Friday, March 28, 2008

My Brother is Coming to Live with Us

I haven't ever talked about my huge family, but I guess this is as good a time as any... I have 10 siblings. To make a long story short I have 8 brothers & 2 sisters, DeWayne 39, Shane 34, Nakia 32, Dabreon 29, Corey 29, Brendia 26, Skyler 22, Caleb 18, Andrew 18, and Jordan 16. The boys you see above are my Condra brothers. We all have the same Dad. I have the same Mom & Dad as the 2 in the middle. Maybe I'll tell about my Cassell brothers, and sister in another blog, but right now this blog is about Andrew. He is the one that is wearing green in the picture above.
Right now he is driving from St. Pete FL to Knoxville TN . So, as of tomorrow my family will go from 4 to 5. You may ask "Why is he leaving sunny florida?" Well, he graduated last year from high school, and things just haven't gone as planned. He is coming to Knoxville and hopes to make a new start. I am extremely excited. My youngest brothers, Andrew & Jordan have always lived 8 - 10 hours from me so I haven't been around them a lot. I am hoping this will be a chance for us to get to know one another, and hopefully I can help him pursue his dreams.
He would like to get a job, and then maybe in the fall start a local college here in Knoxville. Ultimately he would like to go to school at the University of Tennessee. He is a fabulous musician. He played the french horn in High School, and was even in the Drum Corp the summer before his senior year. He can play just about any instrument that is given to him. I'm not really sure if he's made up his mind "What he wants to be when he grows up" but I'm sure that the Lord didn't give him his musical talent for nothing.
I am asking each of you, as my friends, to pray that the Lord will guide him in his endeavors. I think I am safe in saying that he has made decisions that he now regrets. Also, pray that the Lord will help me & Charlie to be examples for him. He has a great Mom & Dad, and I am in no way trying to take their place. I just want to help him as he transistions into this next phase of his life.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Jeans giveaway

OMG.... (I'm trying to be hip! I've learned IMspeak)

visit 5MinutesForMom right now for a chance to win a $200 gift certificate for! The site has amazing, designer jeans and ones to fit every body style. Everyone needs a good pair of jeans!

How fast do you type?

69 words

I found this test over at Mari's. I really thought I typed faster than 69 words per minute. I guess not...

Easter Family Festival

I can't believe that it has been a week since I've posted a blog. Last week was spent working on the Easter Family Festival that our church hosted on Saturday. It turned out great! We had over 200 people there. We started the day off at 9am with a pancake breakfast, then at 10am the activities started for the children. We had a giant slide, a moonwalk, basketball free throw contest, four square, and hop scotch set up! It was so much fun to watch all the children playing, and having fun. The big finale was the egg hunt at 11. I wish I had pictures to show you all so you could see how much fun everyone had.

We didn't have an Easter Bunny this year. My sister (she always has great ideas) put together a little dramatization to help the children learn what Easter is really about. We had several people dress up as characters from the Bible, and walk around the play area. When the parents registered their children we instructed them to just walk up to each character and ask "Who are you?", and to ask for the character's signature. When the children would come up to them the character would tell them their part in the crucifixion or resurrection. It was awesome! We had Pontious Pilate, Doubting Thomas, a Roman Soldier, Joseph (the man who took Jesus body & placed in his tomb), Mary Magadalene, and Mary, the mother of Jesus. If they brought all the signatures back to Sunday School the next morning they were given a prize. At Sunday School the teacher was able to go over in detail the story of Jesus' crucifixion & resurrection. The great thing about it was that after hearing the character's story the kid's all seemed to have a better understanding of what Easter is really about.

The slide was the huge hit. Everyone had to take their turn going down the slide. Our oldest member, she is 93, even went down the slide. Someone had to help her climb up but she wanted to do it. We almost had a catastrophe though! Two ladies decided they wanted to go down the slide together, and that was fine as the slide had a 600lb weight limit. So, they climbed up and as they were getting seated, a rather large child started climbing up the right ladder, and several other children had climbed up the left side. I'm not sure how this all happened because it was very quick. Well, needless to say the slide started tipping backwards. I just so happened to be close to the slide at that time, so you know what I did? Of course as I was screaming, slide down, slide down, I jumped on the bottom of the slide! I guess I thought my weight would counteract the weight at the top. Several other people also ran forward to hold the bottom of the slide. Words can't really describe what happened. I think one of the ladies passed out, and the other lady had to pull her down the slide. It was awful, but after the fact it was extremely funny!

