December 18th, 2014 | Author:

Sometimes when we’re working at a SOWER project we get a specific task and we work at it for the entire three weeks. Like last month when every day it was Thrift Shop all the way. Or the last couple of summers when it was A/C installation every day. But most times our days are actually quite diverse and this month is proving that to be true!
In the past 11 days I have helped set up and decorate for a banquet-
Looks like I'll be busy this morning. #sowerjobs #inmyskillset
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(And then we even got to go!)
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I got to help Gary build some beds
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and learned the life lesson that
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the flat washer always goes first. Always.
Then I moved to some painting, transforming the inside of cupboards from Yucky
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to…well, less yucky.  Gotta love what a little scraping and a coat of paint can do!
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After a busy weekend of teenage guests in the newly renovated dorms, I tackled gathering up the trash (Yikes – that was crazy) and then cleaning the sinks and mirrors.
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I thought it was very kind of the housekeeping staff to not ask me to do the toilets and showers. These small mercies do not go unappreciated.
And then just when I thought my tasks were sticking to the housekeeping genre, Gary needed my assistance over in the gym.
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Oh, man. You mean up there?
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Yup!
He really just needed an extra set of hands to help get a fan motor lifted up and placed, and then to hold the flashlight so he could see where he was working.
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Oh the talent – holding the flashlight AND taking a picture. He really does need me!
The motor went to a crazy big fan (guess you could call it a gym-sized fan) – I felt like I was on an Alfred Hitchcock movie set!
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Gary has likewise been doing a bit of this and a bit of that.  I love that we arrived on a Friday and on Saturday their walk-in freezer died.  Ok, I don’t love that their walk-in died, but I loved the timing that Gary was able to diagnose the bad compressor and install the replacement (which was 4 days from being out of warranty). God really has a way of working those things out, doesn’t He!  He’s looked at several A/C systems, rehabbed an ice machine, built some beds (with his trusty assistant), disassembled some other beds, fiddled with one of the coffee machines and generally made himself useful (which of course he does all the time!).  I can’t vouch for (or show photographic proof) of all of his diversification, but trust me – he’s been busy.  He’s also been working on his RV chore list during our off days, which included oil and transmission fluid changes, and (just because it’s on his list) defrosting the freezer.  Have I said this before – What a Guy!  While he’s been busy doing RV chores, I’ve been busy working on Christmas projects.  Did you know it’s only A WEEK AWAY!!!!! This is what the inside of our house has looked like most days (and this is relatively tidied up) –
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Let’s just say that not a lot of heavy duty cooking has been going on in my little corner of Louisiana!
Thanks for stopping by – hope your Christmas shopping/sewing/gathering/baking/decorating – whatever- is going well. Don’t forget to hit that “pause” button every now and again to remember what this beautiful season is really all about –

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.
Luke 2:11 & 12

December 07th, 2014 | Author:

It’s been a while since I’ve shared some of our actual “traveling down the road” photos, hasn’t it? Well, it is true that we’re not moving around quite as much as we have in the past, but still and all,  windshield shots will always be favorites of mine. I especially love it when I’m following in the truck and I get to (quickly, with my eyes always on the road) snap a picture of our house actually moving down the road.
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But for most of our 500 mile drive from northern Alabama to southern Louisiana we were together, with the road stretching out before us.
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Although most of our trip was interstate to interstate (and with usually a fair bit more traffic than the shot above), we did take a short detour and traveled about 50 miles down the Natchez Trace.
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While I would never recommend taking this route if you’re in a hurry (especially if you get behind one of those big ol’ motorhomes towing a truck with their cruise control set 5 miles BELOW the speed limit (55)), I would highly recommend this route if you’d like to see some beautiful countryside and maybe even learn a little history along the way.
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Since we did the history part of this lovely two lane road when we did the WHOLE Natchez Trace back in 2005, our drive this time was just a short lower-the-blood-pressure travel interlude.
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And oh so worth it! (Don’t you feel calmer already?)
Not too much farther down the road we came to this –
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Under construction, skinny lanes, high bridges. Wheeeeeee!
We did have a good trip though. No major traffic hold-ups, that nice stretch of the Trace to break up the Interstate miles and we were even blessed with a lovely sunset –
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So where, you might be asking, is ‘here’? Well, we are in Eunice, LA, – a small community located in the heart of Cajun Country.
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We’ve finished our first week of work at Acadian Baptist Center, done a bit of exploring (including checking out some local eateries (Gumbo -yum!), scoped out a local cafe (with internet and amazing scones) and generally enjoyed some fine 70 degree days. All in all a great start to December! Hope your December has had a great start too! Here’s another windshield shot to help that blood pressure, just in case!
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Ahhhhhh……..

November 27th, 2014 | Author:

