Live on Periscope: Gallery 246 ribbon cutting

Bruce I had a grand time this afternoon looking at beautiful art and chatting with the folks in our hometown as we got ready to cut the ribbon on a new art gallery in downtown Batesville, Ark.

To make things official, we had representatives from the Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce (of course) and Mayor Rick Elumbaugh on hand.

I’m not a real artist, but I got to practice the “social media art” (I just made that up) of Periscoping during this fun event. It was only my third time to broadcast live with Periscope (a Twitter app), and I have to say I think I’m getting better at it. I held the camera steadier and maybe didn’t ramble quite as much as I did the first two times. (At least until the end, when we were gathered outside to wait for the official photo to be taken. Then I rambled.)

Here’s the video (14 minutes long), followed by some photos I took with my phone. (Note: Periscope doesn’t have a landscape mode, so this is shot in portrait mode. Maybe they’ll read Michael Hyatt’s recent post and get with the program!)

Sorry I didn’t get a shot of the storefront, but I’ll try to do that soon. At first I didn’t realize it was the store that used to belong to my dad’s cousin, Charles Insell (who passed away two years ago this month). It was The She Shop for several years, then Charlie’s Angels (a children’s store), then another retail store, and now an art gallery. Here’s a pic of the interior at the front of the space:

Gallery 246 interiorSome funky, fuzzy snakes that I just liked because they’re whimsical:

fuzzy snake artAnd a closeup:

funky fuzzy snakes closeupA girl who took advantage of the face painting (you’ll see her in the video getting the butterfly painted on). Her brother horned in on the first photo, but then she insisted he get out of the shot so I could photograph her alone. 🙂 Oh, brother!

girl with butterfly face paintThe face painting was courtesy of the multitalented Deborah Davidson, who also painted these:

Colorful paintings Deborah Davidson

I wish I could show you more photos, but I was so busy with the Periscope broadcast that I didn’t take as many still photos as usual. You will just have to drop by the gallery and see all the beautiful art for yourself.

And, hey, if you need some nice pieces for your home or office, I betcha they can help you out.

Gallery 246
243 E. Main St.
Batesville, AR 72501
(870) 668-3631

Follow me on Twitter: OakleySuzyT

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Sole mates

My house is cluttered right now, and I don’t even care!

That’s what running does to my brain.

The floor around my chair is littered with running shoes and smelly socks (not to mention smelly dogs). I actually am enjoying this fact right at this very moment.

Why? A couple of reasons:

  1. Insanity runs in our household (it runs outside our house, too, har har).
  2. I still have the “runner’s high” from this morning’s wog in the park.

Every Saturday that we go out there with our “girls” (the remnant from last year’s Women Can Run clinic) is a good day, but today in particular was a very good day.

I started off with a buddy, but, even though my knee started feeling funky very early on, I persisted and ended up doing about half of the course solo because I passed up my buddy and was having too good a time to slow down and let her catch up. It’s not that I’m fast – it’s just that this was her first time out on the Penguin course with us (the Penguin 10k/5k is next weekend, so I guess she figured it was time to hit the trail and get familiar with the course. We won’t mention the fact that she’s 75 years old, because that really doesn’t seem to slow her down. This awesome lady does Zumba, boot camp and any other crazy thing you can imagine!).

So, even though my knee hurt in the beginning and I imagined myself walking most of the route, I kept jogging and eventually forgot about my knee problem. And since the race is jut seven days away, I really didn’t want to walk any. So I kept up a good pace and outran my buddy by about 3 minutes. Today, running solo helped me clear my head a bit.

Running is good for the sole.

When I run/walk/jog/wog, especially solo, I can clear out some of the clutter in my brain, so much so that when I get home to a cluttered dining room it doesn’t bother me so much.

So I like running solo.

But I also like running with buddies.

(Does this make me seem schizophrenic? Haven’t we already determined that I have sanity issues?)

Bruce and I are usually giddy after a jog, but today we seemed sillier than normal (I don’t think too many people noticed). And after we got finished at the athletic store, he was even worse!

You see, he got new shoes. And he was like a little boy. (We didn’t realize just how worn his old shoes had gotten until he got a brand-new pair.) I don’t think I’ve ever seen him as excited about a pair of shoes as he was this morning. I’d like to bottle that smile and take it to work with me every day.

Running is good for the sole, and it’s good for the soul.

