An Everglades Adventure~Part 2

1 Oct

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites

Bill Small Red Plane


Well, as it turned out, that engine had died a loud and painful death! Much later, I discovered some of the teeth on the phenolic timing gear had sheared off and left the valves and push rods free to fend for themselves.   Boy, what a scary racket that was! Well, since the car wouldn’t run, Dwayne had to tow our dead car, with us and our camper off the Interstate, to the closest campground. What a mess! Here we were, not an hour into our great Everglades Adventure and we were stuck with a broken car.


 However, not to be deterred from our original goal, we spent most of the that day setting up for our overnight stay in a nice campground there in Melbourne, after which we had to locate, purchase and install a bolt-on trailer hitch for Dwayne’s car. We arranged with the campground owner to leave my car until I could come get it, and transferred everything from our car to theirs. Now we had 4 adults, 4 children and a baby in Dwayne’s car with two canoes strapped to the top, and also pulling our tent camper. What a site that was when we pulled out of the campground and headed south again the next morning.


Since I-95 ended north of Miami back then, we had to use county roads for the last 45-50 miles before we made it to the entrance of the Everglades National Park.   Then it was another several miles to the Flamingo camping area. With no A/C in the car, it ended up being a grueling 5-hour trip (counting lunch & several potty stops). Then we had to get checked in at the Everglades campground, and find our campsites in the sprawling camping area.


The grassy campsites had paved slots, which made camper and tent setups very easy. We had a picnic table for each campsite, which we put together for our meals. After we had eaten, we went exploring to find the closest restrooms. We found them, and also discovered that for a shower we were going to have to drive 3 or 4 miles to the closest bathhouse, and then pay 25 cents for water. We would have to think about that. We were used to swimming in the fresh water springs and didn’t usually need showers.




—–To Be Continued—–


Do You Read Self-Help Books

29 Sep

My Take

DiVoran Lites


Author, Poet and ArtistIt’s confession time. Raise your hands if you like to read self-help books. I see not many of you have them up. Mine would be, though, if I didn’t have to keep my fingers on the keys. Yep, whether it’s The Power of Positive Thinking, by Norman Vincent Peale, or How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie, I love a good, well- written, intelligent self-help book. Some of the more modern ones I’ve read have been Inspired and Unstoppable, by Tama Kieves, and A Course in Miracles, which, not knowing that it majors on Jesus Christ and His Atonement, I avoided for years. I’m so glad I read them all. The list would reach all the way back to Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand, and The Feminine Mystique, which patrons recommended when I was working as a stylist for Magic Mirror Beauty Salons in Inglewood California.

Even now, I could give you the central idea from each book because they changed my life for the better. When I was a young mother I read Dr. Spock. I lived in that metropolis which is Los Angeles and had no one to tell me what to do with a brand new baby. In subsequent years we heard a lot of complaining about that one, but not everyone who criticized it had actually read it. Our children turned out so well, I was grateful for it. When I became a Christian I liked Dr. James Dobson’s books on child rearing. I’ve read books on psychiatry and psychology, religion, and Christianity, cooking, and cleaning. I’ve read How to dress, how to write journals, poems, novels and memoir. I couldn’t begin to tell you all the books I’ve read.

One that really stands out is, A Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, by Hannah Whitehall Smith. I’d recommend that one to anyone who wants to live a truly happy Christian life.

Long ago, I decided that I needed a standard for all these books. Oh, it wouldn’t matter, maybe about the cooking ones, but I wanted a solid philosophy to measure ideas against. I decided on the Holy Bible and it has never failed to keep me on track. I’ve read it over in many different translations and in different ways, such as topical studies, memorization, verse comparisons, and as straight story.

I majored for a semester to become a media specialist so I could work in a school library. It seemed people in the library world did not believe in censorship. That was a change for me, because I’d always been told in one way or another which books I could read and which ones I couldn’t. Books exist that could lead a person in the wrong direction, that’s for sure, but in general, I’m now of the opinion that I can read what I want because my wants are lined up with those of the Master.

I can’t imagine where I’d be if I hadn’t had all those wonderful and interesting books to read. It has been my major education and I’m deeply grateful for the much needed healing they have brought to me and to the ones I love because they have changed me for the better.

The one thing I’m seeing now is that I can read synopses and blurbs and decide whether I need that book or not. For a while, I was interested in various religious practices that show you how to live in the present, how to seek angels, etc. But I’ve found a wonderful secret now, I can short circuit all the hard work, study, meditation, that comes with that sort of thing and just ask Jesus to tell me the truth about anything and he puts thoughts in my head that because of my acquaintance with the Bible, I know are true, right, and good. These thoughts set things straight for me in a miraculous way and I thank the Lord Jesus Christ and His Spirit for being there for me.


