Monday, October 31, 2011

On the road again

Just a few going down the road pictures.

I wonder what’s burning over there.100_6454100_6455100_6456

The drive through southeast Oklahoma is pretty, but it didn’t show up very good driving into the sun.100_6457100_6458100_6459

More golden colors of fall.100_6464100_6465

The state line, the Red River.100_6472100_6473

I don’t know what lake this was before the drought this summer.100_6476

But that’s just sad.100_6477

The Q landed about 3:00 PM near Canton, Texas.  Thank You, Lord, for safe traveling today.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday is here!

It is Sunday and Churchday.  We thoroughly enjoy sharing worship time at New Beginnings Baptist Church, Bixby, Oklahoma, with Stephanie and family.

After church, we all went back to their home for a delicious lunch that Stephanie had prepared… beef stroganoff. 

After resting and taking pictures of the color of fall in Stephanie’s backyard and beyond, she decided to make caramel corn.  It was a team effort: I popped the corn and removed all the unpopped kernels and she made the caramel coating.  Then, every 15 minutes, I helped her stir the corn… for an hour. It’s been a long time since I had homemade caramel corn and boy, was it amazing.  Stephanie bagged up some for our road time tomorrow.

Here’s just a few pictures I took this afternoon.100_6438100_6439100_6440100_6442100_6443100_6444100_6445100_6447

Tonight, back at the Q, we watched the Cowboy/Eagles game.  Embarrassing for Cowboy fans.

Kris update: A Message of Hope

Dearest friends and loved ones!

Yesterday (Saturday) marked three weeks since George and I left San Antonio to return to Florida. During that time, I have learned all over again the necessity of relying on nurses and nurse aids to care for Kris, as we did last winter when we had to leave. But Kris is in a very different place this year. It is a long term care facility, which is geared more to good patient care than a stringent therapy program. That was good last year at RIOSA; but care and being active is obviously the key now. And, in spite of a few rough moments of trying to understand and convey concerns by telephone to the folks there at Country Care Manor, this email will serve as a real “message of hope” that everyone is trying very hard there, and we are extremely grateful.

In addition, Kris’s husband, Russ, has been there after work daily, and is able to spend more time with her on weekends than ever before. Her son and daughter are able to visit more as well. Since Kris is right there now and only 10 minutes away from their home, we feel it has made a fantastic difference. And, as I mentioned in the last update, Kris has rallied with an intensity and a drive to do more in such a short time than I could have ever imagined. That is in large part directly facilitated by Susan, the speech therapist, there at Country Care Manor. But, really, all the therapy folks are fantastic! In addition, the activities department seems to be taking Kris under their wing as well, getting her involved and doing things she hasn’t done before. The first week after we left, for example, I called one day to find Kris was playing Bingo with the residents and had already won three times! Three quarters! Now that’s cold hard cash!

The week before last, I called in the morning one day to find the nurses, activities and therapy folks were in the process of loading up the wheelchair van to take a group of ladies fishing! Fishing?!!! Yep! It was a picnic/fishing trip to a nearby pond and Kris was on her way out the door. A family friend was there and he was going along, too, which made it even nicer for Kris. The attached photo shows Kris and Susan (the therapist you’ve heard so much about) having lunch. Lunch?!!! Yep! Susan said Kris managed to eat several spoonsful of rice and beans (a Mexican dish), which she loves, and enjoyed it. Then she spotted a brownie with chocolate icing and enjoyed a bite or two of that, as well. I was amazed, delighted, and in tears! They were tears of great joy and being extremely thankful for all of the hope this brings.Kris & Susan Oct 19 2011

What a relief it is to hear so many great things that Kris is doing. That makes it a bit more bearable for us now to learn to let go, which I realize I truly must do. This past week, Russell met with a Veterans Administration representative who met Kris at Country Care Manor, then followed Russ out to their home. The representative was there to inspect, advise and direct Russ as to what renovations should and/or could be done for Kris’s greatest benefit and welfare, and to enable her to finally come home. It is her greatest desire to live at home, I believe, and we truly want whatever is best for Kris. As Russell said, it will take quite a bit of renovating and he wants to do it right. Kris will have her own room and full bath with walk-in shower, a kitchenette with sink and a little refrigerator for certain medicines and things she may soon be able to eat. There will also be an access door to the outside in addition to the one inside, which is mandatory according to the VA rep, in case of fire. Russ said he wants to make a covered porch of her own so that she can be outside and get fresh air. But another requirement is to have a concrete walk all the way around to the front porch, then gradually ramped to the driveway. He’s also talked about a service that will send a trained sitter to care for Kris during the day, seven days a week. So he is making great plans, and Kris seems very excited and, of course, so are we!