Happy feet

Because I ran the 5k route this morning and the other 5k-ers drove away soon after but I still had to wait for the 10k-ers to finish, I debated about how to pass the time. I decided to put my coat back on (shed during the run), sit on the hood of my car and pray while I watched the mighty White River rush by. (Our Saturday morning parking spot is by the dam.)

Nature brings out the praise in me.

A mighty rushing river reminds me of God’s power, His strength and His ability to control the universe. This morning I thought of how He stopped an ocean so His children could pass – and all the other things He did for those ingrates.

He is the God of the ages.

Just as He saw the Israelites through a myriad of problems (most due to their own stubborn rebellion), He sees me through my problems today (most of which are … drum roll, please … due to my own stubborn rebellion).

I’m taking a class called Perspectives, and the readings immediately began reshaping the way I think of God – and the way I pray. (I’ll save the specifics for a later post, but I’m dying to tell you about this class.) But I’m getting off topic …

Jogging has brought Bruce and me closer together in a way I hadn’t imagined it would. We enjoy being silly together most of the time, and running just jacks that up to a whole ’nother level. I’ll spare you the details. (You’re welcome.)

And wogging has brought us lots of new friends. Since I got involved in the Women Can Run/Walk clinic last year – and dragged Bruce along one day when we needed an extra coach – we have had more lady friends than we can shake a baton at!

Now, Bruce is the mother hen to several ladies who caught the running bug and didn’t want to stop when the clinic ended. He is now Coach Bruce, and it has lit him up in wonderful new ways.

We’re getting ready to launch the 2012 clinic (next week!), and both of us will be volunteers this year (my goal last year during the clinic was to become a volunteer this year, and that time is finally here!).

If you are a woman who wants to add a little workout to her schedule but feels intimidated at the thought of “running” with a bunch of super-running-chicks, please put that thought right out of your head. The women’s running clinic is composed of females of all ages, shapes, sizes, colors, political and religious philosophies, incomes (the clinic is free), shoe types, aches, pains, diseases, life stages, fitness levels and speeds. No matter who or what you are, fast or slow, you will fit right in with the rest of us.

I’m not a super-running-chick. I’m just a gal who can’t say no … to the idea of being healthier (mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually and in all others ways that running, fellowship and camaraderie can affect a person) … and to the idea that maybe, just maybe, I can be an inspiration to someone else.

Running and walking are good, clean fun. (Most of the time.) We would love to see you at the Batesville clinic this year. The sessions are from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and from 8-9 a.m. Saturdays. You can register online or show up between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, at White River Medical Center, Women’s Center, Conference Room B. I will be there until about 6:20, when I have to leave for class.

To register online (or to find a Women Run Arkansas clinic near your hometown), click here.

We also have a Facebook page. If you’d like to get in on the fun before the clinic starts, click here.

Come on out and meet your new sole mates.

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Farewell, Barney Sellers

My family said goodbye to a dear friend on Friday.

Barney Sellers, faithful husband, father, grandfather – and friend – passed away on Jan. 2, 2012, at age 85. He and his wife, Betty, had just celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary on Jan. 1, and he died about three hours after midnight.

Barney was an award-winning photographer, known for capturing on film everything from civil-rights marches to celebrities to heads of state, including at least two kings: Elvis Presley, the king of rock and roll (happy birthday, Elvis), and “Martin Luther the King Jr.,” as the hospice chaplain who spoke at his memorial service jokingly told the gathering.

But I knew him as a gentle man devoted to family and friends first and to taking pictures second.

When Barney retired to Batesville after 36 years as a staff “photog” (as he called it) at The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, he and Betty Sue moved across the street from my parents in 1988, while I was in college at ASU. Barney and I had that in common: We both earned journalism degrees at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, not too far from Barney and Betty’s old stompin’ grounds in Walnut Ridge.

While he and my dad became fast friends (they both loved to tell stories, and lots of them), I looked to him as a source of teaching. As a student journalist, I, too, was interested in photography. Beyond technical skills, however, the tips I picked up from him had more to do with composition than f-stops and shutter speeds.