John 8:23

You will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free



Daddy an Me

28 Sep


Judy Wills



Our family moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, when I was nearly four years old. We moved so my Dad could take on the position of New Mexico Sunday School Secretary for the New Mexico Baptist Convention. He traveled a lot around the state, either starting up new Sunday Schools in churches in other towns, or encouraging the existing Sunday Schools. It was a job he absolutely loved to do, and was very good at it.

He was also responsible for setting up what were called “summer missionaries.”. That is, college students from around the state would come to Albuquerque to be “trained” in conducting Vacation Bible School, and then would go to different churches around the state for a week or so doing just that. It was a life-changing time for a lot of those college students – as well as for the children they interacted with.

The New Mexico Baptist Convention headquarters was in Albuquerque, and that’s where Daddy’s office was.


All of the leaders (called Secretaries) of Baptist interests were in that building. One lady, Eva Inlow, was involved with women’s ministries. Her father had been quite involved with Baptist work in the state for many years, and he had established a summer camp for children/young people in the mountains about two hours out of town. They named it after her father: Inlow Youth Camp. I spent many summers there, usually anywhere from two to four weeks each summer. My brother said he did, as well. It was a great place to have fun and learn stuff, and get close to God. I have so many fond memories of my time there.

In going through some old photos recently, I came upon the following two pictures, taken at Inlow. It was in 1949 when Daddy and I were on this horse. Unfortunately, I don’t have any memory of it. But, obviously, Daddy and I took a horse ride together. Looks like we were both having fun together! He grew up on a farm, so I suspect he knew how to handle a horse.

Daddy and me on the horse.  Mother in the doorway behind us

Daddy and me on the horse. Mother in the doorway behind us




While I don’t have any memory of this event, I do have some wonderful memories of being at Inlow Youth Camp. I remember meeting new people there. I remember as a teenager going with a group of other teens from my church. I guess we, essentially, grew up at that camp. The mountain scene was great – the air was fresh and clean. And it was a great time just to commune with God and get our heads on straight.

God has blessed me in so many ways, but being able to go to Inlow Youth Camp was one of the best.

The joy of gratitude: five ways gratitude can change your life.

27 Sep

Old Things R New:

May this speak to your heart as it did to mine.

Originally posted on Janet Perez Eckles & Friends:

With permission:

With permission:

Guilty. I confess that often I overlook the gift of gratitude.

“Where are the avocados?” I asked hubby as I emptied the grocery bags on the kitchen counter.

“OOPS…I knew there was something I forgot,” he said.

Forgot? He knows life isn’t life for me without my green, delicious friends in my salads.

As a gentle complaint was about to slip out of my mouth. I changed. I made a U-turn of my thinking. Instead, as I put items away, I gather thoughts of gratitude—thank you God for this fruit. Thank you for my Ezekiel bread. Thank you for this quinoa, for this kale and peaches…

Then the doorbell interrupted me. “Hey!” I said to the neighbor as I opened the door.”

She placed a heavy plastic bag in my hands. “More avocados from our tree. They’re all yours.”

A smile came to my heart.  Of course…

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You Are Unique

26 Sep

From My Heart

Louise Gibson

Balderdash Mirth copy



God created you to be YOU!

He is the one who gave you talent.

He is the one who gave you lifel

When you struggle to be another,

it will only lead to strife!


Trust in the Lord with your whole heart.

He wants the best for you.

When you are doing what you love,

God is saying “Yes” to you.


Don’t let failure define you.

Hold on to your vision.

Ask the Lord to guide you

in making the right decision.


When you are doing what you love,

it excites your inner core.

It energizes creativity

and allows you to do more.


Keep in mind, your biggest cheerleader

in life is you..

Choose a positive attitude in reaching your goals,

and watch your dreams come true!


When You are doing what you love

My Husband Threw My Frying Pan into the Fire

25 Sep

Frying pan burning in the fire copy

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

I'm a winner


My husband threw my frying pan into the fire. Well, to be accurate, he threw two frying pans into the fire. You might think he was swearing off of fried foods and choosing to eat healthy, but nothing could be further from the truth. His idea of eating healthy is if it tastes good eat it.

The “frying pan incident” began back in the summer when my aunt Geroleen came to visit. I was getting ready to scramble eggs and pulled out my cast iron frying pan that had been my mothers. My mind flashed back to washing up my aunt’s frying pan on one of our visits with her. That frying pan was smooth and a thing of cured beauty. I was a bit embarrassed by the bubbles of built up burned grease on mine so I asked her how she kept her pans free of crud. Her answer was culinary shock and awe. She throws her cast iron frying pans into a fire! I questioned her on just how that worked and filed it in my mind. (It’s like a steel trap, you know-Ha-ha)

Weeks passed as I mulled this bizarre idea. I decided I had to try it, so I told my husband the next time he burned brush, to let me know. I wanted to add my pans to the fire.

