Thursday, October 29, 2009

October, schmoctober

Really - October ends Saturday. We Fall Back, too (woo-hoo for an extra hour of sleep!) - of course that's after we've donned costumes (BTW - are your kids dressing up? dogs? what will they be?), Harvest Fest-ed & gorged on candy. And in an effort to get into the "scariness" that is this month, my 4 faithful readers (thank you, Tracey and Tracey , Martha Ann & Angie!!) (OH! And Emily - she just found my blog - yeah!!) know that I've been trying to read scary books. I feel like such a failure - I only finished 2 re-reads of Stephen King books. As an addendum, let me say that I realize now that scary books are no longer my thing. I don't like reading with all of the lights on or being afraid to peek out the windows (what manner of thing might be looking back at me??). And so, like a cookie, I'm done. I'm getting ready to start November reading with a thankful heart - I want to be reminded of all that is good. Rita and Sean suggested a book for me - Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers ... the blurb says:

Sold into prostitution in childhood, Angel is a bitter woman
who trusts no man. But when God tells Michael Hosea to marry her,
she learns to love---until fear overwhelms her and she returns to her
former life. Can she be redeemed? A skillful retelling of the biblical story of Gomer and Hosea

Since the thing I have to be most thankful about is in fact the redeeming love Christ has for me, I think this is a fitting way to start a month in which we will spend most of our time preparing for thanksgiving - for friends and families who love us when we are not at our very best, for jobs, for homes, for having not just enough to eat but too much to eat, for healthy children and healthcare when they are not ... our list of "thankfuls" is a long one.

So, enjoy the last 2 days of October. Dress up. Eat candy. Say, "Boo!". And if one or two of you want to join me in my reading or suggest books that fit my Thanksgiving theme, send them on!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Scary Readin'

Well ... I finished 'salem's Lot last week and immediately jumped right in to Stephen King's Cujo, which I finished Saturday afternoon. So quick "reviews" & synopsis of each ...

'salem's Lot opens with the Man and the Boy living quietly in the West Coast after the events of the book have taken place, then we get to the telling of the story, and then we go back to the Man and the Boy as they come back to the Lot to finish what they started. Ben Mears is the main character, a sort of prodigal son done well returning to his roots. Ben is a writer and has returned to the Lot to write ... and to excorcise the Marsten House from his nightmares. The Marsten House is the "haunted house" of 'salem's Lot - many years before there had been a murder-suicide there. At any rate, Ben meets Susan - the town's favorite daughter, so to speak. They hit it off and begin a romance. But there's something sinister going on in the Lot (but really, isn't there always something sinister going on??). The book is about vampires - a centuries old vampire, Barlow and his puppet, Straker, who move into the Marsten House and begin the gradual take-over of the town. Ben and Susan team up with English teacher, Matt Burke and his doctor, Jimmy Cody, along with a young boy named Mark Petrie and the local priest (whose faith is failing), Father Callahan in an effort to stop Barlow. Things go badly for the group when Susan decides to approach the Marsten House alone. She falls victim to Barlow, but Mark scores a blow when he maims Straker, causing Barlow to have to kill his own man. When the dust has settled, Ben and Mark are left standing, but the town of 'salem's Lot has all but been wiped out.
The book is scary - especially as the days grow shorter and the nights cooler - but it's not the kind of book that leaves me afraid to peak around the next corner. While things go badly in 'salem's Lot, Ben and Mark are the good that outwits and eventually beats the bad. This is the book that leaves you knowing that the good wins. But if you read it, be prepared for Stephen King's great description of the town, of the fear and for things to go bump in the night.