Dad and Morgan at Barney’s

Barney wasn’t one to photograph people – although one of my favorites is a black-and-white picture he took of my dad and niece sitting together on a bench in Barney’s front yard when Morgan was about 3. And, as a favor, he took my wedding pictures (and wouldn’t accept payment). In fact, it was on my 14th wedding anniversary last week that my mother told me of his passing. (If you subscribe to The Batesville Daily Guard, take note of Page 1 of the Jan. 3 edition, which features not only a photo of Barney accompanying the article but a shot he took of downtown Batesville under a huge full moon.)

My house and my mother’s house are adorned with pictures Barney took, and I can’t recall being allowed to pay him for a single one of them. I would be at his house, admire a picture among the dozens (or sometimes hundreds) he showed me on a particular visit, and the next thing I knew the photo was double or triple matted (by Barney) and given to me or my family as a gift. Mom was responsible for taking them to the frame shop, although the birthday gift he gave me one year (an aerial shot of the White River dam in Batesville), a wedding gift (of a huge full moon above a barn) and my favorite gift from Barney – a photo of double streaks of lightning in the night sky above the Memphis bridge – came complete with frame. He was very generous with his artwork.

Barney’s newspaper years were successful and spanned decades, but, after his official retirement, he was better able to indulge his passion for rural scenes. His “business” was called Barney’s Barns and Rural Scenes, but he was more teacher than businessman. He held photography workshops, taking eager students around scenic Arkansas and elsewhere, teaching them how to see the beauty in a simple dirt road, falling-down barn or old rusty plow.

His son Stanley – or “Chobee,” as I’ve always known him – told me Friday that probably 80-90 percent of Barney’s work centered on his beloved Ozarks.

Yes, Barney saw things that no one should have to see – he photographed civil unrest in the Memphis of the mid-20th century, he went to war (serving two stints in the Navy) and he was there the day singer Jerry Lee Lewis lost his 3-year-old son to drowning in 1962. But despite that – or perhaps because of it – he was able to see the beauty in God’s creation that many of us are too busy to notice.

I remember the time he was visiting my dad at the shop Dad had built in our back yard, and Barney saw a spider web hanging from a corner of the building. Barney said, “Don’t touch that,” or some such admonition to leave the web alone. He trudged back up the hill to his house, returned with a squirt bottle, misted the spider web and shot a typically stunning picture of it, water droplets sparkling in the moonlight.

If not for Barney, I probably wouldn’t have had the “eye,” or the presence of mind, to snap a picture of the spider-web-covered jade plant in Morro Bay, Calif., when Mom and I visited in 2006. In fact, I’m sure that my affinity for photographing “plant life” over “real life” had something to do with Barney. When I spent a summer in Guatemala after college graduation, I took lots of shots of hillsides, mountains, rivers, lakes and volcanoes, and when I returned home and proudly showed my parents all my wonderful pictures, Mom said, “Where are the people?” (She is more of the “line people up like statues” school of photographic thought, whereas Barney wasn’t so much into that.)

Barney liked to tease my mom; he had a wonderful sense of humor – sometimes mischievous, sometimes dry like mine. He loved to laugh, and he loved people.

Barney’s “uniform,” as I recall it, was a pair of khaki pants, a chambray shirt, a bandanna, sometimes a vest, thick eyeglasses and – more often than not – two cameras hanging from his neck. And when he would amble down the hill to our house – whether on foot or in his Jeep on the way to photograph some dilapidated thing down some dirt road (Chaplain Brent said he was told that Barney “knew where every barn was in the state of Arkansas”) – he frequently carried a can of Coke supplemented with Metamucil. “He’d nurse that thing all day, it seemed like,” my mother recalled Friday as we reminisced on the way home from the service. To me, the Coke and Metamucil were simply part of the Barney package.

Barney was old school and had his own way of doing things (hence the recording of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” at the memorial service). According to his family, he took “thousands and thousands and thousands” of photos in his lifetime, all of them with a film camera. His daughter, Susie, had tried to convert him to digital photography but didn’t succeed. Chobee told me about all the prints and negatives in the house, in the garage, in a 10-by-16-foot storage building. Chobee had tried to get his dad to let him sort and catalog them but, again, didn’t succeed.

“He had his own way of cataloguing them, and none of us knew what that way was.” Chobee tried to reason with his dad: Someday we’ll need to know your system. Barney promised to teach him the system, but that day never came.

