Two Tiaras and a Sword

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Wedding Crashers Travels Again

 Only this time, it was not to crash a wedding.  It was to take the Youngest Princess to Camp.

The day started out like this.  The Oldest Princess told me that she when she left her house early the morning before, she had put her trash in the back of her car meaning to put it in the dumpster at the end of her road on her way out.  But, in her hurry, she forgot about it, and brought it all the way home with her.  She realized this when she went to her car to get something and was greeted by a strange smell.  She remembered the trash and quickly removed it from the car and put it in our trash can.

There was a light rain falling about the time we got ready to leave.  So we all grab a handful of the Youngest Princess's things and head quickly for the car.  When we open the back, we are greeted with boxes and boxes of curriculum.  Heavy boxes.  So we all drop our stuff in the front and middle seats and proceed to haul heavy boxes of curriculum to the house.  Did I mention we are having work done on our house?  So we did this in the rain, which had turned into a heavy sprinkle by now,  over boards, around a dumpster and dodging stray roofing nails. Hair getting frizzier by the second.

We get in the car and begin backing out and I realized we did not have a phone charger in the car.  It is not good for ladies to go on a trip without a phone charger in the car, so the Oldest Princess pulls back into the driveway and runs to her car to get a charger.

We begin again.  This time we make it out of the driveway and a little down the road before the Youngest Princess dramatically lets us know that she can't find her blanket.  She said it was with her pillow, so whomever picked up her pillow must have left it.  I happened to be the accused party.  I was offended.  I also happened to know the blanket was not with the pillow, because the only thing left on the bench after I picked up her pillow was a sweater that I fussed at her for leaving on the bench.  I smugly reminded her of this.

We backed up and pulled back into the driveway for the Youngest Princess to go in and get her blanket. She found it and came back to the car.  I did not ask her where it was.  Didn't feel like belaboring the fact that it was not where she accused me of having left it.

Our first stop was for gas.  We pulled into the gas station in the Walmart parking lot.  The station was busy, but not jam packed like it usually is.  Several of the pumps were not in working order and had bags over them, but you do not see this until you have pulled up to the pump in excitement thinking you have scored a pump without the wait.  After casually observing people pulling up and realizing the pump is out of order, I noticed that this does not make most people smile, shrug, and slowly pull to another pump to patiently await their turn.  

We found a working pump and were waiting in line behind the cute little young couple dressed for church, just trying to get a quick tank of gas.  The young man would put his card in the card reader, punch a few buttons and wait.  Then he would take the card out and closely examine both sides of said card.  Then repeat.  This happened a couple of times.  I am watching other lanes looking for an opening.  The young lady gets out of the car and tries to help the young man.  He, meanwhile, has run into the door of his car and now has a black line on the sleeve of his church shirt to prove it.  They are still trying to figure out the problem, when another lane opens up, on the other end of the station.  I point this out to the Oldest Princess who begins carefully moving in that direction.  I point out that she needs to go the other direction to pull up to the pump on the correct side.  Meanwhile, the little couple we were waiting on, have with lightning speed, jumped into their car and have beat us in moving in the right direction.  So instead of following them to the other side of the station and waiting behind them again, we decided to do our shopping first and then return to get our gas.

We pull over and park.  As we are walking in to the store, there is a mother with a three or four year old little boy walking our way.  Well the mother was walking and pushing a buggy.  The little boy was full out running ahead of her while she is yelling for him to slow down and not get too far ahead of her.  Does a three year old even know what "too far ahead" is?  I am assessing the situation trying to figure out if I need to run interference and stop said child in some non-threading way.  Before I could safely do so, the child was past us and the mother looked at us and said, "He had a frappuccino this morning."  What was she thinking?!?

We continue on to purchase a watch for the Youngest Princess.  She needed one because she could not use a watch that connected to wifi while at camp.  We purchased the watch without any craziness and got back to the car.

The Youngest Princess took the watch out of the packaging and proceeded to set said watch.  I told her those kinds of watches are hard to set so she should not get discouraged.  She fussed that the paper did not tell her how to set it at all, and began to figure it out without said paper, while we got gas.  We managed to get gas without any wait this time, but the angry people around us (remember pumps with bags on them from before?) were backing up and zipping around and I was afraid for our lives for a few minutes there.

Now, with watch purchased and a full tank of gas we were really ready to really get this party started.  The Oldest Princess asked if we ever used our car's navigation system.  I told her that we usually just used our phones, but we could try it.  

I punched in the address several times and got no results.  The OP suggested we use the voice controls.  Great idea.  It asked me what country.  I said United States.  It said, "United States, is this correct?"  I answered yes.  Then it asked what city and state.  I said (using imaginary addresses for the blog) Mount Pine, Mississippi.  It said, "Mount Lion, South Dakota, is this correct?"  It was so far off from what I originally said that we were all flabbergasted!  So laughingly, we tried again...

"What country"

"United States"

"What city and state?"

"Mount Pine, Mississippi"

"Mount Lion, South Dakota?


We try again.  This time we get the right city and state.  Then it asks me for the address.  I said, "100 Street Name." It comes back, "107894 (last part of street name given)".  Is this correct? "NO!"

