South Florida Sunshine
We love going to visit south Florida! Sunshine, beaches, palm trees. It's like a WHOLE different Florida than the rolling hills, and tree arched roads we just left behind in horse country!
We haven't visited Florida in the summer since like 2014 I think it was and we were ready to hit the BEACH and have some fun after such a series farm departure.
The kids hopped in Grammy's pool right away!
We made big plans to spend several days at the beach, eat our favorite restaurants, and do some shopping. We also found out Uncle Chad and Auntie Lauren and the cousins got to come the next day, and stay the weekend too!
After dinner, we headed to the beach to check out the sunset.
We started coughing first, then the stench hit us. PU!!!! Dead fish littered the beach!
Even puffer fish! It was so sad! It is called Red Tide and it's a dangerous algae level that kills fish, burns your legs and takes your breath away.
That didn't stop us from taking photos of the sunset, but it DID change our plans to spend ANY time there.
We spent our days playing games, and just hanging out enjoying each other's company! As tradition dictates, we also went out to breakfast at the local Amish restaurant, Der Dutchman. We always take stairs photos, as long as we have been going there. This time was no different! We knew Papa would want us to keep this tradition going....
Sweet Aunt Torrey stayed up late to dye the girls' blonde streaked hair rainbow mermaid colors! They were so excited!
Uncle Daniel told us about the neatest park and fishing area, so we loaded everyone up and headed down there in the evening.
We stayed one more day after everyone else had gone home, swimming and scoping our RV parks, trying to decide where to live this winter.
We knew we couldn't go to the stinky beach again, so we walked the golf course that evening, and it was so GORGEOUS!
Flokie, Uncle Dan and Aunt Torrey's dog, was CRACKING US UP with the giant white "ball".
Flokie the Brave Warrior from Tonya Ferguson on Vimeo.
Bye Florida family! We miss you already!!!!
Look out world, Ferguson's are heading to South Carolina!
P.S. Don't be TOO scared, I only held the brake and slowly crept forward at a loooong line to the turning lane while Dale quick went back to remove some coffee from his system. It was pretty much terrifying and the kids all screamed and groaned until he came back.
My hands were pure SWEAT by the time he was back up front. I had to collapse on the ground a moment, LOL!
I am a sandwich maker and kid entertainer, NOT THE DRIVER! We all have our own giftings to use, Hallelujah!
A Messenger From Heaven
I cried a lot of the way to Florida. It's funny, I thought that part was done, but it is still hard to go there and not anticipate seeing my dad, you know?
I also was feeling the pressure of a really BIG decision we needed to make. I wanted the Lord's will, not my own. I wanted to be SURE that I didn't have any regrets, one way or another.
We arrived in Florida late Saturday night, June 16th, and got to wake up to Father's Day at my dad's farm. None of this was planned ahead, just at last minute decision to come down, the Lord knew we needed to, so we even had a week off planned to go into the mountains.
I find it so sweet that the Lord would allow me to be at my dad's favorite place on a day we honor him.....
I found myself keenly aware this Father's Day, of how important a role Dale plays in my children's lives and how big of a piece he occupies in their hearts.
Loosing my own daddy this year, left a hole in my heart and me gasping for breath. Such a huge loss, one that is felt so distinctly with each and every beat of it's broken pieces.
So I say thank you to my sweet Dale, for loving our kids so fully, for pointing them back to Jesus, for correcting wrongs and praising rights, for taking them on adventures they will never forget, for saying yes when playing it safe would've been simpler and for always being able to lighten tense moments with that onery grin and funny banter. You are amazing at all you do and we love you so very much!
To our 2 daddies in Heaven, we honor your legacy. You are missed so greatly. You are remembered. We talk about you all nearly every day and say hi often. (We hope Jesus let's you know) You are loved so BIG by the Ferguson crew! We hold you in our hearts.
So, I had called ahead and had Drea go get Dale a Bettycake (Spider cake is the best!) for the special occasion.
