankful that we brought jackets along (and made us wish we had brought something warmer!)

With thunder, lightning and pouring rain, we did several of the sessions in their entirety in the covered arena. Strong, cold winds, though, blew the rain in getting us a bit wet in the process. Needless to say, we were quite chilled by the time we made it home! Despite that, it was such a wonderful day! We loved our time there.

Some highlights from our first time back with our riders (and some new ones) were . . . .

~ Working with the veteran's again! It is always special and an honor to work with them.

~ One of my sweet riders (now age 3) who really struggled last year with tears and fear was SO excited to ride again. She remembered me too! As soon as she saw me, her face lit up with her precious, infectious smile, her little hand waved emphatically, and she shouted out "I ride horsey!!" That exclamation was made many times as I carried her over to her horse and mounted her. The joy in her face and the increasing strength in her body was so wonderful to see!

Borrowing a photo from last year . . . her and I

~ A new rider who is five was struggling before his class so the instructor called Leah and I over to be his sidewalkers. We helped get him mounted, safely held in the saddle, and then Leah, the girl leading the horse, and I started off with him. Knowing that children with certain special needs respond very positively to music, I started singing. Old MacDonald had a Farm was a definite hit with this precious boy, and almost immediately, he calmed and a beautiful smile spread across his face. We sang that song until our voices were going a bit hoarse, and MacDonald had quite the diverse set of animals on his farm. :)

It is so good to be back, and we are looking forward to the many special and memorable days ahead at the center!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Visiting Friends and the Ark Encounter

A snowy, cold Saturday (and no farmers market for me) was a good time for sorting through hundreds of photos and figuring which ones to include in this post . . . and now it is ready to share! Be forewarned, it is long. :)

This past week, Leah and I had the great blessing of visiting dear friends of ours, Laura and Emily, and spending several days with them, which included a visit to the Ark Encounter. We had originally planned to go in February, but two long weeks of a nasty flu virus going through our family kept us at home instead. It was disappointing then, but God's timing is much better than ours and all of us could see that this past week was the perfect time to be together. God is so good!

Leah and I headed out Sunday morning amidst overcast skies. We had brought music along, but instead of listening to that, we spent the passing hours talking and simply appreciating some quiet and stillness, taking in the scenery. All along the drive, grass was greening up, trees were beginning to leaf out, many bushes and trees had blossoms covering them . . . it made even Illinois a pretty state to drive through. :)

First time being on a two story bridge! Crossing the Ohio River 

Our destination state! 

We checked into our hotel and then headed over to our friends' apartment. It was so good to see them again! All of us agreed that it had been way too long between visits. :) We talked late into the night and the hours flew by swiftly, as they did the next day which was spent mostly at their apartment. We did venture out into the rain to do a bit of thrift store shopping and dinner at Chick-fil-a. There was much on hearts and minds to talk about, and each night, we didn't get back to our hotel until around midnight.

Tuesday morning, though, we were off for our big adventure . . . the Ark Encounter!

This is a life-size replica of Noah's Ark (part of Answers in Genesis), and the first level of the Ark is set up hypothetically like what it could have been . . . .

Cages of animals

Small cages for little animals . . . as you walk through, there are sound effects going constantly, associated with wherever you are in the Ark. Here, you could hear little animals squeaking, scratching, etc. Plus hear the creaking of timbers and the crash of waves.

Laura and I looking at the caged animal replicas
(Photo by Leah)

The workmanship on the animals in the Ark was amazing!
(Photo by Leah)

Emily and Leah 

Part of the first level of the Ark 

Laura and I looking at a model of the Ark
(Photo by Leah) 

 Laura, Emily, and I
(Photo by Leah)

We saw Ken Ham!  

As we made our way through the Ark, there was such a sense of increasing awe of God, the Creator. His might, His power, His creativity, His wisdom, His incredible design of this beautiful world, His sustaining power, His judgment, His grace, His plan of redemption through Jesus Christ.

One of the displays of the different kinds - this one, the cat kind 

Emily, Me, and Laura
(Photo by Leah)

Walking through one of the display rooms

Exactly the same evidence, but two very different worldviews 

Laura, Leah, and Emily . . . love these girls! 

Animatronic 'Noah' answering questions about the Ark, etc. It was quite informative!

The blacksmith shop 

There was so much to read! It took us a long time to make our way through.