By now we are laughing so hard that we can barely speak to be understood by the car.  And I am having flashbacks to a night in Florida in my sister-in-law's car when she and I and our husbands tried to use her voice activated navigation system to get to Walgreens. By the time we were done, we were locked in and had the heat going so high we all thought we were going to be melted by the car right there in the Walgreens pharmacy drive-through. Maybe I should refrain from further use of automobile voice navigation systems.

So the OP says to let her try.  She gets to the street name and number only she says, "One zero zero" instead of saying "one hundred" as I had done.  She gets the same results that I did.  Crazy numbers with the last part of the street name behind it.  We decided it would be best to stick with what we knew, and use our phones.

About this time, the Youngest Princess's watch beeps.  She exclaims, "Ugh!  It better not be doing that!" to which the OP states that she could look at the instructions to figure out how to turn the alarm off.  I look at the time and see that it is on the hour and know it will probably beep every hour on the hour.  So she says the paper did not help her.  But then she notices that she was looking at the wrong paper.  She was looking at the paper that told how to change the batteries.  She found the little instruction paper and told us she thought she had it figured out.

We debate stoping at the new Buc-ee's, and came to the conclusion that we would.  As we pulled in, we see that everyone else in the whole wide world had come to the same conclusion.  The place was PACKED. 

Our family has a saying, "Walk with purpose."  We walk to get places.  Unless we are taking a leisurely stroll on a forest path.  With no one else around us.  No one waiting behind us.  We walk with purpose.  The two ladies we got behind, had never been taught this concept,  They were in no. hurry. to go an. y. where.  I saw a break in the crowd and took it knowing the girls would follow me.  At the same time, the OP, figuring she had plenty of time to observe her surroundings behind such slowly walking people, decided to stop and look at something that caught her eye.  The YP turned to tell her something.  The OP was not behind her anymore.  I was not in front of her anymore.  I was trucking on ahead about half of the store length away by this point.  I do an over the shoulder check to see if the girls are hanging in there with me, and do not see either of them.  But about 30 yards away down the aisle, I see our friends, still ambling along at their same pace.  And then I spot the girls still stuck behind them.  I wait on them.  The OP says, "I stopped to look at something."  The YP says, "I turned around to tell her something and she was not there.  I turned back around and you were not there!"  I told my little chickens to follow me and we started off again.

This Buc-ee's had a sweet bathroom attendant.  She was nothing like the last Buc-ee's bathroom drill sergeant that we had a run in with.  I found a stall, and the girls went to the other side where the attendant said she knew some were empty.  I was washing my hands when the girls came around the sinks looking mischievous.  At about that same time, my phone loudly pinged in my pocket.  I thought somehow they must have figured out how to ping my phone and were using it to find me.  They assured me that it was not them.  I guess I did it myself somehow while washing my hands.  Old people and phones!

We returned to the car and traveled a few exits further until the YP said she was ready for us to stop for her lunch.  We pulled through a drive-through without too much excitement and managed to get back on the road.

The girls then think to tell me that when we were in Buc-ee's, a guy came out of the stall in front of them.  They said he looked shocked to see them, so they were pretty sure he was in the wrong restroom and had just figured it out.  They were so shocked that they both ended up going in the same stall.  I told them, somewhere in another car, someone was having a conversation about being in the Buc-ee's bathroom and seeing two girls coming out of one bathroom stall.  The YP said that no one saw them come out. The OP said, "Well, we look enough like sisters don't we?"  Ummm, no.  Then the OP said that in yet another car, the boy was telling his story about accidentally going to the wrong restroom.  Lots of Buc-ee's bathroom stories going on here.  I have two from previous trips to Buc-ee's and I have one more from this trip before the blog is through.  If you have ever been to Buc-ee's, I'll bet you have one too!

About the time our previous conversation ended, the YP announces from the backseat that her "I don't need the paper, I can set it by myself" watch is on military time.  And it did beep on the hour again.  And she has only 20 minutes before we are there to figure it all out.  I told her welcome to the world of self-set watches.  She should have gotten one with an analog face.

We finally get her to camp and she has registered under her first name.  She has all her life been called by her middle name.  Now I am having flashbacks to when the Young Prince went to a Gap Year program and went by a different version of his name than he had always gone by.  The OP and I just shook our heads.  

There was some confusion over which color team she was on and who was really her leader.  But they got that all figured out.  

She was kindly instructed to  turn off her phone and turn it in.  Right there at registration.  No phone.  No electronics.  For TWO WHOLE weeks.

They took us to her room and the OP, my friend who had met us there, and I got her settled in.  She took the sheets that I took to college.  I tried to throw them away a while back and she insisted that they were the best sheets ever and she wanted to keep them.  The fitted sheet did not fit very well on the bed.  We made it work, but I'm afraid that when she sleeps on it, it is going to pop off.

The OP was helping her put her things away, and the YP said, the drawers on the left. But the OP kept going to the drawers on the right.  It took her several times saying it before the OP realized she was going to the wrong drawers.

We met a couple of the roommates, took a few pictures, and then decided to go get our free Frio's popcicles.  As we were leaving the room, the OP asked the YP if she had her phone.  Calculated low blow there, OP, low blow.

