Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Monday, September 29, 2008

Spirit Week: What age are you?

Today, Andy had to dress for a certain time period. I think it was supposed to be either young or old... but Andy went as a little kid who loves Star Wars. He actually got the shirt in the children's area, if that counts...
Here he is:

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fashions by Andy

I meant to post about this a couple of weeks ago but forgot...

Andy has been wanting a pair of shoes. I can't remember their official name, but Andy calls them 'homeless people' shoes. Funny, homeless people couldn't afford what he paid for them.

They are actually very light and comfortable, but they look like someone took scraps of canvas and sewed them together. Oh well, one thing about Andy, he's an individual. He doesn't follow the crowds...

Then, he and a friend decided to make tye-dye shirts and sell them at school.
Spirit Week is this week and one of the days is 'peace & love'. They have sold about 20 so far. Their goal is to eventually have everyone buy one and make Fridays officially 'hippie friday'.
My little entrepeneur!!!
Now, just for your entertainment, I am going to try and take a picture of Andy every morning this week. He has some 'interesting' outfits to wear for this week,
as each day is a different theme.

So stay tuned!!

Fireproof & friends

Fred and I had a great night Friday with friends and the movie Fireproof. (hehe, lots of f's)

We went to dinner with the Hofrichters. By the way, kudos to Bill for saying something about my haircut right away... what a guy!

Then, we met up with the Birds at the theatre. Jim supplied me with tissues throughout the movie. Thanks Jim!

After the movie, we went to 1st Brandon and had a 'dessert fellowship'. I was expecting cookies,brownies and danishes. OH NO!! There was cheesecake, carrot cake, pies, chocolate cakes. A feast for the sweet tooth! yummy!
I highly recommend the movie. Plus, the better attendance it gets, the more 'hollywood' will take Christian movies seriously.
I do have to say, I think Facing the Giants was better. Maybe more suspense. But Fireproof was good none the less. And if you have watched the previous 2 movies from Sherwood Baptist, you will have fun finding snippets here and there in Fireproof from them.

Can't wait to get it on DVD and see the 'outtakes' and 'commentaries'.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The New Valerie

My friend Julie cut 7 inches off...

Here is what my hair looks like straight:

I really like it. Now, I have to see how long I can keep up with it. I bought a flat iron on the way home... have to learn to use it. If it turns out I can't handle the upkeep of straight hair, I know the curly way looks ok...


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

New Look

I am going to get my haircut tomorrow.
Everyone was for me keeping it long and curly. I am not going to go as short as I would like, since Fred REALLY didn't want me to. But I am going shorter. I would at least like to get enough off for 'locks of love'. My hairstylist said she can do that.
There is going to be some layering, some bangs (I think), some straightening... we'll see how it turns out.

I am so ready for a change. I am hoping it will give me some 'renewal'. Work is crazy right now, the world is starting to freak me out a bit. (economy). Worrying about my kids, though, when does that ever really stop...

This weekend should be a good one.
Friday: we are going to dinner with the Hofrichters then to see Fireproof with a bunch of people from church. (they bought a theatre). AND dessert at church afterwards, woo hoo!!
1- Andy has a home game in the morning, so no driving for 2 hours. Yeah!
2-I have a 'manicure' at a spa (Laci, your old work place!) with 2 ladies from church.
3-Dinner with a couple from our SS class we are hoping to get to know better...
Then, of course, church on Sunday.

Wow, we don't usually have such a busy social life. I guess it's either feast or famine...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Southern Baptists & Disaster Relief

My friend Evelyn Brown was part of a team with the Southern Baptists that went to Louisiana to help with the damage from Hurricane Ike. Here is the email she sent telling us how it all went. It's a bit long, but Evelyn is a great story teller. You will feel like you were there with her:

Well, I (Evelyn) have just returned from another first of my life...one of the many adventures that keep me looking forward to each new day.

Last Friday (12th), I was called for the first time to go on a Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief team to Louisiana as they had just been hit with Gustav and Ike was expected within hours. I was asked to be a can opener on a food unit. Now, I was trained last year to work either in a cook unit or a communications unit (HAM, etc), and with only one practice session, I felt I could open cans just fine. They have this awesome can opener that is so powerful it cuts a #10 can and suctions off the lid in a quick maneuver. It's so powerful, the operator has to have both hands on buttons to be sure that neither hand can be near this blade. After being told Friday night that we were on hold for departure, I soon learned that these massive maneuvers of hundreds (thousands) of people are quite a logistics effort.

Anyway, we left Saturday morning at 8 a.m. I only knew one other person on my traveling team. I was traveling with a clean-up and recovery unit from First Baptist, Lutz (north of Tampa). We started as a convoy of 5 (1 5th wheel that held our "office", 1 clean-up and recovery trailer-exterior (has chain saws, ropes, chains, etc in it), 1 clean up and recovery trailer-interior (shovels, pressure washer, etc) 1 shower unit (has 3 mens and 2 ladies showers and a clothes washer and dryer with a heater), and one communications trailer (HAM base and portable units). The people were mostly FBC Lutz, but there were 2 from Bell Shoals BC here in Valrico, 1 from Eden BC in Brooksville, 1 from Orlando, and me from Kings Avenue BC, Brandon. There were 11 of us to start with, 2 women and 9 men.

We drove Saturday to Pensacola where we were the first to arrive at our first "staging" center. In the next few hours about 50 more people gathered from various places in Florida. The grassed field next to the church was filled with trailers, 18-wheelers (2 kitchen units and 2 loaded entirely with food)----probably 20-30 units of different sizes; it was an awesome sight. We were overnight at a church in a residential area, but a news reporter happened by and she asked for a story, so the next morning about 7:30, a news crew from the local FOX station came out and filmed a story about this effort. Hope we get a copy to watch; would be interesting to see what they did with it.Anyway, during the evening there were many changes to the plans (or rumors of changes) as the logistics guys worked with the crews already on the ground in the areas just hit by Ike. We slept on the floor (many, including me, brought air mattresses) in the Sunday School classrooms. It was a nice place to stay. Remember, most of these people were experienced; I was one of several newbies.

The next morning, (Sunday) it was announced that our original Tampa convoy would continue to Golden Meadow LA. The rest of the FL units were headed to another staging area and then to Beaumont, TX. HEY!!! my 2 feeding units (these are huge semi trailer trucks...can serve about 30,000 meals/day) were going to Texas...I can't go, I have to stay with Tampa, or I may never get home!! And, at this moment it was announced I had just moved from can opener to head cook! They took about 10 cases of #10 cans of food, and a couple of hundred bottles of water and put them in one of our pickups, and we were sent off. At that time, we added 2 more units to our convoy....a huge generator on a flatbed (we were going into an area with no potable water and no electricity), and a large "dump" truck (large box with open top) full of blue tarps to put over roofs. The two additional guys were from Sarasota and Eustis, FL.

So now my "family" that are entrusting their lives and wellbeing to this can opener-turned-cook, counted l3....not a good number, you understand. The day was clear, no sign that there had been a hurricane in the west a few hours earlier. We got a lot of honks and waves from passing motorists as we headed west on I-10. All of the units have the Southern Baptist Convention Florida Disaster Relief team logo on the sides and backs, and a convoy of 7 units is quite impressive. There was no doubt who we were and why we were heading west. Had occasional small showers, but no wind which was good. Our shower trailer is a massive trailer, a bit to handle in a stiff wind. Even passing 18-wheelers really caused the drivers to hold on tightly.

As we traveled, we also passed convoys heading west from Alabama Power Co, and a tree trimming company out of Florida. At New Orleans we got off I-10 and headed south. It was about an hour before I noticed any damage and large stacks of brush that was probably from Gustav who had passed through 2 weeks earlier. Some of my new Lutz friends had just arrived back the previous Wednesday after being in this area for Gustav...and then they were activated 3 days later to come back to, essentially, the same area.We arrived at FBC Golden Meadow and began setting up. The church had sustained some roof damage during Gustav and the worship building was blue tarped. The family life center (which had been totally destroyed in Katrina and rebuilt) was our center of operations. We hooked up the generator and PRESTO!! ....we had lights and (more importantly, air conditioning) Like FL, it was hot and humid...but we are used to that.

The next day, the humidity dropped and the temp was great in the evening....but they do have HUGE mosquitoes, as you'd expect. As Bill's and my family now number about 17 when we go camping on the Current River, I realized I was totally up to the task of feeding this crew. I'd been doing mass feeding for years, and didn't realize it was in preparation for this time. I had an absolutely wonderful kitchen to work with. When they were rebuilding after Katrina, a deacon from a church in Houma, LA, had built them a custom kitchen. (He was a UPS driver). It was all oak cabinets, and was huge with a huge island in the middle. Gas stove, 3 sinks, 2 microwaves and 2 convection ovens. After seeing what food we'd been sent with, the first meal I fixed was canned beef stew (over bread...an old camping trick I've used with my kids for years to stretch a meal....Jenny, traveling in the 5th wheel, had 2 loaves of bread), macaroni and cheese out of a can (yes, it's as ghastly as it sounds....so high in salt, it sucked the saliva right out of your mouth), and canned PEACHES. After supper, Jenny and I drove north to find the Wal-Mart we'd seen on the way in. Now, it's dark....and without power, all the houses are dark, and we're unfamiliar with this area.

As we headed north, we passed a long line of power company trucks headed south so knew they were staging for an onslaught on this no-power situation. We almost missed Wal-Mart as their generator had gone off and they were totally darkened. They said we couldn't shop (there were back-up lights .... tiny little things that gave an eery look to the store.) Jenny asked about other stores in the area, but you know me....they weren't going to get me to leave that easily....I pleaded the case.. "I have 15 relief workers to feed breakfast to and we need some food now". It worked. They sent me out in the store with a girl with a flashlight and we got almost everything on my list. Shelves were quite bare, so had to make some substitutions, but it was all fine. Freezer units were fogged up, so it's a good thing I hadn't gone out by myself...I would have had to open every one of them to find what I needed (they'd originally said I could go shopping by myself with a flashlight). As we couldn't check out, they had to write down the UPC codes and a description of everything (by flashlight, you remember) and get our personal information and local pastor's name, etc. before sending us out. They were all so nice.

On the way back, we drove and drove. Finally, we saw the Golden Meadow water tower....but, we looked at each other and said "we've never seen that tower before" so knew we'd missed the church in the dark. There were a few other buildings lit by generators, but we'd managed to miss ours, so we laughed and turned around and headed back north. Cell phones were working in the area, so we called for Jenny's husband to go to the corner with a flashlight to signal us, but we found the church before he got to the corner.

The next day, the crew had scrambled eggs, Jimmy Dean sausage, fried potatoes and onions, orange juice (well, we thought we were grabbing orange juice...turned out to be a fruit punch), both kinds of coffee.....and PEACHES. (left over from the night before). Actually, those peaches were served for every meal...got to be a joke. Finally, we decided to finish them off with a peach cobbler, but had to leave before getting that baked. Left the peaches and other food for the pastor. Next day, we went back to pay for our food and get the rest of our food for upcoming meals. The group ate well and was very appreciative. I was told not to bother using the canned food as it's so high in sodium, so they had more nutritious meals. Grabbed all the lettuce Wal-Mart had left and with their meat dish, made a wonderful salad bar, complete with choices, of cheese, eggs, fresh mushrooms, green peppers, green olives, tomatoes, etc. Other meals they had deviled eggs, cooked baby carrots with a light brown sugar butter glaze, and even a wonderful dessert my family loves called Mock Chocolate Eclair cake. They ate very well, and we all enjoyed it. Everyone chipped in when they could, and I rarely had to wash dishes or mop the floor. We had fun and it was a team effort.

While we were there, a pastor had arrived from Dothan, AL with diapers, wipes, toilet paper, paper toweling, mops, etc. The Golden Meadow pastor had the local radio station announce it, and cars lined up quickly and they were gone. Apparently, the FEMA and ARC cards that disaster victims get, don't cover these items. The stores in the area were out of them, so there is a great need.Golden Meadow is on a narrow peninsula. There was a levee 1 block west of us and another 1 block east of us. Those levees came together a few miles south of GM. That levee had held, but beyond it, homes were underwater. Grand Isle, where the road leads, was underwater and no one could access the area, so our crews spent their time removing trees from roofs and blue tarping houses in the GM area.

On Monday night, they announced, since the water wasn't receding and there weren't any more needs for our blue tarps, we'd be relocating in the a.m. to Houma, about an hour NW.Leaving the generator in GM to help that church (Hoama had electricity), we headed north. On the way we did see houses with water half way up their walls. We next lived at Mulberry BC in Houma. There were already teams there from S. Illinois (Metropolis, Cairo, etc), NM, MS, and NY. At a church across town (Houma is about 32,000) was a feeding unit from TN, so I didn't have to cook any more..and it's a good thing as our numbers were now 85! The kitchen help, though, had just left that day, so I was asked to find some help and take care of picking up meals and serving.

