Monday, May 31, 2010

Yet More Lessons From My Flower Garden

Today I had to remove a gorgeous flowering plant from my flower garden. Sad but necessary.

I wish I could tell you what this plant is called but I have no clue. I knew 5 years ago, but so much has happened since then and my brain is constantly having to kick out old info to make room for new. I wish my brain were spongier.

I have about 12-13 flowering plants in my garden. Last summer, one of them grew to about 10 times the sizes of all the others, and began to overshadow the entire garden. It was bigger than any of my bushes. It made no sense. It offends in many ways. It makes the rest of my flower garden difficult for me to see and enjoy. It prevents some of the other flowers from getting sunlight. It is as if it wants the entire flower bed to itself. It is the attention seeker....and because of its large presence, everything else is almost hidden.

I hated to....I really really did, but I knew that for me to get my garden back to a a reasonable balance, I would need to remove the flowering plant that was taking over. For now I have just cut it way down, so later I can just dig it up and plant it somewhere else....hopefully successfully. As I was working in the garden this morning my mind was going a million places, as usual. I had the thought that I never considered I would need to uproot anything from my garden other than weeds. Meaning, I never thought I'd have to cut down a good thing. The plant itself wasn't bad, there was just too much of it and it was creating negative outcomes.

When we analyze our lives and re-evaluate aspects of it from time to time, I think we'd all agree there are times we have to eliminate some bad stuff from our lives. We are either reading too many celebrity mags, watching too much TV, eating too many sweets (except chocolate of course), spending too much time on the internet, coveting our neighbors blow up Christmas Elmo too intently, not praying enough, etc. I can actually think of about 700 more things which is there is far too much opportunity to participate in bad habits. Those bad habits are the weeds. Those suckers need to be yanked out by the root, and possibly treated with some weed prevention agent to protect the health of the good plants. But when we think about making changes in our lives, I don't think we often stop to consider that there can be too much of a good thing crowding out and overshadowing other many "would-be" good things. When we allow one thing in our lives to get too big and take over, we are possibly preventing the sun from shining on the other things that need to grow.

If we focus everything on our children, then our marriages may suffer. If we nurture and feed career but neglect the family, from where will it get its nourishment? When we drop everything to run to the aid of a friend, but fail to see that someone in the family needs a bandage, infection may set in. When we bank all of our future on one ability, you could wake up one morning to find out that the dog pee'd on your biggest plant and its no longer the focal point of the garden.

I cut down a beautiful plant today. It was healthy. It was blooming. And it was right where I intended for it to be all along. But it began to threaten the potential of everything else around it.

Sometimes you have to reevaluate the good things, make adjustments, and nurture what has been neglected.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Actual Big Announcement - final installment

I am officially a new consultant for the Rodan & Fields Skincare solutions. Dr. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields are the world-renowned dermatologists who created the hugely popular and successful ProActive. They have created 4 other incredible skincare regiments to treat either (1) aging (2) acne (3) sensitve skin (i.e. rosacea) and (4) sun-damage.

I was skeptical at first because of my clinical skincare experience. I love these products and am frankly blown away. The doctors have created a direct selling format similar to that of Mary Kay or Pampered Chef to empower others to go out and create successful businesses. The big difference is a dermatological quality product strictly for skincare. The opportunities are endless. The format is flexible. The earning potential is unlimited. The free time is available. These products were briefly sold in high end retail stores and flew off the shelves.

So what now?
- I am seeking customers
- I am seeking referrals for people who need or desire quality skincare
- I am seeking referrals for people who want to build a wildly exciting and lucrative business
- I am recruiting a sales team

Some of the most exciting testimonies I have heard involve both men and women who tried this part-time and were quickly earning more than enough income to quit their day jobs. Why? This is new. The company is barely into its 2nd year. The earlier you enter into this opportunity, the more successful you can be and the more rapidly you can build wealth. None of which would be worth it if the products were not amazing.

I have samples.

Want some?

You can visit my 2 websites to learn more.

The product website is

The business website is

All products come with a money back guarantee. You can't beat that.

