March 21-March 27, 2016
Fort Worth Texas to Clever, Missouri:
Range of miles: 4,575 -6,465
Week # 5/23 weeks
Monday: We stayed an extra day in Fort Worth taking care of HTHL business and schoolwork. For lunch, we had the iconic burger of the wild west, What-a-Burger (Yum!) In my biased opinion, a very close second to California’s iconic burger In and Out.
Tuesday: We hitched up the HTHL trailer and headed to Texarkana. Texarkana sits on the border between Texas and Arkansas. This town is shared by two states and is where one of my favorite bloggers live, Jennifer Janes. Jennifer is a talented writer and shares with her readers the joys and challenges of being a mom of a special needs kid. I love writing with Jennifer! Both of our blogs linkup especially when we are writing about helping kids learn to write. We have had “tea dates” via the phone and I couldn’t wait to meet her in person. We spent a delightful couple of hours sharing a meal and catching up with life. BusyGirl and her girls, Princess Roo and BookGirl hit it off and quickly exchanged phone numbers. (Side note: We bloggers often rename our kids so we can reference them on the internet. In the distant future, I’m pretty sure historians will note what strange names were given to certain children.)
We said our goodbyes and traveled down Highway 30 for a few more hours until we reached exit 78 where we found a nice truck stop and snuggled down into our sleeping bags.
Wednesday: The next morning, we cranked the HTHL engine and ventured on to Little Rock, Arkansas, home of Family Life Ministries. BusyGirl commented that Forrest and I looked like two kids at Disneyland. Yes, we did! We were standing in a building that has not only impacted our marriage but thousands of marriages. There’s not a Disneyland attraction that can beat that!
“Would you like a tour?” the sweet receptionist asked.
“Would we? YES!” the two marriage ministry leaders from Placerville California responded. We have taught many marriage classes using their bible study curriculums. We have seen couples who have walked into our church with divorce papers and have reconciled to become an amazing team that serves the Lord.
We met our tour guide, Chad. Chad is in charge of making sure all the books, banners, and supplies reach the forty Weekend to Remember marriage retreats scattered across the USA. Chad casted the vision of Family Life one story at a time. Forrest and I leaned in to learn and glean. It didn’t matter if we already knew the information, it was exciting to hear about the Lord’s work while we stood in the headquarters that make it happen.
Chad told us many of the staff members serve because Family Life saved their marriage or their son or daughter’s marriage. Since 1976, Family Life has led a biblical marriage movement that has helped over 2 million people strengthen their marriage and family relationships. Forrest and I share their vision-Every church should have an active marriage ministry.
While we were walking through the halls, the recording sign caught our eye. Dennis Rainey was actually recording a batch of radio programs behind the sound proof door! Sadly, we missed meeting him by just a few moments. Family Life’s radio broadcasts and podcasts offer daily encouragement and instruction for marriage or help in parenting (Click:HERE for a radio station near you)
We strolled through the halls and entered the publication production section of Family Life. Writers and editors were busy tapping on their computer keyboards preparing the next article, script, or curriculum. Some staff members were engaged in reviewing every resource that was ever mentioned by a guest speaker or a new release on the subject of marriage or parenting. Through a glass window, we even saw Barbara Rainey engaged in a meeting! She’s a go-getter and it was obvious she was casting a vision!
Family Life also has a vibrant global ministry. They reach people in 75 countries, and much of their publications and curriculum is translated into Russian, Spanish, and Chinese.
Chad, like many of the staff at Family Life raise their own support as a Family Life missionary. He and his wife homeschool their four beautiful girls.
It was a wonderful tour, and we were grateful Chad took the time to show us around. The sweet receptionist who arranged the tour gave us a gift bag filled with books, gifts and other goodies. We said goodbye with a BIG thank you!
We pointed the HTHL van north and began our trek through the Ozark Mountains, and we arrived at Branson, Missouri about 11:00pm. We had learned from one of our vendor friends that Cracker Barrel allows you to park in their parking lot overnight as long as you ask permission. So we asked the manger for permission and he said, “Yes.”
We no sooner got to sleep and our phones blared with an emergency alert that a tornado warning had been issued for our area. We knew we had to take shelter but where, we didn’t know. We drove over to the IHOP across the street. The winds had picked up, the rain fell harder, and lightening lit the sky.
We ducked through the double doors covering our heads to prevent getting soaked and asked the IHOP hostess, “We’re from California. What should we be doing when a tornado warning is issued?” She informed us that they use their walk-in freezer as a tornado shelter, and assured us that in the past. IHOP staff and their customers were able to survive a pretty strong tornado. “Oooooh kay,” we replied taking in her matter-of-fact attitude. I now wish I had brought my sweatshirt. All I could think of was HTHL student Jason, who wrote about surviving a F5 tornado. If he could rely on God during a tornado then so could I. We sipped tea, and researched via Google how to read tornado radar patterns. IHOP business went on as usual. BusyGirl scrolled through pictures of puppies on Pinterest because they make her happy. The tornado warning was lifted about 12:15 am, and we drove back to our parking spot at Cracker Barrel, quite a bit more educated about tornados.
