Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Snapshots of Goodness and Mercy

 The days come and go, all of them full of graces I recognize and many that I don't even notice. Surely many of my readers will agree this is true of them, too. Yes, there are bumps along the way, but when we trust in the Lord, He helps with that.

daughter-in-law's Peregrina
(also known as Spicy Jatropha)

I'm sharing recent snapshots and resulting observations that design a diary of God's hand upon me with those I love.

Michael, me, and Gary

Since Gary has come into my life, I have more "children." I've gained a couple of sons and their wives, more grandchildren, and in the past 18 months I've become a "step great-grandma" -- three times!!

We have not yet been able to visit the great-grands in person, but one of our sons flew in from Minnesota to see us this past weekend.  It had been a year since the last visit; but the real impetus was so he could check on his dad, post surgery. He came to see for himself that Dad was doing well, and indeed, he is!


We took him to Barberville Yard Art Emporium. It's an interesting destination for out-of-town guests located about an hour's drive east from us. 

Reminiscent of the 1988 movie, Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven of Bliss, this place sells giant animals, the Statue of Liberty, the Shoney's Big Boy statue, many other animal statues both life-size and smaller, as well as lots of pottery (most with a south-of-the-border theme), benches, fountains, heavy rustic furniture, and more. With that said, we bought nothing but enjoyed the scene and then headed for lunch.

us by the Hwy 40 draw bridge over 
the St Johns River 

Lunch was at Drifters, which is a very casual biker-bar type of place sitting alongside the St. Johns River, just to the side of a draw bridge. 

I've lost count of how many burgers I've had there with visiting family. One of my very favorite things to do in all the world is to eat within view of water. When there is the added attraction of boats and a draw bridge, you'll find me claiming a window seat.

Gary and his son Michael

On another day of his visit, we braved the I-75 and Turnpike traffic into Orlando for a post-op visit for Gary. Michael came away assured that ol' Dad had weathered surgery just fine and is recovering well. 

While the traffic to Orlando was not bad, returning home through Leesburg was a stop 'n go test of patience until we got to our lunch destination at Longhorn Steak House. This was a hearty meal that the re-routing of Gary's digestive system handled very well. That was a true indication of the success of his surgery!

Tony, Gary, Mary, and Bailey

After depositing Michael at the curb at the Tampa airport, we traveled deeper into the metro area to find the home of another son and his wife. Neither of us had been to their house before and what a treat that was!

fountain in back yard corner

As Mary gave us the tour of their back yard, the first topic of conversation was this fountain. Stunning!! And then she flattered me with a question of what I thought she should plant behind the highest point of the rocks, to help obscure the view beyond the fence. While I know much less about such things than she does, I think it was generally agreed that Bamboo would grow fast, fill out, and provide some privacy.

sign at one of the seating areas

Their yard is essentially a long rectangle that parallels the back of the house. The fountain is in one corner and on the opposite end is a covered seating area where, had there been more time, I would have, for sure, "kicked off my shoes."

Their yard is like something out of a "feel good" movie. I loved every detail and the resourceful use of space. I could have spent hours there, had it been practical that day. Mary says she likes to read and pray in the serenity they've created.


Beside the pool and spa we took several snapshots. In this one Gary was giving me his mock frownie face when I told him I didn't want his sun glasses in the pictures.

us again

Although he likes to tease me, I always get his cooperation and this was one of those times.

view of the guys from an upstairs window

The photo session was followed with a tour of the house, which I loved, and then the kids took us to a wonderful diner for brunch. Gary had a traditional pancake and eggs plate while I enjoyed the veggie omelette with sausage and rye toast. All too soon we needed to get back on the road for the 2-hour drive back to our town.

Gary on our back patio

Of course the big news the following day was the eclipse. We didn't get excited about it since our area expected to see only 50 to 60% of the event through some high, thin clouds. I turned on the TV to watch it.

me on the back patio

But then Gary remembered that he had some of the required eclipse glasses tucked away in his office from years ago. He surprised me with them and that's what took us outside to watch. While it was not the stunning event those in the Midwest witnessed (Sister was in Indianapolis!!), it was a marvel to observe even a partial eclipse.

As I close out this post, thoughts about a "blended family" are once again speaking to me. I never thought life would take a turn for me like this, putting me in a place where I get to enjoy not only my own birth children, but also those brought to me in a second marriage. I am blessed with good people in my life. 

Until next time, grace and peace.


  1. Glad you got to enjoy time with Gary's kids. I know they are a blessing to you but as a stepdaughter myself, I can tell you that you are a blessing to them too!

  2. I love bits and pieces of life that you share Barbara! So thankful Gary has successfully recovered from his surgery, and that you are out and about again enjoying life! I know the visits with his children mean so much, and I'm so glad that you have such a special relationship with his family! The eclipse was able to be seen here, partially. We had a lot of cloud cover though. Many blessings to you!


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