Oh guys, it's the BEST cake I have ever put in my mouth!!!! It's so soft and moist and gooey and the frosting and chocolate ganache are DIVINE!
This cake is FAMOUS in the area!!!!!!!! Of course, we had to have steak and all the manly fixins for my hunny too. :)
Remember that really big decision I mentioned?
You can see on our prayer wall......
DO WE BUY THE FARM?
This place is GORGEOUS, and we have so so many memories with Papa here. Drea is ready to sell, and we want her to be able to, so we must decide.
This has been our winter home for 3 years now! We adore it but we recognize, it doesn't bring dad back. That Florida properties require a lot of care with lawn and humidifers.
We recognize, the more we spent on places we "stop through", the less money we have for fun adventures in travel, which is our first desire. However, we also know property is always a good investment!
We love that in Florida, when everyone else scrambles to find a place to live that isn't full or $3000 a month, we would have a place to come to anytime. (Fun fact: Did you know that Florida population increases by ONE MILLION every winter from the snow birds that come there?) We love that we could own dad's favorite place on earth and hold all those memories close to our hearts.
We have spent the past few months pleading with the Lord for wisdom and making list after list, of both the negatives and positives, of owning a rural property, in Florida.
I guess time will tell.
For now, we are here to enjoy the space and see it again as we decide. I just didn't feel comfortable deciding without walking it and staying there again.
We have never come in the summer before!! It is HOT, but green and pretty too! More on this in a bit....
While we were there, we got to surprise Uncle Chad at work! He had no idea we were coming to Florida instead of taking a week in the Smoky Mountains as planned.....
Surprising Uncle Chad from Tonya Ferguson on Vimeo.
We also got to go see Uncle Chad & Auntie Lauren's BEAUTIFUL new home. Of course the kids went for a swim first thing!
It starts POURING, in true Florida fashion, but that didn't stop the cousins from having fun!
Check out this HUGE moth!!!! I thought it was a goner, but nope, just resting in the heat before flying away. So cool!
We thoroughly enjoyed our 2 days here, we always do, but it was decision time.....we headed south the next morning.
We had a pretty clear idea of what the Lord was asking us to do......
I use this blog as a journal, so let me take you back a bit about something the Lord has been using to comfort my heart and tie it all together - right here in this space. I want to remember forever, His goodness and care.
My dear friend, Tiffany, once told me, that the Lord uses signs in His nature, to comfort us, remind us of His love and loved ones lost. Her pastor did a sermon on this topic. She mentioned the Cardinal being special to her, and not long after that I started seeing them and breathing a prayer of thanksgiving for my heavenly Fathers love of me.
Then, after my dad passed away, this became even more real to me.
Here is what google said:
"A cardinal is a representative of a loved one who has passed. When you see one, it means they are visiting you. They usually show up when you most need them or miss them. They also make an appearance during times of celebration as well as despair, to let you know they will always be with you."
This Spring, when we came home to Kansas, after wintering at the Florida farm for the first time without dad there, we had cardinals EVERYWHERE at our place. I got to see them outside our big picture window in the living room. I hadn't ever seen them out here before, and I felt so blessed to have my dad checking on us and the Lord showing us His care!!
One day, as I was driving home alone from town, I was particularly feeling the weight of our Florida Farm decision that we knew was coming soon. I tearfully prayed out loud as I took the winding road home:
"LORD, please show me if we are supposed to buy the farm or not. I do not want my will, I want yours. I just do not want ANY regrets. No regrets of buying, no regrets of letting it go. You know our path, you know our future, you know our finances, YOU CHOOSE."
Right as I was saying that last line, this cardinal swoops in front of my car, flies in a line in front of windshield, and then up into the trees next to the road.
A tear rolled down my cheek, I looked up and I grinned and hollared-
HEY WAIT!!!! IS THAT A YES OR A NO?!?!?!??!?!?!??!!
I was talking to Chad and Lauren on the phone a few days later, and mentioned all the red birds in my life currently.
Lauren says, wait like cardinal red birds, or like red bird, red birds?
