Tag: bus love

Bus Burgers and the sound of (our) music

Though friends generally fall into one of several categories: childhood friends, high school friends, college friends, work friends (from one of several careers), church friends, mommy friends, friends-of-friends, and road friends, the easiest divide these days might be: those who sometimes live on the road, and those who don’t. For those who don’t, this is for you :)

RECIPE: Bus Burgers

Introduction: Cooking on the bus is not gourmet but it can be creative. I have two burners to work with, a microwave, toaster oven, and small crock pot. So over the last year and a half, while I have tried a few new things here and there, the same standards remain family favorites: eggs, pancakes, and bacon, tacos, and bus!burgers.

A bus burger is no different than one we’d make at home, really, except that perhaps it’s a bit simpler. The ‘ingredients’ are as follows:

Frozen patties, cheese, garlic powder (Spray oil for the pan, a bit of salt to taste)


– serve interesting snacks, such as tortilla chips and cheese, to keep small fries occupied while you cook

– prepare to look the other way regarding the grease

– have easy alternatives on hand, just in case some of your subjects had burgers for lunch

– serve with whatever condiments your remembered or that your husband walked to the Food For Less to get, plus strategic leftovers brought from home, fruit cups, or instant noodles

Fry to perfection, serve to smiling faces:


Our weekend has gone pretty smoothly so far. I never know what to expect when we travel Paige-less.  The ride on Thursday wasn’t too bad, although Miranda and Kaity’s high maintenance-ness was in full swing. Every five minutes came requests (/demands) for a snack, drink, toy, movie, song, book, diaper change, potty break, change in seating. Whew. They wear me out.

We reached Richmond, Kentucky where Rod has several aunts and his closest cousin (who is pregnant and just found out she’s having a girl.. YAY Mindy & Woody!). Aunt Sue was happy to ‘whip up’ dinner for us – breakfast for dinner, to be more specific, and it was sausage, country ham, scrambled eggs, homemade biscuits and gravy, and fried potatoes, to be exact. Heaven. One of the greatest perks of Rod’s calling to the road is that we get to see his Kentucky relatives (and the one in Tennessee, Lance), a lot more than we otherwise would.

The only downside to Thursday night was missing The Shows. We are avid watchers of Grey’s Anatomy and now Private Practice, and usually make nights of new eps a bit of an event. It was nice, though, to get the girls to sleep in our bed together in the back of the bus while we settled in for a movie in the front (Family Stone, one of our new Christmas-y favorites).

Friday morning we got on the road bright and early for a less-than-three-hour trip to Harlan. (This is my second trip of the year, and ever. Details of Rod’s Harlan legacy are here and here). That ride went pretty smoothly, as did our big trek to Wendy’s for lunch. I took a bit-too-long of a nap with the kids, which I really never do at home, which is one of the other perks of this calling J Though our ministry trips include a lot of work, they also take us away from some of the cares of home that we simply cannot handle when we are away (laundry, for example).

Anyway, I had to get hopping once I woke up. I was pulling multiple duties of ticket sales at the door, handling Rod’s product table, and, you know, keeping the kids corralled. Luckily Rod’s mom and sister in law were around to help with that some, but when it comes to administering the smackdown on our little darlings, Mommy has to take over.

The concert was the second one in our new ‘Give the Gospel’ series. (The first was last weekend in Branson, which we obviously missed). This one included Out of Ashes, a sweet and talented family group from the area, and The Roarks, who are amazing people in their talent, the hearts, and all the different things they do. Paul Roark, the patriarch, is from Harlan as well. His wife Jetta and he sing with their son Shane, who has one of the most incredible country voices you will ever here and is a terrific writer (he wrote a very popular song called “There is a God” .. I know His name… You’d know it if you heard it). Their other son Travis runs sound and all sorts of other things. They handled the sounds, lights, and staging for us in Branson, and we just love them.

Anyway, the concert went really well. While the crowd was not as big as we hoped, it was good and it was supportive. We were collecting food for the local pantries and people were very generous with what they gave. There was a great altar call at the end, and we had good product sales.

The hardest part, seriously, of anything I do is containing the girls during a concert. Venues like the one Rod sang at last night (The Harlan Center) are a little easier, because there is usually somewhere for them to run around, it’s noisier, and there is more bustle and less formality. The whole thing is a hard balance for me to figure out.. Obviously, I am not going to let my kids run around and be distractions or brats. But.. they do take joy in hearing their daddy sing and often want to dance or sing along (loudly). I try to maintain the leash to a length that works for everybody, the unfortunate side effect being that I often am able to give very little support to Rod and certainly not, you know, get anything out of the concert or service. I know it’s a season. I know it will pass.

My favorite part of nights like those is the aftermath. Last night I took the girls back out and fed them snacks and let them decompress, so when it was decided we were going to go to Pizza Hut (not many options in Harlan!) with some of the other singers and friends, they were nice and mellow. They enjoyed sitting around the table and talking with their Mamaw and the other people with us, and Paul Roark filled our ears with wonderful testimonies of his family and their ministry through the years.

