Flash Flood

Five inches of rain fell in just under an hour!

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Hubby and I have a “rule” that we do not camp in our RV in the months of May and June unless we go fairly far from home to the mountains west of us where the weather is a bit more stable this time of year or unless we go when we feel there is some reasonable certainty that the weather will be fine.  However, the weather this year is once again proving why we typically abide by that “rule.”  The weather can just be totally unpredictable and often dangerous with little warning this time of year.

Our original plan had us breaking our “rule” this week to take the new RV to one of our favorite state parks about three hours away, and we were to depart yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon to drive there, staying until Sunday.  Earlier this week, however, it became apparent that the weather was probably not going to allow us to travel this week.

Texas is pretty much one big lake right now, I think.  That also includes our typically dry part of the state after a flash flood hit yesterday morning, and it hit with a vengeance right where we live.

Five inches of rain fell in just under than an hour, and I admit it was a bit scary as I watched water filling up our backyard and our street, unable to run-off quickly enough, even though our house sits on high ground.  In the thirty years we’ve lived here, it has never rained that hard that fast.

Several places in our immediate area flooded yesterday, and I’m sad about that.  Even with the expensive storm water drainage system, we still had flooding because the rain just fell too quickly.  I don’t even want to think how bad the flooding would be today if that flood had come in the years prior to the installation of that drainage system, too.

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Our backyard as the flooding commenced
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The high water line in our backyard was eight inches deep.
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I came upon this flooded intersection when I tried to go check on our RV.  Yes, I turned around after taking this photo!

 

The park we were to visit this week is now closed due to flooding for the first time in the five years we’ve been traveling by RV.  The flooding gets even more critical even further downstate, and many places (including state parks) are closed due to flooding right now and people have died in floods.

My former boss reminded me yesterday in a Facebook comment that we never turn down rain where I live, and that is true.  The incredible rain we had yesterday, though, fell so fast that most of it just ran off.  Still, it was a good soaking for our yards and trees, even if it was pretty scary at the time.

I now know what it feels like to actually be in a flash flood, and I now have a very healthy respect for such conditions.  I’m glad that I was not out in my car at time, as several friends got caught in those scary conditions and were stranded in various locations for quite a while.  Thankfully, no one was hurt or killed.  The motto, “Turn Around – Don’t Drown,” is very, very true!

The rains are subsiding today, and the majority of our roads are clear again this morning.  Since the weather looks to be clear this weekend, we may try to take the new RV out to a different park that is not flooded, as long as the weather holds.  We’ve worked hard on it over the past three weeks, and we are ready to take it out!

Update – 6/3/16:  Our local news is now reporting that this flood in our immediate area was the equivalent of a 500 year flood, and I am even more grateful for our storm water drainage system that was built a few years ago.  Without it in place this week, we might have standing water hanging around for weeks, even months.

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Welcome to Seattle, Ya’ll!

Enjoying the unseasonal cloudy and cool weather and an update on the wonderful rains!

We enjoyed a glorious, relaxing and fun week in Maui.  But more on that later when I get the pictures done.

 You may recall that it started raining in Texas well before we left on our trip and a series of thunderstorms *quickly* filled up the reservoir that supplies some of our water.  It hasn’t stopped raining since then except for a few periods lasting no more than about three days at a time.  While we were in Maui, I kept getting severe weather alerts on my phone for our home area, and several friends shared about the downpours we were receiving.

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As I’m typing this post this morning after my first cup of coffee, it is 47 degrees with 90% humidity, and the high today will struggle to reach 60.  Normally, the average high for late May should be around 85 degrees, but it’s not uncommon for the temperature to go well above that, too.  So, I decided to check the average weather in the Pacific Northwest this time of year, and it seems we are right on track with Seattle’s weather in May!

So, if I never visit Seattle, at least I now what it feels like to be there in May.  And it is “loverly!” 