I said cardinal. She and Chad go WOOOAAAAHHH! We have like 4 in the back yard of our house, which we have never had before in all our years of living at this place. Maybe Dad is saying hi to us too?! We all had chills.
So now that you have a bit of a back story, I can tell you that on the long drive to Florida, I asked for a cardinal sign at the farm. It seemed fitting, as much as the Lord had been using them in my life of late.
I was thinking maybe there would be red birds in the trees everywhere when we arrived or something, hahahah, but no, nothing unusual and no birds that were red in color. Just a beautiful place, full of a million memories!
One morning, I felt a prayer burden to go walk the place as I petitioned the Father for an answer. I needed to walk around and really ask myself some hard questions about ownership, as I acknowledged each memory spot out here.
Back in the day, Dad & Drea's RV was parked under the awning next to the tiny cute apartment....ready for our next summer adventure. We LOVED traveling with them!
Our RV was parked out here, on this foundation of lyme rocks, with railroad ties around it, solar lights, and a little wooden porch got brought out each year as dad worked so hard to prepare it for us each season.
It was AWESOME!
The views out here just don't quit....and it is so so peaceful, since its a gated drive and only those living back here have access.
This swing got used many an hour, after dad got all his "farm" tasks done.
We would just sit there, talking and swinging as the kids played. They loved to come join Papa as he took a break. He would tell them stories, encourage them, talk about Jesus.
I walked past the fire pit where we spent evenings relaxing around the fire....
We would talk business, goals, dreams, tell stories and laugh our heads off out there, under the night sky.
Many a tether ball tournament happened here. The kids loved the tether ball pole Papa worked to set up for us.
The porch were we ate all our meals, and enjoyed the twinkle lights, birthday parties and more.
Such amazing memories to tuck away in my heart....
There is the barn that houses a playhouse Papa made for the kids in one stall, Christmas dinner under the twinkle lights in the main barn room, that he so carefully hung. Even a family wedding happened here last year!
Here is the swing Papa carefully hung for the kids to play on. First a tire, then we switched to one that is tarzan style! Man, the kids were on it CONSTANTLY!
As I prayed, I knew with tears in my eyes, and peace in my heart that we weren't going to buy the farm after all. That didn't keep me from sobbing at the loss of it all. Just one more change. One more thing to say bye to. Ugh. This year has been so full of that.
But we know, that this beautiful place deserves someone who will live there full time and enjoy it. Take careful care of it, like dad did.
It isn't set up to let sit empty for 8 months at a time. We weren't prepared to deal with mold from 94% humidity, CD sized spiders and critters moving in, a lawn that needs care 12 months a year, plus trimming and weeding. To tighten our budget to allow for a payment, when we really desire to keep traveling and living as we are.
As badly as I wanted it to be a YES, I only felt peace with a NO. That had to be the answer, but where was my sign I asked for?
We woke up the next day, ready to pull out. Ready to say goodbye one last time in case Drea sells it before winter. We were tearing down the RV when Paxton yells,
"MOM!!! There is a cardinal in front of our motorhome!!!!"
I ran to see and sure enough. Right outside the huge RV windshield, on the palm out front, was a bright red cardinal. (not pictured, but this is where he was)
I burst into tears. (Man, I have cried a lot these last few days!) I knew this was my "fleece", my test, and it was answered.....
AS WE LEFT.
I knew my daddy was saying bye, it's ok that you aren't buying this place. I knew my Heavenly Daddy was answering me as I asked.
As we drove down that driveway, we turned to look again and had peace. Sweet surrender and a full heart that comes from obedience.
We headed south to go see our Grammy at her and Papa's house, 2 hours away, and guess who greeted us when we arrived in her neighborhood?
A cardinal flew level with Avery's window before heading up into the trees.
I CAN'T MAKE THIS STUFF UP!
It is all Jesus, and I am grateful to be called His Beloved.
