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Road Trip~ Florence, Alabama

12 Oct

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

 

September 7, 2017 as Hurricane Irma churned her way across the Caribbean and the Atlantic ocean, we left our home in Western North Carolina for a three-week road trip. Irma was having a hard time deciding on a track and I was having a hard time hitting the road not knowing how my family in Florida would fare.  From North Carolina, I could get to them in ten or twelve hours but each day we traveled west extended that time. We lifted them up in prayer and began our journey.

We decided to minimize our time spent on interstates for the first two legs of our trip. Day one began with a scenic drive on US Hwy 76 through Hiawassee, Blairsville, Blue Ridge and Ellijay, Georgia. Beautiful area!

Have you ever been driving, or in my case, riding down the road and see a place flash by and wish you had stopped to investigate?  That is what happened to me after we entered Tennessee on US Hwy 72. I saw a sign that I thought read Lodge Factory. I began mumbling about the sign, wondering if it could be the real Lodge Cast Iron factory, and not one of the factory stores one sees in outlet malls. I must have been mumbling louder than I thought as my husband asked if I had wanted to stop there. I admitted that I did and he found a turn around and back we went.

 

 

The ladies working in the store were friendly and helpful and the best part is they seemed to genuinely enjoy working there. I told them I was hoping to buy some of their factory “seconds” and I was directed to a fairly large section. Of course, I found some pieces I needed. Just between you and me, a couple of them will end up under the Christmas tree.

Back in the car, we headed toward Scottsboro, Alabama, home of Unclaimed Baggage. My daughter had told me about it and it became a must do on my adventure list. The company purchases unclaimed baggage from airlines as well as freight that is unclaimed. They assess it, then decide whether to donate or sell it. If they decide to sell, the items are cleaned and sanitized before being placed on the shopping floor. It was a fascinating place, and of course my mind wondered about the stories behind the items.  I found the numerous racks of clothing to be overwhelming but enjoyed shopping in the smaller last call area and purchased an amazing stainless vacuum water bottle for $2.00. It was my daily companion on our trip.

 

We ended our first day in Florence, Alabama.  My husband loves pizza and I love Krispy Kreme doughnuts. We took it as a good omen for our trip that Cici’s Pizza and Krispy Kreme were in the same shopping area near our hotel. Pizza for supper and KK  the next morning.

 

 

 

Some Days We Soar

21 Sep

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

 

Some days we soar, other times we are simply hanging on. Then there are the days when we can barely lift our feet off the ground. But ALWAYS Jesus is loving on us.

 

Photo taken at Pagosa Springs Color Fest

 

A Night in the Storm

14 Sep

Reblogging from my daughter’s post on Rebekah Lyn’s Kitchen.

As Irma neared Florida, my husband and I were setting off on a road trip that would take us thousands of miles from our daughter. I thought she would ride out the storm with friends but as the storm grew closer, she decided to go it alone. I was upset. But as I prayed for the ability to accept her decision and not “guilt” her, I found peace.

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Hurricane Irma was my first hurricane completely on my own. When it was predicted to come up the east coast, I considered going to stay with some cousins on the west coast, or even getting a hotel in Orlando. When the track changed, sending the eye of the storm up the west coast instead, I decided to stay home.

I could have gone and spent the night with some friends a few miles away. Maybe I should have or maybe God wanted me home alone. I learned a lesson about pride when my power went out at 8pm. One of the reasons I hadn’t wanted to stay with my friends was that my power had been so reliable during Hurricane Matthew last year.

 

Mia trying to open the door with her mind.

Hurricane bunker provisions

 

I learned a lot about drawing close to God too. After tornado warnings that were sounded as soon as the previous one expired (at one point my area was under three different tornado warnings at the same time), with the wind howling so loud and my bathroom feeling like a shrinking prison, I turned on my lantern and reached for two books: Fervent by Priscilla Shirer and I Am by John Paul Jackson. I Am is a Bible study I am attending about the names of God, powerful stuff, and Fervent is about learning how to pray powerfully against the evil that seeks to destroy our lives. Reading these books brought my focus to God, my deliverer, my redeemer, my refuge. It was more calming than conversing with another person crowded in a small room.

When I turned the light off to try and sleep I kept hearing the chorus to “O My Soul” by Casting Crowns.

O my soul, 

You are not alone

There’s a place where fear has to meet the God you know

One more day, He will make a way

Let Him show you how, you can lay this down

‘Cause you’re not alone.

