Monday, December 18, 2006


I turned 27 last Friday. This birthday has been one of the best ones I've had in recent memory. I know that I have great friends and family, but this birthday made me realize how insanely blessed I am. The value of this birthday didn't come from any presents, but only came from the generous hearts of the people that were a part of it.

Friday afternoon started with lunch at Smokey Bones, courtesy of Diana. After that I got to go to a student/teacher basketball game at Avalon Middle School and saw some students I'd not seen in a while. My phone rang throughout the day with friends and family wishing me a happy birthday, and right around 4:30 I received my biggest surprise of the day. I was supposed to be on my way to meeting up with a group of middle school girls from church, but instead I was treated to 20 middle and high school students tackling me at the park for a surprise party complete with cake and presents.

Later that night I was able to hang out with friends at home and ended the night by catching up with one of my favorite cousins on the phone. On Saturday night I met my dad halfway between Tampa and Orlando and had a great dinner with him.

Tonight I showed up at the Martin household to hang out and watch some Heroes. Although I assumed all of my birthday surprises had come to an end, they had one more in store for me. There on the table sat another cake and more presents.

As I sit in my apartment at the desk I've had since at least 6th grade, I am reminded of something that was preached on at church yesterday. We heard about the seven marks of a church where Christ has come. One of those signs is that we experience awe at the things God does. I have been so humbled and awed by the things that His church has done for me in the past days. At both of the surprises I was speechless. I don't know how to express my gratitude for what was done. I felt so loved.

Thanks to all of my amazing friends and family. I couldn't be more grateful for you. Because of you, it looks like year 27 is off to a great start.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

tv update

I often don't realize I miss things until I'm reintroduced to them. When I read (okay, skimmed over) this list I found courtesy of Entertainment Weekly, I realized I miss Lost. Today while I stuffed brochure envelopes at the camp office I watched some of the special features from my season one DVD set and it was good times.

Today is the season premiere of Scrubs. I've only discovered this show within the last year and it is so funny. I don't think an episode goes by when I don't laugh out loud. One of the episodes I saw last season featured Turk doing a hysterical dance to the classic "Poison." Check it out here. If you don't watch Scrubs (you should) then you probably won't find this nearly as entertaining as I do, but hopefully you can find some enjoyment in it.

Monday, November 20, 2006


I had a lot of firsts this weekend.

First #1: I spent part of my Friday afternoon with 9 middle school girls at Crispers. Fun, but very loud.

First #2: My roommate Dan turned 26 on Saturday and another friend of his hosted a poker night to celebrate. I'd never played before and opted to just watch the first game thinking it wouldn't take long. Little did I know that those games can last over an hour. Halfway through the game I discovered that Texas Hold 'Em applies many of the same principles as Yahtzee. I found myself wishing that I'd joined the game in the beginning and had just folded the first few rounds so that I could jump in once I got the hang of it.

First #3: I went...well, attempted surfing on Sunday with 5 high schoolers and a dad. It was a blast. People thought we were crazy for going out there with the weather as cool as it was here in FL, but we'd made the plans two weeks prior and weren't going to let some wind chill scare us off. So we made our way to the surfboard rental place (5 bucks for 2 hour rental of board and rashguard...what a deal!) at Cocoa Beach and jumped in. I quickly learned that surfing is hard work. I also got confirmation that I'm not really an athlete and have awful balance. I managed to stand on the board for maybe two seconds, but did a little better on my knees. (I know that's not the goal, but I had to take what I could get.) My desire for Advil at the end of the afternoon reminded me that I'm no longer the young guy I was just a few years back.

It was great to get away for even just the afternoon and was such a bonding experience for the seven of us. We cheered for each other when we caught a wave, laughed when we messed up and simply got to enjoy nature. Even when I was just sitting peacefully on the board waiting for the next wave, it felt like we were enjoying God's creation the way it was meant to be done.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Last week I went to Atlanta along with the other staff members of church for a conference. Lots of good info and opportunities to get to know my fellow staff members better. One of the other highlights was that it was cold (to me, at least) and I got to see proof that seasons do exist.

Friday, November 10, 2006

it's a fiesta!

William Shatner always cracks me up, but this promo for his new game show gets funnier each time I watch it. I've not yet learned how to post video on my blog, so click here to watch it.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

wish list

When I got home tonight from a Halloween get-together, I thought I'd quickly check my email and do some reading. Somehow I ended up at You Tube and entertained myself for well over an hour.

I searched some of my favorite old TV shows and was happy to find theme songs, clips or entire episodes of them online!

If these shows came to dvd I'd be pumped:

1.) Bug Juice - a Disney Channel show that followed kids at summer camp
2.) Salute Your Shorts - another camp show, but a Nickelodeon classic
3.) Family Ties - I don't remember much about plot from this show, but remember always watching it with my parents and being so bummed when it ended

I'm sure there are more, but these are the only ones I can think of right now.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

two things i like a lot

#1: Cathy Martin Cupcake Goodness

#2: getting to wear a jacket today

Sunday, October 22, 2006

camp, lunch, greeting & the evester

Every now and then a weekend comes along and surprises you. This was one of those weekends. I wasn't dreading the weekend, but I wasn't eagerly awaiting it because I had to work Friday and Saturday at camp since we had a group of 375 staying there. We also flew in a guy named Roger to interview for my position and I wanted to be able to get to know him, too. Although I was exchausted by the time I got home Saturday night, things went great. The rock wall was also open, and we had a fun crew come and work (that's us in the above pic). We also ended up with some unexpected, but much appreciated, down time on the front porch of the office to just talk and enjoy each other's company.

Continuing on my Circle F theme, I got to have lunch with Tom, who was one of my favorite campers back when I was a counselor. We've kept in touch over the years and he is now a freshman in college. Wild. I got to hang out with him and his girlfriend (Ashley, another awesome former camper) Sunday afternoon. It was a blast to see them. The thing that I loved was that it didn't feel like campers and a counselor hanging out, but instead just some old friends catching up with each other.

From my first summer in 1999, me on the left, Tom in the middle and Jarod G. on the right.

From this past summer, Ari on the left, me in the middle and Tom on the right.

At church this morning it was the youth's turn to greet and I recruited some guys who were cracking me up the entire time. I felt like I was running all over the place before and during the service, but I was finally able to laugh at myself whenever things didn't go just like they were supposed to. Sample of what went through my head before I had to lead us in a prayer: "Okay, Scott will make eye contact when it's time for me to go up front...It seems like the end of the song, better get ready...Still waiting for eye contact...Ooops, I jumped the gun, song's still not over...Song's over, just grab the mic and pray...Who moved the mic? What do I do now?...Find it now, people are waiting...There it is. Thanks, Scott...Amen."

To top the weekend off I got to visit the Limbers and was unexpectedly treated to a great dinner. Although Evie gave me the cold shoulder when it was time for her to go to bed, it was pretty much a perfect evening.

Monday, October 16, 2006


This past weekend was pretty enjoyable. My friends Ryan and Jenny were in town from Maryland for a wedding that a bunch of us went to on Saturday. The wedding was in Lakeland, and I discovered that downtown Lakeland is a pretty cool area. In front of the church where Nicole and Bobby got married, pumpkins were being sold and I thought they looked cool, so I snapped these pictures.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

stupid vcr

Tonight was good. I felt like our youth group meeting went well and I came home with a Chick-fil-A milkshake in my hand all ready to watch the season premiere of Lost that I had set my VCR to tape. This is when things turned ugly. My VCR that has served me well since graduating high school decided not to tape it! I was so mad when I got home. I got to see the last few minutes which left me even more confused, but then I remembered that the episode will be streaming on ABC's website tomorrow. Whew.

more lost!

Tonight is the season premire of Lost and I am pumped. The other shows I watched on a regular basis last year are not on anymore, so I'm counting on Abrams & Co. to make it happen. This article has me thinking I won't be disappointed.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

an evening with ty & co.

I am a complete wuss. Is it just me or do I have friends out there who want to cry like a baby whenever you watch an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition? I usually do not make a point of watching this show, but if I am home on Sunday night and it's on, I will watch it. Tonight was the season premiere and I told myself I would only watch the first 15 minutes or so because I had to do some reading, but when that 15 minutes was up I found myself hunting for a blank tape so that I could record the rest of the show and watch it later. As I was watching I tried to pinpoint what it is that I love about the show. Yes, the houses always look cool and the designers are great hosts (Ty's constant use of the bullhorn reminds me of good times at camp). The show also features things you can count on: a deserving family, obstacles that challenge them finishing the project on time, lots of ads from Sears, people shouting "Move that bus!" and Ty declaring, "There's just one more thing to say...welcome home." We are fans of traditions and things that are dependable. More than that, though, I think we are attracted to these families being loved. These families have done nothing directly for ABC or members of the show, yet here they are building them a brand new home. As much as those families enjoy their new homes I like to think that they are even more touched by the amount of love poured out to them as a result of that show coming into their lives. Because that's what gets to me. I don't tear up when they show the before and after shots of the houses, but when the kids are jumping up and down and the neighbors are cheering for them, I begin to hope that my roommate doesn't suddenly open the door and see me pretending not to cry.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

a good laugh

My friend Ande sent this email to me today and I thought it was hysterical. Hope it makes you laugh, too.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

katie's keepin' it real

Tonight I watched the CBS Evening News with their new star, Katie Couric. It was fine, but I loved the end. Katie is currently looking for a sign-off like anchors before her had. Walter Cronkite said, “And that’s the way it is...”, while Edward R. Murrow used, "Good night and good luck.” She has invited viewers of the show to submit ideas for her catchphrase and after reading some of those ideas, she showed a clip from Late Night with David Letterman where they made some of their own suggestions:

- Save us, Superman
- Well, I’m off to the dog track
- Three of tonight’s stories were fake. Write in if you think you know which ones
- I’m gonna go get me some ribs
- That’s the deal, Lucille
- Next stop, Margaritaville
- Oh, Lordy, I gots the news fever
- Here, kitty kitty kitty
- Keep feelin’ the funk
- Til tomorrow, morons
- Putting the ‘BS’ in CBS

I personally really like the last one and the ribs comment. How about you? Do you like one of these or do you have your own suggestion for Katie?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

the adventure begins

I am exhausted. I know I am staying waaaay too busy right now, but today was a doozy. This new endeavour is far more work than I thought it would be. Last Wednesday was scheduled to be my first time leading youth group, but it was cancelled because of the threat of Tropical Storm Ernesto. I feel like that was a blessing in disguise because it gave me some much needed extra time to try and get things together.

So tonight ended up being my first time to lead a youth group meeting. I spent pretty much my entire afternoon making last minute preparations including coming up with some back-up games I could do inside since the possibility of rain was very high. I felt overwhelmed, but suddenly got first day of camp, I can't wait to see these kids I've not seen in a year excited. It took me by surprise. All of the anxiety I had been feeling for a week was replaced almost entirely with me looking forward to the evening. What a gift!

When I was thinking about taking this new job one of the first people I spoke with about it was my friend Kim, Ru's wife. She was unbelievably encouraging and I remember saying to her that one of the things I needed to remind myself regularly is that I'm not so big that I can screw up what God wants to accomplish. He's going to do it no matter how much I mess up. I think that might have finally sunk in because when I got in front of the kids to lead games and then give them a short lesson, I didn't even feel nervous. I wanted it to go well, but I wasn't freaking out and my heart wasn't going crazy. Just a few weeks ago when I had to introduce myself to the church my heart was pounding so hard I thought it was going to bust right through my chest. But tonight no heart pounding.

Did the evening go perfectly? It went well, but there was room for improvement. I definitely need to work on my speaking skills (one of the kids told me, "It's not a sermon unless you sweat."), but I feel God was there. And that's excitement. I also threw some shout-outs to places I love that have helped me get where I am now, which was a lot of fun for me. For our games I totally stole some of the Friday night games we do with adults on Family Weekends at Circle F. And while people were arriving I played a cd by 10th Avenue North, a tribute to my TNL days.

Here are a few photos from the evening:

Oh, yeah. Chick-fil-A before getting to the meeting.

So I'm pretty sick of pizza, but love it for pictures like this one.

Funny girls.

In unrelated news, I picked up the 2nd season of Lost last night and have watched the first two episodes. I'd forgotten what a great show that is. Speaking of, I think I'll go unwind by watching that 3rd episode.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

what is going on here?!

When I got home today I decided to unwind a little by reading my most recent issue of Entertainment Weekly. One of the ads I thumbed past was this ad for

Nothing special, right? I thought the same until something caught my eye as I turned the page. I thought I glimpsed the word "Hanso" on the page. If you watch the show Lost like I do, then the title "The Hanso Foundation" means something to you. Surely, I didn't see anything I thought to myself. But upon flipping back to the ad I saw this on the chair the guy in the ad is resting his arm on:

What in the world does have to do with solving the never-ending mysteries of Lost? Are they just trying to be clever because of the episodes with the monster?

Then at the bottom of the ad the following website is listed: I checked it out and it confused me even more. What are these insanely creative writers up to?!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

times are a changin'

I was on vacation last week, and like most vacations it went by way too quickly. Before I knew it I was back in Orlando. But the vacation was a good time. I spent 5 days in Tampa and they were great. It felt good to be home. One of the best things about being home with my dad and Judy is that I traditionally don't have to worry about much. My dad knows I have a tendency to overdo it, so he really likes it when he asks how my day was and my response is, "I watched 3 episodes of 24, went to the mall for some bourbon chicken, watched 3 more episodes of 24, and then watched Little Miss Sunshine (pretty funny) at the movies after dinner." I went on to completely finish that 3rd season of 24 by the end of my time off. It was so good!

I got to visit a bunch of friends, too. I loved just sitting and being in their company. A highlight was meeting Madison Huff, the little girl my friends Clint and Steph had on Friday, August 18. I got to be a part of Madison's first Thursday and it was amazing. The whole idea of women carrying babies inside of them and then suddenly holding that baby is beyond my comprehension. What a miracle it is. I'm so excited for them and know they will be incredible parents. (Check out Huff Haven for a blog they have started about Madison.)

