My classroom called life…Kingdom lessons

My desire is to abide

SMG: Day 70 April 11, 2009

Filed under: Surprise Me God - Round II — charredsmore @ 4:37 am

Happy Birthday to me!  This was a little bit ago, but I wanted to give a quick b-day story.

SO, by now if you know me, you know I like surprises.  It’s probably one of my love languages.  It doesn’t have to be extravagant or “out there elaborate”, but just a surprise, something out of the ordinary.  I like doing that sort of thing for other people and I like it when they do it for me too.  Sometimes, you have to switch things up, in how you show other people your love…in how they best recieve.  Anyway, mini sermon is finished, on to the b-day.


Stacy and Jesse (my roommate and her bf) planned this surprise for me, but the whole team was a part of it.  When you live in a small town and have little money, your fun evenings tend to get a little on the creative side.  So, my friends kidnapped me and put a blindfold around my eyes as they drove me around to different community member’s homes.  It was really a fun blessing to go around visiting with community friends on my b-day.  We have been able to invest in people’s lives, but also build friendships where the giving and receiving is mutual.  I was major blessed by our evening journey as we went from house to house and closed the evening at Kristy’s house. 

Thanks ladies and gentleman for a wonderful night of b-day blessings!



Update on School Stuff:

No, I am not 30 yet…people seem to freak out a little when they get there. I hope I am not one of them. I had a sweet day filled with surprises and blessings. My students were mostly on good behavior at school, until I got to the afternoon. That’s usually how the story goes. They get a little excited and anxious to get out of the building…I think I need to start incorporating some exercises or something to get them a little more active. They need something. Anyway, so the afternoon came around and we had PBIS…still not sure what that stands for, I am sure Ms. G can help a sister out (if she is reading this :). Basically PBIS is a way to reinforce positive behavior. The students who are not on the “naughty list”, meaning they have not recieved a detention, referal, or suspension in the last month are able to participate.  Now, you would think that the majority of the students would be involved…more like half.  It’s a sad story…ever Tuesday and Thursday the detention list is announced from the loud speaker, the list is very long.  It doesn’t seem to phase the students (some of them anyway).  At the school we are really cracking down on tardys and other behaviors.  I hope it starts to work.  I pretty much lay it down in my classroom.  They think they can get away with stuff with the nice new teacher…no way.  There are so many parallels to the Father’s unconditional love and discipline when I am in that school…everyday I learn from my students.  It’s really a blessing, although difficult and challenging.  Three years ago, I would not have been able to do do this job, okay last year I would not have been able to do this job.  If I can now, it is ONLY by the grace of God. 


Note on Discipline:  I want to share a VERY important lesson I have learned while disciplining the students (espescially the boys).  When I am asking them why they did X, Y, Z behavior or telling them why X, Y, Z behavior was inappropriate they get a little funny.  They won’t look me in the eye and they try to get out of it.  I mean, some of them just flat out walk away while I am disciplining them.  What?!?  I would have NEVER even thought of disrespecting a teacher like that when I was in Junior High.  They don’t know what to do.  I think it’s a combination of things…feeling like the tough guy who doesn’t want to be geting repremanded by a teacher or it is a feeling of shame.  It is totally like that with God too.  We feel bad and we are in shame, we tend to want to run away in guilt and shame.  Man!  He loves us!  I love those teenagers!  I tell them too…”You know I care about you, right?!?”  “I wouldn’t be here unless I wanted to be.”  “I am choosing to spend my day with you all, because I want to be your teacher.”  You are each unique and talented in your own way and can accomplish anything.”  “When I discipline you, it doens’t mean I love you any less.”  “You’re all my favorites.”  It’s constant affirmation, but still, when it happens, they think I don’t like them, or they aren’t my favorite, or I am just picking on them.


SMG: Who’s counting anymore? I have only a couple days until my Birthday (SMG 70)! March 30, 2009

Filed under: Surprise Me God - Round II — charredsmore @ 2:53 am


It’s been a little while since I have reported to you on my SMG Experiment.  I am still in the game, but just not writing about it all the time.  There have been a lot of unique and cool personal encouragement, growth, refinement, and surprises that I was not comfortable sharing with the whole world.  Basically I was thrown in the fire (spiritually speaking), but not burned.  That’s right, just like the boys Shadarack, Mishack, and Abednego…not burned, rescued by the One who holds the Keys to Life.  While in the fire I have been realizing a lot of things that were not too cool about myself.  Things that He is purifying.  Fire burns and refines, it takes away the impurities…I am all about that, even when it hurts a little.  Sometimes people resist the fire or run from it.  I would encourage you to embrace those hard and difficult things in life, you become stronger and more mature.  He makes us look more like Himself.  Still in process friends.

“He who began a good work in ME will complete it!”


Okay, okay, I have some fun blessings and surprises to share with you all…


1.  My friend Rita asked if we could meet for dinner at Apple bees (one of my favs.).  She is this fun, spunky, prophetic lady that I met at a house church when first moving to Cairo.  We actually had a night class (Build your own Business) together last year and had a blast ministering to people.  Anyway, she took me out to dinner and we had a wonderful conversation.  At the end of our time, she said, “You know, the Lord told me your Birthday was coming up so I brought you a present.”  FUN!  She really would have not known that my Birthday was only a week away…so that was real cool.  We went out to our cars and she pulls out this present.  Inside: Anointing oil and a candle with the same scent – Hyssop (which is HOLY FIRE). Haha!  God really does have a sense of humor.  See above if you are confused (I’ve been going through the fire).  She began to share that she had a vision of me anointing the desks before school and praying and worshipping in the classroom before the students arrive.  Hallelujah!  I had already been praying, worshipping and anointing the desks with oil.  Yea!  So, this was just fun confirmation.  Then, she gave me another present: Prayer!  That’s right friends, this is one of the best presents around, and it’s free!  So we prayed for each other, it was real sweet, the Lord encouraged our hearts with specific things.  One of the things she asked the Lord for actually happened the NEXT DAY!  YES!  That’s what I’m talking about!  God is so kind and generous through friends.  Thank you Rita for listening and being obedient to His Spirit in you!

2.  We have had visitors here in Cairo for the past two weeks.  It started a couple weekends ago with our Colfax family coming down for the annual “Photo shoot” (one of my students called it the “Shoot out” – hahaha).  They come and set up everything they need to take family portraits including the backgrounds, cameras, printers, props…you name it, they have it!).  It’s real fun for the community to get dressed up and come out and get their photo taken and bring it home with them, all for free.  Our Colfax family has been such a blessing to us in many ways.  Too many to write in a blog.  We love them and are blessed by our wonderful partnership.

3.  A group of college guys came right after Colfax left.  This group consisted of a friend named Austin who has probably been to Cairo about nine times.  It started for him with YW mission trips, then him and his dad coming to deliver donations (beds, food, lots of things), then they brought their camp staff, next was his college friends, and now some brothers who wanted a fun spring break trip.  I mean, if you had to decide between Florida and Cairo…you would obviously choose Cairo!  Come on, that’s easy!  So, they drove down and got down and dirty doing some hard core mission type work.  They helped out with some yard work, volunteered in the Elementary School, and even took some pictures of the High Schoolers doing a television interview.  We had a nice time with these brothers and are thankful they decided to come to this little town and serve here for their spring break experience.  Thanks Austin and crew!

4.  Right after the boys left, we had another spring break team come and join us.  This time it was Amanda (last summers YW Program Staff) and crew.  This company consisted of some college friends and her mom!  That’s right, even moms get a spring break.  Joy (mom) hadn’t had a vacation in like seven years, so this was a big deal…deciding to come here on her vacation.  I felt honored and blessed.  The funny thing is that the night before they got here I got a facebook chat message from an old college friend of mine telling me that a couple friends from her home group were headed down to Cairo for their spring break…WHAT?!?  That is hilarious!  Small world.  So, it turns out that two of the peeps in this group are friends with Liz, one of my college friends (we were neighbors in the girls res. hall together our freshman year – YAY for Trowbridge Hall).  They got here and fit right in.  It was amazing how peaceful and I can’t even think of the right word…it just worked.  After a full week of visitors you would think we would be tired of entertaining, no way.  These people blessed our socks off!  It was community life, the saints coming together and serving each other.  Amanda and Tara even came to my classroom…I didn’t know how the students would react.  They loved them!  I thought they would give them a hard time, but they totally respected them.   The girls helped me set up the room a little.  I hadn’t taken the time to “make it my own” yet, so organizing, hanging posters, and some cool Asian looking balls from the ceiling definitely made the room look a little more like “Ms. C”.  I want the students to feel like it is their room too, so each day I make some more changes.  Tara even played basketball with my students during their PE time, which they loved.  Oh, I even got asked out on a date!   Hahaha, not what you are thinking.  Joy (Amanda’s mom) asked if I would be her date when they went to Lambert’s Restaurant.  I wasn’t going to go, because I am not in a place to really spend money on that kind of thing, but the whole crew went and we had a blast!  This is the crazy restaurant where they throw rolls…we even did a little dance before we left as they were closing up..the staff was just laughing and having a good time.  Thank you friends for your hospitality and generosity to the TR family!  We miss you all.



5.  My new job rocks!  I never thought I would say these words together, “I LOVE BEING A TEACHER!”  Seriously, talk about a heart change.  I love going into school everyday.  It is really an adventure, I never know what to expect, and honestly I feel like I am learning more than the students.  They teach me!  Not about math, but about life, unconditional love, perseverance, patience, discipline, self control, the “mother’s heart” of compassion, speech, refinement and LOTS of other things.  It’s so not about math, although they are learning a lot and growing in their computation skills.  It is about their growth, maturity, refinement…I see them all growing in different ways.  Some slowly, some a bit faster.  It all depends on their attitude.  If they “choose in” they go on the fast track…if they resist, they are on a slower pace.  Everyday I must choose in too.  I am blessed by these young ones and consider it an honor to spend my days with them in the High School.  Even the ones that are not my students, I see when I go to the gym during my prep. hour or in the band room during my lunch hour…teachable moments all over the place!  I pray they see the love of Christ in me and hear his unconditional love in my discipline…I pray I can see them through the eyes of Jesus.


6.  Power of Words:  This has been quite the lesson for me.  As I tell the students to “filter” what they say in the classroom, I am reminding myself of the necessity of a “filter”.  Sometimes I just have to turn to the board so I don’t laugh out loud or cover my face with a piece of paper so I don’t show the hilarity in what they just asked me or said to the class.  I know they are at a funny stage in life, going through puberty and all that…trying to figure out who they are in the midst of raging hormones.  It is a hard place to be.  Then, they are expected to sit all day in classrooms without windows!  I think I would struggle too.  So, I just remind them that I am a teacher and not a teenage girl and they need to filter what they ask me.  Some things are just not appropriate to be asking a teacher.  Also, the things they do in class.  It’s like I am conducting a BET video audition or something when they bust out their dance moves.  Hey, I am all about dancing and singing and even have incorporated it in the classroom – the other day they came up with math raps to remember their multiplication facts, but there is a time and space for that.  I just remind them that auditions are after school.  I guess I am getting an education on the latest hip hop music, dance moves and slang.  Speaking of slang, here are a couple I wanted to share with you…

Swag = Style.  Example:  “Ms. C, do you have you own swag?”  “Sure I guess I have my own style, we all do.”

Salty = When someone says something to embarrass another.  Example: “That’s salty!” (After one student was embarrassed by the comment of another student.)

Shinin’ = My definition is different than theirs.  This is how I break it down…consequences to your actions.  They look at it as someone calling you out for something, which is also an embarrassment.  Example: “She shined on you man!”  (This is usually after I have told a student what they did or said was not appropriate and gave them a warning.)

Stanky Leg = This is a really annoying (in my opinion) song and there is a dance that accompanies it.  The students are currently obsessed with it, one of their math raps was to this beat.

There is your lesson for today on the pop. culture or Cairo culture slang, tune in next time for more.

6.  I have received a warm welcome by the teachers and administration at the High School.  They are all excited to have me on board and are showing me the ropes of all the ins and outs of teaching at Cairo High.  I have seen some collaboration with the teachers and look forward to building more partnerships with them as time allows.  Something I am looking forward to for this year is doing a thematic unit on the Underground Railroad with the other Junior High Teachers…most of them have agreed and one is already making plans for a field trip to a Museum in Carbondale.  YES!  I love field trips…and I know the students do too.  For next year (once I commit to being there another year) we are looking at doing some more cohesive lesson planning to engage the students at a deeper level.

7.  Also, some of the Christians are “coming out of the closet”.  It’s funny, one of the teachers popped her head in my room in the morning and said, “You know I am pentecostal, right?  I go to an Assemblies of God church.”  Nice!


“Cairo – Expect a Miracle”

8.  The Principal gave me some good news and said, “You just have to walk by faith and not by sight!”  I like that, a supervisor who isn’t afraid to speak the word with boldness.  That’s so true too, everyday I must choose to walk by faith and not by sight, whether in the classroom or in town or wherever.  It is a constant thing.

9.  It’s been real fun getting to know some community members a bit more.  Finally, I am starting to feel like I have friends (other than the TR girls) in town.  Friends that I call and stop by their houses.  Friends I feel safe sharing my life with and praying with.  Friendship in this town is sometimes hard to come by, people have “associates” but not a lot of friends.  Especially the women.  They are jealous of each other, they struggle to know who is safe and who can be trusted.  It has been nice visiting with some of these friends since coming back to town. I really appreciate these women and the ways that they share their life with me.

10.  My mornings have been real sweet with the Lord.  I intentionally get up an hour earlier to spend with the Lord.  I get ready, make my coffee, try to have a little breaky and sit down with my ipod, Bible and journal and just dive in.  It’s been so good!  I have definitely recognized the difference when I spend time with the Lord in the morning and when I don’t.  It sets up the whole day…my focus, my vision, my attitude.  Also, I get to my class and try to have everything ready to go (the day before) so that I can just focus on inviting the Holy Spirit in (prayer), and worship.   I usually have Hillsong or Eddie James doing some live worship too…from my CD player.

ej-worship fresh-fire freedom1

11.  Speaking of Eddie James…I am going to this conference this weekend in Birmingham, AL.  Let me know if you are close by, maybe we can get together.  The Conference is called Fresh Fire and there will be lots of mobilizing in the arts and worship.  I met this crew when they were in Paducah, KY doing some outreach worship events.  I hesitate to call them events, because it was so much more than that.  It was amazing to see the way the Lord moved through this team of young adults.  Most of them have come from really rough pasts:  addiction, prostitution, violence, gang life, homosexuality, abuse…but they have been DELIVERED and HEALED!  Their lives are redeemed and they are not ashamed of the gospel.  They spend their time traveling together sharing their testimonies and the love of Christ through the arts.  This conference is more equipping as they teach about song writing, recording music, drama and dance, leading worship and lots of other things.  I am so pumped!  Looking forward to this time in Birmingham with my new friends.


SMG: 28-37 March 1, 2009

Filed under: Surprise Me God - Round II — charredsmore @ 12:13 am


YIKES! I have not been too faithful in keeping up with my blogging. Good thing I didn’t promise it from day 1…see I knew this would be difficult. Perhaps it will change when I settle down and start my teaching job and am in one place for more than a couple days. I have been on the road so much it has been difficult to put words on here. Of course, I have been doing a LOT of reflecting and pondering about many things…but not for the whole world to view.


Let’s see, where should I begin…I actually had to re-read my last entry to see where we left off. I had just finished up with the wedding updates.


So, here we go, buckle up for some fun adventures. At least they were fun for me…if you are bored, just go on to reading the next blog…it’s okay with me.


Funny Story:

The setting…a creepy hotel in an unnamed suburb of the twin cities in MN.  Don’t worry, all is okay, I just had to get OUTTA there! My sister and Israel came back earlier than I thought from their honeymoon. I was house sitting and had made arrangements for the following day of staying with a close friend. But, I didn’t expect them to be home so early…so I had to figure something out. They wanted to visit with Mo, Alex and myself (Israel’s sis and bro-in law) to share about their honeymoon extravaganza and pics…which was hilarious! These two have a way of getting themselves into some interesting situations. Or, maybe they are just great story tellers…perhaps a little embellishment. So, we are visiting for just a little bit…right…two and a half hours later I am getting kicked out of the house. Not really, but I did need to go somewhere else. My friend from hs said I could hang with her, but I knew she was exhausted and sleeping. It is about 11:30 at night and I am driving around the city trying to get a hold of her…she is in fact asleep. SHOOT! It is my fault, I took too long. Of course there are like 50 people I could have stayed with…but I wasn’t about to call them at midnight (during the work week).  I decide to go to a hotel, I need some alone time anyway…pulled up to a hotel (not sharing the name). Had a creepy feeling right when I walked in. Got my key and went to the room. You won’t believe what happened! The light was on and someone was in the bed. AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH! I shut the door and ran to the front desk. Told the girl and she began to tell me of a “homeless man” who once got a key and came into sleep in one of the rooms…but not to worry, it has only happened once since she started in July. Oh, now I’m okay! Nothing to worry about, right? Only once…HA! So, she gives me another key for a room upstairs after apologizing. I am walking up there thinking, “There is NO WAY I am staying here!” Usually I am not fearful of these types of situations, but while walking in the hallway, I was wondering…are these doors even secure? I hesitate to open the door, at least the light is off. I turn it on with in-trepidation, and take a quick glance…the room is a MESS! I’m so out of here, this isn’t even funny anymore. I’ve traveled a lot and stayed in many different hotels…this has NEVER happened. I think the Lord was probably protecting me. So, I get my money and go…to my friends house. Yeah, she woke up and called and all was well with the world. Trust your intuition friends. It might be the Holy Spirit warning you.






On my way to Kansas City…I love road trips and I even love them when I have no one else with me. It’s like a mobile prayer room. Time to reflect, pray, sing, listen, and get really loud with God. Sometimes I like to do that…and it can be a bit embarrassing with other people around. So, there I was in my mobile prayer room on the way to Kansas City.




I pulled into the parking lot and wondered what the Lord had for me…there are ALWAYS lots of surprises for me in this place. I wondered who I would reconnect with, I have quite a few friends who live in KC, so I never really know. I don’t try to make tons of plans and usually don’t have that much time, so I just roll with it. The first person I saw was a friend I met just a couple months ago when I went to the Luke 18 conference. It was good to reconnect and we went out to eat at IHOP (the pancake house). While there we had some good chats and I also was able to connect with a Messianic Jewish sister who works there. She’s great. Lots of energy and sees her job totally as a ministry. Talk about a prayer warrior! We also meet a family that connects to the prayer room once in a while and belong to a church nearby. Their son is a Christian rapper. We pray with them. Then, a young group (about our age) come to that same table. One of the ladies overhears our convo. and looks real pleased. She tells us that she just got roked by the Lord that morning. We end up sharing some testimonies. Good stuff. Finally it is time to go home…or at least to my friends house.

lacraeThe next day I had a good visit in the prayer room and coffee shop. I got a new CD, “Lacrae”…he’s a Christian rapper and pretty ligit too. I listened to his stuff on the way back to Cairo. Really appreciate his lyrics. Someone told me he gives a lot of his revenue to charity…I’ll have to check that out.



Melissa and Sara warmly welcomed me back to Cairo with a delicious meal of lasagna, salad, and rolls. Talk about a special surprise. The fellowship was so good. I missed my TR family more than I realized this month! God is doing so much with each of them and I look forward to hearing all about it. I was exhausted and went to bed SUPER early! I needed it.



The next day I hopped on over to the CHOP (Cairo House of Prayer) and was able to connect with the other ladies (Gary and Sharon were still out of town at this point). We prayed for each other…it was sweet. I was on my way to the Rapha House for some relaxation and refinement. Little did I know what God had in store for me.


I am still with our good friends Steve and Varvah with Hearts of Fire International. They are such a dear couple that really seek the King and Him glorified on the Earth. They have a way of ministering like I have not seen a whole lot in the Body of Christ. Really honest, truthful and gentle. You never feel attacked or blocked in a corner, you just feel free. That’s how it should be with this kind of healing ministry. I’m talk about issues of the heart. So, the past week has been challenging, hard, humbling, stretching, refining and purifying and GOOD! This time has been necessary for me to move forward in the assignments He has called me to and just simply in my relationship with Him. It’s never fun to be exposed, but the outcome is always for His benefit and your own. It’s hardly ever fun to “submit”, but I am learning that it is more beneficial than being independent. We all have junk in our lives…the difference is who will actually deal with it? If we go on like nothing is wrong it will eventually kill us. My mom said something pretty profound while I was home, “Unforgiveness can eat you up, and spit you out…until there is nothing left.”  She was speaking to a close relative about the issues of unforgiveness. Go MOM! I don’t think I have ever heard her that bold and courageous in her words. Amen. We are all learning and growing into the things God really has for us.


The theif comes only to steal, kill an destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
(John 10:10)


SMG: 24, 25, 26, 27 Happy Valentine’s Day! February 18, 2009

Filed under: Surprise Me God - Round II — charredsmore @ 9:51 pm


WOW, WOW, WOW!  My goodness, SO much has happened in the past four days, I am completely overwhelemed.  Just when I thought I couldn’t take any more of God’s goodness…He pours out another helping.


My sister’s wedding week was a crazy organized frenzy.  Yea, if that makes any sense.  She had everything pretty much locked down and set except for the little details.  This was my sixth wedding and FINALLY I was able to help out for a WHOLE WEEK!  Usually, I am living in another state and can’t even get off work for more than the weekend, so this was a total blessing.  God has perfect timing in all things.  I am in the midst of transitioning jobs (same town) and just “happened” to have a month where I could take off to visit family, help with the wedding, visit friends, and take a sabatical.  Praise Jesus!  I always thought it strange when people just took a month off…kind of selfish if you ask me.  No offense to my good friends who have done this (many of them have).  NOW, I recognize the HUGE benefit, esp. when a person is in the middle of such a HUGE transition.  It is good…I HIGHLY recommend it, if it is a possibility.


Back to the wedding stuff.  Details, details, details.  Shopping, errands, tanning, hair, make up, dresses, bridesmaids, honeymoon plans, vehicles, limo, showers, friends, helpers, TR fam, music, family, neighbors, 400 roses, food, soda, engraved flutes, garders (now time to throw the garnments…haha Vince), speeches, toasts, dancing, more dancing, fun, fun, and more FUN!



My mom was a bit stressed the day before as we strolled frantically through Sam’s club trying to get the cakes, cupcakes, meat, cheese, veggies, and drinks.  We had some moments of pure hilarity…like I almost peed my pants laughing so hard with my sister, while Israel looked at us asking, “WHAT is so funny?!?”  I guess you have to be a Carney girl to recognize.  There were also moments of stress and yelling…of course not me…my sister was going ape about the pop.  Come on Stacy…it’s just a beverage.  Just kidding…I love you so much and all that yelling didn’t taint my heart of appreciation for you, it was probably pay back for all the meanness I gave you when we were little.



Wedding DAY…simply beautiful!  I was pretty much in awe of how Stacy’s friends came together to help out, and my friends who are also her friends.  Three close friends from my Two Rivers fam drove 13 hours to help with the wedding.  Talk about SERVANT HEARTS!  Yea, thats humbling.  The three of them took care of so many things…pics of the guest for the guest book, videography during the reception, fixing my sister’s hair, putting out table decorations, picking up food, running errands, replenishing food, making sure things were running smoothly, picking up afterwards (missing the dance), cleaning the building, and had a smile on their faces the entire time!  Oh, I forgot one…Stacy (one of my BFs.  We have lived together and worked together for the past five years!) who is also a good friend of my sister stood up in the wedding.  That’s right, she was a last minute BRIDESMAID!  Wow!  We have both been in like 6 weddings of close friends, but never together.  How special is that?The Bridesmaid situation was quite interesting and I won’t go into detail…basically they all got switched out the last three weeks before the wedding except for me.  I think all the women STacy invited to stand up in the wedding are wonderful sister’s in Christ, and I am still not sure what all happened, but I am praising God that He knows and He wanted the four of us to stand up in agreement with STacy and ISraels’s covenant of love.  The funny thing is that when STacy (roommate, not sis) told me she was coming to the wedding about five months ago, I pictured her IN the wedding.  Of course, I didn’t say anything…two weeks ago she actually pictured herself standing up in the wedding too (but she didn’t say anything either until after the event).  God is so good!



What else…hmmmm…lots of fun connections.  I got to see my neighbor, who sold us Yolanda, the teal sporty Saturn I drove in college.  We even prayed together for his family.  Talk about a blessing.  When I lived at home I was definitly NOT a Christian.  I thought I was, but really didn’t have a clue about Jesus or living my life in the Kingdom. 




Bethany School of Missions is a fun connection the Lord gave me while at One Thing this past December.  They had a little booth and were doing the recruiting thing.  Of course I stopped to chat…because I want to meet and talk to everyone, trying to figure out how we are “connected”.  This does get a little time consuming and can be rediculous at times, so I have to hold it down.  Anyway, I connected with these brothers at the booth and found out Bethany Printing Press is one of the largest printing operations for Christian literature.  Very cool…they do self publishing stuff, so you do all your own marketing and other stuff…which is PERFECT for me.  I don’t want to give anyone else money for doing something I already enjoy doing.  Got the deets there…hopefully my book will start really coming together.  After that I spent time in their prayer room.  Yea, that was good stuff.  The half hour went by in what felt like 2 seconds…I was reading through some of my favorite scripture in Song of Solomon…lots of revelation and more to come.  There is ALWAYS MORE!  Finally, I joined them on a little trip to Minneapolis to do some worship, prayer and outreach on the U of M campus.  Did you know this is one of the largest campuses in the US (as far as student population)? 




It begins with worship at The Source, a Chi Alpha church in the city.  They seek the Lord about where they are going to go…they share ideas and get into their groups and do it.  They really get into it too, like Bethel in Redding…asking the Lord for BIG things.  They expect God to really touch people, heal them, set them free, and minister to them.  After a few songs of worship, the teacher (yes, this is actually part of their class…my kind of class…hands on learning) lead us in a time of prayer.  He asked the HOly Spirit to show us who He wanted us to pray for and minister to that night.  Sounds crazy…but check it out!  I had a picture in my mind of the Starbucks on Riverside in MPLS (this is where I would get coffee before going into work at Freebees back when I worked with YW and where I would do in person interviews when I worked in the recruiting department), also it is where LOTS of Somoli men hang out (who lack revleation of JC – he’s MORE than a prophet friends.  Next a brother stands up and says, “We need to pray for the Msms!”  I guess he had been meeting with a group from campus and been totally recieved and welcomed even though they know he is a follower of JC.  He had been trying to contact them about the meeting for tonight, but no one was getting back to him.  So, as we are praying, HE GETS THE CALL!  Yes…it get’s better.  I finally feel liberty to share my silly little picture.  Afterwards, I hear the brother yell from across the room, “That’s where we meet them!”  Hahahaha, that is stinkin’ hillarious.  So, my friends, next time you have a silly little picture in your mind and don’t have a clue how it fits in the puzzle, I recommend you SHARE IT!



After the wedding Stace and Izzy got some prayer action from the bridal party, family and friends before catching their limo.  The day was coming to a close and the reality still hadn’t sunk in…MY SISTER IS A MARRIED WOMAN!  Mrs. Israel Heard.  WOW!  She is no longer a Carney.  How weird!  Now, I am the only single one in my family…YIKES!  I’m getting over it.  It’s not even a big deal to me anymore.  I just had to get over myself and focus my energy on the people who were getting married and know that my time will come.  Jesus is writing my story, and He is a pretty good writer…so I am not even worried.  Ha, remind me of that when I start freaking out. 

 giving-away-the-bride            the-boys           sisters    mrs-heard







The whole day was filled with blessings, joy, peace, and abundance.  It was almost like a dream to me…and I am sure for the two love birds.  Everything was taken care of as family and friends all pitched in to help.  It was elegant and beautiful.  The day seemed to fly by so quickly, but I soaked in each moment.  I almost forgot I had to give a speech…I had already written and practiced in my head, knowing I would lose it and get all weepy.  Luckily, Vince went first.  I was really impressed by his words of encouragement, the brother is only 18 years old, but holds wisdom.  Next, Israel told “the story” of how he knew that he knew SHE was the ONE.  I asked him to share it for those who hadn’t heard it yet, which was most of the people.  Talk about a God orchestration!  I will have to write that story on another blog for you.  Finally, the time came for the sister of the bride to share words.  I couldn’t help it…I started tearing up and crying, as I was OVERWHELMED with the love and goodness of our Father.  I was able to pull it together and share my perspective of their relationship unfolding from beginning to end.  I will try to post it on my fb page or something…maybe.  They are blessed and have an increadible destiny together in Christ.  He treats her as a princess and is SO IN LOVE WITH HER!  She recipricates love back to her groom and it is wonderful.  I look forward to seeing the path the Lord has for them now together as Mr. and Mrs.


I was house sitting while they were gone…so I cleaned up a bit, put their gifts downstairs and started organizing a little bit.  Their house is still a work in progress, they have painting and other projects going on…so it’s a lot like us…a work in progress. 


It was really nice having lunch with an old friend of mine from high school.  We didn’t have any contact for 10 years, then all of a sudden we are friends again.  It’s nice when you can just pick right back up…like time has just been frozen and yet you have matured and been transformed in pretty radical ways.  The relationship had not been tainted, just shifted a bit.  I like that.



Visited two good friends from Camp St. Croix.  They actually met at camp, fell in love, got engaged at camp, and got married at camp.  Yea, it’s a really fun story.   He is from New Zealand and a perfect match for her.  They have grown to love each other more through the last three years of marriage and I love witnessing their story unfold.  They bought a house like 2 minutes from my high school…how fuN!  I think I need to pay some old teachers a visit…hmmmmm….maybe today?  They will probably be glad to hear I am following in their footsteps.  Plus I would like to see Cindi in action (my friend from three years old, danced together and she is pretty much my sister) teaching SPanish and ESL.  Then I get to hang out with the International Students on campus!  Just like old times!  I would always rush to the International students and try to befriend them.



Lunch with the sisters (and little Jack my nephew) yesterday at Applebees was full of laughter and remeniscing.  I love them so much and wish I had more quality time with them.  Again, I reflect on the importance of family and the priority they are becoming in my life.  I wish Cairo was like 10 hours closer!  You women are so special to me.  This weekend will be nice, a bonfire on Saturday with the fam at Mom and Dad’s.



The Pastor who officiated the wedding is actually Israel’s old roommate and now brother -in-law!  How fun is that?  He is married to Izzy’s sister.  I am truly blessed by Israel’s family.  They are all unique in their own way and so welcoming and loving.  It has been wonderful spending more time with Alex and Mo and I look forward to more quality time and hopefully ministering together.  Maybe a mission trip….ooohhh, that would be fun!  Let’s go to Africa! 


Dinner last night with my Aunt and her best friend of like 3o years.  Again, a time of food, fellowship, sharing, and LOTS of laughter!  We were able to talk about so many things and I left feeling so encouraged by these women of God.  Thank you Jesus for the older generation that is pouring into the younger.  She actually goes to the church I was involved with while I lived in MN and where my sister and ISrael go…along with a bunch of high school and college friends.  God is truly doing a new thing in the Twin Cities….UNITE THE SAINTS!  Teach them, prepare them!  AMEN! 