At some point each day as I ponder this new venture, use the products and discuss with my mentor, I really had a reason for leading me down such varied paths. I have been ridiculed in the past by some of my peers for having my hands in too many pots....but you know...I was always either following my heart, following opportunity, or following God. He has kept it quite interesting for me....and i cannot even begin to express the immense value and wealth of knowledge and experience I have gained up to now.

Earlier this year I was truly stressing out about what I would do....what I would have to do to change my schedule to be home with my boys every afternoon when school lets out and on the weekends. I was feeling hopeless and sad about my alternatives. It wasn't long before the kids in Zimbabwe let me know they were praying for me....for all kinds of things that I wasn't even praying for myself. When my dearest, long-time friend, Debbie, called me to tell me she had this opportunity and that it was perfect for me, I nearly fainted. After meeting with her and some others who are in the business SEVERAL times I became convinced that it is my next path.

So, that's it. I took this journey through my career history and I brought you with me because it is special to me to look in the rear view and see how God weaves journeys and crosses paths and clears the way.

I'm feeling incredibly excited and blessed.

Big Announcement - part 6

I said there was one thing that Real Estate can't do for me, but there are really 2.

For one thing, in the foreseeable future, Real Estate cannot free up my weekends. Nope. Most buyers want to look at houses on weekends, understandably. And most open houses, if not all, occur on Sundays. The remaining buyers want to look at houses on weeknights after 5pm. This is all well and good in spurts, but it is not healthy to spend every weekend away from my family. I had my children on purpose, to be their mommy. My Tater Tot will be going to Kindergarten this fall. No more daytime weekday bonding for us.

Another thing real estate cannot do for me is offer consistency. If I want to work hard, I can grow wealth. If I want to relax, I go broke. I have been around hundreds of Realtors on a regular basis. We are some of the most uptight people in the world. Everything in our lives seems to revolve around our pending sales. I like to believe that I don't exactly fit that mold because I value many things in life more than a paycheck....but those paychecks are pretty important too.

I have been presented an opportunity. It is an opportunity that will ironically:
- allow me to serve people the way they want to be served
- recruit and train motivated entrepreneurs
- encourage and inspire people to grow wealth and then manage it
- teach and train
- provide a healthy clinical solution for taking care of skin
- sell
- reclaim my weekends to be a more present and mild mannered mommy
- work hard for a few years to build the business & then relax but continue to earn forever

I am so excited about what is coming up for me. I will share more details tomorrow. But for now, I am not quitting real estate. I will continue to be a Realtor because I love it, but I will work with fewer clients per year and I will refer the rest to an amazing network of other, like-minded agents. The remainder of 2010 will be a packed year for me....the scaling back will begin January 2011.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Big Announcement - part 5

I was selling real estate, but it was very part-time and very inconsistent. Joe was unemployed also so we had to face reality. One of us, no matter which one, HAD to get a Jay Oh Bee.

I was first.

I HATED to return to the corporate world. It crushed me. I had been working part-time since Asher had been born and I would have to return full-time to a "boss" and corporate ladder climbing beasts. Arghh...just to think about it even today makes me cringe. Some people do this and love it and it works. I have just known for decades that it wasn't for me. I got the job. I would be working for attorneys again. And while I was a perfect fit for them, they were not a perfect fit for me. Two months later Joe got a job...a GREAT one with a perfect schedule and great benefits. Praise the Lord. I stayed a little longer and 2 crazy things happened. I began to get more real estate leads and I also got pregnant with Shawn. Buh-bye corporate world. It's been real!

Don't misunderstand me, a lot of my very dear and wonderful friends work in the corporate world. They are entitled to do what they love. I just knew it wasn't for me. I desired to be my own boss. I needed to be my own boss. I thrive at being my own boss. And I succeed.

