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Listen to the Words

Posted by on December 8, 2017 in Shirley's Blog | 4 comments


I love Christmas carols. Not the “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” type of carol, but the ones often written many years ago. I enjoy reading the story behind a song and this one caught my attention.

Written by the famous American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, during the Civil War in our country, Longfellow was a widower and father of six children. He was told his oldest son was injured in the battle of Mine Run Campaign and was in danger of complete paralysis after a bullet entered the left shoulder, skimmed his spine and exited through the right shoulder blade. While in Washington DC where his son was hospitalized, Longfellow heard the bells of churches on Christmas and wrote a poem part of which, I’m going to include here. There’s lots more to the story. To read the full article, go here:


I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,

and wild and sweet
The words repeat

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom

Had rolled along
The unbroken song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,

A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,

And with the sound
The carols drowned

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,

And made forlorn
The households born

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;

“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,

With peace on earth, good-will to men.”


A lot of words are written through pain.

I won’t sing that song again without thinking about the writer of the words and his tragic story. It reminds me that a lot of words are written through pain. It certainly is true for me.


When there are no words.

During those painful days when I felt so alone, I cried out to God and was reminded I was not alone, though at times I felt I was. How did I know? Through hearing songs like the one above. Through comforting notes from friends. Through worshipping at church. Reading my Bible was the most comforting to me–and I encourage you who are mourning to pick up a Bible and read through the Psalms. They are full of comfort when there are no words. I really like this one:


God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging….The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Psalm 46:1-3, 7

Foamy waters…..

…and the mountains quake..


Go to the psalmist.

If you are grieving some kind of loss whether it’s through death, medical issues, an ended relationship, job loss, marital problems and countless others, I encourage you to go to the psalmist. I hope it will help you as it has for me. In the past–and in the present, too.



And when you hear a Christmas carol, listen to the words. You will find comfort there, too.



We’re Celebrating Four!

Posted by on December 1, 2017 in Shirley's Blog | 2 comments

God is good and brings JOY!


We’re coming up on our fourth year of marriage. If you’re married and around my age, most likely you’ve been married more than four years. It’s comfortable being married to the same person a long time–I was married for 40 years the first time.


…there is a calm. A steadiness.


I once heard marriage likened as one river flowing into another. That in the joining, there is turbulence with swift currents running against each other. After many years of working through the rapids and ruffles of the joining of the two rivers–marriage–there is a calm. A steadiness.


The ruffles and joining of two rivers was now complete.






In my first marriage, we finally learned we didn’t need to win every argument, be right every time. The ruffles and joining of two rivers was now complete. At the end of that 40 year marriage, there wasn’t anything unsaid. I really missed Bill when he moved to his eternal home. I didn’t believe I’d ever find another man who I could love and respect like him. But I did.







Being a newlywed in your sixties is more fun than when you’re nineteen. I think the lyrics to a song, love is wasted on the true. I appreciated being with a living, breathing person after being alone. Someone to enjoy a new recipe I’d tried. A movie. Sharing insights from a good book. Making love. We hadn’t even gotten past the newlywed phase when Blair was abruptly taken in death.


I missed having a life partner.


Yet again, I didn’t believe I’d find another who was as good, loving, and kind. It was difficult living alone, and though I made a life for myself, I missed having a life partner.

Lovely rememberance.


Four years ago last summer, I wrote down some things that I really wanted in a mate, should God bring someone into my life. First, I wanted him to be crazy in love with me. Second, he would love God more than I did–which is a lot. Third, that I’d love him and we’d be compatible. Miracle of miracles, we found each other and every one of those desires I’d written down came true with Jim.



It’s the person not the places that’s most important.


Now, we’re close to celebrating four years of marriage. It has been good. We’ve traveled many places. Explored our country and beyond. Seeing new sights is exciting. But the best part is having a partner and lover to explore these sites. It’s the person not the places that’s most important. We enjoy each other!


I’m grateful to God for the four years we’ve been given.


As we begin our fifth year of marriage, I don’t know the future–as does anyone. I’m grateful to God for these four years. We’re no longer newlyweds. We’ve traveled together. I’ve depended on Jim to take care of me when I was healing from broken bones. We’ve shared our families. Best of all, we worship God together–the most important part of our relationship.


We can trust…


So this week, we’re going to celebrate the four years we’ve had together. We hope for many more. This we know. We can trust the God who brought us together for whatever time is given to us.

Four years and counting!


I’m reminded of an old hymn that comforted me when I was deep in grief during the losses of dear ones. I’ve not paid attention to the last verse until today, and I’ll share it here.