Barney’s health hadn’t been good in several years. His children had been trying to persuade their parents to leave the split-level house in Batesville – where Barney didn’t do well on the stairs “and kept scaring the daylights out of all of us,” according to his son Richard. They wanted their parents to move back to Memphis, where Barney’s cardiologist and other doctors were. So, even though “his heart was in Arkansas,” according to Chobee, he and Betty Sue finally left their home state and in 2007 moved back to the Memphis area, where Barney died.

There are a few things I regret in life – not getting my Nanny or my Aunt Jo to teach me how to quilt (I paid for classes at a store after both of them had passed on), not getting my Grandma Tressie to really teach me how to sew garments, not spending more time with Dad underneath all those cars he worked on, so I’d know how to change my own oil … and not spending more time at Barney’s elbow, soaking up his knowledge of photography and his love for all things rural. Now it’s too late for all of that.

But if there is anything Barney taught me, it is to keep doing what you love – and to love your family and friends while you’re doing it. I’m determined to keep working on that lesson.

We will miss you, Barney.

It’s appropriate that Barney’s family had his remains deposited in a vintage camera case. On a date to be announced, his ashes will be scattered at his favorite spot in the Ozarks.

I took a small portion of information for this post from The Batesville Daily Guard and The Commercial Appeal. To view some of his work, please visit both newspapers’ websites (links above). The Commercial Appeal‘s site includes a gallery of Barney’s news and feature photos.

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185 pounds

I forgot to tell you in the last post that my weight was 186 (that’s 8 pounds gained since my knee surgery and subsequent down-hill slide into indulgence).

Since I wrote that post Wednesday night (I had weighed that morning), I’ve lost a pound. Friday is my official weigh-in day, so I’ll try to remember to post each Friday. My blog-every-day plan kind of hit the skids when school started in September. It was a loooong semester.

Now that I have an iPhone (a birthday present in late November), I’m looking for a good calorie-counting app. I’m trying one out but not sure I like it. If any of you can suggest a good one, please leave a comment.

Today will be a bit of a challenge, because we’ll probably be eating at a restaurant in Memphis and I’ll have less control over the food prep. Bruce, Mom and I will be going to Southaven, Miss., for the memorial service of a dear friend, Barney Sellers, who died Monday. He was featured on the front page of Tuesday’s Batesville Guard, but you have to have a paid subscription to view more than a few paragraphs online. Here’s a link to the article in the Memphis paper, The Commercial Appeal, which is free (you have to register only if you want to post a comment).

I will write more about Barney in a future post. He was one of a kind.

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Things I’m thankful for

These are things I’m thankful for this morning:

  • The glorious weather. I know it’s hot, but that’s why I like to do my workout (walk/jog) at sunrise; the weather is actually cool for about an hour, until the sun rises high over the houses. Today there were just enough wispy clouds to create a soft pastel scene just above the horizon for a few minutes. So peaceful. We’ve had no rain lately, either, meaning I have to remember to water my own tomatoes and herbs (small sacrifice), but that also means I don’t have to wear special gear to exercise outside. Another reason to be thankful.
  • City road crews. The dead ’possum I experienced yesterday morning on Hill Street was gone this morning. It was a fresh kill yesterday, so I’m really glad I won’t have to look at it every day for two weeks like we did the armadillo carcass. Not sure who picked it up, but I’m grateful to that person. For the record, any time the subject of “jobs I would never want to have” comes up, No. 1 on my list has always been “the person who cleans up road kill.”
  • New friends, Part 1. At the moment I’m thinking about my new running/walking friends. Since I joined the women’s running clinic in late February (and recruited Coach Bruce a few weeks into it), I have made some lifelong friends. The group is amazing in its enthusiasm and support of one another. Many of us had been couch potatoes for far too long, and we’re now spurring each other on in many ways. This particular group is a hybrid of the women’s clinic, the Run for God Bible study and the White River Road Runners group.
  • New friends, Part 2. Bruce and I have been Batesville residents for 13 months now, and we have felt so embraced by our community. We have friends at church, at work, through volunteering and because of family connections. There’s not enough space here to explain it all or to express our gratitude and sense of belonging.
  • Old friends. I’m thinking of Lynn in particular right now. It’s been so nice reconnecting with her over the past couple of years, and now we live closer to each other and are able to have face-to-face meetings every now and then. She has been an encouragement to me, as well as an encourager. We’re on similar journeys to physical fitness although our personal circumstances are quite different.
  • Family. We moved here because of family. I haven’t seen as much of my brother and his brood as much as I would like these past few months, but my mother and I talk nearly every day by phone or in person. We share rides to work sometimes (she lets us borrow her car when Bruce and I both need to drive somewhere), she feeds our dogs when we need to go out of town and she lets us come over and watch sports on her big-screen TV – very important things! We live less than a mile from my brother, J.T., and Mom’s house is a stone’s throw from his. We love being so close to them.
  • Good health. I have minor physical ailments, but they aren’t enough to keep me from continuing my fitness journey. I have finally embraced the idea of moving every day in a way that’s making my heart stronger, both physically and spiritually. I can’t say when I will breathe my last breath, and I try to remind myself to savor each day as it comes (some days that’s easier said than done, but I still try).
  • The little deck on the back of our house. Yesterday after my wog (our Run for God leader’s word for walk/jog), I took my Bible outside to the deck to read the first five Psalms (next in our through-the-Bible-in-a-year plan). It was perfect that Psalms fell on the day I was able to spend time outdoors, not worrying about the clock.
  • Trees and birds. You notice them more when you walk the streets early or sit on the deck in the morning. The birds’ songs are melodious and soothing.
  • Good books. I’m reading one right now that I’ll review for BookSneeze when I’m finished, but I would be telling you about it even if I didn’t have to. It’s called “Jesus, My Father, The CIA, and Me” by Ian Morgan Cron. More later.
  • Chocolate. No explanation needed.
  • The dogs. I’ve talked enough about them in the past, so I won’t bore you with that this morning, but I’m grateful for them every day. They make me laugh.
  • Bruce. He’s my sweetie pie. I love him for so many reasons – too many to express here and now. I’ll just tell him to his face.
  • My job.
  • Home. My favorite place.
  • God. He bestows so many blessings on my life. I will never find enough words to express my gratefulness.