Okay, I need to get going…I am thankful for those of you who are journeying with me on this “Surprise Me God” Experienment. 


Please…tell me if you are walking with me on this fun adventure.  Also, tell me the surprises God has brought to you…even if you haven’t asked.  I am curious!


And now to Him who is able to to immeasurably more than all you ask or imagine according to His Son Jesus Christ.

 Ephesians 3:20


SMG: 21, 22, 23 February 13, 2009

Filed under: Surprise Me God - Round II — charredsmore @ 7:52 pm

I guess good things come in threes. Only blogging when I have a minute to breathe in between the wedding madness. Not really madness, it’s super fun and I love details so it’s all good.

As I was reading through my SMG RII (Suprise me God – Round II) late last night I realized I use WAY too many of !!!!!!!!!!!!! these and also overuse the word, “AMAZING” and usually put it in all caps, which kind of reduces the word a little bit. So, my February resolution is to not do those two things so much, I need to get a lil more creative in my writing.

I’ll work backwards this time…starting with this morning.

  • I spent the night at my old neighbors (Mike and Kim) along with some of the TR family (Stacy, Jesse, and Heather).  Talk about weird!  Being right next door to my house.  Okay, not my house anymore…but come on!  I grew up there, and for like 26 years called it my home…now I am next door with my fantastic neighbors.  Hopefully I will get a chance to go and visit the new owners, they are kind people who would probably even give me a tour and show me the changes they have made on the house.  I think my mom has been back to see it, but not dad.  I guess that would be too hard…after you practically built the house (it was a smaller cottage type house on the lake until he pumped it with steroids and made it into a beautiful home – multiplying the square footage by DOUBLE).  It would be like creating a sculpture, selling it at auction, then seeing the new owner change pieces of it.  Of course they have the right and it is theirs, but as the artist it would be a hard thing to watch.  Perhaps that’s how the Creator feels about plastic surgery. Hmmmmmmmmm….something to ponder.
  • This morning I knew I couldn’t get out of bed at 5:00, no time for naps today.  So, when I was just lying there, still not falling back asleep, I decided to write the Maid of Honor toast in my head.  I was reflecting on the goodness of God in Stacy and Israel’s relationship.  The speach is written.  I am overwhelmed by the Father’s love and his orchestration of love.  “When God writes your love story”.  Simply beautiful.  Simply divine.
  • Last night was real fun, I ran some errands for the Bride and Groom, visited some high school friends, called some other friends, and finally met up with the crew at Caribou as they were closing.  Found out a friend of mine from high school works for the Academy Awards…WHAT?!?  I have to hook that up!  She is a FB friend, so I will have to message her and get the deets on that one.  The way I found out was a surprise…the dude who works at Caribou knows her sister and as we were talking about WBL alumni, he brought up her name.  Crazy stuff.
  • I took a nap…for the first time in probably over a year!  Yeah, I hit the wall yesterday after being up for 7 hours (and it was only noon).  When you wake up everyday at 5, the days are REALLY long.  Hey, I am NOT complaining…I LOVE THE MORNINGS!  Praise the Lord for early morning wake up with no alarm.  Love it.
  • Stacy and I had a break from each other…which was probably better for her than me. 🙂   She said, “Heather, can you tame it down today a little…I can only take so much of you.”  Not offended…I know I am a little…what’s the word?  Passionate, intense, LOUD, over the top, in your face…yea taming it down is a good idea.
  • Stace and I have had lots of fun laughs together.  We even went to the Verizon store so she could boot me off of the Family Plan.  Really, I can’t even get upset, it is TOTALLY my fault.  I was causing the minutes to sky-rocket, we kept going over, and I was texting like a mad woman.  Ha!  What’s up with Verizon not explaining themselves…when they said unlimited texting…I thought that is what they meant.  Really, they meant only to Verizon customers…which caused our plan to go up like 40 bones.  YIKES!  I think they will give us a bit of a reimbursement for that one.  I guess after 1,000 texts you can rack it up.  So, now I am alone again on my Verizon plan…probably better that way.  I won’t have to hear messages from my sister every other day, “Heather, can you please check our minutes on Verizon, we only have 100 left, which mean we each have like 2/day.”  Yea, like that is EVER going to happen.  I need to monitor myself so I can only get mad at myself.  Thanks family, the family plan was fun while it lasted.  What can I say?  I like to communicate.
  • I got a sweet deal at the tanning place.  They have these new beds that get you really dark really fast.  Man, I sound like a valley girl who only cares about her tan.  I normally am not a fan (anymore) of tanning beds, but hey it’s my sister’s wedding and I am really WHITE. 
  • The night before I spent with my bf from three years old…Cindi.  She lives in Wyoming….MN that is.  A bit out of the city, but a good drive anyway.  We went out to eat and had some major laughs.  As we reminisced about our past 25 years together, we both realized how fortunate we are…to be alive.  We were some crazy girls back in the day, and I am so thankful we are both different, transformed, made new.  Seriously without Christ, I would be…let’s not go there.  It’s too scary to even consider.  So, all of you high school friends reading this…yea, a new woman.  Not perfect, that’s for sho, a work in progress.  Amen.
  • Cindi is also a teacher – at our old high school!  I love it.  She teaches ESL and Spanish (which is what I started with before I had to diagram sentences…aaaaahhhhhhh, I had to go back to Math) …Profe Swensen is the best teacher at WB High!   She shared some pretty inspiring and hilarious stories.  Gave me some good tips on classroom management and just keeping it real with the students.  I look forward to more advice as time unfolds this new chapter in my life.  Thanks Cindi for being a wonderfully beautiful friend.  She also shared a bunch of wisdom from her marriage experience, which was also good.  I think I get it, really I don’t have a clue what it is like to be married.  Only when that time comes.
  • I did forget a couple from my La Crosse visit, so here goes…There is this worship deal that happens once/month at the La Crosse Center called City Praize.  It is put on by this millionaire couple who live in Sparta, along with some other marketplace saints.  They have been doing it for over a year now.  Every time I roll through La Crosse I am sad that I have missed it or am leaving too early.  This time I was able to celebrate with my family in La Crosse.  Talk about unique and Holy Spirit touched!  This gathering consists of saints from churches all over the Coulee Region…some travel a distace to be there.  They are not all Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Catholic, Methodist, or Charasmatic…but they are all included.  I heard there have been over 100 churches represented at these deals.  WOW!  Talk about a miracle.  God is in the business of uniting His Chruch and I am thankful it is unfolding in La Crosse.  This has been my prayer – John 17…that we would be ONE.  Also, I have been praying for the supernatural to unfold in this region.  I had a vision while worshipping…people coming out of wheel chairs and running up and down the isles.  People getting set free of all types of mean addictions.  Yes, that is my Savior at work and it will happen.  It probably already is. 
  • Another sweet blessing from La Crosse is a dear friend of mine I worked with for about two years while I was in college.  She had gone through some major stuff as a child that still had an effect on her as an adult (don’t we all in some ways).  While in college I had gone through this healing seminar and also recieved a little bit of training on how to walk someone else through.  It was pretty basic…lead them through their past.  Identify areas of bitterness, unforgiveness, sin issues, negative thought patterns, areas of hurt and pain…then ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the root and dig it out.  Although I say it is basic, is it extremely profound and powerful.  People are only vessels and not couneselors.  The Holy Spirit truly does the healing.  So, this friend wanted to meet with me and another close friend (who had also gone through the training) to walk through some inner healing stuff.  To be honest, I was terrified.  I didn’t want to “mess it up”.  Hearts are precious and this was one of His lambs, I felt like I had no idea what I was doing.  This was probably a good thing, considering I wasn’t the counselor anyway.  We met at my friends house (who was also being a vessel for the Spirit – I don’t know what else to call it).  She was so funny, she set an extra chair out for Jesus and put this large portrait of Jesus (you know the white blonde one…haha) in the chair.  It was symbolic of what was really happening.  Anyway, we walk through some stuff, she describes being sexually abused as a child.  She is not even emotional about it, kind of cut off the feelings in order to cope (totally nornal).  We get to praying and leading her through – asking Jesus where He was when that happened.  I felt kind of nautious, like, “What am I doing?  I have no business trying to lead someone through healing in such an intimate place in their heart.”  Well…let’s just say the Holy SPirit showed up in a BIG way!  She starts weeping pretty hard.  We ask her what she sees.  “He is here with me!  He is leading me out of the room, down the stairs, through the kitchen, out the back door.  I am safe, I am safe, I am out of the house and safe.”  By this time we are all losing it, weeping and praising God for deliverance.  The story does not end there friends.  She called me yesterday and told me that she won a piece of artwork (from a traveling evangelist/artist type guy who makes these beautiful and HUGE pieces of art about Jesus and the Kingdom) which is the EXACT picture of Jesus that she saw that day rescuing her.  How AMAZING IS THAT?!?!  Our God is so GOOD!  I praise you Father for complete healing, salvation, deliverance, and redemption of ALL things.  This woman truly has been renewed.  She came with me to the worship deal (described above) and I saw a FREE person giving her all to Jesus.  She said she always remembers that day we sat down with Jesus at the head of the table…so do I.

SMG: 17, 18, 19, 20 February 11, 2009

Filed under: Surprise Me God - Round II — charredsmore @ 8:47 pm



Blessings showered on my sister Stacy as we gathered to celebrate her and Israel’s union.  I rolled right in to Beth’s driveway right on time for the shower with the women in my family and Israel’s mom.  It was great fun.  My mom, grandmas, aunties, old babysitter, best friend from three years old, neighbor, and sisters were all there.  What a special time to honor and celebrate Stacy. 



Bachelorette Par-Tay

Stacy’s friends all came to her and Israel’s new house for a sweet time of fellowship and dancing.  We started the night out with introductions…share a funny/embarrassing story you have with Stacy.  She’s pretty good at that…so there are LOTS of stories.   You know I love you girl!  Some of them even had pictures from back in the day when they were together in Elementary School.  Talk about laughing hysterically!  I was even a part of some of those pics…memories…some things you can just go right back to…even if it has been 20 years!  Dang, I am OLD!  Her good friend Emily came (1st grade friend).  WOW!  How funny!  She’s great, it was really good to reconnect with her.  So, after the stories, we had some dinner and wine…then we got ready to go out on the town.  No, not Minneapolis…Sommerset.  Come on!  Our other sister Kelly DJs and does Karaoke at the Rendezvous bar on Saturdays…so we wanted to hit that up…a little more low key than the city!  haha.  Anyway, I didn’t get to go because one of the girls got a little sick (no, not from alcohol) and I brought her home.  All is well…Stace called me when they sang “Going to the Chapel” so I was able to still enjoy the music with them!  I was there in spirit.  I will have to hit that up sometime though…Kelly is quite the DJ! 



Auntie and a Movie Defiant

 It was nice spending some quality time with my Auntie.  She is so kind, generous, hospitable and loving.  I prayed that some of that would run off on me.  We went to the movie Defiant, which by the way is AMAZING!  The setting is 1941, WWII, Nazis taking over…Jews hiding in the forest.  This band of brothers took responsibility over a small group in hiding and it actually became a group of probably 1,000 or more.  They spent three winters in those trees.  Can you imagine?  It was amazing to see the community, love, sacrifice, and leadership of these people.  Totally reminded me of the Israelites in the desert…the grumbling, the complaining, the community, the provision, the love, the miracles, the survival.  AMAZING!  I would love to meet some of the people that were a part of this group, or their children.  I think I need to do some research…

There are a couple other movies currently out about WWII.  I didn’t really know this because I don’t have a TV and don’t see previews.  Some friends had told me about Valkyrie, Defiance, and the Boy in the STriped PJs (I think that is the title).  Anyway, I recomend watching them.  It would be good for your soul.


After the movie we went to one of my fav. restarants…Chipotle.  Yummy!  Next we went home and had some good chats…I filled her in on Cairo and my life and teaching and lots of things.  Finally, Grammy time!  I was a little disappointed, I thought my man LL Cool J was going to be hosting.  What happened to that?!?  I actually fell asleep during the awards show I was so tired, good thing a friend taped it for me!  I’ll have to catch up on that after the wedding. 🙂 

I slept over and she made me a delicious breakfast in the morning!  I felt so spoiled!  Thanks for being an amazing Aunt!