In the meantime, I believe with all my heart that Kris will continue to heal and gain back more and more of her abilities. Russ put a phone in her room last week, and we are able to call when he or someone is there to give her the phone so that she can hold it to her ear. That helps more than you can imagine, just to hear her little “sounds” and know she is okay. Susan is also working to get Kris to speak again, and was able to have her say three vowels a week or so ago. The two of them have bonded tremendously, and Susan said she is not giving up on Kris. Hooray!!! That’s exactly what we wanted to hear!!!

So this is a message of great hope! Hope that, in time, Kris will be able to walk and talk, enjoy her favorite foods again, go shopping, swim and jog, and help Andrea with her school work. She may even help Joshua as he prepares to go to college next year. And, some day, maybe she and Russ can come for a visit right here in Sebring. These are all wonderful hopes and dreams and, with God’s help and healing and answers to prayer, any or all of the above will be cherished. We continuously thank God for how far Kris has already progressed, for all your wonderful prayers, and for the hope of fantastic things to come.

Blessings and love,

Carol and George

Friday, October 28, 2011

“The Battle For Your Mind”

Place a check mark beside some of these practical things you can focus on in order to refocus your mind when it begins to wander into negative territory:

  • Meditate on a Bible verse
  • Sing a praise chorus to yourself (or out loud)
  • Quote Scripture you have memorized (Hint: ones in this study are excellent to start with.)
    Memorize Isaiah 26:3
    “You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.”
  • Thank God for your blessings
  • Pray phrases to God such as: “I give my mind to You, Lord.” “Use my mind for Your glory, God.”
  • Pray with God-given authority to resist Satan.
  • Keep your mind actively engaged and challenged, not allowing it to just drift.
  • Remove temptations that you know will lead you down the wrong paths (inappropriate music, movies, TV, conversations, words, etc.)
If we’re thinking what’s right, we can’t be thinking what’s wrong.

[From Life Worth Living and Adrian Rogers]

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Philbrook Museum of Art

Today, Don took me to see the Philbrook Museum of Art.

My camera was very happy… until the battery died. But it wasn’t until I got lots of pictures.  A few of them may be seen here >>>

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Chef Jack and Kathy

We had a very special treat today!  Chef Jack and Kathy Gordon came to see us on their way back to Arizona from their home in Michigan.  Stephanie made chili for dinner and invited us all over.  They met Chef Jack and Kathy when they visited us in Arizona almost two years ago.  Jack did almost all the cooking for us while Stephanie and family were with us, so that’s how he got the name, “Chef Jack.”

Kathy and I played a game of Zilch with Logan and Taylor after dinner.100_6591



This has been a very special afternoon and evening of friendship and fellowship and catching up with two wonderful friends.

Thanks for the rhubarb cake, Chef Jack!!  It’s even better than we remembered.  And the Monster Cookies!!!  We’ll have a slice of banana bread with our coffee in the morning.

Hey, we don’t call him Chef Jack for nothing.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Home building

A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands. ~ Proverbs 14:1

I read this verse yesterday and thought, “hmmm. okay.” But it didn’t really speak to me.

For some reason, Smile, I read it again this morning and, wow, it spoke volumes to me.

Do you ever feel like your home is falling apart?

According to this verse, it is within the power of a woman to “build her home” or destroy it.  Therefore, it is my responsibility to tap into the power that God gives me to build up my home, because, after all, who really wants to destroy their home?

I don’t like to focus on the negative, but how many ways can we destroy our home?

