Category Archives: susie.life

This blog goes back to our first vacation in the keys with a boat in 2013. Many trips and life events have been added since, and I hope many more are to come.

We Make Plans and God Ponders

Quite a bit, lately, I have been hearing, “We make plans and God laughs,” and although I like it okay as a saying, I do not truly believe that. More so, I believe that, “We make plans and God Ponders.” Then He laughs.

I believe that God laughs in either one of two ways – the kind that happens when you are standing in a circle with your buddies who are all for your plans, or the kind that happens while conversing with your parents who do not ever seem to understand. God either laughs like a friend, saying, “Go for it, man,” or He laughs like a parent who says, “No, I don’t think so.” The type of laugh we hear from God depends on whether or not our plans fit with His Plans for us.

God loves his children so much that He tries to make our plans work with His Plans. As long as His Will is done in the end, then I believe He laughs like a friend. If not, well then, He laughs more like a parent who knows better than to let us mess up our life or His Plans for us, which probably affect countless others other than just ourselves. And I believe that before God laughs one of these laughs, He Ponders how our plan works with His Plan and how He can make His Plans our plans.

I had all kinds of plans in October of 2018. Inviting my parents to go with me and my husband on our 25th anniversary trip to North Carolina was not one of them, despite Dave’s suggestion to do so. I was furious. “You must not want to spend alone time with me if you want to bring my parents,” I halfway yelled at him. He says it was not that way at all, that he merely commented on how it’s a three-story house, and there is plenty of room if we wanted to invite my parents. We wouldn’t even notice they were there unless we wanted to.

It simply crossed his mind because my mom had been talking for years about wanting to do exactly what we were getting ready to do, stay in a log cabin in the mountains of North Carolina, surrounded by waterfalls. Well I nixed the idea immediately. And for more than a year I have been wondering if everything could be different today, had I just brought my parents to the mountains with us.

Perhaps my dad would not have come down with pneumonia. Perhaps he would not have gotten that blood clot in his leg. Perhaps he would not have suddenly died a week after we got back.

I wonder how God laughed at my plans back then.

Me and My Bro, Road Trippin, Yoe!

My brother and I went on a road trip to go our nephew’s wedding (our other brother’s son). We went from Oklahoma to North Carolina and back. I put videos on YouTube along the way for our friends and family to follow, and so Dave wouldn’t feel left out. Here they are. The audio could be better, among other things, I’m definitely not a pro. In fact, this was my first time doing any sort of video like this.

Pre-Road Trip Video
Our first stop is one of my favorite places, so we stayed a couple of days.

Annual Asparagus Festival

Every year for many years, we could count on my parents to stock our pantry with cases of home-grown pickled asparagus due to their abundant asparagus field and their talents in the kitchen. Even if we told them we still had plenty, my dad would say something like, “It will keep for years, and you never know when you’ll need it.” That was my dad. My mom, too, but mostly my dad.

The asparagus crop of 2019 did not care that my dad died, it did not care that the crop would produce much more than we could use. My mom tried to keep up, and she did pickle some, but being only six months after my dad had passed, she was still a mess.

The fridge was full, the pressure cooker was cooking, piles of asparagus covered the counters, and pounds a day kept getting cut.

My brother had given so much to the neighbors, that when he tried to give them more, they sighed and said, “I still have plenty from the last time you came over!”

“What are we going to do with all this asparagus,” I exclaimed, sometime after I had arrived on April 19th, 2019.

“We can have an asparagus festival,” my brother said jokingly, at which I heartily laughed.

We had recently and frequently discussed how the small towns of Hastings and Waurika have so many festivals. It took us by surprise, I guess you could say, to hear about a different festival every other day. The fire department’s fish fry, the Sorosis Club’s fundraiser, the high school band’s breakfast, and that was just in one week. Every week last spring, it seemed , was like that. The all-day long and into the night event, “Meet Me Downtown,” was my favorite. I won $100 MasterCard gift card playing bingo that night, courtesy of FFNB.

So when my brother said, “Have a festival,” it was really for the chuckle. But I was like, “Yeah, let’s do!” My mom was like, “No, I do not want to do that.”

Once I convinced her that it wasn’t going to be an actual festival, it was just going to be me handing out bundles of asparagus after the Wednesday lunch at the Senior Citizens Center, she consented as much as I could expect her to. Oh, and I threw in a promise to do my best not to embarrass her.

So we, my brother and me, with our mom’s consent and our dad’s blessing from heaven, held “The First Annual Asparagus Festival” on May 1, 2019, and it was a hit!

Thirty bundles, almost a half-pound each, I gave away in less than a half-hour. “You know,” my brother (the idea-man) said, “saying it is a ‘First Annual’ denotes there will be a second.”

“Yep,” I concurred, “I guess we’ll just have to make it an annual thing!”

Trippin in Transylvania

Trippin in Transylvania

Susie (Arnold) RaffeyAdventuresExpeditions October 20, 2018

Transylvania County in Brevard, North Carolina, is where Dave and I went to celebrate our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary in October of 2018. Our anniversary is actually in September; we took the trip in October because I wanted to see the leaves change and Dave was busy with work until then.