So, even though it was very time consuming getting it all together it was a huge success! I'll post pictures for everyone in a day or two.

I hope everyone else had a Happy Easter!

Remember to check out my cooking blog at KC's Cafe!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Beth's Birthday

My Daughter's Birthday

A special young lady in my life turns 15 today. I woke up this morning thinking about that Thursday 15 years ago, when March 18 forever changed for me. I'll rehearse it here for you.

From the time that we learned we were having a baby girl, I wanted to name her after my grandmother, Mary Dell Condra and Charlie's mother, Lethia Elizabeth Singleton. Our daughter's name would be Mary Elizabeth Singleton. My grandmother was so much to me. I called her Mama. She lived with us off and on from the time I was 4 years old until she passed away when I was 16. She died on March 18, 1990. So, to make it simple on March 18, 1993 I was a little depressed. I had a doctor's appt at 9:00 that morning. I took my husband to work(he met the crew at Myer's carpet in Dalton & drove to Atlanta) then went to the doctor. The midwife I was seeing immediately noticed a problem so she called in the doctor. The doctor said he thought the baby was in distress, and he wanted to do a stress test immediately. I spent the next hour by myself contemplating the worst. After that hour they said I had to go to the hospital and they would meet me there. They didn't want me to go home or anything. I was in danger of losing my baby. So, being the 18 year old kid that I was, I became almost hysterical. I didn't know how to get in touch with Charlie because he was on his way to Atlanta. The doctor's office put in a call to the customer's home so they could tell him to come back to Dalton immediately.

Okay, so to put in all in context. I am 18 years old, 2 hours away from my mother, 2 hours away from my husband, my baby is in distress, and this is the anniversary of my grandmother's death. I didn't tell you that my grandfather also died on March 18, 1977. This day couldn't get any worse.

After arriving at the hospital, which only had power off a generator because of the great blizzard of '93, I was stuck in a little hole of a room to be monitored. The doctor wanted to do an immediate C section, but I wouldn't let him. I was too scared, and all alone. So, they made me sign a waiver stating if the baby died I wouldn't hold them liable. The only person I knew I could call was my mother. She is a godly woman, and I knew she could pray. I didn't feel like I could pray because we had quit going to church about 3 years prior. They hooked me up to all kinds of machines, and basically wouldn't let me move for fear that the baby's heart would quit beating and they wouldn't know it. According to the machines, I was having contractions but I couldn't feel them. Everytime I would have a contraction the baby's heartbeat would go down to between 20-30.

About 1:30, Charlie finally gets to the hospital. When he walked in I started crying. It was actually the first time I had cried all day. I just knew we were going to lose our baby. I really thought March 18 had some kind of curse on it or something. About 4:00 my mother arrived. I could hear her praying the entire time she was in the waiting room. Charlie finally got the doctor to let me get up and walk around. That caused the labor to really intensify. I started feeling the contractions and believe it or not I started dilating. At 6:30 that evening, my wonderful daughter was born, completely natural, I might add. She was healthy, no problems at all! So, Beth forever changed March 18th for me. I still remember my grandmother & grandfather on this day, but it isn't with the great sadness that it used to be.

Today, I want to tell my wonderful daughter lots of things. How proud I am of her. How "special" she is.

How she has blossomed into a beautiful and elegant young woman.

I want to explain to her that it's tough being 15. That the people can sometimes be cruel, that she needs to keep her head up and walk proud and respect herself, and have enough confidence and wisdom to respect the choices she makes.

I want to tell her that it's OK to make mistakes. That we learn from mistakes. That mistakes can make us better people. And if we live life afraid of being wrong, or making a mistake, that we never grow.

I want to tell her all about how in life, there are always choices, and that it is these choices that define us, that build our character, that make us who we are.

I want to tell her how much she means to me, and how I love her.

Happy Birthday, Mary Elizabeth, you are my baby girl!

My First Award

Wow, I have received my first award! What an honor! I want to say "Thank You" to Valerie at Life's Little Garden for thinking of me. I am quite new to blogging, and it is kinda strange how I became a blogger. I have known Valerie for years as we used to belong to the same church in Dalton, GA. A mutual friend told me that she had a blog and I should go read it. Well, to make a long story short, I did, and I was inspired. Blogging is such an outlet for me. At first I didn't think that anybody would even read what I wrote, and that it would just be a little journal. However, through blogging I have met many wonderful people, and they have inspired me too. I would like to tag some of my favorite blogs with these awards.
Laura OrgJunkie
Stephanie Crockpot 365

Thursday, March 13, 2008

He did it all for me!

Yesterday was a pretty down day for me. I'm sure we all have those days where nothing bad has happened. You just feel depressed. Well, that was my yesterday. On the way home I was joking with my sister and told her that I couldn't wait to get to church last night because I needed a booster shot! (Like B12 shot) This has been one one of those weeks where I am glad my church has a Wednesday night service.

Last night our Assistant Pastor preached that if I had been the only one that needed saved Jesus would still have given his life. He spoke about how through Jesus we have a right to Heaven, and about how we all feel unworthy but through Jesus we are more than worthy. He read a passage that I would like to share with you.

Romans 8: 16-18
The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

These are the words of Apostle Paul. I know that my sufferings do not compare with the Apostle. When I read these words I think about Heaven and it reminds me that any suffering I have on earth will not even matter when we get there. This sermon was just the booster shot that I needed.

It is easy to feel depressed when the trials of just everyday life seem to get in the way. My husband says it best "Sometimes Life gets in the way of Living!" Thank you all for praying for me yesterday! I woke up today with a renewed energy.

God Bless You All!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Need a Vacation?

Do you ever feel like you need a time-out?

I have watched my son while playing basketball lift up his hands in the classic 'T' sign signaling to the ref that he wants a time-out? Challenges at work, challenges at home, challenges with family, obstacles to the left and to the right and I very well feel as though I need a time-out. I need a vacation but I don’t have the time or the money to take one. I need a break, I need a live in housekeeper to take care of the family but it’s the real world where I live and that is not going to happen. So what do I do? Where do I turn? Do I just try to maintain my dignity and go down with the ship? Do I just keep that stiff upper lip and keep on keeping on? I keep signaling for a time-out but no one sees.

I know I am definitely on the road to a full blown pity party! I have a choice: I can stay at this party all day and wallow in self-despair or I can choose to perk up my mood my literally counting my blessings! God has been so good to my family. We are all healthy. Charlie & I both have good jobs. God has let me have a work in his church. My children are intelligent, talented, compassionate, and above all else healthy. God gives me joy and peace; my pity parties only leave me feeling hopeless and dissatisfied. When I feel like no one is listening to me or seeing my 'signals' I have to remind myself that God is always listening and usually I find that I haven't been talking to him.

Okay I've taken a few minutes to vent to my on-line friends. Now, rather than wallow in self-pity, I am going to take a few minutes to talk to God and remember to listen for what he has to say to me!

God Bless You All!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


A young wife sat on a sofa on a hot humid day, drinking iced tea and visiting with her Mother. As they talked about life, about marriage, about the responsibilities of life and the obligations of adulthood, the mother clinked the ice cubes in her glass thoughtfully and turned a clear, sober glance upon her daughter.

'Don't forget your Sisters,' she advised, swirling the tea leaves to the bottom of her glass. 'They'll be more important as you get older. No matter how much you love your husband, no matter how much you love the children you may have, you are still going to need Sisters. Remember to go places with them now and then; do things with them.'

'Remember that 'Sisters' means ALL the women... your girlfriends, your daughters, and all your other women relatives too. 'You'll need other women. Women always do.'

What a funny piece of advice!' the young woman thought. Haven't I just gotten married? Haven't I just joined the couple-world? I'm now a married woman, for goodness sake! A grownup! Surely my husband and the family we may start will be all I need to make my life worthwhile!'

But she listened to her Mother. She kept contact with her Sisters and made more women friends each year. As the years tumbled by, one after another, she gradually came to understand that her Mom really knew what she was talking about. As time and nature work their changes and their mysteries upon a woman, Sisters are the mainstays of her life.

After more than 50 years of living in this world, here is what she learned:


Time passes.
Life happens.
Distance separates.
Children grow up.
Jobs come and go.
Love waxes and wanes.
Men don't do what they're supposed to do.
Hearts break.
Parents die.
Colleagues forget favors.
Careers end.

Sisters are there, no matter how much time and how many miles are between you. A girl friend is never farther away than needing her can reach.

