From the Ranch

From the Ranch

Thursday, December 4, 2014

How Lovely the German People Are

I have met so many lovely people since I arrived in Germany!  The neighbors come to our house to welcome us to the neighborhood, the people at church make the effort to speak with us in English, and even the people I meet in the shopping centers are smiling and friendly.  Of course Chance is our own little Ambassador, making friends wherever he goes.  He has become so social, wanting to warm up to everyone, and make friends.

This morning our landlord visited, what a gracious and delightful person she is.  She brought gifts, told me some of the history of the house we are living in, and met with her architect and his associate, also both very gracious, concerning a problem in one of the basement rooms.  

We shared coffee and a fresh red velvet cake with butter pecan cream cheese icing.  It was such an enjoyable time with new German friends.

Monday, October 6, 2014

I'm Moving to Germany FromTexas!: Germany, You are Going to Love My Barbie Doll Coll...

I'm Moving to Germany FromTexas!: Germany, You are Going to Love My Barbie Doll Coll...: I have always loved toys, especially dolls, and playing with them.  Now you might think what is an almost 63 year old woman doing playing w...

Packing Up Some of the Barbies for the Move to Germany

I am leaving some too, to do their job of giving a little 
vacation to the little girls of military families.
This doll is one of my Barbies from the Designer Collection 
from Mattel, whose design is from Bob Mackie.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

I Am Planning Another Little Girl's Birthday Party!

Our ranch is a place for children.  In planning our aim was to create a place where our grand-children and the children of military families could come and find a place to rest and refresh.  There is no better way for children to escape the stresses of life than in play and pretend.  Really,  that holds true for all of us.  We all need play. 

From the days of my own childhood came my love for Barbie dolls.  I will never forget the first one I ever saw.  She was in the basement playroom of my friend Joy Wease, who was the daughter of the pastor of our church.  Her Barbie was of the first doll design that Mattel ever made in the "Barbie" series, and had a pony tail, and curly bangs, along with that black and white stripped bathing suit, and black, "high heel" shoes.  I immediately fell in love with her, and the very next Christmas, there was  one under the tree for me.  My Barbie was a brunette, and she had a "bubble cut" hair do.  It was love at first sight, and there is no telling how many hours I spent in play with her and the Ken doll which followed on my birthday.  My sister received a blond Barbie with that same bubble cut, but ours had red one piece bathing suits.  We both dearly loved them, and only had one Barbie apiece in our childhoods.  Maybe that is why I have so many today.  At any rate, I knew exactly what to add to the ranch for little girls to play with to take them away from all of the cares of their lives, and my Doll Barn was born.
One of the ways that Soldier's Heart Ranch ministers to the families of the military is to provide this place to view and play with dolls of all kinds, even the boys, because they really enjoy playing with the GI Joe collection. I am planning a little birthday party for Samara, the daughter of very good friends, and it is going to feature a fun "scavenger hunt" game.  The little girls will have to take their art sheets from room to room in the house, find the Barbies on the page, and get a sticker to add to their art page.   Then they will go to the  paint table and use markers to color their sheet.  Next they will go  to another art table and use a glue stick to add some glitter, finishing their art work which they will take home with them them!

There will be many dolls to see and many to play with, wonderful little games to play, and of course play time with the Barbies and other dolls.  I know they will have a great time at this special party.  I will be posting more pictures of the settings and the fun time we will all have at this beautiful little party.  So watch the blog, and if you would like to schedule your own "Barbie Doll Party,"  give us a call at 979-865-8919, or email me at!  We are located in Sealy, Texas, about an hour from downtown Houston, Texas.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Little Girls From Military Families Love to Have Their Birthday At My House

They do because I love toys, especially Barbie Dolls!

I have lots of them, big ones, regular size ones, and tiny ones.

I sort of have a Barbie Doll Museum...

Guess What I Found in the Barbie Barn!

A baby rattlesnake was in the tea set I picked up to clean.

It doesn't take me long to look at a tea set.

 If the barn had not be so cold from the air-conditioning... 
I surely would have been bitten!

I Love When GOD Paints!

The sunsets at Soldier's Heart Ranch are so spectacular...

 From the front porch looking across the pond is so soothing

The ducks love sitting on the dock in the evening.


My Friend Is A Bed Hog!

He's beautiful...

He's a good friend...

He's charming...

But Chance is a "bed hog."

More Images From Round Top Texas

Round Top, Texas features so many old and historical buildings.

Some have been moved in, and some have always been there.

Many have been turned into quaint little shops which I love to visit!

Everywhere you look things are postcard pretty!

Even the Chamber of Commerce is a historic site in Round Top.

The private homes are showcases of a time gone by...

Of course this little area beckons the visitor...

More lovely photos and information on where to visit to follow!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Place to See Before You Die!

Before you even arrive at Round Top, Texas, 
you will realize you are dropping back in time.

Round Top is not a large town, in fact anything but!

The population use to be 79, but the little village is growing, 

Now it is 90!

Here are a few of the treasures of Round Top, Texas!

I will tell you stories to delight about all these charming places
 in the week to come.  For now just enjoy the charm from 
the pictures I took on a recent trip there!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

There is a Reason Why I am the Favorite Nana!

The youngest visitors at the ranch find so many fun and unique things to play with at the ranch!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

I Had Such an Exceptional Day on Sunday

On Sunday Stacy and Rob Moltz, along with their children Samara and Makiya,  and I made the trip to Plano, Texas to hear Canon Andrew White, the Vicar of Baghdad speak.  He was speaking at Christ Church, there in Plano, and the service was quite amazing.

The music was tremendous, and included a violin solo of the theme from the movie Schindler's List, and I have never heard such beautiful violin music.  Brother Andrew gave away two of the devices which his ministry in Iraq is presenting to those persecuted Christians who have lost everything.  It was, I know, of such importance to those who received it.  The Christians of Iraq have lost everything in this present tragedy taking place in their country, including their Bibles, which have been confiscated and burned.  The device was a solar powered electronic Bible, which also would use sound to read aloud the Bible to the listener.  Our own Makiya received one of those gifts, and was so thrilled.

Brother Andrew spoke from a text in Romans which is among my favorites:

17 and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

From Groans to Glory

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us. 

Certainly the Christians of all the Middle East are suffering at this time, and when they mourn, we mourn with them.  It was so moving to hear Brother Andrew pray in Aramaic, the language in which Jesus preached to the multitudes.  He spoke of the joy in which his congregation worship  on Sundays, despite the circumstances they find themselves enduring.  He told of how they proclaim, "when everything is taken away, still we have Jesus."  He told also of the broken hearts of  the people who have lost loved ones in horrific acts of violence committed by ISIS.  He told of how the children of one Christian family were told they must renounce their faith or die, and those children refused and were killed and their bodies ran over with heavy equipment in front of their parents.  May God deliver the world from such calloused violence quickly!  Daily I spend time in prayer for the Christians of Iraq, and I pray for those who are left behind, not those who have been martyred,  for they go immediately to our Lord in Heaven, never again to know sorrow, pain, death, or fear.  It is those who remain, who must deal with the atrocities inflicted upon these gentle people with whom I grieve. 

As always Brother Andrew's attention was drawn to the children in the congregation, and both Samara and Makiya were so impressed with the message and moved at the plight of Christians in Iraq, understanding that their persecution is because of their faith in God.  It is always impressive to anyone who learns that the Christians in the Mosul area are the reminent of the church established by Jonah, as in Jonah and the great fish, at Nineveh, so many thousands of years ago. 

Not only did we get to see Brother Andrew, but my dear Sister Sarah was there and we had such joy in meeting in person for the first time.  Brother Andrew has promised to come to Houston to see us, and our local NBC affiliate will be interviewing him, so if you live in the area plan to watch.  He also will be speaking at  churches in the area.   As Makiya kept telling his dad, "we are going to need to get some bigger churches."  