As the end of my vacation grew closer, I was sad to see the time come to an end. But it also meant a new part of my life was going to begin, which was (and is) exciting and scary at the same time. Shortly before camp started this summer, I was offered a position as a youth director at Christ Kingdom Church, the daughter church of the church I've been attending for almost 8 years. It's all been a bit overwhelming because suddenly two things that have been a constant in my life pretty much since I started college are not there anymore. I am still working at camp part-time until they find my replacement, but obviously things aren't the same. I am going to miss those camp and UPC kids like crazy (I already do), but this move makes sense to me. I'm looking forward to seeing if working in youth ministry is something I want to do full-time. It's been a crazy experience so far and God has already reminded me of my need for Him in this job several times. I'm sure that will be a constant theme throughout this new journey. Fortunately, I've also received a ton of support from friends and family that I am grateful for. A huge thanks to all of you who have been praying and encouraging me throughout this whole thing!

I will be leading my first youth group next Wednesday. And if it's anything like the preparation has been, anything is possible.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

movie music

Back in the day when I lived at home with my dad and had cable, I watched a show on E! called Coming Attractions. I don't know if they have time to air this show anymore in between airings of True Hollywood Story, but its concept was simple. For 30 minutes they played nothing but movie previews and I was a fan.

However, I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with movie trailers. I love when they get me excited about an upcoming movie, but I hate it when I figure out the entire plot of the movie just by watching the trailer. I like to have at least one surprise thrown in there. Here's one example: I saw the preview for The Family Stone with Sarah Jessica Parker and Luke Wilson. I didn't have any plans to see the movie, but ended up seeing it over last Christmas with my friend Azuree. Going into the movie, I felt pretty confident that I knew who would end up with who because I had seen the preview. At the end of the movie I found out I was right (score!), but was surprised because I actually liked the movie. I definitely didn't see that coming.

Sometimes I end up liking the movie's preview more than the movie itself. Usually that is because of the music they put in the trailer. I remember when the first Spider-man came out I watched the trailer over and over because it had some cool rock music in it that I thought was great. Back when the girl of my dreams was Sandra Bullock, I discovered the song "Lightning Crashes" by Live through the preview for Hope Floats.

The latest movie trailer I've been hooked on is the one for The Last Kiss. I saw this preview for the first time in a theater over the summer and got excited because Zach Braff (Scrubs!)and my favorite Real World-er, Jacinda, are both in the movie. I can tell I won't agree with all of the things that happen in this movie, but I want to check it out. What I loved about the preview was the way the song that starts when you first see the girl from The O.C. carries the rest of the trailer. I recently learned that the song is called "Chocolate" and is by Snow Patrol. I'd heard of this group before from my cousin Jut, and this immediately gave both the song and movie more credibility in my mind. Here's hoping I enjoy the movie as much as I do the trailer.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

a good weekend

I didn't do anything extraordinary this weekend, but it was one of the most enjoyable ones I've had in a good while. Some highlights:

- sleeping in on Saturday
- getting a call from a camper Saturday morning that cracked me up
- ordering pizza and watching Scrubs with my roommate (quite possibly the funniest show I've ever seen)
- picking up a new bookshelf for my bedroom and being surprised by how easy it was to put together (check it out below!)

- not having to get dressed until 6pm Saturday
- returning items to various stores with no hassle
- getting to catch up with a bunch of people over the phone...Limbers, Ryan, cousins, dad
- getting to visit with my friend Jenny

Hope your weekend was just as good.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

a friendly reminder

Tonight I got to talk to my friend Jessica. (She is the girl in the picture to the left. It's a picture from high school...check out how high my sock is on my right leg!) Although camp is over, some things from the summer have been lingering in my mind and when I was sharing them with her I was reminded that I have a tendency to dwell on things too much. So we got to reminiscing about some high school memories and I was cracking up.

One summer we decided to enter this contest that AMC Theatres held asking students to submit short films that encouraged kids not to drink. I don't remember exactly whose idea it was (unfortunately probably mine), but we taped a parody of Speed with our friends as our entry into the competition. The plot went something like this: Kevin had placed a bomb under bus 2526 (actually Jess's Chevy Astro mini-van with a piece of posterboard taped to it) and it was up to Guy to save the day. Guy arrived to the bus, but faced a challenge because Imee and Danny were drunk and wouldn't listen to him. Fortunately, Sober Girl (Jessica) was on the bus and heard Guy's cries. She acted quickly and saved everyone from the scary bomb (actually fireworks we bought down the street). The moral of the story: Don't get drunk because you never know when someone might put a bomb under the Chevy Astro you're hanging out in.

I am proud to say that I was the director of this masterpiece. Shockingly, we never received any acknowledgement from AMC that they received our prized video. I like to think that the AMC executives bring it out on special occassions or watch it as a stress reliever when things get hairy.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

pray for ande!

Today I got to have lunch with Ande & Kelly, two of my favorite people around. We were all in the same college ministry at UCF and we used to watch Alias together on a regular basis back in the day.

Ande will be starting an RUF at our alma mater this fall. He has his ordination exam this Tuesday and I'm sure he'll do great, but it'd be awesome if you could throw out a prayer for him.

You can do it, P-nut!

Friday, August 04, 2006


I am home!

Monday, June 19, 2006

summer 06 so far...

Camp has overtaken my life, so I've not had time for much of anything else. It started for me the morning after Memorial Day and it seems as though everything has been going at full speed since. But the truth is I love camp. I love seeing the same kids each summer. I love that we can do just about anything as long as the kids are safe and having fun. Everyone should either be a camper or work at a camp at least once in their life.

We just wrapped up our 1st session this past Saturday and it went well. On Sunday we welcomed our 2nd session kids. This session has the highest return rate of all the sessions at camp, which means 2 things: 1.) it's a blast seeing the same kids year after year and 2.) these kids really know the ins and outs of camp, so we have to be on our toes. I'm looking forward to it, though.

Here are some pictures from camp so far:

Mark checks out an awesome sunset and watches over the canoe race.

Nicholas ready to go for MTV Night.

Me with the Devons, two of the best campers ever.

Me with the CoBuck Girls, who are quite possibily the loudest group of girls I've ever met.

On a separate note, Superman Returns comes out next week!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

superman returns

I've been a Superman fan since I was a little kid. I remember putting on a cape when I was 5 or 6 and running around the house pretending I was him. My dad and I used to watch Lois and Clark back when it was on ABC. I even watch Smallville on the WB just because it's a Superman story, although not always the greatest. Just recently I bought a hat with the Superman crest on it. And I am so stinking excited about the new Superman movie. Back in high school and during my first years at UCF there always seemed to be a movie out that I was really excited about. I would see movies in the theater sometimes 3 or 4 times. There hasn't been a movie like that for me in a long time and when I saw this trailer for the new film, I found myself hoping that this would be one of those movies I'd see at the theater over and over.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

MMC lives on

Tonight was unexpected. After running some early evening errands for work and making dinner I found myself with nothing to do. LIFE Group was last night, so I didn't have a lesson to worry about until next week. The bills are paid...even my checkbook is balanced. My room could be cleaner, but that's normal.

Somehow I decided to visit YouTube and do a search on the Mickey Mouse Club (MMC). When I was in elementary and middle school this show was my absolute favorite. Nothing else even came close. To this day, I don't think I've ever been such a fan of any other show, musician or movie. Here are just a few examples of the obsession I had with this show:

1.) We had the Disney Channel just so I could watch the show.

2.) I used to record just about every episode. (Uh, no, I don't have those tapes anymore and I never watch them.)

3.) I made mixed tapes of the songs they sang on the show. I would use my dad's stereo and put the mic up to the TV speakers. In some of the recordings you can hear my bird chirping and me saying, "Shhhh" to my dad.

4.) In 6th grade my parents announced that we would be going to the Disney/MGM studios, where they filmed the show, for Mother's Day. Two things made me very excited: there was a possibility that we'd get to see a taping of the show and I knew that there would be plenty of MMC merchandise for me to purchase. Unfortunately, the show was on hiatus when we were there so I only got to see the set and have my picture taken with the lifesize cut-outs they had of some of the cast members. I had also saved up all of my money from my birthday, Christmas and anywhere else I could get it in order to maximize my shopping experience. I don't remember exactly how much I had saved, but I know it was over $100. I walked out of that theme park broke, but with two bags full of MMC stuff. Whatever they had, I bought...even a MMC fanny pack! My mom became concerned that my dad would get upset with me for spending all of my money so she covered for me and carried one of the bags so it looked like she'd done some shopping, too. I still don't think my dad knows about that.

Anyway, back to my search at YouTube. I searched "Mickey Mouse Club" and to my great delight, several videos came up. The first one I watched was the opening credits from either the second or third season of the show. I got a smile out of that.

I continued on and decided I should try searching the names of some of the cast members that I liked a lot. Britney Spears and some of the guys from nsync were on the show, but they weren't my favorites. My favorites have gone on to do some notable things, but aren't as big as the others. I thought Ryan was cool and he's done some big movies like The Notebook and he's got a film coming out this fall called Half Nelson that is getting a lot of buzz. As for the girls, in the first seasons of the show, I thought Tiffini was the greatest. But then they introduced Keri Russell and I had a new girl. She has since been on a show called Felicity and is going to be in the new Mission:Impossible movie. I also read she's going to be doing some make-up ads.

So I did a search on "Keri Russell," and found some of the most hysterical videos. The one for "Live and Learn" really had me rolling. I haven't laughed that hard in a while. These videos are so cheesy that I couldn't help but enjoy watching them. I used to think the kids on that show were so cool. And I wanted to be like them so much.

It was so great to watch these videos and get all nostalgic about the show, good memories from those times and simply laugh at myself. And while I never did get on MMC, my mom and dad did eventually buy me the jacket that they had on the show. And if you think I ever wore that jacket to school and told random people that I had been on the show, then you might be onto something.

Sunday, April 23, 2006


I was at camp for Easter last weekend and got to go to part of the sunrise service at Bok Tower Gardens. It is probably what Lake Wales is most famous for. Bok Tower is also the home of the highest point in Florida. Anyway, here are a few pictures from the service.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


In high school and in the beginning of my college years, I was a big fan of The Real World and Road Rules. Of the two shows, I was a bigger fan of Road Rules. Although I have to confess I did have a crush on Jacinda from the London edition of Real World. Whenever they had those all day marathons of either show on a Saturday, I was there. The idea of taking an extended road trip in a Winnebago and going on various adventures in unfamiliar territory is still appealing to me today.

When I was a freshman at UCF my roommate (a buddy from high school named Vadin who is easily one of the funniest people I have ever known) and I even made audition tapes for those two shows. I remember getting a rejection letter saying I didn't make the cut. I don't think we seriously thought we had a shot of being chosen, so I thought it was great to even get just the rejection letter.

What appealed to me the most about those shows, though, was the sense of community I thought they experienced. They would all be crying at the end no matter how many people had been voted out of the house or how many times they made the wrong turn while on the road and I would think, "I want to have that kind of experience with people!" I wanted to have people caring for me and I wanted to be caring for them. I was longing for it.

Flash forward to March when I was visiting my friends in North Carolina. I love these people. To the left are Kim, Ru and their son Jacob. Unfortunately I have no pics of James from this trip, but I've got plenty video of him channeling his inner Rachel Green.

I had a great time on this trip. Good chili, St. Patty's day parade and a psycho bowling tournament, just to name a few of the highlights. On the Sunday night of my visit I got to attend Grace Community Church, which is the church that Ru planted a few years back. It came time for communion and I had a pleasant surprise. When they serve communion at Grace, it is served to you by an elder and he prays for you right there. I was slightly intimidated by this at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked it. It was so personal. The elder asked for my name and prayed for me on the spot. Without even knowing anything about me. All he cared about at that moment was that I was celebrating Christ with him. I came home wishing the church I attend here could so the same thing.

Then tonight I went to a Maundy Thursday service at UPC and my wish came true. Mike O. announced we would be coming up to the table and the elders would serve the Lord's Supper to us and then pray for us. I loved hearing Mike call me "brother" when I took the bread. I loved seeing the elders put their arms around people as they prayed for them. What got me even more was seeing a couple or family go and be served together. What an awesome thing.

And then it dawned on me on my way home. That is community. Coming before the Lord together as a family. What better way to do it?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


I have been in a funk lately. But I love how God surprises me with the most unexpected things when I am in a funk. I have had a couple of those lately.

Last week I had Monday and Tuesday off from work, so I was not in the mood to be there on Wednesday morning. But I got a call from Debbie, who is one of my favorite people. She handles our bookkeeping, payroll and other things I don't understand and called to say she was giving Diana and me increases in our gas allowances. Awesome! It completely caught me off guard. She thought we deserved more, so she told one of the owners and made it happen.

A second surprise occurred when I called my dad earlier today to catch up. I asked him to specifically pray for me about something. For some reason, I usually don't call my dad with specific prayer requests, so I felt a little embarrassed to ask him. But God surprised me. My dad's response was, "I always pray for you." That made me feel so good and so loved. And I really needed that. I guess I just expected him to say, "Okay, no problem," but his response exceeded my expectations.

I also had LIFE Group with my 8th graders tonight and it didn't go as well as I would have liked. Distractions came up and I didn't handle them well. They were frustrating me and it was one of those nights where you wonder why you even bother. So I got home and signed on to iChat and up popped a window that says someone is trying to do a video chat with me. "Video chat?" I thought. I accepted it and all of a sudden I'm looking at Ben Seidman, one of my favorite campers from Circle F. (That's us on the left in 2003.) It was unexpected and just plain cool. It was like he was sitting in my room hanging out. (I totally want to buy a webcam now.) And it was great to hear from him. It also reminded me of a line from Patch Adams that Linc shared with us once during a ULife meeting and that I shared with the youth group last time I spoke. At one point in the film Robin Williams says, "When I took on the problems of the people around me, my own problems began to disappear." That's what happened when I talked to Ben. I sat down in front of my computer frustrated with my baggage and then he started talking about things he's dealing with as a sophomore in high school. Suddenly I forgot all about my problems.