When you have to walk that lonesome valley and you have to walk it by yourself, the women in your life will be on the valley's rim, cheering you on, praying for you, pulling for you, intervening on your behalf, and waiting with open arms at the valley's end.

Sometimes, they will even break the rules and walk beside you...Or come in and carry you out.

Girlfriends, daughters, granddaughters, daughters-in-law, sisters, sisters-in-law, Mothers, Grandmothers, aunties, nieces, cousins, and extended family, all bless our life!

The world wouldn't be the same without women, and neither would I. When we began this adventure called womanhood, we had no idea of the incredible joys or sorrows that lay ahead. Nor did we know how much we would need each other.

Every day, we need each other still.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

My Dad

Many of you have asked about my daddy's surgery, so I am here to give a Praise Report!

His surgery was yesterday, and everything went great! They were able to do the triple bypass. We know that God took care of everything. He made us so of course he can fix us if we are broken, right?

We had a little bit of a scare last night. The doctor's thought that Daddy had a heart attack during the night. However, after much testing they found that the catheter that takes the readings was in backwards! So, nothing was wrong, and Daddy is doing great! He is in a lot of pain, but we know that God can move that too.

My grandfather used to have a saying when something unusual happened..."Isn't that just like God?" Well, I am using that statement today! Thank you all for your prayers!

Monday, March 3, 2008


Have you ever thrown rocks into the water? Have you thrown whole fistfuls of pebbles or stones through the air and watched them as they fell into the water?. I'm sure that each one hit the water with the same result...ripples. Ripples that circled out and intersected with the other ripples, ripples that went far beyond the spot where each stone landed.

This image of the ripples never fails to bring the same thought to my mind over and over.

Small as each pebble is, not one touches the water without these resulting ripples.

We are like the pebble. No matter how influential or insignificant we see ourselves, we each send out ripples that circle out further than we might ever dream.

Words and deeds of kindness or cruelty, gentleness or abrasiveness, generosity or greed - all ripple out and touch other lives far beyond the boundaries we think they go. Our families, co-workers, neighbors, and even strangers are often touched by an act or a word of ours that we never dreamt would get that far.

My husband is good at skipping rocks across the water. We used to take the kids to the park where there was a little creek. Their Dad taught them there how to skip rocks. As he threw the rocks they would count the skips; the more the better. Sometimes we think we, too, can skip through life, independent, not touching others, hurrying on without time to stop and be concerned about anyone else. The inevitable ripples still flow out.

We do influence, we do touch others, even when we are not aware of it. God even reminds us of our ripples…

"...but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." (1 Timothy 4:12)

As you go through your day today be reminded that you are sending out ripples. You have no idea how far they go. As I pray each day I ask the Lord to help me be a witness to others of his love & mercy. Today, I will also ask the Lord to help me to be conscious of the ripples I am sending out.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Isaacs singing It is Well

This is one of my all time favorite songs!!! The Isaacs do an absolutely fabulous job performing this live at one of the Gaither Homecoming concerts.

I Praise Your Name

I often have trouble sleeping at night. Throughout the night, I clinch my teeth, wake up for no obvious reason, and sometimes I even have nightmares. I worry through the night about things that are so obviously out of my control. Today I am sitting at my father's house in St. Pete Florida. He is scheduled to have Triple Bypass Surgery on Monday. I have prayed about his health and I know that the Lord has it all under control, but I still worry.

So, this morning I got online and started looking for devotionals that might help me. I found a wonderful blog called While You Were Sleeping on and it really helped me. It reminded me of a song that I sing with the choir at Claxton. I thought I might rehearse it here and it would help someone that might be going through the same thing.

I Bless Your Name by Selah
In prisoners' chains
With bleeding stripes
Paul and Silas prayed that night
And in their pain began to sing
Their chains were loosed
And they were free
I bless Your Name
I bless Your Name
I give You honor, give You praise
You are the Life, the Truth, the Way
I bless Your Name
I bless Your Name
Some midnight hour
If you should find
You're in a prison in your mind
Reach out and praise
Defy those chains
And they will fall
In Jesus' Name
We bless Your Name
We bless Your Name
We give You honor, give You praise
You are the Life, the Truth, the Way
We bless Your Name
We bless Your Name
You are the Life, the Truth, the Way
We bless Your Name
We bless Your Name

Isaiah 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.