We went and got our popsicles and ran back into one of her roommates.  The roommate came to camp not knowing anyone else either.  So they bonded and decided to hang together.  I was glad that we did not have to leave the YP alone.  The roommate's parents decided to leave when we did, and after hugs all around, we left them walking off toward the group.  The OP snapped a picture of them.

So, we left to go and eat lunch with my friend who met us there.  I wish I could say lunch was a good experience, except I think we made them mad by coming in 30 minutes before they closed, and none of them wanted to be there or had been taught the "walk with purpose" lesson either.  It was rough.  We finished our lunch and stood in the parking lot for over an hour catching up.

Our trip home was less eventful than our trip there.  Although we did stop at Buc-ee's again, and for the second time I walked into a stall on someone.  At Buc-ee's.  TURN the LOCK people!!!!  Turn the LOCK!!!  Then the little red occupied sign will show and no one will walk in on you!!  

Also, we were planning on having Japanese food for dinner, and I knew that we didn't have any good soy sauce at home.  Buc-ee's for the WIN!!!  They had soy sauce, people!!!!  Soy.  Sauce.  Woo hoo!

We also purchased some car air fresheners.  The OP opened mine and "accidentally" popped it on the string so that the glitter would decorate my dashboard.  So sweet of her!   Then we made it the rest of the way home.  It started raining just in time for us to get out of the car.  Both the dog and the girl's bathroom were so excited to see us that they leaked.  So we had to take care of both of those issues before we could eat dinner.  My Prince was glad to see us as well.

While getting out of the car, we realized that the YP had left her bag of camp snacks in the car.

After we went to bed, I tossed and turned and prayed for her and her sweet roommate all night.  Knowing that I couldn't text her or hear from her was as hard on me as it was on her going without her phone.

The next morning we put together a box with another set of sheets, her snacks, and letters from all of us, even the dog (who sent her one of his treats for being so brave).  My Prince took it to the post office.  She should get it by Wednesday.

That afternoon they posted a parent update with some pictures.  She is smiling in every one she is in, so I hope that means she is having a great time.  We will know for sure in two weeks.

If you have hung in with me this long, you are a trooper.  The OP says we need our own reality show, because we are quite an entertaining family.  And, if you just can't wait for more, don't worry, I'll have more to report in two weeks when we go back to pick her up.  Until then, prayers for her are much appreciated.

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Eight Little Words

 It was a casual conversation.  Between friends.  She asked me a question, and I answered her.  She responded with eight little words that were a bucket of refreshing water  dousing a fire in my discouraged, thirsty soul. 

We had not talked for several months before this particular conversation.  And this conversation consisted of pretty much surface topics. Just catching up, not really digging deep.

She had no way of knowing what I had recently been experiencing.  She did not know what I had been battling within.  She didn’t know that Satan had unleashed a barrage of self deprecating thoughts over the last few months that in my mind and heart lined up with circumstances that “proved” what I just “knew” everyone else had to be thinking about me as well. 

In short, on the surface, I looked good, and other than the physical allergy attack I was experiencing, she would probably tell you that she had no idea I was struggling.  Seriously struggling.  She had no way of knowing I was coming off a pretty tough week, following a few pretty tough months.

The words were said in such a way that I knew she meant them. She had no agenda in saying them.  Nothing to gain.  Just a quick sentence spoken from her heart.  And little did she know…straight to my heart.  My beaten up, weary heart.  Exactly what I needed to hear.

Words.  Simple words.  They took her less than five seconds to say them, but they meant the world to me.  Words that I will forever keep tucked in my soul’s pocket.  Words that I have already rehearsed many times over (in less than 24 hours).  

I want to be a person who sees others. I want others to know that I value them, and I deeply care.  I never want anyone to feel less than, or invisible.  I want everyone to know that they are valuable and very loved.

I know I am not great at this.  But it is something that I am continuously striving toward.  A goal that I know many times I fall far short of reaching.  A goal I know I can’t reach without the help of the Holy Spirit. Thankfully, I do have His help and can call on Him anytime.

As I was getting ready for church this morning, with my friend’s words still echoing in my heart, I prayed that the Holy Spirit would lead my words.  I prayed that He would lead me to others that I could see - really see - and encourage.  I prayed that my words would make a difference in the lives of those around me. I prayed that my words would be exactly what someone else needed to hear.  

I don’t know.  I don’t know if my words made a difference today, but I pray that they did.  My friend still has no idea the impact her words had on me. Unless she reads this of course.

Words are important.  How we treat everyone is important. In a world where it seems so many people are anxious, angry, and only looking out for themselves, let’s be aware of our words.  Let’s choose our words carefully and allow the Lord to lead us.

Let’s strive to tune out Satan’s words that attack and demean, and tune our ears to the Word of God.  The truth.  Let it soak into our hearts like a balm.  And let’s use our words to spread God’s Word to heal and encourage everyone, because who doesn’t need even a little more kindness in their life?  

29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

It Always Starts with the Washing Machine

 Seriously,  I think Satan uses our washing machine as his Holiday Inn.  It always starts with the washing machine.

Things will be humming along nicely, and then the washing machine breaks down.  I know that it's the first skirmish of a serious spiritual battle about to take place.