Now for Cujo. For those of you who haven't read it, I will say this: Cujo is the type of book that embodies all of the things that I am most afraid of - so its scare factor, though different than 'salem's Lot, is much higher for me. Cujo is a dog. A St. Bernard. He's a good dog who loves THE MAN and THE WOMAN and THE BOY who are his family (the Camberts). If it came down to it, Cujo would die for his PEOPLE. But Cujo is a victim of fate and is scratched by a rabid bat. Donna Trenton is a wife and mother in Castle Rock, Maine. She loves her husband but has been unfaithful, and she loves her son, Tad (who is four years old). The stars align for all of the wrong things to happen at the right time for things to go badly for the Trentons and the Camberts. Vic, Donna's husband, finds out about her affair (after she's finally ended it) at the same time he's scheduled to be out of town for two weeks for work. Tad is afraid of the monster in his closet. Donna's car needs work, and Charity Cambert has won $5,000 in the lottery. Vic heads for N.Y. on business, Charity and Brett Cambert head off for a visit with her sister's family. And then there's Cujo, who isn't feeling at all himself - his head hurts, every noise seems amplified and he's got a terrible thirst.
Not knowing that the Camberts aren't home, Donna and Tad head that way in hopes of having her car fixed - what they find is much worse. Cujo is fully mad at this point - he's killed the Cambert's neighbor (Gary Pervier) and Joe Cambert. And now Donna's Pinto is broken down in the Cambert's drive, with Cujo standing guard. In his rabid brain, he knows that this WOMAN is the reason for all of his pain. He is no longer the dog that Brett Cambert knew and he's no longer the dog who would die for his PEOPLE. He is mad.
This book has no feel-good happy ending (not so for the movie, BTW). By the time Donna is able to brave going head-to-head with Cujo, 4-year old Tad has succombed to dehydration and Donna has been mauled by the rabid Cujo. And let's not forget the local Sheriff who wasn't too quick on draw.
For me, this book is far scarier than 'salem's Lot because the fear you feel reading it is the fear all mothers have - the fear of the unknown, the out of your control circumstances of life. I'm sure that my first reading of Cujo 19 years ago is what inspires me to keep a few bottles of water and a blanket in my car even now - just in case.

So ... what will I read next? I'm not sure. With Halloween only 10 days away, I'm going to have to be selective in choosing the next scary read, as it may be the last of the year. November will be dedicated to books with themes of Thanks-giving. I'll be going through the facebook suggestions as well as any in the comments ... and as always, your thoughts are welcome!

Happy reading ...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

October Scare-O-Rama

While the rest of Spartanburg County is deep into the The Big Read and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, I am ignoring all advice to the contrary and having a Scare Myself To Death month. Last night, I started re-reading Stephen King's 'salem's Lot (which I first read in, oh, maybe 8th grade). I'll continue to take suggestions for Book Club (could we do that online and in person, MA?) and my study of the the Gospel of John, and on the side I'm going to read (well, re-read) a few Stephen King novels. Please note that I will not be reading SK's It, which is possibly the scariest book/movie EVER and since it left me traumatized (specifically where clowns are concerned), I'll probably never read it again. But if you want to be scared to death, go ahead. Oh, and if you want to suggest a favorite SK scary, please do (in the comments section since I never get comments? That would be soooo cool!)

Oh, and we really are doing a book club - so if you're interested in joining, let me know. You don't have to be in town - I'm pretty sure we can do the midlands and the rest of the upstate (if you'll invite us to spend the night)... Really. Yes, you.

Monday, October 5, 2009

So I have this big goal of making a list of books and plowing through ... so I've been soliciting advice on facebook for "What to Read". And I was reminded that our friend, Sean, authored a book, The Letters. So maybe I'll start by re-reading something I liked the first time. But in the meantime, what are you reading? What suggestions do you have for my lofty "What To Read" list?

Would it be even better if I promised you updates as I'm reading? I certainly think it would make me more accountable - not at all like the book club that never was with my dear friend Martha Ann (we were supposed to be reading Wicked this summer, which she did but no one else did).

Did you know that my real and true dream in life is to own a book store? Yep. Preferably I'll own it when I'm independently wealthy, so its success or failure will matter not ... but I'd love to own a real bookstore. One with story hour in the fabulous children's literature section (with Martha Ann in character garb) and a quiet corner for parents to enjoy a book during story time ... and you know what? Because it will be my store, I think I'll even have a Breast-Feeding Room. Yes, you read that right. The La Leche League will love me. And the very best part will be that I will have unlimited opportunities to read all of the books I so dearly love ... ahhhh....

Waiting to hear from you, book lovers!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

It's fall, Y'all!

Wow ... it's Fall! I'm so thrilled that the weather has finally started to turn - it's just amazing how God times things just perfectly so that just as we're becoming tired of one season, it's time for another! I love how Summer fades to Fall as the days begin to grow shorter and cooler, the freshness of the air. I remember not too very long ago that as the Summer was coming to an end and school starting back up that my friends and I would be counting the days until Thanksgiving Break and then Christmas Break - it hardly seemed that they could get here soon enough. But I know that I'm getting older when the days seem to fly by and the months here and gone before we've gotten used to writing September. See? It's the First Day of October - can you believe it? It's been a full month, this first month of school - visiting grandparents, children's choir, riding lessons, adult choir, work, volunteering, journal-ing, saying good-bye to friends & hello to new opportunities ... And now we start fresh with another month of more of the same, yet not at all the same!

Am I rambling? I'm sure it seems that way - there's just so much going on and so few words to string together to share it all ... Dylan & Mike saw Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs in 3-D last week (they both loved it; Mike loved that Mr. T & Neal Patrick Harris are voices & they both loved "Steve" - you really have to see it to understand! And of course there was flying food ...) Dylan has taken his first riding lesson with the much-loved Miss Hannah & Rambo (pics to come, I promise) - he wrote in this in his journal about it:

Today was the best day of my life!!!! (exclamation points all his!)

And this week Mike and his Dad took Dylan to his first MLB game ... for those of you who know Mike, you see the importance of this event ... Dylan, however, was much more interested in riding the MARTA - but the Braves did win (4-0 over the Marlins) and Chipper hit a home run, so all were pleased.
I am going in about 10 different directions right now - planning recreation for children's choir each week, Rice Bowls, and just started Bible Study Fellowship and the Study of The Gospel of John. And subbing at the high school nearest our home, so reading a lot of Teen Fiction - which I love and hate at the same time. (So if you have questions about what your teenager is reading, I'm your girl!!)

BUSY is the word at our house, so I'm thinking of taking a week to slow down, clean up , stay home ... but not sure when that will happen! Fall is so great, but I know that before I can blink it will be winter and ...then ... well, you get the idea!
Hope you all are well and happy ... can't wait to hear what's going on with you ... so leave a comment or e-mail me or ...


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Divine Appointments

" ... Got a couple dents in my fender, got a couple rips in my jeans, try to keep the pieces together, but perfection is my enemy. On my own I'm so clumsy, but you your shoulders I can see ..." Man, every time I hear this song, my hand automatically reaches for the volume button - it's by Francesca Battistelli. So, I wanted to share!

On other notes, since I've neglected this blog for a couple of weeks now ... I wanted to share an experience that Dylan and I shared last week.

Our church hosted Team Impact last week and Dylan was thrilled. For those of you who don't know, Team Impact is an evangelistic group of super strong men who travel around, sharing their testimonies and doing feats of super-strength. For a six-year old boy, it doesn't get much better (well, maybe Monster Trucks?). Anyway, to say Dylan was thrilled is truly an understatement. And his excitement propelled him to want to share this very cool, thrilling thing with his friends. Our church had printed baseball card-sized cards that announced Team Impact on the front side and on the back side include the address and times for each show. So, I helped Dylan count out 22 cards - one for each child in his class - and gave him instructions on sharing them with his friends:
  1. Only give them out at recess - you can't interrupt class
  2. Give one to everyone - you don't want to hurt someone's feelings
  3. If one of your friends doesn't want one, you can't get angry about that
And so off to school he went, excited to invite his friends.

And then came the call that was totally unexpected: His teacher called to tell us that she had taken the cards up and told Dylan that if they came back they would go in the trash.

I had planned to go to the school for lunch, so I went and talked with his teacher who told me that by issuing written invitations to a church function we were infringing on the right to separation of church and state. Well, I am aware that a school cannot force students to pray or to attend events at churches, but I was (and still am) under the impression that children can invite friends to church or lead prayer or talk about God ... you get the idea. To shorten the story, I was upset about this turn of events. It was a moment where I really thought, "How can we be in the world and not of the world when this is the world?" His teacher posed this question to me: "How would you feel if Dylan came home with an invitation to worship from one of my wiccan or buddhist students?" And here's the answer I gave her: I'd feel just fine about that - I would appreciate it for what it is - a friend including a friend in something important to him/her. But just because we're invited doesn't mean we have to go.

All afternoon I fretted over this. I prayed. I worrid. I got angry. I prayed some more. And then I went to pick Dylan up from school, still frustrated and not sure how to talk to him about it. But my six year old sees better than I do sometimes and I think hears a little better, too. I expressed to him that I was sorry he wasn't able to invite his friends to Team Impact, but that I was glad (and, I admit, proud) that he wanted to invite his friends to church events. And he answered, with so much wisdom: It's o.k., Mama. My friends all got read their cards before she took them up. If they want to come, they're still invited."

I have to stop now and say that I'm not such a great listener. I believe that God answers prayers, but I often pray that He will answer me with slamming doors or anvils falling from the sky. But in this case I was reminded that God's answers are sometimes more subtle than what I think I need, just confirming that He is in control ... and truth spoken by a six-year old is still truth: Once invitations are issued, no one but the one giving the invitation can take it back. Divine appointments can't be cancelled.

Have a great Labor Day!

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Kids enjoying the No-Mo-Kemo par-tay!

So, three and a half years ago (November 29 will be 4 years), my dear fried Lisa had a tremendous shock. She and her husband Denny were expecting their fourth child in less than a month when their youngest son, James complained of a sore arm. Being that James was, at the time, the youngest and that Thomas and Avery, his older brother and sister, can be pretty rowdy, Lisa thought, "hmm ... better take him to the doctor. He might have a fracture or something." So to the doctor they went. But the day did not go as she had thought. Instead of a diagnosis of broken arm, they got the diagnosis of cancer. James, who was just about to turn 3, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblasitc Leukemia. (Read more about his diagnosis and treatment here).

Lisa and I had known each other for several years, as we'd attended church together. But it wasn't until I was married and a mom that we had an opportunity to really get to know one another when we did a Beth Moore Bible Study with some other sweet girls from church. James and Dylan were buddies in Sunday School.

Over the months following James' diagnosis, I saw first-hand God's grace through Lisa and her family, as well as our church family. Despite James' sickness, she (super-pregnant!) and Denny always had a smile and an unfailing confidence in God's healing power. They knew that God had brought them to just the right doctors who knew just the things to say and do, not only to heal James but to reassure his parents and siblings. And our church family rallied. I remember distinctly that via e-mail we asked Lisa, "What can we do?" and she sent a reply with a list of chores: Sweep the back porch, disinfect the house, need help picking up Thomas and Avery ... All of the things that as a mom and wife she was doing everyday had been put on hold during this time of hospital visits, chemo and the birth of Baby Amber that December. I'm sure that all of the responsibilities of motherhood and wife-dom seemed overwhelming and sometimes not very important in the face of this life-altering disease. Such a scary word: Cancer.

God's response to Lisa and Denny's faithfulness was awe-inspiring. From the love showered on their family by the community at large to the love their family showed in return ... and finally, James' healing ... On Friday, July 17, this community of family and friends was together to celebrate the end of James' chemo and his remission at James' No-Mo-Kemo Party at Lisa's parents' home. We got there on Friday evening to a crowd of friends, neighbors, relatives ... and the kids! Oh, boy. James with his blonde surfer hair (just a little too long over his collar - oh, so handsome!) and his brother and sisters, running through grass, swinging, sliding, eating delicious foods ... healthy and happy.

It is often hard from day-to-day to remember that God is not only all-knowing and all-powerful, but that He is also all-loving. On our worst days, He loves us more than we could ever dream ... and when we fall down and forget to believe, He waits patiently for us to seek His forgiveness and all-sheltering love. Through the last four years, I have watched Lisa and Denny keep-on-keeping on, but not of their own strength or will - but because they new the love and peace that comes from knowing their Heavenly Father. Knowing them as I do, I have no doubts that were the story to have ended any other way, they would still be seeking God's will in the midst of the storm ... but for James, the story is just beginning - he's six years old with the world ahead of him and the Lord ready to carry him ...

from Lisa's last post on James' CaringBridge journal:

In Exodus 15:26, God introduces Himself, "I am the Lord, who heals you." This word heal means to mend by stitching, to repair thouroughly, to make whole. I ask for prayer for the children and their parents who are still struggling on earth with leukemia. I know that God will still heal them in His way NO MATTER WHAT happens to their physical bodies.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Status Update: Brooke can't access Facebook

Last summer while Mike was in Reno, my friend Katie said to me, "blah blah blah FACEBOOK" to which I responded, "Facebook? Oh, no, I don't have a facebook". Shock went across her face (Why? I mean, I don't have a cell phone, cable or high-speed internet so why be shocked over the lack of a facebook account? I dunno).
But shocked she was, and said, "Brooke, you MUST get a facebook account - you'll love it!" And so, I did. I started a facebook account. And I must admit to being, well, addicted.
I found myself posting status updates that read like this:
Brooke is "happy the sun is shining"
Brooke will "not wash dishes until DHEC says she must"
Brooke "likes quiet"
Brooke "hates poison ivy/sumac/oak"
And so-on and so-forth.

Eventually the new wore off as with most new toys. I was still checking my "Wall" and uploading pics with great regularity, but my statuses were pretty stagnant (ex: Brooke is "glad it's the weekend").

But then the unthinkable happened. Our server crashed and the IT folks decided to blame facebook (ie: all the apps & quizzes everyone was doing when they weren't doing work) and block facebook from our server. So, from now on, I can only check my facebook from home when I can pirate a neighbor's wireless connection. I can't even respond to people posting messages on my Wall or making a Friend Request.
So for all of you out there waiting to be my FB friend, keep waiting. Eventually I'll break down & let Mike have his way with the wireless router or what-not.

Until then ...I'm not pressing IGNORE, I'm just unavailable.

Status: Brooke is off to Shipwreck Cove with the kids ... will post pics later.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Loving your neighbor and all that ...

Pictured Above: A neighbor who moved recently.

We love our neighbors. All of them. Even the ones we don't know. We love that right across the street is a little church and that said church is packed come Sunday morning, evening and Wednesday nights. It's nice to wave at people you don't know. It's nice that the youth like to sell hotdogs on Saturdays and that the Bloodmobile pulls up bright & early one Sunday each quarter.

But what we don't like is that the parking lot of the church has become the place to be if you're going to fight or threaten to kill someone. Yep, you read that right. A couple of weeks ago, in the middle of a phone conversation with another neighbor, I said, "Do you hear something outside?" "Yep," she said. Being that I'm the nosiest neighbor ever, I opened the front door and walked out on the front porch to hear more of this *ahem* conversation. It was after 10 p.m. Most people were abed, so not disturbed. But not me or Amanda. We were witness to a down-right ugly, worthy of an episode of Cops fight - right across the street, in the church parking lot. There was hitting, kicking, name-calling, police calling (by Amanda, thank you very much!), arm-breaking, and the coup de grace, running form the police by Leroy.

And that my friends, is why we don't have cable, Direct TV or DishNetwork. We have Cops episodes being filmed in our own front yard at least monthly. What more could a girl want?

A pool. Of course. And so good neighbor Amanda (who does not fight with her husband in the front yard, scream at him, punch him or hit him, kick his car door in, etc.) and her sweet, kind, husband Larry obliged. Right now the pool is filling up. I can see it from my kitchen window (refer to above note about my nosiness).

Wouldn't you like to be my neighbor too?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I'm not witty enough to bother with cutesy blog entry titles

These pics have nothing to do with this post - I just like throwing in random pictures. To the left is Dylan (center, with Bunny Ears!) with friends Charlie and Jake. Below is Ella J enjoying a chair of just the right size - before she took over the kiddie pool with her maniacal ways. More to come ...

And now, for the actual post ...

Yesterday I read the blog(s) of a friend of Mike's from Clemson. He had told me that part of her blogroll is entitled: Parent Bloggers Who Don't Make Me Gag (please note that Mike's blog is one of these), which I thought was pretty witty, so had decided two things: 1) not to like her (because, duh, she’s witty & also, she has great hair) and 2) that I must read her blog. You see, I am not witty, but I have grand desires of acquiring a witty-ness that will draw people to me and cause them to relate tales of my witty-ness to the world at large. Alas, I am that person who reacts in one of two (unfortunate) ways in almost any situation ...

Either: Not knowing what to say or how to stop talking, I continue to talk ala Joe Biden (aka: Diarrhea of the Mouth) or Not knowing what to say, stand there, mouth agape with no response. And later I find myself saying to Mike: “I had a bad case of Open Mouth, Insert Foot today when …” (he usually cringes upon hearing this) or; saying “so-and-so said blah blah today… I just thought of what I should have said. Should I call them and say it now?” On the plus side, I am not Joe Biden and cameras don’t generally catch my open-mouth, insert foot debacles. On the down side, I am destined to re-live these awful moments until my death or my memory is shot, whichever comes first.

Only once in the last year do I recall Mike applauding my quick-thinking response to some situation at the appropriate time, and it wouldn’t make sense to anyone else so I don’t even get to relate the story. See, unfortunate. (But it had to do with the CIA and a new face, so maybe you can make your own witty joke?)

In light of all that, it makes perfectly good sense that in a desire to become witty I would opt to read the blogs of already witty people. It stands to reason that their witty-ness will rub off on me (or, better for the lazy me, I’ll be able to plagiarize their wit and no one will be the wiser). And so off to the witty blog I went… prepared to dislike witty blog-writer girl, but being honest enough to know that I need what she’s got.

Alas, Witty Blog Girl made me laugh. A lot. She and her husband are expecting their first child (congrats!) and she’s done a great job of writing about being married, pregnancy and all that comes with it in a way that makes you think, "Gosh, I like this girl. She makes me laugh."

So I said to Mike yesterday, “Do you think it’s at all weird that I want to be her friend?”

His response? “Oh, this can’t be good for me”.

…So, here , have some fun. And be jealous of fabulous hair.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ella J & DJ are actually fish. Here's the proof ... enjoy!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Happy Anniversary + 2 days!

Right this minute, I'm listening to my new MP3 player. Not too exciting you might think, but I'd beg to differ. You see, here's what you don't know about me (or maybe, after I accidentally posted the same video twice, you do?): I am not technologically advanced. Some might even say I'm about 20 years behind the curve.

I love to write things out - I rarely go anywhere without pen, pencil and pad. I don't care if I have a car with automatic windows (although "child locks" on the windows ROCK). We don't have cable (mostly at my insistance; Mike would love to have all of the sports packages).
In fact, a couple of weeks ago, as we were getting geared up to do some yardwork (if you know us, you know that what I mean by "geared up" is really us complaining about having a yard and how dare the grass grow) ... but I digress ... I was going to cut grass and I said to Mike, "Hey, do you have a walkman I can use while I'm cutting grass?". Well, as it turns out, there is a walkman somewhere in our house, but the real question is where. So I gave up and called my sweet neighbor, Amanda, who has two daughters (ages 14 & 12),

"surely", I thought, "one of the girls will have a walkman I can borrow".

Carley, who is 14, answered the phone and the conversation went something like this:
Me: Hey Carley, do you have a walkman I can borrow?
Carley: A what?
Me: A walkman.
Carley: A walkman?
Me: Yes, a walkman.
Carley: What's a walkman?
Me: You know, a little tape-player or CD player that you can walk around with ... like an iPod but for tapes or CDs.
(let me say here that at this point I could hear Amanda laughing hysterically over Carley's end of the conversation).

Carley: Oh. I've read about those. No, I don't have one.

How old did that conversation make me feel? Ancient. Older than dirt. It was akin to me trying to relate to my Dad's stories of growing up (picking tobacco, driving school buses, bikes with no pedals). In other words, totally foreign.

Finally, Amanda took pity on me and took the phone away from Carley.
"Brooke, why don't you just borrow my iPod?". So I did. And it was wonderful.

After cutting grass that afternoon, I said to Mike, "I think I want an iPod shuffle - you know just something I can have some up-beat music on that I can sing along to while I'm cutting grass or laying out" (because there aren't many other instances when it would be o.k. for me to tune out totally to both of our kids and my husband and other duties). Well, we did talk about it a little more, but honestly, Mike is generally the grass-cutter and I'm generally the kitchen-cleaner/task-master, so my desires for my iPod shuffle were forgotten.

Which brings us to Monday ...
Our anniversary. Seven years. Two (amazing, unbelieveable, beautiful, smart) kids, 2 dogs, 1 cat. One '95 Ford Taurus, 1 '93 Jeep Wrangler, 1 '01 Volvo, 1 '06 Durango; 2 lawn mowers; 2 severe cases of poison ivy; camping & beach trips; countless lunches & dinners; car trips & leisurely drives; music (lots & lots & lots of music of all kinds); books (enough to start our own library); student loans (& paying off other debt - together); old friends & new friends ... How do we tally the moments that combined to give us seven years of marriage? Of loving each other more as we know each other more, of knowing the answers before we ask the questions?

If you know Mike, then this makes perfect sense. He's the perfect gift-buyer, searching out the thing that will be impactful & practical. On Monday night he gave me an MP3 player to block out the world and sing-along to "brooke radio".

So far, I've uploaded 35 songs out of my alotted 900. I offered Mike half for when he cuts grass, but he said they're all mine. I've got some Buffet, Sugarland, OCMS, Josh Ridings, Lynard Skynard ... I'm saving room for some Chris Tomlin (& the like), Simon & Garfunkel, Dixie Chicks & others to be named at a later date. 900 songs seems like a lot, but it's really not - I have to be careful with my use of space ... and the songs should mean something (which is sort of another post, later).

855 more songs.
Countless memories to be made.
25 years, here we come ...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Rice Bowls

Let’s first take a trip back in time …

A year ago (May 2008)

I was at the Angie & Ben’s house, enjoying the End-of-Year YoungLife All-Area Worship Time. Really, Mike & I haven’t been hand’s-on with YL since Ella J was born, but we’ve been privileged enough to be included in some of the Sunday evening worship times. This was one of those times … A group of us was hanging out in Angie’s kitchen, either getting ready to fill up our plates with yummies from Salsarita’s or sort of cleaning up/milling around. On one side of the kitchen, I was talking with a couple of friends about how my time with the Barnets had sort of naturally run its course and I was looking for something part-time that would allow me a similar sort of freedom in scheduling.

On the other side of the kitchen, Katie was talking with another group of friends about how she was excited that Rice Bowls had increased enough to allow her to hire someone part-time to act as Campaign Liaison. In that funny way that He has, God allowed someone to overhear snippets of both conversations — enough to know I was looking for part-time work and that Katie was looking to hire someone. The next thing I knew, Katie and I were involved in a conversation about Rice Bowls, specifically how it had changed over the last 18 months, the vision for where God was taking the Rice Bowls ministry, and the needs that Katie and the Board of Directors had prayed about & talked about. A few short days later, Ella J & I were having a lunch interview with Katie … and then, here I was.

Back to the Present …

It hardly seems possible that 13 months have gone by since I joined the “team” here at Rice Bowls … a team that’s comprised of myself, Katie (Director of Program Growth) and Kathy (our accountant), as well as the ladies who take phone orders and those who work in shipping (ensuring that Rice Bowls find their way all across the United States), our Board of Directors, and (most importantly) our partners (churches, schools, businesses, neighborhoods) around the U.S.

Over the last 13 months …

  • Rice Bowls has grown from having five (5) Orphanage Partners and about 150 children (from June to December of 2007), to supporting over 30 orphanages and more than 1000 children in 2008-09.
  • Two of our Board Members (Dodd & Richard) were able to visit some of our orphanages in India during the Fall of 2008 and from their pictures and videos, a friend of ours (Ben) put together this great video which features music from another friend & Artist Partner, David Walker.
  • Right now, there are more than 700 Rice Bowls Campaigns in various stages (waiting to give out their bowls, collecting their bowls, counting change from their bowls, waiting on those last two bowls, or writing us a check!) and more than 50,000 Rice Bowls have been shipped.
  • Rice Bowls has been featured in the Greenville (S.C.) magazine, and has had ads in Relevant and Rejoice! We've even had a couple of blurbs in newspapers in Missouri, Georgia & South Carolina.

God has moved in big ways this year for our small nonprofit, opening doors, moving mountains and showing us everyday that His plans are bigger and better than anything we could imagine. I am humbled to be united with this group of people here in Spartanburg, S.C. and across the United States and across the seas India, South Africa and Haiti who want to see God’s plans come to fruition.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I'm baaaaaack!

Well, it's been awhile since I've blogged about ... well, anything ... so it's time to get back in the swing of things again. This Spring has been a super-busy time for us. DJ is playing baseball (playoffs are this weekend & I'm not sure if we should be praying for a win or a loss!), Ella J is walking & talking up a storm - it seems just in the last couple of weeks that she's repeating every, single word that we say (although "dog" is her favorite, followed by "where Mike?"). Aside from baseball, which DJ alternately hates and loves, we've been to Clemson, SC to see a baseball game (which was rained out) and to visit with friends (Casey & Martha Ann ... all I can say about that is Thor Hyerdahl). We've been to Pigeon Forge, TN to camp with Michelle & Jason & Jamison & Macy & Julie & Brent & Jacob & Nate & Ann Marie & Todd & Ashlyn & Jake & it was so much fun, even if we didn't get to do s'mores because it rained cats & dogs - at least the kids got to enjoy the pool. We just got back from St. Augustine, Fl where my cousin got married, which was beautiful - even the part where walking to the car from the Casa Monica (about 3 blocks) meant walking in several inches of water. And we're reading Genesis to Dylan, which means talking about why there are no pictures of dinosaurs in his kids NIV Bible (and that's what God meant by "faith like a child" - I'm convinced!!).

So, I'm posting a few pics and hopefully, I'll be back soon with something important to say ... ha.

Hope you all are enjoying the last days of school and getting ready to enjoy some time at home or away from home (vacations ROCK!) with those you love ... keep me posted.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Gator Bowl 2009

Well, it's game day for the Tigers ... We didn't make the trip to Florida, but we still had to wear team colors ...

Thought I'd share.
Go Tigers!