Thursday, December 30, 2010

Man Plans but God Directs

One of the activities most of us do at this time of year is take down the Christmas decorations, and prepare our homes, and lives for the promise of a new year. In the last days of December, lots of plans are made. This must be the time of year that God just shakes His head and smirks at us. He is the only one that knows what our upcoming year will hold.
Proverbs 16:19 " In his heart man plans his course, but the Lord directs his steps."  New International Version, Holy Bible.
Today, I prepared our 2011 calendar. On certain days of certain months I wrote in important days in our lives, birthdays, anniversaries, trips. These things are planned by us. As I wrote them down, I was increasingly aware of God sighing. (there goes Brenda again, thinking she is in control) I got the hint and spent some time in prayer before continuing. I prayed over each day. I put those days and all the rest of them in HIS hands. I have no control over my days. My family, my job, my friends, our home, our lives, are all a daily gift from God. In turning them over to Him, that means that if one or all of these things don't happen like I plan for them too, I will continue to put my trust in Him that He is in control, He will bring us through whatever this upcoming year will hold.
2010. Each year as I look over the calendar, I wonder at what God has done. I haven't had a year yet where things went as I planned. As I get older, I'm learning to appreciate time more. Time with family and friends, each year many are taken from us, and new loved ones are added. God knows, He knew, He is in control.
If you are reading this, know that I prayed for you specifically today. No, I may not know everyones name that will read this, but I am praying God's blessing to you as you do. Thank you for your friendship to our family. We would not be the same without you in our lives.
As you start a new year, pray through it with us. Knowing that God will walk it with us, the highs and the lows makes it much easier to make it though the day. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Preparations for a New Year

Since I want to start the New Year happier, I decided that there were a few things that I could do to help that along.
First thing : The Kitchen. I spend more time in this room of the house than anyone. I have been frustrated over the lack or organization I have had since we moved in  6 years ago. I know.. sad really.
However, I first took inventory of what I have and what I need. Since we got married, Sweetie and I were given much of our parents and friends old stuff. So, we have many things that dont match. This has been okay with me, but we talked about how since some of it is now falling apart, lets pick some of our own stuff.
I lucked out and got new pots and pans for Christmas, so I was able to throw out our scratched up and burned out old pans.
Second, I organized our dishes. I had several incomplete and different patterns. I got rid of broken pieces and stuff we just weren't using. All of the mismatched pieces are gone! yay!
I cleaned out and organized my spices. The old ones, yep trash! The cupboards are clear and not so frustrating anymore! Oh Happy DAY!
Third, I cleaned out our closet. Now, if I can just get Sweetie to go through his clothes, and take out what is not wearable anymore...
Next, I need to inventory our towels. We have some that are literally falling apart, and need to be replaced. I figure over time I will pick up a towel here and there, and hopefully by the end of 2011, will have some linen closets to be proud of also!
Today, I took down all of the Christmas stuff, except for a handmade wood carved African nativity that was brought back from Africa for me as a gift a couple years back. I like to look at it all year long. I have high hopes to get rid of the excess this year and really streamline things. I've got high hopes, and achieving some of these goals before the new year makes me feel it will be attainable!

Christmas is here!

Christmas 2010. This year Christmas snuck up on us. Our family had such a busy month that when it was Christmas time we were caught slacking! Sweetie and the boys finished their shopping days before Christmas. Me? I was finished just 9 days before. Whew!
Traditionally, I go out shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. Not this year. It was actually nice to sleep in. We did order a few things on cyber Monday though. That was nice. With free wrapping and shipping, it saved bucks for our out of town folks. (although, I must admit I plan to do more of it next year) I still had stuff to ship and man, was it expensive.
The boys favorite gift from us this year was the stilts that we ordered for them. (summer clearance baby! woot! woot! ) With the boys getting older and wanting more along the line of gift cards, and video games instead of toys it was fun to suprise them with an oldie but goodie toy.
Sweetie worked Christmas eve this year. We weren't lonely as my Aunt and Uncle came up to visit us and spent the night! We made some new memories playing games and showing them how much Clarksville changed since the floods we had in May.
Driving them around I got to revisit their first home and share in those memories with them. We did a little stocking shopping and got back home so we could prepare Christmas Eve dinner. As Sweetie pulled in the garage snow started to fall! Yay!
My family left after dinner so they could try to beat the snow home. Good thing they did, we got 2 inches! Not to mention some sleet.
Christmas 2010 was a white one! Its been several years since that has happened here. Unfortunately, we couldn't make snowmen.
We spent Christmas Day with Sweeties family, and had a great time. It starts with our mid day meal, then one of the men reading the Christmas story, then We laugh and enjoy one another until its time to go to the Grandparents home for dinner and Dirty Santa. Since Sweeties family is so big, we all just bring one gift worth $25 and put them in the middle. Then someone draws names and its on. One can either get a gift from the pile or take from someone else. Whomever goes first gets to go last after everything has been opened. Oh, and something can only be stolen 3 times.
 This year I actually left with something I wanted! A 25 dollar gift card to Longhorn! Sweetie came home with some sausage and cheese! Yum!  We all came home with fresh memories of laughter and good times. We were blessed all of us being together....some of these folks we only see once a year - if that.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Manatee Viewing Center, Apollo Beach, Florida