All of this reminds me of a verse from Ephesians 3:

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

I'm so thankful that God loves us enough to surprise us with things that we don't even think are possibilities.


Yesterday I saw something really simple, but I loved it. I was walking around the Waterford Lakes Town Center heading over to Old Navy when I heard some commotion. I looked behind me and saw that a family (a dad, mom and little girl) was racing to their car with these big smiles on their faces. The mom won and cheered when she tagged the car first. It was so great. It immediately made me think how great it will be when/if I have a family of my own and can do things like that.

I also realized that that was probably the best part of that family's day. Whatever they bought at Waterford couldn't compare to the joy I'm sure they felt in that moment. It reminds me how we are created for relationships. I had spent the day unsuccessfully shopping for new furniture (conclusion: I don't like shopping) and decided that the coolest looking living room ever wouldn't really make me happy. What I want and truly need are valuable relationships. And the relationship I'll experience the most joy from is the one I have with God. What strikes me as crazy is that I was willing to drive all over Orlando looking for a couch, but have a hard time spending 10 minutes in prayer talking to God.

Thursday, March 30, 2006


Today at work I have been trying to find a replacement sneezeguard panel for our salad bar. We've done it before and it's been easy, but it appears the part we need may be discontinued. I decided to google the manufacturer of the salad bar, Carlisle FoodService Products, and this is the desciption I got:

"Business to business marketer and manufacturer offering products for the foodservice industry, serving restaurants, hotels, hospitals, and even prisons."

That's the angle your marketing team decided would be the best? Really? I love it.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


I am getting ready to kick things up a notch at my apartment, so if you or anyone else you know in the central Florida area needs a loveseat and chair let me know. They have been in my family since I was in 3rd grade and they are still in good condition. I'll be replacing them in early April.

Monday, March 20, 2006


This is Travis, one of the 8th graders in the LIFE Group I lead. I challenge you to find another middle schooler, guy or girl, who thinks they dress as well as Travis thinks he does. Not surprisingly, it took very little to convince him that it was a good idea for him to squeeze into this shopping cart. I would be lying, though, if I said I didn't become slightly concerned when he had trouble getting out of the seat. What would I have told his parents? "Well, Mrs. Crowley, I'm glad you asked why Travis now has a limp."

His willingness to pose for a picture like the one here is one of the reasons I love middle schoolers.

NC trek

I love pictures. Photographs to be more specific. I do not have a great appreciation for paintings, but photos are another story. The screensaver on my computer often captivates my attention. It’s nothing fancy: just the screensaver that displays a different picture every couple of seconds, but I am so content watching those shots go by. I don’t yet have a digital camera, so the last time I was at my dad’s car lot, I scanned a bunch of pictures I only have hard copies of just so that I could have them on my computer and be able to watch them on my screensaver.

My appreciation of photos has expanded to include a greater appreciation of picture frames. I went through a phase around a year ago when I bought frames that I liked even though I didn’t have a particular picture to put in them. I would even walk around in Target or Bed Bath and Beyond (wow, I’m starting to sound like a girl) just to see if they had any cool picture frames I wanted to buy. I also have some photo coasters that are stored away in my closet patiently waiting for the day I get a coffee table.

I’d not thought much lately about the pleasure photos bring me until last week when I took a trip to North Carolina to visit friends from college. I drove there and decided it would be cool to get my picture taken with the welcome sign of each state I drove through. I knew it would only be 4 pictures, but I still thought it would be a fun way to document my excursion.

At first I wanted to take a picture with the welcome sign that was at each state border. My first (and only) attempt failed miserably. The “Welcome to North Carolina” sign is on a small bridge and is not an ideal spot for picture taking. I should have known when I stepped onto the bridge and felt it shaking that this idea was not one of my best. Besides the fact that cars were flying past me, each time I propped my camera on the roof of my car a gust of wind would take hold of the camera, turn it around and ruin my photo opp.

So I settled on taking pictures at each state’s welcome center. What I loved was the response I received whenever I asked a stranger to help me out. Each encounter went something like this:

Me: “Excuse me. Could you help me out?”

Stranger: look of panic

Me: “I was wondering if you could take a picture of me with the welcome sign.”

Stranger: The look of panic diminished, he smiled and gave a resounding, “Sure!”

I know they were initially just happy I wasn’t asking for money, but it also reminded me how much almost everyone likes pictures. Plenty of people turn down invitations to be in pictures (I have some painful memories of those pictures you took every year at school), but I can’t think of a time when someone has refused to take a picture.