Over the years of switching from financial services to real estate to skincare back to corporate back to real estate, I have mostly heard incredibly encouraging statements of affirmation. I have had friends that think it is awesome that I am versatile and well-rounded. Many friends and associates find it interesting and maybe even courageous. But there have always been 2 voices in my head that tell me I'm wishy washy or that I don't know what I want. I even had one good friend tell me in the past that she found my job hopping to be an unattractive character trait, and she soon ended our very long term friendship. She of course did nothing like what I did. She started as a teenager as a file clerk with a company. She later advanced into management. She later married one of the sales people and then started a twin company, which she later sold. Now she is wealthy and retired. All the while, she pushed a product she knew nothing about. I respect her dedication to one job. I admire that she turned a clerical job into a fortune. That is amazing! This is what makes the world so interesting. Some people are motivated by comfort and familiarity. Some people are motivated by money. Some are motivated by creativity and versatility. And some are motivated by knowledge and intellect. Others are motivated by control (or the illusion of).

I am motivated by service. I love to teach, train and positively affect the lives of others. I am motivated by "the sky is the limit". The amount of real estate I sell is up to me. It is up to me to further my knowledge. It is up to me to provide exceptional service. It is up to me to be creative and think outside the box when road blocks pop up. It is up to me to earn referrals. Real estate affords me flexibility with my schedule during the day (at least). It is exciting and rewarding, and it is a respectable income. Even though I practiced skincare for 4 years, I have sold real estate for a total of 9 years. The last 5 have been full-time.

There is only one thing Real Estate does not do for me. be continued....

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I interrupt the Big Announcement - for a Big Announcement

I received an email today from Fatima's assistant. It included a letter to me and everyone who helped. As I have changed computers, I only had the email addresses of 15 people to forward it to. There are 17 more of you whose addresses I need to get onto this computer somehow..(somehow meaning that I am swamped...not that I don't know how).

If you were a donor and did not get that email from me today, please quickly email me and I will reply back to you with a copy of the letter. otherwise, we might have to wait until after the weekend for me to gather them all.

I love you all....all who helped, all who prayed, and all who cheered me on. Our God is mighty! And He likes big blue trucks, y'all.

I love Him too.

your grateful friend,

melissa gail ishmael irwin

Big Announcement - part 4

When I left the Trust company in August of 2001, I had been dating Joe for a year. I had enough savings to carry me for a few months and immediately began working on studying for my real estate license. I had developed quite an interest in this area through managing estates and trusts that owned real estate. Most of my clients were local and occasionally they would sell their homes that were owned by trusts, or held as assets in estates. My mom had been a mortgage lender briefly so I was familiar with that end, and I had already purchased my own home, so I had some knowledge from that angle as well. It seems completely crazy now, but at the time, it made sense.

In September of 01, the terrorists brought down the twin towers. On 9/23 Joe and I got unofficially engaged and on 9/26 we got officially married. The real estate biz was hard at first. I was a buyers agent on a team of realtors which was great from a learning perspective, but it was hard in other ways. I sold a few houses and thought it was not at all what I expected and hoped for, so I retired my license. Since Joe and I were married and his job paid the bills, I decided to really do something different. Very different.

I set aside the Financial licenses.

I set aside the Real Estate license.

I went to school for 1 year to learn about skin and obtain an Aesthetics license. Why? Well, I had always suffered with skincare problems. I had a few facials in my lifetime at that point and felt like that would be an incredible way to help people, a solid way to earn an income, without the corporate headaches, and without the inconsistency of real estate. I was right.

I got my first job as an Esthetician in a spa. I worked there for about a year when I heard from my former teacher telling me there was a great position open in a physicians office to do "clinical" skincare. I jumped at that chance and I got the job. I worked there for nearly 3 years. (All the while I had continued to sell real estate part-time). It was in that job that I learned more about skin than I had ever imagined possible. I learned about the value of building relationships with the people I encountered day to day. I learned about the importance of quality products and proper usage. I learned that most women don't believe they are beautiful, even when they look like cover models. I learned that doctors don't know much about business. I learned that marketing is a key ingredient to success. And I learned how to sell products that I believe in. It was also there, where I was on straight salary, that I realized I really appreciated working on commission. Real Estate obviously pays on commission per sale. But also, the spa where I worked would pay me a commission to sell products. It amazed me how much larger my paychecks would be if I actually would sell products.

After 3 years there I was let go. I knew it was coming because I had been warned that I needed to increase business, but I had not been given a marketing budget. I still don't know how to increase business without marketing. It was a bittersweet split. My husband had lost his job one month before. He worked for a restaurant that had been bought out by someone who thought his brother would make a fine Executive Chef. Joe worked the late and long demanding hours of Thanksgiving and was let go at the end of his shift. One month later, a week before Christmas with a 12 month old baby at home, I lost my job too. But it was sweet because we knew God well enough to know that through no faults of our own, we were being forced into God's will and he would take us on an incredible adventure. be continued....

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Big Announcement - part 3

As previously mentioned, my gig as a recruiter was short lived. It seems that in the short time I was there, changes occurred frequently. I think I just got dizzy. I returned to waiting tables for a while, which ironically God-indicentally connected me to my husband. There is always a reason. Always. The providence of God is an amazing thing.

Soon I became a temp employee at a local hospital where I worked for an Orthopedic Trauma Surgeon. He never said 2 nice words to me, but the job was fine. I liked my co-workers. One of them fasted every Wednesday and always talked about Jesus. I wasn't a big listener back then, but I know now that Fran wanted me to know Him. After many months of being a temp employee, a full-time position opened up and I was offered the job. I accepted, and then over that weekend something changed and I was notified that next week that not only had they not been approved for a full-time employee in that role, but they were no longer afforded the temp position, and so I was immediately let go. It was hard to be let go from that job especially since I wanted "it" and they wanted "me". The truth is, I would have likely stayed in that job forever. It would have helped pay for Spencer's college because of the affiliation with Vanderbilt, great benefits, great location, and the constant challenge of working for a turd. Wait...did I type that? Sorry.

I left there feeling hopeless and empty. I was a single mom and had to find something FAST. Immediately an attorney hired me to replace his legal assistant. Two days before I was to begin that job, the legal assistant decided not to move out of town with her boyfriend after all and so she was given her job back. I didn't even get to start. Thankfully, I had been on several interviews already and within a short period, I got a call back from a prestigious Financial Institution in downtown Nashville. It was very high brow. Marble floors, a pantyhose requirement, a front-office staff with permanent frowns. It worried me. I didn't have the clothes. I didn't have the pantyhose. I didn't know how to walk in heels on marble floors. But I learned a few things as a recruiter and those gems got me the job. During my interview with the man who would eventually hire me, we went through the list of general questions posed in most every interview. When he finished interviewing me, I said...."ok Bob, so here are the answers to the questions that are illegal for you to ask me.". I explained that I was a single-mom to a 10-year old son and that he would never hire a harder worker than me. He grinned from ear to ear, folded up the file with my resume and marched me to the president's office for a quick introduction. I started the following week.

My first role was in Wealth Management where I prepared retirement plans for our brokers across the country, for their clients. The brokers were my clients. I LOVED it! We were purchased by another firm and I was switched around to the Trust Department. I took several training classes in Phoenix, AZ and I earned some professional licenses pertaining to the financial industry and eventually assisted in the management of trusts and estates. It was hard. It was fascinating. It was rewarding and mostly it was eye-opening. I stayed with this company for 3 years, through another merger, and then I left voluntarily for what boiled down to some heavy ill feelings toward some of my co-workers. Two of them were having an affair (both were married). I was expected to accept this and look away. That was pretty disgusting. My boss was on cloud 9 one day and barking from the pits of hell the next. Another superior sat on a mighty high horse and treated me like the scum beneath the mud puddle. I loved the job but couldn't bear the politics. I left. But I left with the incredible knowledge that in the vast majority of lives I witnessed, money creates monsters. Greed destroys families. Climbing ladders can result in fatal falls.

I left that job with a deep pain in my heart. I was just getting started. What would I do next? These paths seemed to have some dramatic starts and stops. Couldn't God just lead me to the perfect career? be continued......

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Big Announcement - part 2

When I graduated from college, I officially went out in search of a "real job". The truth is, waiting tables is about as real of a job as you can have. It is demanding and challenging on many levels, and it does after all, pay "real" money. I was always a little perturbed when my job as a server was treated as though it wasn't a real one. It paid the bills and raised my oldest son, in addition to teaching me heaps of skills and virtues.

