Tuesday, January 13, 2015

"When did we see you a stranger and take you in?"

"Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see you a stranger and take you in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You in prison, and come to You?' And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.' " That quote is from Matthew 25:37-40.

This last week has presented me, and quite a few other Brothers and Sisters in Christ the opportunity to be who we have been called to do.  A family in Christ has fallen on an extremely difficult situation, in fact it can be considered a crisis situation. Up until last night, I have been in continuous prayer for them and the situation.

About ten hours ago, a gofundme account was set up for this family and as of this writing we have collected a small amount, which is an awesome achievement considering the time it went active. However, that said, the goal is a very high one and a bit daunting at that. Prior to this week, I could have gotten discouraged by what I'm seeing, but since last week with interceding for them as well as another friend, my faith is as strong as it ever was. I can see God's hand moving.

This is not going to be a long post, this is just going to be one of sharing. This gofundme is urgent and I am asking that you prayerfully consider donating and definitely share wherever you can. It only takes a small thing to turn a family's balance into something tragic...whether it is an accident, a death, prison, addiction, etc., and it could be your family in need. Wouldn't you want your friends and family to do all they could to help?

Thank you dear friends not only here in my hometown, but around the world.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

I always thought I would have a dull life...

Trust me, I didn't disappoint myself!

I mean, seriously...when one has eight cats, four, sometimes five dogs, two toddlers/preschoolers and the Mouse in the house at one time, well, life isn't dull.

Case in point. Sunday.

A bit of background first. My house is over forty years old. Its wiring has little to be desired. There has been more than one occasion that I've had issues with the outlets, not to mention sometimes the kitchen light. That, however is for another blog and another day. Needless to say, I've begun to think this house has a mind of its own and doesn't like me.

That brings me to Sunday. I turn off my ringer for church. Always. Which means that anytime someone calls I usually don't get it until after church ends. Well, I've begun to take my Kindle to church because there's an app that allows me to make notes with the sermon. If you haven't seen this app, check it out, its called YouVersion and has the option to find a live sermon. So. I set up a mobile tether to my Kindle so that I can get the live version of our Pastor's sermon. Sunday I was about to set up my tether when I see that my Hubby called. This doesn't happen, so I left the sermon to call.

I went out to the foyer and tried calling back. No answer. Gut tightens. Call the house phone, gut tightens more...goes to the answering machine. "Hello? Hello? Hello?" finally an answer. The outlet where the computer is has sparked. Yay. Well at least the house didn't burn down.

Problem is, I smelled plastic when I got up that morning, but figured something plastic fell on the heating element in the dishwasher, it was that kind of smell and I dismissed it.

When I got home, I turned off the power to the house and tried to get the surge protector out of the outlet. No good, it was fused to the housing of the outlet. I ended up pulling too hard and pulled the outlet apart. So, I cut the cord to the plug, inspect the surge protector, which is totally fried as well, unplug the computer which is thankfully unharmed and tape up the exposed wires. Out comes the duct tape and I tape that up as well, because, well, sometimes my cats are stupid and fried cat couldn't possibly smell good.

Head back out and turn the power back on, go to check the tape on the wall, push on the outlet and Oops! Flames shoot up the wall! Blow those pups out, turn the power back off and call an electrician. They can't get out until Monday (seriously...what was I thinking?? LOL!) but they tell me to call the fire department because there was a fire. Now comes the good part.

No sooner do I hang up with 911 when a huge rig pulls up to my driveway and six...count 'em, six taller than my house firemen hop out, one of them in a mask. A small snort pops out of my mouth as I get a mental picture of the many commercials and memes with firemen, as Hubby and Mouse scramble to contain the dogs. The cats? They usually scatter and I don't generally worry about them.

Blushing pretty heavily, I open the door and all but one of these guys bend their heads to walk in. One of the cats, Snickers, gets this look like "oh....@&^%$!", growls, fluffs to five time her size (which is pretty big in the first place) and backs into and up the Christmas tree. Ornaments rain down and I lose at least two of the bulbs. Next thing I see is a black and white streak hauling hiney out of the room.

 The guy with the mask (who still has it on)and the rest of them check the walls, outlets and attic for hot spots, then the guy in charge tells him he can take his mask off. Me, always the mouth says "unless you're allergic to cats." He smiles, says he isn't allergic to anything and takes the mask off. One of the other cats cautiously peeks around the corner, sees the guy remove the mask and a grey streak flashes by. I have to shake my head, these cats are something. It took me over a half an hour after they firemen left to get a head count, two of my furbies hid under the couch (how the heck did those chubs get under there??).

