Torrential Rains and Flooding

Torrential Rains and Flooding


Betty Mason Arthurs


Today in America our hearts, our eyes and our ears are tuned to the reports coming out of Texas and the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey. In Houston, over 32,000 people have been rescued from torrential rains and flooding. Last night TV news showed the reunion of a mother rescued by boat with her older daughters. With joyful shouts they called to one another across the water until they were safe in one another’s arms. The mother cried and told the reporter, “God is good. God is so good.” There were many photos but one of a small girl, in a shelter, with her arms around her towel-wrapped puppy brought tears to my eyes.

Once upon a time there was the great flood of 1951 in the Great Plains of Kansas.

A young family lived in the small town of Manhattan. Their lives revolved around family, school and church gatherings. To the five-year-old girl, Elizabeth, life in the summer meant endless days of barefoot fun in her sandbox, climbing trees and hours swinging in her tire swing. Often her friend Joanne walked over for a visit and they played with paper dolls and coloring books.

One day in June it started to rain. It rained for a month which was unheard of in the Great Plains. By July, the rivers crested and soon townspeople frantically tried to prepare for flooding. The girl’s parents and her two older brothers, Mark, age nine, and Don, age 13, carried furniture and boxes of belongings up to the second floor of their small, two bed room house just off the main thoroughfare. The sanctuary of the church next door, where their father was pastor, was on second floor so the pews and the organ would be safe, but they moved Bibles and Sunday school materials up from the basement.  On July 12th , her father drove their car to higher ground just in case it did flood.

The girl’s father, Pastor Willard and her mother, Lois, had decided they would stay at the house. They honestly didn’t think there would be any flooding close to their home. Elizabeth remembers clutching her beloved doll and watching from the front porch through the torrential rain as the water rushed down the street and up to their house. A black dog frantically seeking shelter swam up to the porch and her brothers pulled him to safety. The family’s dog, Bing Crosby, fought to protect his territory from this stranger so the animals were tied up on opposite ends of the porch.

With flood waters rising, it was time to evacuate along with their neighbors. A kind man in a yellow rain poncho piloting a boat docked next to the porch and the rain-drenched family, clutching a suitcase with a few belongings, gratefully climbed in. Mark held Bing and Don grabbed the black mutt. Years later Elizabeth still remembered the stinky dogs. Sheltered in her mother’s arms under a tarp, she listened to her mother’s softly spoken prayers for safety. They reached dry ground and the strange dog ran off. For three weeks they stayed with a compassionate church family, the Nelson’s, who lived close to Kansas State University, while the flood waters receded.

To Elizabeth, the flood of 1951 was an exciting adventure and the only bad memory was the immunizations required for all the community. To her parents and brothers, the cleanup was a monstrous task with flood waters filling up the house and church basements and reaching three feet in the house. Neighbors helped neighbors rebuild their community.

You can do a Google search “The Great Flood of 1951 in Manhattan, Kansas” on July 13 and see the town’s devastation. The cities of Topeka and Kansas City, along with Fort Riley, and many other communities also survived horrific damage due to flooding.,_Kansas

Yes, I was five-year-old Elizabeth in this story and I have never forgotten my big adventure and being safely evacuated by boat. My heart goes out to the people of Texas and I pray for their protection and peace as they rebuild their lives.

I find comfort in the words of Scripture in verse 6 of Deuteronomy 31:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you.”

Do you have memories of being rescued in the midst of disaster? Have you lost your home? How long did it take you to rebuild? Please share in the comments below.





Posted in Church, Family Stories, God, Prayer, Trust in God's promises, Uncategorized, When life seems to much | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

The Joy of Childhood Poetry…by ARHuelsenbeck

This article first appeared on ARHtistic License.

One of my earliest memories is of my mother reading Mother Goose books to me. I know that even as a little tot I had a large repertoire of rhymes that I could recite by heart. In kindergarten we learned lots of songs that were essential nursery rhymes set to music: Jack and Jill, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Old King Cole, London Bridge is Falling Down, and many others. Mother Goose nursery rhymes were a passage of childhood for my generation, as they had been for hundreds of years.

mother gooseWhen our children were young, we continued the tradition, buying different collections of rhymes and reading them to the kids over and over so that they soon knew them by heart. There’s something about rhyme and meter that imbed themselves in the unconscious, and even more so if they’re combined with a tune. I think you could sing the first line of a Mother Goose rhyme to an Alzheimer’s patient, and he’d be able to finish it for you.

To my sorrow, I found during my second teaching career (2006-2014) that most of my elementary school students weren’t familiar with nursery rhymes. In elementary general music, many activities start with a well-known rhyme. Since my students didn’t have a shared knowledge base of rhymes, I had to teach them a rhyme first before we could use it as the basis of a music experience. Sigh.