Hey there, 'Bama
So we have been THROUGH Alabama about a million times to and from Florida, but we have never stayed. WHY?! I don't even know. It was SO amazing!
We had two classes in the area, and needed to be close by, so once again we found ourselves with no RV parks locally that we fit at, except another State Park! I love state parks and wish we could use them more, but this summer it's apparently THE place to stay! And for whatever reason, we fit at these, must be a southern thing compared to the coasts where we cannot fit at all!?
ANYHOOO, this state park was AMAZING, and I feel like we are parked at Old McDonald's Farm RV Park..... ?????????
You could feed and pet the animals and everything!
Oh and apparently? Sophie HATES goats! Check out video, LOL!
Sophie goes head to head with Billy.....??
Sophie vs the Goat from Tonya Ferguson on Vimeo.
In addition to the farmstead you could walk through, they had the most beautiful lake there!
We grabbed some BBQ before class at the infamous Jim 'N Nick's. We LOVED the cheese biscuits with honey butter especially. Oh and the fresh lemonade!
We had planned a week in the Smoky Mountains, but felt very lead to head down south to our Florida family and try to move towards a decision of whether or not to buy my dad's "farm" down there.
Praying for wisdom as we drive!!
Takin' With Tennessee
Narrow bridges and a rainy day greeted us as we pulled into Tennessee!
After a long day of travel we needed an EASY quick supper, so Potato Stick Salad was the perfect fit! Click on the link to read the recipe from the 4 little Ferguson's blog.
The RV park we stayed at had the neatest commons area. The fire circle with twinkle lights, swings, corn hole and hillbilly golf. We played each night we were there and had so much fun!
We got to do a class and hang out with some travel friends we met along the way. God is so good to bring us faithful friends and believers in Him to hang with wherever we go.
We loved their church, had a fun oil class, then went out to dinner! :)
Want to create good listeners in church? Try this fun game!!! You can personalize it to the sermon topic once you get to church! :)
We headed towards Chapel Hill, TN to see if we could fit in Henry Horton State Park. We don't get to stay in State Parks very often because of our rig size, but this one we JUUUUST barely squeezed into with much manuvering by Dale. This is why HE is the driver, not me! SCARY STUFF!
It is funny, we live full time in our RV and normal life usually prevails, but being in the forest like this? We started acting like we were weekend campers again. Cooking over the fire every meal, hanging out in the hammocks, fishing and swimming all afternoon.
Dale made us the most simple, easy breakfast. Bacon cooked on the cast iron skillet over the fire, fresh sliced avocados in soft warm grilled tortillas. Mmm mm, breakfast of champions!
We also tried zoodles and squash noodles sauteed in butter with golden shitake mushrooms. Ohmyword!
We just kicked back in the hammocks and read and talked. Ahh, it was the life for sure!
We have a budding team in Chapel Hill, so we planned to meet them and offer a business training for the evening. We had such a nice time!! They are WONDERFUL!
One of our builders and new friends, Karen, offered to let the kids ride her horse at her home the next morning. Knowing what a horse FANATIC Avery is, we quickly said yes.
They had a BALL and she taught them so much in the short time we were there! What a blessing!
It was such a stunning property!
Back at the RV park, we took off in the forest and discovered an abandoned farmstead. Holy creepy! And how sad! I always wonder the stories behind these places and why they were left empty without a new family to fill them with love and laughter.
The old house still had furniture in it, and a beautiful summer kitchen or something behind it.
I went up the front steps to check out the furnishings and heard an air leak. It was almost like an air pump with it's rthymic and repeatative - shhhh, ch, shhhh, ch, shhhhh. |
I was showing Ty the cool old black leather chair when all of a sudden a CRASH BANG BOOM noise came from the gaping down ceiling exposing the attic and something rushed towards my head.
I turned tail and ran so fast, screaming for Ty to follow me.....
Avery took one look at me and screamed along with me, even though she was far down the drive already and ran fast ahead. I am still screaming and running while looking over my shoulder at Tylan.
That kid! He was slowly making his way down the grassy drive, not even worried about the giant monster trying to get us.
