A Grace Full Life

I have NEVER been told I was graceful. I wish I was. My sisters are. I have friends who are but I'm not. Right now I have what I am sure is a broken toe. My 3rd one to break! I constantly have bruises where I run into things. I have slipped, tripped, and fallen and couldn't get up on more than one occasion. I'm not "given" to strong drink, take meds that matter, or have eyesight problems - I am just clumsy.

I may not be graceful but I am grace FULL.

Becoming grace full was as simple as accepting Jesus Christ as my savior. The day I gave up living my life on my own terms was the best day of my life. Some folks may say Christ is a crutch. He isn’t a crutch. He is my wheelchair, my life support, and most of all the best friend a girl could have. He took my sins and forgave them and said start over and I’ll help.

Here is where it gets sticky….
I wonder if people, who like me, who have lived an out of control or at best painful life are often left craving for a set of rules or formula to bring a sense of order and purpose back into their lives. Exhausted from the fruit of living life their own way they try church. Church is the perfect place to start to learn about God's plan. Hopefully they can learn that God’s plan isn’t about rules but about a relationship that is established through His grace.

What is grace?


a: unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification

b: a virtue coming from God

God’s grace is so intense that many of us struggle to wrap our minds around it. What? I am forgiven and get a second chance in life? It is such an out-of-this-world concept that the world keeps taking it (grace) and dressing it up in works because “works” are tangible.

a. activity in which one exerts strength or faculties to do or perform something:

b: sustained physical or mental effort to overcome obstacles and achieve an objective or result.

Works make us feel a sense of value to God. This tragic way of thinking will leave you lost and frantic when circumstances arise that could keep you from performing. Our life’s value isn’t in a set of works or accomplishments but comes from a relationship with Christ. Accomplishments can naturally flow out of living a life that reflects the grace of God. Believe me there is a big difference from a God inspired effort vs. a man inspired effort. A big difference.

To enjoy an exciting grace-filled life with all its mountain tops and valleys you must become the eternal student. Commit to learn His ways and not fall into the "works" trap. Remember his gift to you was free. You cannot work to earn it. He isn't impressed by how tired you are from trying to please Him. You please Him because you are His.

Haven’t felt connected with Christ in a while? Been so busy you just plain miss Him? His grace is still in place. Read the book of John to help you fall in love with Christ all over again. When he talks about who he came to serve include yourself. He loves you and understands.

Enjoy living your grace full life.


Feeling like a helpless woman?

Me too but not very often. I am a woman with a strong Martha complex. Like Martha in the Bible I see needs and I do the expected.

The more issues I deal with using my own wit builds up my confidence that "I" can do all things... and thats where it ends. Then comes a tragedy. A heartbreak. An injustice. So I do what all Marthas do: pray on the wing and fret till I'm dizzy.

Are you like me? I figure out what needs done and proceed. When my plan doesn't fix the situation THEN I ask God for help.

When I was younger I think God let me proceed on my own strength and let me just wear myself out. As an "older" gal it doesn't seem to take as much for me to "wear out". Maybe that is a good thing.

I have had a heavy heart for sometime about a situation and I realize I have to stop replaying the information. Its almost like studying for an exam. The more I think back about events with the idea that I will just come up with a brilliant solution -the more discouraged I feel.

I was praying yesterday and I told God I felt so helpless. I couldn't in the natural come up with any ideas to help or bring relief to those involved. I was crying out as though being helpless meant failing.

I felt like God spoke to me and said that this was the point when He could do His best work. When I gave up trying to fix things in my flesh and surrendered it all to Him I felt a breath of fresh air...finally.

I do not know how or when God will do his miracle for my loved ones but I tasted a miracle when I released the problem to God and sat at the loving father's feet like Mary.

I am commited to stay that way. I am focused on God as my help and Him alone. I am a helpless woman who has positioned herself at the foot of the cross knowing if I choose to rest in Christ He is then able to show Himself powerful in my behalf.


For the most part of 20 years I was blessed to have led the children's ministry at my church. It was a precious time in my life. My whole family participated in one way or another - puppets, handing out treats, teaching, camp outs, singing, games, and finding a sparkle for every Bible Truth we taught. Sparkles were the small delights attached to each lesson. A sparkle could be anything -a pirate eye patch or funny song or treat to go with the lesson to help the children remember and embrace the Bible verse.