What’er my God ordains is right:

Here shall my stand be taken;

Though sorrow, need, or death be mine,

Yet am I not forsaken.

My Father’s care is round me there;

He holds me that I shall not fall:

And so to Him I leave it all. (Samuel Rodigast, 1675)

And so to Him I leave it all…..


Thanksgiving Extended

Posted by on November 25, 2017 in Shirley's Blog | 2 comments

Happy Thanksgiving!


It took lots of planning

I’m exhausted! All last week we were preparing for guests for our special American holiday. We were to have sixteen. We prayed people would feel welcome and at home when they came for dinner. I didn’t prepare all of the meal and asked each family to bring an item or two. It took lots of planning and arranging but by Wednesday evening, we were ready to pop the turkey in the oven. The tables were set. We were ready.

All set, candles and all.

Ready for 16











There was plenty

I love the planning, making the tables as beautiful as they can be. I’m fortunate that Jim likes to help and enjoys the planning too. We were so busy, I’m sad to say we didn’t take any photos with all of those people at the table. Nor did I take photos of the delicious spread of food. We were rewarded with everyone’s best: Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce–berried and jelled, rolls and butter, corn pudding, layered salad, and dessert–pumpkin pie and dutch apple pie. Oh my. There was plenty.


We each shared for what we were most thankful.


We each shared for what we were most thankful. Each person shared and mainly spoke of their gratefulness for family. Really family is what we’re all about, isn’t it? We start in our birth family. Grow up and start new memories with our own nuclear family. And then they grow up and start their own. We often are rewarded with many years together with the same members. Sometimes families change. Mine has. There are even more members to love and share memories with.


I reflected on my family.


Yesterday, I reflected on my birth family. I was looking at one of the bookshelves in my office. I have lined up all of the Bibles from my life. They are stacked in the order I received them, starting when I was ten, and beyond.  Here they are:

Six volumes that have so much meaning to me…


He still has a strong influence on my life.


Count from left to right, it’s book number seven–the one with bold, gold letters HOLY BIBLE. That was the Bible I was given when I was eighteen, for my birthday and high school graduation. The leather covers are very worn. I paged through it one day and noticed markings. I read the flyleaf with my dad’s handwriting. He’s been gone for more than twenty years, yet he still has a strong influence on my life. Here’s what he said many years ago:

My dad’s words of wisdom…


Here search, and great will be your store

Here drink and you shall thirst no more.





I’m grateful for my history


Dad was right. I searched and found. I drank and was satisfied. I leafed through some of the pages that were well-marked, wondering why and under what circumstances I marked them. A lot happened during that time. Marriage. Children. Joys. Sorrows, all combining to make a rich history. I’m grateful for my history–and for new history being made every day. I’m grateful for my family–and how it has grown in the past few years. My parents are gone. My in-laws are gone. Two husbands. Yet God in his mercy, brought someone else into my life. I’m glad in the fall of my life to have Jim. To share memories with him.



Let’s enjoy one last glimpse of fall.


Next week we’ll enter Advent. But for today, let’s enjoy one last glimpse of fall.



A riot of colors along the curb.

Beauty in simplicity.










Beauty in the reds

Love those Japanese Maples










Carpet of red



But for today, let’s enjoy Fall–and give thanks.


I can’t wait for Christmas and the celebration of our Savior’s birth. But for today, let’s enjoy Fall. And give thanks.

Little Girl–we have two and she’s the smaller Christmas Cactus–she’s announcing it’s soon time for Christmas.


Good-bye Tropics, Hello Thanksgiving

Posted by on November 17, 2017 in Shirley's Blog | 4 comments


Castaway Cay, Disney’s own island.

We’ve been on another journey this week. A Disney cruise on the Caribbean. We were celebrating the 40th anniversary of a radio ministry we are big fans of, Focus on the Family.

Focus on the Family Cruise

On the cruise we were able to preview a brand new movie–I Can Only Imagine, to be released next March, telling the redemption story of Bart and Shannon Millard. Bart is the lead singer of the group Mercy Me. We were able to enjoy one of their concerts during the cruise.

Mercy Me in Concert.

We met various teachers we’ve listened to on the radio. We enjoyed a live taping of a Focus on the Family broadcast.

Focus taping with Jim Daly, John Fuller–and Bart and Shannon Millard. Their story will be featured in the movie to be released next March.

Watched actors tape an Adventures in Odyssey show.

Characters from Adventures in Odyssey–Whit, Connie, Eugene….