I get that this is may be only slightly funny and perhaps just a bit too much of a look into my house, but I had to get it out. My life is never dull. If the two Master Minds aren't being sillies, the animals are doing their best to practice for Barnum and Bailey. I have dogs chasing cats, cats chasing dogs and on at least two occasions, cats chasing kids, only once did the kiddo have a string, but both times play was involved.

I have to wonder at this point...what is 2015 going to bring! ;)

Happy New Year, folks! May it never be dull and may the smiles be abundant!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Was thinking this morning...

As I was getting ready to begin my day with my Granddaughters today, I was doing my morning prayers. Multitasking...something that I'm pretty adept at. Anyway, I reminded myself of an acronym for prayer, mostly because I felt that my morning prayers were getting pretty stale. If they felt stale and boring to me, I can't imagine how they must be for God. Anyway.

As I said, I was reminded of an acronym; JOY. Jesus first; Others second; Yourself last. I didn't get much past the "y" because the thoughts that started to overwhelm me on the "J" took over.

We celebrate Christmas to remember Jesus' birth, although we are not sure of what day He was born. We celebrate the coming of the Messiah, the One who will save the world, on Christmas, but very few of us think past that day until Easter time and the end result of Christ's ministry.

As I was praying, or in my case, actually talking to Jesus, it hit me. I couldn't have done what He did, knowing the end result would have been so horrendous. I know the end, end result was He went Home, but the pain and the suffering He endured to get there...not sure I could have handled it without going batty insane.

For those of you who don't know the story, here's the condensed version. Jesus, who is the second in the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit), left Glory to become a man. If that starts your mind boggling, think of an egg...three parts to an egg, one egg. Same thing here. Three parts to God, One God. Anyway, He left Heaven to become a Man...being born of a virgin He entered this life like everyone else, as a baby. He grew up, living a sinless life and began His ministry at the age of 30. Now, I'm going to pause here.

All His life, He knew what waited for Him at the end of His ministry here on earth. All His life. He came face to face with Satan in the desert. Right there, I don't know if I wouldn't have reneged on the deal. Praise God, He didn't.

At the end of His ministry, He was rejected by His own people (the Jews), was hated by the Sanhedrin, the Pharisees and the Saducees, and was betrayed by one who called himself His friend and disciple. Again, not sure I could have done it.

When He was arrested, He was beaten, scourged, lashed...His beard was pulled out, a crown of thorns shoved on His already mutilated head, and yet He stayed His course. The lashing...He received 40 lashes (at least, probably more). Most lashings historically were 39, supposedly to keep the lashee from dying on them. Then they made Him carry the cross-beam for His own torture device up a hill. Now, just to give you an idea of how heavy this thing was, try picking up a railroad tie...this was heavier. Jesus had already lost mass amounts of blood and yet He carried the beam at least a little way before collapsing and then Simeon carried it the rest of the way for Him.

I don't know about you, but that would have been a deal breaker for me. For Jesus, it wasn't.

When they got to Golgotha, they laid Him down on the beam and stretched out His arms. They ran spikes, not nails, spikes into His hands/wrists. I write it this way because to have run the spikes through the center of the hand, the spike would have torn through the flesh and freed, albeit painfully, the victims hands, rendering the crucifixion useless. According to scientists, the spikes were run just under the palm of the hand into the wrist where the carpals would have stopped the spikes and held them fast,

They raised the cross beam up the already standing vertical beam and ran a spike through His feet. Crucifixion is an extremely cruel form of punishment as gravity pulls the body down, suffocating the victim. The one crucified then keeps trying to lift himself up to get air by pushing on his feet. From what I've read, the pain is excruciating and most mercifully pass out before they actually suffocate.
Still, being fully God and fully Man, Jesus stayed His course. But now, this is the part in our conversation that got to me.

As I was remembering all that He went through to be the ultimate sacrifice so that you and I didn't have to endure the pain, torture and separation from God that is Hell and the Lake of Fire, it occurred to me that He knew in a small moment what it was like to be me.