Beautiful weather tends to make me sentimental, hence the spontaneous gratefulness post. I think it’s important to stop and count my blessings every now and then, though. It helps me slow down from the busyness of life and remember the Source of all that’s good.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17).

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Honey, I’m home

People, before it’s over, you’re going to get tired of hearing me say how much I love being back in Batesville, where I grew up.

But two things this morning have made me think that thought all over again!

First, I got an e-mail from Lynn. She told me in a “rambling” (her word, but it wasn’t rambly) e-mail:

I can tell you’re having a lot of fun with your blog. … Moving to Batesville seems to have fufilled you in so many ways.

Then, my cousin Teri posted something on Facebook about making spaghetti, and I told her:

Mom has decided we’re having spaghetti for Christmas dinner this year. 🙂 She makes hers Mexican-spicy, and I haven’t had that in years! She used to make it every year for my birthday.

In all this talk about spaghetti for Christmas dinner (I had told Mom I could make chicken spaghetti – yum!), I had forgotten that she used to make her Mexican-spicy spaghetti for my birthday every year.

What a wonderful thing to remember after all these years!

Yes, Lynn, moving to Batesville has fulfilled me in so many ways I can’t even name them all. But I’m going to keep trying.

I know this euphoria won’t last forever, but in the meantime I’m going to savor every sunrise (pale pink at the moment), every glimpse of the cows in the pasture behind us that drive my furbabies crazy, every dog-walking trip or jog to my brother’s and mom’s houses, every drive down Main Street or up Boswell or College, every new encounter I have with someone I knew way-back-when, every hug from my mom and every visit with my brother and his family.

As I’ve said, God made me wait a long time after Bruce and I decided to move here, and I hope I never forget how gracious He was in finally working it out for us.

Normally I would blame this feeling on the holidays, but I’ve had it bad for seven months now. Bruce has learned to smile and accept it, although he is also happy to be here.

Of course there are things about being here that aren’t perfect (nothing this side of heaven ever will be), but overall it has been very, very good.

Welcome home, Suzy & Spice.

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Thankfulness, Day 17 (finale)

Near the end of yesterday’s thankfulness post, I alluded to today’s topic, although I’m the only one who knew that (I didn’t want to say it because I was afraid something would keep me from posting today!).

Every post in this 17-day project has had thankfulness as its theme, but I’ve barely mentioned to Whom I’m thankful.

Most of you know that I am a follower of Jesus Christ, the Savior of all mankind. And you can read between the lines: You know that when I’m thankful, it’s to God. (If you didn’t know it before, you know it now.)

December is the month we celebrate the birth of the Savior, and leading to that we celebrate a holiday known as Thanksgiving. As we have done with Christmas, we also have done with Thanksgiving: We’ve made it a secular holiday more about how much we can eat and how much football we can watch than a remembrance and recounting of our blessings. I’ve begun to loathe the term “Turkey Day,” although I have been guilty of saying it.

I never want to trivialize these occasions we have for giving God the glory for how He has blessed us.

For, even though I am no stranger to the habit of complaining, I am keenly aware that God has blessed me abundantly.

If you read my posts of the past few weeks, you’ll see that this has been a happy year for my family: Bruce and I moved to Batesville in May, and we have a house we love that’s close to my mom, brother and aunt; I have a great job; we attend an awesome church; and we’ve been involved in the community, even more so than we were in North Little Rock. I’ve been able to reconnect with old friends and make new ones, and this has brought much joy to our household.

God made me wait quite a while before he moved us back to my hometown.

I was growing quite impatient, even though I knew that He had a plan and our move would be in His time  and not ours. His ways are often mysterious to me, but I have read the Bible enough years to know that His plan is always best, even when His purposes are not clear to us.

I once heard it explained like this: Life is like a parade, and we can see only a little piece of it as we watch from our little spot along the street, whereas God is above it seeing the entire scene. He sees the big picture, and we see things from our limited perspective.

God can see eternity, and we often cannot see beyond our own noses.

I try to see things from an eternal perspective. When I step outside myself and forget about my own wants and “needs,” I sometimes can do that.

When I get to feeling sorry for myself (“This is hard!” “I can’t afford that.” “I’m starving!” “You hurt my feelings!”), I sometimes have the good sense to stop myself and think for a minute. When life is just “too hard,” I remember the Cross.

Jesus, who knew no sin, willingly gave up His life – dying a horrible, painful, publicly humiliating death – for me.

Did I deserve His sacrifice? No. Can I ever be good enough to earn His gift of salvation, freely given? Not a chance.

When I remember the Cross, all the thankfulness I can muster will never be enough.

In my best moments, I remember that.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. – James 1:17

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Thankfulness, Day 16

Today I am thankful for my new/old hometown.

This year has been so busy that I haven’t done what I’ve wanted to do for the past seven months – talk about my old/new place of residence.

Yeah, I posted a brief note when we found out we were moving to Batesville, but we have been in a whirlwind of activity ever since.

On Friday, May 7, I said goodbye to my former employer (we had also relocated offices that very same day), and on Saturday, May 8, I took my final exam in Accounting II at Pulaski Tech. That afternoon, we loaded the car with the Spice Dogs and a few belongings and headed to Batesville. We spent the next five weeks living at Mom’s and driving back to North Little Rock on the weekends to continue packing. (Because I was in school all semester in addition to working full time, we hadn’t finished all our packing, so we made trips and hauled little loads each weekend.) On June 5, a bunch of guys from Fellowship North came over and loaded the furniture and other heavy stuff, and we hauled it to Batesville and spent our first night in our new house that night.

There is SO VERY MUCH to tell about our new home. I could stay up all night expressing my joy at all the wonderful things that have come of this move, but I will try to hit the high points:

  • Family: My mom, my brother, my nieces and my many cousins, uncles, aunts, in-laws and outlaws are the reason we’re here. We had prayed for a long time for the Lord to allow us to be closer. Yes, North Little Rock is only 90 miles away, but it had just gotten to be too far for us. We wanted to be close. And we are: Our house is about 3/4 of a mile from my brother, JT, and if you walk through his back yard, you reach Mom’s house in just-over-3/4-of-a-mile. And my Aunt Pat lives across the street from us. And in July, I got new family members: JT married Lisa, and she brings to our family Chance, Cobhye and Catie. And Chance became a first-time dad a few weeks later when we welcomed baby Maggie to the fold.
  • Church: We traded Fellowship North for Fellowship Batesville. I tell ya, leaving Fellowship North was my biggest challenge. I had been a member there for 16 years, and I just wasn’t sure how God was going to come through for me on a church. How could He top Fellowship North? Well, He didn’t have to top it, because it’s not a competition. But I was spoiled for a contemporary, nontraditional church that reaches out to the community. Fellowship Batesville, which congregates in the old Landers Theater, fits the bill for us in a way only God could have ordained. Bruce and our pastor, John Mark, have become friends, and I think the world of John Mark’s wife, Desiree. And we’ve made some other fast friends at Fellowship Batesville. We couldn’t be happier.
  • Work: I love my job! Two years ago I couldn’t have said that. And maybe it took the job I had then to make me appreciate the job I have now. Sure, I had a great job in the between time (from October 2008 to May 2010), but this one just fits me. It fits my personality, my skill set, my left-brainededness (yes, I know that’s not a real word) and so many other things. My co-workers are a joy to be around (most of the time), my physical surroundings are pleasant and my employer is community minded, a trait I cherish. The commute is short (10 minutes when there’s traffic; 5-7 when there isn’t); in fact, most places around here are within a short distance of my house.
  • Play: My childhood friend Michael has co-founded a local camera club, and I’m an inaugural member. I’m still an amateur, but it has been fun learning from the “experts” and the serious hobbyists. I love to take pictures, and I love that I now have a place to get personalized advice. Also, Bruce and I have been to several high school football games this fall, seeing my alma mater through an undefeated season until Round 3 of the state playoffs. We have sat through heat, humidity, cold and rain for the Pioneers! My sweetie and I have bitten off lots of little slices of the local scene in the few months we’ve been here – everything from a music night at the local coffeehouse to summer fireworks to grilling hot dogs before a BHS football game as volunteers for the bank. We’re on a first-name basis with the clerk at Sherwin-Williams (her husband has Crohn’s disease, and she noticed our CCFA shirts one Saturday morning) and have enjoyed showing off our furbabies to anyone who cares to meet them. (Our neighbor’s 2-year-old grandson likes to come over and visit the Spice Dogs, and in fact he named his new stuffed dog Salsa.)
  • Education: I’m taking Principles of Banking at UACCB, and I’m also learning a lot about banking on the job. I get to do a lot of reading, and I enjoy that. (One new employee who was being introduced around the office a couple of weeks ago thought it a bit odd that I actually enjoy reading regulations. At least that knowledge helped him remember me later when I had to e-mail him about getting his insurance license!) In the spring, I will continue working toward an associate’s degree in banking and finance. Next summer, I will be eligible for the bank to pay for my schooling. Sweet!
  • God: The thread that weaves through every inch of the above tapestry is my heavenly Father. Without Him, none of this would be possible. Without Him, my life wouldn’t be possible. He is the Source of all good things. I cannot thank Him enough for all my blessings. I hope I never forget to thank Him.

There is so much more to tell, but maybe I will manage to remember it and continue to tell you the tales in the months to come.

Tune in tomorrow for my last “thankfulness” post of the Month for Giving Thanks.

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Thankfulness, Days 9-15

I have been soooo lax in posting this week. I’ll blame the busyness of the pre-holiday season (can I get away with that?). Not posting doesn’t equal not being thankful, though. I have continued to count my blessings, even though I haven’t logged on to tell my little blog audience about it.

Because it’s been 7 days since I posted, I guess I need to list at least 7 things I’m thankful for. Trust me, the number of blessings is much higher, but I will be up too late tonight if I list more than 7.

Let’s see if I can remember things in reverse order:

Day 15 (Sunday, Nov. 28): I’m thankful for Bruce’s birthday gift to me this morning. He bought me a domain name, so now instead of suzyandspice.wordpress.com, you can visit me at www.suzyandspice.com. For you, it just shortens the Web address a bit; for me, it allows flexibility in appearance and content. Bruce and I can make the site look more like I want it to look. Yippee! We’ll be working on that over the new few weeks; he will be doing most of the work, at my direction. He’s the real geek, and I’m still a geek-in-training.

Day 14 (Saturday, Nov. 27): I’m thankful for football! Bad news first: My high school alma mater, the Batesville Pioneers, lost in Round 3 of the state playoffs Friday night (and it was doggone cold while we watched!), but we enjoyed the experience, nonetheless. The Pioneers did us proud this season. The good news: The Arkansas Razorbacks ended their regular season with a big win over LSU last night. It was an awesome game, and I thought my heart was going to pound out of my chest a couple of times (especially that Mallett TD pass with 6 seconds to go in the first half. “Take a knee,” my foot!).