Thursday:It wasn’t the best night sleep, but we made it through the night. We couldn’t wait to make tracks today because for the next six days we planned to visit with our dear friends, the Pipers. The Piper family were our neighbors in California before they moved to Missouri five years ago. They lived across the street from us, and our and their kids seemed to share duel residences in both houses.
When we arrived we shared lots of hugs and the standard, “Oh how you have grown!” comments. Their son, who I use to teach during HTHL co-op days is now 17. He’s a fine young man in contrast to the little boy who used a sharpie on his face to draw a mustache for our ancient China unit, days before his mother wanted to take the yearly family Christmas picture. Good times! The youngest Piper even made a welcome sign for us!
Good friends catch up quickly, and Karin and I seemed to pick up where we left off. In the comfort of their home, we sipped coffee and chatted for hours. Love my dear friend and our friendship.
Friday: After miles of driving, my landscaping husband couldn’t wait for an outdoor project! “Put me to work,” he told Dwight, Karin’s husband. The two men began working on a new raised bed for spring planting. My hubby had a smile on his face as he hauled cinder blocks and mixed soil with Dwight.
Missouri green is in stark contrast to Northern California’s brown landscape. I drank in all the signs of spring that were about to explode like a runner from the starting block.
Saturday: The Pipers surprised us with a real Branson, Missouri experience and treated us to a dinner and show on the Branson Belle Showboat.
We were welcomed aboard by the Branson Belle crew and dined on roasted chicken and braised beef. It was delish! The pre-show featured a magician/comedian that heightened the whole experience.
After creamy cheesecake and coffee, we were asked to leave the dining area while the crew cleaned up. We made our way to the top deck and enjoyed the all the views Table Rock Lake has to offer.
Table Rock Lake is gorgeous. It has 800 miles of shoreline and was pristine. The sun was shining and its rays were warm. I really didn’t need my winter coat. Forrest proudly wore his “Canadian Tuxedo”, aka:flannel on flannel.
What a show! There was great music and outstanding dancing! Branson is known for good clean fun and super family friendly entertainment. Veterans are honored, patriotism is praised, and faith in God is celebrated.
Dwight is a retired fireman, and works as an ambulance dispatcher. He knows some of the crew that works for Mercy Life Flight. On the way home, we stopped to check out this flying life-saving machine! The excitement of my former R.N. days rose to the surface. Jason, one of the pilots gave us a tour and let us crawl around and imagine what it’s like to race through the air while caring for critically ill patients.
The Piper’s oldest daughter is taking EMT classes and will get to do a life-flight ride-along in the coming weeks. She looks pretty excited about the opportunity doesn’t she?
Not gonna lie…I’m grateful for good friends, but with Easter approaching, pangs of homesickness were knocking at the door of my heart. My dear sweet mom, sent us a loaf of her traditional Easter Bread. It was a welcomed moment. I held the bread close to me and breathed in the sweet scented memories.
Sunday: The Pipers had two requests for me. One, make panzerotti, an Italian, fried pizza-pocket that I would make for our Friday Friend Nights back in California, (which I made for them on Friday night) and two, bake my Fluffy Rolls for Easter. Karin and I woke up early Easter morning to bake and cook up a storm before going to church. She laced her kitchen with a ton of chocolates. No one complained!
I should mention, Karin is an excellent chef and has many signature dishes. She is known in our family for her amazing soups. In fact, in lesson two of of HTHL’s Literature Guide for Island of the Blue Dolphins, there’s a reference to a community winter soup night as a cure for loneliness. Karin was my inspiration for the segment. During the winter, the Pipers hosted a neighborhood soup night. It was always a highlight for our our family. Karin’s love and passion for Christian hospitality fueled the weekly event. To this day, Karin and Dwight open the doors of their home and invite their neighbors to enjoy a simmering meal.
We celebrated Resurrection Sunday at Calvary Chapel Spingfield. What joy to celebrate that Jesus has risen and He is alive for evermore! My wrong doings are forgiven! His love, grace, and truth will forever triumph over everything! Luke 24
We also got to celebrate with another family who use to live in California, our friends the Gish family! Busy Girl and the Gish’s daughter are good friends. We arranged a few nights for the girls to do a slumber party and talk through the night.
Karin and Dwight had a houseful with lots of yummy foods, laughs, and fellowship. It was nice to see old friends and meet new ones! And we also played “Peep Jousting“. It just wouldn’t be Easter if we didn’t play.
With my speedy New York chatter and Pam’s spunky quick-wit, my Friend Pam Gish and I packed in five years of conversation in one afternoon. This lady is a joy and inspiration. She’s a mom of two special needs kids and seems to have boundless energy. So blessed to visit with her again.
I was grateful for the two hour time difference between California and Missouri and spent the rest of the evening calling all our kids. It was wonderful to hear their voices.
Thanks for traveling with us! It’s a pleasure to be sharing the journey with you!
We’ll spend a couple more days in Missouri with our friends and then we are off to Cincinnati, Ohio for the Midwest Great Homeschool Convention!
From Our Home (On the Road) to Yours,
Follow our journey on HTHL’s Google Map (Click: HERE)
Don’t forget to keep up with the latest On the Road with HTHL YouTube Vlog: Click HERE!