So, I was up each day at 4:30 starting coffee (those guys & gals drink LOTS of coffee), and going with another person to pick up food for about 100. There were 85 of us to start with and at its highest, we were at 92. A couple of church ladies came by and said they'd like to help us, so they furnished us a salad bar and desserts...a wonderful treat to those who had been there without this kind of food. The food unit does provide fresh fruit (bananas and apples), but no salads nor desserts.In GM, I'd had my own room (Jenny stayed in her 5th wheel), but now was sharing it with 6 other ladies, 3 from Temple Terrace (by Tampa), and 2 from IL and 1 from NY. The hardest part of that was getting a temperature that pleased everyone. I froze!! Next time I'll bring my sleeping bag. I wanted to conserve space this time, so had brought only sheets which is fine for home. Found some covers they'd had over a drum set and confiscated them for blankets. Good thing I'm a camper and not fussy about how dirty or dusty things are. Did a lot of tasks during the day while crews were out. Helped with admin things, mostly.

Met and interviewed walk-ins who were putting in requests. Talked on the phone with people whose homes were too wet for us to access. Had one (elderly?....they all sound elderly when under this stress) lady who'd returned to her home, but had to live on the second floor because the carpet on the first was water-logged. She asked for someone to come over and pull the carpet out. Had one young mother (could hear the kids in the background) who said things were drying out but to give it 3-4 more days before bringing in heavy equipment to remove trees and brush. (Other churches had brought bobcats, etc.) She said the water was slowly draining away from her home, but each time she went out, she was still faced with 3-4 cottonmouths who were using her patio for dry space.

The original request was for our team to be out for one week...then others come in to relieve you. We were planning to leave this morning (Saturday), but yesterday we awakened to a dark, rainy day so headed home along with many of the other units. Some of our Tampa people (mostly the logistics team) stayed. One guy is returning to LA/TX Monday with his trailer that he outfitted to fix and sharpen chain saws, and he's towing it with his motorhome. So Kings Avenue and Bell Shoals BC have put out an appeal for diapers and wipes and mops, etc. and he'll fill his motorhome with those and take them back to Golden Meadow before he goes to Houma or on into Texas, which is where he suspects they'll be sending him by then.Well, thought you'd be interested on hearing some of the things that go on.

Am attaching a website if you're interested in knowing more that the SBC is doing. Of course, there are thousands of other volunteers from the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Samaritan's Purse that are working, too. At the feeding unit each meal, there were lines of ARC trucks picking up food to be distributed all over that area. The SBC prepares 80% of the food that is distributed by the others. The SBC has the second largest force of trained workers (after the ARC) for disaster relief. It's an unbelievable operation.

Of course, there are, unfortunately, many who don't get the help, but there are certainly thousands out there who are attempting to provide it. Appreciate your prayers for the people going through this and for safety for the workers who are traveling, doing removal and cleanup. Even though some of these people have been through this before, it is still difficult. They are a resilient people and they help each other alot, but know the presence of others is a real blessing. As the pastor at GM told us during one of our devotion times, "you can send checks and that is a great help, but when you physically come here, that gives them hope". I did talk to people who told me they are done....they're leaving the area, but for many, they financially cannot think of relocating, and for many, whatever we think, this is their home. This SBC site will give you some pictures, but will send some of mine when Bill gets a chance to download them from my camera.


Hope this hasn't been too long to get through. Evelyn

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I guess my life has gotten kinda boring... haven't thought of anything to blog, so here are some random things going through my head (watch out!!)

-Planning on going to Tx for Thanksgiving to see Freddy. It'll be 5 months since I saw him!
-Our 25th anniversary is next April. I want to do something "big" that we have never done. Maybe a cruise??
-I am so excited at the changes I have seen in Andy since this Summer. Have I blogged about that yet?
- I really like 1st Brandon. Fred and I were talking after church Sunday and we both agreed that we really like Sundays. The worship service is always relevant and moving. And Sunday School is really good. (I have a crush on the teacher!)
- I am trying to find my "ministry" at church. I feel like I am not 'pulling my weight', since coming from a church where I was staff and I did whatever needed to get done. But I really like the worship service & SS class (did I mention that already), so I am selfishly not willing to give that up... SO I think I have figured out what I can do. We will be dedicating our MAC (Ministry and Activity Center) in a couple of weeks. They are looking for volunteers to help run the place. I could do that. I could go straight after work a few days a week. It's going to be like a smaller version of the YMCA. Plus, the church library needs help, and I can do that in between church and SS.
-Steph and I had a fall out and didn't speak for a week. We are talking again, and that makes me happy.
-Fred may be going to Tx next week to help with the hurricane mess. Looks like pizza nights for me and Andy.
- the Fireproof movie is a week from Friday. Can't wait!!
-my class at school is still crazy. We are hoping some changes will be coming soon...