With more severe storms in our forecast for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, we have decided to scrap some tentative plans to go out in the RV for a little getaway, hopefully with our son coming along.  I’m not into camping during super-cell storms at all, and we are having an epic load of them these days.  Some friends of ours went to Copper Breaks State Park two weekends ago with their trailer in tow, and not long after they arrived that evening and set up, they found themselves running to the bathroom/shower building nearby to dodge an oncoming tornado.  Apparently, it absolutely rained buckets of water during that storm, along with some small hail.  We were flying out to Hawaii that day and receiving regular text updates about what “dogs” we were while they were trying to not die at Copper Breaks!  It is funny now…  😉  Glad they, along with their trailer and truck, are fine most of all.

You have to be tough to camp in Texas in May and June at times, and there are lots of tough people out there.  I’m just not sure I’m one of them, but kudos to them for being brave souls!

More lakes are rising dramatically, and it’s an amazing thing to witness.  “All droughts end with a flood” seems completely spot-on at this time.  Just check out a few of the lakes that have seen a dramatic increase over the past few days and weeks, especially the first one.

Lake Alan Henry

Lake Arrowhead

Lake Brownwood

It’s amazing what the rain has done for the spirits of the people in our area.  It’s like hope has finally returned and the doom and gloom of the drought may actually be behind us, at least for a while.  And right along with the lifting of spirits with the return of rain, it seems my own spirit is finally on the rise after several long, depressing months following my mother’s death.  I swear she is up there levying God to make some good things happen for me and for this area that was her home for 93 years because everything just seems to be making a 180 degree turn right now in so many ways.  It would be so like her to do that.  Always thinking of others.

I enjoyed several hours alone at a lovely spa in Hawaii while Hubby played golf, and it was a great time of reflection and peace for me.  God felt so very close as I had the unique opportunity to spend time with him in this gorgeous place.  The various health treatments must have helped the blood start flowing to my brain again, literally, and I have felt so much better physically since that day, and walking quite a bit while we were gone certainly helped, too.  The quiet time with God helped me to realize that it’s time to start moving on while remembering Mom and our good times together.  I had one teary time as I sat alone amid the beauty, but I have not cried a single tear since then.

There is too much of life left to live, and it’s time to quit wasting it on being sad.  I’m not sure what all that will mean for me going forward, but I’m ready to see what life has to bring my way.

One thing that became clear was that it is time to pursue my photography hobby once again.  I’ve put it away for too long, and the passion that God has given me for photography is going to waste in some way.  This happened *before* I even mentioned this small revelation to my Hubby.  When he told me on my birthday, the day we flew home from Hawaii, that he wanted to upgrade my camera equipment when we got home, it confirmed my earlier revelation.  God works in mysterious and glorious ways, and the blessings are flowing all around right now, for sure.  The new camera and lenses are already in hand, and I’m looking forward to new photographic experiences with them and hopefully improving my skills significantly.

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The drought is finally over.  Spring has returned in so many ways, and my heart is grateful for the sustaining power that saw me through it all once again. ❤

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What Answered Prayer Looks Like

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The drought is over as of 1:30 am this morning!

I was witness to this miracle yesterday evening while dining out with two dear friends to celebrate my birthday a little early.  Looking to the east where our water supply lake is, this storm was the one that ended our drought.  The lake received over seven billion gallons of water in 36 hours, *in just the right spot,* and it is now full and flowing over the spillway to send even more water downstream.  We have witnessed the tremendous power of water flowing in the Brazos River once again, which immediately came up thirteen feet as the rains hit.

The last two days have been quite an epic sight to witness, and my heart is so full of gratitude, especially as I can finally mark this prayer request as “answered” after four long years.   The lake was officially documented as “full” at 1:30 am while we were asleep, but this was the very first news story I heard when I turned on our local news earlier today.  I even got the picture last evening to document this wonderful event!

Thank you, God, for the rain!  West Texas is so grateful today.  What an understatement!  I never cease to be amazed at how God answers prayer when we least suspect it or are even looking for it.  I’ve had a big lesson in the power of prayer through all this after an excruciating four years of drought, and my prayer life is better for it.  😀

Update: WordPress just informed me that this is also my 200th post! What a great way to hit that small milestone today!