Emotionally.  Am I “building up” my husband?  My children? Well, my children are grown and have families of their own, but I try to “build them up” and encourage them to build their homes wisely, when they will allow me to.  I pray that I am an encouragement to my man and support him in every way I can.

What is a home?  It’s the members of the family and, of course, it’s also a house.  If we don’t take care of our house, it will literally fall down around us.  Of course, most of the maintenance of the home falls upon the man or we hire help, but the inside of the house is a team effort where everyone pitches in.  The woman of the house usually organizes the “chart” of duties and, hopefully, the man of the house reinforces and helps out.  Who does the leading here is not of great importance, just as long as the home is maintained, clean and as uncluttered as possible.  There’s a happy balance where the house doesn’t own the people in it, but it lends itself to harmony and warmth and a sense of “I enjoy being here.” 

God encourages and commands harmony and unity and love and grace and mercy.  Our home reflects our obedience to Him.

God, help me to build our home to bring glory to you.

There is a definite advantage to living in 275 square feet!  Less to clean.  Takes minutes. Thank You, Jesus. Full-time RV-ing is liberating!!

Ooops, I got a little off track.

Back to Proverbs 14:1 – Father, I repent of the times I have destroyed my home and the hearts in my home.  Please restore what the “canker worm has eaten” (due to my ignorance and lack of wisdom).  Help me be a wise woman and build my home.  I certainly don’t want to be referred to as a fool.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Time with Lydia

It’s so much fun taking three thirteen year olds to breakfast! I called Lydia and invited her and her two friends to had slept over, to breakfast.  It was already 10:30, but they jumped in the truck with pancakes on the Jimmy's Egg 1

They all protested when I said I was going to take their picture, “nooooo, I don’t have on any make-up!” but they smiled anyway like sweet girls.w Keeley & Jayna

Must have been an interesting text message.texting

We enjoyed eating at the new Jimmy’s Egg restaurant in town.

Back at LaNae’s, Lydia posed with one of LaNae’s recent purchases for Fall.with scarecrow

This pumpkin art is really pretty.  Wish I could see what she’s going to do with it.pumpkins

So… Saturday was going along smoothly.  LaNae went to pick up a birthday present and items for a birthday party.  Don went to visit his Aunt Bernice.  I stayed with the seven kids at LaNae’s.  And then it happened.  Marley, big dog, and Tank, little dog, got out of the backyard.  Blaine and friends finally got Tank back in the house, but they couldn’t find Marley.  In a few minutes, the front door bell rang and there was Ronnie, from across the street, holding onto Marley’s collar with the announcement, “Marley’s been hit by a car and I think that’s her coming up the driveway.”  It was her and she was very upset.  Marley is dripping blood in the foyer and it’s pure pandemonium.  Well, to make a long story, short, LaNae came home, took Marley to the vet where it was determined that Marley’s front right leg is shattered just above his foot and will need surgery to insert a plate and screws, to the tune of $1800.  My eyes have rolled back in my head.  Marley broke legMarley is spending the night at the vet and will have surgery Monday.  Poor guy.

Kris update: Finally Home

Dear loved ones and friends,

George and I arrived home in Sebring this evening (Saturday) at 5:10 p.m. Eastern time! We left San Antonio one week ago today and, in case you are wondering what took us so long, George surprised me by arranging to have friends from Pennsylvania meet us at an RV resort in Louisiana. They were sitting at their RV at a site next to ours when we pulled in! What a surprise! We spent several days there and then they traveled along as we headed east to another RV park in Mississippi. We left them there yesterday and headed home, but it was such a treat to kick back, relax and enjoy their company. Thanks again, Carol and Terry.

But, having spent over six months in Texas again this year, leaving Kris, as I expected, was heartbreaking and extremely hard to do. I still shed tears when I think of so many things that should be done or could be done. This time, however, leaving was not near as traumatic for me as it was before. Thankfully, I believe with all my heart that Kris is now where she is supposed to be, I believe God had His hand in all of that, and we are truly at peace and comfortable with where she is now. George snapped the attached photo the night we left. It was late and Kris was tired, but her laughter at something Diana said just started us all laughing together. 2011 Oct 1 Kris and CarolLater, when it was time to go, Kris closed her eyes and went to sleep, as if to say, “It’s okay, Mom. Go ahead. I’m okay now.”