On Monday it was a beautiful cool morning with very little wind. Mike announced it was time to burn some brush. Now burning brush is not a chore for my husband. He loves burning wood and tends the fire while practicing whittling with a water hose by his side. My ears perked up. “Wait, I said. I want you to burn my frying pans” Since he has lived with me for forty-three years, he didn’t even hesitate. When the fire was all set, he took the pans and put them on top of the heap. He said the pans literally caught fire as the grease burned. As the wood burned down, the glowing pans fell into a nest in the ashes.

Once the pans were cool, he brought them up to the house and I began the job of scrubbing them with steel wool. I was thrilled with the smooth sides and inner surface Once that was done; I washed them, coated them with oil and put them in a 180-degree oven for an hour and a half. After they cooled again, I used paper towels to wipe out the remaining oil.

The downside to this story is the pans look so nice, I don’t want to mess them up again.

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When I searched the Internet for ways to clean cast iron, this method was not listed. It’s an “old” method. Do you have any cleaning or cooking hints from the old ways that you use today?

An Everglades Adventure~Part 1

24 Sep

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites



After moving to Florida and becoming an avid Florida Natural Springs campers, we began to encourage our close friends to go camping with us. We told them how much fun it was and how great it was to get out and be one with Nature.   Florida has some of the most beautiful tropical State and National parks a person could ask for, and we had become determined to visit as many of them as we could.



One day our friends, Dwayne and Jenny, expressed an interest in going camping with us. Well, that’s all we had to hear and we began planning our next trip. DiVoran had always wanted to visit the Florida Everglades, and since we had no other suggestions, that’s where we finally decided to go. In the early 70’s, the Everglades National Park was advertised as Nature at its best, with camping, hiking, canoeing, animal and bird watching and more. Well, we thought it would be a great adventure to camp at the southern tip of Florida and enjoy all those wonderful features. The part they left out of their colorful brochure was how primitive the area was.   


As I remember, at the time, Dwayne and Jenny’s three children were about 12 months, 3 and 6 years old, and our two children were about 8 and 10 years old. We planned to use our small pop-up camper as a base camp while their family slept in a large tent that would hold all of them. We each borrowed a canoe for the trip, and we packed all our food and equipment in our camper. We had a 1960 Chevy Biscayne that I drove back and forth to work and used to pull the camper.


Dwayne and Jenny had their tent, and all of their family provisions loaded in their car, with their canoe strapped on the top.   We had everything loaded, packed and ready for an early morning start. The best I remember it, Dwayne and I had taken Friday off, and since we were both off work the following Monday for (I think it was) Columbus Day, we were looking forward to a nice long four-day weekend to enjoy our Everglades Adventure. So, off we went the next morning as early as we could to get everyone moving.



We headed south on I-95 looking forward to a wonderful relaxing trip.   We were breezing along at 70 mph, with great anticipation about our upcoming adventure, when just as we were approaching SR-192 in Melbourne (only about 40 miles from our starting point), the engine in our car suddenly made a loud clattering noise, and the engine quit. I had no idea what could have happened, but all I could do now was to safely get off the highway and coast to a stop to check it out.


                                                            —–To Be Continued—–

Getting More Than You Give~Part 2

22 Sep

My Take

DiVoran Lites

Author, Poet and ArtistVolunteers from large organization help a large number of people. But not everyone is in a position to do that. That makes me wonder if a seemingly smaller contribution has less importance. When I think of Denisha, I know the answer is a simple no.

Some members of Danisha’s family are in jail. Some have been shot. There’s not a lot of money in the family. Danisha, however has a job. She works hard, even though she has gone through multiple surgeries as the result of an automobile accident. Denisha seems to be the guardian angel of a family of cousins and sisters and their children. One girl-child is under guardianship with Danisha now. She has brought others to church for many years. Several of them have invited Christ into their lives.

My little Sunday School class has a different number of these children attending almost every Sunday. I like them a lot! They remind me of the child I was, and the kids I knew in our small, plain community in Colorado long ago. Danisha says that her grandmother brought her to church and her uncle who is an elder in our church included her in family get-togethers. She had her troubles as a young adult, but she came into the love of Christ and it made all the difference.

Danisha, often brings edible treats for our Sunday School refreshment time. A few Sundays ago she missed most of the church service to go after hamburgers for the seven kids who attended our class that day. Last Sunday she headed out for pizza. Before she left, she asked the children what kind of pizza they wanted. The verdict was: one pepperoni pizza and one cheese. We were all hungry and excited.

While we waited, we had rhythm band and singing. Then Mr. Lites prayed for them. Next as I searched through my store of books for the right story I came to a Jack Prelutsky book of poetry. “Oh, I hope this is, A Pizza the Size of the Sun, I thought. It turned it was not only the book, but the poem of the same name appears on the first page. I picked it up and read with great feeling about a great pizza while the children listened rapt and salivating. Then I recalled that this was a “lesson,” so I said, “God is even better than pizza!” It might sound a bit lame, but given the fervor in the room when pizza was mentioned, I thought the idea just might seep into their little minds and lodge permanently in their brains.

A lot of learning takes place on the woodsy play ground outside, so we went out there to play on the swings and wait some more. We learn sharing, kindness, love, obedience, and maybe a bit of race relations. When we first got there we found a few frogs the size of the my thumbnail jumping around. Nature is always a part of our curriculum so we looked them over and one of the boys picked one up. Finally Danisha came with the pizza confessing that she had eaten the missing sliver as she headed back to church. We sat at picnic tables and dug in. Yum! That pizza was delicious! The kids ate and ate, we were all happy, but I suspect that the person who got the most joy out of the experience was Danisha.

Yes, there are many different kinds of volunteers, from people who do wonderful things in big organizations and help a lot of people to those who work hard, take on a guardianship, and bring the little ones to Jesus just as He commanded. All kinds of volunteerism gets passed down, all kinds of roll-models are needed.




Psalm 68:6 New Living Translation (NLT)

God places the lonely in families;
he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.

My Husband…My Hero

21 Sep


Judy Wills


After the birth of our second child in 1971, we moved from Loring AFB, Maine, to San Antonio, Texas, where Fred would become an instructor at the Officer Training School (OTS) at Lackland AFB. Since our marriage, we had always lived in either apartments or government quarters. We felt it was time to own our first home. So we began looking at houses not too far from Lackland.

We didn’t actually have a realtor, but kept seeing signs for “Ray Ellison Homes” all around that area, so we checked them out. There was a subdivision of new homes there – within our price range – and we found one we liked. It wasn’t terribly large, but it had three bedrooms and TWO BATHROOMS!! WOW! We snapped it up.


The bedroom windows in this house were high and long – narrow. They were high enough that we could hang a picture above our bed (no headboard). One night in 1972, about 2:00 a.m., we both were awakened by a bright light. We got up and looked out our bedroom window – and saw flames roaring from the garage in the house next to us! It took us a few seconds to recognize what was happening, then we swung into action. I called the fire department, then ran to get the girls. I was in such a state that I forgot to bring extra diapers for Janet! The firemen told us we had to leave the house, so we went to the neighbor’s house across the street.

In the meantime, Fred ran next door to the burning house. He began ringing the doorbell and pounding on the door. I heard him yelling “FIRE” several times. He woke them up. To his amazement – they ran back into the house to get “stuff” before leaving. They told us later that, while they usually left their bedroom doors open at night, they had each closed their doors that particular night, and so didn’t know their house was on fire.


None of the family members were injured in the fire, while the entire house was destroyed. Fred suffered some burns on his forehead from blowing embers. After rousing the house members, he grabbed our garden hose and began spraying the side of our house, trying to save it from as much damage as possible. Some of our windows shattered, but we had the blinds closed, and so the shards were contained mostly in the carpet. We had about $500 damage to our house, including the soft water tank on that side of the house. But Culligan came and replaced it with no charge to us.


It took until after daybreak for the fire to be under control. We were amused to see that some of the neighbors came out to retrieve their newspapers and found fire trucks and hoses in the street! They hadn’t heard or seen anything during the night! Heavy sleepers, huh?

I volunteered to help do some salvage. What amazed me was in the kitchen – the door of the dishwasher was completely mangled and warped. But under the top cabinets hung a roll of paper towels, completely untouched by the fire!

Two years later, the house on the OTHER side of us caught fire in the early morning. And we learned that, after we left San Antonio, the house two doors down from THAT one burned. Seems like it skipped every other house. We’re just glad ours was one of the “skipped” ones!

But Fred is my hero – thinking of the neighbors as he did.


Am I good enough? Four ways to please God.

20 Sep

Old Things R New:

Oh my, I can see myself in this man. How many times am I obedient but grumbling.

Originally posted on Janet Perez Eckles & Friends:

With permission:

With permission:

How can I be good enough to please God? Did I do enough to please Him? These questions rumbled in my mind at the end of the day when I reviewed the pile of tasks yet to be done.

The Orlando afternoon was hot, and the parking lot even hotter. My parents and I sat in the car outside the eye doctor’s office. My mom turned the ignition key, and nothing happened. The battery was dead and so was my cell phone. And my Dad, also blind like me, didn’t offer options.

“C’mon,” I said to my Mom, “you and I will go in that doctor’s office and ask for help.”

She positioned me in the middle of the waiting room. I gave a sheepish smile. “Excuse me,” I said, “would anyone be willing to give us a jump? Our battery is dead.”

“Yeah,” a woman said, “my husband can. Go…

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