Now days I devote my time now to ministering to foster children. It's not an every Sunday effort but more like a quarterly extravaganza! It's such a different type of work but one thing I am still enjoying is watching their faces as they realize how special they are as we hand out treats, play games, or head to the zoo. Turns out they have become my sparkle. Their faces are etched in my heart and help me to remember why I do this work.

Thank you Lord that you have seen fit to let me serve you in this way. Thanks for the many sparkles you've used to remind me of your great power to love.

Art by Susan Johnson
Thank you Susan for the painting of Children's Church. Hopefully the children we served back in those days are still serving Christ.

Take a Walk

If I could say one thing
That could change a life for good
I'd start by saying take a walk
around your neighborhood

Leave your dishes in the sink
The laundry stacked up high
Forget to take your cell phone
And get yourself outside

When you've stepped away don't look back
At least not right away
You need to clear your thoughts
And try NOT to plan your day

Disconnect from all your worries
Release your fears to Him
Look around at God's creation
After all you're one of them

Can you count the hairs upon your head?
Can you make the mountains move?
Then why struggle plot and second quess
your every single move.

You think if you could pray more
Start a Bible club or two
Then maybe God could use you
Make someone happy...make life good

You think you’re not a missionary?
You have too much to do?
Well your walk is always talking
Does it speak of Christ or you?

As you stroll along through life
Your neighbors watch your walk
It's not how hard you served the Lord
It’s not how grand your talk

If no one sees your struggles
If you're not real in life
They'll never see how to survive
With Jesus by their side.

So hush dirty dishes
Dusty floors we'll sweep you later
We've got to take a little walk
To go and meet our neighbors

We have met the enemy and he is....me!?!?

The famous quote from Pogo the cartoon opossum goes, " We have seen the enemy and he is us." We really are our worst enemies. For me I struggle with distractions. Many times the distraction is nothing more than a short cut to get what I think I need or want instead of waiting on the Lord to make a way.

I knew I needed to retire from real estate. I was working 60+ hours a week to maintain more clients than most offices had collectively. I felt I needed to concentrate on my health - high blood pressure, weight etc... and on the time I had left with a grandchild we were raising who was about to graduate. I dreamed of ministering to women and of owning an online business. I also wanted to devote more time to Blue Sunday a child abuse prevention effort(www.bluesunday.org)

I was praying God would show me which way to leave real estate and which way to jump start the adventures I dreamed of. One Saturday morning I got a phone call from a friend inviting me to join him in a network marketing business. It would provide me the tools for an online business but more importantly I felt it would take the sting out of quitting work all together.

I signed up to start my business and attended training and weekly pep rallies. The only problem with the program was I didn't want to sell what they were selling. I also didn't want my success to depend on others signing up to sell as well. I finally figured it out and after 2 months I quit. I am so thankful I didn't loose my friend over it.

I realize that by quickly signing up for the other business I was trying to build a net for myself to soften the fall or should I say blow of making such a major change in our lives. I was afraid to quit real estate even though I knew I had to. I allowed myself to be distracted by what looked like a quick fix instead trusting God to make a way.

Once I gave up trying to figure out what to do and surrendered to "whatever" God wanted me to be involved in I immediately received invitations to speak at different functions. I didn't pursue anyone, except the Lord. The doors just came open. Next - just for fun - I decided to build a blog about women who camp and now it appears I may eventually offer some custom products - yep - online! It all just fell in place. It felt natural and I still have the time I need to take care of my other responsibilities.

Distractions still come on nearly a daily basis. There are so many worthy causes that need volunteers and many wonderful business opportunities. I am learning how to live out the scripture that says, "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not." 1 Corinthians 10:23 In other words -just because you can do something (or think you can) doesn't mean you should!

Today's prayer:
Lord please protect me from my enemies -it appears I might be one of them. Give me wisdom to know when I am building my own safety net instead of trusting you.
Arroyo City, Texas

I loved spending time today with my Sister Alice and her precious grandson.

On our photo "safari" around the county park at Arroyo City my great nephew Ichiro got to track down some turkey that were near our campsite. He took some great photos

I believe these turkeys were jakes. I learned that means they are immature males.

University of Texas Has Johnny and Natty

Its official grandson John is going to attend UT along with his sister, Natalie. Wow who would have thought years ago we had a crib full of little Longhorns. Proud of these kids.

Grandkids make me laugh!