As I mentioned in the last update (entitled “Kris’s New Home”), moving her to Country Care Manor in LaVernia, Texas was the very best solution and the very best choice. She now has the best of both worlds: closer to her own home, family and friends, and she has wonderful care. She has therapy every day, Monday through Friday, and is moving about on her own in her wheelchair (which is something we’ve hoped and prayed for!). After therapy one day, they didn’t see where she went and started looking for Kris. They found her down the hall in a lady’s room who has befriended Kris, and the two were watching TV together. That, to me, is a fabulous breakthrough!

We are thrilled with the therapy group. Susan, who is the speech therapist, has already had Kris saying a few vowels, gave her some pudding one day (which went down easily!), and evidently took her to Bingo (yep, Kris has won four quarters at Bingo already!). Sue graciously allows me to call Kris when she’s in therapy or Sue calls me. I can speak directly to Kris that way, and it’s been a tremendous help to us. I am able to speak to the nurses and other staff members if necessary, and that too is helpful. As I mentioned in the last update, we were able to fix up her room and make it homey for her. Russell has been able to stop in every day after work and is there much more often on weekends. That, I’m sure, makes Kris happy, especially now that both Andrea and Joshua can come in more frequently. And, by the way, Russell said she drank water from a water bottle, then put the cap back on the bottle by herself! Every little step forward is a breakthrough!

As for the rest of the therapy group, Rene, who is the occupational therapist, has been working with Kris’s shoulder, neck and arms, in a continuous effort to keep the tone more pliable and flexible in those muscles. And Dave, the physical therapist, works with her on the bicycle and walking her with her upright walker, as well as stretching and bending. Add that to other events and activities, Kris has a pretty full schedule during the day. Being the facility is comfortably smaller, however, it is easier for Kris to get around on her own which, as I said, is something we have been hoping and praying for.

So, to answer some of your questions, we will be scheduling shows and concerts throughout the winter months here in Florida. If all goes well here in Florida and Kris continues doing well in Texas, and “if the Good Lord’s willin’ and the creek don’t rise,” we hope to return to Texas the first part of April 2012 and stay for a few months. Beyond that we will travel to some of the states to which we’ve been invited for performances, then arrive in Pennsylvania by late August to stay until the end of October. Our granddaughter, Jessica, gets married October 20th, and we just have to be there for that.

Beyond that, your friendships, your emails, your prayers, your faithfulness to write or call or send cards: all of that has blessed us so and I know it has been a blessing to Kris. I shared the updates with Kris each time I sent one out, and I’ve read your cards and many of the emails, and I know they have touched her heart and helped lift her spirits. Russell will do that now, so never hesitate to send cards and notes to Kris.

Thank you just does not seem sufficient, but we thank you so very much for your prayers. God has been so gracious in easing the pain of leaving Kris again, and you have been so kind in your thoughtfulness toward us and Kris and her family. Isaiah 41:10 has always been my favorite Bible verse, but I recently found a new favorite: Isaiah 41:13 “For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not, for I will help thee.” And He has!

Blessings and love always,

Carol and George

P.S. I will continue to send updates as appropriate and as Kris progresses. We welcome your emails, too.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Rain, Sweet Rain

After so long, it rained today. And rained and rained.  Blaine and friends were so excited, they ran outside and played in the rain.  I didn’t have the heart to tell them not to.  Every child needs to play in the rain at least once and today was just pure rain; no lightning; no thunder; just beautiful rain.100_6475





They had a lot of fun playing in the rain and rainwater and I had fun taking pictures of the fun.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Knowledge & Understanding

Is there a difference between knowledge and understanding?

Consider Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Knowledge is reading this verse.  I read it. Now I know it.  I will recognize it the next time I read or hear it.

However, when the focus of my knowledge moves from “I can” to “through Christ,” that is when I begin to understand.

A more complete understanding occurs when I experience, personally, the truth of that verse.  In other words, I will never fully understand the verse until I experience the strength I have in Christ to do everything He calls me to do.  And I will never experience that strength until my focus is on Christ and not on myself. 

