Is there a farmhouse in my future—finally?

After two-and-a-half years, today just may be The Day.   So began my update to you last Friday. (I never sent it.)   If you're a regular friend here, you know Renaissance Man and I live in a wonderful old house in a small town in East Tennessee. It's a house we rescued and restored, transforming it from an uninhabitable eyesore to a welcoming, arms-open part of our community. I told you the entire story.   Two-and-a-half years ago, we put a For Sale sign in the yard. It was time to upsize faith by downsizing life. I believed we were being obedient by refocusing. We had too many unused "treasures".   Where your treasure is, there your heart is also...   And the update ... Keep Reading...

Celebrating 22 years of something old, something new—and not a bride in sight

How was your weekend?   Around My Place it was busy, exhausting, satisfying. Did I say it was exhausting?  It's the same every year at our church's Yard Sale for Missions—and this was the 22nd year!   Saturday started very early. When Renaissance Man and I pulled up to the church at 5:45 AM, others were already there, scurrying around doing their tasks in the dark.  We parked and began our own.   Eventually we all started gathering inside for a short time of final announcements and (most important) prayer for the events of the day, dedicating ourselves and our work to God.   We are blessed to have high school and college students to help with the final set-up (and take-down!) of the shops, ... Keep Reading...

Caramel Apple Craze

Happy Friday to all!   Have you ever made caramel apples? Until this week, I had not ... but now I'm a pro. Just kidding!   Tomorrow is the 22nd annual Yard Sale for Missions at our church, and it is a BIG deal, raising $20,000-$30,000 for local and global missions. Our congregation is not large, but it's filled with very dedicated members, and for the past three evenings I've hung out in the church kitchen with several of them making caramel apples.   Community members have been pre-ordering these babies for weeks!   Here's a quick peek at the process...   Tomorrow starts before the crack of dawn with set-up and prayer time—then it's "off ... Keep Reading...

MOOD SWING: Summer to Fall

Finally... The first day of Fall!   Hello, old friend! I've looked forward to your return for a whole year.   I'm beginning to feel the mood swing coming on. Summer's sunflowers are moving out . . .     and warmth and texture are moving in!     The metamorphosis of seasons is upon us!   At this time of year, some people like to decorate with the traditional:  vibrant colors of red, orange, gold, and brown ... pumpkins, gourds, and colored leaves ... corn stalks, bales of hay, and chrysanthemums. While I sometimes do that, too, Fall decorating for me often includes ... ... Keep Reading...

Breaking the silence

When it's quiet here at My (virtual) Place, it's almost always noisy at My (in real life) Place.   It's been quiet here for quite awhile. I've really missed you.   At home it's been crazy-noisy, ridiculously yo-yo-ish, and an emotional roller coaster. It's been a long time since I've experienced a period so chock-full of travel on top of Life... and it's not over yet.   Through it all, I've been a student. Sometimes intentional. Sometimes by necessity; almost unwillingly.   Learn to walk slowly through the crowd. When you truly understand God's abundance, there is no good reason to be in a hurry. Summit Leadership Foundation newsletter   Since April we've celebrated several birthdays, ... Keep Reading...

ONE WOMAN’S IMPACT: Pat Summitt (1952-2016)

It is what it is. But, it will be what you make it. Pat Summitt Legendary Lady Vols basketball coach University of Tennessee   Pat Summitt, the "winningest" coach in NCAA Division I basketball history, died today—two weeks short of her 65th birthday.   This post is not about sports.   If you're interested in women's basketball, you already know Pat Summitt "by the numbers". They're very impressive. She was impressive, and flags fly at half-staff today here in Tennessee in celebration of her life and legacy.   There is, however, one number associated with Coach Summitt that gets my ultimate respect:   100% of her student athletes graduated from college.   She set the bar high for ... Keep Reading...

When Grown Men Cry

The first time I visited Alex's home, he had built only its block walls, but I was impressed by his choice of location:   a bluff overlooking Hope Mountain— in gratitude for what Hope did in his life.   Our group prayed with Alex, asking God to bless the house he was building—and the home that would one day be created there.     The next time Renaissance Man saw Alex, he learned of his engagement to Adriana (not her real name), and called me with the good news. You see, unlike Alex, Adriana has a rich heritage of family.   When their wedding day finally arrived, our missionary friend and Alex were tasked with picking up Adriana's parents. Before Adriana's father would leave his home, he ... Keep Reading...

BEAUTY FROM ASHES

A week ago, Renaissance Man and I arrived in Brazil. A day behind schedule already, we hit the ground running, not even slowing down to rest after our overnight flight.   So much packed into the first few hours . . . Re-connecting with old friends—and making new ones Rejoicing over campus improvements at the City of Youth Visiting the newest Hope Unlimited for Children thrift store Grieving with a friend who lost his wife very suddenly a few weeks ago (H1N1 flu? Test results not available for 90 days...) and rejoicing with a young staff couple over their precious 5-month-old son.  . . . My tired body grasping for a balance of emotions.   Early the next morning, we headed to the airport—again. And after ... Keep Reading...

UP, UP AND AWAY… Made it to Brazil!

Finally . . . Familiar sights (Some nicer than others.)     After a smooth (though delayed) overnight flight, we arrived in São Paulo, Brazil and rode almost two hours to the city of Campinas—and straight to the City of Youth where we were welcomed by children, staff, and board members of Hope Unlimited for Children. It's been two years since I was last here, and it's been a nice day of seeing campus improvements, familiar faces, and new faces of children who now have life-transforming hope.   The U.S. board and the Brazilian board met together this evening; joint efforts on behalf of children once abused, abandoned and neglected, often by the very ones who should have cared for them: their ... Keep Reading...

UP, UP AND (no)WAY

My, my, my... What a day.   Yesterday, after a busy morning of work and errands, we packed Renaissance Man's truck with suitcases and tubs of goodies (your Valentines, soccer uniforms, and things for Hope Unlimited's thrift stores in Brazil) and headed to the airport. Too many miles down the road—but not close enough to our destination—we stopped.   Involuntarily.   Fortunately we'd left home much earlier than necessary because the truck decided to go on strike. Seriously? It's not like we were asking it to take us all the way to Brazil!   And fortunately... We were in the right lane, so when it went KAPUT and died, we were able to coast to the shoulder. And there we sat in the heat until our new best ... Keep Reading...

Building on the Past — Envisioning the Future

It's finally happening. The too-long-neglected downtown in our community is coming back to life! Over a year ago, I told you it was a new day in the Mossy Creek Historic District, and I'm happy to report that we've stayed on track!  Today we're crossing Ts and dotting Is—and getting ready to break ground very soon.   Empty lots where classy old buildings once stood are going to become a Festival Park for community gatherings and family picnics. The park will include a grassy hillside amphitheater, event pavilion, restroom facilities, playground, and. . .   insert drum roll   . . . one of my favorite features:  an oft-requested by our community Veterans Memorial       The Battle ... Keep Reading...

TABLE FOR TWO: Happy Anniversary, Renaissance Man

Twenty-six years ago we said, "I do." Today we celebrate the ups and downs, highs and lows, surprises and longtime dreams that comprise a marriage.   We celebrate the commitment and the faith that are our foundation. We celebrate each other.   No big plans this year. Our June calendar is packed full of travel and responsibilities, so today we'll take it easy. Steaks on the grill, baked potatoes, fresh asparagus, and apple pie.   But I've set a Table for Two in preparation for our quiet evening at home. The inspiration was this gorgeous china Renaissance Man gave me for our 20th anniversary.   And then I added the salt and pepper shakers his grandparents received on their 50th wedding anniversary ... Keep Reading...