It’s Easy for You. It’s Help for Them.

We have an opportunity we’d like for you to consider personally and to also bring up in your small groups or circles of friends.

There is a current need in Haiti for durable, waterproof tents, as the rainy season has begun and the majority of people are living under flimsy tarps after the destruction of the earthquake.

We’d like you to consider purchasing a waterproof tent, or donating a tent that you have but don’t use, to be sent to Haiti.

We’d also like you to bring this opportunity to your small groups, family, and friends. It would be a great opportunity for the group to come together and serve in a very practical way!

Here is the process broken down. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3:
1) Go to the store.
2) Purchase a tent.
3) Drop it off at our local drop-off for Tents for Haiti. The drop-off for Wilmington is at Port City Java’s Main Office on Market Street (2101 Market St, Wilmington, NC 28403), and it is open Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm.

That’s it!

Some of you may know that durable, waterproof tents – especially tents that fit more than two people (4-6 or more would be preferable) can be pricey. But think about it… if you have a group of 10 people and each person donates $10, you have $100 with which you can purchase a tent.

Here are some tents and prices and where you can purchase them:

PLEASE NOTE: If you purchase a tent on-line, please send the tent to this address: Courageous Church Suite 560 1330 West Peachtree Street, Atlanta, GA 30309. They are taking all on-line shipments and will be shipping them to Haiti.


Coleman Ara 4-Person Tent $79.99
Purchase at Target
To purchase on-line, click here.
5 People could purchase this tent for $18 each
10 People could purchase this tent for $9 each
15 People could purchase this tent for $6 each
*These numbers take taxes into consideration and may actually take you a couple dollars over the price.


Eddie Bauer® Alpental Sport Dome 4-Person Tent $99.99
Purchase at Target
To purchase online, click here.
5 People could purchase this tent for $22 each
10 People could purchase this tent for $11 each
15 People could purchase this tent for $8 each
*These numbers take taxes into consideration and may actually take you a couple dollars over the price.


Coleman Montana 6 Tent $149.99
Purchase at Dick’s Sporting Goods
To purchase on-line, click here.
5 People could purchase this tent for $33 each
10 People could purchase this tent for $17 each
15 People could purchase this tent for $11 each
*These numbers take taxes into consideration and may actually take you a couple dollars over the price.


Coleman Montana 4 $109.99
Purchase at Dick’s Sporting Goods
To purchase on-line, click here.
5 People could purchase this tent for $24 each
10 People could purchase this tent for $12 each
15 People could purchase this tent for $8 each
*These numbers take taxes into consideration and may actually take you a couple dollars over the price.

*We do know that anyone who purchases a tent for Haiti at Dick’s Sporting Goods here in Wilmington will get a 10% discount on the tent.


Wenzel Sycamore 3 room Family Dome Tent $119.00
Purchase at Walmart
To purchase on-line, click here.
5 People could purchase this tent for $26 each
10 People could purchase this tent for $13 each
15 People could purchase this tent for $9 each
*These numbers take taxes into consideration and may actually take you a couple dollars over the price.


SwissGear Falera 11′ x 9′ Family Dome Tent, Blue and Charcoal $144.00
Purchase at Walmart
To purchase on-line, click here.
5 People could purchase this tent for $32 each
10 People could purchase this tent for $16 each
15 People could purchase this tent for $11 each
*These numbers take taxes into consideration and may actually take you a couple dollars over the price.

The main website for collecting tents for Haiti is aHomeinHaiti.org . Visit the site to find tent options you can purchase online, where to send them (all tents purchased on-line are to be sent to Courageous Church in Atlanta, GA), or to donate money towards purchasing tents. This website may especially interest those of you who are not in Wilmington but would like to donate! A suggestion for you might be to have one person collect money from the group and then purchase the tent on-line or make a donation on-line with the group’s money.
*If you are going to collect money with your group and purchase a tent on-line, I recommend that you go to this site to choose a tent as it also gives you the Courageous Church address where the tent will need to be sent.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment! Thank you so much for considering ways to help relieve Haitians during this difficult time, especially when it can be so simple, and so practical.