While we were a bit early to see the leaves change, we still had the best view.

The couple of times I intended to write about our trip, emotion overtook me and rendered me mute. It has been an especially difficult thing to do due to my dad dying just a week after we got back. Particularly, I defiantly said, “No,” when Dave mentioned inviting them on the trip. This has required me to muster up some forgiveness for myself and discipline to refrain from beating myself up.

Now, more than a year later, I am ready to write about the fabulous time Dave and I had at Indian Camp Mountain. I will date this post during the time we were on our trip so it serves as a reminder to me of the dates. And today, I can truly say, that if it was meant to be that my parent’s were there, they would have been. My faith in God has to supersede my faith in me in order for me to be truly happy, as I know from experience.

The log cabin was a three-story house and Dave was right, there would have been plenty of room.

And the hikes, well, I doubt my parents could have handled the hikes. Most likely they would have stayed at the cabin and cooked. We hiked. And we hiked. And then hiked some more.

One time, we suddenly and unexpectedly came across a waterfall.

I tripped on a rock.

Then we found a gazebo next to a quaint pond.

And then we discovered a road and made our way back to the house via pavement.

And then we rested.

The Rock Star Tour of 2018

I was somewhat shocked to see the figure, after counting the states that Dave and I have driven through in the last nine months – nineteen. Nineteen states in nine months we have seen. “Pretty impressive,” I’d say. “Like a rock star!” Eleven states had us overnight and seven of the eleven for more than one night. This, I would like to remember. What a blast it has been.

Packing for this last trip went much more smoothly than our prior trip. Still, I brought too much stuff. But like I told Dave, “At least I’m getting better. At least this time, I only brought four bins of stuff we didn’t need!” Trying to be sarcastic and obviously exaggerate, this only made us laugh harder, as we both knew that I wasn’t exaggerating much. “Okay,” I conceded, and then added, “at least they were small bins.”

Because I wish to do different than I do, and not feel the need to lug around with me every little thing I think we might need on a trip, I am writing about it with the hope that it will help me continue to get better, for future trips. I am doing it for Dave, so that he won’t have to make as many unnecessary trips to the truck, hauling stuff. I am doing it for anyone who wishes they could pack lighter, including me. So while it is fresh on my mind, I will write of those things next. First, something I must get off my mind – saying, “I’m sorry,” to some of our Indy friends.

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You see, we were in town last week and did not let most of our friends know. In fact, we told very few of us being around, as our goal was to simply spend time with our daughter and celebrate her passing nursing school. Yes, Amanda is going to be a registered nurse! And we are so very proud of her.

As per the plan, we had no plans for the three days we were there, and we stayed quite busy spending time together. We walked all around downtown, which is also where we stayed, and when we got tired of walking, we rented bikes. We saw lots and lots of sites. We also did “Escape Room Indy” one night and had a blast. The few friends we did see, we have known since Amanda she was four. Two of them had her in their childcare program until she started kindergarten.

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My point is – some of you reading this might feel left out upon discovering that we were in Indy and did not at least say hi. And if you know me, then you know that feeling left out is something I do not like – for myself or others. So at the risk of sounding defensive, well, yeah, I am.

It was our “Rock Star Tour.”

That being said, I can now share the many fun photos of our trip without worrying about a beloved friend feeling left out. If you still do, please know that we are sincerely sorry. We hope to return to Indy soon and when we do, we hope to see you!

Our first stop on our “Rock Star Tour” was in Tennessee to visit friends. Little did we know nine months ago when we made them our first stop on our “Wonderfully Wacky Road Trip” as well, that the next time we’d see them, Stan would be doing chemo and radiation. A real trooper he has been through it all, both of them, indeed! After enduring a dose of radiation, he insisted on taking us to their friend’s place along the river – a place and a person we have heard much about throughout the last three years they have lived there.

A real treat it was for sure. Thanks guys! I will be sure to write more about it soon!

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The HSCC

There was quite a spread served-up today at the weekly Wednesday lunch (as usual) and thankfully a handful of people walked in right at noon, helping to keep the Hastings Senior Citizen’s Center open. Six bucks is all it costs to have a home-cooked meal, including dessert and an ice tea or ice water. The money goes toward paying utilities and insurance on the building, so that it may remain open and available for rent.

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Several of the area’s residents each bring a dish to donate for the cause. There is generally a variety to choose from for all courses – the main course, side dishes and desserts. I like to try everything. Today, to save room, I mixed together two different side dishes and thought, “What a coincidence, they are both pickled!” Or were they? I don’t know, but I know they were both good that way.

A few of the folks who frequent the lunch went to high school with my mom and dad. I think that is neat. We sat with one of such friends at lunch. This person also attends the UMC in Waurika and we discussed how much we loved last week, seeing The Master’s Storyteller, and discovered we have had the same song rolling around in our head ever since. So, again I will say but in another way, if you ever get the chance to see Wesley Putnam, The Master’s Storyteller, I highly doubt you will be disappointed.