The bambinas were sleeping in our arms as we carried them out, so it seemed like it would be an easy night. Kaity, bless my baby, had other plans. She could not sleep. We still don’t know what the deal was, though it seems to possibly be an allergy. She was completely restless and itchy her eyes and nose. She wasn’t happy no matter what.. if we held her, if she was in her bed (travel crib), or if she was in our bed. She would fall asleep and wake up two minutes later. I could not believe it was after SIX AM when she finally settled down. I knew Miranda would not sleep very late, and she didn’t.

It was okay though.. Randa snuggled with me in the early part of her morning and finished Under the Tuscan Sun with me. Then we got up and had a coffee/milk date, a little breakfast, and read some books. By then it was after 11 and we got up Daddy and Kaity to meet the relatives for lunch before they headed home.

Then we hit Walmart, of course. This is a must on any trip. Yes, most Walmart locations (and there is a directory) allow buses and RVs to park in their lots overnight. And of course, the people who park there end up spending money inside the store. Today we needed milk, water, diapers, a carseat (Kaity has now learned to get out of the booster we keep on here), and other necessities like salt and vinegar chips and a gingerbread candle. Walmart gets their money’s worth out of us. No problems.

We took a big long nap before dinner and have enjoyed an amazingly mellow night. We just don’t do this at home. Rod and I are about to start our fourth movie together of the weekend (and, ahem, eat some Little Debbie Christmas trees). We are both doing some work, but we’re not stressed out and crazy. Lovely change.

Tomorrow we have an early start for service and then a nine hour drive home. He and I leave at something like 4am Tuesday morning for Branson, so the turnaround for clean clothes and errands at home will be QUICK. Mom and Dad are staying at the house this time, Peapod is delivering groceries, and Paige and Josh, as I hope I continually mention, are fantastic as getting mail and caring for the dog and all those things a lot of our traveling friends can’t take for granted when they go.

In my moments of chaos and feelings of, “I cannot do this (this being washing Kaity’s hands after she stuck them in the public toilet while Miranda is charging the stage, or something of that caliber), I will remember in the back of my mind how Miranda sang Jesus Love Me at the TOP of her lungs all through the store today, how Kaity knows every word when Rod sings “I’ll See You in the Rapture,” how everything Paul told us about his own family last night seemed to affirm the dreams we have for our own, and how, at the end of each day, I get to spend these adventure – bus burgers and all – with my best friend, and I am still his #1 fan.

Frustrated in the Flying J at midnight sense…

We’re on the way home from another whirlwind 2 days. We stopped at the Flying J in Somewhere, Indiana – you know the place, and I think it was Indiana, and for those of you who don’t ride around in diesel-sucking vehicles, Flying J is a place to gas up, empty, fill, and if you are so inclined, buy DVDs from 1983, bananas, and/or Chinese food. Caught up?

Anyway, I wanted some coffee and frankly, after 48 hours or so of nonstop crazy, didn’t feel like making it, and didn’t want to risk waking my sweet little minions, who tend to sleep like the concussed to the roar of the engines and the general highway noise, but will stir and scream if they hear, say, a drawer closing.

I was a wee nervous about going inside by myself at midnightish, but mostly because I was without lipstick and, God help us, wearing sports sandals and socks (In the bus, no one can see your feet). There was hardly anyone in there so my nerves were wasted. Well, except I couldn’t get the lid on the coffee cup and the guy in front of me in line had a SCREAMING & SWEARING fit about filling out the refund paperwork for a cup of coffee he didn’t actually buy (the poor cashier saw his travel mug on the counter & assumed it was full).

My nerves are really quite all over the place and… nervy.. right now. And now I am sitting on the bus in the quiet at 1am, reading blogs and filling in the gaps of my newest project and wondering what my problem is.

Definitely, Miranda is going through a behavioral… trial right now. It happened at almost this same time last year. She tests every boundary. She flat out ignores instruction. She screams and hits when ‘provoked’ in her mind. She is demanding and controlling and impatient and has to have everything a certain way and reminds me of someone.

Kaity is at a challenging age. She is a typical 18 month old. She is smart and happy and wants to explore everything. She climbs and runs and looks at you with a golden halo and big smile no matter what she gets caught doing.

The last two days on the bus with them, with 2 concerts and lots of driving, was Challenging. There was ink on the church pew and popcorn on the theatre floor (concert hall, not a movie), spilled things on the bus – many spilled things, tantrums, a lack of fresh air.

We have a big week next week with NQC and the first issue of SGN Scoops coming out. Even though we said we were going to relax and chill and refresh after Branson, I feel almost as tense now as I did then.

But tonight I was chatting with a friend of mine and she said something really simple like, “We need to have FUN [next week in Louisville].”

Well, duh? What is my problem?

Is this a symptom of being self-employed? Generation X? Mother of young children? Artistic? Former Catholic (except I was, you know, 4 when we left that church)? WHAT is it? Why am I always so worried about Getting Things Done?