Day 13 (Friday, Nov. 26): I’m thankful for my workplace. Post-Thanksgiving Friday was a quiet one at work; several of my co-workers took an extra-long weekend, and the office was relaxed and casual. A couple of people in my department decorated the department’s Christmas tree and chatted about football, food and the upcoming Christmas season. I so enjoy my job, my co-workers and my workplace. Friday was also the day we had our Thanksgiving celebration at my brother’s house; just chalk it up to a logistical challenge. My boss let me take a longer-than-usual lunch break, so it was nice and relaxing, and I didn’t have to stay and do the dishes!

Day 12 (Thursday, Nov. 25): Thanksgiving Day. I’m thankful that I am healthy. I spent a few hours at the hospital with a young woman from my church who is a college student away from her family. She has endured several health challenges in the past few weeks and was back in the hospital this past week with new symptoms. Her family was far away, and she was alone in the hospital on Thanksgiving, save for a couple of people from church who went and sat and watched over her. (Bless you, Desiree, for taking her under your wing.)

Day 11 (Wednesday, Nov. 24): I’m thankful for … okay, this is another workplace thing. My co-workers – who knew that Friday (the last workday before my birthday) would be a day when several people would be absent – threw me a little birthday feast. I stuffed my face on summer sausage and crackers, chicken enchilada dip and tortilla chips, brownies, cranberry cookies and a host of other delights. What a sweet (literally) surprise.

Day 10 (Tuesday, Nov. 23): I’m thankful for Luanne. My co-worker and I had to visit the bank’s Highland branch (she for marketing-department reasons, I for audit reasons), and we had a nice visit on the drive up and back. We left at 6 a.m. in the rain, but the sun was shining by the time we arrived. She is a special woman, full of interesting and hilarious stories, and she loves Jesus as much as I do. This was the first out-of-town trip we’ve made just the two of us (usually a third co-worker is with us), and we shared on a deeper level this time. She speaks so lovingly of her family, it’s just nice to be around her. (We share family in common, too. We’re both excited that Judy [my third cousin] and Bill [Luanne’s brother-in-law] will be moving back to Batesville next month.)

Day 9 (Monday, Nov. 22): I’m thankful for education. My “Principles of Banking” class at UACCB is on Monday nights, and I’m so thankful that we have a community college where I can work on my second degree (I earned a bachelor’s in journalism from ASU 21 years ago). I’m majoring in banking and finance this time, and in the spring I will be taking Intro to Business, also on Monday nights. After I’ve been at the bank for a year (in May), the bank will pay for my schooling – another great blessing. It may take me forever to finish, but I’m plugging away at it.

Wow – a lot of blessings to remember. I will try to post the next two nights, the final two days of my half-month of thankfulness.

God is good.

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Thankfulness, Day 6

Today I’m thankful for two things: The Cinnamon Stick and music. Tonight those two things came together in a fun-filled, family friendly evening.

The Cinnamon Stick is a new coffeehouse and sandwich shop in downtown Batesville (a couple of doors down from the Melba Theater) that features local bands and all kinds of neat stuff. Tonight the bulk of the worship band from our church (Fellowship Bible Church of Batesville) played and sang. They did some Beatles, a few other oldies and some worship songs. Sean Roulier on a jazzed-up, Jars of Clay version of “It is Well (With My Soul)” was surprisingly enjoyable! (I say surprisingly because that old hymn is one of my top 2 or 3 favorites, largely because of the story behind it, and I was afraid I wouldn’t like “Sean’s version” – I have never heard Jars of Clay’s rendition, but Sean’s mom says it’s great.)

Randell, Tommy, Angela, Sean and Becky

Last night at the Stick, the Fellowship kids had karaoke night (check out our pastor’s rendition of “Ghostbusters” on my Facebook page), played board games and shot some pool. (I wasn’t there, but I have seen the videos.)

Bruce and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE music and are especially fond of supporting locally owned businesses. And when great food is involved … well, what more could you ask for?

You must go to The Cinnamon Stick. Immediately. Next time you need an iced coffee, instead of McDonald’s, stir up some friends and visit the Stick. Try the Loaded Baked Potato Soup and a hot tea or latte. Bliss!

The Cinnamon Stick is open on Saturdays. I may be there when they open tomorrow. Got to start trying their hot teas – one by one.

Won’t you join me?

Come on downtown and support your local coffeehouse. The Cinnamon stick is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday and 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

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