We enjoyed the warm breezes on the ship, stopping at Nassau, and the beautiful beach on Disney’s private island, the Castaway Cay.


On Castawy Cay. Our ship behind us.


We laughed, met new people from all over the United States: California, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, South Carolina, New Jersey, Texas. Though we came from different states and walks in life, we had an instant connection. Why? We all listened to the Christian radio broadcast, Focus on the Family. And best of all, worship the same God.

Sunsets always beautiful..

Ship is all ready for Christmas–not me. I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving.

After an early breakfast this morning, we hurried to the airport–to wait. Waiting is the worst thing about traveling. Our flight doesn’t leave for four hours so we’re “lounging” in the food circus at the airport. Reality is returning. But I’m always excited to return home. Even though the forecast is for rain and cool temps.

I’ve enjoyed the last two trips. From the 9500 miles of circling our great Nation, to a cruise in warm waters and islands. The best part of both of those trips were the people we met. So many of these people shared the same faith as we did that gives a little picture of heaven.


In our reading today, I was reminded from the Psalms. The precious chapter that our mother taught each of her five children  to memorize at age four.


Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,

and  I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Psalm 23:6

I’m enjoying the fourth quarter of my life. I love the travels and adventures Jim and I share. And what do I have to look forward to when I leave this earth? I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever! Sometimes I get excited for what is to come. For the present time, though, I will anticipate the future with no fear and enjoy the present.

Next week, is Thanksgiving. We’re having 18 for dinner. And then….it’s Christmas! Only a few minutes before boarding our plane. Here we go!



Enjoy Your Season

Posted by on November 10, 2017 in Shirley's Blog | 0 comments


I was paging through a book of quotes the other day when one struck my fancy. It was a French proverb:

Forty is the old age of youth; fifty is the youth of old age.

I gulped when I read that, shook my head, and agreed! My wise mother said more than once “It’s the zeros you have to worry about”. She was talking about when one is facing a new decade in life. This year would have been a new decade of two zeros for her! But she didn’t experience those zeros, for she’s now in heaven.


I love autumn, but I know winter’s just around the corner


Autumn closes out summer and previews winter–the black and white season. Don’t you love autumn? I do! The colors are so brilliant–just as the photo at the top of the page shows. I love autumn, but I know winter’s just around the corner. When we take our walk, I always carry my phone to capture any colorful scenes and I was rewarded with a few.

Beauty in simplicity.

A riot of colors along the curb.










I think this is a dogwood tree. Look at those berries or seed pods.


My hands are not as strong anymore.


This week I decided it was time to re-cover my kitchen chairs. They were a shabby cream color and were becoming a dirty, smudgy grayish color. I told Jim I wanted to re-do them. In the past, I’d recovered my dining chairs several times. Just five years ago, I was delighted to find the exact fabric covering my couch available for purchase, so I recovered my dining chairs to match. I did all of it by myself–for I was by myself. This time, though, I had Jim to help. As we were tugging and pulling to stretch the fabric neatly into place before stapling it, I realized I couldn’t have done the recovering by myself anymore. My hands were simply not strong enough. These hands that diapered babies, grand babies, played the piano and violin, typed (on a manual typewriter, mind you) 80 words a minute, picked berries as a kid to earn extra money, cleaned my home too many times to even count, are not as strong anymore.


Keep learning new things.


That’s why the French proverb caught my eye. And perhaps why autumn is my favorite season–I’d like to think I’m in the autumn of my life–probably approaching winter. So what do I do with that quote? Realize I should make use of every moment. Not waste so much time. Keep learning new things. I like the following quote:


Ancora imparo

(I’m still learning). 

Guess who said that? Michelangelo at age 87. Phew! I’ve got some time, then!


They’ll soon be gone.


Enjoy the day. If you can, wander outside among the gorgeous leaves and brilliant skies. The leaves will soon be gone.


Here’s another quote I enjoy.


The glory of the young is their strength;
    the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old.

Proverbs 20:29


Enjoy your season.


Whatever season you are in, enjoy. Keep learning. Time’s slipping past.

Flexing Muscles–Physical and Spiritual

Posted by on November 3, 2017 in Shirley's Blog | 4 comments

Getting back into the workout routine wasn’t as difficult as I thought…


My muscles are a little sore today. On a long road trip for more than eight weeks, there’s little time to work out in the gym–or even take one of our brisk early morning three mile walks. There’s a lot of sitting when driving 9500 miles! But I must say, getting back in to the workout routine wasn’t as difficult as I’d thought. You see, I’ve been working out for a long time now. It wasn’t that easy at first. When I first began going to the gym, early in the morning before work, I didn’t want to get up before anyone else in my household. I was sore at first. Finally, after a few weeks, I discovered I wasn’t as sore. It still wasn’t easy getting up before the sun. I was still tempted to skip my workout routine. But I kept at it and now, it’s a habit ingrained in me.


I’m still in the habit of doing some kind of physical exercise…


Now that I don’t to go to a job every morning, I don’t have to get up so early. But I’m still in the habit of doing some kind of physical exercise. It might be taking a brisk walk, going to a step class, or going on a hike.


One of my granddaughters competing at the pool. She’s fast!



God got my attention…


It was more than forty years ago when I started another habit. I grew up in a Christian home where we read the Bible regularly, prayed together as a family, and at night before going to sleep. Somehow the busyness  of being married, going to school, going to work, having a child, took their toll on any habit I’d had of reading the Bible regularly. But when my second baby was born, God got my attention. My baby wasn’t breathing when she entered that cold delivery room. And didn’t breathe for some time. Finally, she did take a breath, but the medical staff still didn’t know what was wrong with her. I realized I needed to pray. Though I was rusty at reading the Bible and praying, it didn’t take long to flex those spiritual muscles again. Wonderful medical staff and lots of tests revealed what was wrong with my baby girl. And though she stayed in the hospital one extra day, she was all right and she joined our family. We were grateful.


I began my spiritual journey..


That experience reminded me I needed to get back in touch with the Giver of Life. Not just when there was an emergency, but as a daily workout. So way back in 1973, I began my journey in reading Scripture and studying God’s word on a daily basis–not just on Sundays. What a difference that made in my life. I was more secure as a wife, mother, and most importantly, a child of my Heavenly Father.


I’m glad I had some spiritual muscles under my belt..


My life was not without its sorrows and concerns. Four years later, we lost a baby six weeks before her birth. I’m glad I had some spiritual muscles under my belt. It was hard–but I wasn’t alone. There were some more difficult years in living out marriage vows. Our relationship went through some struggles in the middle years of a forty year marriage. Some of those years were more difficult even than death. Working on a relationship isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. I’m glad I had the spiritual muscle memory during those hard times. The habit of getting up early to read the Bible and pray made all the difference in my life in facing our dysfunctional marriage. We worked out our difficulties and people who didn’t know us earlier would have never guessed we’d had problems.  Later, I needed that muscle power to face my husband’s severe illness and ultimate death. It wasn’t easy, but it was easier with that spiritual power I had under my belt.


I need both the spiritual and physical….


I still have the habit of flexing my spiritual muscles before working on the physical muscles. I need both the spiritual and physical. I know I’ll be better off, because of that regular studying of Scripture and talking to God moment by moment is the key. I’m reminded of a passage in the Bible I memorized a long time ago:


Bodily fitness has a certain value, but spiritual fitness is essential both for this present life and for the life to come. There is no doubt about this at all, and Christians should remember it. It is because we realise the paramount importance of the spiritual that we labour and struggle. We place our whole confidence in the living God, the saviour of all men, and particularly of those who believe in him….

I Timothy 4:8-10


Spiritual is of paramount importance…

I’m so glad I started that habit so long ago of flexing my spiritual muscles. I’m glad I’ve done the physical too. But as the verses above say, the spiritual is of paramount importance. Will you join me in flexing your spiritual muscles?


I love this photo of my grandson, who also runs cross country in college. I pray he continues both the spiritual and physical.


Run to Him. He’s there, waiting for you!

The Solid Rock

Posted by on October 27, 2017 in Shirley's Blog | 6 comments

What was the highlight? I was asked…


We’re back from our trip around the United States. We didn’t cover all of the US for sure, but added 9500 miles to the SQ. People ask me what the highlight of our trip was and it was hard to say. We saw the Liberty Bell, Plymouth Rock, Independence Hall, walked along the Freedom Trail in Boston, walked through old cemeteries, gazed at old buildings dwarfed by city skyscrapers, walked through museums. It was thrilling to sit where our forefathers sat and debated and formed our free and beloved country.

Liberty Bell


We drove through four National Parks.


We were awestruck by Badlands, prairies, the Great Lakes, Niagara Falls, the steep mountains of New England, the Atlantic Ocean, the hills of Kentucky, and on to rugged Utah. We drove through four National Parks.

Lake in Many Glaciers National Park

Mesa in Utah










Cottonwood agains a Sapphire blue sky.











Oil Wells in the Prairie Skies


Lake Huron











Niagara Falls

Harbor in Portland, Maine










Arches National Park

Canyonlands National Park















It was the people….


But it was the people who made our trip the most meaningful. There were new people who felt like old friends after a few hours. We renewed family acquaintances.

Graybill Family

New friends










Those sights wouldn’t have meant as much by myself….


Seeing the places I’d only read about was thrilling. Driving through our magnificent country–was also very good. But the people. That’s really the most meaningful.  Traveling alone would have been okay. But with someone. That’s really where it’s at. Jim and I celebrated the fourth anniversary of our first date while on our trip. Those sights wouldn’t have meant as much by myself. I’m glad we did this long trip together.

Celebrating four years of our first date. This year in Wisconsin.

Don’t set our hope on uncertainties….but on the Solid Rock..


In my morning meditation today, there were words about guarding against setting my hopes on the uncertainties of wealth, but on Jesus, the One who provides us with all things. I was encouraged to store for myself a good foundation for the days to come. As I contemplated that, I thought about the words to an old hymn.


My hope is built on nothing less

Than Jesus blood and righteousness.

I dare not trust the sweetest frame,

But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,

All other ground is sinking sand. 

All other ground is sinking sand.


From “The Solid Rock” by Edward Mote


The only place to build hope


I was astounded by the gorgeous rocks in Utah. But it’s the solid Rock of Christ that is more astounding. And the only place we can build hope.

Solid Rock



He Promises Peace

Posted by on October 20, 2017 in Shirley's Blog | 4 comments

There is perfect peace…


Perfect peace

Have you ever been in a place where you’ve felt perfect peace in spite of your surroundings? I have!


Below the surface of the ocean, there is perfect peace 

I was chatting with a new friend about the benefits of scuba diving versus snorkeling. I’d tried snorkeling and really liked it. I told her, I’d be afraid of all the equipment associated with scuba diving and not want to bother with it. But she pointed out that when you go below the surface of the ocean, there is perfect peace. The wind and current on top of the ocean–where you have to snorkel–has more movement and you can be pushed one way or the other along with the ocean currents and wind. There is the danger of being pushed away from the boat from where you’re snorkeling and sometimes towards rocks and coral. On the other hand, when scuba diving, you’re below all of the tumult of the surface. She said it was still and quiet and you can easily explore beneath the surface.


Beneath the surface is perfect peace.


Jesus promises that peace

I’d never thought of the difference, but it made sense. That’s the same as the unexplainable peace God can give us when under extreme surroundings. They could be many things: the death of a loved one, illness of someone close to you, loss of a job, betrayal of someone close to you, a frightening diagnosis from the doctor. There are numerous situations I could lay out for you, but you get the idea. I’ve been in most of the above situations and I also know the sweet peace. Just as my friend explained the peaceful calm deep under the surface, you can experience it too. Jesus promises that peace:

 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

I pray you can know the perfect peace of Jesus.


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Thanks for stopping by!

From Washington State and Back

Posted by on October 13, 2017 in Shirley's Blog | 8 comments




We’re on the road. Come join us!




We’ve encountered amazing people and friendships we won’t forget!


We are concluding our trip, now near the western edge of Colorado where we’re camped out in the country, parking next to our host’s home. A two story log house. We view the Battlement Mesa out of our front window. They tell us–though we did not see–there are bears here and mountain lions. Plenty of mule deer too. As we drove down the one & 1/2 mile driveway, we saw them hopping happily in a pasture with a grazing horse. Closer to the log house, seven young mule deer glanced at us with their inquisitive eyes and huge ears!



This trip has been different..


This trip has been different from the others in so many ways. We’ve been many places together: Paris, Jerusalem, Istanbul, Normandy Beach, The Panama Canal, The Caribbean, and Australia. I enjoy our country the best. Though we’ve been gone a long time, I didn’t get homesick until this week. Most likely it’s because we were in our native land and language. On other trips, we were in different cultures and languages.


Here’s a summation of our eight week trip:


We started in Washington, heading east. In Post Falls, Idaho, located in the panhandle of Idaho, we stopped briefly to view the solar eclipse. Don’t we look goofy in those glasses?

Gazing at the wonder of the eclipse





Montana is beautiful. The western part of the state contains Glacier National Park. I’ve been to Glacier five times and each time, I am awestruck at its beauty. The eastern part of Montana loses the big pines and bodies of water and contains stark bluffs and ravines. The colors are varied in their amber, browns and creams against a clear blue sky. Some of my family lives in Montana and it holds a special place for me. Jim has adopted my family as his and he loves them too.

Shining Flathead Lake

Western Montana Ranch









Lake in Many Glaciers National Park

Hazy Lake Mac Donald–over 500 feet deep and ten miles long.














North Dakota



Bison on the road beside our vehicle! We could have touched them–but dared not.




What’s in North Dakota you might ask? Our former pastor and his family live here. The Theodore Roosevelt National Park is here. And Medora Musical.  We loved it all.






Musical at Medora Amphitheater in North Dakota








South Dakota



Welcome to South Dakota

Badlands, Crazy Horse, Mt. Rushmore, and wheat fields, lots of open spaces. We didn’t visit all of it this time, but this state has much to see.








One aunt and cousins! The state of my birth. Farmlands and cattle. Warm personalities.






Graybill Family



Birthplace of Herbert Hoover, cornfields and good people abound. And of course our grands and kids.










Home of the Green Bay Packers, Dairy farms, and cheese. A beautiful, green state with lots of trees, fields and water.

Lambeau Field







First time in this very pretty state. There’s lots of green and blue here. We drove by one of the Great Lakes traveling north and ended in Mackinac with the long suspended bridge straddling Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. We toured the Mackinac Island, where no autos or other motorized vehicles are allowed–except an ambulance and fire truck. We took a tour in a horse drawn carriage. Lots of fun and quiet! Very few people live on the island in the winter and it felt nippy even in early September.

Five mile suspension bridge over Lake Huron on one side, Lake Michigan on the other

The Grand Hotel, built in 1887. The sight of the move of the same name.









Arch Rock on Mackinac Island



New York

Niagara Falls. Webster–where family lives right on Lake Ontario–the smallest of the Great Lakes–but still very large. It was the people who lived in the home on the lake that we enjoyed. Oh my. We were so blessed by food and conversation. Loved Cousin Linda and Tom!

Our view, standing by Niagara Falls

New York State











We were astounded by the beauty in this state. High mountains, valleys and trees marching up the slopes. We were too early to see the turning of the leaves, but I can imagine how beautiful it must look. We loved the winding roads that took us through small towns and villages. The old barns and houses. Another friend lives in this state and that makes it more endearing.





Oh my. The original Portland is there with lighthouses, harbors, lobster, and Kennebunkport–the summer home of the George H.W and Barbara Bush.

Beautiful Portland, Maine

Maine Lobster–see those eyes?




Again, we made friendship with our hosts there, Court and Lovedy. We want to return. And perhaps we may.


Committee members from Sanford, Maine Women’s Connection. Our hostess Lovedy is to Jim’s left with the pink.






Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire

We’re used to larger states and often, we didn’t know which state we were in! I had the impression that the New England States were highly populated, but it didn’t seem that way while we meandered among the many winding country roads, with a surprise at every turn. There were cemeteries with countless headstones, many leaning over. Larger than I’ve ever seen. And the homes and barns….I loved one road called “Bread and Milk”. Even close to the cities, it was instant country. We strolled through Sturbridge Village, a village with churches, barns, stores, print shops, blacksmiths and potters. The year was 1830. There was an instant connection with each of our hosts. Our friendship was because we belonged to the same faith.


Peaceful lake at the campground in Massachusetts.

















Boston and Philadelphia

We were awed by all the history in these cities. The smaller buildings that once were the tallest were dwarfed by sky scrapers. We are blessed to live in this free republic. I’m so grateful to those who had a vision for the country we have. It is wide and diverse.


Independence Hall, Philadelphia

Liberty Bell-hard to capture photo without people in it.










A house in Kingston, New Hampshire–there were many to see.

Historic Philadelphia.

Loved those Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches. I ate every bite!

Statue of Paul Revere

Cemetery where Paul Revere was buried. Many leading headstones.



































Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky

We camped by a small lake in Ohio, about a mile from the border to Kentucky. Indiana not far away. Here we explored the Creation Museum and went to the Ark Encounter. Both were impressive displays of the Bible and creation–the ark in correct proportions as the Bible laid out. It was huge! The Ark Encounter exhibit encompassed many acres and was on par with Disneyland with bridges, and roads, and buses to shuttle visitors to the Ark.

Dinosaur greeted us at the front. He was too long to include his whole body.