My first non-waitressing job out of college was that of an Employment Recruiter at a staffing agency. I actually went there to find temp work, and was hired to hire people instead. It was there that I learned about searching, finding, counseling and training. Basically, I learned recruiting. I only worked there for about 8 months and I don't remember why I wasn't happy....but I know I left with some knowledge, skills and interest. The greatest realization that I made at that job was that the real corporate world wasn't made up of "Amanda's" on Melrose Place. The real corporate world is made up of everyday people who can do spectacular and amazing work. All it takes is the right mindset, dedication to knowledge, and teamwork I learned that anyone can be fabulous and anyone can be successful. They just have to want it, and go for it. Tight skirts, blonde hair, blue eyes, and big boobs is not the basic requirement. be continued...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Big Announcement

Ok, so I'll go ahead and admit upfront that this post is just a teaser. I'm not actually making a big announcement today, but I will soon. Until then, I'm going to share some of my amazing professional journey with you....mostly because I want to remind it to myself.

But here is a quick explanation of what I am not going to announce.

I am not pregnant.

I am not moving to Africa.

I am not ill.

I am not quitting Real Estate.

I am not getting a divorce.

Ok, so having eased your curiosities there, here is where my journey begins. This announcement will require several posts over the next few days, and my primary purpose to is explore, share and appreciate all of the jobs that God has led me through. When I look back on this journey, it all makes sense to me. I love the God weaves the trails His direction.


I was not an exceptional student in high school, although I was at the top of every "smart" list in elementary and junior high. By high school I just struggled to get by. Life was hard and as far as academics went, I was a bare minimum kinda girl. Those of you who know me well probably have a hard time fathoming that description, but its true.

As a young single mom I put myself through college where I earned a Bachelors of Business Administration. I excelled at everything. It was the most productive period of life. I raised a child (with help), worked like a slave and studied like a woman who was aiming for the top. It was during these years that I waited tables, both in a very popular chain restaurant and also at a very fast-paced sports bar. It was those years as a server that taught me how to serve. Sounds simple, right? Well, not all servers are actually there to serve you. You know this sometimes when you go out to eat and your server fails to refill your beverages, check on your satisfaction, or meet your basic needs. I learned how to serve and to serve well. I learned how to conform to a variety of personalities. I learned how to fit the mold that my customers wanted. If they wanted me to be part of their experience, I was. If they wanted me not to speak unless spoken to, I'd keep my mouth shut. If they wanted me to memorize their orders so I'd know exactly what they want the next time without having to ask....i could do that too. Honestly, as a restaurant server, I rocked. I could balance heavy trays way up in the air and practically skate with grace through the establishment. I could carry 4 pitchers of beer in one hand, 8 at one time if I needed to. (This won me several proposals). I earned big tips. I could comfort. I could entertain. I could be invisible. I could practically read minds. I learned in that career how to take care of people, the way they wanted to be taken care of. I was often told I had a gift. It seemed silly at the time, but I look back now and I can see exactly what God was developing in me. I wouldn't be who I am today if I hadn't served as a waitress for 4 years. be continued

Saturday, May 22, 2010

We Could Have Never Known

There wasn't really anything different about that day. Living alongside a river has proven to be inconvenient at times. The beautiful back road to my house follows the river in spots. It is not uncommon for a severely heavy rain to rise the waters causing them to spill into the road and across the street into the field. When this happens, detour. It's makes sense. It is the waters edge. I have been late to things before because I journeyed that way only to discover I would have to backtrack and go out the more civilized way via interstate.

I went the other way. I was heading out to an important meeting on a Saturday afternoon. I was driving away from the river. The rain was brutal, but it wasn't even that difficult to see. I've had to pull over before because the rain was so hard that I couldn't see out my windshield. Not that day. I could see. But I approached a dip in the road that was full of water. In 8 years I had never seen water pool in that area before. It was very shallow. I drove through. A few hundred feet further and there was another pooled area. This struck me as bizarre. My instinct told me to turn around and go home. What if I crossed safely through but couldn't get home later in the event those pools got deeper. I would miss the important meeting and would return safely home.

Tornado warnings followed soon. Flash flood warnings. I have never in my life really known what a flash flood was. Still don't, really. Nothing about this flood was a flash. Soon the power was out. And not much longer after that, the cell phone service was out too. I had been glued to facebook via my phone watching as the fear in people rose as high as the waters. Reading the SOS signals spread far and wide across the social network. The water had risen so high in one neighborhood that people were being rescued by boat. People in my subdivision were posting photos of the waters approaching their homes. Then, no more facebook. No more anything. No phone. And also, no groceries.

The water never came down my street so I truly had no idea of the devastation drowning the comforts and simplicities of the lives down the road. It would be 2 full days before anything recovered enough for me to begin to get a glimpse of what was going on. It was then that I learned my husbands employer had been destroyed. I still cannot put into words how I felt and feel about what I saw. I still cannot fathom that one young man floated away and still has not been found. I still cannot process that our city and surrounding cities became a lake, with boats floating down streets and in parking lots. I still cannot fathom that the rush of the water knocked down thousands of trees.....many trees that still look like they are lying down taking a nap, but I know they will never wake up. I still cannot process that many people lost their homes and will not even be allowed to rebuild because of their location and elevation. I still cannot fathom that many people lost their keepsakes, their photos, and other personal tiny treasures that cannot be replaced. I still cannot fathom that many people drowned just trying to get to higher ground. I still cannot fathom that some houses were completely forced off of their foundations and that entire streets caved and floated away. I cannot fathom the pets that are lost and those that drowned. And I cannot fathom that some people lost the one and only home they have ever known. And I cannot fathom that it won't happen again. It seemed to happen all too easily.

I'm sorry to be writing about this again. It has been raining a lot. It is not raining today, thankfully....but we have continued to have way more rain than we need. I was having lunch with a friend of mine this week, Marcia. I said, "we'll never look at rain the same". Just meaning....heavy rain is scary. Marcia is a songwriter and she wrote that line down and threatened to write a song. I hope she does.

There was really nothing different about that day. But everything is different now.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Summer (& a truck update)

I guess our summer is officially beginning after tomorrow. The boys will be finished with school and will have a couple of weeks at home before they return to just a 1 day per week program for 8 weeks. I cannot believe my Tater Tot will start Kindergarten in August. That seems impossible. Oh my goodness.

Yesterday we all got haircuts and the boys got new Crocs for the summer. I fought the Crocs mentally, but I gave in. They are easy and nearly indestructible. Mostly, I'm just being lazy. But at least I'm honest. We also bought Asher a bicycle. He has never had a new one. We bought a used one about a year ago and that thing has been trouble. The chain is always falling off, etc. Asher is almost 5 1/2 and it's really time for him to have a bike that is the right size, and one that is durable. I'm ready to teach him how to ride without the training wheels. I'm nervous....but ready. He is very excited. If weather permits today, we'll be hanging outside a lot to get comfy with his new wheels.


I received an email from Fatima yesterday. Much progress has been made!!! She has purchased the truck and it is in Zimbabwe. Alleluia! It is being held at a check/entry point because it was driven in from South Africa. Also, Zimbabwe charges very high taxes to get the truck registered. In fact, the taxes are as expensive as the truck itself. I personally find this to be sickening.....and yes my gut hurts over it....but Fatima knew this and she was preparing. I love her spunk. She is appealing to one of the government leaders in her country to reduce the tax since the vehicle is being used for her orphanages which are registered. If they will not agree to lower her tax, she will have to wait another couple of weeks to get the truck because of money i. It is still all very good news. She tells me it is a Toyota Truck and it is blue. It is slightly older than what she wanted and it has slightly more miles, but I believe and she believes that this is the truck that God intended for her ministry, all along. Can you believe the time and the red tape? I feel pretty sure I take for granted how easy things can be to obtain here in the US. It is SO much different in other parts of the world. I will promise to update again as soon as Fatima has the truck for actual use....and she is planning to get us a photo also. I am currently trying to find out when I can return to Zimbabwe to visit her and all of those amazing children. I'm hoping it is July.