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I Call This Piece "Friends"

More of Those Beautiful Horses

You Should Read This For All The People You Love

This is such important information, and Stratfor so graciously offers the opportunity to republish it.  Please see the link at the bottom of the page to access this important site!

Ben Sheen: Hello and thank you for joining us. My name is Ben Sheen. I'm one of the managing editors here at Stratfor and I'm joined here today by our Vice President of Intelligence Fred Burton.
Fred Burton: Good morning Ben.
Ben: Good to have you here Fred.
Fred: Thank you.
Ben: Now, here at Stratfor we have developed an incredible resource, an incredible amount of information based on security, both at the personal, the corporate and the national level. As an individual who spent a lifetime in high risk, high threat environments, what are some of your big takeaways when it comes to security?
Fred: I think I'm really excited about this series because we're going to break it down on how people can protect themselves. And I think most people have this perception that the government is going to look out for them and make sure that they are always safe. The first takeaway on any kind of security plan is the proper mindset. You have to be aware that the world is a dangerous place, so it's critical that individuals maintain the proper mindset.
Ben: And it's interesting because often people have that illusion of safety and they will actually miss certain cues that could be really important to maintaining their own security and security of those around them. How can somebody enhance their overall ability to be aware of threats?
Fred: Well I'm hoping that the series will do that. But that brings me to the second point of the Building Blocks to Personal Security, which is situational awareness. And a lot of this deals with that mindset and being cognizant of your surroundings and making sure that you have the proper situational awareness, whether that be you're walking to your car late at night, or going into a hostile environment such as Afghanistan.
Ben: And often something we have seen in the past is that when a situation does begin to unfold, often people react very slowly or do not immediately recognize the warning signs. And that seems to be a key thing as well is that early identification of the threat and then a reaction to that.
Fred: No doubt much like your time in Afghanistan. You have to be prepared to react and have a plan. And that can save lives in itself, whether it be an act of workplace violence or an act of terrorism. If you look at the current polls out today, many people in North America feel very unsecure due to the terror risk from ISIS for example. So we are hoping that this Building Blocks of Personal Security will help individuals understand and be prepared so they know what the threat may be, but more importantly, be in a position to react and to understand to see it coming.
Ben: And it's like you talk about in your recent book, Under Fire, about the situation in Benghazi. You mention the fact that often it's not just one thing that will spark an incident. Often, it's a real collusion of factors; there are many things that play a part in it. And actually, once things do deteriorate they deteriorate very quickly.
Fred: That's the one thing that I think that most people don't understand, that when things start to unfold they usually can turn badly very quickly. Every victim that has lived through a terrorist attack that I've talked to, for example hostages, they will tell you that something just wasn't right preceding those events. Call it your gut, but your mind is going to perceive those kinds of things such as pre-operational surveillance. You know that from walking the battlefields of Afghanistan. You get a sense that something is just not right. And the people that stay alive from those kinds of events react to those and put themselves out of harms way, in an essence move and get off the x.
Ben: Absolutely, and one of the things we used to look for specifically was the presence of the abnormal or the absence of the normal. And those would often give you little visual cues and if you were aware in your mind that something might be about to unfold, you could already start surveying your environment, being aware of individual threats, assessing escape routes or cover positions and that sort of thing.
Fred: I think that's critical Ben, meaning most people today if you look at them on the streets any major city around the world, they have their head buried in their iPhone or Blackberry. They're not paying attention to their surroundings. There are certain critical moments in time on every person's day-to-day work or taking the kids to school that you need to be more situation aware, which leads to you have to have that proper mindset and you'll be able to see and identify things that just don't look right. And that could be a criminal, or that could be a potential terrorist. So we're hoping that this series will help people understand this and they can stay safe.
Ben: Absolutely Fred, and that's why we are excited about the series because it's a representation of so much of the work we've done here at Stratfor aiming at making people safer in their personal environments. Unfortunately, that's all we have time for today, but look forward to our series on Personal Security in four parts starting next week.

"Series Preview: Personal Security is republished with permission of Stratfor."