Back in the day, memorization of poems was a popular classroom activity. Few teachers today are able to spend time on this pursuit, because it’s usually not measured on standardized tests.

However, I still partially remember four poems I learned from Mrs. Susan Westerfield when I was in second grade, more than fifty years ago. Since they are in the public domain, I will share them with you. (Please forgive the improper formatting. I am a dunce when it comes to code.)

SwingThe Swing
By Robert Louis Stevenson

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside—

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown—
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!

ShadowMy Shadow
By Robert Louis Stevenson

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me when I jump into my bed.

The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow-
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball,
And he sometimes gets so little that there’s none of him at all.

He hasn’t got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close beside me, he’s a coward you can see;
I’d think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!

One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an errant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.

Gingham by JeromeG111 CCLic

The Duel
By Eugene Field

The gingham dog and the calico cat
Side by side on the table sat;
’Twas half-past twelve, and (what do you think!)
Nor one nor t’other had slept a wink!
The old Dutch clock and the Chinese plate
Appeared to know as sure as fate
There was going to be a terrible spat.
(I wasn’t there; I simply state
What was told to me by the Chinese plate!)

The gingham dog went “bow-wow-wow!”
And the calico cat replied “mee-ow!”
The air was littered, an hour or so,
With bits of gingham and calico,
While the old Dutch clock in the chimney-place
Up with its hands before its face,
For it always dreaded a family row!
(Now mind: I’m only telling you
What the old Dutch clock declares is true!)

The Chinese plate looked very blue,
And wailed, “Oh, dear! what shall we do!”
But the gingham dog and the calico cat
Wallowed this way and tumbled that,
Employing every tooth and claw
In the awfullest way you ever saw—
And, oh! how the gingham and calico flew!
(Don’t fancy I exaggerate!
I got my views from the Chinese plate!)

Next morning where the two had sat
They found no trace of the dog or cat;
And some folks think unto this day
That burglars stole the pair away!
But the truth about the cat and the pup
Is this: They ate each other up!
Now what do you really think of that!
(The old Dutch clock it told me so,
And that is how I came to know.)

Wynken by Crossett Library

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod
By Eugene Field

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe,—
Sailed on a river of crystal light
Into a sea of dew.
“Where are you going, and what do you wish?”
The old moon asked the three.
“We have come to fish for the herring-fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we,”
Said Wynken,
And Nod.

The old moon laughed and sang a song,
As they rocked in the wooden shoe;
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew;
The little stars were the herring-fish
That lived in the beautiful sea.
“Now cast your nets wherever you wish,—
Never afeard are we!”
So cried the stars to the fishermen three,
And Nod.

All night long their nets they threw
To the stars in the twinkling foam,—
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
Bringing the fishermen home:
’Twas all so pretty a sail, it seemed
As if it could not be;
And some folk thought ’twas a dream they’d dreamed
Of sailing that beautiful sea;
But I shall name you the fishermen three:
And Nod.

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
Is a wee one’s trundle-bed;
So shut your eyes while Mother sings
Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
As you rock on the misty sea
Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three,—
And Nod.

I even remember drawing illustrations for Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

What about you–did you learn nursery rhymes as a child? Did you memorize poems in elementary school? What are some of your favorites? Share with us in the comments below.

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Open Door

Open door meme

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10 Best Blogs for Beauty and Inspiration

I am so thankful for the readers of Doing Life Together. When we first started this blog in August of 2014, our goal was to share our lives with you, and possibly help you through difficult times with the benefit of our experiences. We started out as a pool of nine writers, and as life has intervened, our numbers have dwindled, and we don’t share as often as we would like to. We’re sorry. Yet, our faithful readers continue to visit regularly and encourage us. Thank you so much for your friendship—it means the world to us.

I follow lots of blogs that inject beauty and inspiration into my life. They help me write better; they inspire me to capture my fleeting ideas and to attempt artistic endeavors. Here are ten of my favorites, in no particular order:

  1. Ricoh CameraCee’s Photography. Cee is an awesome photographer and instructor. Her website features lessons and tips and (my favorite) challenges which hundreds of professional and amateur photo bugs participate in every week.
  2. Goins, Writer. I credit Jeff Goins with helping me figure out what to do with my life after I left teaching. Besides being a wonderful writer, he is passionate about helping people find their purpose.
  3. Helping Writers Become Authors. K.M. Weiland is not only a wonderful author, she is extremely generous about sharing her expertise. Her website is full of helpful advice for novelists.
  4. My OBT. Donna’s blog began as a quest to find one beautiful thing every day.
  5. Palette-300pxSketch Away. Wherever she goes, Suhita Shirodkar carries her sketchbook along with her and records what she sees.
  6. Treadlemusic. This great-grandmother rides a motorcycle and does free-motion quilting (not at the same time). She shares pictures of her projects, and also of the quilts her buddies make.
  7. Writers in the Storm. Laura Drake, Jenny Hansen, Orly Konig Lopez, and Fae Rowen started this blog about the craft of writing. They are joined by other well-known writers and instructors, such as Margie Lawson, Kathryn Kraft, and Angela Ackerman, who regularly contribute guest posts.
  8. Christian writer Ann Voskamp’s blog is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Not only are the articles helpful and positive, but her photographs of simple things are absolutely stunning. Every Saturday she writes a Multivitamins post, which includes links to articles and videos she enjoys.
  9. girl-writing-2Writing and Illustrating. Kathy Temean, herself a writer/illustrator and the former New Jersey Regional Advisor for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, writes about the children’s book market. I especially love her Saturday profiles of illustrators.
  10. Quilt Inspiration. If you love looking at beautiful quilts, this is the place for you. Besides photographs of quilts by thousands of quilt artists, this blog features a huge archive of free quilt patterns.

I hope you’ll visit some of these blogs. They are well worth your time to explore. Also, please share a link to one of your favorite blogs (or your own blog) in the comments below.

Posted in Art, Blogs, Creativity, Doing Life Together, photography, Quilting, Writing | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Heav’n-rescued Land on 4th of July by Betty Mason Arthurs

Heav’n-rescued Land on 4th of July


Betty Mason Arthurs

America is the “land of the free and the home of the brave” as sung in The Star-Spangled Banner, our national anthem. But do we know the second verse?

“O thus be it ever, when free men shall stand

Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation!

Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land

Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserved us a nation!

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just;

And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust!’

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O’re the land of the free and the home of the brave!”

Francis Scott Key penned the opening words to this anthem on the back of a letter while pacing the deck of a ship in the Baltimore Harbor. It was the war of 1812 when British ships were bombarding Fort McHenry. All through the night the battle raged and at dawn, Francis saw that the victorious American flag still flew over the fort. The flag, given to Fort McHenry by a Mrs. Sanderson, is still on display in her museum home in Baltimore, Maryland and the city erected a magnificent statue in honor of Francis Scott Key.

Our patriotic hymn was adopted and declared to be our national anthem by Congress on March 3, 1931.

America is a vast land and has many different cultures. And all across our country in May or June, high school seniors graduate, ready to launch into adulthood. Last month we attended our grandson’s high school graduation in Flagstaff, Arizona. Once again I was reminded of the blessing of living among a variety of cultures. The ceremony held in Northern Arizona University’s J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome opened with the processional, Pomp & Circumstance, as the 300 graduates walked to their places. Then the choir sang our National Anthem, a tradition which always brings me to tears. We heard welcomes from students in English, Spanish, Navajo and Hopi. Some of the young women graduates wore Native American dress beneath their robes along with moccasins. Female Muslim graduates wore scarves wrapped around their heads. Last names I never heard of before were listed in the program. Students going into the military were acknowledged. Truly this was a mix of Americans, celebrating together the success of our young people

The words to the Flagstaff High School alma mater, “Far Above Cayuga’s Waters,” written by Theodora Brown in 1930 ring true today:

At the foot of ‘Frisco Mountain,

Under skies of blue,

Stands our noble Alma Mater

Glorious to view.


Lest her praises be forgotten,

Sing them to the sky;

Hail, to thee, our Alma Mater

Hail, dear Flagstaff High.

And no matter where we wander,

Or what life may bring,

We will always love you, Flagstaff,

Loud your praises sing.

It’s a privilege to be in a nation of so many diverse people who love our country.

Once again this July 4th, let’s praise God for he has made and preserved us a nation. We are a “heav’n rescued land.” Let’s also pray for our country and the world.

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Ten Quotes to Help You Accept Change…by ARHuelsenbeck

I hate change.

When I like something, I want it to stay the same. Forever.

J.D. Salinger, in The Catcher in the Rye, wrote: “Certain things, they should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone.” I totally agree.

Yet, change is an inevitable part of life. To cling to the old is to die.

fearI can embrace change, as long as it’s a change I want, a change I’ve initiated. But if someone else tries to change something I think is fine the way it is, if someone tries to fix something that ain’t broke, I oppose it.


I resigned from two jobs when their paradigms shifted. The work I loved turned to torture; my satisfaction changed to uncertainty. As Mary Shelley wrote in Frankenstein: “Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.”

Though leaving my jobs was a positive solution, I deliberated for a long time before making my move—for a year the first time, three years the second. Even in my rebellion, I resisted change. The status quo paradoxically offers comfort, even when it’s barely tolerable.

If I can’t change, I can’t progress, I can’t grow. I’m a dinosaur, destined to die out because I can’t cope with the climate.

