Monday, January 5, 2015

We've grown!

It's been almost a year since our last past post, which I guess means it is more than time for an update.

First some confessions. We are not marketers and fundraisers, but we have big dreams. We've learned no one is going to get people excited about our ideas for us.

So, here we go.

We are committed to the High Ridge neighborhood. We are committed to seeing a reduction in poverty in the Keystone Heights area.

We believe poverty is not as much a money issue as it is a relationship and education issue. We want to help people build relationships and provide educational opportunities.

We believe that the people living on Purdue, Bowdoin, and Clemson (the names of streets in High Ridge Estates) need the people who live on Lakeview, Magnolia, and Palmetto (streets in the city limits of Keystone Heights) and vice versa.

We believe relationships and education change people. We believe they change the middle class, the poor, and the rich. And we all need changin'.

We haven't written in almost a year, but we haven't been idle. Here's the overview:

We were practicing what we preach in our personal lives (relationships = Carey adopted two boys; Teri's daughter was married quite recently; education= teaching, teaching, teaching which means learning, learning, learning).

We gave away oranges. Twice. That's a good story that we'll have to tell on a separate post, but let's just's the little things, people.

Carey was ordained. Remember that church we might need to start ? Well, we are working on it. It's slow work, but good work that I can't wait to have more to tell you about.

We've kept putting one foot in front of the other. We took 15 Book Bus trips this year, and recently we estimated that means we spent about $1,000 on gas alone. We almost always have some books in the back of our car that someone gave to us.

We have some great friendships with people in High Ridge. Before I started writing this post, I went and looked at the pictures we've posted over the last few years. We have several elderly friends in High Ridge, and there were their faces on the blog. When we posted those pictures, we didn't really know their stories. They were exciting new faces then, but now they are warm friends who we look forward to seeing each month or who we greatly miss when they can't make it.

We've taken dinner to our friends, prayed with them when they are sick, rejoiced with them when their husband went to church.

One little girl who was one of our original "visitors" is in Teri's class this year! She is an avid reader, and we like to think we are partially responsible. Although her grandmother gets most of the credit!

I guess, we didn't write for a year, because it seemed like we didn't have anything to say. You know how when your kids are growing up, you don't really notice that they are getting taller because you see them everyday. And, then, all of a sudden, you look at them, and think, "Oh my! Those jeans are WAY too short!" I think this past year has been like that for us. We didn't really think much was happening, but now when I look back on it....God did a whole lot!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Spring Break Book Business

To some folks spring break means beach trips, house cleaning and relaxing but to us it meant sorting through 47 boxes/bins of books. With the help of the Middleburg Black Creek Lions Club and a couple of dedicated friends we accomplished a daunting task in just 7 short hours (with no lunch break).  

We love volunteers!
Hard Working Helpers

I don't want to mislead you there was quite a bit of planning and preparing for this to get accomplished in one day. First a very sweet gentleman built us custom shelves, at no charge. The shelves house our overflow books. We also had to spend a little bit of money on some bins, just under a hundred dollars. Finally we had to set a date and put out the all call for some able bodies.

I have to say it feels great!  We now have a closet with books that are sorted into organized bins. We were also able to go through and purge some of the less desirable books. Now before we head out for our book bus routes we simply go to each labeled bin and refill any necessary books. A dream come true! Now all that is left is the ice cream truck. Let us know if you have one sitting around your yard.
Thank you Mr. Buddy for our shelves.
We even had a few leftovers book to donate to the rummage sale.

**Next Book Bus run is Saturday April 13th. Let us know if you would like to ride along.**

Monday, January 14, 2013

And we're famous, sort of.

In case you don't read The Florida Times-Union, you should know that we are a little bit famous. Okay, maybe not famous, even a little bit; but we have been seriously impressed with the article and the amazing response people have had.

If you haven't read it yet, you can check it out here:

We were front page!

We've had numerous people contact us about donations of all sorts (gift cards, books, etc.), and that has been amazing! We've had a few people say they would like to help us by volunteering or spreading the word about what we are doing. And we've had a few just " 'Atta boy!" kind of emails. It's been lovely!

And that momentum carried us through a very busy weekend. On Friday, we had another mom's gathering. One of our mom's from our first group came with her sweet little baby girl, and we had a new mom who is due in March attend as well. Mentors, mentees, and a lovely labor and delivery nurse sat around telling stories and talking about all things birthing and motherhood. We made some cute onesies for the new babes in the room and on their way. We closed with a sweet prayer, hugs, and talk of the next gathering.

On Saturday morning,  we were loading books at about 8:45 and around 3:45 we were shoving bins of books back in the closet. We finished the day pretty tired, but as I said on Facebook, there is no other way I'd rather spend my day.

We've quit keeping a formal count of people and books at Book Bus, but I would estimate we saw about 100 people over the course of the day, which means we gave away around 500 books. The McRae crowd, which meets us at Gadara Baptist, was not quite as large as last month; but I would guess there were still about 50 people there.

We also had a very special international guest at this weekend's Seeds of Grace events. Our family has had the privilege of hosting Ataro Alice in our home as she participates in a Teacher Exchange at the local high school, and while she is here she is investigating how we encourage parent involvement and looking for ideas that could be transferred to her country and culture. Who knows, maybe we're gonna go international! Ha.  

Partially because so many people have asked us about our needs and partially because it is that time of year when we reflect and plan ahead and dream; Teri and I have spent some time lately talking about what the next steps might look like. We still continue to dream about a place and a real bus/ice cream truck to enhance our current work, and we have also begun dreaming about new programs too (more information to come soon, we hope). The truth is, though, we need help just maintaining these amazing seedlings that have begun to grow. We continue to pray for someone who could help us get and remain organized. We continue to look for particular books. Currently, our biggest need is chapter books for second and third graders. And we continue to pray that God will guide every step we take. We do not want to be ahead of him or behind him, but right in step with what he is already doing. 

Monday, December 31, 2012

Farewell 2012

As the final hours of 2012 slip away I thought the blog deserved one last post for the year. Even though we have been lax in our writing, we have been busy. We have our very own business bank account as a non-profit. The best part is there is actually a little bit of money in the account. As of the first of December all the new moms from our first class have given birth, two boys and two girls. Some of the girls are continuing to keep in touch and for that we are grateful.

In December we made the decision to expand Book Bus once again. On the second Saturday we loaded up the trailer and went from Melrose, to High Ridge in Keystone and for the first time drove the 15 miles out to McRae to share books with that community. To say we were well received would be an understatement. There were no less than 75 visitors at that stop! What I haven’t even mentioned yet is that we had a guest that Saturday. A reporter from the Times Union spent the day with us. She wrote an amazing article that really captured all that Carey and I have been trying to do. It was great to get the publicity. We have received several responses to the article, people offering books and even gas cards to help defray some of our costs. Everyone who has contacted us has been supportive and encouraging of our ministry.

I’m not sure what 2013 holds for Seeds of Grace but we know that Book Bus will continue as well as a brand new mom’s class with new mothers to be. Carey and I still dream of a real bus/ truck with music and brightly colored paint. However the old truck/trailer gets the job done, so no complaining. We have a few new faces on the scene helping with our Mom’s Class and starting a Couponing Class too. Who knows what else will reveal itself as the year unfolds. All I know is God is good, all the time, and he shows us that time and time again through each endeavor we set out to do. We welcome you to join us in any way you feel led. Wishing you a fulfilling 2013.
Loading the trailer

A warm reception from McRae
**The article ran in the Times Union on Friday December 28th on the Front Page. :)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

"Might be on the side of the road passing out free books...or might just be out of gas." - Johnny Williams

Some days just don't go well.

The day started with my three year old throwing up all over her shoes. Which was better than my shoes, but still it caused me to run a little late this morning.

My dad and I (mostly my dad) successfully hitched our borrowed trailer and loaded it down with books, and we were off to our first stop.

Johnny Williams caught up with us along the way. Johnny works nights, so when he comes to book bus he's giving up a few hours sleep. We were a three man team (Teri had other commitments); one down from our preferred number for a team.

At our first stop, I saw someone I knew as a kid. I didn't recognize him at first, but as we talked I felt both joy and sadness. Joy because he is still the funny, smart guy I remember; but sadness because that smart, funny guy doesn't seem to be living his dream. Sadness because I dream about making connections that matter in an eternal way, but this meeting had been nothing more than a little superficial. I'm not sure how it could have been any different, and I'd like to think that what seems superficial to me is sometimes more; but still I walked away kinda sad.

And, that was the beginning of what could have been the end of the day. We took a back road from Melrose back to High Ridge, and Johnny Williams was driving the truck at that point. All of a sudden I realized the truck was slowing down, and he said, "Any chance we could be out of gas?" And next thing we knew, the fumes were gone and we were on the side of the road. Johnny called his dad who brought us some gas, and then we cranked the truck, and cranked the truck, and cranked the truck...but the truck didn't crank.

So, there we sat, on a back road with a borrowed trailer full of books loaded on a truck that wouldn't crank, and we were supposed to be at our first High Ridge stop right then. We quickly assessed the situation and decided the best plan was for Johnny to ride home with his dad, pick up another truck, and come back so we could load the trailer onto that truck.

Johnny got back to me and the trailer of books about the time we were supposed to be at the second stop, so we quickly loaded up. I moved our cups and stuff to his truck, while he and his dad managed the not so easy job of connecting his truck to the trailer on a pretty good incline.

Johnny and I laughed a lot about the whole thing, but it was more than a little frustrating. We were supposed to be one place, but there was absolutely nothing we could do to get there any faster. It was just one of those days when you wonder, "Is it really worth this? Maybe we should just go back home."

But, when we did finally make it to our first (which should have been our third) stop, this is what was there....

and it WAS WORTH IT! We had people waiting on us at every stop today! And the truth is, I didn't really talk to any of them about anything that wasn't superficial, but something told me maybe it still mattered.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Back to School News

For those of you who check in on us regularly, let me assure you that we are well, just extremely busy. I thought an update of the happenings was in order so here’s what we have been up to. Carey, who was my assistant extraordinaire, was promoted to Keystone Elementary’s new media specialist. With this new position came a lot more responsibility. I think she is really enjoying it and I know that she is doing a great job. 

I was given the go ahead to create a Parent Resource Room at our school (the PRR if you will).  With the help of some community-minded volunteers we turned an old book storage room into an inviting meeting place. Parents come to learn ways that they can be involved in their child’s education and are given activities and ideas to use at home.  Plans are already in the works for high school honor students to come over 4 days a week to conduct tutoring sessions with struggling students. The main goal of the PRR is to encourage parents to get involved and if they are not sure how to do it, the PRR gives them some tools to help make that happen.

The new mom’s class has met 3 times and our next meeting is in collaboration with the Safety Council. Each of the girls will be getting a new car seat and lessons on how to safely install them. The cost of the brand new seats is $20. The girls will pay half and Seeds of Grace will pay the other half.

As far as Book Bus goes we are back to our once a month schedule. The Melrose stop has become very popular. It’s no exaggeration to say we give over a 100 books away each time we’re there. We continue to enjoy our High Ridge route and are thinking of working out a plan to start servicing the McRae area too. We are having shelves made for our abundance of books. A sweet retired carpenter has made this his own project and we have received some monetary donations to help pay for materials.  

As I look back over the things that have transpired I am amazed by both what has been done and what is still left to do. I continue to pray that we will follow the blueprint that God has put before us. Carey and I marvel at how eager people are to help in many ways, yet we are still waiting on God to send us a few more folks who have the desire to make a commitment to this ministry. We continue to actively wait and confidently rest in the knowledge that He knows the big plan for what is in store.
Entrance to PRR (formerly Book Room)

It's amazing what a little paint and a lot of TLC can do.

Can you pick out the pinterest ideas and the dumpster finds?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Maybe It is Coming Together

For a long time, it has felt (I'm going to speak for Teri here too), like we were kinda doing this on our own. For a long time, there were only a handful of people who were helping us, and we had just a few wads of cash that people had donated. And, don't get us wrong, it was enough, we were lacking nothing...except patience. 

You see, we have been dreaming these enormous, crazy dreams for about two years now. We have moved painstakingly slow, or so it seemed to us. Now...

We have our SECOND mommy class planned for August 1.
The book bus has been in "business" for more than a year. 
We had a very encouraging conversation with the county manager this week. 
We changed our book bus schedule, and several High Ridge residents noticed. 
We received a check made out to Seeds of Grace, our first.
We have realized we need to get an image designed to use on letterhead, thank you notes, etc.
A small, quiet group of women have been working on a Seeds of Grace cookbook for us to give away to our book bus friends, and they hope to go to print in the next two weeks.
It may not be directly related, but it has still been part of our dream- there will be a parent resource room at KHES this year!

We still have lots of big dreams and many are unfulfilled, but we are moving! A big thank you to all of you who have faithfully prayed, dreamed with us, worked on some little/big task, donated time/money, and spread the word about what we are doing! Keep dreaming with us! It is starting to get exciting!