This picture expresses my 2 oldest grandchildren's relationship with one another - maybe a little exaggerated but not by much! Natalie and Johnny have done such an amazing job of caring for one another. She is a second year UT student and Johnny is about to graduate with honors from high school. They are a riot and my joy.

Vamonos Hermanas is finished!

I joined Sisters on the Fly which is a ladies camping group whose motto is "we're turning women into girls". Over 1400 members across the country from all walks of life. Great ladies. When you join you are given a SISTER number. Mine is Sister 477. They typically own vintage trailers that are decorated inside and out with a cowgirl theme. Some do shappy chic, hunting, or safari,etc. I decided since my trailer and I are PARKED so close to the border we needed to do a Tex Mex theme. What fun it has been getting the trailer ready for the annual camp out called GIDDY UP~
Oh and everyone gives their trailer a nickname. I chose Vamonos Hermanas - Let's Go Sisters!

Want to join too? Visit www.sistersonthefly.com

Fee is only about $60 a year. Tons of fun and you can become a SISTER too. Then hit the road and go camping with me and Vamonos!

You Gotta Look Up!

I walked right by this owl last week while birding at Anzaldua Dam in Mission. I am not the best spotter but I did notice him finally when I noticed someone taking a picture right above my head!

Aww the joy of group birding. It obviously takes a village to spot a bird!

Today while taking my morning walk I took my binoculars with me and didn't answer my phone - next time I will turn it off all together. I looked up while dodging cars and here is what I "spotted" by myself:

Green Parakeets (everyone calls these parrots because they are so big)
Northern Mockingbird
Eastern Phobe
Orange-crowned Kinglet
Hawk (about 14 inches tall, no I.D. yet)
Black Vulture
Black Bellied Whistling Ducks
House Wren
Olive Sparrow
Redwing Blackbirds

Rare Visitor Crimson Collared Grosbeak

This is a very rare occurance for the birding community. The first time a Crimson Collard Grosbeak has been seen in the United States. You can see it too by visiting the Quinta Matzalan World Birding Center on 10th Street just past the golf course in McAllen Texas.


Ands we kissed by the light of the moon...

I posted this picture on facebook and a friend from the local newspaper saw it there and asked me to enter it into their photo contest. I was flattered so I did. Are you ready for this.... it was called the Hot Kiss Photo Contest!!! Hot!?!?!? Who are they kidding? I went and looked at the other submissions and they were all hot. Oh well our photo is smothered in love with a hint of humor and nearly 37 years of practice!

1st Morning of Retirement

Well so far so good. Of course its only 9:22am. I have a cold and sore throat so I couldn't even hug my friends goodbye at the going away party yesterday. What sweet folks. I loved the lunch and flowers. I was feeling pretty bad but the brave souls still sat next to me at the dinner table.

I woke up this morning -still feeling sick - made a cup of coffee and got out my Bible and saw the last page I had been reading a couple of weeks ago. OK OK I haven't read my Bible for a couple of weeks but I have been reading Bible material: By This Name. Good book. Anyway...

My eyes fell to 2 Chronicles 15:2
"... The Lord is with you while you are with Him, If you seek Him, He will be found by you: but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you."

2 Chronicles 15:7 "But you be strong and do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded!"

Oh no! I am retired does this mean I must show back up to work tomorrow? Of course not. I believe at this point in my life the only real "work" to be rewarded for is the eternal kind with eternal rewards.

I may dabble a little with paying work here and there but I feel I am retired from just making a living.... I get to infuse these days with making a life.

That makes me happy.

2 jays

2 jays
Originally uploaded by happyisshe

Fear of Flying

1Pe 5:7

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

For those who don't know me very well let me tell you that I don't like to fly. I am a fretfull flyer. I dread it. I've had terrible ear trouble on flights. I once even had an eardrum rupture. This makes for high anxiety when preparing to fly anywhere. Last year I even got a perscription for valium to take before flying but never took it. I just toughed it out.

This year it was time to fly out to see my youngest daughter in Portland Oregon. I was excited about seeing her but not excited about the flight. A day or two before the flight I was walking past the tv when 2 guys were talking about a flight they had just completed. One (the uptight cranky one) said he didn't sleep a wink. The other said he slept the whole time. This was a fictional show but still it made me stop and think... I'm like the first guy. Uptight the whole time.
I hate being that way.

So I prayed. I asked the Lord to do my worrying for me. I cast my worry, my anxiety, my cares upon Him. I reminded Him and myself that I belong to Him. I did pray for the plane and the pilot as usual but I surrendered myself to God.

Flight from San Antonio to Denver Colorado:
Plane was about 2/3 full. Mostly a smooth flight. Even when the plane bobbed or would make different sounds I reminded myself and God that I was His. I didn't fret. No racing pulse. No inner panic. Of course I never outwardly panic. I am too civilized - Ha! I made myself not watch my watch or stare at the stewardess looking for any sign of trouble. My ears didn't give me a seconds worth of trouble which is very unusual for me. Plane arrived 30 minutes early into Denver. WOW!

Flight from Denver to Portland Oregon:
Sat near 3 unaccompanied children who said things like: I smell fire, I think we are about to crash, can the pilot even see where he is going? The lady behind me told everyone her daughter's plane dropped from 30,000 ft down to 3,000 feet. The lady next to me explained she was returning from visiting her mother but ended up getting sick. I started reminding the Lord: Oh Lord, I am yours. Will you worry for me? I cast my cares upon you because I know you care for me. This flight went very smooth. Plane arrived 25 minutes early to Portland. WOW! WOW!

Not only did I have 2 very smooth, uneventfull flights, we flew nearly an hour less that expected.

I love God and I love Southwest but I'd still love to swat that kid who smelled fire.

1Pe 5:7

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Summer Birding

Its a hot dry summer but I am spending it outside anyway!

Worked in the yard for 4 hours Sunday.

Slept like a baby last night and only a little sore this morning.

I am getting my yard ready for the fall migration.

I have a makeshift water station that drips from the trees into a pan below.

At the water station I've spotted sparrows, chachalacas, woodpeckers, grackles(pooh!), brown thrashers (a familyof 3), and a kiskadee.

Not a bad crowd so far.

I just saw ruby throated hummingbirds on Sunday. We have buff bellied hummingbirds all the time but the ruby throated just returned. The Laguna Vista Birders saw them a week earlier.

I keep the food out all summer for the backyard birds. I put out watermelon which is tons of fun to watch as birds the squirrels take turns.

John and I have been photographing Ani all summer long.

They are soooo cool. Even my 9 year old grandaughter walked up on some and photographed (she photographed the one above) and even videotaped them.

I bet I've seen Ani all my life and thought they were grackles. It pays to take a second look at ever grackle you see... it might be an Ani instead.

Look for that parrot style beak.

So far I've seen them 4 out of the last 5 birding trips to Ramsey Park in Harlingen.

I walk 40 minutes to an hour 5 days a week. I amuse myself by counting bird species as I walk. My highest count has been 21 in one 40 minute walk!!!

It takes the drudgery out of walking.

I am so grateful birding is a part of my life.

Husband John and I have something to smile about...

Our Missouri grandkids are coming for a visit!

Whoo Hoo!

A Bunch of Joy!

Here is a picture of husband John with our 2 "Missouri" grandchildren: Logan age 9 and Quinn age 14. We had an amazing time with them. They are both outdoorsy kids so we spent most of the trip birding, hiking, and of course taking their pictures!!!! Logan just got student of the month and of the quarter and Quinn is currently on a mission trip. What a blessing it is to have them in our lives.

Meet Melynn Flores our Godchild

I was so surprised when Lori and Richie Flores asked John and I to be their baby daughter's Godparents.

Usually you choose people your own age or younger to be Godparents. I mentioned this to the Flores who said they didn't care how old we were.

It made me cry. John and I were both pretty blown away by it.

I have always teased Lori and Richie about how they need to go to our church but after attending the dedication service at their church I understand why they go to VICC in San Benito, Texas.

We stood the entire time. There was no sermon only praise and worship with short "Words of encouragement" sprinkled along the way.

It was precious and we loved every minute of it.

Melynn is in such a good place.

We're going to love watching her grow and will pray for her and her family.

What a gift she is to us.

Glimpse of God's Garden

I was delighted when I came across scripture that gave me what I like to call "a glimpse into God's garden".

I found such a scripture while reading Psalm 84 verse 2, “I long, yes, faint with longing to be able to enter your courtyard and come near to the Living God."
Just think to sit at His feet and bath in the warmth of His presence.
What would we see there? What sights, sounds, smells and feelings would we experience?
Just like we surround ourselves with things that bring us comfort and pleasure I wondered if God might do the same thing.