So I look at the kaleidoscopic world around me and try to accommodate some of the transformations, the technologies. I’ve conquered basic blogging, but I’m too stupid to use a smart phone, and frankly, I don’t want to learn. I still buy CDs, rather than subscribing to a streaming service. I’m learning how to use a DSLR camera (though I’m still using all the auto settings).

Writer with scared mask

Are my efforts enough? Probably not, but at least I’m not totally left behind.

I turned to literature for some advice on how to handle change, and found these nuggets of wisdom:

  • “You can’t stop the future
    You can’t rewind the past
    The only way to learn the secret
    …is to press play.”― Jay AsherThirteen Reasons Why (Yes, I get the irony that you have to know what a tape player is to understand this quote.)
  • “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”― Lao Tzu, father of Taoism
  • “The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.”CHANGEC. JoyBell C., author
  • “I have accepted fear as part of life – specifically the fear of change… I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: turn back….”― Erica Jong, author
  • “The comfort zone is a psychological state in which one feels familiar, safe, at ease, and secure. You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.”― Roy T. Bennett, author (I follow him on Twitter. His handle is @InspiringThinkn.)
  • “Renew, release, let go. Yesterday’s gone. There’s nothing you can do to bring it back. You can’t “should’ve” done something. You can only DO something. Renew yourself. Release that attachment. Today is a new day!”― Steve MaraboliUnapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience
  • “I give you this to take with you:
    Nothing remains as it was. If you know this, you can
    begin again, with pure joy in the uprooting.”― Judith MintyLetters to My Daughters
  • “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”– Isaiah 43:19 NIV
  • “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”– Joshua 1:9 NIV
  • “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”– Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

What about you? Do you have trouble addressing change, or do you meet it with open arms? Do you have any advice for combating aversion to change? Share in the comments below.



Posted in change, Doing Life Together, Quotes, When life seems too much | 6 Comments

Fathers to the Rescue by Betty Mason Arthurs



Fathers to the Rescue


Betty Mason Arthurs

Father’s Day is here and it’s a time to pay tribute to our fathers and their positive influence in our lives. I also love the stories about fathers in the animal kingdom and their heroics in rescuing their young.

Recently I was fascinated by a story which reported about my state of Arizona and its Salt River Horses. One click on the internet and I entered a fascinating world, a cowboy era of the Wild West…taking place today.

To the east of Phoenix for 200 miles runs the Salt River through the White Mountains and Tonto National Forest. Over 100 wild horses roam along a 16 mile stretch, among the salt cedars and desert creosote. The wild herds are lead by stallions which have a harem of mares and their young which have adapted to the searing desert heat. Facebook posts and websites give us horse lovers’ updates and photos.

Recently a post shared the story of a stallion named Champ. The photos captured this dappled grey stallion and his harem crossing the river. One dark brown filly struggled to stay close to her mother. There was no sound but you could see that she screamed in fright when she was swept away. Champ chased after her, grabbed her by her mane and dragged her to shore where she once again snuggled close to her mother. See the photos here taken by the “volunteer horse protectors” who fight to preserve these wild herds.

I often find myself in tears when the animal kingdom reflects our human world.

Years ago in the 1950s when I was thirteen, my father and I were visiting our Minnesota family. They owned an old deserted lodge built in the 1920s on Moon Lake. My cousins and I begged the adults to take us for a boat ride on a balmy summer day. My dad agreed to take us and for an hour we enjoyed our time on the water, a new experience for me. Never mind that I couldn’t swim or none of us had life jackets or the ten-foot boat had no oars, the old motor puttered along just fine. Then the sky grew dark, rain started to fall and the wind whipped water into the motor and boat. I kept my eyes on my dad, who in the slashing rain, calmly took the motor apart and dried the spark plugs. Soon the motor sparked to life and a group of waterlogged cousins and I gratefully jumped ashore. Later my dad told me, “I was praying hard, Betty. I made a big mistake of not making sure we had life jackets and oars.” I don’t remember being afraid since I kept my eyes on my father and he had always kept me safe. Dad Mason

Here’s a photo taken of my father, Willard, in the 1980s:


A few days ago in Virginia, a gunman opened fire on a congressional delegation of amateur baseball players practicing for a charity event. It happened to be a contingent of Republicans and one congressman had his ten-year-old son with him. As the shooting started over 20 men surrounded his son in the dugout, offering a wall of protection. “My son had many fathers that day,” he said.

Whether human or animal, fathers are a precious part of our lives.

The Bible tells us about God, our Father:

As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him (Psalm 103:13 NIV).

Do you need a father…a rescuer in your darkest hours? God longs to be that father for you.


Posted in Faithfulness, Family Life, Fathers, Greatest love ever, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments