A Fan of Experience


The scene at last weekend’s Clemson and Notre Dame game was insane! It had rained the 24+ hours leading up to the game so every place you drove, walked or sat was water-logged.

We were already wet from walking around in the rain most of the day in Greenville ,SC. If it wasn’t wet before we got to Clemson, it quickly got wet. I’m talking all-three-layers of clothes — rain jacket, coat and t-shirt — completely absorbed with water. Wet jeans? Yeah, those too.

The parking was madness! We drove around for nearly an hour, more than 3 hours before game time and absolutely nowhere to park our car. Cars were parked on the sides of roads, in grassy areas, in mud, wherever they could squeeze in, which left no really good options for where to park my car. I was willing to pay to park but I couldn’t even find a paid lot! The places that had openings were long, long walking distances away and had warning signs about being towed.

I finally asked a guy — Ok seriously, where can I park my car? — and he told me how to get to a paid lot that had a shuttle to the stadium (yay!). We found it (and it’s tiny little sign), caught the shuttle, and were finally on our way.

We finally make it into the stadium, purchase  nachos and popcorn and soda and climb way up to our nose-bleed bleacher seats. We sat in puddles. Our nacho chips got soggy. Our soda got watered down, not from melting ice but from the rain falling *into* the cup.

It didn’t matter that if we sat our bums were in puddles of cold water because no one sat. If we sat, we couldn’t see the field or the game because the people in front of us were standing, and the people in front of them were standing and so on.

Clemson scored two touchdowns rather quickly and the fans around us were ecstatic with cheers and singing along to the fight song. After the second TD we had learned the cheer and joined in.

C. L. E. M. S. Ohhhhhh (make a circle in the air with your fist) N!

As I observed all of this I thought these people are diehard Clemson fans! They are here in the rain, in the wind, in the cold, decked out in orange outfits that look a little like prison jumpsuits and they are happy and smiling and having the time of their life despite the deluge of water from the sky. Only a diehard fan would do this!

But wait. I’m enduring the same nasty conditions and I’m not a diehard a Clemson fan. I’m not even a sort’ve Clemson fan. I didn’t go to school here and have no connections here. I just happened to be in town this weekend and thought going to the Clemson v. Notre Dame would be a cool experience.

Us, soaked, at the Clemson v. Notre Dame game

Why would I stand soaked to my underclothes to watch the football game of a team for which I have no passion, nor even a mere connection?

Because I’m a fan, not of Clemson (or Notre Dame) but of experience.

I’m a fan of experiencing new and different and unique and taking advantage of the opportunities that present themselves.

I didn’t really care so much who was playing, although it was a great match up and a great game. I cared about doing something local, something rare, something I could only do in that location at that moment in time.

When in Rome, do as the Romans, right?

When in Greenville, SC, on Clemson v. Notre Dame weekend, do as they do.

C.L.E.M.S.Ohhhhh N!

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God’s Heart for Haiti and the Child for Whom I Have Prayed


For the months and weeks leading up to Haiti my prayer was adapted from a Christian song that says “break my heart for what breaks yours.” I prayed for God to break my heart for what breaks His about Haiti.

What He showed me is this: while the poverty and starvation and sickness saddens Him, what breaks His heart is the spiritual poverty, spiritual starvation and spiritual sickness.

So going into the trip I was prepared to minister to the spiritual. I didn’t want to go to Haiti and just see what it’s like. I wanted this trip to have positive impact on the country’s future, one community, one family, one child at a time.

So this little boy above was one of my “one child at a time” moments.

He walked in with a group of children, all between the ages of 3 and 7, I guess. An adult sat him on a bench full of children and his little head immediately started bobbing down and back up as he nodded off to sleep and jerked back up.

Without hesitation I walked straight to him and scooped him up, holding him where his head could rest on my shoulder. I was a complete stranger — and one with white skin! — yet this little son was so exhausted he didn’t care. He rested on my shoulder and was out like a light in a matter of minutes. He, and the other children, walked a long way to come to the sports camp. The heat anywhere in Haiti is intense, but in Souvenance there are hardly any shade trees, and it’s very desert-like. So these children, and especially this young boy, were hot and tired before they even played the sports games we brought.

He slept on my shoulder for nearly an hour while I walked around dispensing crayons to our group of color-ers and commenting “bell” (creole for beautiful) to the children coloring.

It was near time for the evening worship to start and I sat down with him. I shifted to hold him like in the photo above and he didn’t stir.

One of the friends with me asked, “What are you going to do with him when it’s time to leave?” Goodness, I hadn’t considered that. No woman had approached me to check on her son, so I had no idea who he belonged to. Someone would come inquiring for him, I assumed, at least the children that he walked with, I hoped. Or if we needed to walk him or drive him home, we’d figure it out.