Spending time with our friends in Tampa, they took us to a free Manatee viewing center. What fun! I learned that they grow up to 12 feet and have a big flipper that propells them through the water. They are otherwise known as "seacows".
The ranger that was there giving a talk about these massive animals, told us they live to about 60 years old. The manatees we saw were staying warm in the waters surrounding a power plant.  We saw nearly 20 of them. We even got to see a mom and her baby. So sweet.  

Manatee coming up for air. They do so every 20 minutes or less.

Magic Kingdom - A Day To Remember....

After Sweetie graduated  we were blessed with the oportunity to go to Magic Kingdom for a day. We met up with a former childcare provider of the boys and had a day of fun. We rode rides, and laughed and met a few Disney characters. I enjoyed watching people and children interact in this dream world. We were very tired but still managed to drive to Tampa that evening so that we could hang out with some other friends.

The boys with Chip n Dale. We learned that in order to tell the difference between the two is by the color of the nose. Chips nose is brown like a chocolate chip while Dale's is red. Dale also has two teeth seperate while Chip has two teeth together.

The boys loved riding the roller coasters!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Graduation Day 2010

December has been a whirlwind so far! The first weekend Cory had his piano recital. He played Boogie on Broadway, and Pumpkin Boogie. He wanted to play The Entertainer, but due too a broken thumb, played these other two songs. It was a great morning, all of the students at the recital played well.

Sweetie earned his Bachelor of Science Degree with Honors from Florida State Hospital College in Orlando, FL this past Thursday evening. We were all so proud of him! The church where the graduation was held was decorated so beautifully. We had precious friends watching the graduation online as well as with us and our family at the graduation itself.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bill of Rights

This year Brian tried out for, and made the Drama Club at Sango Elementary. His first play was over the Bill of Rights as a child views them. It was really neat watching the kids take the rights and define them. Brian played the part of a police officer not letting people worship where they wanted. He also go to  arrest someone without proof they commited a crime. And as a soldier being commanded to go take someone out of their home and take a childs teddy bear. This was a really neat way to through humor, and a child's eyes be reminded of what our rights are. Ya know, before the play if someone had asked me what the 7th amendment was, I couldn't have told ya, it would have been a guess. Today, I know!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Serving - Being the Lord's Hands and Feet

There is a steady cold rain coming down in the darkness of Thanksgiving evening. The big white banquet tent is holding its own again the breezes and the rain. The white tables and chairs are ready, the volunteers all have their name tags on, and are standing in their places. On top of the tables were raw vegetables, potatoes, squash, onions, to name a few. There were several bags set aside for the folks to take these home with them also.
MCM Founders Kenny and Vicki York
Kenny, Manna Cafe's leader started with a testimony, and a short message from the Lord about harvest and serving, about abundance, and how God loves us all, each and every one. He then led in prayer and here they came! Each person got a ticket that when they were finished would allow them to receive a bag loaded with food for the rest of the week!  As they approached the dinner line, each humbly took a ticket, then signed on the line, and got their trays.

Tonight Sweetie and I got to be a part of an amazing Thanksgiving dinner. No, we didn't eat, but we got to watch, help, interact and most of all listen. Tonight we served our fellow Clarksvillians, the homeless ones. They filed in, one by one. What was most touching to me tonight was the children. There were whole families that had no where to go, and nothing to eat. Some were wrapped in trashbags to keep the rain off, others didn't have anything, and were just glad to be in out of the cold.

Each one had a story, and we were ready to help in anyway we could. It was so touching to see, help, and sometimes share a hug with one of these precious few that are down on their luck.  These folks were looking for work, or were day laborers, there was even a family that was still displaced by the flood. It really put things in perspective as I had spent the morning listening to friends and family plan their strategies for shopping tomorrow, where all these folks were concerned about was the meal they had now, and could they please have an extra roll for in the morning. To read more about this ministry please check out: .

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Halloween 2010

This years Halloween was different than past years in that instead of walking the kids all over various neighborhoods, they had their own plans, so we handed out candy on the front porch.
Sweetie wore a 80's rocker hair wig, while I donned my pirate gear.
Brian, dressed as a HALO character left with best bud Jacksen Yarborough to go trick or treating with them.
Cory went riding around on a trailer pulled by a golf cart with a certain princess that lives up the road. :)

Sasha dressed up too!

Twas the Night before Thanksgiving

Well, its that time of year again. There is a chill in the air, the brown grass is covered with wet leaves, and the traffic is horrible. The grocery stores are full , and the televisions are looping ads in hopes of a successful Black Friday.
Folks fit into two categories, those that are traveling to meet with family, and those that are hosting. (well, three - those that are working). If you are hosting, most likely your home is already starting to smell terrific, and the guest rooms are ready, as the home fires crackle with holiday warmth. If you are traveling, you long for that familiar home, relationships, and new memories to be made.
This year we will celebrate at Hunley acres , thankful that Grandpa Hunley had a successful pacemaker surgery, celebrate each others accomplishments so far this year, and share a meal prepared by loving hands.
It is something to be thankful for..each person at each place at the table, and  in our hearts this special holiday. Im so very thankful for each family member, each friend, each person that touches my life. And especially thankful to God for giving us another Thanksgiving together. I look forward to watching some of the Macy's Day Parade, football, and relaxing while Sweetie naps. Happy Thankgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Brians Room Makeover

As I write this blog, I'm reminded that I didn't take before pictures. I am sure that I have one or two of his "old" room pictures. He loves that his walls have gone from white to a yellow brown combo. We updated his storage, thanks to Aunt Teri!  He got a new comforter and rug to accent his room.

Previously, his room was in primary colors of Blue, Red, and Yellow. So now that he is big stuff and wanted a tween room, we painted his furniture black and in some areas orange. We changed up his shelves also, so his trophies could be seen better!  See orange is his favorite color, and if he was in charge of colors he would have orange everything! So, as soon as we have more updates, I will repost this!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Time Changes Things

Saturday afternoon we had a bittersweet reunion with a friend that I've known since Kindergarten. His sweet mom died, and as we met up at the funeral home a wave of memories washed over me. A quick flash memory of her helping her son and I get ready for our parts in a school play. I was Mary and he was my little lamb. She had helped me curl my hair in those long curls, and she took several pictures of us. She was quick to hug and if you were ever in her home, she had to feed ya something. Fast forward to highschool, she was there at graduation, smiling and taking pictures again. When Sweetie and I got married, there she was with camera in hand, and a special crystal frame for our wedding photo. Since then, the last time I saw her was when her husband died, and then it was so brief. She has since sold her home here, and moved in with one of her sons, our friend down in Florida, so it had been 6 years since we saw one another.
Walking inside the doors, memories of the past funerals I had attended here, washed a huge wave of sadness over me. Sweetie kept it together better than I did, he too having his own memories of our mutual friend and his family. Sweetie knew her as a teenager, as both my friend and Sweetie studied for their EMT certifications at his house, and were firefighters together.
After signing in, and greeting other family members we looked for our friend. After several minutes when he came out from a back room, we noticed that he had changed too. I mean we all recognized each other, gave one another grief about the few grey hairs we were now sporting, and then started to chat lightly about how peaceful his mom looked. Getting past the casket we then just stood with our friend and reminiced over how we have been in and out of each others lives ever since we can remember. We laughed, and shook our heads over how each of us has a child that will start highschool next year. Where did the time go? With us living now in different states, we don't get to see each other as often as before, but it is amazing at how easily we reconnect.
Time changes things. It seems we are either learning how to start something, or just starting to get the hang of this particular season, and boom! Another one starts up. Time moves on dragging us with it. We have the same smiles, same sparkle in our eyes, and yet we are different people. That a challenging ride it has been so thankful for friends along the way to support us and in turn for us to help through the difficult times, and to celebrate the blessings with!

Monday, November 8, 2010

One Cold Little Pup!

Folks tend to have a thermometer that updates them as to what the temperature is in their home. We have a dog. Sasha, our 2 year old Rat Terrier lets us in on how cold it is as to how much of herself she leaves uncovered.  As you can see from the picture here...she must have been quite chilly.  Guess its time to turn up the heat!

To Gleek or be caught Gleeking

Okay, so the first time I heard this word was tonight around the bonfire. Yes, I asked. When there is a moment that your teen decides to ivolve you in a chat about something it is wise to be ready. I was not.
Actually, I hear Brian whine, "Mom! Cory is gleeking me!"
Me: eyebrows going up.."what?"
Cory engaged in laughter slowly turning into hysterics, as Brian starts again, "MOM! CORY IS GLEEKING ME!"
Sweetie is amused, Cory is showing off how wide his mouth can actually open when engaged in laughter. A frustrated Brian explains to me that Cory is spitting on him.