In that one moment when all of the sins of the world; past, present and future, were cast upon Him, when He willingly took them and took the punishment for them, GOD TURNED HIS BACK ON HIM. Why? Because our righteous God could not look upon sin, and Jesus had become everything that sin was, in that one brief moment. Right then, right then, Jesus knew what it was like to be mentally unstable, to be depressed, to be gay. He knew what it was like to be an adulterer, to be a liar, to be a thief, to be a murderer. He knew what it was to be deceptive, to doubt, to hate, to fear, to experience confusion, and any other sins or negative emotions that we can think of because they all came crashing in on Him. He never once experienced these sins, He saw them in others, but He Himself never experienced them until that one moment in time...and His Father, the One He loved the most, turned His back on Him. He cried, and shouted to God and asked why He had forsaken Him, but He already knew the answer, even as He spoke it. The sin nature took over at that one nanosecond and perhaps He felt hope slipping away, even though He knew it hadn't.

Then the veil was torn. The earth shook. The sky darkened, and He said..."It is finished."

He died.

I couldn't have done what He did.
I couldn't have done it knowing the pain, suffering, and torture I would have to endure. I couldn't have done it knowing the One I loved the most would have turned His back on me, even for a second. I couldn't have done it for people who I didn't know, much less someone who wasn't even born yet.
But I didn't have to, Jesus did it all for me.

So, you see, when we celebrate His birth at Christmas time, we actually celebrate our God who made a way for us to be with Him when this part of our lives is over. We celebrate the love that He had for us since before the foundations of the world were created. We celebrate the salvation that was provided, the blameless, sinless, spotless Lamb of God...Jesus, who despite knowing every moment that was coming; despite knowing the end result in this life, kept on His course so that we would never have to deal with Hell, torture beyond our comprehension or the Lake of Fire.

I couldn't have done it, but I thank God that Jesus could and did.

Have a wonderful, safe and blessed New Year.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Okay, so its been looking like Christmas since October, who are we kidding? But that hasn't stopped me from being over the top excited about two days from now.

Let me explain. No, wait, let me start from the beginning of the year.

To say that this year has been a strange one is an understatement. The world seems to have lost its collective mind in one way or another and all of us, whether we want to admit it or not, have been affected be it. From the shock of seeing one our own citizens beheaded by ISIS on the local news (the actual act, of course, not shown), to the deaths of two very different men in different circumstances by the hands of Law Enforcement. From the execution of our men in blue; to North Korea having temper tantrums of one degree or another; to losing one of the most beloved actors of our time taking his own life because of depression, the news has been fraught with stories that tug our heartstrings and stir anger, angst and outrage.

There has been good in the news, don't get me wrong, but the degree of the bad seems to over-shadow it. However, things like JJ Watt smashing defensive tackle records left and right; a two year old boy's reaction to hearing his mother's voice for the first time. A double amputee is able to use prosthetic arms and to control them with his thoughts (John's Hopkins); a mystery woman pays off shopper's lay aways at a local Toys R Us...the positive list is huge, but really, seeing the good amongst the negative this year was sometimes hard to do since the negative was so horrendous.

So, why am I excited? I know, I went off on a bunny trail, but for good reason. See, my year has been peppered with a few bad things going on, but some really cool stuff managed to make it to the forefront!

I published my first book, The Father's Footsteps (by accident...I hit the publish button instead of the save button...the rest is history, as they say!), then Diary of a Crazy Cat Lady right on its heels. By mid year, Crazy Cat Lady saw more success than The Father's Footsteps and to me that was a bit of a surprise. Mid year also brought a partnership with Erin Fossa, a wonderful young woman who voiced the audio version of Crazy Cat Lady. I loved listening to her voice, and the beginning of a new book (still in the works), Rosewood. From those who read The Father's Footsteps, I got a lot of surprised readers giving it a five-star rating, and requests to do a sequel, so Hansa is in the works. The Father's Footsteps went to the audio version and as of this writing, is being finalized and will be available to the public by the first part of January 2015. To say that Zach Brewster-Geisz was a perfect fit to narrate this book is a profound understatement...I can't wait to hear the feedback from y'all when you hear this one! Finally, a work that has been years in the making, The Trial of Andrew Osher is very near completion and I hope to have it out by the end of the first quarter of 2015.

Also making the news that is wonderful was the homecoming of my Daughter, Son-in-Love and my beautiful Granddaughters from Okinawa! While I loved making the trips to Japan, it is so fantastic to have my babies home and to see them as often as I want. Mouse calls the girls "Master-Minds," to which begs the question..."does that make you the Minion?" Mouse is not amused by that question. Ever. However, she loves those little girls to pieces and wouldn't trade them for the world, but will lock herself in her room when they get a bit crazy.

Yes, I do watch them a couple of days a week, and there are days when I wonder how on earth did I ever have the energy to raise my own? These two wear me out!

Thanksgiving was a joyous time with the blending of the two extended families. Since I have cats and my Son-in-Love is allergic, we were blessed to have shared the day with his family. We had a great time, the guys watched the Dallas/Whoever game on television and Mom-in-law and I took pictures and joined in on eating the wonderful desserts that she made.

So, finally that brings me to two days from now. This will mark the first time that I have had my Punky and her family (and Zyrtec and benedryl waiting) with us for Christmas. It was going to include my folks, but unfortunately plans changed for them and they couldn't make it. Regardless, I predict a wonderful evening of fun, paper everywhere and more fun. I hope to tell the girls the Christmas Story after dinner before we open the gifts and before they get crazy with all of the activity. The turkey should have them sufficiently sedated for that...after the story, no doubt ripping the first bit of paper should over-ride the tryptophan enough to wind them up for the rest of the night!
The cats won't be able to join in this year, they'll get their own quiet time, perhaps a gift in and of itself since the Girls sometimes over-load them with love and carrying them around with their front legs in the air and their back legs trying to get a foothold on the floor. Praise God, they're usually a tolerant lot with only the occasional swat when they've had too much. The dogs, however are going to want to sniff everything and eat the bows, that's just a perk of Christmas time for them. Perhaps I'll invest in a couple of bones and send them to neutral corners to nosh.

So, that's it. I'm off to make cookies for the neighbors, of course saving a few for us for Christmas. I hope and pray that your Christmas is a wonderful one, filled with all that is good and beautiful, and may 2015 bring only wonderful things for you and yours.

From my house to yours, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Loving the dead who are still living

Lol! I looked at that title and had to laugh out loud. No, its not about zombies, although with the season of the (pretend) zombies coming upon us, I might keep that in mind. 

No, this is about a relative who has separated themselves from those who love them the most, their families. It occurred to me this morning in the shower (I do my best thinking in there! Who doesn't?), that Christ touched on this very subject. In Luke 14:25-27 Jesus says, "Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.""

That passage has always interested me, mostly because of the word hate. That's such a strong word and yet the meaning in this passage is not the common meaning of the word. In this passage, Christ is setting the bar for us. If we can't leave behind those whom we love to the ends of the Earth, then how can we follow the One who will lead us to Eternity?

I pulled up Matthew Henry's commentary on the passage and here's what he says: They must be willing to quit that which was very dear, and therefore must come to him thoroughly weaned from all their creature-comforts, and dead to them, so as cheerfully to part with them rather than quit their interest in Christ (emphasis mine)Luke 14:26.
 A man cannot be Christ’s disciple but he must hate father, and mother, and his own life. He is not sincere, he will be constant and persevering, unless he love Christ better than any thing in this world, and be willing to part with that which he may and must leave, either as a sacrifice, when Christ may be glorified by our parting with it (so the martyrs, who loved not their lives to death), or as a temptation, when by our parting with it we are put into a better capacity of serving Christ. Thus Abraham parted with his own country, and Moses with Pharaoh’s court. 
Mention is not made here of houses and lands; philosophy will teach a man to look upon these with contempt; but Christianity carries it higher. [1.] Every good man loves his relations; and yet, if he be a disciple of Christ, he must comparatively hate them, must love them less than Christ, as Leah is said to be hated when Rachel was better loved. Not that their persons must be in any degree hated, but our comfort and satisfaction in them must be lost and swallowed up in our love to Christ, as Levi’s was, when he said to his father, I have not seen himDeut. 33:9
When our duty to our parents comes in competition with our evident duty to Christ, we must give Christ the preference. If we must either deny Christ or be banished from our families and relations (as many of the primitive Christians were), we must rather lose their society than his favour. [2.] Every man loves his own life, no man ever yet hated it; and we cannot be Christ’s disciples if we do not love him better than our own lives, so as rather to have our lives embittered by cruel bondage, nay, and taken away by cruel deaths, than to dishonour Christ, or depart from any of his truths and ways.

Okay, I know that's a mouthful and a little hard to digest, but in light of the thoughts that came to mind this morning, it makes perfect sense. You see, I have a relative who has distanced themselves from the family. No one but they know the real reason why, although I suspect that faith in Christ, or lack thereof, has a lot to do with it. They are not believers and are choosing to walk away. I'm sure there are many of you out there who have had a loved one walk away from their families...whether it be because of religion, politics or worst case scenario, abuse which, in my humble opinion is the best option for them for survival. Whatever reason they have walked away from you, know that it is their decision. You can not make their choices for them, no matter how hard you try, because after all, they have been given the gift of free will just like you have. As much as it may hurt to watch, even from a distance, you can't make them come back, it has to be of their own accord.

If the reason they've left is because of religion, then the verse above applies, I believe. Let me explain. If you would do anything, including taking a bullet for this person or persons, this is good in the sense it shows how much they are loved...(not so good for you if you actually take the bullet) but if it interferes with your walk with Christ, then you will have to let them go. To be honest with you, I have trouble reconciling that one. My hackles raise because I would take down anyone, or at least put up a decent fight to defend anyone in my family, anyone. However, when it comes to following Christ, we have to have a different mindset. Jesus basically said that if we couldn't leave behind that which we love on this earth, how can we possibly follow the One who is more than this world? If your loved one is so bitter and hateful to Christ, then how can we possibly stay joined with them without compromising our walk with Christ? It is indeed a fine line that we as Christians walk on a daily basis, an even finer one when it comes to our families.

Friends, I don't know if this has made any sense at all to anyone but myself...I'm hoping that somehow it has helped someone out there reconcile themselves to the fact that this person has removed themselves from your life. I'm hoping that with all of the hurt that is banging around in your heart, that Jesus is the buffer and is holding you in His perfect peace. Trust me, I know the hurt, the what-ifs, the whys that are bouncing around in your mind. It hurts, and it hurts bad. Part of you wants to strike out and make them hurt as much as you do, but hopefully you are restrained because of your faith. The other part of you is crying out and begging God to help you understand. Keep praying, my friend, the pain eases. You may not have an answer in this lifetime and the pain and sorrow may ease only a little, but rest in the fact that God is in total control of the situation. Even though we may not be able to see the outcome, rest assured that God is already at the end of the problem and He will help you through it. 

Right now, in this situation, all you have is faith that God is in control. Leave it at His feet, walk away and don't go back to pick it up, to handle it on your own. He can and will handle it, but only if you let Him. Maybe not the way that you hope, or envision, but He will handle it. If the rift is because of other things; words spoken harshly; a wrong that has been allowed to sit and fester...whatever the situation, if it is within you to heal the rift, to humbly come and ask forgiveness, then do it. Don't let your loved one slip from this life without knowing that they are loved. Don't let petty differences, money, property, personality conflicts or words spoken in anger put a chasm between you. Fix it. Swallow your pride and fix it if you can. I know that it will heal the hole in your heart a whole lot faster.

Be well, my friends. Be blessed.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Quick short story for all of you...

New Texas

The clock struck six.

It had to be done.

The old woman turned and smiled at the nurse who was scheduled to keep tabs on the residents that had gathered for the bi-weekly game night. It would probably be a quiet night, so the nurse had brought something to read to pass the time. There were probably fifty residents in the room at the time, no one would notice if one was gone, at least not right away.

Mary Ellen had had enough of this place with the strict schedules for everything. She was tired of having to eat at a certain time, watch television at a certain time, heck, if they had their way, she would poop at a certain time. As for visitors, they were welcome, within the time frame, of course, but hers only came once a year on the anniversary of her coming to this ridiculous excuse for a living center.

She had planned for quite a long time to leave this place, but finding the opportunity when she would not be missed straight away seemed to elude her on more than one occasion. Her friend, Carol, who had just recently arrived, was finding the charm wore off quickly. For Carol leaving was as simple as walking out the front door; she checked herself in, she could check herself out. Mary Ellen could not do the same since it was her children, Bobby and Becky who had her placed there. They would have to have her released into their custody, which they would never do as it would hinder their social lives.

“Carol, I have an idea that you might think is out there, but I have to pitch it to you anyway”.

“What can I do you for, Mary Ellen” she said, as she paused the old movie about road trips that she was watching .