Then I read the next scripture, verse 3: Even the sparrow and swallows are welcome to come and nest among your altars and there have their young..."

You mean in the presence of the God of the universe we might actually share the space with birds?
Why sparrows? Why swallows?
Wouldn't peacocks, toucans, or birds of paradise be more fitting?

Sparrows are such plain common birds. According to
www.NatureSkills.com, sparrows are everywhere. They believe every person has seen a sparrow at some point in their life. I know I've had way too many in my garden eating up my birdseed intended for the cardinals and greenjays. Sparrows are a nuisance and their chatter drowns out the other birds!
Swallows are such pest. I can't tell you how many times I've found a big mess on a front porch step only to look up and find an egg filled swallow nest teetering on the overhead porch light. What do you to do? You can't take it down until the fledglings leave. What a mess!

Wow - just think, knowing all that, God still welcomes them into His courtyard.

I got to thinking - much of my life has been a mess yet He welcomes me as well.

He makes being in His presence like being home.

It fills my heart with peace.

I wonder, in my own garden - my own life - do I merely tolerate those I consider messy or pesky or do I welcome them like God does me?
Do I love unconditionally? I hope I follow His example.

After all no one is worthy of being in His presence but all are welcome.

I'll never look at a sparrow or swallow the same.

A Camping We Will Go!

We have rediscovered the joy of camping!

My husband John bought me a 1993 Scamp Trailor last year and we've had a ball with it everysince.

We bought it for me to be able to camp out with a bunch of gals called Sisters On the Fly. They are women who love to camp, fish, and shop! It turns out my husband has slept in it more than I have! He used it at the hunting list all winter!

We've camped in Fredricksburg, Guadalupe State Park, Bastrop, and Arroyo City.

I have to say I loved Arroyo City! It is sooooo South Texas! They say they have mosquito problem there but I haven't seen that.

Last weekend for Fathers Day we camped, fished and enjoyed an ALMOST full moon!

There is nothing prettier than sitting by the Arroyo Colorado under a full moon.

Can't wait till next time!

Anyone else want to go?



Never borrow from the future. If you worry about what may happen tomorrow and it doesn't happen, you have worried in vain. Even if it does happen, you have to worry twice."

1. Pray

2. Go to bed on time.

3. Get up on time so you can start the day unrushed.

4. Say No to projects that won't fit into your time schedule, or that will compromise your menta l health.

5. Delegate tasks to capable others.

6. Simplify and unclutter your life.

7. Less is more. (Although one is often not enough, two are often too many.)

8. Allow extra time to do things and to get to places.

9. Pace yourself. Spread out big changes and difficult projects over time; don't lump the hard things all together.

10. Take one day at a time.

11. Separate worries from concerns. If a situation is a concern, find out what God would have you do and let go of the anxiety. If you can't do anything about a situation, forget it .

12. Live within your budget; don't use credit card s for ordinary purchases.

13. Have backups; an extra car key in your wallet, an extra house key buried in the garden, extra stamps, etc.

14. K.M.S. (Keep Mouth Shut). This single piece of advice can prevent an enormous amount of trouble.

15. Do something for the Kid in You everyday.

16. Carry a Bible with you to read while waiting in line.

17. Get enough rest.

18. Eat right.

19. Get organized so everything has its place.

20. Listen to a tape while driving that can help improve your quality of life.

21. Write down thoughts and inspirations.

22. Every day, find time to be alone.

23. Having problems? Talk to God on the spot. Try to nip small problems in the bud. Don't wait until it's time to go to bed to try and pray.

24. Make friends with Godly people.

25. Keep a folder of favorite scriptures on hand.

26. Remember that the shortest bridge between despair and hope is often a good "Thank you Jesus."

27. Laugh.

28. Laugh some more!

29. Take your work seriously, but not yourself at all.

30. Develop a forgiving attitud e (most people are doing the best they can).

31. Be kind to unkind people (they probably need it the most).

32. Sit on your ego.

33. Talk less; listen more.

34. Slow down.

35. Remind yourself that you are not the general manager of the universe.

36 . Every night before bed, think of one thing you're grateful for that you've never been grateful for before.


"If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31)

No Seconds Thank You!

My husband John and I found 2 nest on the ground by the clubhouse swimming pool. I wanted to bring one home to put in my garden. I was surprised he didn't grumble once as I put the messy nest in the car to drive it home. He wouldn't admit it but I could tell he thought it was a cool bird's nest -just as I did.