Absent Valentine, and What I Value About Him

It’s Valentine’s Day, and I am sitting on my couch with the dog, cuddled up under blankets, budgeting, and preparing to watch The Notebook.

Mike is in Atlanta for a couple days, which means that I’m spending today alone. But that’s really okay for me. I’m very proud of him, as he’s getting ideas on ways to improve the way we do production at Port City Church, as well as introducing his soon-to-be intern to different methods and approaches to doing production.

Before he left for Atlanta, though, we got to spend a couple days away at a marriage retreat. The time was so refreshing, relaxing with Mike away from normal life and also hearing talks that helped us to regain the right focus on marriage. It helped me to remember so much of what I love about Mike. Can I brag on him today? I think it’s only appropriate. I value so many things about this man, but since the list can go on and on with the details of what I love about him, I’ll just go through five things I value about him that kept coming to mind this particular weekend.

1) I value Mike’s work ethic. He works very hard and is determined to be the best he can be in all that he does. Whether it be in his walk with God, or in our marriage; at his job, or with valuing family and friends, he seeks to learn and improve and invest time in what’s important to him. He doesn’t get in the mindset of giving up when things are difficult. He just keeps going, keeps working hard.

2) I value Mike’s passion. I love the way his eyes light up when he talks about something he loves, and the way he gets so enthusiastic and energetic when he’s excited about something!

3) I value Mike’s love. The first moment I met him, before I could have ever imagined that I’d spend my life with him, I remember being surprised at how vividly patient and kind he was. I realized later that those two qualities are the first two mentioned in the bible when referring to aspects of love, and as I continue down the list of love’s traits I see Mike reflect each of them, with patience and kindness being at the forefront.

4) I value Mike’s trustworthiness. In a world where we see increasing infidelity and lack of trust in marriage, it is such a blessing to know that Mike is just naturally so trustworthy. I have trouble trusting people for the most part, but Mike is a rare breed who is straightforward and simple and easy to read because he has no reason or desire to hide anything (which makes surprises near impossible). It’s a quality God must have known I would need in my husband when I didn’t even know myself that I would need it.

5) I value Mike’s relaxed and fun nature. Life is easier with him – not much drama can withstand his presence. He loves to be goofy, to break tension with silly humor, and to make me laugh with his little quips that he immediately explains after he makes them. Life is just fun with Mike! (Oh, and I will throw in one more thing about Mike that I value – his looks!! 🙂 The man is just ridiculously hot.)

So, those are things that I remember with a smile today, as my Valentine spends time in Atlanta and I spend time alone at home, enjoying the company of Linus as we experience the brilliance of Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams together on-screen.

Happy Valentine’s day, Michael – I love you and I miss you!

My One Word: The winner is…

For the past few years, our church has replaced “New Year’s Resolutions” with a concept called My One Word. With My One Word, you don’t think about all the things you want to do or fix or control in the upcoming year. You think about the person you’d like to become, look at the characteristics that would be necessary to be that person, and then simply pick a word on which to focus. It provides clarity and direction for the year, and allows you to focus on one thing as opposed to having a long list that inevitably gets disregarded due to failure or frustration by February.

I’ve been wrestling through quite a few words this month and proclaiming each one as the word that, certainly, would end up being my word. My husband threw “content” into the mix, after pointing out some key areas in my life where he’s noticed my discontentment increasing. I disregarded his advice because I’d “dealt with” contentment in high school. Besides, I did not like the word because I was no good at it.

