Monday, October 27, 2014


Title: Cujo 
Author: Stephen King
Published: 1981

Judging by the last time I used the "Read Anything Good Lately" tag on the blog, one would assume I had not picked up a book since December of 2012. Maybe I figured, if the Mayans were right about the end of the world, why read anymore?

Let me assure you, I have continued to read. I'm still literate. There are many books that I've read in the last two years that I just haven't chosen to share on the blog. Not that I'm ashamed of having read those books. Except maybe for Pride & Prejudice. Try as I might, I can't erase that one from my memory. You can keep your Jane Austen.

I was willing to continue keeping my thoughts to myself when it comes to what I've read. But then I came across the Cujo book. As I've mentioned before, one of my bucket list items is to read everything written by Stephen King. Kind of a tall order since the guy's written about 90 thousand books. And he's not stopping. People have talked a lot about Under the Dome, which was published just a few years ago. Keep your pants on, people! I'm still a long way from that one. Because my plan is to read his novels in publication order.

So anyway, Cujo... Being first published in 1981, it's a little dated. For those of you who are unaware, the book is about a dog who is bitten by a rabid bat and, therefore, becomes rabid himself. Due to a series of unfortunate events, Cujo goes on something of a mad killing spree. There are a lot of tiny little coincidences that seem to happen which place the main characters, Donna Trenton and her son Tad, in a stalled car in Cujo's front yard. They end up trapped there for several of the hottest days on record while Cujo waits for them to exit their nonworking vehicle.

As I made my way through the book, I couldn't help but wonder, could something like this still happen? Now, I'm not aware of anything like this actually happening in real life. I don't recall ever hearing any news stories growing up about a rabid dog that killed several people while leaving a mother and child to starve and dehydrate in their car. But that doesn't mean that Stephen King did not paint a realistic picture of a monstrous St. Bernard and the circumstances which allowed for Donna and Tad to be trapped in the summer of 1981. But could King write the same story set in a modern world?

Here we are, 33 years later, and a lot has changed. Cars still have problems. That's not something that's likely to ever change. In 1981, Vic, Donna's husband, suggested taking the car to a local guy who could fix the carburetor for a reasonable price. Joe Camber lived just outside of town, not too far away when compared to the dealership that was the next town over. In 2014, I have no doubt that there are still guys like that. Guys that set up shop in their own personal garages outside the town limits and cut deals with people to fix up their cars for them. So, yeah, that could still happen.

In 1981, Vic left his wife and son to go on an emergency business trip. He was traveling from their home in Maine down to Boston and then to New York City to try and save his small advertising firm when their one big account has some serious PR issues. In 2014, emergency business trips come up all the time, I'm sure. But back then, Vic had to worry about long distance charges when he wanted to call and check up on his family. And when you're worried that your business is about to go under, you're watching every dime you spend. These days, no one deals with long distance, unless you're talking about calling another country. In the book, when Vic waited a few days to call Donna, it was understandable. In 2014, he'd have called as soon as his plane touched down, just to let her know he arrived in Boston all right.

That brings me to another advance in technology: cell phones. Everyone's got one now. I'm sure 4-year-old Tad would even have one, if only to play Angry Birds to keep him occupied once in a while. But even in 2014, you can't always find a signal for your phone. If Donna takes her car out to some guy's personal garage, there's no guarantee she'll have good reception. And then, once her car is completely dead, she has no way to recharge her phone once the battery dies.

You don't often hear about cases of rabies these days. But when they occur, it's usually serious enough to make the local news. I think the events of Cujo would be less likely to happen at this point in the 21st century than they were in the early 80s, but they could still happen. The only real difference would be the long distance thing. Vic would have called and become somewhat panicked a little sooner. He would have gotten the police involved more quickly and it's very likely that Tad wouldn't have died of dehydration. I'm kidding, Stephen King wouldn't kill off a 4-year-old kid. Or would he?

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Legends of the Bank Customer

Before I get into the meat of this here blog post, I'd like to extend a heartfelt congratulations to the corporate powers that be at Bank of America. You have proven the ability to run your business like a great lot of morons.

Look, I've been out of the banking game for a few years now. I am extremely grateful for that turn of events, by the way. That said, I'm not completely sure just how things are going with the larger banks in America. Sure, I watch the news, but I kind of tune out when they talk about financial things. The economy kind of sucks. That's about all I feel I need to know about it.

I've been a customer of Bank of America for nearly 10 years. When I left Bluefield after college, I decided it would be a good idea to have my accounts with a bank that could be found just about anywhere in the country. After all, at the time, I had no idea where I would land on my feet. At the time, I was in Roanoke, but I was fairly certain that's not where I would plant my roots. Here we are, all these years later, and I'm still not sure where those roots will take root.

I seem to recall the Bank of America taking a government bailout back when all those other ginormous corporations were taking bailouts. It was a trendy thing to do toward the end of the last decade. Or was it the beginning of this decade? I can't keep up. The economy sucks. It's sucked for a while. That's about all I feel I need to know about it.

From what I gather, Bank of America isn't doing so swell these days. Locally, they sold off many of their branches to other, smaller banks. On the plus side, they made this move to save the jobs of countless tellers and branch managers, probably all over the country. It's good that these hardworking people are not forced to find new jobs. If they enjoy their banking positions, I hope they continue to enjoy them with their new employers and that their transition is smooth.

But there hasn't been much of a plus side for me. The switch from a large, national bank to a smallish, community bank has been rocky at best. I want to be optimistic, I really do. But voluntarily switching banks is a pain. Doing it involuntarily is more so.

Several weeks ago, I was provided with information letting me know that yesterday would be the final day for me to use my Bank of America account. To my understanding, this meant that October 24 would be the end of online banking, debit card, checking account, and savings account as I knew them. And then, a few days ago, I received more information letting me know that I would have full access to the new bank's online system on Monday, October 27. So what do I do in the meantime? Well, it's a safe bet that I won't have to worry about any fluctuations in my account balances during this weekend, because I have no access to my money.

Earlier this week, I received my new debit card in the mail. In a separate envelope, I received my new PIN. Yesterday, knowing that my Bank of America account would no longer exist, I thought it would be a good idea to activate my new card, in the hopes that I would still have access to my money, in case I needed it for frivolous purchases like gas or food. But then I noticed the sticker on the card. You know, the one that usually has a number to call for activation? Yeah, it informed me that I needed to use the ATM and enter my new PIN in order to activate my new card. No big deal, right? I just planned to go by the newly rebranded local branch to use the newly rebranded ATM. But as I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed that a number of very official men were busy installing those newly rebranded ATMs.

So much for activating my new card to have access to my money. Then I thought I'd just go inside the branch to see if I could make a withdrawal. If I can't use my card, maybe I can just have some extra cash on hand for frivolous purchases like gas or food. As I parked the car, I noticed the hand written sign that said they would reopen on Monday at 9. Awesome.

As of this afternoon, I had not cut up my old debit card yet. I thought it would be worth a shot to see if I could still use the old thing. Just in case I needed to access my money for frivolous purchases like gas or food. But I quickly discovered in the self checkout line at the Kroger that my card is no longer active. So I drove home empty handed, with no gas or food.

On a different day than the arrival of my brand new, useless debit card, I received a very large package full of personal checks. Like a lot of people of my generation, I very rarely write a check. On a regular basis, I write two checks per month. My new bank sent me approximately 3,262 checks with name and current address in the upper left hand corner. I never asked for these checks, but I assume they were free. I'll never use them all, but here they are. I assumed that a personal check would be my last good chance at having access to the money that's lost in some limbo between two banks.

I grabbed the first of my 3,262 checks and went back to Kroger. I waited in line at the customer service desk and finally got my chance to ask if I could cash a personal check. "I'm sorry," said the customer service lady, "We can only cash preprinted payroll checks." Again... awesome. And if my experience working in retail is any indicator, a lot of places don't accept personal checks anymore anyway. So why try?

Are you keeping track of this epic banking failure? I cannot access online banking. I cannot use my debit card to make purchases. I cannot activate my new debit card because the new ATM at my new bank is not yet working. I cannot cash a personal check. I'm not broke, but I'm kind of broke. Until Monday at 9am.

I'm so glad I'm able to embark on this banking adventure. I'm hoping the excitement will continue with some random emails from companies that normally receive regular payments that come automatically from my checking account letting me know that they did not receive their regular payments this month and that I'll be expected to give them a little extra because I missed my payments. A bonus would be if I have to call those companies to let them know I still can't access my accounts via the internet, debit card, or personal check.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Three Shades of Gray

I guess I need to come up with new aliases for my friends when I write about them on the blog. The Charlatan hasn't lived in Charlotte for years. Subway hasn't actually been a sandwich artist for will over a decade. And, as of this past weekend, the Other Single Guy isn't single anymore

Mark married Peyton in the sanctuary of Second Baptist Church on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Candles were lit, songs were sung, vows were spoken... spake? Spoken... yeah. The happy couple got hitched without a hitch. The only obvious hiccup involved several suits worn by the groomsmen.

All the suits fit just fine, so that's probably the most important thing. However, mine was two shades darker than Mark's. Andy's was somewhere in the middle. I'm not sure what the big deal about having multiple shades of gray is. Maybe it's more exciting when you have fifty instead of just three.

Thankfully, it turned out to be not so big a deal. None of the guests laughed or made inappropriate comments when the groomsmen walked in. The bride didn't call off the whole thing when she saw darker suits thrown in amongst the guys.

No, it was a beautiful ceremony and I only nearly passed out twice. I knew not to lock my knees, but that didn't stop me from swaying. I'm sure the swaying wasn't too noticeable, but I felt like a skyscraper moving back and forth in strong sustained winds. If I'm ever in another wedding, remind me not to wear brand new shoes. By the time the groom was given permission to kiss the bride, I had so many multiple blisters.

"You know, it's gonna be coming at you from all sides now," said Andy as we drove around Richmond the morning before the wedding. He was referring to the increased possibility that my friends would try to set me up with a plethora of single women. This is the obvious result of being the last remaining single guy among our circle of friends. Personally, I'm banking on the fact that these guys have been all talk over the last ten years and have still not attempted to start playing "Have You Met Aaron?"

Mark, Brandon, and Andy all collectively talked to me about the virtues of one of Peyton's bridesmaids. I'm not a big fan of the set up, so I tried to talk them down. Knowing my friends' tenacity once they've made up their minds, I was prepared for some clever move on their part. Yet I find it interesting that none of them so much as introduced me to the woman in question. See? All talk.

I'm okay with that. I can't lie and say that the thought of being the last single guy didn't loom over my thoughts a bit throughout the weekend. But here's the thing, I keep busy. I may not see these fellow Bluefield alumni as often as I'd like, but that doesn't mean I don't have other friends. Shocking, I know. I have two jobs that keep me pretty well occupied and am about to start taking classes toward becoming a teacher. So maybe dating just shouldn't be an option right now.

Aw... who am I kidding?

Monday, September 29, 2014

The First Blog Post of the Rest of My Life

Well, Internet, it's been 17 days since my last post here at Carp Dime. And the posts were sporadic for a while before that. The reasons for my lack of writing have varied and I apologize to the multitude of cyber stalkers that have, no doubt, been waiting on the edge of their seats to find out what I had to say next.

First, let me assure you that I am alive and well. I've been living happily these past eight months in the year 1885. I kid. Life and work have actually been keeping me very busy. Not necessarily in that order.

Recall that I have two jobs. Both of which I (mostly) love, but they do keep me on my toes. By day I'm a counselor. By later in the day I'm the Children's Ministry Assistant at my church. It's the counseling gig that seems to take up most of my time, though I wish it was the other way around.

I will say the kids' ministry thing is pretty awesome. When I first thought about applying for that position, the Charlatan told me, without hesitation, to do it. He said it would change my life. I'm not sure that it's changed my life yet, but it's certainly changed the way I see things and the way I approach ministry. The kids at my church are pretty amazing, but I could be biased.

Counseling is great and it can be incredibly frustrating and rewarding at the same time. Honestly, if the entire job was about spending time helping kids, I'd probably be happy to do it for the rest of my life. But they throw in that pesky paperwork. It piles up. It's overwhelming. It basically leaves a bad taste in my mouth regarding this line of work.

After weeks of feeling overwhelmed and getting tired of feeling tired so much of the time, I've decided to make some changes. I've taken the first steps toward earning a license to teach history on the high school level. I'm gonna be a teacher when I grow up.

It's something I've wanted to do for a long time. But, for some reason, I've never felt motivated enough to make the change and take action. In a few weeks I'll take some required exams. I'll apply to an accredited university to take some required classes. And by the end of next summer, I will be ready to have my own classroom.

Now, I realize that, in the past, I had two jobs and still made it a point to post regularly. But back then I was working at a bank and delivering pizza. I hated it. Both of those jobs gave me plenty of things to write about. Blogging became therapeutic for me. For reasons of confidentiality, I'm unable to share about my days at school. You'll just have to trust me when I say that they're usually pretty entertaining. Until the paperwork starts. That part isn't so much fun.

So changes are coming. I'm pretty excited about it. Wish me luck!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Straight Flush

It's been a while since I did one of these posts in which I, a non-parent, dish out some parenting advice. Really, I've only done two such posts. The first was concerned with how parents should be involved in their children's schools. The other involved the legendary nap time. Today's topic? Poker.

Just kidding.

There is a time honored rite of passage in the lives of every child. It's a period that usually occurs during the toddler stage of development and can be extremely traumatic for both parent and child. I am, of course, referring to potty training.

But I don't really want to address the issues that are directly related to potty training. No, this post is about the years that follow. Parents, as you look ahead to your child's elementary school years, I implore you, teach them to flush.

Strolling into a bathroom stall, finding clear water in a toilet should be the norm, not a bonus. All too often I'll walk into the school's restroom and find things left behind by previous users. It's gross.

Sure, there's a bathroom that's designated for the grown-ups that work in the school. But it's not always unoccupied. Sometimes it's just more convenient to hit a restroom with more than one stall.

the thing is, my using the teachers' bathroom doesn't really fix the problem at hand. Sure, I don't have to see what some kid has left behind, but does that stop the next child from having to deal with it? If your kid isn't flushing at school, do you think they're flushing in other public places? Are they flushing at home?

Just ask yourself this question: Do I like walking into a bathroom to find the deuce floating in the toilet? If you answered yes to that, please contact me so I can point you in the direction of a very helpful psychiatrist. If you answered no, assume that no one else likes that either. Do us all a favor and teach your child to pull that little lever and flush it down.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

A Fast Food Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, there was a Burger King. 
This king fell in love with a Dairy Queen. 
Both having royal blood, this called for a lavish ceremony. 
The only appropriate venue, of course, was beneath the legendary Golden Arches. 
The wedding was officiated by none other than Long John Silver, who, as a ship's captain, was legally able to marry the king and queen. 
Standing next to the king as best man was the incomparable Colonel Sanders. 
Once the bride and groom completed their vows and said, "I do," the Taco Bells rang in celebration throughout the land. 
The happy couple waved good-bye as they boarded the Subway. 
With a Sonic boom, they traveled to their honeymoon destination. 
A year later, their royal couple made headlines when they adopted a little red-head named Wendy. 
The princess received many gifts from the kingdom's subjects, including a Jack-in-the-Box and Checkers.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The True Story of a Persistent Spider

Over the last few weeks, I noticed something creepy on our front porch. The title should give it away, but I won't beat around the bush. It was a big honkin' spider web.

Now, we don't have much of a porch. It's not the kind of thing that you can set rocking chairs on and relax the day away on with a tall glass of iced tea. No, it's just a set of stairs that lead to a small landing where we enter our townhouse. Nothing fancy.

So there isn't a lot of space there. A couple weeks ago, I noticed that an unseen spider had built a massive web that stretched from just under our mailbox (which is located right next to the storm door) all the way to the end of the railing at the top of the stairs. As webs go, this must have taken a spider quite a bit of time to build.

The only logical thing to do was destroy it.

But, without getting rid of the spider that built the web, it was likely that a new web would take its place the next day. And the cycle of building and destroying went on for several days.

One evening, I got home after the sun had set. And there, in the center of another massive web, awaiting its insect prey, was our nocturnal friend. And the size of the spider made complete sense when considering the size of the web. It was huge.

I didn't want to mess with the thing while it was on its home turf. But I'm considering my options. I think there's only one course of action left to take.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Top 10 Robin Williams Movies

With school starting tomorrow, today's been something of a busy day. I've managed to steer clear of a lot of social media for most of the afternoon and evening. And then I got home a while ago and was shocked to read about the apparent suicide of Robin Williams. I'm not one to often gasp, but I literally gasped when I saw the headline.

It's sad to hear news that anyone has taken his or her own life. But for some reason, it seems to really affect people when it's news of an entertainer who is beloved by so many. Robin Williams played a lot of roles throughout his career, both serious and hilarious. What follows is my personal top 10 list of Robin Williams' films. Like most of my top movie lists, these are gleaned from Flickchart.

10. Bicentennial Man - What's not to love about an android who endeavors to become more human? If Data can do it on board the Enterprise, why can't Robin Williams?
9. Night at the Museum - Has anyone ever portrayed Teddy Roosevelt in such a believable manner? Has anyone else ever portrayed Teddy Roosevelt?
8. Jumanji - This one hasn't really aged well. It's still a fun movie with a good story. But the CGI is kind of pathetic when you compare it to today's technology.
7. Dead Poets Society - Why didn't this one rank higher on my list? Fantastic movie. I'm gonna have to write a strongly worded letter to the Flickchart people about this. Or maybe I should just go in and re-rank it myself.
6. Mrs. Doubtfire - This is probably the one most people think of when they think of Robin Williams. There was talk recently of a sequel. Guess that's off the table now.
5. Good Will Hunting - Another of his more serious roles. Another fantastic movie.
4. Aladdin - This is probably the other one that most people think of when they think of Robin Williams. Remember how they tried to replace him with someone else as the genie in the direct to video sequel? Couldn't hold a candle to the original Genie.
3. August Rush - If memory serves, he played a pretty big jerk in this one, right? It's been a long time since I saw this movie. But I really liked it.
2. Hook - I'm a little surprised this wasn't my number one. As I compile this list, Hook is the movie I've chosen to watch in memory of Robin Williams. Bangarang!
1. Patch Adams - I'm not complaining about this ending up as number one. This is actually a very good movie, but I have a really hard time watching it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Welcome Guests: Nicole Holden

Welcome back to the Carp Dime Guest Blogger series. Today's post comes from The Most Awesome Person I Know. At least, that's how I've referred to her on this blog in the past. Nicole Holden is the mother of five pretty outstanding kids. Her favorite movies are A Knight's Tale and Terms of Endearment. Her favorite books are The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer and A Scandalous Freedom by Steve Brown. Nicole keeps her own blog over at All Things New... Go by and say hi to her!

Faith Renewed

Initially, when I received Aaron's email, my response was no. Writing on the fly is not my forte. I don't have the uncanny ability to pull a post out of the air like my friend Aaron. However, I decided to give it a try when I noticed there was a writing prompt. A life experience and the way it changed me. Aaron knows my story all too well as he walked it with me playing a large role in what has become THE life experience that forever changed my life.

The full story takes days to tell, but it includes a horrific divorce, being cast aside and rejected by a church and an excruciating custody battle. The journey I walked sent me on a discovery leading me to dig deep into my faith. It was a roller coaster of events in which Jesus got a hold of me and changed me from the inside out. He took a broken-hearted, faith-doubting girl and totally transformed her. I have become desperate for Him and it has changed my world and who I am in every way.

The part of my story I would like to share started back in 2008 when I prayed a prayer that led me on a journey I was unprepared for. It began when I was reading the story of Abraham and Isaac. I was overwhelmed by the enormous faith of Abraham when asked by God to sacrifice his only son. I remember that morning very clearly. I wanted to trust God for all things. I wanted to know Him the way in which Abraham knew Him. I yearned for that kind of faith. In fact, this was the prayer in my journal that day...
Father, help me to relinquish the hold I have over my own life, the lives of my children and the things that I do. Let me not doubt when You speak or move in my life. Make me Your servant, righteous and faithful, ready to say "Here I am" when You call.
Never would I have imagined the course my life would take over the next four years. In 2009, the battle began. The nastiness of divorce entered my life, but that situation alone was only the beginning. Divorce is nasty and ugly, but not as ugly as the custody battle that ensued. It was a battle full of fear and devastation. But God had a purpose and a plan for it all and because I trusted His word completely I was able to treat water without drowning.

In January of 2011, my pastor preached a sermon that changed the course of the path I was traveling. In his sermon, he used the verse, "Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable." (Romans 12:17) My heart was heavy. As I sat listening, God was tugging and asking me to trust Him. After several years of lawyers and multiple court appearances, I knew it had to end and I had to walk away. God was leading me to depend solely on Him and nothing else. As I read and reread Romans 12:17 I could not ignore the words, "do not repay evil for evil" but even more so the words that followed: "Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable." There is NOTHING honorable in the throes of a custody battle. Nothing. It is one parent doing everything in their power to destroy the other parent. No attorney, if doing their job correctly, can help you win without you doing something that is not honorable. I could not escape that truth. I had prayed a prayer in 2008 for a faith like Abraham and God was now asking me to trust Him completely to fight on my behalf. This was a scary step to take and those around me did not understand my choice but I knew God was a big God. I knew He loved me. I knew that He not only cared about me, but even more so for my innocent children. I knew I had to trust Him.

I was scared. I was so very afraid. These were my children. There was no one standing by me with the ability to communicate physically or verbally with another attorney. The opposing side had no concern for the well-being of my children. For this attorney it was the sheer thrill of victory. The day we entered the courtroom was terrifying. I walked in with only my mom and a young girl who had spent years babysitting my children. It was the three of us against at least a dozen people. As I walked in and sat down at the table a Bible sat before me. I opened the Bible to Exodus and found chapter 14, verse 14. "The Lord Himself will fight for you. Just stay calm." I claimed it. It was mine. I just needed to be still. For the next few hours I sat and listened as each person placed their hand upon the Bible swearing to tell the truth but chose to lie. I remember thinking this is not honorable. I will not repay evil for evil. God will handle it. Those are two days of my life I will never forget. They were scary, but at the same time, I felt the presence of God in such a way that, to this day, I shake in awe of His incredible faithfulness. I never felt alone. It was as if He was sitting next to me throughout the entire process. I left, not thinking I had won the battle, but instead knowing I had glorified my God and He was pleased.

The next month my world was shattered. On October 31, 2011, I received the document that stated that my children were no longer mine. In a matter of seconds, the time it took to open a document, my world ended. I remember the phone calls with my mom and now husband as they both sat in disbelief at what was happening. It did not make sense. None of it made sense. That same evening I also remember the different people God placed in my path and around me to love and minister to both my children and me. He continually made Himself known. He was there. He was in control.

So remember the prayer I prayed in 2008? Surprisingly enough, it was the furthest thing from my mind. I was not thinking in that direction. Instead, I was on my tiptoes searching for any sight of God I could find. Then the moment came. I received a phone call in which I was told a family member had stated that "she had to have done something wrong in order for a judge to take away her children," and it began. The crushing wave of hurt and rejection was the motivation I needed in that moment. I no longer had to stand on my tiptoes looking for God because He walked into the room and revealed Himself in the most majestic way. Suddenly my prayer from 2008 resurfaced. I had asked for this moment. I had prayed for this moment. I wanted the faith of Abraham and God was going to answer my prayer. One of the hardest things a mother can endure is being separated from her children and that is what had to happen. I came to realize throughout the course of my divorce and custody battle I had trusted God for many things. I had relied on Him and listened to Him but still held back a piece of myself. Part of my heart was His but the rest belonged to my children. The fear of losing my children kept Christ for sitting completely on the throne of my life. My children had become my idol. Much like Isaac had become for Abraham when God asked him to sacrifice his only son. God was in control. He knew my prayer and He knew my heart. God knew what I needed. I needed Him. I was desperate for Him. I had been holding back, but the time had come to turn it all over. He had to take my children. Peace came to rest in my heart.

In 2012, things in my life began to take a turn. On a Sunday in January, I felt God clearly calling me to become part of a church plant. There was a moment of hesitation and doubt, but I knew I had to follow. A couple weeks later, God placed an incredible young couple in my life who were also part of this church plant. The husband was a young attorney who had just passed the bar and after sharing some of my story he took on my case pro bono. This was the second time God sent someone to be a physical reminder that He was there and fighting for me. Now I am sure you are wondering why the attorney now? This situation was different. This attorney followed Jesus. He sought direction through prayer from a God who controls all things. For him, it was not about winning. We were fighting for the safety and welfare of my children. This attorney became my "guardian" and my brother. His purpose was to deflect the evil that came my way, to pray with me and to help strengthen me in weak moments with the truth of God's word.

Throughout our times in court, my case was never heard. It was continued repeatedly as, behind the scenes, God worked out the details. As He continued to shape my character, heal my heart and grow my faith, I became stronger. Wonderful things started happening in my life. In August of 2012, my now husband proposed to me on the beach in South Carolina. It was magical! The tide began shifting. Less than four months later, we were married in the sweetest of ceremonies. On that same day, as we celebrated our marriage with family, I learned that I would be an aunt for the first time. By Christmas, I was greeted with the exciting news that I would be an aunt of twins. But the greatest of all events occurred less than two months later, when my children were back home... for good.

You see, sometimes in the darkness of our storm we cannot see God or feel His presence. His plan is unclear. We doubt and worry with fear, forgetting He has everything under control. His plan is perfect. I never thought the pain would end. But it did. God allowed the wounds that cut so deep into my heart to break me into a million pieces. His purpose: for me to become so desperate for Him that He alone could make me whole and heal my every hurt. And He did. He took all the broken pieces and turned them into an amazing tapestry of His love and grace. It is amazing. But not only did He heal me, He restored to me not just the things that had been taken through the pain but He gave me back even more. More love, more grace, more knowledge and understanding of who He is, a longing to be more like Him and a desire to share more of Him with others.

I now have a life I would never have dreamed possible. It is not perfect, but it is a life full of blessings. My life is full. It only took thirty-eight years and a lot of heartache, but God has now given me more than I could have ever asked. I am a living example that no matter how many wrong turns your life may take, there is a "happy ending." All you have to do is choose to surrender your broken pieces, your life, to the only One who can turn it into a beautiful masterpiece of His amazing grace for His glory!

Links to the guest writers' posts...
1. Brandon Caldwell 
2. Vanessa
3. Landon Metts
4. Jeff Noble
5. Jennifer Mitchell
6. Mark Hipes
7. Nicole Holden

Monday, July 28, 2014

Welcome Guests: Mark Hipes

Welcome back to the Carp Dime Guest Blogger series. Today's entry is from a guy I've known just as long as I've known Brandon. Mark Hipes is the Director of Alumni Relations and the Annual Fund at Bluefield College. He earned an Associate's Degree in General Studies from Dabney S. Lancaster Community College and a B.A. in Christian Studies from Bluefield. His favorite movies are National Treasure and Rudy. His favorite book is The Last Amateurs by John Feinstein. Mark is a Christ-follower, a son, a brother, an uncle, a friend, and a fiance. He used to be The Other Single Guy, but in a few months he will marry the love of his life, Peyton Mawyer.

Sharing Christ Through Sportsball

Normally, I am excited knowing I will be mentioned on Carp Dime, but it’s a little nerve-wracking when you are writing the blog. I don’t know how you do this every day, Aaron – well almost every day… he has slowed up a little in his old age. I would like to mention that I was present for the actual “Carp Dime” moment… good times.

The question The Single Guy posed was “one experience you’ve had that helped shape the person you are today.” Thankfully the question posed was “one experience” and not “the one experience” because there are multiple people and events that have made an impact on my future.

With that being said, I am going to pick one – it was my first summer after starting College. I had applied to serve as a BSU summer missionary and had been appointed to serve on the Sports Ministry Team. There were 5 of us on the team. After two weeks of training under the tutelage of Kendal Shuler, we would travel the state of Virginia and use sports to tell kids about Christ. Since I was attending community college, at that time, this was the first time I had been away for home for an extended period of time. It was an amazing summer. It was tough at times. We didn’t always get along and I was normally the cause for that tension – I was pretty immature back in those days. It was a season of shaping for me. While I knew it to a degree at that time, I came to see the fruit of that phase of life in the coming years. That summer the Lord began a work in my life. I was learning who I was in relationship with Him apart from my family, my church and everything that was comfortable. I am grateful for that summer and those experiences.

Links to the guest writers' posts...
1. Brandon Caldwell 
2. Vanessa
3. Landon Metts
4. Jeff Noble
5. Jennifer Mitchell
6. Mark Hipes
7. Nicole Holden