So here we are, in a city park RV spot in Opelousas, Louisiana celebrating our 10th Thanksgiving “on the road”.
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We have no plans for turkey (here or at Cracker Barrel) and the closest family member (Gary excepted) is over a thousand of miles away. It might be easy to fall into a bit of a holiday-funk, feeling sorry for ourselves with no kids to hug or leftovers to eat. Instead I thought I’d just take a refresher course on how blessed we’ve been on other Thanksgivings since we’ve started this great adventure!
The first three years (2004, 2005, 2006) we were over-the-top blessed to be able to spend them with our good friends the Sensings on Amelia Island in Florida.
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Oh how those precious times got us over the hump of being far from family!
In 2007 we DID make it to Ohio for a big ol’ traditional Thanksgiving.
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New baby and new bride – all Conrads present and accounted for! So much to be thankful for that year!
2008 found us far away in Arizona and enjoying our Thanksgiving day with SOWER friends. We were having such a special time that I never got around to taking any pictures! When I checked back to find the post from that Thanksgiving, I did find this, though –
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Promises abound!
We spent Thanksgiving 2009 on the road. Tires turning, heading south.
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We were driving from the Coachella Valley area of California south to the San Diego area, preparing to pull into our December project on Friday. We enjoyed dinner at Perkins (it was in the parking lot where we spent the night), and while we missed being with the family I knew we would be seeing them at Christmas-time, so my heart was content.
2010 we were in Waco, just getting started on Lara’s big kitchen remodel!
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Needless to say, we weren’t cooking in THAT kitchen for the holidays, but we did spend the day with good friends of Lara’s (and now ours!), the Swansons. Family, kiddos, and great food – it was a very special holiday!
In 2011 we were parked in Texas (Lindale, actually), but we piled into the truck (including Lara and Denali) and we drove to Ohio for a big ol’ family gathering.
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Now that was one wild and crazy and Oh-So-Wonderful Thanksgiving!
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The family just keeps growing – blessing upon blessing!
We celebrated Thanksgiving back at our favorite Waco campground in 2012 and actually had a sweet little pre-Thanksgiving dinner right at our campsite!
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(OK, so the guests hadn’t arrived yet – but you get the idea! =)) We also had another great meal with the Swansons – Yummm!!! It was another lovely holiday filled with much thankfulness!
Just last year we were still in Texas, but all the way down in the Rio Grande Valley. Our day was spent in sweet fellowship with about 20 friends from the church we were attending.
It wasn't family, but it was pretty close! And it did include some small people hugs. Thank you, RGV friends, for a lovely Thanksgiving! ❤️
“We had a lovely day, enjoying the Big Meal with about 20 friends here in the Valley. Enough delicious food to feed an extra 20 folks, just the right amount of little kids to add some sparkle to the day, and sweet fellowship. Add to that a nice little package of leftovers so we could enjoy some turkey later in the weekend – and we would definitely call the day a Win!”
And that brings us up to today! While it’s true that holidays on the road can present certain challenges, it can also present wonderful opportunities for experiencing blessings in unexpected places. Whether we’re sitting in a parking lot campsite or surrounded by friends and family,  we have so much to be thankful for. Today, and everyday!

Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
Psalm 95:2

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I have a couple of pumpkin muffins I’d be happy to share if you’d like to stop by!
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November 23rd, 2014 | Author:

Before too many days go by after the end of our project at Eagle Rock Boys Ranch, I thought I’d do a little (non) GL (Group Leader) Report. :)  The Ranch is home to about 15 boys who have (largely) been through the system and have no where else to go.  Scott, the director, calls them “exceptionally distressed”.  As is often the case, we didn’t actually work with these boys, but rather concentrated on some “property maintenance”.  Right now the Ranch has two locations.
The original one –
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which has two residences, the office and the RV hook-ups.

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It also has a very long drive and very long trains that go by about a dozen times a day. Give or take.
And then there is the new property – which, hopefully, once it’s completely developed, will be the only property.

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The vision for the new property is that it will not only be home to the boys, but will also have the RV park and possibly some greenhouses and other revenue generating enterprises.
Then there are the two Thrift Shops – which currently exist to support the Ranch.

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Needless to say, we all found plenty to do! Gary worked on the HVAC systems in all the existing buildings, while the other two guys worked on the new RV sites. Gary did get to do a little excavation work once he got caught up on the HVAC work,
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and then it got so cold and wet that everyone was looking for inside jobs!
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Which brings us the the Thrift Stores – and what kept us ladies busy for three weeks.
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We sorted and straightened and tagged and sized – and man, did we have a good time! These were both large stores with donations galore.  I never realized the organization and thought process that goes into ‘thrift shop management’.  It really is quite the business!  I had a good time searching out the very best of the bargains (with the biggest mark-downs), and most every day left with a little bag of treasures. (It’s a good thing December’s project will most likely find me with a paint brush in my hand as opposed to a hanger!)

The three weeks went by quickly – just enough eating out and ‘sploring to make it fun, but not enough to break the bank! We thoroughly enjoyed getting to know two new (to us) SOWER couples and were blessed to be able to be a small part of this ministry.
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Right now we’re camped in a little city park in Opelousas, Louisiana for a couple of days until we go into our December project down the road in Eunice. Our days will be filled with chores and Christmas sewing and maybe a couple of naps. Thanks for stopping by – praying you have a great Thanksgiving week!

PS – There are a couple more Eagle Rock Project pictures HERE if you’re interested!

November 16th, 2014 | Author:

Friday, with the Polar Vortex in full swing, but the sun shining brightly, we headed to Birmingham.
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While there’s a lot to see and do in Birmingham, our destination was the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.
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I must confess that growing up in suburban Philadelphia in the 1960’s did not exactly thrust me into the Civil Rights Movement. I was not yet 12 when 4 girls were killed in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church and the term Freedom Riders and the name Rosa Parks had very little meaning to me at the time. Segregation and Integration were confusing vocabulary words in my comfortable all-white world. And even though my world (and interest in current events) expanded, I don’t think that I ever fully grasped that dark time in our country’s history. And maybe I never will. This was a sobering museum, reflecting a time that we must never forget.
Across the street from the museum is the 16th Street Baptist Church, another icon in the Civil Rights Movement.
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Nearby Kelly Ingram Park (aka West Park) memorializes the 4 girls that were killed in the bombing along with other milestones (some of the terrifying) of those tumultuous days in Birmingham.
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It was such a beautiful day, it was hard to imagine those terrible days just a short 50 years ago.
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But we must never forget.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

We still have a ways to go.