Wedding Plans

So I am officially a Wedding Planner!  Yes, I am available…call me and we can chat details!  Really, I love this stuff…weddings, couples, love, planning, organizing, details, stress…I LOVE IT!  I really don’t get stressed much so this is a perfect job for me.  It’s all fun.  Keep praying that I have a servants heart and that I am selfless in helping Stace and Israel…it is NOT MY WEDDING!  There are things that I would definitley do differently, but WHO CARES?!?  It is not my day.  Man, I really need to get over myself sometimes.  It is teaching me a lot about humility and servanthood. 

Bless these next three days Jesus.  Let me be invisible.



Israel/Church/College Friends/High School Friends

Went to Woodland Hills Church on Sunday.  I used to attend there pretty regular when I lived in the cities and Hudson.  Israel and I went together because Stacy was at work.  It was good to spend some quality time with my soon to be brother.  He is already really my brother in Christ, but you know what I’m saying.  It was a sweet message on the Kingdom of God being in us NOW!  Amen to that!  I appreciate Greg Boyd.  He get’s a lot of flack from people, but I really think his heart is in the right spot.  I may not agree with everything…but really when does that happen anyway? 


I ran into a couple old friend from college that I had not seen in probably six years or more!  Yeah, that was fun!  They are married and have a beautiful boy.  They are now attending this church, which I think will be really good for them.  The husband was my Bible Study leader when I first became a Christian – Angel Hall baby!  Talk about a baby…I was seriously on milk.  Sometimes I still am!  For those who are totally confused by that sentence…the Bible talks about the immature in Christ needing milk (like a baby)…the basics of the Word.  The mature are on steak…the more in depth things of God.  Yeah, I’m glad I’m a carnivore!  Haha, just kidding.


Ran into an old high school friend at the mall.  He is managing his Dad’s store.  It was real good to see him…it had been 10 years!  Yeah, I love reconnecting with people.  Two of my bfs from high school are coming to the wedding…I can’t wait!  Some other close friends will also be there – from the TR team and elsewhere…I am just inviting everyone!  WHy not?  My sister only get’s married ONCE!  It will be like a school dance…haha…bust a move. 



Sister Time

It’s been real good hanging out with Stace planning wedding stuff.  She’s all over the place…working, unpacking their new house, paining, cleaning, moving stuff, wedding stuff, shopping…WOW!  I am glad she is starting to have fun with all of this.  We have a good time together, mostly.  When I keep my mouth shut.  For real, I am learning how submit my words…it is NOT easy, but is GOOD!
Spent the night in Sommerset with my older sister, brother in law and nephews.  I love this sweet time with my family!  It is sometimes hard living so far away and not having this quality time all the time.  We had some good chats, laughs, made these cool sparkly t-shirts for the ladies in the wedding, watched my favorite movie, and cuddled with my nephews, listened to Talon play the keyboard, laughed at the new puppy, helped with school Valentines and had a blast.  I miss this stuff!  My nephews have to be the coolest kids on the block.  They are so smart!  I said to Kelly, I better have kids soon or their cousins are going to be like 20 years apart!  Good thing I want teenagers first.  They are all at work and day care/school, so I am just cleaning the house, reading and catching up on blogs.  I need to get bacm to the city though to take Stacy out to get her nails done.  Good times. 


Thank you Jesus for this sweet time with my family and friends.  Multiply the time…let me live in the moment…let me die to myself and love others well. 



SMG: 14, 15 February 6, 2009

Filed under: Surprise Me God - Round II — charredsmore @ 9:40 pm



These days are flying by so fast it is hard to keep up with recording.


Hmmmmmmmm, where to start? 


I have been chillin’ in La Crosse with my old college friends, which has been a major blessing.  As I spend time with them I realize how much I have changed and how much they have also grown.  Mostly on similar paths with the Lord.  It has been encouraging to see their increased faith and maturity.  Spending time with Bethany and the twins has been fun (although short due to busy schedules – and we have a date today that I am looking forward to).  I am so blessed to have this friendship that has taught me so much about Christ. 




As I spend time on campus memories flood my mind: Trowbridge Hall, Angel Hall, Hutch Hall, RA stuff, Education classes, Campus Crusade for Christ, Retreats, Mission trips, Panama City Beach SPring Break, Worship, Prayer, OUtreaching on the drunk bus, Late night talks, Perkins, Stats, STudying with friends, Cartwright, Pancake Breakfasts, Food Fights, King Street Castle, West Ave Wonderland, Mr. Ds, YMCA, The Salvation Army, Tutoring Program, Clinicals, Embarrassing Moments, Laughable Moments, Concerts, Awakenings, VIP, Envisage, Bluffs, Kim and Greg’s Wedding, Wonderful Roommates, The Rec, Rock Climbing, TESOL classes, International Students, New Friends, Old Friends, Witney Dining Center, Detoit Mission Trip, Summer Projects (Tahoe and Boulder), Tripple Bunk, Pranks, Long Walks, Clock Tower, “I agree with Dan” outreach, Evangelism, Blimpy Subs, Easter Week OUtreaches, Bible Studies, Praying in the studies with Nat…and LOTS MORE!  I love thinking back to where I was and now who I have become in Christ.  I was such a baby Christian!  I still am in some ways…God is so good.


Finally did all the paperwork to get my Wisconsin Teaching License!  Praise the Lord…it should only take 8 weeks, I am praying for 4!



Last night I drove to Sparta for a Bible study with Stacy and Tim’s crew…they are doing the Truth Project!  Talk about divine appointment, I have been wanting to hear more about this study after viewing the promo video.  It is amazing material.  NOt your typical fluffy stuff…serious, hardcore, intellectual study about our Creator.  I believe it is important to know the Word of God first and also to understand a little bit about science…even though it is a challenge for my mind to grasp some of the science, I truly desire to learn more about intelligent design and how our bodies have been formed.  It is truly a wonder!  He is truly a wonder!



Campus Crusade has a weekly meeting on Thursday nights, I am never in town on a Thursday, until this week!  So, I went to the meeting after the above Bible study.  It was great!  My old friend/acquaintance TJ spoke (he is now interning with CCC) about living in the Kingdom of the World, but opperating under the Kingdom of God.  Talk about a right on time word!  Thanks TJ for bringing it last night.  I am praying about our connection (Two Rivers/Cairo) with the La Crosse saints, and in particular Campus Crusade.  We will see what the Father unfolds.


After that hung out with a good friend, good chats, good laughs, good fun.