Thursday, April 30, 2009

Daniel's Shining Hour

Olympic Glory Jigsaw PuzzleOlympic Glory Jigsaw Puzzle

Look how AWESOME Daniel was representing the Carrroll County team in the Torch Relay!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Yes, Emily, Dreams Do Come True!

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Powerful, tear-jerking story from our local paper, the Galax Gazette, following. 

Grab your Kleenex and hankies and meet Agape's friend, Emily Ogle.

Mother's Wish Comes True


All 18-year-old Emily Ogle can think about is making her princess fairy tale come true for her and mom Debbie Ogle, who is battling Stage 4 breast cancer. 

Emily has it all planned out, as she fantasizes about dressing up in an ball gown and riding with her date through town in a horse-drawn carriage on the way to prom on Saturday.

“I wanted to be like Cinderella,” said Emily, a junior at Galax High School. “It's just a wonderful time of life.” 

And Twin County United Way, along with community donors, has coordinated that special evening just for Emily. 

Debbie is ecstatic about seeing her daughter's dream come true. “I just want her to be as happy as she can,” Debbie said of Emily, who has Down Syndrome. “She loves socializing and being happy, and I want that for her.” 

Debbie's relative, who works at Bogeys Restaurant in Galax, knew of their wish and passed it on to Celeste Amburn, director of Twin County United Way. Although TCUW is known for funding agencies in the community, Amburn said she was so touched by this story that she wanted to become the fairy godmother to grant their wish. “We saw that it was a need,” said Amburn. “And it was just something we wanted to make come true.”

Though Debbie's illness made her unable to go shopping with Emily for the prom dress, they found the perfect one online: a spaghetti strap, long black gown that gathers at the waist with a flowing pleated skirt. Emily's sister took her shoe shopping. 

On the Special Olympics basketball team in Carroll County, Emily has asked teammate, Jordan Stevens, a 10th grader at Carroll County High School, to be her date. Debbie said Emily is just a little shy about talking to him now, but is looking forward to slow dancing with him, she said with a big smile. “Jordan's handsome, with pretty hair and teeth,” Emily said, with a laugh.

After a dinner, provided by Bogeys in Galax, the horse-drawn carriage will meet Emily and her date on Main Street and ride right up to the door of GHS. 

The horse-drawn carriage, which can sometimes cost as much as $1,000 per ride, is being donated by Marlon Staples. Galax Florist has provided the boutonniere for the carriage driver and the bows for the carriage. Even the Galax Police Department has contributed a police escort during the ride up to the high school, and Debbie will be riding close by. “I'm just so excited and thankful for their contributions,” said Debbie. “We're fortunate to live in a community where people can help each other." 

“I just want her to grow up and be happy, and be a person who contributes to society.”

When Debbie, a 1976 GHS graduate and former bank teller at BB&T, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999, she was worried about how independent Emily would be. But then, Emily was only 9 years old. Over the past decade, Debbie has learned to relax. “Emily has come a long way since then and helps take care of me sometimes and keeps her room tidy,” she said. Emily has even become an exceptional cook, making homemade burgers, breadsticks and apple dumplings. 

Family friend, Lorraine Cox, said Emily is so outgoing and has never met an enemy. In fact, Emily describes herself as “fabulous.” Emily often cranks up the music in her room and listens to Jonas Brothers and Hannah Montana, enjoys keyboarding class, water aerobics, horseback riding and basketball. A huge fan of Dr. Suess books and “Harry Potter,” Emily dreams of becoming a librarian after she graduates from high school. 

Debbie said the cancer is now in her liver, but she is trying a new type of chemotherapy to get rid of the tumors. “I just want to live as long as possible and enjoy ourselves,” said Debbie, who describes her relationship with Emily as “very close.” When Debbie is feeling up to it, she and Emily dine out on the weekends, go shopping and to the movies and attend church at Blue Ridge Fellowship. 

“I feel like I wouldn't be here now, if it wasn't for the Lord,” Debbie said. “It's been almost 10 years for me and some others haven't been that fortunate.”

So Agape and I joined a large crowd of friends and well-wishers to see Emily off in the carriage last Saturday night. It truly was a night of magic and dreams. Emily was absolutely radiant. Jordan was as handsome as ever with his "pretty hair and teeth," and remarkably well-composed for being the unwitting center of attention. The love, joy, and tenderness sparkling in her mother's eyes thrilled our hearts.

My personal thanks goes out to April Wright of the Gazette for her compassionate, sensitive reporting (She also wrote the wonderful story about my JoyBell Ringers last summer) and to the business people in our fair city who stepped forward to make Debbie's dream for her daughter come true.

Emily and Jordan arriving for the carriage ride
Some of the many well-wishers gathered to see her off
A group hug from her Special Olympics team mates
There she is! A princess on her way to the ball
One more hug for the road

Mr. Staples leads Kate up the steep hill to Galax High School

A sunset ride worthy of a fairy tale

Another cheering crowd of paparazzi greets them at the school

Pure, unbridled joy!

Emily and her mom share one more hug before Emily makes her way inside for the  dreamed of night to begin.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

How to Have a Bad Day

"Pregnant Woman Hit by Car While Fleeing From Bear"
Now that's what I call a bad day. I read that yesterday on Fox News, and thought about it again as I was sitting a mile or so down the Gully Creek Trail with my now swollen, sprained ankle soaking in the icy water. I was in a pretty bad fix, alright: 800 vertical feet below the crest and my parked car, but things could be worse. It could have happened somewhere on the trail before I got to the creek. I could have been alone. I might not have had my cell phone with me to call in the calvary or the helicopter (We did neither.) Actually it was the cell phone that led to this unfortunate step. My friend, Michelle, poked me in a comment about launching their boating season on White Lake - already! without me! I know how much she loves this particular trail and misses the mountains, so I just had to pay her back. I stopped, took a picture of the creek, fumbled with the intricacies of sending a picture message with text from the phone, flipped it shut, and took one step . . . . into a deep, hidden hole. Crack! Pop! went the ankle. "#@*!" went the mouth. BWAA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA went my phone. It was Michelle calling, so I could repent right away while the icy creek numbed the hurtin' ankle.

Meanwhile, Pat has been hovering on the sidelines, fretting over me. Finally, she proclaims, I think we just need to pray! So we did (what would YOU do?!?!) And bless God, He intervened!! After about 20 minutes chilling in the creek, my foot was numb, and I could actually stand on it. Not only did I stand on it, I walked all they way back up the mountain by myself with relatively little pain. This is nothing short of miraculous since the last two times that I have sprained an ankle, I was on crutches for 6 weeks and could not even put my foot on the floor! It took several more months of physical therapy, some cortisone, and all together about 2 years to fully heal. But I digress. So, I am, yet again, slowed to a crawl, and trying to be content that I am in the place that God wants me for now. Because there just might be a bear waiting for me on the other end of the trail! But it sure is difficult when I wanted to be there for Julie today to take pictures of Michael's big Monster Truck birthday party ( you absolutely will be flabbergasted when you see the cake she made!) and I wanted to run the whole way down main street and up to the high school taking pictures of Emily going to the prom in the horse and carriage, and tomorrow is The big Special Olympics track and field meet in Radford. I'm just going to hobble off into the sunset for now.

The photo that started all my trouble:
(It's not even a decent shot.)
See those leaves, bottom left??? See that hole under the leaves?
I didn't either.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Contemplation Jigsaw PuzzleContemplation Jigsaw Puzzle

Here's a little peek at what I've been up to the last week. These pics are from just one of the 4 handbell concerts that I've had. I would give credit to the photographers, but I'm too focused on the kids and the music to pay attention to who is firing the Canons. This little gallery features some of my younger kids for a change.
Aren't our new shirts awesome!!
My Baby Bell Class
two of my youngest ringers (I think Alaina has just turned 2)
Love the Clarks!! All 7 of the girls ring bells with me!
Advanced Beginner class ringers

First performance for the Beginner A class!

Give them about 50 pounds of Bronze and watch them go to town!

Note the signature tongue action. My brain simply won't work without it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Golden Opportunity

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Here is your chance to give a "golden egg" to a deserving, strong-spirited lady in our community, and it won't cost you a thing but a few minutes of your time to read her story and vote for her in the Intuit Small Business Grant contest. Taphne Taylor is the current owner of the Davis-Bourne Inn Bed and Breakfast in Independence. The Inn is rich in history, ambience, and holds a particularly fond place in our hearts. You can read all about it on their website: THE DAVIS BOURNE INN

But, back to Taphne and the contest. Like many small businesses these days, Taphne is struggling to hold her head above water and keep the place open against overwhelming adversity, and she is doing it with an unsinkable, optimistic spirit and pluck. Winning this grant would most certainly turn the tide for her, and quite frankly, right now she needs a miracle. Will you help make that happen for her? Will you take a minute to read her story and vote for her? Perhaps, you, too, will find inspiration in her story and the lovely, encouraging comments posted about her. VOTE FOR TAPHNE! The first phase of the contest ends on April 24, so please vote today. And if you live anywhere within spittin' distance, do yourself a favor and have a fabulous meal, or luxurious weekend there.

Following are some comments about Taphne's story:

"I watched Taphne stand back up after the rug was jerked out from under her, dust herself off and rebuild her own set of dreams. Her determination to accomplish her goals is astounding. She has continued to work for the development of her community as well as her own business."

"Your determination, your commitment to your local community and local foods have made you a beacon in your beautiful rural community. I feel like I'm coming home when I walk in the door of your B&B for another gourmet meal."

"The Inn has become a centerpiece of the community. Local produce and meats are used to prepare wonderful meals for the guests and locals who love to dine at the Inn on special occasions. My stays at the Inn have been peaceful when I go alone, exciting when special events are planned and inspiring to see what good taste and hard work can bring to a rural mountain community. What a beautiful Inn and what a beautiful lady."

And my contribution: "The Davis-Bourne Inn is a venerable grand old lady here in bucolic Southwest Virginia, and now she is fortunate, indeed, to have a courageous, resilient, creative, positive, vibrant, tenacious, visionary lady boldly leading her forward through perilous times. What a match made in Heaven! The Inn has always been an inspirational place for me, and even more-so now that I've had the unexpected pleasure of meeting the new owner (and I hope, new friend.) Taphne, I'm rooting for you!"

A Little Springtime Cheer

Daffodils Jigsaw PuzzleDaffodils Jigsaw Puzzle

My life is CHAOS lately!
I needed a little order and beauty, and this is what I found:

Friday, April 10, 2009

#14 on My List

In Remembrance Jigsaw PuzzleIn Remembrance Jigsaw Puzzle

After a wildly, raucous, and did I say LOUD day of performing and rehearsing in a ringing-in-my-ears LOUD place, Pastor Hendrix asked if I could come take some photos of the preparations for our Maundy Thursday service. To tell you the truth, I had completely forgotten about it, and at the moment the only thought filling my mind was going home, unplugging the phone, and putting a pillow over my head. I politely declined, and did in fact, go home and put it out of mind. A little later, I was heading out the door for a walk, and as an afterthought, pushed the play button on the answer machine. There it was again: Would it be possible for me to take some photos at the service tonight? Nudge . . .Nudge . . ."Yes, God."

I found time for #14 on my list.