Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Kelly's Chance

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Kelly’s Chance
Barbour Books; Reprint edition (January 1, 2010)


Wanda E. Brunstetter

I loved this book! Having read other books by Mrs. Brunstetter I was looking forward to receiving this one in the mail and quickly read it in a couple of days. The book follows the story of Kelly McGregor. Having an older sister who ran off and got married to the first person who would take her away from the life she was living, Kelly is the obedient daughter who spends her days walking on the shore alongside her dad's boat hauling coal down the river in Pennsylvania. When she is able to catch a break, she uses her time to sketch pictures of what she has seen during the days. At one of the stops she meets Mike Cooper who owns a general store and shows her what the true love of God means to a person.

I think one of my favorite things about this book was how Mrs. Brunstetter did not focus so much on the Amish theme as most of her books do. It was neat reading a book written by her which told the story of someone from a different background. I would highly recommend this book to anyone.

If you would like to read this book you can purchase it here:

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Written Word is a Memory Forever

In an effort to clean out my indoor garage dining room, I have been going through boxes of stuff that I have ever moved from my condo in Knoxville, to my first house, to my apartment, and now to my dining room. Or I've been going through the multiple file boxes I have because the inner accountant in me had saved everything since college (and before.) As I reached the last box I found a file folder of special cards and letters that I have received throughout the past 13 years. It's mostly signed birthday cards from my parents or grandparents or random family members, but there are some special ones too that made me literally take a step back as I read them and laugh and cry and reminisce. Some of these people are no longer in my life, but while they were the impact they made.


The first thing to get to me was an email from Steve. Steve has not been a part of my life since Spring Break of 2000 when I went with him to buy an engagement ring for his girlfriend. She was my ex-roommate who moved out on my 21st birthday, just a couple of months prior. Between her decision to move out and the fact that Steve was the roommate of my ex-boyfriend we had drifted apart. However, Steve took a deep risk and sent me one of the most heartfelt letters I have ever received. As I read it, I cried. I remember us talking. I remember the times we shared. I remember when he called me after a basketball game to ask if he could come by the next day. He needed to talk. The girlfriend we would buy the ring for a few weeks later? She was pregnant. I let him talk. I listened. I asked him if he loved her. I will always remember his answer: "I don't know how I felt before I heard the news." I know through social media that they are still married and have two boys now. It was definitely in our life paths to only be friends for a season.


My dad was the ultimate card giver in our family. He always took the time to go and buy us cards. For our birthdays. For Valentine's Day. And he loved to hide them so we would find them during our day. His grandmother taught him that the prettiest card had the most money in it. I called him this year and told him I thought his card was ugly. He laughed.

I found a Valentine's Card that I knew was from him based on the handwriting on the envelope. When I opened the card the first thing I noticed was the picture of the cat on the card. I thought to myself, "I can't believe my dad bought me a card with a cat on it. He and I both dislike cats." I opened it up and sure enough he had put a P.S. in the card. "Sorry about the cat. I couldn't find one with a rat on it. I'd rather have rats than cats." I love that man.


It turns out my sister and mom are more alike than they like to admit. They both bought the same card for my niece to give me. I am pretty sure it was different years as today is the first time I remember making the connect.


I found a Christmas card from Shay the year before he and Shanleigh made it to the alter. He took a Kwanza card and marked out certain words to turn it into a Christmas card. This made me smile because I know he took the time to do it mostly because I was friends with the woman he intended to make his wife. And to him, that made me important enough to take the time to do that.


I found thank you notes and just because notes from friends, kids, and relatives. I sit here with tears streaming down my cheeks. Not because any of this makes me sad. It's quite the opposite. I feel so humbled that even to sign their name to a card took them time. And I was worth even that little bit of time to them.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

31 Years Something

It's true. I'm 31 now. I'm not sure if I'm 31 years old or 31 years young or just plain 31. Kerri hit this mark before I did and it hasn't killed her so I'll keep going. Regardless all is well and I actually enjoyed this birthday more than any I can remember in a long time. I turned it into a birthday week, much to the annoyance of those who follow me on Twitter I am sure. However, it was fun. And since it was so much fun let's recap.

Day 1: I met up with Mer and her other half for breakfast at Okra Grill. Then I met up with a coworker friend and one of my favorite project people from our current acquisition for dinner at Coast. This is one of my favorite Charleston locations to take people who come in from out of town. It's tucked back in an alley out of sight and has one of the best menus for making sure everyone will be happy. And they did not fail. The mixed grill included tuna and the jalapeno bacon wrapped shrimp. Throw in some mahi-mahi and blue cheese mashed potatoes and I was one very happy girl.

Day 2: Girls Night Out with Mel and Ang. We scheduled our monthly girls night out for this night and managed to score Poogan's Porch during the week they do their throw back prices. Once a year this restaurant changes up their menu and slices the prices in half. A nice meal out in downtown Chucktown for around $10 is not a bad deal.

Day 3: Bunco! I've never played before and don't know a lot of my neighbors so when one of the girls suggested we have a neighborhood Bunco group I was all in. I need to get out more and decided this would be a great way to a) not work away my evening and b) be a little more social. It was a great time and I had fun meeting some of the people whom I could throw rocks at their houses live near.

Day 4: Dinner out with my work BFF, Megs. Let's be honest, if it weren't for this girl, I'd lose my mind 5 days out of 5. We went to the Old Village Post House which is also another favorite here in the Low Country. It's not in downtown (thought its sister restaurants are), but in my opinion it is much better than any of its relatives.

Day 5: Dinner in with Mel and her boyfriend. I have mentioned before I participate in a vegetable share, so I picked up the veggies and headed over so Mel could cook me a nice meal. She's a health nut so she knows what to do with all these weird green things that come in my box each week. We then balanced out the healthy by heading to Marble Slab where her boyfriend and I celebrated with ice cream (his birthday is 1 week before mine.)

Day 6: I had actually planned on staying in this day (shocker, I know.) However, a friend called and asked me to meet her downtown to walk. It was gorgeous here and so we walked about 3 miles around the Battery and the old residential section of Charleston. I had actually never ventured out to some of those streets so it was quite the treat. Then I met Mel and her boyfriend at Sesame for a burger, sweet potato fries, and key lime pie. Yummo!

Day 7: The big day! I started the day by walking over to Park Circle and cheering on Mel, Ang, their significant others and another friend as they ran in the inaugural Charleston River Run. It was great fun to be able to walk to the race and then cheer them on. Then it was off to brunch at Hominy Grill with my coworker friend from Day 1. I ended the day with a nice dinner at Bocci with several of the people mentioned above.

All in all my friends were great about allowing me a whole week to celebrate. I feel like lately my life has been so out of control that it was nice to be able to plan and somewhat control one of my favorite holidays of the year. I think the low point was when I realized that this is the first year that I have not had a phone call from my grandparents or a great aunt. I know that in the past few years none of them have remembered on their own, but someone usually called for them. I know I am blessed to have received 30 phone calls from them in the past, but I think the realization I got nothing this year was hard.

So, that's that. I have lots more to share and a big adventure coming up that you all will have to learn about after the fact. Here's hoping to lots of adventures as I start this 32nd trip around the sun.

Friday, January 01, 2010

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Wow...2009, you sure did come and go rather quickly. I hardly felt like we had time to really enjoy each other. However, I'm going to try to recap some of the highs and lows of what we experienced.

January -- My first big New Years Eve. I went to Memphis and realized that I am not a big New Years Eve kind of girl. Yes, I had fun and made memories, but wearing my pjs is a lot more fun. I turned 30 exactly half way through the month and surprisingly it was not as traumatic as I thought is might be. I was able to spend the weekend with my mother and I believe we have decided that we shall do a low-key girls weekend every year. I look forward to the memories I will have with her during these times.

February -- I went to Dallas, TX, for the first time ever. I was there for work but was able to see one of my friends from high school as well as a friend who had moved there from Charleston. I also made a new friend. I was asked if I went to a local high school (which did my 30 year old heart good) and had some amazing Greek food, cupcakes, and fish tacos. I also watched Slumdog Millionaire the same day it won all the Oscars and completely believe it deserved every single one of them.