As Mary Ellen explained her hair-brained idea of leaving to Carol, she was sure that she would be laughed at. After all, Carol seemed to like it here and got along with everyone, why would she want to leave. Imagine the surprise that Mary Ellen received when Carol said, “let’s do this thing”! After weeks of planning down to every last detail, they were ready to put the plan into action.

Carol was ready with her end of the escapade. She was a fan of practical jokes, so the plastic barf on the floor was all the diversion that Mary Ellen needed to slip out the front door. As the mahjong board was being set up, Carol started coughing and gagging, then threw the plastic on the floor. Instantly the other two residents reacted, the old man began retching, the old woman quickly grabbing her walker to get out of the line of fire. The nurse, observing the activity, lazily picked up the phone to ring up housekeeping to clean the mess up and then went back to what she was reading. Perfect. Everything was going according to plan. Becky and Bobby would surely be surprised when they showed up for their annual visit to find her gone, or maybe they would be glad, she wasn’t sure. What she was sure of was that she was a burden to them and she was tired of the boredom that came with each yearly visit.

Mary Ellen Kane was born to greatness, or so her mother had always told her. She would grow up rich and pretty and smart and have all of the fellows following her like hound dogs that were thirsting for water. The problem was, Mary Ellen wasn’t rich and she wasn’t pretty but she sure was smart. Smart enough to win a scholarship to MIT and graduate with honors and a degree in astrophysics. She was a major player in the re-vamped NASA program and was the first woman to walk on Mars. As for having the fellows follow her like thirsty hound dogs, well, there was that, but only because she was smart and now pretty famous. The richness part came after she discovered a quantum flux that helped re-launch the space program and bring it way above its previous glory. That’s when she met a man who so swept her off her feet that she gasped even to this day at the suddenness of the whole romance. Robert Kane was handsome, rich, funny and absolutely in love with Mary Ellen from the moment he set eyes on her. Plainness aside, she had a wit and charm that far outweighed any cheerleader, movie star or even, in his opinion, princess that had come down the pike in the last two hundred years. After a whirlwind romance, they were married and began to rebuild NASA together.

Within two years they had a family of two more, Robert Junior and Rebecca, Bobby and Becky for short, and they raised the children to love the stars as much as they did.  Time went on, the children grew and the love of science became apparent in everything they did.

Carol Harp was Mary Ellen’s assistant on the Mars program and her best friend. Together they were always laughing, sharing bits and pieces of gossip about this person or that or even playing practical jokes on the more stodgy of the scientists. A few were not amused, but Robert would watch and wait to see who would be at the unsuspecting end of one of their jokes, smiling because he had been at the butt end of a couple of them more than once. They never took them too far, probably the barf in the microwave was the worst of it, and usually no one was hurt, except for the time the plastic roach was put behind one of the coffee pots and Dr. Wineman found it. A new pair of loafers, dry cleaned pants and some cold compresses later, apologies were made and promises put forward that plastic roaches would no longer be used in the kitchen. Carol’s and Mary Ellen’s friendship would far outlast any kudos that came for either one of them, any relationship, even time itself, according to those who knew them best.

Shaking off the memories of husband, kids and NASA, Mary Ellen quickly slipped out the front door and waited beside the already in bloom rose bushes on the side of the building. These were the prettiest in New Texas, she thought, because the blooms were so big and fragrant that you could smell them as soon as you hit the circular driveway to the home.
 She thought back to early spring of 2140, the biosphere on the Mars Colony had just been completed. The Mayor of New Texas, as it had been named, dedicated it to Robert and Mary Ellen for all of their hard work, compassion and dedication in seeing that this colony would not only exist, but thrive.
 She remembered when Robert donated these bushes to the retirement home, a new hybrid that bore her name. A few months later he died in a fishing accident. Mary Ellen grieved so deeply that she stopped doing what she loved, stopped taking care of herself or her home to the point that Bobby and Becky were sure that she was a danger to herself. So they put her in this retirement facility where she could be watched 24/7. The only thing that made it bearable was that Carol soon followed, but of her own accord. Three years and two yearly visits from her children later, here she was, no less lonely for her beloved Robert and determined that she was not staying there one day longer.

As Carol rounded the corner to meet up with Mary Ellen, she saw the familiar look of sadness on Mary Ellen’s face. “C’mon, Louise! You and me, well we’ve got some road to tear up!”

“You’re right, Thelma, we do and it’s a long way back home to Houston!