Jesus Christ is the provider of my strength.

What was the original question?

Kris update: NEW HOME!!

Dear Friends and Loved Ones!

When God opens doors, He doesn’t fool around! In our last update, I talked about Air Force Village II. Well, they didn’t call back in time. In the meantime, I emailed a facility last Saturday that Russell had mentioned some time ago located right there in LaVernia (where they live). Believe it or not, the administrator emailed back on Sunday (she just happened to check emails) and we went to see it on Monday. We moved Kris there Tuesday afternoon! No hitch. No snafus. No problem.

It is a lovely facility, not new but very well kept, at the outskirts of LaVernia and just across from the high school where Joshua goes. The school where Andrea goes is just down the way, too, and one of the therapists at the facility worked with Andrea at the special school and knows Kris. (AND... Kris remembered her when we arrived at the facility on Tuesday!)

Before I forget (I’ve been known to do that in times of happiness!), Kris’s new address:

Maj Kristine Ratliff

Country Care Manor

2736 FM 775, Room 302

LaVernia, TX 78121

Yes, we are very happy with Country Care Manor: the staff is caring and kind, many have worked there for decades, it’s small and very pleasant and in a lovely setting, the therapists are terrific and the therapy room is directly across the hall from Kris’s room. She will have all therapies: speech, OT and PT, and the speech therapist is the gal that knows Kris. The administrator was warm and welcoming when we met her Monday, and the admissions/office manager has already been a tremendous help. We will be in close contact and they don’t mind if I call!!!

We were able to decorate her room and fix it up with all sorts of amenities to make her comfortable and not feel as though she was in a hospital setting anymore. I spent the night with her Tuesday night and, Monday morning after I had her up and dressed, I asked if she wanted to go “look around!” She toodled herself in her wheelchair out into the hall and headed for the lobby, which is right there almost. She looked around and checked out the nurses’ station, headed out in the great room, where so many of the staff greeted her and welcomed her, and then we went out on the front porch. (The weather finally broke, by the way. It’s not hot!)

Kris and I sat there on the porch for almost an hour. It was peaceful and breezy, and she seemed so much more relaxed and “at home!” A sweet elderly gent (who is also patient) wheeled up to us and started chatting. Kris was engaged! She looked at him and listened and smiled and it did my heart good to see that. Normally, she is reluctant and hangs her head, I believe because she cannot speak or converse. That didn’t matter Tuesday.

On the way back in to her room, she stopped at the therapy room door, looked in, everyone greeted her, and she rolled herself right in! I am just amazed. The facility, as I said, is relatively small, and the nursing staff actually “communicate” with each other and do things “by the book.” They have been so helpful and, when George and I left her last night to come back to the RV, I felt totally at ease. Russell can stop every day on his way home and, often, he said he could come back in during the evening to be with her until she goes to bed. It’s about 15 minutes from their house and, likely, when he has the house wheelchair accessible, she may be able to visit for an hour or so.

Kris understands, if she progresses now, that means she will be able to go home eventually, once the house is renovated and special accommodations are built in for her. She also understands that hard work still lies ahead and she seems “up” for it now. I must say I did not feel good about moving her to the facility in Floresville last week so, when that all fell through, we were a bit fearful because we knew we have to leave this coming Saturday. But Country Care Manor is honestly where God wants her to be and, Tuesday morning, I awoke actually feeling happy for the first time in a long time. There is a feeling of joy when God has His hand in the works, and I told George we would move that day. Well, the call came by 10 a.m. that Kris had been completely approved and we could come. Russell drove his truck with Kris and I. George drove our van loaded with all the boxes and belongings. By 2 p.m., she was moved in. By last evening, Kris was totally settled in and her room is lovely. Didn’t get pictures yet, but we will today. (The attached photo was taken last weekend when George was showing Kris how to drink with a straw again. It reminded George of when he was teaching our oldest son how to drink with a straw years ago, and that made us all laugh. It didn’t quite work yet this time either, but she got so tickled and it was just one of those photo op moments.)drinking thru straw

It is about an hour’s drive from where we are in the RV park now, but George already found one just 10 miles away from LaVernia. That’s where we’ll stay when we come back in the RV in the spring. For now, our leaving Saturday will again tear my heart apart, but we do leave with greater assurances that Kris will be well cared for, loved, encouraged, and... who knows... she may talk and eat and walk before we know it.