I learned through the translators that he came with one of the young women in the church and he was her cousin’s baby. These cousins were part of a family who participated in voodoo worship. I asked his name and it was something like Fredrick.

So for the next near hour I held Fredrick while he slept soundly — It was like working in the Haitian church nursery — and I prayed for him. I prayed for his health and rest, that he be protected from the evil practices of his family, that the revolution to set this community and this country free from the bondage of voodoo start with him as a new leader who believes in Jesus and follows Jesus. I believe it can and will happen and that this child could be the catalyst.

Near the end of the church service, he woke up and I could tell by looking at him he felt refreshed. He sat with  me until another child came up and took him by the hand and led him out of the back of the church.

I watched him til he was out of sight, and just like that he was gone.

I watched out the door to see if I could see him and the adult who came to fetch him or he and the other kids walking down the road when he popped back in the door and walked down the church aisle straight back to me. Just as I started to scoop him up again the child came back for him, took his hand and made him leave me. Fredrick cried and protested by the child made him go.

It broke my heart. I kinda fell in love with him and his future in those two hours.

I didn’t see him again the rest of the trip, but I haven’t stopped thinking and praying for him. I really hope I’m back in Haiti some day and that I see him again and that some day 20 years from now I’m privileged to see and hear his story and see him as a mature young man doing great things for the Lord in his country.

I want to see him again and show him the picture of us and tell him “I prayed for you as a baby and I dedicated you to the Lord,” because while he is not by biological child I believe God gave him to me in that moment and I dedicated what God gave me to God and His purposes and God will honor that.

Can’t wait!

Blog Where You Are: The Beach


I needed this.

This.

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Sand and waves.

And this.

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Nowhere to have to be.

No boys arguing.

At least if they’re arguing I’m too far away to hear.

Relaxation.

Toes in the sand, nose in a book.

It’s been a crazy stressful couple of weeks months.

Some said the impromptu “let’s go to the beach this weekend” was crazy, but that’s nothing compared to the craziness of the last few months. New job. Boys’ school work. The book is out and all that that entails. Crazy would have been staying home. The most sane thing was to recognize I needed a break and to take one.

So we here we are. The six hour drive and the “are we there yet’s” was worth it.

I wish I could bottle this. People have tried. But no CD of ocean sounds or beach-scented candle can compare to this.

It’s sound. Waves crashing, kinda rhythmically but mostly at random.

It’s smell. Salt and water and sunscreen.

It’s sight. Blue green water. White sand. Lots of people but the only two I see are my sons, bobbing bravely in the waves, smiling and laughing.

It’s touch. Cool, gritty sand under my feet. Cool breeze on my skin.

It’s even taste. You can taste the salt in the air.

Right now, for me, it’s a balm to this weary soul.

Who needs chicken soup (for the soul). I’ll take an ocean instead.

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Sew Knot Serious


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So AKAJaneRandom and I take off for the Allume conference in Greenville, South Carolina last week (more on the conference in a future post), and the Garmin tells us to take some crazy Alabama roads and some crazy Georgia roads on our way to Atlanta, where we can hit interstate the rest of the way.

Ok, so we do what the GPS says.

And at some point we get kinda lost and turn around a few times before ditching the Garmin and asking the iPhone.

(The iPhone, by the way, got it right.)

But, in the midst of being lost was a silver lining, a hidden gem.

We passed this quirky little shop on the side of the road and I commented — “Ooh, that looks like a neat place to shop.”

AKAJaneRandom agreed.

Then the GPS made us turn around so that we were going to pass the shop again and I said, “So, um, seeing as we had to turn around and how we have time … can we go in that little shop??”

So we did and it was one of the cutest, funnest, prettiest, bizarrest little holes in the wall you’ll ever see.

Hopefully you can see in the photo above some of the electic recycled nature of their pieces — an old truck tail gate as the back of a bench, painted hubcaps and tire rims, old license plates and skateboards.

Inside was just as electic with lots of painted furniture pieces, scrap fabrics made into cute purses and skirts, and combined with buttons and other accessories to make all kinds of home decor and wearables.

To find it — well, you’ll need to start in north Alabama and put Greenville in the GPS and see where it takes you.

Just kidding. There’s a simpler way.

It’s located in Cartersville, Georgia. Best way to find them from where you are is check out their website, http://sewknotserious.com/.

They’re on Facebook too.

Also, if you’re a Foursquare user, check in and April will give you ten percent off!