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It’s Raining, It’s Pouring

Rain is often a rare visitor here at home, but sometimes it decides to come and pay us a serious visit for a little while.  The rain started falling late Monday afternoon, and twelve hours later, we have received about 3.5 inches of rain.  The communities about thirty minutes south of us received about double that amount, and it should really be interesting today as significant rain is in the forecast for the next 24 hours.  It is still raining as I’m typing this, and the weather guy on television just said the next band headed our way is producing rain at 4″ per hour.  That is going to hit right at morning commute time, unfortunately.

I try to never, ever complain about the rain, and I won’t start now.  I hope people here are safe in driving as it continues, as several high water rescues took place yesterday evening.  I plan to just stay in today or until the roads improve, but others do not have that luxury as the workday commences shortly and roads are still pretty flooded.  In flat terrain, it is hard for flood waters to run off, and every little valley and low spot will collect water and start to flood with little warning, especially when the ground is saturated like it is at this time.  Some roads in the rural areas are completely closed, including some that are widely traveled, and a couple of small communities opened shelters for travelers and others overnight.

A long-term rain event like this will definitely help to recover from the drought a bit more, and it is yet another answer to many prayers since 2011.  Technically, we are no longer in a drought, even though many area lakes are still very low and desperately need good soaking rain events like this to help recharge their levels.    May and June are our prime times for rainfall, so we will take every drop right now and hope for even more during the coming weeks.  I suspect this one rain event will result in more rain for us than we received in the entire year of 2011.  We’ll see in a few days.

Our big spoiled puppy started to panic late yesterday evening over the rain.  “Sugar” apparently thought he would melt if he had to go out in the hard rain to do his business.  We both tried and tried to get him to go out with no success, but finally around 10 pm, the rain broke just long enough for pup to agree to go out.  Girly Girl just takes it all in stride, even though she doesn’t like it.

The weather forecasters were spot on in forecasting this rain event days ago.  We knew it was likely coming, so we took advantage of the gorgeous weather over the weekend to make a quick trip in the RV to a “new-to-us” destination, Lake Colorado City State Park, and I will try to share a little information and some photos soon.  It is a lesser known state park with a lower visitation rate these days, but we had a nice, relaxing time, especially since it was not crowded with only a few other couples in their RVs while we were there.  The park and the entire area were so green, and the wildflowers were especially beautiful.  We even saw some bluebonnets in the park.  I’ve felt that this little park has gotten a bit of a bad wrap lately, especially as far as RV camping is concerned, and our experience proved that to definitely be the case.  Motor boating on the lake is not possible at this time due to the lower lake level, but RV camping is still quite nice there.  There is still a lake there, too.  More to come.

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Just one of the many pretty wildflowers we saw this weekend

We are preparing to leave on a trip this Saturday and will be gone for a week.  I have more to share on our upcoming trip before we leave and will try to share here on Thursday or Friday.  If it keeps raining like this, though, we may need to take a boat to the airport on Saturday instead of our car.

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Fair Week

One of my favorite weeks of the entire year is fair week.  Typically, the weather is cooling down, and we may even receive beneficial rains, which proved true in a big way this year!  I have a little rain update toward the end of this post, too.

While my parents were really not fair-goers, I began going with my friends on school days back in the 60s, and I have been attending the fair almost every year since then.  These days, I seldom even venture into the area where the rides are, though, as we mostly just enjoy the area where the local food vendors and the exhibits are located.  The fair does not charge to get through the gates until after lunchtime, which helps to support the efforts of all of the local food vendors and their respective charities.

I have been taking my elderly mother out to the fair for lunch every year now for a while, and even at 93, she is still able to walk that area on her own with the help of her walker.  I am so grateful for her good health and how she recovered so well from her fall back in January, and we had a nice time together at the fair on Monday once again.  We sat in “our booth” inside one of the larger restaurants and enjoyed some less-than-healthy food, as I am taking a week-long break of sorts from my diet for the fair and for our upcoming camping trip with friends on Wednesday.  Honestly, I enjoy a burger without the bun as much as a traditional burger these days, but we both enjoyed traditional burger and a very few curly fries for lunch.