Ok, I probably have typed more than people want to read... see you tomorrow!!

Friday, September 12, 2008

all I can say is "aaarrrggg!!!!"

Oh my goodness! My class is indescribable!
We now have 10 kids. 60% of them try very hard to listen and follow rules. The other 40% are from another planet! My teacher and I have had a VERY rough week. It seems that these 4 kids have come together and conspired against us. It's like a pack of animals... I guess they feed off each other. If one decides he/she wants to run around the room, you can see it in the others' eyes "hey, wait for me!" Or crawl under the tables, or grab one of the reading centers pillows, or run around the room with their chair...
Again, aaarrrggg!!
At times, my teacher and I just look at each other and laugh. We feel like we're in some weird movie.
If it was just the one that we usually have trouble with, I can put him aside and she can continue to teach. But when we are outnumbered, we just don't know who to go after first!

I have a motto at work that when I have had a rough day, I go get a strawberry milkshake after work. Well, one of the speech teachers knows that and she asks me now if I am having a "strawbery shake day". I can't AFFORD the milkshakes I have needed this week.

In all, I am exhausted and frustrated. But I don't feel so defeated as I did last year. I truly believe that if we stick with our schedule and don't give in, CONTINUALLY remind the kids what the expectations are, that we will overcome, if not succeed. Some of these kids come from a rough home life. Then, some, I know the parents are as frustrated as we are. They are trying to be consistant at home as well. One grandma was so discouraged when I was speaking to her about her granddaughter, I just had to give her a hug... I told her not to give up that we weren't.

I am not questioning my place this year. I have a peace that God has me where I need to be. I know it's not going to be easy, but I feel ok about it, you know?...

Still, prayers sent up on my class' behalf definitely WOULD NOT hurt. :)

Boy, am I tired!!!

Monday, September 8, 2008


Ok, I am taking a poll. Let me know if I should get my haircut short. I did it a few years back and I got mixing reviews...

So help me make a decision, haircut YES of NO?

My prayer

Proverbs 22:6

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

This is my prayer.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The question is: how is Freddy?

I have been waiting to update on how Freddy is doing until I got some pics of his new place & job... but it doesn't look like he's going to help me with that any time soon. (not that I haven't bugged him about it!)
He is working midnight-9am at Blizzard Entertainment. He likes the job, though he definitely wants to move up the ranks. The hours are good because that shift gave him more money than a regular shift, and he's a night owl anyway.
He got a 2nd job at a small movie theatre. He did this to get on his feet and pay off bills/build up his savings. Right now, it's a little tough when the movie schedule is not in sync with Blizzard. He is getting choppy sleep. A couple of hours here and a couple of hours there... But this should be temporary... When he becomes 'permanent' at Blizzard, he will get a pay raise. Then he thinks he can cut back to 2 days a week at the 2nd job to continue having a buffer at the end of the month.

His apt. is an efficiency. It comes with a murphy bed, though when he moved in, he found out it didn't supply the mattress... how retarded is that?! So, he slept on the floor for about a week until I sent him an air mattress. The picture below is one he sent me with his phone... that's the kitchen and probably half of the apt.
It's small, but he doesn't need much. He has never really been one to need a lot to survive...

I am very proub of him. He seems to really have his head on straight about money. He is being very careful about his spending. I was on the phone with him Sunday (we talked for almost 1 hour!!) as he was coming home from his 2nd job. He made it home and was going to eat something. He said, 'man, I drove past 3 fast food places but kept telling myself I had hot dogs to eat at home'. Now, that's self control! I KNOW I would've pulled over!
I miss him bunches. Even though he really kept to his room most of the time, once in a while he would come out (or I would go into his room) and we would chat. He is quite funny once he opens up (like his Dad!). And yesterday, I was at work wondering what to have for dinner, and I had the thought 'I should call Freddy and have him take out some chicken'. Boy, it hurt when I realized what I had done! :(

We are planning a Thanksgiving trip to see him and bring him his TV.

I will be dragging Andy along, though he HATES long driving trips. And I am PRAYING Steph can save up some money so she can afford the time off from work. I need at least 1 more Thanksgiving with all of us together. Even if it is having hungryman meals in Freddy's efficiency apt.

So, pray for a miracle for the Nassars please!