I don’t know why I have delayed downloading this CD, but once I have power again I will make sure to add it to my library.

I was also reminded of God’s perfect timing. As the worst passed and we were downgrading to tropical storm conditions, I went upstairs to read, there was more light up there. Fervent is broken down into sections to help the reader build a strategy for prayer. The chapter I started reading was on praying for your family. This is important stuff any time, but especially timely for me as there is some stuff going on that needs serious prayer. If I had read this book over the summer as I had intended when I purchased it, this chapter may not have resonated with me as much or I may have forgotten the important points it covers when I need them now.

Finally, I was assured of God’s provision. About an hour after the power went out I went to the kitchen for some reason and found water on the floor. I couldn’t believe the freezer was melting already. Then I heard a drip and swinging the flashlight around I saw water dripping from my pot rack hanging from the ceiling.

I managed to get all of the pots down, then the rack itself, which was a feat. It’s quite a heavy thing. After that the dripping stopped. There appear to be some water spots on the ceiling so I don’t know if the chain was acting as a wick and the weight was drawing the water out of the ceiling beams or what. After the storm I went outside but couldn’t see any shingles missing from the roof.

I put out a call on Facebook for anyone who might be able to come over and take a look. A number of people liked the post, but no one was offering assistance. I went to check on other friends in the area and briefly discussed my situation. I acknowledged that God would provide what I needed and when I got home I found a response on Facebook asking for more information. We talked and arrangements were made for a visit the following day.

As I write this, I still don’t know what caused the leak and I am going on 27 hours without power and yet I am at peace. Don’t get me wrong, there have been times of anxiousness and frustration. There is nothing fun about a house without AC on a warm summer day/night, but I am grateful for this experience.

We talk about God being with us through the metaphorical storms of life, but sometimes it’s good to remember He is with us during the literal storm as well.

 

Update: Its now been over 65 hours without power but I have been blessed by so many people. Those who have offered their freezer, who have allowed me to charge my devices and provided a hot meal, and two who helped with my roof concern. First, a high school friend came with a ladder and we were able to asses my roof, finding a couple cracks in flashing and slightly lifted shingles. Then I was able to connect with my church’s former maintenance man. He came over and filled in the cracks with caulk. He also checked to make sure there weren’t any other compromised areas. God provided both of these individuals at points when I was beginning to lose hope. I know how fortunate I am to have such minimal damage. Power will be restored eventually. I saw a crew a few blocks away and took them the cookies I made before the power went out as a way to thank them for traveling so far to help us out (they were from Wyoming). Through all of this I have learned a lot about myself and about God. I hope I will carry these lessons with me for a long time.

The sunrises on a new day after the storm

Source: https://rebekahlynskitchen.wordpress.com/2017/09/13/a-night-in-the-storm/

Shameless mom plug.  The first book in Rebekah’s Season of Faith series, Summer Storms, takes place during the 2004 Hurricane season. It is available in most online bookstores in eBook and paperback. The digital version of Summer Storms is free. Here is the Amazon LINK

 

Bloggers Hunkering Down

10 Sep

The bloggers of Old Things R New live in Central Florida. I would appreciate your prayers for them as well as their families as Hurricane Irma passes over. Central Florida has been under multiple tornado warnings and their have been touchdowns with damage. Fortunately, in our area,  the storm is weaker than the graphic below. Most of our bloggers will be without power . I am not in Florida at this time and will upload posts as our team is able to send them.

To those in the path of Irma, I am praying for your safety.

 

Life Can Be a Spaghetti Map

7 Sep

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

 

Last week I wrote about clouds; benign clouds that covered the eclipse as well as painful ones that covered the soul.  This week brings a new array of clouds. Hurricane clouds. Friends and family in Florida are busy preparing for the monster storm, yet some seem to be paralyzed by indecision. Should we evacuate or should we stay? Who can blame them with projection maps like this? Decision time will come in the next 24 hours for Central Florida.

 

Hurricane Irma Spaghetti Map

 

Life is fraught with storms and sometimes our lives seem to resemble this map as we try to navigate between our jobs, families, activities and yes, heartache too. I feel this way. But God is so loving and sends encouragment when its least expected. For me it was in the restroom of an indoor flea market.

 

 

I like the rest of the verse too.  In The Message paraphrase it reads like this:

“Step out of the traffic! Take a long,
    loving look at me, your High God,
    above politics, above everything.”