I have posted several times about my fair experiences in recent years, including the year not long ago when I won two blue ribbons for my photography.  I have not entered any photographs since that year either, as it was quite a bit of work to prepare the photographs and get them framed properly.

As always, our main incentive to attend the fair is to partake of the amazing apricot fried pies.  They are legendary here, as they are made by members of a local church.  Church members make and freeze them over the course of the entire year to have enough to sell during the nine days that the fair is open, and they are cooked on site at the fair.  I purchased a few extra pies to take with us on our upcoming RV trip tomorrow, and I will just have to hike a little more this weekend to work off those extra calories, which should not be hard to do at all.  I planned this break back in January when I talked myself into starting my diet but only if I had lost at least 30 pounds.  I am now close to 40 pounds down, and my blood pressure has dropped 40 points, so I am enjoying a guilt-free week of enjoying a few foods that will once again be off-limits for a while next week.

My previous posts and pictures about the fair can be found here.

My celebration treat - a homemade apricot fried pie!
My celebration treat – a homemade apricot fried pie!

Our area has recently received some much-needed rainfall from the remnants of Hurricane Odile, and two of our watersheds are up significantly.  Lake J. B. Thomas was 1% full and is now 43% full!  Lake Alan Henry, which is a significant water source for us, was 53% full and is now up 8.8 feet and is 76% full!  There are other reservoirs that desperately need water, but we are so thrilled about the rise in these two lakes, especially Lake Alan Henry.  The water gain at Lake Alan Henry over the past week equaled the entire evaporation loss in the worst year of the drought in 2011, which is just absolutely amazing to see.  In that year, the lake lost 5.5 billion gallons of water due to evaporation alone, but over the past week, the lake’s storage capacity increased 5.54 billion gallons.  The drought continues, but we are ever so thankful for the blessing of ten days of much-needed rain!  Many prayers have been answered, and we will continue to pray for more rain and an end to the drought.

It is wonderful to see everything so green again, and we will enjoy our upcoming weeks of fall temperatures and beautiful landscapes until winter finally sets in later on.  I absolutely love this time of the year, and we are very excited to be traveling in the RV again this week to one of our favorite camping destinations!

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June Joy

As of June 16, we have been married for 35 years! ❤

Hubby had to work on our anniversary and also had to leave town on business early the next morning to travel to Tennessee, so we just enjoyed a nice dinner at a local steak restaurant that we both like a lot.  As usual, the food was wonderful, and I even managed to stay on my diet, too, opting for a steak, fresh grilled asparagus and a small tossed salad.  We enjoyed our nice relaxing evening together, especially immediately after a fun weekend trip to the canyon with our son for the Father’s Day weekend.  It does not seem possible that 35 years have passed, and I grew quite teary as I posted about it on my Facebook page that same day.  You see, our days have not always been easy ones, but the growth we have both experienced as a result of the really bad times is something I would not trade for now.  We are both able to help others in their own time of difficulty now as a result of that growth, and that will forever be a part of our mutual life ministries, for sure.  God has seen to that already, even when we least suspect it.

I deliberately postponed my big spring cleaning push of the year at home until the “dust finally settled,” literally.  We have had so many days of blowing dust this year that is was honestly pretty pointless to embark on deep cleaning until it settled down with the summer rains and planting of the cotton fields in the area.

Haboob at Sunset
Haboob at Sunset earlier this year

Happily, that time has now come, and I have made some good progress on cleaning over the past few weeks.  I also had the carpet and tile professionally cleaned once again, and that is always a real treat for us.  I am taking my cleaning efforts a bit more slowly this year, as there is really no rush to kill myself to get it done.  Deep cleaning is definitely not one of my favorite things to do in life, but it is so nice to make progress and just “git ‘er done, ya’ll!” 🙂

Since we received our first big rainstorm that dropped over five inches a few weeks ago, we have been continually blessed to continue receive even more beneficial rain almost weekly, spaced just far enough apart each week to keep our lawns and trees watered regularly.  Our area has now received 9 inches, which is such a huge blessing!

Backyard Flooding
Backyard flooding

To bring us out of the drought, though, we still need about 30 more inches, especially for our water sheds, so the prayers will keep going up.  Since we are now in stage two water restrictions, the rain has been especially wonderful, as we have been able to refrain from watering the lawn completely.  However, we also received some hail, and we had to have a new roof put on the rent house two weeks ago.  The major damage likely came from a big hail storm that hit while we were away over Easter weekend, and the damage was made worse after a smaller hail storm recently.  Anyway, the new roof is done, and we will have an adjuster out in a few weeks to also look at our roof, too.  We have also had a reprieve from 100 degree temperatures so far, and this, combined with the wonderful rain, has kept our climate pretty much perfect in June, if not a bit unseasonably cool.  Cooler temps may now be coming to an end, at least for a few days, as the temperature should near 100 degrees this weekend, but I’m still so very grateful that we’ve had such a great weather month so far.

Our entire area is so green and beautiful, and it almost feels like I’m on a little vacation right here at home after months and months of dry and windy weather and dirt that literally seemed to be everywhere.  It’s not hard for anyone in our area to enjoy being outdoors among all this dirt-free greenery, and it makes me wonder if people who live in more temperate areas grow complacent with their beautiful scenery over time.  I can bet that will seldom happen for me, and I’m just so happy to be here right now.

I make it a point to spend time outdoors each morning these days, sipping my cup of Hazelnut coffee, reading my bible, working through my bible study homework and playing with the dogs a bit.  The dogs are happy to be out with me to explore the yard, look at the birds, lay in the soft green grass and chase each other around the yard.  Having two large, young dogs is something new for us, and it is so fun to watch them play with such energy, especially when they chase each other round and round the new tree in the middle of the yard.  If I get involved in the mayhem, I really have to watch them or they could knock me down, but it is still so much fun!

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Girly Girl and Red (aka The Complainer!) He did not like sitting still to have his picture taken.

My cannas are blooming with their pretty red blooms, and my Red Rocket crape myrtles are also starting to bloom right on time and should be in full bloom by the 4th of July holiday.  My little vegetable garden of tomatoes and peppers is making good progress, and I picked the first ripe tomatoes last Monday, just in time to serve to my girlfriends on Monday evening when they joined me here for a salad dinner outside.

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Our Red Rocket crape myrtles are in bloom once again.

I’m also cherishing travel memories of trips I’ve made over the few weeks, too.  I have been especially blessed to have seen so many cherished family members and friends in a thirty-day period.  I even reconnected with one of my best friends from high school recently, finally meeting her for lunch at a nearby restaurant on Wednesday and visiting for three hours.  She recently retired from her job and contacted me out of the blue to meet for lunch, and I hope this will just be the start of many more wonderful visits with her.  She was, and still is, a beloved sister in Christ and holds a special, unique place in my heart to this day.

I’m glad to finally be done with my posts about our big trip back in May, and I still have posts to come about my epic road trip with my 93 year-young mother and my 83 year-young aunt to Oklahoma, as well as a quick Father’s Day weekend trip with our son to the canyon.  We also have a longer trip planned for the 4th of July weekend back to a nice private campground with full hookups in northern New Mexico with some friends in our RVs, and we are definitely looking forward to going back there with them once again, just as we did twice last year.  Having full hookups is always a special treat for us, since most of the parks we visit only have water and electric hookups on site.  That is fine for a weekend trip, but for anything more than two or three days, having the sewer line is a real blessing.  Ah, the simple things to be thankful for on vacation now, including unlimited showers in our very own RV.

The last news of the past month is our purchase of a DISH Tailgater satellite system for the RV.  Even though we took our wonderful trip to Kauai and Big Sur back in May to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary, we also decided to finally purchase the satellite as our gift to each other, too.  We do not intend to sit around at camp watching television too much, but it will be nice to have it for the times we are inside the RV and would enjoy having some decent programming to watch, especially on hot summer afternoons and cold winter nights.  Also, most places where we camp on the weekends nearby have no cell phone or over-the-air television signal available, and one issue that results from that fact is not knowing if we are at risk of severe weather or tornadoes headed our way.  Up until now, we had no way of knowing if we were at risk, except for our NOAA weather radio, which travels with us wherever we go and stays alert for us overnight when we are at home as well.  Now, we can tune in to local television news and know exactly what is happening most of the time and if bad weather may be headed our way soon.  We also camp in the RV in the winter months, and we will enjoy having some viewing options at night for a change, as I think we have now watched every DVD movie we own several times.  We just subscribed to a pay-as-you-go plan for the satellite and will only pay for the months we want to use it.

Married for 35 years to my sweet hubby.

Having a clean house, almost free of dust.

Rain, rain, rain!

Green grass. Green trees. Flowers blooming. Vegetables growing.

Hazelnut coffee. Bible study.  My sweet dogs.  Cool mornings.

Getting to see special family and friends again.

Seeing the Oklahoma City area without fear of blowing away in a tornado for the first time.

Father’s Day weekend with my two favorite guys.

Satellite TV when camping.

Looking forward to a trip with good friends very soon to the mountains of New Mexico.

Sharing my joy here.

My heart is filled with such joy on days like this!  Isn’t God wonderful to bring us to these times where our “cups” can be filled up once again?  Such are my days right now.  Life is good, and I am blessed!  😀

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Holiday Weekend Rain Update

Over the long holiday weekend, we received OVER FIVE INCHES OF RAIN!!!  Add that to our pitiful .9″ that we had received in all of 2014 to date, and we are now slightly over our yearly average rainfall for this time of year for the first time in years.  For many people in a seriously drought-stricken area like ours, that is nothing short of a miracle, and most of us are still praising God for his healing rain, even after four days.  In our brief drive yesterday, I saw three separate signs that all basically said, “Thank you, God, for the rain!”  I love living in a community where so many people are willing to voice their prayers, as well as their praise.  Even a local news station reminded readers in a Facebook to post to “give thanks” for the rain, too.  A couple of naysayers tried to make an issue of that comment, but the vast majority chimed right in.

Glorious Rain

Backyard Flooding

Backyard Flooding 2

Six separate storms moved through our area over the four-day period, and the last storm on Monday evening was fast-moving and very intense.  It lasted only five minutes, but we received almost 1/2″ of rain, lots of small hail, 70 mph winds and had two very scared dogs.  We all briefly took cover in our interior bathroom, due to some low energy land spouts that literally passed right over our neighborhood and ended up doing some pretty significant damage less than a mile from our house.  Fortunately, I believe no one was hurt.

We ventured out in the car about an hour after that last storm to check on our RV at the storage place, and we saw a lot of flooding and some downed trees and power poles in the area where one of those land spouts may have briefly touched down.  I never like to see damage of any kind, but it often comes with our storms, especially this time of year.  The area around the storage place was quite flooded, but fortunately, no damage was done, and there was no flooding inside the storage area itself.

Shortly after the big storm, we let our dogs out in the backyard and ended up having a really good laugh at them.  Red, formerly Little Red who is not so little anymore, didn’t know what to think of all the standing water in our yard, as he had not seen any significant rain before this weekend.  His true colors finally had a chance to come out, as standard poodles absolutely love being in water.  He and Girly Girl both embarked on running fits, chasing each other through all of the big puddles and splashing water everywhere.  Red would also just lay down in the puddles, and he got completely soaked.  He discovered a new joy that he didn’t know even existed, and we both just laughed and laughed at both of them and their happy escapades.  Part of me wanted to join right in and splash that blessed water all over me, but common sense prevailed.  At least this time.

The weather system that brought this wonderful rain has now passed on to the east, and I will resume my daily prayers for rain once again.  While this is a very good start to hopefully making a significant dent in this horrible four-year drought, it is only a beginning.  We have a long, long way to go.  In addition to some rain, though, we have a renewed hope, and that means a lot to souls that are so very parched.

(I also have one more reason to be especially joyful this morning.  As of this morning, I have now lost 33 pounds since January.  I lost an additional five pounds over the past month, even after taking a few small liberties with my diet while on vacation.  Woo hoo!!!)

Thank you, God, for your “healing rain” that renews our land, our bodies and our spirits!

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