Where was Dale you ask?
Oh, laughing his head off at the barn.
We had one heck of a time in Tennessee and cannot wait to come back again! Time to head to Alabama for more classes, so we are off!
And We Are OFF!
We are off for the summer! On the road once again.....this time until fall.
We plan to go east coast and up north. We have great things planned like Creation Museum, Ark Encounter, Yorktown, Jamestown, Philly, NY city and MORE!
And OIL CLASSES EVERYWHERE!!! I will share my schedule on the RV Oilers FB page as we go, so pay attention, if I am close to you, I would love for you to be my guest at class. :)
It will be a summer of FUN for sure! Follow along with us.....
First up, Missouri!
There is a new happenin' team in Joplin that are using and loving oils! YAY! In addition to classes, we snuck away for some fun one morning, and visited the Precious Moments Park and Chapel
What a NEAT place of faith! :)
Our next class is in Branson on Friday, so we headed there for some fun in the sun. First up, was LAMBERTS, home of the throwed roll! Great homestyle food, and lots of extras they walk around with to add to your heaping plates!
Avery wanted to catch a roll SO BAD, but was super nervous. Here is a video of her:
We LOVE LOVE LOVE Silver Dollar City but are skipping this time because it's HOT. We are SPOILED and used to having the park to ourselves in the fall when everyone else is in school and it was customer appreciation day which means EXTRA LONG LINES.
Instead, we treated the kids to our second favorite thing to do:
SIGHT AND SOUND THEATRE! They are doing Sampson right now, which we have never seen. It was SO SO GOOD! Wow. Any of the shows they produce is a must see on a MASSIVE stage!
Our favorite place to walk at night is the Branson Landing, our RV park was just down the way from it. So we would walk over to see the Fire and Lights Show every evening. Great atmosphere to walk and window shop as it is basically like an outdoor mall!
A friend of our recommended TWO amazing restaurants for us to try, off the beaten path of the Branson Strip and we LOVED them both! Branson has never been our favorite "food place" because of the lack of home cookin, but not anymore.
Billy Gale's is one heck of a breakfast stop and we WILL be back again! WOW.
They are famous for their 14 inch pancakes, and boy where they good, along with the biscuits and everything else we tried.
The second place she recommended was a Mexican joint called La Bonita's. WOAH BABY! They gave us a free cheese dip with our chips and salsa, which was delish. We ordered the 3 Taco platter, hard shells, and it came out homemade and lightly fried, unlike any shell I have eaten before.
We did a class at the house of a team member, who revealed to me we already knew each other! We had volunteered at a Weekend to Remember years and years ago, and they were the couple we worked the table with! She later stumbled onto our blog and then found doTERRA oils. It is SO COOL how God works!
We had a lovely time with them, but UGH, no photos! Why do I do that?!
And just like that, our time in Branson was done. Off to Tennessee we go!
Bye bye, Kansas!
Well, Kansas, it was fun! But it's time to hit the road again......this time until September!
Friends were seen:
Porches started getting decorated:
16th Anniversery's got celebrated:
Thank you Lord for blessing us everywhere we went! Upgrade to Presidential Suite, free wine & chocolate, waiter bought us dessert at dinner. Thank you Jesus!
We also helped with 2 family reunions. It was both of our families "turns" this year!
The kids helped with church on Sunday morning. They have been working hard all year on learning a lot of the book of James.....
I have some visual learners, so we use these cards as prompts, but you can try to figure it out too, like a word puzzle! ;)
Verses from James from Tonya Ferguson on Vimeo.
Later that weekend, we visited the graves of our loved ones. First time for the kids to see Papa's headstone and grave since the funeral this past Christmas. Lots of tears!
Saw a cousins new place with the COOLEST old barn!
Survived a super bad rainstorm and came out on the other side to a rainbow:
And enjoyed one final stop before we left the land of Oz!
We had just enough time for a Fercho reunion:
Bye Kansas, see you next time! :)