🙂

Today, while doing the homework for picking a word (it helped me to be clear on all possibilities) I looked up definitions for my possible words, and when I looked up contentment, I found a paragraph on contentment by Bible Dictionary:

“A state of mind in which one’s desires are confined to his lot whatever it may be (1 Tim. 6:6; 2 Cor. 9:8). It is opposed to envy (James 3:16), avarice (Heb. 13:5), ambition (Prov. 13:10), anxiety (Matt. 6:25, 34), and repining (1 Cor. 10:10). It arises from the inward disposition, and is the offspring of humility, and of an intelligent consideration of the rectitude and benignity of divine providence (Ps. 96:1, 2; 145), the greatness of the divine promises (2 Pet. 1:4), and our own unworthiness (Gen. 32:10); as well as from the view the gospel opens up to us of rest and peace hereafter (Rom. 5:2).”

I looked up all the verses. I looked up the words “avarice” and “repining” because I had no clue what they meant. (Avarice means greedy or hoarding money, and repining means complaining, fretting, or grumbling.) After researching everything, that was it for me. All the above phrases which contentment opposes are the things of which I want to rid myself, filling myself instead with a spirit that does not envy, is generous, seeks advice and selflessness as opposed to ambition, does not worry, and does not grumble or fret. All the above phrases from which contentment arises are things that seem to cover many traits I would like to develop in myself. Peace in God, reminders of His promises and His glory, something that stems from the inside as opposed to relying on my external circumstances… it’s even interesting that contentment is said to stem from humility, which was *tentatively* my word last year.

And so, I welcome the second month of 2010 with My One Word: Contentment.

If you’ve already chosen a word and feel like sharing it on here, please do! I’d love to hear the story of how you came up with your 2010 word. If you would like to read other people’s words and stories of how they chose them, choose a word for yourself, or learn more about My One Word, check out the much more official www.myoneword.org. I’ll take a moment to brag about Mike. He was part of the team that helped develop this site. Mike is extraordinary, talented, and, oh yes, gives sound advice to this crazy lady. 🙂 Okay, moment over.

Would the REAL Necco hearts please stand up?

I tried to find my beloved Necco hearts this year, but all I could find was the new, intended-to-be-improved version. The new flavors are not of my preference, and after several attempts at finding the old version, I despaired of ever tasting those good old sweet little hearts again; despaired of ever having the experience of being so full of them that I became sick and then, for some reason, craved pickles.

Then yesterday…

They were at the Dollar General store. The real, true, made-the-same-since-1902 hearts. I bought three bags. Now it’s 9:52am, half the bag is empty, and my tongue may be going numb from a sugar coma. Enough said.

It’s 7:46pm, and I feel inspired.

Things I feel inspired to do these days…

– Immerse myself in more spanish (reading and speaking) so as to become comfortable with it.
– Paint. Every day.
– Read more crafty magazines to build an eye for designing, decorating, and turning ordinary objects into functional or beautiful additions to the home.
– Take pictures again. Not to be professional, but to document life – events and everyday – as I used to do.
– Devour multiple books weekly.
– Dance, at least once a week, until I break out in a sweat from it.
– Not bother folding my laundry, but instead place the laundry basket full of clean clothes in my closet, thereby allowing the basket to be emptied slowly as clothes are used and removing the “middle man” of folding and putting away.
– Watch less TV and play more games with friends.

And, if I had it my way, as was the case today my day would look like this every day: waking up around 9 in the morning, leisurely running a few essential errands until 2:45, napping until 5:15, eating dinner, and then working on projects until late into the night. I enjoy leisurely days and inspired, productive nights.

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Our dog, Linus, is a serious napper. He can be wild and crazy a lot of the time, but once he calms down, he acts like he’s 93 years old. He becomes quite slow and sluggish. He also gets restless… He’ll fall asleep on the floor, back legs sprawled out behind him. Then he’ll drag himself to the couch and slowly, oh so slowly, pull himself into a sitting position. There will be a moment of filled with resignation, and then he will slowly (yes, still slowly) launch himself onto that side of the couch. He’ll settle for a bit, then wake up and flop over to the other side of the couch. A few minutes more, and he’ll ease himself off the couch by his front legs first, sit there for a moment as though paralyzed with his back legs still stuck on the cushion, then finally slide his back legs off as well. I don’t think the hind legs even bother to catch their footing, and after a *plop* Linus uses front legs only to stretch his body out, yet again, as far as it will go. He does this little “nap dance” around the Living Room three to four times over the span of an hour.