The washing machine goes on the fritz, and then Satan attacks from all angles.  People call upset about one thing or another.  Sickness hits.  Doubts and fears like fiery darts are aimed at our hearts.  Technology goes berserk.  Printers stop printing.  Sleep is lost.  Discouragement sets in.  Plans are made and foiled and remade and foiled several times over.  Text messages come at a frenzied pace.  People need us more than ever, and we have less than ever in reserve to give.  One or more of our children will be attacked as well.  I can take it to the bank, washing machine goes out, attacks follow.

Why does it always start with the washing machine?  I think it is because when Satan comes to visit, he literally resides in the washing machine.  I can tell you of several times in the past when the washing machine has been the catalyst that starts it all.

Our washing machine broke almost two weeks ago.  There have been some serious battles going on in within these walls.  And sometimes spilling out beyond them.  Ephesians 6:12 says that "we wrestle not against flesh and blood...".  

I don't think it is a coincidence that the washing machine broke and that I had planned to on that Sunday, give my kids at church posters to help them to "pray on" the armor of God each day with a prayer calendar that goes along with the spiritual armor for the month of May.  Satan plans his attacks very timely and carefully.

So why am I blogging about this?  Well, because my washing machine is still broken.  And we can use prayers over here.  All. the. prayers.  

And to ask you, where does Satan reside when he comes to visit you?  Do your major spiritual battles seem to have the same starting point like ours?  At least I know when Satan is gearing up for some major stuff, he checks in to the washing machine.  It gives me a heads up, and helps me to prepare better for the battles ahead.  And sometimes, even with the heads up, I fail miserably.  Which makes me thankful for God's grace and that it is new each and every morning.  And that there is more than enough of it to get me through each day.

So if Satan has checked into your home lately, like he has here, be encouraged.  James 4:7 tells us that if we submit ourselves to God, and resist the devil, he will flee from us.  Satan is not here to stay.  We submit to God, and resist him, and he will leave eventually.  

In the meanwhile, I pray that God helps me to learn whatever lesson it is He has for me to learn, and that I learn it quickly.  And I pray that the right part for the washing machine comes in sooner rather than later.  And I pray that when the washing, and rinsing, and spinning starts happening and the happy song is played at the end of the full cycle, that more than our clothes come out clean.  I pray that some of the things that I have let creep in and soil my soul are broken down and washed away, and that I come through the whole thing closer to God and more like Him than ever before.  I pray the same for you as well.


Friday, August 27, 2021

The Day I Sat on the Edge of One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World (among other amazing things)

Seriously, this day was so amazing that it was tough to decide what to title this blog. And usually, the titles are the easiest part for me. 

 I taught fifth grade World History for about 12 years. Each year I would wish that there was some way that I could transport my students to the places we learned about. It wasn't like in fourth grade where they learned Alabama History and could go and see and touch all of the things they were learning to make it come to life and be more interesting. We had to stick to the book and pictures and videos. 

 Never in my wildest dreams did ever think that I would actually have the opportunity I had this last week!

 I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Africa. I have always wanted to go, but again, never dreamed that I would actually GET to GO! 

 Then the phone call came from a friend of ours who has a ministry that was taking a trip to...AFRICA! Would we consider going with their team? Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES! A thousand times YES!!!! 

 Then we had to do ALL THE THINGS to prepare to go. Whith Covid doing nothing to help and all things to complicate. As excited as I was to go, I was also a bit nervous about the Covid factor. But I was sure that if God opened the door and made a way, He would protect us. 

 So, we held our breath until we finally landed in Africa. and we held our breath many times in between as we traveled from place to place needing all the papers and praying for favor many times over. Sometimes things lined up just in the nick of time, but never too late. 

 We had a full week of ministry. Our team had the chance to minister to a precious group of people. Teaching them ways to disciple others. Discussing how to read the Bible on their own. We were able to serve people from Seventh grade on up through to the oldest widow, who they guestimated to be in her 80's. 

 After our week of ministry, we scheduled about two and a half days to do some sight seeing. One of the things on the agenda was to see Victoria Falls. A place I had taught about for years. I was going to get to see it in person. 

 Missionary David Livingstone is said to have "discovered" the falls. Of course the people who lived there had always known of its existence. They called it the Smoke that Thunders. Because the falls made so much mist, that it looked like smoke to them, and the water crashing over the edge was so loud that it sounded like thunder to them. After seeing it in person, I would say it was a great descriptive name for the falls. David Livingstone named it Victoria Falls after Queen Victoria.

 In person, it is absolutely breathtaking. I was jumping up and down by the time we got there. I was SO EXCITED! We were oohing and aahing over the majesty and beauty of the falls when a little guy over to the side got our attention and urged us on to the next viewing spot so that we could see the rainbow. The view he proclaimed did not disappoint. He obviously knew his stuff. 

 Then, he urged us on to the next spot. Each spot just as beautiful and breathtaking as the one before.
He let us take it all in, as we made our way around the right of the falls to the banks of the Zambezi River. It was beautiful and peaceful just mere yards from the crashing falls.
Again, he gave us time to bask in the beauty. Then, when he knew he had lured us in, he gave us his sales pitch. "If you walk this way, you can cross the river on that cement over there (from where we stood, it looked like a large cement slab that spanned the river with the water flowing over its edge and then turning and dropping over the falls). It is only about this deep (as he motioned with his hand about halfway up his shin). To that island over there. You can see the falls from a different direction. Get great pictures. Come! Come!" 