God bless you all!

Monday, May 17, 2010

I'm a Mac

So, I finally broke down and got a new laptop. I have needed it so badly but forced myself to wait until I had a few more real estate sales under my belt. Yesterday I purchased my first Mac product. There is certainly a learning curve here....but the good news is I should be up and running within a day or so and can get back to regular blogging. :-)

I also should be receiving an email from Fatima any day now regarding her arrival back to Zim with her truck. I do not know if she has a camera, but I know she will be making an effort to get a photo to me so that I can share it with all of you. I can't wait to hear all about it. I feel certain that God showed up on her journey in unexpected maybe a brand new perfect truck was accidentally priced at $3,000.00. Hey, you never can tell.

I'll write more soon....hopefully tomorrow!

Love to all!

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Truck and The Muck

Fatima is in Durban, South Africa purchasing a TRUCK!!!! YeeHaw!!!!!!!! And, that's all I know. Ha. I was informed that she made it there safely. You might remember that I posted (I think) that the first time she attemtped to travel to Durban, that some of the Zimbabwe busses were hijacked and robbed. She had to make another plan....and I don't know the details. When she returns to Zimbabwe I will get more details and will share them with you then. It may be several days. It is a very long drive on poor roads so it could take a while.

I sold a condo a few days ago. This is the fastest transaction I have ever been party to. The offer came about 9 days ago and it is closing today. What a whirlwind! And it is bitter sweet because it sold as a result of the flooding. It's hard to jump up and down for those fact it is downright impossible so I am not jumping. But I am thankful for the good things that rise from the muck. Thank you Jesus for another sale, another closing, and my personal best year in real estate ever.'s only May. I am thankful and overwhelmed. Do you remember that post about the kids in Zimbabwe praying for my finances? Well, yea, those kids can pray for me anyday. :-)

My mind is still a muddy disaster. I am struggling to process and deal with the devastation around us, emotionally. When I find my peace and my words, I will promise to post. Till then, I'm seeking wisdom and the ability to comfort others.

Love to all.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Serve, Rinse, Repeat

My internet and home phone services are back. Things under my roof are now back to normal, with the exception that my hubs is here too dang much. This is because he cannot return to work at Gaylord Opryland Hotel for quite some time, to be determined. We're not even sure he'll receive a salary past next month, but we'll cross that bridge through the flood waters if we come to it.

It is probably no secret to most of you that I just do things a little differently than most. This isn't a good thing or a bad thing. It is just a thing. Currently my incredible church, Crosspoint Community Church, led by my incredible pastor, Pete Wilson, are meeting daily and volunteering in the hugest way I have ever heard of,throughout our devastated communitites. They have even garnered some national attention, as Anderson Cooper with CNN was here yesterday hanging out with many of our peeps and spreading the story of our 1,000 year flood that evidently has gone largely unnoticed. I haven't been joining in the volunteer efforts with my church because I jumped into my own version of survival and serve mode. I am, afterall, down the street from such devastation. But I want to brag and boast about the incredible group of people that I call my church family. They are so totally rocking this community with the hearts like Christ. I am just so honored and so blessed by these incredible stories of all that they are doing. They have such passion, such determination, and such strength and love. It's quite honestly the dearest thing I have ever witnessed among such a large body of believers. If you haven't already, please visit my churches website where you can see some amazing videos of the past few days. Also, my pastor writes a great blog that is sure to challenge and inspire you, which you can read here. Also....while I am bragging, my pastor, Pete Wilson, just had his first book published. It is called Plan B. I just finished reading it last week. It is a great book, especially for anyone who is facing a situation in which they feel that God isn't present.

Once again, tomorrow will be a huge serving opportunity with Cross Point. Please visit the church website to find out how you can be involved. They serve, rinse, and repeat.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Why Tennessee? Why NOT Tennessee?