I placed the nest in between my Airplane plant with all its babies and my big basket of trailing ivy that covered the patio table. It couldn't have looked prettier... or so I thought until I happened across some faux eggs at a gift store in Port Isabel. I bought 3 eggs and couldn't wait to get them home and "lay" them in the nest. Aww perfect.

After a few days of admiring the nest I noticed one morning the eggs were missing. I found two nearby but the third egg was no where to be found. I looked everywhere. I couldn't imagine who would have come during the night and stolen a fake egg!

My husband suggested it was the raccoon that has visited us before. We've never seen him but have seen his muddy tracks and heard the noice he's made looking for some trouble to get into. A friend said snakes will go after eggs. Of the two I sorta hope it was a snake and it choked on the plastic egg and not the raccoon! Imagine how dissappointed that critter must have felt --- such a tasteless meal!

The poor thing is either dead from eating the egg or smart enough to have not come back for seconds.

We feel bad either way and I"m sure the critter feels worse.

I Lost A Friend Yesterday

She was quite a bit older than me. I was in gradeschool when her husband stepped in as President. Although we never formally met I always thought of Lady Bird Johnson as my friend.

I have visited her parks, her Wildflower Center in Austin, bought her book, and even named my dog after her. I've always been a big fan of this small Texas woman.

As a young child she connected with flowers and gardens as a means of feeling connected to her mother who passed away.

She carried that love of growing beautiful things on into her adult life. Her hard work is why we can enjoy the beautiful wildflower strewn highways.

I know she and her mother are enjoying a sweet reunion and I bet its in one of God's favorite gardens.

Cosmos Keep Smiling!

I was cleaning the back of my office and heard someone come in the front door. I looked up and there stood one of my favorite people on the planet: Helen Bull. I had to fight tears of joy. It has been nearly 2 years since we visited last.

She didn't start out as one of my favorite people. One of my earliest memories were of her biting me after I bit her son, Johnny. I thought the woman was going to bite my thumb off! I also remember her laying in my grandmother's bed sick and knowing it had something to do with being the mother of 4 little boys. Someone told me she was having female trouble and I figured with a husband and 4 boys she probably had all kinds of female trouble being so outnumbered!

As a little girl I loved going to her house. Her boys had go carts, Mad magazines, and lived right across the alley from the Flamingo Hotel where we could go swimming. Once her boys had a pen where they hatched quail eggs. 100's as best I recall. I was mesmerized by the tiny birds. They felt like cotton balls with feet.

Another thing I loved were Helen's boys: Billy Mike, John Tracy, Tommy Ray and Curtis Dean. They were were freckled faced like me except the youngest Curtis Dean. My brother, Jody, always wanted to be a Bull Boy but I remember thinking I would fit in better since I had the freckles and was a real tom boy!

There were two more things that connected Helen and I. She could grown anything and taught me to love plants and birds. I'd never seen a hummingbird or heard a catbird until she pointed them out. Her samon colored oleanders, orange kalanchos, and paper-y flowered ice plant not to mention swedish ivy were my early favorites in her yard. She planted periwinkles for my mother -her best friend- who had a brown thumb. She promised they would thrive on neglect and she was right. Mom was proud of her purple flowers that greeted everyone by the front step.

After my girls were grown and out of the house Helen and I spent many Saturdays visiting nurseries, antique stores, and sharing the latest family and church stories over lunch. She would call me up or just show up and tell me where the purple Jacaranda trees were blooming or when the rain tree near the city lake was solid yellow with blossums. My first flower and butterfly pictures were taken in her backyard - a mexican love vine that had almost as many butterflies as bright orange/red blossoms.

I remember my last visit to Helen's house before she moved to Austin. As she and I toured her backyard she pointed out her cosmos and told me how she loved them. 7+ years later I finally planted my first cosmos. They are amazing! They can take the heat, the salt air, and the strong coastal breeze that charges through my yard on a daily basis. No matter what comes their way they keep blooming. They keep smiling! I never tend them that I don't think of her. She is just like my cosmos. No matter what charges through her life she keeps blooming, keeps smiling.

Helen takes full credit for teaching me to love gardening and birds. Thats true. I told her it was my refuge. She said that someday we'd have a good time gardening together in Heaven. We both said we were looking forward to that and we both meant it.

I wish everyone had a Helen Bull in their life.