One of the parts of the Ark I especially loved . . . ancient manuscripts! Plus very old Bibles, etc.
(Photo by Leah)

(Photo by Leah)

(Photo by Leah)

The Door of the Ark with me photographing
(Photo by Leah)

What a Savior is Jesus the Lord! Our door into salvation through His shed blood. 

All of us in front of the Ark door (with a cross of light on it)
Photo courtesy of a kind man working at the Ark 

After making our way through decks 1 and 2, we decided to head to the restaurant for lunch before starting on deck 3. It was a delicious buffet with live bluegrass music. We enjoyed our time there!

Leah, Laura and Emily
You can see some of the taxidermy mounts behind them . . . the restaurant was full of them! 

Back in the Ark . . . the workmanship and construction of this structure was incredible

Emily in part of the 'kitchen' . . . artistic license was taken throughout the Ark to give an idea what it could have been like. 

Me and Emily

My favorite part of the Ark was on the third deck . . . so many displays and information regarding the flood, the evidence for it, and much more. It took us a long time to make our way all the way through it! Here is a small sampling of what was there . . . . 

Another amazing bit of evidence testifying of the worldwide flood.

And another . . . the evidence clearly supports the authoritative Biblical account of a worldwide flood of judgment.

So interesting!

This was neat to see, especially after watching the documentary Is Genesis History? in the theater in February which included a lot of information about the Grand Canyon (By the way, I would highly recommend this film!)

This may seem like an interesting photo to share, but it immediately caught my eye. I had not heard of this theory until the Saturday before we left on our trip when at the Farmers Market, a guy came up and asked me if we were 'religious'. That led into a lengthy conversation with him about the authenticity of the Bible, contradictions in world religions, etc. He held to the belief in the above photo which made for some interesting dialogue! Next Saturday, I'll be bringing some materials for him which hopefully will help bring truth to him.

The all important, life-changing and eternity-changing question . . . have you entered? 

Loved this display! Irrefutable evidence to the authenticity and truth of the Bible.

After we finished going through the Ark, we browsed through the gift shop and got a few things. It was there we ran into the director of the Ark who Laura and Emily knew. We talked with him for quite awhile, and then he asked if we would like to go up to the fourth deck which is under construction. Our answer was a definite "yes!" We would love to!

So we got to go 'behind the scenes' and enjoy a private tour . . . .

Up on the fourth deck

Outside looking out from the rail around the fourth deck. It was pouring rain, but the narrow ledge of roof above us kept us dry to enjoy the view. Lots of construction being done! 

He then took us up into the sail of the Ark . . . 10 stories! Since bare walls were exposed here, it was really interesting to learn more about how the Ark was constructed. What a huge endeavor this was! And how much more so the original Ark.

Emily and Leah 

After our much enjoyed private tour, we were going to go visit the zoo, but unfortunately cold, wind, and pouring rain changed our plans. So we took a few quick photos of the outside of the Ark before boarding the shuttle back to the parking lot.

Photo by Leah
(The sail on the top left is where we were up in) 

It was an amazing experience going to the Ark, and it was so fun to spend that time together. Makes me even more excited to continue learning more about the support for the Biblical flood, creation account, etc.!

Our visit there was also refreshing and encouraging spiritually. As a little taste of that . . . when we were at the gift shop, a journal caught my eye with the words "God Remembered Noah" across the front. It made me stop and pause, considering the depth and meaning of those three words (which related to a theme on my heart going through the Ark.) A simple statement, yet such a powerful and encouraging one. God remembered Noah . . . God remembers us . . . the same God who protected, preserved, and led Noah and his family, is exactly the same God who works intimately in our lives today. 

He is the God who fulfilled His promises to Noah, and He is the same God who promised to us: "I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:30b.) Isn't that such a beautiful truth?

Needless to say, if you can, make a point to visit the Ark Encounter (and the Creation Museum) someday!

By the time we finished at the Ark, we had one last evening left together . . . and another late nighter. :) Our time with Laura and Emily was special and drew our hearts closer to each other and to our Lord and Savior. We talked, laughed, shared, encouraged, prayed for each other, and much more. So thankful for these dear friends!

All too soon our time together came to a close, and Leah and I headed for home. . . .

A sign for St. Louis! Even though we were still a long way from home, it felt nearer seeing that. :)

An old railroad bridge 

The famous Arch in St. Louis . . . we're on the home stretch!

So there you have a glimpse into a big part of our last week! Have any of you all been to the Ark or Creation Museum?