Clouds

31 Aug

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

 

We were excited to be in the path of totality for the August 21, 2017 eclipse. We made plans, invited family and even had some unexpected but joyfully welcome family and friends arrive. We put up a screen tent, set up cameras and even some chaise loungers for optimal viewing.

 

 

As totality approached we were dismayed to see clouds streaming in.

 

 

We seemed to be holding our breaths as the clouds covered the sun. Then for a brief and amazing moment, the full eclipse blazed in all its glory.

Do you ever feel like clouds are moving quickly over your life? I am feeling that as I type this but just as the sun burst forth from the clouds, I know that God will burn away my clouds and redeem my sorrow.

 

Do you not know?  Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. Isaiah 40:28-29

Are You Traveling to View the Solar Eclipse

17 Aug

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

 

Wednesday at breakfast with friends, the discussion naturally turned to the August 21, 2017 Solar Eclipse. Our small town in North Carolina is in the path of totality. Two weeks ago before we left to spend some time in Florida, the eclipse conversation centered around who had family coming and where to get protective glasses. It was relaxed and casual conversation.

 

Wikimedia.org

This week the conversation was completely different as my friends shared the stories they had been hearing about the event and the crowds. I decided it would be good to share some thoughts from a local for those traveling to view the eclipse.

The most surprising thing I learned was that some restaurants would not be opening on Monday citing not enough freezer space to stock up and uncertainty of staff’s ability to get to work.

SUGGESTION ONE: DON’T DEPEND 100% ON PURCHASING MEALS IN RESTAURANTS. BRING SNACKS, PROTEIN BARS, FRUIT ETC. IF YOU ARE SPENDING THE NIGHT, BRING A COOLER WITH MILK, JUICE  AS WELL AS BREAKFAST FOODS LIKE CEREAL OR POP TARTS. DON’T FORGET PAPER PRODUCTS LIKE BOWLS, CUTLERY AND PAPER TOWELS. 

There are rumors that some accommodations are charging exorbitant rates, if you can find a room at all.

SUGGESTION TWO: IF YOU DON’T HAVE RESERVATIONS, DECIDE WHAT YOUR OPTIONS ARE. WOULD YOU BE WILLING TO SLEEP IN YOUR CAR?

I am already seeing signs advertising their parking fees. A local flea market is charging $6.00 to park and another business is charging $20.00. I will not be surprised to see higher prices on the day.

SUGGESTION THREE: BE PREPARED FOR UNEXPECTED EXPENSES SUCH AS PARKING. I SUSPECT LOCAL ATM MACHINES WILL BE DEPLETED QUICKLY.

Our community is having fun events including a free concert by Mountain Faith, but as we discussed the predicted crowds and clogged roads, the consensus at the table was that we were are all staying home to view the eclipse. If we get brave, we may venture out for some of the activities on the weekend.

SUGGESTION FOUR: KEEP YOUR GAS TANK TOPPED OFF SO THAT YOU WON’T HAVE TO WORRY IF YOU ARE CAUGHT IN SLOW MOVING TRAFFIC.

One article I read about the eclipse made three very practical points. It is August and it will be hot.Dress accordingly including sunscreen. You will need water and you will also need to consider the lack of bathroom facilities, especially in roadside parking. i am not sure how to remedy the last one.

SUGGESTION FIVE: BE SURE TO BRING ENOUGH WATER TO MAKE IT THROUGH A WARM DAY AND SCOUT OUT BATHROOMS NEAR YOUR VIEWING AREA.

I hope you don’t mind the caps and bold lettering in my suggestions. I did it for those who need a quick read, without the chatter. I am excited about the eclipse. I already have commemorative T-shirts for my family and will be stocking up on groceries for our family members who begin arriving tomorrow. I  feel incredibly blessed to be living in the path of totality. Wherever you view the eclipse, savor the time with family and friends, make memories and keep in mind that even stressful bumps in the experience often turn into favorite family tales.

 

Click her for More tips from our county Facebook page.

 

There’s Reading and Then There is READING

20 Jul

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

 

Yesterday, I decided that husband and I needed to go on an “outing”. He had spent the early part of the week painting his workshop and we needed a change of scenery. Traveler’s Rest in Georgia is a historic plantation I had been wanting to visit so I went online and found the address and read all the pertinent information. I say I read it, but did I really? I must not have because when we arrived there, Traveler’s Rest was closed. A sign stated its hours to be Saturday and Sunday only. We walked up on the porch and marveled at the rough wood. The original structure was built in 1815. I wonder how many times the wood has been replaced. We took a few pictures and plan to return in August when our daughter comes for a visit.