According to Gleeking is: "In the world of competitive spitting, gleeking would be considered a stealth fighter. Gleeking is actually an acquired skill in which the gleeker rolls back his or her tongue, then compresses a sub-mandibular salivary gland until a stream of saliva is released. With enough practice and salivary stimulation, a gleeker can project an arc of watery saliva several feet in the air. The point of intentional gleeking is to find a suitable target and silently dowse it with a short burst of spit.The fact that some people can gleek seemingly at will while others cannot only adds to its appeal as a rude but generally harmless act. A talented gleeker will wait until a target has come into range and then silently dowse him or her with a spray of watery saliva. The gleeking victim may not even be aware he or she has been attacked, since gleeking is such a silent act."

Really?  Okay, so I have seen said teenager sorta rolling his tongue back into his mouth and then using his spit glands to shoot spit out the sides of his mouth. He gets great thrills out of how he is expanding his distance without getting caught. (side note, He swears that he just annoys his brother with this behavior) UHUH.
BIG SIGH. Sweetie is still amused, just shaking his head. He then looks at me and explains what it is.

As a lifetime, card carrying, certified girl, I will never understand the behavior of  the boy species.

Brians 11th birthday

On November 1, 1999, our Brian was born in Wilson, NC. He weighed 8 pounds 1 ounce and was 21 inches long.  Cory was so excited to have a brother to play with.
On the 1st our family celebrated his 11th birthday. His request was a Subway sandwich dinner, lunch with his Dad at school, for me to take chocolate cupcakes for him to share with his class at school, and chocolate mayonnaise cake with Oreo Cookies & Cream ice cream for the home celebration. And that is what he got!

Since his birthday is so close to Halloween, he gets to celebrate his birthday with his friends on the following weekend. So, he had his best friend, Jacksen (the one with his mouth open), and his best neighborhood friend, Alex over to spend the night, watch movies, play games. He wanted soft taco's and cheesy nacho's for dinner and then of course his cake!
The boys played, laughed and playfully shoved one another around Saturday afternoon, into the evening, then settled down to watch a movie, and all three fell asleep before it was over, they were so tired from running around all day!
At this point in Brian's young life, his favorite restaurant is Subway, he loves almost anything Nerf, is enjoying running in races, is playing his 7th year of soccer, hip hop dancing, is involved in the Drama club,
and loves helping at church ( and is involved in the childrens production monthly).
He keeps us all laughing, oh, and his favorite color is orange.
Best friend and I have recently taken up the challenge of updating his room for him. (thats another blog!)
Happy birthday Brian!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

First Broken Bone

Well, we have our first broken bone amongst the boys. Thankfully it is a thumb (the right one) and not a leg or arm. The story behind it? Cory was playing with a puppet and bouncing it around in front of Sasha the puppy's face, and Brian's face. Brian swatted it out of his way, and Cory screamed. This is typical at our home, so I don't jump unless it continues or it is brought to me to handle. The latter happened and Cory showed me his swelled thumb saying that Brian broke it.
Being the tender mom that I am, I said, "What did you do to him to get that?" to which he told me Brian took a swing at the puppet he was playing with. Omitting of course the details of it being in Brian's face and Sasha's. (Sasha apparently had taken a few nips at the puppet too!) We put ice on it, and actually let it go overnight as we have suffered through many jammed fingers with the amount of sports played, not to mention all the wrestling injuries between the boys.
The next morning it was the same size and so Cory was now the victim and was pouting off things such as:  "I can't go to school, how will I carry my books? Open my locker, or write?"  He was told he could adjust as there were children that were at school with worse injuries making their way around.
Since Sweetie works in radiology at a local hospital, we took Cory in that evening after school. The xray told us what we needed to know.  Yep, broken, a little piece was broken off, just above the growth plate.
Now Cory sports a finger guard splint wrapped on his right thumb. He is liking the attention he is getting from the girls. (no way is he telling them his little brother broke it - wonder what story he is spinning?)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Couples Paint Night- A Pair of Pears!