Linus hitting the couch during his “rounds”. Sprawled, tongue hanging out… lazy.

At nap time, Linus also becomes extremely bossy. Suddenly, every piece of lounging furniture in our house is his and if you are sitting on any said piece, he comes and sits in front of you, giving you a mournful gaze to try and get you to crack under pressure. I constantly have to explain to guests that when Linus is looking at them, he’s not trying to be sweet. He’s trying to control their minds so that they’ll get out of “his” seat. Once they do, he’s up like a flash, grateful for the sudden vacancy that provides a comfortable and conveniently preheated spot. Unfortunately, we only have a recliner and a couch in our Living Room, and so when Li finishes his couch squatting and is ready for some recliner resting and then finds Mike occupying it, the mournful eyes come out. Luckily, we have another chair he’s become fond of that sat in our third bedroom. Today, I think it’s become a permanent addition to our Living Room, as it allows us all room to lounge:

I hope your day is as restful as ours!

Memories of Chris Paschal: One year later

It’s now been a year since Mike’s brother, Chris, passed away after his family was in a car accident. He passed on January 4th, and we buried him on January 8th. Mike’s birthday.

My first memory of Chris was at our wedding. I had just married the most incredible man in my life, my best friend, and NOW it was time to meet his other two brothers! I remember being very nervous, feeling awkward about meeting them on the same day that I entered their family. Mike introduced us, and I could not for the life of me tell Chris and Kevin apart. I knew Chris was the cop, so that made him sound much more intimidating to me! I was also fascinated, because I never often thought about the lives of cops off-duty, and here was Chris, off-duty cop and brother-in-law! 🙂

Fast forward two months to Thanksgiving. Mike and I were at his grandparents’ house for the holiday weekend, and it was in the afternoon when we heard a knock at the door. I looked up as the door opened, and Tanner (Chris’ son) entered first, the mini version of his father and decked out in hunting gear. Chris walked in behind him, wearing the same thing and hailing the family. We went into the kitchen and sat down at the table to hang out for awhile. I remember the boys all swapping funny stories, simply for the sake of making everyone else laugh. Jonathan told an incredibly amusing story involving his going hunting with Christie’s family and getting lost (that is, left behind) with a gun, no hunting license, a fancy black overcoat and a cup of Starbucks in hand. Chris had tears streaming down his face, he was laughing so hard, and I remember that laugh vividly.

I also have one memory of Chris with Kasey and Keyleigh. We went to say goodbye to them before we left the day after Thanksgiving, and I was admiring their Christmas decorations, and Kasey pointed out a recliner that she wanted to get rid of, laughing about how Chris wouldn’t let her get rid of it. Chris teased her back, explaining how he wouldn’t get rid of that chair until she found one just as good – he loved it. And Keyleigh crawled on the furniture in her excitement at having company, and Chris told her to get down, in the gentle yet final way that I admire in people from the country. It was just a glimpse of the sweet young family – the only glimpse I got, and it was full of love, and it was comfortable, and it was everyday.

That’s what I have. It’s what I remember. One year later, I wanted to write something on the 4th, or on the 8th. Something to remember Chris. But I didn’t know him well – I only met him on those two occasions. I sit here, wishing I had more to write. Thinking, selfishly, how unfair it is that I will only have those few memories and will have to accept learning about the rest of who Chris was through his incredible family and friends. But it’s wonderful to remember what I do. It’s even more wonderful to continue to hear the stories from Chris’ family and friends, and to read this blog entry from Mike, who admired and learned from his brother even after January 4th, 2009.