The Ark














Land of Lincoln. We visited Springfield, the state capital, where Lincoln lived most of his life. The Lincoln Library and Museum were also full of information and appreciation for our history. In the museum, they used holograms so in historical settings we watched what seemed lifelike figures talking to us and to Mr Lincoln. We explored the family home there, saw a replica of the log cabin where Lincoln grew up and taught himself how to read. Met through life-like figures, the family members. My heart hurt for Mrs. Lincoln. Her little three-year old died of consumption, her eleven year old died in the White House during the conclusion of the Civil War of typhoid fever. Then the dreadful, assassination of her husband, right before her eyes! Later, her 18 year old son died, too. Her surviving son committed her to an insane asylum for a time.

Mrs. Lincoln. She had a life full of sorrows. Three of her sons died, her husband assassinated. A lot of grief to bear.

Lincoln home in Springfield, furnished with period pieces.










Tomb of Lincoln. Mrs. Lincoln and three of their sons are also entombed there.

Meet the Lincoln Family.













Missouri and Branson

The Las Vegas of Missouri–with a Family-friendly entertainment. We enjoyed the Dixie Stampede with loads of entertainment. In the Sight and Sound Theater, we watched the musical play ” Moses” complete with live animals. Very well done. Loads of talent on the stage.  We strolled along the river in Branson with family.  My brother and sister in law were traveling east and we were returning west. We met in the middle. Had so much fun!

Dixie Stampede enjoyed a meal with 1,000 others. Great food and entertainment.

Seating for 2,000 or more. Amazing well done production.

We saw the live production of “Moses.” Very accurate and professional musical extravaganza with live animals too.











Don and Nancy Rudberg. Family on earth. Family through faith.








Good morning Colorado.

Our next destination: Colorado. I was scheduled to speak in three places in this diverse state. We spent time in Colorado Springs, where we toured the Christian Ministry, Focus on the Family. Wow. Over a million people visit there every year. A great place to bring children–and they invite moms to come here for play dates with their children. Very child-friendly and fun for them with an imaginary radio station where they can see themselves in the monitor. We strolled through Odyssey, the imaginary town with memorable characters: Whit, Connie, and more. We peered into  Narnia and saw the sound studio where the radio plays entertain many.

At the front desk. They were ready for us!


We watched from the gallery a live broadcast. There’s Jim Daly, President of Focus and the announcer John Fuller.

The sound booth for the radio adventure, “Adventures in Odyssey” . It takes about 4 hours to tape a one/half hour show.











I spied this cross atop the hill in ‘Springs.




Colorado Plains


After enjoying a few days of rest from driving, we headed back to the eastern part of the state, where I spoke to a small, but lovely group of women. Leota, one of the ladies I visited with, was turning 91 in November. She did not look her age, wearing contemporary slim cut pants, comfortable looking, yet fashionable shoes, and a hair cut that belied her age. I enjoyed conversing with her on our way to the dinner meeting. She lived alone in a little house, next door to her son. Her main concern was being able to renew her driver’s license.

Next day, we traveled west, to the Denver area and had a treat in meeting an old friend. We picked up right where we left off 17 years later.

Tomorrow, we head out further west and closer home. We’ll stop in Arches and Canyonlands–and HOME!


I understand what those early settlers saw in our vast and varied country. It far surpasses all of the man-made buildings and edifices. I believe it’s the land and the people that make our nation great. I know all of you know this song, but I feel compelled to include the first verse describing our county.


O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood From Sea to Shining Sea!

Katherine Lee Bates


I hope you’ve enjoyed our trip. Writing down events helps us remember. We have a vast and varied country. We are blessed. We are now in Utah where we’ll enjoy two National Parks. Here’s a photo from last year.


Arches National Park–2016

Until next time, when our wandering will be over–for awhile anyway. Thanks for joining us on the trip.



A Serendipitous Meeting-Two thousand Miles Away

Posted by on October 5, 2017 in Shirley's Blog | 2 comments

We’re on the road. Come join us!


The journey begins.

We drove out of our driveway in the last trimester of summer. It was hot, the tomatoes were beginning to ripen, zucchini ready to pick, and we began our journey. It was a short drive the first day, for we left Sunday afternoon. Next day, we continued our drive east. First major stop was Glacier National Park in Montana. But first, we needed to stop for the Solar Eclipse on August 21.

Gazing at the wonder of the eclipse


We think the people were the most important aspect of our trip

We visited family and old friends on the way. Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa.

Dear Aunt Ruth

Graybill Family










Shirley’s former pastor, Brian and wife, Dayna Martin

The three youngest of the Martin clan: Dawson, Noelle, and Timothy. Each with endearing personalities.