Tonight Sweetie and I had a different kind of date night. We went to a painting class!
We each started with a blank canvas... and after mixing some colors, we began to see shapes, which amongst the nervous laughter in the room from the other couples.. started to turn into pears. Most of us thought our personal one looked like say: a peanut, a gourd, or a potato!
But as we added more colors and shading.. it turned into a pear! Towards the end she had us all put down our paintbrushes, and step back from our painting. Then she told us to sit in our partners seat. We painted the little area where the stem starts on the pear, then we got to go back to our painting! It was funny how many spouses "fixed" what their other half painted!
Here is the finished product! We both had fun!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I'll take a moment here to focus on a ray of sunshine before I address the little raincloud in our neighborhood. Our neighborhood is pretty unique in that we all communicate. We help one another with various projects, borrowing tools, holiday cookouts and various get togethers. We have attended funerals together and celebrated births and graduations together also! So, when a problem happens, the group gets together and helps the one who needs it. We have had a suicide, death, and job loss where everyone pooled their money to help this family stay in their home through the holidays. So, bottom line.. its a great neighborhood.
However we have a child quickly bypassing "ugly behavior" and living/acting out as the bully.
"Bully: A person who is habitually cruel or overbearing, especially to smaller or weaker people."  This is Webster's Dictionary definition of what it means to be a bully. In the last month or so, ugly actions have ooozed their way into our neighborhood.
There is a family that has severe issues going on which unfortunately are affecting the rest of us. Their son, for one. He constantly tries to divide the neighborhood boys against each other. He creates all sorts of turmoil, throwing bicycles and ballcaps into the pond, calling everyone names from out in the street, and as of late, some small theft and destruction of property. 
When he is approached about this behavior, or caught in the act, (as I was able to do), the explanation we get out of said child is that he has "anger issues and is looking for a way to vent."  Sidenote: I have a suggestion to give him a way to vent, its called work. Something productive to do with his time! This boy suffers from lack of parental attention, and so the rest of us in the neighborhood are dealing with this child.
Earlier this week, I came home from work to find several of my potted plants on the back porch broken, (just one pot out of the bunch is broken), and lying on the ground. There had been no storms, no winds. Then came news from our youngest that the bully was mad at me for not letting him come over to play so he snuck into our backyard and destroyed a few things. (he couldn't come play because our boys don't get to have other children over to play unless an adult is home, or a neighbor can hang out and keep everyone safe, our boys have to have their homework done first, and several afternoons are spent involved in various after school activities).  At first, I just went out back and cleaned up, a variety of emotions swirling in my mind. After all, Brian didn't see this bully do this, but after checking with other parents, they didn't witness this act either. So until I have proof, I can do nothing.
There is a saying that it takes a  village to raise a child. I believe that is true. Sweetie and I can't watch the boys activities all the time, so we rely on the parents of the boys they play with to enforce rules upon them while on their property. If the boys can't behave, they don't get to play. We have sent other children home, as ours have been sent back home themselves.
Bullies today are such a different sort than in the past. Most disagreements that I recall were settled before/ after school, then everyone played together later that same evening or that week. Today, the world is different, with bombings and shootings being played out on our nightly news. With this difference we must be active parents, neighbors, and friends.
In this situation one parent is absent, and the other? Well she doesn't want to deal with her children's actions, so she just gives excuses and nothing gets done. With some direction from the rest of us, this bully can learn to deal without hurting others, or their property and become a working member of society. Until then, I will commit to not only being watchful and involved, but also praying protection for the boys.

Pumpkin Patch 2010

Sweetie and I have taken the boys to the pumpkin patch since Cory first turned 1 in North Carolina.
Depending on age there are varying things we could do. The first couple of years we just took family photo's amongst the pumpkins. Then as Cory and Brian got bigger they would be tall enough to stick their faces in various farm style cutouts, take a hay ride, go dunking for apples, and feed the animals (when there were animals), ect.
The last several years have been so much fun, each one increasing what we can do, or let them go do on their own. My favorite has to be pumpkin picking. Each boy has been allowed to pick whatever size, shape, or color of pumpkin they want. The only rule is that they have to be able to carry it to the car. This year the pumpkins ranged from 18 to 20 pounds each!
Yesterday was Sasha, our rat terrior's first pumpkin patch. She had to stay in the car while we went through the corn maze though as pets weren't allowed.
We took pictures and explored the maze. Now we need to carve the pumpkins!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Time for Sleep!

Time is flying by anymore it seems. There just doesn’t seem to be enough of it for me to get done what I need to get done. If Sweetie was sitting here reading this as I type he would say that my definition of need is much different than his, and probably yours also.

When I was a child, time moved along SO slowly, or at least that was my perception. Today? I can’t keep up with it. I’ve been working on time management and narrowing down what I commit myself and the family to. Learning to say No has been a big obstacle for me, until I looked over the schedule and saw how much of our time was busy doing things that while important, would manage to go on without us. However, working through my schedule I still have quite a few things that I need to trim off my list.

One thing I need to add more of to our whole families list is sleep. I recently read a study that over 73% of Americans don’t get the sleep that they need to function! What? Here is a basic chart showing what each of us needs based on our age.

Sleep requirements -

Newborns (0-2 months) 12 - 18

Infants (3 months to 1 year) 14 - 15

Toddlers (1 to 3 years) 12 - 14

Preschoolers (3 to 5 years) 11 - 13

School-aged children (5 to 12 years) 10 - 11

Teens and preteens (12 to 18 years) 8.5 - 10

Adults (18+) 7.5 – 9

I value sleep a whole lot more these days. It hasn’t always been that way. I remember the red and blue sleep mats in kindergarten and how my friend Stacy and I would giggle and make faces back and forth instead of sleeping. I remember home quiet time/nap time as a child. I fought did fight that. Mom liked quiet time in the house, and my sister and I didn’t. Once I talked her into letting me take a book to read for quiet time I settled just fine, sometimes actually falling asleep. It worked for her as I was quiet and resting, and out of her hair. It worked for me as I was NOT sleeping but got to read.

That was a few years ago. Being an adult has its privileges, one of them being, you don’t have anyone telling you that you must go to bed, or take a nap NOW. We get the choice of when we rest and how much. So to me this is a catch 22 scenario. It’s a good thing and it’s not a good thing. We now have to be good stewards of our time and make sure we give ourselves unwinding time, and plenty of sleep!

How much sleep are you missing out on? Ya know, a cousin of Sweetie’s recently wrote a blog on how their family turned the TV off for one night a week. She also shared about how much more talking they did to one another, and how much more they got done. Isn’t it crazy that sometimes technology isn’t helping, but actually hurting us? That’s another thought! So, let’s turn off our TV’s, silence our cell phones, shut down our computers and GO TO SLEEP!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sleeping in a Church Pew

So, have you been guilty of sleeping in or on the church pew on Sunday mornings? Well, when you are a guest at our home, you get to do just that!  In the meantime, our oldest son gets to sleep in a bed made out of an old church pew!
We have a friend that is a recycler on so many levels. And when he noticed a church pew was getting thrown away, he was on it - and had that broken pew loaded in the back of his truck. Now, the next best thing he did was call me and tell me what he was doing. Yes, I was excited! I love things that are refurbished and used as something else! (ever heard the saying, "one man's trash is another's treasure?" it applies here)
So my handy friend got busy making a  bed out of the pew. Before I show you a picture of the finished product I want to share the background to this story with  you. 
 I truly enjoy spending time with my friend and his wife as they are very resourceful, and I feel there is a lot to be learned from this lifestyle. For instance when I visit their home, I always find some new idea, or new use for a item that finished its purpose as one thing and now is getting to be used somewhere else. For example they don't have an ordinary paper towel holder in their kitchen, no - what they use is an old pair of iron ice tongs (super neat). There is an old screen door, paint peeling and all that seperates the kitchen from the dining area. In the living room there are end tables that are made from recycled windows; he even put hinges on them so his wife can store magazines or other memorabilia inside that you can see, but still have the glass to set a drink on. There is a table also made out of a longer window that is serves as both a coffee table and a shadow box of their childrens school pictures and other trinkets. Our friend is quite the handyman! Here is a picture of Cory's pew bed.
See how fun it is to recycle? On the front of the footboard there is the place to put your hymnal and your communion cup! So far this has only been in our home a couple of weeks, and it has quickly become quite the conversation piece!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Up..up..UP to Chimney Top!

     Sweetie and I got to spend an adventurous weekend with our small Bible study group this past weekend in Gatlinburg, TN. This is truly a beautiful area, and if you haven't been to TN, or its mountain area, you will be impressed with its beauty and the breathtaking views.
      I will start out with a little background here, this is a group of largely 20ishers and a couple of early 30 year olds. (FYI: Sweetie and I are late 30's)We knew going into this last year when we made our year commitment to these folks it wouldn't be without its share of drama and exciting moments. We have had a lot of both, and don't regret a minute. These guys and gals are an inspiring group. We let them talk us into going hiking early Saturday morning.
First off, "early" to a 20isher is 10 am. I was up making them breakfast at 830.  The mumbling amongst themselves only lasted until the smell of bacon, biscuits, and farm fresh eggs wafted through the air caught their noses.
     On the way to Chimney Top we chatted about the hike. Here is what the brochure said: "Chimney Tops Trail - 1700 ft. up - 4 miles round trip - Strenuous) The trail crosses bridges over a cascading mountain stream and through virgin forest to the Chimney Tops, a rocky outcropping at the summit. A level path leads along a tree-covered ridge and, after negotiating some large boulders and tree routes, the large rock mass of Chimney Tops looms before you. An exciting scramble takes you to the top (not advised if you don’t like heights).You are greeted by an awe-inspiring 360-degree panorama of forested mountain slopes stretching away into the distance."

     We didn't realize how much of that was up. I mean like climbing up, up. If I am brave enough to do this again, I will spend more time stretching, as I certainly stretched muscles that haven't stretched in awhile and they are still screaming at me. For my readers benefit, only one of the group had actually made this climb, an energetic Army officer with a consistant smirk on his early 20's face. (Now I know why he was smirking)
According to him, he generally jogged up the mountain. (slight eye roll and smirk from me now) But since he had the group he would walk it with us.
     The first mile was a typical hike, stepping over logs, and occasionally walking across a wooden bridge that crossed rushing water. (looking at the water made me wish I had gone white water rafting instead). As we headed into the second mile of this hike, Sweetie and I moved from the middle to the rear of the group, as one of us wanted to stop for a few minutes and catch our breath. The overall blessing to this whole experience was that it was a crisp 59 degrees when we started and only reached a high of 63 by the time we were finished.

In the second mile the track gets more rugged and an unrelenting, and the steep climb begins. (Steep meaning placing ones foot firmly on the ground and reaching with your hands to pull yourself up, placing your opposite foot in a nook or cranny and repeating until you are able to stop and give your body time to sweat)Fortunately, after 20 minutes or so the gradient eases up, even descending for a short time. The path is now eroded and very narrow in places. In many places the earth was wet and muddy, presenting us with a slippery slope. God and I had many conversations up and down that mountainside. (esp. with these signs)

We passed several folks going down, some sharing their various words of wisdom and advice. As time went on and we kept winding up the mountain, the jokes started flowing about how the slow ones will keep the bears busy so the rest can escape. Mountain climbing humor at its best I suppose. While we never saw any bears, we heard that there were some you could see once on top of the mountain.
As we got to the top, the trail stops so you can look out over the valley. It was beautiful. However, this was not good enough for the majority of our group. They wanted to go to the very top and literally sit on top of the mountain. This was allowed, but not advised. There was a warning as you can see in the above picture showing us a picture of stick man falling off the cliffs. Once all the 'pride' talk subsided, it was then decided a select few of us were brave enough to make the climb. The rest would stay at the bottom and pray for us.

See? We made it- all the way up - as far up as one could go! I generally don't mind heights when there is a bar to hold onto or a safety harness involved. But since I had neither, I clung to the rock ledges and enjoyed the view. I didn't spend much time up there though, enough to get the full panoramic view, look for bears, then take a couple of pictures. The smirking Army officer kindly went down the top of the mountainside in front of me, and was there to lend a hand, while Sweetie kindly escorted me down from behind.
I appreciate our group for the adventure and in some cases, helping me stretch myself to accomplish something I didn't set out to do, overcome my fear of climbing out to the ledges of the mountain top called Chimney Top!

Monday, October 4, 2010


“Class never runs scared. It is sure-footed and confident, and it can handle whatever comes along. Class has a sense of humor. It knows that a good laugh is the best lubricant for oiling the machinery of human relations. Class never makes excuses. It takes its lumps and learns from mistakes. Class knows that good manners are nothing more than a series of small sacrifices and minor inconveniences. Class bespeaks an aristocracy unrelated to ancestors or money. Some extremely wealthy people have no class at all, while others who are struggling to make ends meet are loaded with it. Class is real. You can't fake it. Class is comfortable in its own skin. It never puts on airs. Class never tries to build itself up by tearing others down. Class is already up and need not attempt to look better by making others look worse. Class can walk with kings and keep its virtue and talk with crowds and keep the common touch. Everyone is comfortable with the person who has class because he is comfortable with himself. If you have class, you've got it made. If you don't have class, no matter what else you have, it won't make up for it.” anonomyous

I found this quote and just loved it, so I felt I would share.

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Tribute to Lucky

Rest in Peace. Three little words with a big meaning. Today, September 24, 2010 our family said goodbye to our cat Lucky. Lucky has been a part of Sweetie and I's life for 16 years. He was a spunky kitten who learned to fetch. YES, a cat that fetched. There was a small piece of rope that he would playfully bat back and forth, and one day Chad threw it. That cat brought it back! And so it started, this would go on for quite a while until, in true cat fashion; Lucky would quickly decide he was finished and would curl up for a good snooze on the arm of Sweeties recliner.  This cat, like most pets strongly let us know when we needed to be punished. When we moved my mother and sister to NM, he was left in the care of Sweetie's sister. He gave her a run for the money. They had a love/hate relationship from that point on. Sweetie and I learned a lesson and made sure there was someone who would stay with him from then on. Someone popping in and out of the house whenever they felt like it was just not up to his criteria.
Lucky was playfully referred to as "un" by my father in law. All Richard had to do was roll up a newspaper and Lucky was gone. I smile because Lucky spent quite a bit of time at their home whenever we were gone. That cat rode with me out to Texas. Poor thing, I had to give him sleeping pills and as he fought that sleep he would howl and howl just to make sure I knew he was miserable. A car riding pet he was not. In Texas, while Sweetie was going through fire school, he and I hung out and helped Sweetie study at night. That cat met a lot of people. He was quite popular at the fire school, and yes I took him with me! He tolerated everyone but children. Then came the big move to TN, as Sweetie and I moved to NC, he stayed with Ginger and Richard until we had our home set up, and he moved out there with us. We missed him so badly and couldn't wait for them to bring him to us.
Lucky and I have had our coversations..he would lazily follow me around the house during the day depending on his pranks of the day he would hear me tell him that he was lucky he was still living with usl. IF I cat could smirk, I think he did. He knew he was loved. When Cory came along, well, he didn't quite know what to think of this screamer. But he got to where he would let Cory hold him and yes, he got over it. The guys from the fire department enjoyed hanging out with him and some would share about how they had a cat at home or a favorite pet memory. Lucky entertained them with his game of fetch. Then Lucky had to deal with Brian. Brian being such an active baby, that didn't set well with Lucky, and he would swat at Brian and give him a growl just so he knew to stay away. Over time Lucky got used to Brian and his activity and would occasionally allow him to pet him. In our move back to TN, Lucky again told me what he thought about that. But again, he adjusted.
In Lucky's final years he  has met many people who have visited our home. He has survived two small groups of 12 or more adults, two Middle School boy groups of 15 and more, and various other meetings held here. Sometimes someone would warrant his attention, other times not.
When I brought home Sasha, our rat terrier two years ago, Lucky once again gave me his opinon. He was NOT pleased. Sasha wanted to play, but as Lucky was in his senior years and long past playing fetch, he mearly tolerated the puppy. Sasha loved to police him and corral him like a sheep dog does the sheep. She followed him everywhere until he had enough, and he would growl and swat, she would get the hint and go away.
Lucky was a good cat, and his attitude, deep purr, and silent presence will be missed BIG time around here. We love you Lucky! Tonight, we will have a sunset burial and lay him in his final resting place in our backyard. He has definately left a pawprint on everyones heart that met him.
Rest in Peace, dear friend, Rest in Peace.