And, if you ever happen to be in the Hastings, Oklahoma area on a Wednesday promptly at noon, stop by the Hastings Senior Citizen’s Center for lunch. Not only will you get a great meal for only $6, you will be helping the whole town. No one wants to see the Center close down. It is located on Main Street across from the post office and available to rent for most occasions. If you go, feel free to say, “Susie sent me,” and, “hi,” to my mom and dad!

If you really want to know… I’m a Cathodist

Best I can figure, I am a Cathodist Misallievangelical with close ties to the Baptist’s. However, I am mostly Catholic, then Methodist. The other two churches I elected to become a member of, I did so during my seeking years. I spent a few looking for a place where I would feel that I “fit in.”

My mom might disagree with me and say I am mostly Methodist, since I was born into a Methodist family, baptized as a baby in the Methodist Church and where I attended for the first twenty-two years of life. A good case, but so is the one that claims I am mostly Catholic. I had to earn it.

After attending weekly classes for a year after we were married, I passed the test that declared me to be Catholic. I probably had an advantage as well, since I had graduated from Cathedral High School. The church accepted my baptism as a baby but not my confirmation, I guess because they called it first communion. So I took part in a ceremony with a class of second graders in order for the Catholic church to recognize our union under God. Whew, we pulled it off – married by the Methodists AND approved by the Catholics. Both in-laws were in luck.

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We did about a decade of semi-faithful Catholicism before long days at the community park took over the time commitment. Not for long though, for we started going to a Christian and Missionary Alliance Church after a neighbor invited us, which we loved, and then lost the pastor to a better town. A colleague invited us years later to an Evangelical Church, which we also loved, until the hour-long drive started to wear on us.

When my “church hopping” escapades ended up at the Baptist Church, my enthusiasm to study the bible really took off. For I had never heard of “the rapture” before, in all of my almost 40 years in a handful of churches. I was also looking for where the bible says that I would go to hell if I were not baptized Baptist. What I found was a little more shocking, at first, though so intriguing that I continued studying using the Strong’s Concordance. Suddenly, the bible made more sense than ever to me. And everyday, it continues to fascinate me.

Before I get into all that, I just want to say – my goal is to share what I have been studying about the bible, nothing more. I do not care to try to convince anyone of anything. I would simply like to share some things I have discovered, in case others are searching like I was and struggling with a faith not making much sense. And if what I have to share happens to add to your already sense-filled faith, well then that would be fine. This will be in an upcoming post.

As far as my faith, it is overflowing. Because of this, I feel I can “fit in” just about anywhere, even when I don’t. As far as what to call me, should you have a need to label it, we’ll go with Cathodist. Predominantly Catholic and then Methodist. And because Cathodist sounds better than Metholic.

How’s that for organized religion?

Love it or Fear it

What a difference a decade can make.

Dave finally got me out on what I call “the big boat,” on March 1, 2018. I was terrified. Not a natural boat person myself, I was scared about everything and anything that could go wrong. He had spent the previous five years helping me to feel safe in the small boat, and I just wanted to go back to being in the small boat.

He tried telling me how much safer we were in a bigger boat, among other things, in an effort to ease my fear, but the only thing I could think of, was how scared I was. Then out of the blue, I thought of something I had heard years before and had recently began to put in to practice – love it or fear it.

When I first heard someone say that our reactions or feelings about something either stem from a place of love or a place of fear, I thought they were a little “out there.” The first time I experienced seeing this truth, I was blown away. I guess this notion “blew me out there” with this other person, because I got it. It took me a couple of years, but by golly, I got it! And once you get it, I think you will be amazed.

So I thought about this while out there feeling frantic, and decided to give it a try. There was no doubt about it, I was coming from a place of fear, so I searched for a place of love, from which I could see things instead. I started thinking, okay, Dave loves boating, he grew up boating, he knows how to boat, I love Dave. My ego tried to interject with, yeah, and I love me, too and I want to live! I answered it with a very practical solution – well then put on a life jacket. And I did.

Having a bright orange flotation device fastened about my person, gave me some security, so I started again. Okay, Dave loves boating, I love Dave, Dave loves me, we both love nature, and animals, and beautiful scenery, and I started naming all the things we were seeing. Taking in the beauty of God’s seemingly magical creations, I was no longer thinking of being frightened, and instead, was thinking of how awesome it is that my husband and I share the same love for things. Before I knew it, I was making a mental gratitude list, which included being thankful that we survived the last ten years, staying together.

I went on to thank God for changing us, so we could stay together, and for helping us get to the best place we have ever been in our relationship. By the time I realized my immense gratitude for the fact that we both love God, I was actually having a pretty good time. I relaxed just enough to take a photo without the life jacket smothering my face, and then right back on it went.

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Dave was happy to hear at the end of the ride that yes, it was fun, and that next time I will let him take me out on the ocean.