As George and I were returning from a “shopping spree” for Kris yesterday afternoon, a lovely lady who was getting ready to leave started talking with us. She visits her mother-in-law several times a week, she said, and raved about Country Care Manor. Before we knew it, we ended up exchanging email addresses and she decided to come back inside with us to meet Kris and Russ (who was there by then after work). Before we went in, however, she prayed with us right there in the parking lot. It was one of those special moments God gives to really encourage and let us know... it’s right, it’s okay, this is what He wanted! You just can’t help be at peace with that, so... thank you all for your many prayers. They continue to work!

Blessings and love,

Carol and George

Are you weeping tears of joy?  We are!!  I just burst into singing, “Oh, how He loves us.  Oh, how He loves us so.”  I can not even imagine the relief that Carol and George feel, knowing that Kris is in the perfect place that God has provided.  Praise His Holy Name!

And that picture of Kris is just too precious.  Love her new haircut and those red, white and blue bell earrings.  Cute!! 

Should you be motivated to send Kris a card or letter of encouragement, please tell her that you know her through Don and LaVon Baker, and let her know of your prayers for her and that you will continue to pray for her and her family.

Now scroll back up to the picture at the very top of this blog and read, preferably out loud, the verse under the picture of the chapel.

Thank you all beyond measure, for your prayers (past, present, and future) for Kris.  God hears and answers.

To read the beginning of Kris’s story, my first blog post and update begins here:

More information and a webpage (with pictures) dedicated to Kris is found on Carol’s website:

Carol and George would be so encouraged to hear from you, also, to know that you are praying for Kris.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Lydia cheers!

Tonight, we went to watch Lydia cheers.  They we so cute and are really good.  Can you find Lydia in this picture?100_6437

Hint:  Backrow.100_6439

Lydia is in the back of the middle group.100_6444

When they are not cheering, they stand uniformly as the first picture portrays.2011 Oct 4 Lydia Cheers-1

Their team didn’t win, but the cheerleaders were awesome!

Monday, October 3, 2011

One order of brains, please

I have now entered the Smart phone world. With the two $50 rebates we got back from Don’s ‘free’ phone and mother’s ‘free’ phone, I got a Smart phone for ‘free.’  I don’t know how that works, exactly, which should be the first clue that I don’t belong in the Smart phone world.Smile with tongue out

The beginning of a love-hate relationship.

My new phone has an auto-correct feature when typing a text message.  It’s great.  I love it when my large fingers hit the wrong key and the misspelled word is corrected automatically for me.

On the other hand, I hate it when I am trying to type a proper noun and this confounded thing keeps changing the spelling.  There’s a story behind how I learned this was happening and how I learned to proof-read my text message before clicking “send.”

Braums sign

When we arrived in Norman today and got all parked and set up in the RV parking section of the county fairgrounds, I texted my daughter, LaNae:

“Yay! We are within walking distance of Braum’s!!!”  (An Oklahoma-based ice cream and hamburger establishment.)

LaNae read: “Yay! We are within walking distance of Brain’s!!”

LaNae’s reply:  “Great, Mom! You better start walking now!!”

Braums store

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Quilt by Mama Trudy

Mama Trudy requested that I take a few pictures of the quilted throw that she made for Emma, so I did.  This is a quilt that I had not seen before we got to Leslie’s.


The perfect quilt for our little lady.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Low water

On our walk around the park this morning, I took a few pictures to show how much the water is down in Lake Waco.100_5597

Normally, the water is up to the road across the water.100_5598100_5599100_5600

Don was talking to me and wasn’t prepared for me to take his picture.100_5601

Lots if dead tree photo opps with the water level down so much.100_5602


However, the water is still pretty.100_5604

After our walk, Don took this of me.100_5605

The temperatures are pleasant in the mornings, but it’s still warming up to almost 100 degrees in the afternoon.