Monday, September 6, 2010


Smiles of genuine welcome greeted us as we made our way into the building where GracePoint is meeting. GracePoint is a new church, that is opening their doors to everyone, and folks are noticing, attending, and bringing their friends. Coming around the corner, there is Daniel Doss one of the co-pastors welcoming everyone with vigorous hand shakes, and hugs.
Rounding the corner my senses jump for joy! WOW! There is coffee of all flavors, and some amazing volunteers in their GracePoint aprons ready to serve. My eye follows the wall further down and there is a buffet of fruits and pastries calling my name. Here is where I meet another amazing volunteer who enjoys cooking so much, she prepares items to share with her church family each Sunday. The next item along the left wall is a lemon-aid stand. (here is where they are selling tshirts, lemonade, and taking donations for this fresh water for Africa mission)
Sweetie, the boys and I are eagerly waiting in line to share in the joy of giving. Coming away with t-shirts we keep walking and notice that there are more booths with various Christian books to read, music cd's, and some Bibles. Up front is a small stage area where the band has set up for worship this morning. In the middle of the room are several rows of chairs with a information sheet on the Lemon-aid  project. To the right is a bunch of curtains leading to the back, but what do I see? An amazing area for the children to hang out while their parents are in church service. We are greeted warmly even though we don't have anyone to check in. The sweet volunteer shares how she was part of the church previously located in here, and how she is so thrilled to be a part of a growing and reaching church. Following the wall back towards the enterance door is the tech area, there is a nice camera for recording the services, and rows of electronic equipment to help with sound and lights.
It's almost time for service! The lights dim, and the chatter stops as the first note is played. Wow! There is nothing quite like worshiping our Lord with fellow Christians, and other folks who are just learning who God is! After we get all warm and our hearts are overflowing with love for our Savior..Daniel comes out and we all take a seat.
Yes! Time to dig into the WORD! Today Daniel preached on Joshua and his leading the people into the promised land. He starts pouring water into cups set on a table on stage; all the while leading us further and further into the story. Each one of us is drawing pictures in our own minds eye with his illustrations. He then describes the priests as they step into the river seperating them from the promised land on Joshuas word, as they carry the Ark of the Covenant.  As he describes how the water moved away and the ground itself was dry land for them to step on..I hear a child behind me inhale sharply. That kid was really into it! Praise GOD!
They are currently in a series called STEP. Its all about finding your next step in your life. That step could be to learn about God, learn to pray, learn to give, take a step to forgive, community groups, volunteering, or even to take a step to end something.
When Daniel closed in prayer, and the service was over, the folks there didn't rush to go out! No, they started picking up trash, stacking chairs, and helping break down! Again, I say WOW! About an hour later as the last piece of equipment is being loaded into the truck, I stand in amazement and say a quick prayer for all these hard workers who are making such a difference in others lives each week by their service.
If you are ever in Valparaiso, Indiana..stop by Grace Point. Jesus is there, He is walking amongst the people of that town, and through this little church, changing lives. He is using the people that make up this church to extend His love and grace to not only this town, but to surrounding areas as well. This upcoming Sunday, the 12th of September is their 1 year anniversary! Join me in prayer this coming Sunday as they again share their Savior with whomever stops by.