In North Carolina the gentleman who took my picture was named Ferd. After he took the first shot, he totally got into it and when I said thank you and started walking away from the sign, he exclaimed, “Wait! Let’s try it from another angle. You never know how it’s going to turn out.” This is the 2nd shot, which did turn out better. Turns out Ferd's got a good eye.

In Georgia, I saw a lady smile as she walked past the guy who was headed to Fort Myers take this picture of me.

The guy who took my picture when I made it back home to Florida was on his way to Pensacola with his family. The picture he took came out blurry, but that's alright.

My portrait with the "Welcome to South Carolina" sign didn't happen because I was on a state highway and I didn't realize I was in South Carolina until I drove past the small sign. I did, however, get to drive past the world's largest strawberry and grab this shot as I drove out of SC.

It is amazing to me how a camera can capture a moment. How can that little tiny thing suck in that second of life and freeze frame it? Even after taking a photography class in high school I still don’t get it. I don’t think I ever will. I'm just thankful someone did get it.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


This week has been pretty good and here are some of the things that have made me smile, laugh or just plain happy.

1.) Travis wearing a pink shirt with tie

2.) the word "bee-otch"

3.) my dad channeling his inner Stevie Wonder and leaving me a voicemail saying, "I just called to say I love you."

4.) the staff at Firehouse Subs shouting, "Thank you!" whenever a customer left

5.) the ladies who work in the office across from mine coming over to talk about 24

6.) thinking about seeing my friends Ru, Kim and James this weekend in NC

7.) getting $11 knocked off of rent

8.) watching Scrubs

9.) awesome worship on Wednesday night

10.) getting HP & the Goblet of Fire on DVD

11.) riding my bike to Matt and Anna's and Evie being shy

Thursday, March 02, 2006

when in gainesville

The past 24 hours have been a lot of fun. I went up to UF in Gainesville with Diana, the director at camp, for a summer camp job fair. We go every year to recruit students to be counselors with us during the summer. I've gone on this trip four times and this was by far my favorite visit.

While we were in Gatortown, we stayed at a Holiday Inn and upon our arrival we were served cookies warm from the oven. Our hotel also had free wireless internet, and as someone who recently received his first laptop, I was pretty excited. We also met up with seven of our old counselors for dinner. I'd not seen some of them since the last time we were at UF so it was good to catch up with them. The other perk was that I got a free dinner at Chili's thanks to Circle F.

The highlight of the trip was spending time with my friend Grace. Last Christmas my friend Andy had his annual party for all of us who went to high school together and I found out that Grace & another friend of mine, Julia, live together and go to grad school at UF. I told them I would give them a call when I was in Gainesville for this job fair. I procrastinated calling them until I was on my way to our dinner at Chili's to see if they wanted to meet up when I finished my Chicken Crispers. Part of me wasn't sure if I should call because I thought maybe it would be awkward since we only usually see each other once a year, but I could not have been more wrong.

Julia was not able to make it, but Grace was and I was so happy to visit with her. We reminisced about my spring break trip to visit her and our other friend Martha when they were attending Boston University. On my first night there, they decided I would enjoy an authentic Boston clubbing experience. Being the clubbing fiend that I am, they were surprised to learn that all of my best clubbing gear was left in Orlando. This excuse did not deter them, though, as they called all of their guy friends until they found an outfit they deemed appropriate.

Grace also gave me an update on a guy we went to high school with named Bryan Edwards. I catch up with Bryan at Andy's parties, but don't keep in touch with him otherwise. I knew he'd been pursuing a country music career and that he was this close to being on "Nashville Star," but Grace had exciting news to tell. She informed me that not only is he now selling his cds on his website (I just ordered them!), but he opened for Keith Urban at a concert in St. Pete this past week. I'm not an avid country music fan, but I do know who this guy is because he's been mentioned in Entertainment Weekly and he's a big deal in that world right now.

I love hearing these stories about the different paths people end up on. It makes me wonder if there are other people I went to high school with sitting around asking each other, "Do you know whatever happened to that Jason Vargas kid? Remember when we had to sit through that lame senior class video he made? I wonder what he's up to now."

It also reminds me that God often puts us on paths that we never expected to be on. The tricky part is trusting that He knows what He's doing when He puts us on those paths.

Monday, February 27, 2006

car wash

After spending about 15 minutes talking my dad through how you send an email with an attachment, I received the early 1980s newspaper clipping pictured above. The thing I find pretty cool is that just last week I went to visit my dad for his birthday and while I was there we washed my car. And this time he was on hose duty while I scrubbed my car clean. Another good thing is that my hair is no longer shaped like a bowl.