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Sew Knot Serious owner April

Rembrandt’s Chattanooga


I had the great pleasure of hanging out in Chattanooga recently with two of my good friends. We were in town for a two-day conference but stayed over an extra day just to enjoy each other and the city — to indulge in one more day kid-free and just us girls.

One of the things we did was visit Rembrandt’s Coffee House in Chattanooga’s Bluff View Art District.

The art district is a very cute historic-looking area with several bakeries and restaurants to choose from. It looks much older than it actually is with much of what’s there only having opened since the mid ’90s (Rembrandt’s opened in ’94).

It’s near the river with great views of the water and a nearby sculpture garden too.

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Me and Stephanie at the bakery case

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Panoramic view of inside Rembrandt’s

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The courtyard is quaint yet gorgeous with a very “old town” feel

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Yum! Look at what we sampled. Coffees and pastries!

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Lots of chocolate-y things in the pastry case

Tennessee Valley Fibers


I love yarn and I love bookstores (especially used ones), so there’s no better locally-opened shop for me to stumble upon while out of town than a yarn store that’s also a bookstore.

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So just what and where is this Heatheriffic find?

Well, it’s Tennessee Valley Fibers is in downtown Chattanooga, walking distance from the Chattanooga Aquarium and next door to Sticky Fingers restaurant. Actual address: 410 Broad Street, Chattanooga.

If you go: Three-fourths of the store is books so come prepared to spend time perusing the aisles and shelves. It’s an eclectic mix of old and recent.

The yarn selection is eclectic too. This is not your traditional craft store yarn. Store owner Polly Henry likes to blend unique yarns — fun furs and sequins and yarns made of alpaca or paper. She bundles her own mixes and sells them by the ounce — which is sometimes still cheaper than store brands but even if it costs a little more her bundles are better — and she will help you find your own unique combinations. She has scarfs and other knitted items ready to purchase too. She will even show you how to do a certain stitch or pattern if you hang out long enough.

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So yarn and books is my perfect combination, what’s yours??

Kamping in Hot Springs


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Home away from home in Hot Springs

“So where are you going on vacation this year?”

Me: “Hot Springs Arkansas”

“Oh, visiting family?”

Me: “Nope. Just going to a new state and a new place.”

“Where are you staying?

Me: “In a one-room bathroom-less cabin at a KOA campground.”

“Oh”

That very conversation I had no less than a dozen times leading up to this year’s summer trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas.

I guess it’s a little weird to go to Arkansas for vacation, especially when most people around here go to the beach.

But, I thought it would be a neat goal with the kids to try to see more states — all 50 if we can swing it — and Hot Springs actually has some pretty neat things to see and do.

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Caden swinging on our cabin’s front porch swing

First, let me tell you about our cabin. We stayed at the Hot Springs National Park KOA Campground which has several different accommodations to choose from. If you have a camper they of course have camper areas. They also several cabin options — cabins, cottages and lodges. The only option available for our dates was a one-room cabin, which we made work, but if I were to go back I’d prefer to stay in one of the larger cottages. The cabin was literally just four walls, a roof and beds. No bathroom, no kitchen, no mini fridge. It had A/C and cable TV, and the campground had wifi, so we weren’t really “roughing” it, except for the bathroom. But for a few nights, we made it work.

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A panoramic shot of the inside of our cabin

The campground had a great shaded pool, a neat lake and hiking trails, pancake breakfast on the weekend, a country store with game room, and the hosts were super friendly and helpful.

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Caden walking around the campground

On our first full day in Hot Springs, we went to Magic Springs and Crystal Falls theme park and water park. We didn’t even make it to the coasters but spent the entire day at the waterpark. They have lots of water slides, a wave pool, kids area, lazy river, and — by boys favorite — the Boogie Blast boogie boarding.

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Finn on the boogie blast

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Caden on the boogie blast

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Waterlogged and eating Dippin’ Dots after a day at Magic Springs waterpark

On day two, we went to one of the crystal mining businesses about 15 miles north of Hot Springs to dig for crystals. Basically, the company has mined out truck loads of dirt and rocks and hauled them to an area where you can pay an admission to fee to dig for crystals. Anything you find that you want, you can keep. I think we came back with 50 lbs. or so of Arkansas rocks that maybe we can clean up into something pretty.

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Caden digging for crystals

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Caden found a rock/crystal that he liked

On our last day — we did things kinda backwards — we went into historic Hot Springs and saw the old bathhouse row where people used to come to take baths in the famous hot spring water. If you go, I recommend going to the downtown area first and taking the Hot Springs National Park Duck tour because they’ll tell you all the neat things to see and do, some of which we found out about too late to do.

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Caden tasting the water from the hot springs

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The boys filling a souvenir jug with hot spring water