Good morning. It is Thursday, I think. Yep, that is probably correct. Things are spinning in my head like that big wheel on Wheel of Fortune, and I have no idea from one moment to the next where that big needle will stop and what I will think, feel or do. It's anybody's guess. Bankrupt? $1? Jackpot?'s a crap shoot anyway.

So, where was I?

I poured sugar on my paper towel this morning instead of into my coffee. That paper towel just wasn't sweet enough. You is moving on every second of every day. There are just more messes these days.

All of my family knows by now that while we are in Nashville where we just experienced a 1,000 year family and our house are all okay. It is very odd though because we live in a series of subdivisions (3 side by side) that were utterly devastated. Hundreds of houses in our neighborhood were destroyed. It is just unreal. And, to top it off, my hubs works at Gaylord Opryland Hotel which was also destroyed. It feels a little bit like the days after 9/11, in the fear of being surrounded by terrorists preparing for another attack. Only this time, the terrorist was a gabazilliontrillion rain drops.

Joe has been tirelessly serving at Gaylord. I started a small scale food ministry from my kitchen. I am out of food and more than out of money (can you say RED?) however I believe that some donations are coming for me to continue. It's not realistic for me to go and help demo or clean with these 2 little I will just serve from my kitchen the best that I can. Driving around and handing out food humbling. I cannot describe here the facial expressions and the hope that some eyes speak to me when I say, "want a hot meal?". It's too much.

Spencer has been getting muddy. He helps anybody with anything. Yesterday he drove around in his SUV with the window down and pulled up to people working at their destroyed homes (everyone is in the demo process right now) and he would say, "hey i'm 21 and have a shovel...need help?" A couple of people plesantly declined as they had so much help already...and then someone said "come on then!" And so he went. It made me happy to see him all muddy. It made him happy too. A couple of days ago he loaded his truck with muddy junk and drove it to the dump. Talk about hunkering down and really getting in the trenches with people....this is it. In some regards, this is war. It is war against mold and mildew. It is war against river gunk. It's a war against rotting wood and soggy drywall. But more than anything, it is a war against hopelessness. People need to know that they can and will survive. They need to know that they are loved by a big God and that they are even loved by total strangers.

I didn't know that help from FEMA meant small interest loans. Gee, how generous. What about the people who cannot afford the loan to begin with? I guess they walk away without even rebuilding. It's just sad.

My understanding is that every Nashville landmark is under water. From Gaylord to the Opry House to the Historic Ryman Auditorium. The Titans Stadium became a swimming pool, the Symphony Center and the Country Music Hall of Fame all got a muddy bath.

On the road to get to my subdivision a young man drowned and floated away. Nearby an elderly couple tried to escape their car that was flooding and each drifted off and drowned. A few people have still not been located.

Did you ever imagine that your ATT&T 3G digital service would fail to work? Yea, me neither. I thought 3G was da'bomb. Evidently this bomb can't hold up to rain.

My new normal for now is a mind that is completely obsessed with flood images and a heart that is dying to help and serve, trying, but feeling helpless all the same.

Over 50 counties were flooded. That is over 1/2 of our entire state. In a similar way to Katrina, people were stranded on their roofs and being rescued by helicopters and boats.

Ok, I'm finished rambling about all of this. I just needed to purge some of this stuff. I am still numb and in shock. Haven't cried yet. The closest I get to crying is when the helicopters fly over us, and then I realize that the country is watching. But I am so proud to be a Tennessean. The volunteerism here is just unbelievable. It is precious and priceless. Needless to say, we are so incredibly grateful that none of our personal property or belongings have been damaged. We are beside ourselves with the grace and mercy of that. I know that I am just shocked.

All I know in my heart for sure to be true is that God is in charge and He works out all things for His Kingdom purposes for good. His son is His glory and I believe that many people will have their faith strengthened through this, some will meet Jesus for the first time, and still others will be humbled to know that HE is God and they are not. Our things may decay in the murky waters and our temporary shelters will prove to not be built on solid foundation. But all things built on the rock of salvation in the sweet name of Jesus, stands forever.

Fatima has found the truck and should have it by 5/21. yay! I will update more on her when I can. I do not have internet access at home but am able to borrow the internet from my dear friend, Sharon every few days.