 Two of us were automatically in. I wanted to go, but I had on tennis shoes, and did not want to walk in wet tennis shoes the rest of the time. One of us who did not want to go offered to switch shoes with me. When it turned out that she wore the same size as me, the deal was sealed. I was in! We quickly switched shoes, and I was off with the other two who chose to walk across the river in mid-shin deep water to the island to get "great pictures". 

 I'm glad that I didn't know then what I know now, because I might have missed out on the adventure of a lifetime.

 We followed our new friend around on a dirt path, and about halfway there, we were joined by one of his friends. He stepped into the water first and took the hand of one of our team members, then instructed her to take the hand of our other team member. Then his friend took her hand and I completed the line.

 The cement we were to walk across, was NOT a cement slab as it had so innocently appeared from across the way. It was actually about the width of a balance beam. We faced the current and side stepped across it with our toes hanging off one side and our heels hanging off the other. He was more correct about the depth. It was not too deep, only reaching about our knees in the middle of the crossing.
I kept glancing up thinking we must be almost there, but we had not even made it halfway across. I was gripping our unknown friend's hand like my life depended on it. A little past halfway, we had to let go of each other's hands and shimmy around a large rock. Then at the other side we had to turn a corner, and dodge some tree branches before finally making it to said island.  I wondered what my Prince must be thinking.

 I wondered what in the world was I thinking?!? 

 I was equally scared and excited.  

Then the "guides" turned and started back across the river that was flowing over the falls. We made our little train of people again and worked our way across. They led us to one of the dry rocks that jutted out over the water flowing over the falls, and directed us to stand and took our pictures one at a time. I did not go to the edge while standing, because I was too scared. Then they led us to another group of dry rocks and encouraged us to go out on the rock for more pictures. I did sit down and make my way to the edge of that rock and let my foot hang over the edge. I also asked the little guy to hand me my phone, and THERE my friends is where I got my "great picture".
After standing up, and making my way back from the edge, I looked at my phone, and saw that I had a message from one of our team members on the other side. This is what it said:
I asked one of the ladies with me if she had seen the message. She said, "No, what did it say?"  I told her that she did NOT want to know. 

 By this time it was time to go back across. My adrenaline was through the roof! They told us it would be faster going on our way back. I was glad I went, but I was really ready to be back and safe on the other side. We made our way back to the island, and then started our trek back across the cement balance beam. We asked questions about their families and them about ours. And before we knew it, we were back to safety. 

I could not wait to get back to my Prince to see what he was thinking. I was on top of the world!!! It was so exhilarating! I am usually not a daredevil in any way shape or form, but that experience was amazing! 

 Later one of the ladies said that on our trip back, she did see a baby snake swim by in the water about 6 to 8 inches from her leg. We joked that not only did we sit on the edge of one of the seven wonders of the world, but that we also "swam with Black Mambas". 

 They say just a month before or a month after and we would not have been able to do what we did. It was perfect timing. Official guides or not, our little guys took great care of us, and of course expected to be tipped for their services. We of course, tipped them well. At least I think we did. We paid them in Zambian kwacha. I trust that the ladies who know more about it than I do made sure we did the guys right. 

When we made our way back to My Prince, and I asked what he was thinking he said he was thinking about the Ray Stevens song The Camping Trip and the lyrics where he is talking about watching their Land Rover floating off "last I saw was the tail lights going over the falls - State Farm ain't ever gonna believe this!" I was hoping for more of "I thought you were going to die! I'm so glad you are safe! I love you so much! You are the craziest, bravest person I know! Hey everyone! This is MY wife!" Followed by big relieved kiss. Nope. Nothing like that. Not what I got at all. I got Ray Stevens lyrics. Girls, be sure to marry someone romantic like I did. 

In his defense, he was temporarily distracted by a passing baboon. 

After our crazy experience, we continued on around to see the falls from the front side. We also went down to the bottom to see the Boiling Pot as they call it, where the water at the bottom of the falls creates whirl pools that make it look as though the water was boiling. We were a little disapointed that we could not see the falls from the bottom, but the trip down was beautiful; almost like going through a tropical rain forest.
On the way back up, I slammed my toe into a boulder that did not give way one tiny iota. I truly believe that I broke my poor toe. But, in keeping with the spirit of the adventurous day, I mean we had already sat on the edge of one of the seven wonders of the world, and swam with Black Mambas, I could not claim breaking my toe by kicking a rock. So the story is that an elephant stepped on my toe and broke it, and I'm sticking to it! 

 Before we reached the top, we did find ourselves in the middle of a troop of baboons. From older ones grooming younger ones, to males fighting, to a momma with a baby on her back. They were all around us on both sides of the trail. They were very interesting to watch, although I do not have a problem admitting that I was a little nervous standing there in the middle of their territory. They paid us no mind though, and went on with their regular business. 

That night we went on a sunset dinner cruise down the Zambezi river. It was a relaxing, calm evening to a very exciting day. We saw many hippos and watched elephants play in the mud. The sunset was beautiful. I hated for the day to end.
I said earlier that if I had known then what I know now, I might have missed the opportunity of a lifetime, but that is not true. I would do it all again in a heartbeat. 

Our God is an amazing creator and has made an unbelievably magnificent world for us to enjoy. I am beyond grateful for the chance to go to Africa and have this and many other amazing experiences.

Seriously, if you ever get a chance to go, GO! And be sure to go in August. And take the opportunity to sit on the edge of Victoria Falls. And swim with Black Mambas. I promise you will NOT regret it! But watch out for the elephants, they will step on your toes!

Monday, June 21, 2021

Shhh! Do y’all hear that?

 So for a while now, the Youngest Princess has been saying, “Shhh!  Do y’all hear that?”  We would stop and listen, and hear…nothing.  Usually she would say, “Well, it has stopped now!”  

I would ask her to explain what she was hearing.  She said it was coming from the wall by the window.  That it sounded like a buzzing bug in the window.  We would move the curtains and look for a bug.  There would be no bug in sight.

There is an outlet under the window.  I would feel it.  It would not be hot.  I would unplug the cords plugged into the outlet.  They would not hot either.

There is a vent on the floor directly under the window and the outlet.  I would turn on my flashlight and look down the vent to see if something had fallen down in the vent and was rattling.  Nope.  That was not the problem either.

We have done this same song and dance several times over the last couple of months.  Every time ending with the Youngest Princess saying that she could not believe we could not hear what she was hearing.  

So about a week ago, I finally heard it!  Same song and dance trying to diagnose the problem.  Same results.

Tonight, the Youngest Princess, my Prince and I were sitting in the living room watching TV when the Youngest Princess said, “Do y’all hear it?  It’s getting louder!”  

I looked at the wall and fire is coming out of the outlet.  The lamp plugged into the outlet went out.  The television went off.  Things were popping and cracking.  I’m trying to think how to get the cords unplugged and put the fire out while panicking that the curtains are going to catch fire.  It was obviously an electrical fire, and I knew water was not the answer.  All the while, I was visualizing our 100+ year old home going up in flames.  I don’t remember doing it but the Youngest Princess says I yelled, “Fire!”  Yes.  Thank you, Captain Obvious.  

 It is amazing how fast something can happen yet it seems to be moving in slow motion while your brain thinks a million thoughts.  And apparently in a crises my brain and my mouth have a disconnect.

Meanwhile, my Prince has jumped up and is standing there staring at the flames leaping from the outlet.  Probably like me trying to process it all and figure out how to put the fire out.  

The Youngest Princess has jumped up from her chair and let out a blood curdling scream, and run toward the kitchen.  

The scream has summoned the dog from his nap on the rug in the dining room and he comes padding into the living room.  I grab him to keep him from getting closer to the fire.  My Prince has grabbed the curtain to keep it from the flames.

Meanwhile, the cords plugged into the outlet have fallen out of the outlet, and the fire has gone out (with no help from the shocked, dumbfounded, pitiful lot of us).  

There is a nasty burnt rubber smell permeating the air.  

I come to my senses and tell my Prince to feel the wall around the outlet to see if it is hot.  The Youngest Princess goes outside to feel the other side of the wall to see if it is hot.   All is well on the inside and outside.  

We  all sit in the dark and stare at the outlet.  I have the Youngest Princess turn her phone flashlight on so that I can take pictures to send to the Oldest Princess and the Young Prince.

I wanted to be sure that everything was okay, so I asked my Prince to call a friend of ours who is a fire chief.  Bless his heart, after a long day, he came over and checked it out for us.  He told us he felt that all was well, and we were good to stay in the house.  He is a saint.

After things settled down, and we knew we were okay, we talked about how we all reacted differently.  I asked the Youngest Princess why she ran into the kitchen.  She said, “I don’t know…for water I guess.  To put the…Oh no!!  It was an electrical fire!  I know better than that!  What was I thinking?!?”  Apparently, she gets crises brain disconnect from me.  She knew better, but panicked in the middle of everything.  I told her I would have stopped her before she could put water on it.  That is, if she was cognizant enough to hear me through her panic.  But thankfully things did not get that far.

So, we prayed and thanked the Lord for His hand of protection on us.  It could have been so much worse.  It could have happened when we were not home.  The wall could have caught on fire.  The cords could have caught on fire.  The curtains a mere 4 to 5 inches above the plug could have caught on fire.  The 100 year old pine floors could have caught on fire.  The Youngest Princess could have fanned the flames by throwing water on them in her panic. 

But God.

He was watching out for us.  

It certainly wasn’t anything any of us did.

 I have no doubt it was His hand of protection on our home and our family.  So tonight, as we lay snug in our comfortable beds, we are grateful, and we give God all the praise.  He is good!

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

On the Road…AGAIN

And, because I have not had enough time on the road lately, I packed my bags Sunday night and Monday morning and hit the road again with my Prince this time.  He had been waffling back and forth about wether or not to attend the SBC conference in Nashville, and had finally decided that there were things of great importance happening, and that he needed to be there.  So, I tagged along, with the plus of getting to see the Young Prince.  Woo hoo!

We left mid-morning on Monday after dropping C off with Grammy.  He gets so excited when he goes to Grammy’s house. I love that he loves being there.  We left him standing at the glass door, wagging his tail.

We had an uneventful trip, with a stop at Jack in the Box - more tacos - for lunch on the way.  

We got to our hotel a little earlier than we had thought, so we took some time to stroll through a few antique stores in the antique district.  Neither of us found anything that we could not live without. Then we made a quick Target run, because we still had time before we needed to meet everyone for dinner.

Then we made our way to Cracker Barrel where we met the Young Prince and his Fair Maiden, as well as her parents and her sister.  It was nice to see her again and to meet her parents.  They have been so good to our Young Prince.  We enjoyed our quick time with them and hope to be able to get to know them better in the future.

After dinner, the Fair Maiden’s family was off to play in a volleyball game.  The Young Prince and the Fair Maiden wanted to go to a used bookstore.  We went with them.  I was able to find a reader for one of the students that I tutor, and a children’s book that I have been looking for. Everyone else found a few things as well.  It was a fun time.

We said goodnight to the Young Prince and his Fair Maiden, and then went to our hotel.  It took me about 15 seconds to fall asleep.  I was exhausted.

The next morning we took our time getting up and getting ready.  My Prince and I went to lunch, and stopped by a couple of stores.  Then my Prince took me back to the hotel.  I relaxed, did my Bible study, read, and just enjoyed the quiet.  My Prince went to the conference for the afternoon.

When my Prince got back, we left to go to the mid-week young adult service with the Young Prince.  It was wonderful to be there and worship with him and the young adults that he works with and serves.  It was really cool that several of them told us what an inspiration the Young Prince was to them, or how much he was an encouragement to them.  One told us how he had been in a small group with the YP, and how evident it was that the YP loves the Lord and loves us.  It may have made my eyes water a little bit.

Before the service the Young Prince took me in a quick tour through the church’s children’s area.  I can dream…My Prince told me not to covet.  I didn’t covet, but I can dream…

After the service, we went to dinner with the Young Prince and his Fair Maiden.  The place they wanted to go turned out to be closed.  They were bummed, but we went with plan “B”.  Our waitress turned out to be a lady who attends the church where the Young Prince goes.  It was a God thing, and she was glad to meet the Young Prince and very encouraging to him.  He told her he would be back.  I think we were an encouragement to her last night, and I hope he really will go back and be an encouragement to her in the future.

After dinner, we went back to the hotel.  I think it took me about 10 seconds to fall asleep.  

This morning, we got up and got ready to go back to the convention.  We had hoped to see the Young Prince again, but his plans changed and that did not work out.  We did however get to see our brother-in-law’s sister, and a young man who was in our very first ever youth group.

It was great to see them and catch up with everything that is going on with them.

After that we decided to walk around and explore a little of downtown Nashville and find something to eat before heading home.  We got in line for a chicken place.  The couple in line in front of us shared their menu with us.  Our husbands started talking, and about two and a half hours later, we said goodbye to our new best friends.  No, seriously, we shared a table with them because the place was packed, and we talked ministry and teaching and kids and you name it.  It really was a divine appointment, and hopefully we will be able to keep up with them and keep in touch through the future.  

But as all good things must, it had to come to an end.  The lunch, and the trip.  And now we are on our way home to rescue the Youngest Princess from Grammy’s House of Manual Labor.  Although if I know Grammy, she pays well for said manual labor.

And tomorrow, aside from being our 26th wedding anniversary, everything goes back to normal.  No more road trips for me for a little while.  If you need me, I’ll be at home.  

But first, a few random pictures.

Monday, June 14, 2021

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Wedding Crashers - Part 2

 Both the Youngest Princess and the Oldest Princess dreamed.  I did not sleep long enough to dream, as I woke every time the air conditioner came on or cut off. 

Getting ready in a hotel always proves to be somewhat of  a challenge as we have three ladies all vying for outlets and mirrors. 

I got up first and got mostly ready - just dried my hair and got dressed - put on sandals from the day before because they were more comfortable than my matching shoes.  No makeup.  I was out of town, so I did not care.  

I grabbed a few dollars and went in search of a Coca-Cola (we got in really late and slept right on through that free continental breakfast), and began the walk of shame to the front desk to ask for a complementary toothbrush.  I packed the small tube of toothpaste that I had received in my little goody bag from the dentist at my last cleaning, but left the big tube at home for my Prince to use.  Yet somehow in that thought process, instead of putting my toothbrush in my bag, I put it back in its proper place. So I was at the mercy of the front desk for a toothbrush.  I stopped by the ice and vending room hoping to find a vending machine, but instead found only an ice machine and a worker restocking a linen closet.  I said a quick ”Good morning” to him and turned around to make a hasty retreat lest he have time to register my Sunday dress, casual sandals that did not match, undone hair and no makeup face presentation.

 I got to the elevator and pushed the button.  And waited.  And waited. And waited.  Finally, giving up on the elevator, I found the stairs - at the opposite end of the hallway from out other end of the hallway room, and made my way to the lobby.  I waited my turn and asked the lady at the desk for a toothbrush.  She said, “Just one?”  I don’t make a habit of collecting hotel quality toothbrushes, nor do I make a habit of using more than one toothbrush at a time, and since I was the only one standing there, I found her question a little baffling, but answered her kindly nonetheless, “Yes ma’am, just one please.”  Then I asked her where I could get a water, seeing only Pepsi products in the cooler.  She reached under the counter and gave me a bottled water.  No charge. Yay!  Happy day!

Back upstairs, in our room at the end of the hall, I tried to find the best place to do my hair and makeup as the girls were taking turns in the bathroom.  Did I mention that the little entry hall light did not work?  When we turned it on, the bulbs barely glowed.  The only other light in the room was a small lamp at the desk, and a small bedside light.  Y’all.  It was like trying to get ready in a cave!  I even used my phone flashlight to get a little more light.  All to pretty much no avail.

Meanwhile…the Youngest Princess comes out of the bathroom proclaiming that the shower about blew all the skin off of her body.  See, at home, we don’t have the greatest water pressure.  In fact, if someone is showering and anyone anywhere else in the house uses any water, chances are high that the shower will cut off due to lack of water pressure.  The Youngest Princess has taken to proclaiming when she is about to take a shower and reminding all of us not to use the water while she does.  Not even a drop.  I’m serious.  She’s serious. We call her the water police.  No lie.  So for her to come out complaining about the water pressure was not surprising, but the fact that she was complaining about it being too strong definitely was a surprise.  But in her defense, I too, had found it quite strong.  I had even attempted to change the setting on the shower head but could not get it to budge.  So I just resigned myself to the fact that it was more of a pressure wash than a shower and carried on.

The Youngest Princess also used the in-room hair dryer.  Her comment after that experience was that it blew with about as much power as a butterfly flapping its wings.  

Meanwhile the Oldest Princess made no comments.  She is not a morning person.

We had to check out of the hotel a couple of hours before the wedding, so we had some time to make another Target run.  I know.  I know.  You all are shocked.  I was able to find a dress that I had been keeping an eye on, and it was on sale.  Woo hoo!!

We stopped at another little store that we don’t have where we live, and found a few little things.  We had to buy some toys for C, because according to my Prince, he was really missing us.  He loves his beaver by the way, and I think the stingray is growing on him.

Then it was time to go to the wedding.  It was a beautiful wedding.  Complete with a violinist (I always wanted one of my children to learn to play the violin).  The Groom was handsome.  The Bride was gorgeous.  They both love the Lord and are seeking to honor and serve Him with their lives.  A beautiful beginning for a sweet, young, godly couple.  Congratulations to CJ and MB!  The new Mr. and Mrs. MB!

We went to the gym for the reception.  We knew no one, except the bride and a couple of the bridesmaids, and they were all still taking pictures.  The oldest Princess found some college friends and chatted and the Youngest Princess and I aka “the Wedding Crashers” awkwardly waited this part out.  The introvert in me had to fight the urge to go wait in the car.  But I really did want to congratulate the Bride and Groom and see one of the bridesmaids that we had gotten to know well as she was one of the Oldest Princess’s college buddies.

The wedding party arrived, and we had a good time catching up with the bridesmaid that we knew.  She gave us the inside scoop on some of the things that went awry…bridesmaids forgetting their sashes, some getting there with mismatched shoes etc.  Things the average wedding attendee would have known nothing about without the inside scoop.  Honestly.  We never would have known.  Except that I did notice that the Groom’s ring slid on his finger very easily. But that is not my story to tell.  And no matter what little things did not go exactly as planned, they are just as married as if everything had gone off without a hitch.

The Bride greeted the Oldest Princess with a hearty, “Freshman!” A tribute to the humorous way they met.  The Bride has a thing for nicknames.  In fact the bridesmaid’s  gifts were bracelets with the Bride’s special nickname for each one on theirs.

We visited for a few more minutes, and let the Oldest Princess catch up with the girls, and then we decided it was time to head back home.  As much as we all hated getting back in the car.

We did some “between the acts” quick changing, from wedding attire to travel attire.  We made an uneventful Chick-fil-a drive thorough stop and then got on our way.  Did you notice how we managed to get Target and Chick-fil-a in both days during our adventure?  Didn’t want you to miss that.

On our way home we were able to get a better picture of our sister water tower.  We would have stopped and taken pictures at the water tower, but it was raining.

The girls were able to get a Starbucks as well.  The Youngest Princess had been asking for one since we left the day before.

Praise and Worship music was the soundtrack for the trip home.  I finished the book I was reading and started a new one.  At one point the Oldest Princess made reference to a Boa Constrictor, and we laughed as we remembered Shel Silverstein’s poem about being eaten by a Boa Constrictor.  If my Prince had been there he would have made up his own lines…”Oh hankle, It’s up to my ankle!  Oh flip, it’s up to my hip!”  But for the most part, the ride home was calm and uneventful.  

We got to the Oldest Princess’s apartment, where my Peince was meeting us to switch cars, and when the Oldest Princess parked she parked next to a tree.  The Youngest Princess was attacked (whopped in the forehead) by said tree as she was in a mad dash to get out of the car.  

We helped the Oldest Princess get her stuff in and had a potty break before going the last hour home.  I was ready to go home and get in bed, knowing Sunday was going to be a busy day.  But my sweet Prince was watching Tennessee baseball, and they were about to win the game.  So we had to wait until the last pitch, swing, strike!  And then we could go home.  

It was a long, short trip, but I enjoyed my time with my girls. May this not be the first and last trip of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Wedding Crashers.  And congratulations again to the new Mr. and Mrs. MB!  Thank you for letting us crash your wedding!