Oldest of the Martin Five: Connor and Raleigh


We had surprises along the way. Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. We met in-law cousins in New York state after viewing for the second time, Niagara Falls. Well worth seeing a second time. Again, the people we met were most important.

Lambeau Field

Niagara Falls





People are delightful

When we visit with old friends (new to Jim, often) and family, we are delighted with our visit.  We enjoy our conversation and renewing friendship.

Cousin Linda and husband Tom in New York State.


We met new people who seemed like old friends after only a short time.

Next, we visited beautiful New England. We stopped first to visit an old friend of Jim’s-mine too of course, now. We shared a mouth watering steak dinner in a small town, enjoyed breakfast in an old maple press barn-turned-in-to-a-restaurant. Then it was on to Maine. Here we met new people who seemed like old friends after only a short time. We worshiped with them in their church, we enjoyed Maine lobster (did you know their eyes are very obvious when sitting on the plate?). We enjoyed our time with Lovedy and Court–I love their first names–so unusual–and perfect for their personalities. They promised if they ever come to the west coast, they’ll stop and stay with us–but we also know we’ll meet in eternity.

Maine Lobster–see those eyes?

We come from very different backgrounds but our faith in Jesus was the same.


New England is beautiful. I know I’ve said that, but it truly is. Connecticut was our next meeting place and we weren’t disappointed. We met Ibby, a widow from a small town–there are lots of them in this state. We come from very different backgrounds, but our faith in Jesus was the same. That belief was the touch point of familiarity. We laughed with her. Met some close friends of hers. Prayed together.

Shirley and Ibby, deep in conversation.


I told you about Nancy and her husband in another small town in Connecticut. They too, loved and worshiped the same Lord we did. We felt right at home.


We stayed with a couple in New Hampshire and this was a serendipitous meeting. We are planning a family cruise and guess what? Kristy, our hostess, has a business doing the very thing we needed: a project manager for our big trip. She will fit the bill–in spite of the fact that she lives on the other side of our large and vast country. We had the same experience of meeting someone with the same faith and assurance in God.



A serendipitous meeting in Branson.

We were on our own for ten days, visiting various places: Boston, Philadelphia, The Creation Museum, The Ark Encounter, The Lincoln Museum and Tomb and to the subject of my title. A Serenditipous meeting, that  took place in Branson, Missouri, that God fearing, flag waving, down home friendly city.  We’d made arrangements to meet my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Don and Nancy. Don and my late husband Bill were brothers and I’ve known them for more than fifty years. Jim did not, however, but knew it would be fun to “do” Branson together. Would it be strange, being with family of your late spouse? You might ask. It wasn’t at all strange. In fact, I believe Bill would be pleased I would be spending time with his brother. Again, we were overwhelmed with love and strong shared faith. Don and Jim are old buddies now, and of course, Nancy and I’ve been sisters for a long time. We laughed and talked for hours, strolled along the river in Branson, had dinner together, went to Cowboy church together, and the Dixie Stampede too. It’s so good to know Don and Nancy are only twenty minutes from our home in Vancouver. They are traveling east, wanting to see some of the same sights we’ve already seen. We’re traveling west, ready to return home.

Don and Nancy Rudberg. Family on earth. Family through faith.



We saw the live production of “Moses.” Very accurate and professional musical extravaganza with live animals too.

Seating for 2,000 or more. Amazing well done production.










Amazing dinner show. Complete with animals, covered wagons. The works!

Dixie Stampede









Decor in Branson

Now in Colorado

We are now in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where we visited Christian radio broadcast, “Focus on the Family”. Our visit was very special and we even got to watch a live broadcast. They have a visitor center for all members of the family. We both think it was a highlight of our trip so far.

The sound booth for the radio adventure, “Adventures in Odyssey” . It takes about 4 hours to tape a one/half hour show.

At the front desk. They were ready for us!










We watched from the gallery a live broadcast. There’s Jim Daly, President of Focus and the announcer John Fuller.

Both radio programs have had a tremendous influence on me.

Tomorrow, we’re visiting James Dobson’s Family Talk studio. Really hope to meet this man who has had such an influence on my marriages, raising children, increasing my faith.


We have days and miles before home.

This Saturday, we’ll travel 150 miles east to La Junta, where we’ll stay with a couple we haven’t yet met. I know our meeting will be memorable, for they always are. I’ll be speaking to a women’s group nearby. Next week, I’ll be in two other spots in the state: Broomfield–near Denver–and on to Glenwood Springs. Then it’s home! But wait a minute. We still have days and miles to go before then. Until then, stay tuned!