Change…

… is very hard. I want to dislike it so much, but if I’m willing to look back, I can see that God has always been the most vivid when I’m surrounded by change, either change happening to me or to others. And, well, if God is vivid, I’m doing okay. I haven’t talked to Him much lately. Just last night I prayed because I know I’m supposed to. Like talking to your spouse because you know you need to, even if you don’t want to. At least you’re saying something.

And then today, change made its presence known. For another two people, but for people who are very present in my life. (It’s nothing bad, it’s just change.) I found myself ducking into bathroom stalls to release the emotion threatening its way up my throat and into my eyes. I’m not pretty when I’m like this, and it can be down-right embarrassing for myself and for the unfortunate person attempting to interact with me when I go off.

But in that bathroom stall, in the midst of tears and nose-running and bundles of toilet paper being used as tissues, I prayed again, and felt like I was really talking, not just reciting. And suddenly I felt relief, which grounded me in the midst of chaos and emotion. The vivid reminder that in all things, God is with me, as He is with anyone who seeks Him, and He is in control. He will fulfill His purpose, but He knows when it will hurt and is with me now when it does.

It’s nice to feel awake again.

12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… 0!

So, it seems that My Big Secret could not wait…

And so, due to unforeseen circumstances, it was revealed 12 days earlier than originally planned! (Original plan was for him to receive it on December 31st in Charlotte – it ended up happening on December 19th.) It was not two turtle doves or a partridge in a pear tree, though twelve drummers drumming might have been useful in the presentation…

Mrs. Claus got Mike a TV for Christmas!!!

Here’s a play by play of the night:

Mike preparing to open the gift (the wrapped gift was actually a poem revealing the adventures of Mrs. Claus and the TV):

Reading the Tale of Mrs. Claus and the TV:

Running to the car!

New TV!!

Running back in the house (in retrospect, running with a huge TV was probably not the best idea…)

Pretty. 🙂

Breaking it in by playing Modern Warfare:
(Did you notice the vacuum cleaner has been deserted in the background?)

And below is the video from the night, for posterity. 🙂 And for the family, who will definitely enjoy seeing Mike’s reaction after all the planning that was required to make this happen! You’ll be able to read the poem Mrs. Claus wrote and see Mike running for the TV… I apologize for the shoddy video quality. Enjoy!

Merry Christmas, Mike!

Merry Christmas 2009!!

This year is the first year spent away from home. A time for breaking old traditions and making new traditions!

One unexpected event on Christmas Eve that I can already hope never happens again was Dad getting rushed to the hospital. It took many tests and a stay overnight for him to finally get released, though without much of a diagnosis, from the sound of it. Dad suspects that in the end, all the doctors gathered in a room and drew a diagnosis from a hat. 🙂 So silly. Another event that I hope is nontraditional is Mike forgetting to bring any kind of pants other than his sweat pants. 😛

So thankfully, Dad is home now and enjoying the first “different” Christmas day we’ve had in years… and years… and years. And I am in VA doing the same! In honor of traditions (which I love), I thought I’d share some of the old and some of the new!

Some of the old traditions we’ve cherished for as long as I can remember:

6am wake-up call:

Big Christmas Breakfast after getting dressed for the day and making beds:

Christmas Day Advent, then opening gifts:

An afternoon of snacking on Christmas cookies, enjoying gifts, and reading by the fire:

Christmas dinner with various family members who are in town:

And some new traditions I’m enjoying today:

Waking up… whenever 🙂 and opening gifts in pajamas with Family Paschals:

A white Christmas!

Christmas movies throughout the day:

A snowman… a smoking snowman! (Can you see the lit cigarette in his mouth? That’s a VA snowman for you…)

So there you have it. I hope you all are enjoying your Christmas holidays and spending time with friends and family, whether this is a year of continuing old traditions or making new ones. As Tiny Tim would say, “God bless us, everyone!”