 

 

We had packed a picnic lunch so we headed to Tugaloo State Park. We have passed the turnoff for the park many times but this was our first visit. The day was quite warm and my phone battery was low so I only took two pictures.  With lake front cabins and campsites it is a boating and fishing paradise! We ate our lunch under a pavilion overlooking the lake.

 

 

We enjoyed our adventure, roaming back roads and seeing new places. On the return trip, husband spotted a new Harbor Freight store so of course, we had to stop and shop! He found a couple of items he needed and I found a nice pruning  shear mounted on a long pole. Just what hubby needs to do the trimming I have been nagging  gently asking him to do.

You can bet I checked out the Traveler’s Rest website when we returned home. Sure enough, it clearly stated Saturday and Sunday. I guess there is reading and then there is reading. 

Life lesson: Never skim a webpage when planning a trip.

Bargains, Blooms and Heaven Too.

6 Jul

On the Porch
Onisha Ellis

 

Have you noticed as one gets older, that days seem to speed by and you can’t really remember where the last week went? Maybe if something exciting happens I can recall that, but for the most part, days and weeks are a blur.

As a child, I couldn’t imagine enjoying heaven where each day would stretch into eternity and I would be bored to tears singing praise songs. Now my quirky mind is wondering if the sensation of time speeding up is preparation for eternity. I can easily see myself  having no clue how long I have been there, that is a good thing, but I sure hope heaven doesn’t include endless repetition of the same eight to ten words like praise songs at church. Somehow I believe the songs will be more creative and glorious.

I did have some excitement last week. Big Lots has a bread rack with reduced prices. When we made our weekly visit to check out their choices, I was thrilled to find Artisan Bread by Sara Lee. I love this bread. It is the closest to home made taste that I have found. It’s too pricey for me to have often unless I find it at Big Lots so I stocked up!

 

 

Our Hydrangea continue to bless up with abundant blooms and I am enjoying them. Yesterday my husband cut some beauties to enjoy inside. While I was stripping off the leaves, I accidentally pulled off some small blooming branches. I looked around the dining and kitchen area for a suitable vessel and spied a small blue bowl and pitcher set.  We had given to  my husband’s mom as a souvenir of one of our trips to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. It depicts Clingman’s Dome. Her birthday is this month, so I decided it was a perfect way to honor her memory. She raised five boys and loved them dearly.

 

 

Our July 4th celebration was on the quiet side. Our grandson came over in the evening to have supper with us and watch our neighbor’s fireworks.  It was good to have one on one time. He is growing up to be an interesting young man. The neighbor out did his previous years efforts. Of course the one that went awry was kind of exciting. Nothing like having a ball of glowing green fire heading straight at you!

It seems fireworks can be purchased as a boxed set, just like books!

 

My cousin, Diane Murphy passed away this week. I like to think of the heavens lighting up to welcome her home. She was dearly loved.

 

At her son’s wedding

What Type of Reader are You?

29 Jun

On the Porch
Onisha Ellis

 

This morning I was idly thinking about my reading habits. I consider myself a “fluff’ reader.  I didn’t enjoy what my teachers called the classics. Steinbeck and Hemingway bored me to tears and I really wanted that old man in the sea to just cut-the-line. And what was the point in the Iliad and the Odyssey and sirens luring men to their death? Hello, who didn’t know that men will fall for a pretty face and enticing body. Reading the book was not going to change that. Give me a good mystery or romance novel. I also enjoy a rousing action story.

I definitely don’t enjoy fantasy novels, although I have read a couple that engaged my attention. Thinking about reading made me wonder about authors. What influences their choice of genre?

It seems to me that authors of fiction fall into two very general categories, fixers and story tellers. Fixers write in genres that involve building worlds that are a better place, especially fantasy novelists. The authors who write dystopia and thriller/war create problems then set about solving them. Romance novelist are serious fixers. They create wounded characters and spend the entire book setting them up to be restored, complete with a happy ever after ending.

Story tellers take a more gentle approach. Their characters need to be fixed but that is not the point of the novel. My favorite story tellers are D.E. Stevenson and Miss Read.

 

 

 

Their books and writing style are now considered simplistic and old fashioned but they draw me into the lives of their characters and include me in their journey. James Herriot was a fine story-teller as well.  His books are classics I can relate to.

 

 

Reader friends, are you drawn to fixers or story tellers? To my author friends, I would enjoy your take on my theory. Do you see your writing in terms of fixing or telling a great story?

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