March -- March brought the start of a new friendship that I am still cultivating. I have been challenged in may ways by this friendship, but most of all this friendship is teaching me to love as Jesus would love.

April -- I received my hammock in April. And though I have not used it as much in the past few months (I refuse to leave it out in the rain, and it seems everytime I get it out it starts raining) I have enjoyed it and am glad I was able to purchase it.

May -- I went home for Mother's Day and ended up staying a week for my great-aunt's funeral. My grandfather is now the only child left from his family of 9. He was the youngest and the only boy to survive childhood. It was the end of an era as there is now a vacancy at the house on the "Aunt Hill" that I still can't shake. I am also the only person who inherited something that costs me money: the dog. She's a hoot though and I'm thankful she gets to lay beside me a snore.

June -- Oh, the month of weddings. I went to TN for a week and spent most of my time at weddings. It started out with a lovely fairy-tale wedding and reception on a Friday night between my best guy friend and his lovely bride. Then I was able to spend the weekend in the mountains with my family. The following weekend brought me to two weddings in two states for the same couple. Um, yeah.

July -- The S.S. Scotts came to visit for the 4th of July and it was truly one of the best 4ths ever in my opinion. We partook of good food (including some rice krispie treats), the local architecture and history, the beach, and fireworks. We also just had fun vegging out and being together. I personally think they should make this an annual thing, but that's up to them. (hint, hint, nudge, nudge.) Mom, J, and Doodlebug also came for their annual beach trip.

August -- August means night racing and to Bristol I went. A coworker and her husband had the seats next to me and we had a blast. I also got to stay with my baby cousin at her new apartment in the city she's attending grad school. It's so weird to think my baby cousin is off living on her own now.

September -- I started off the month with a trip to the mountains for the annual Labor Day camping extravaganza. My friend Melissa joined me this year and we had a blast. The end of the month saw me heading to Atlanta to see Matt Nathanson (he was opening for a little band called Sugarland.) He was every bit as good live as I had hoped. I also got to hang out with the AB-meister and see her new pad.

October -- I left Atlanta and headed north to K-town. I spent a couple of days visiting with the SS Scotts and McAmis' then headed over to Mom & Dads. Mom, Dad, and I spent a whole day looking at campers for me. The day ended with me trading my car for a vehicle capable of pulling said camper when I buy one. Doodlebug turned 7. Wow, time sure does fly. Arynda ended up riding back to the low country with me and her family joined the next day. I got to spend some time with my two of my favorite red-headed boys and being their favorite "Aunt." I ended the month in Denver with a dear, dear friend whom I had not seen much in almost 3 years. It was a great time of fellowship, snowshoeing, and seeing Wicked. If you have not seen this musical, you should. One of the true classics on stage and it's only a few years old.

November - My cousin settled into is new life in Alaska. That meant spending holidays and his birthday away from home. It was a Thanksgiving full of thankfulness, but also of sadness as we looked around and missed the faces that were no longer with us.

December -- The plane finally flew! After watching people toil over this bird for the last 2+ years (and the years they worked on it before I was involved), to stand in a room with them and see all those years of hard work finally take wing and fly was a moment I hope to always cherish. I was able to go home for the Christmas break, but alas a life in payroll keeps you from really taking a break this time of year. It was fun surprising my family with some of their gifts, and of course seeing Christmas through the eyes of a child.

As we start 2010, I am challenged by the words my boss shared with me during my recent evaluation. He said that at a seminar they held at his church the speaker said you should "be the best version of yourself." I know so many times over the year I fail at this. But I will continue to strive toward this "best version" the only way I know how. By continuing to study the Word, talk to the Father, and cherish what He has given to me. I know that the new year will bring new adventures (a trip I hope to tell you about soon), new challenges (life is always presenting me with these), and the turning of my house into a home. I look forward to spending more time with my family, developing new friendships, cultivating old friendships, and continuing my quest to remove things from my life that are not necessary and adding to it things that are so value added I see the blessings both during this year and as I reflect back on them in the years to come.

May 2010 bless you, my two readers, in ways that you may only realize as you reflect back on it at the end of the next 365 days.