The other day, we were getting ready to go somewhere, and Miranda said, “I have to get my things together.” REALLY? She’s not even three. And yet, I have taught her that a playdate requires three bags worth of junk… snacks that need to be prepared and not just pulled out of a Nabisco box, an iTunes playlist for a 20 minute car ride, extra milk.For crying out loud, the kid hasn’t had an accident since her first 2 weeks of being potty trained and I’m still carrying around 2 extra pairs of underpants in my purse.

What the heck?

I asked God tonight as I was crying into the bus closet, trying to jam the broom back in after fleeing the 2nd half of the concert, sweeping up Doritos and Little Debbies, and making my children spend time without Elmo on, ‘WHAT do you WANT me to DO?’

I bet He laughed.

Isn’t it obvious? Take care of the kids. Take care of the family. Take care of the ministry.

And take care being open to interpretation, maybe somewhere in there is also a ‘Calm the heck down.’

I don’t know if Scoops is going to get 20k downloads in its first month.

I don’t know if Miranda will get into the dance class since I’ve waited so long to register.

I don’t know if Branson GMC will sell out in its second year.

I don’t know what kind of medical insurance we will have in June, or where we’ll be living a year from now.

I don’t know how the first Moms and More meeting will go if I don’t have the photo directory finished.

I don’t know how else to gain Twitter followers or why I care.

I know that today, a lot of people I know were mourning a lot of stuff that is more sad and more serious than any of the poop taking residence in my head and making me crazy.

Rod just pulled over. Were an hour from home, still, but we’re done for the night. I know that I have two little people to snuggle with and a tired driver who is trying to give moral support to his Flying J nutso wife. God bless him.


If I had to pick a set of problems, it might look a lot like the ones I have right now…

– I am full. I am full of things to do and people to love.

– I am short… on time and energy, because of all the things and people and love.

Events over the weekend caused me to evaluate some of my ‘stuff’ – you know the stuff: my passions, my compassions, my complaints. And as most of us learn sometime in our late 20s (or whenever it is we actually grow up), I know that my greatest strengths can be weaknesses if I don’t use them well.

I used to view my ability to love and accept others as a trap. I trusted so many wrong people. I got tricked. I got hurt. But in the long run? Who cares? ‘

Not sure the woman in the mirror taking this picture, the one who needs to lose 20 pounds and get her eyebrows and grays groomed, who should read more scriptures and fewer blogs, who has a big case of frustrated perfectionism, who is always looking for the next thing… could be any fuller.

Heaven Is Not a Place on Earth

Originally published: Adventures in the Life of a Southern Gospel Wife – SGM Radio.com – April 2009

I had to delay my writing of this because Kaity woke up screaming. We are on the bus for our first trip since November and per the norm, not much about today went according to plan. Rod couldn’t get the bus started, then as we were loading the bus, our dog ran away, then we hit a two-hour traffic jam at an exit for a casino. So here we are close to midnight, and rather than sitting in Aunt Sue’s Richmond, Kentucky kitchen letting her spoil us with homemade treats, we have over an hour to go until we’re “there yet.” At least Kaity and Miranda have officially re-immersed themselves in road life and are, thankfully, worn out. Their Daddy and I are drinking our big pops (it’s “pop” in Chicago, friends) and Twitter-ing away and enjoying season nine of Everybody Loves Raymond on the DVD player, in between bumps that make Kaity a wee bit frustrated as she sleeps in her pack-and-play.

But seriously, it’s gone better than I expected, considering that since the last trip we’ve transformed from having “two babies” to “a two year old and a one year old” – both very mobile and sure of what they want. Part of that is because I tend to expect the worst, and part of it is because over the last few weeks, my sometimes shallow, impatient perspective has been sharpened a bit.

It started with my reading a memoir about the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. I know… light subject matter. I found myself once again horrified by the level of evil that took place during that time and the depths of loss and suffering that were endured by the people there. I closed the book in tears and with the realization that I really have no problems! Then on cue, a few days later, my family received some disappointing news about a burden that has been at our forefront for several years (thankfully, it does not involve anyone’s health or safety!). And since then, more than half a dozen people in my circle of fellowship have either lost a loved one or are expecting to within a matter of days. (Oh, and I saw Slumdog Millionaire, which was brilliant and all but seriously depressing…)

Things get deep sometimes, don’t they? We can either muddle or waltz through life, and many times, we just take a deep breath and push ourselves through to the next mountaintop. We have been taught by our experience in 21st Century America that we are entitled to Good Stuff, that there is always something better, that if our circumstances are undesirable, we just need to work hard enough or be clever enough to change them!

At my Moms and More Bible study last week, I was reminded by a friend that those are not the priorities God has set out for His children. I can quote what she told us verbatim:

“We’re not supposed to be patiently waiting for things to get better. We’re supposed to be patiently waiting for Jesus to return.”

This friend went on to tell us about her own worst experience: losing a child at 27 weeks gestation and going through labor to deliver her still-born daughter. (I will interject here and say that until I had two babies of my own, this was my Worst Fear In Life. It always amazes me to see people still standing on the other side of it). She said that all throughout that ordeal, the Lord provided her with the greatest peace of her life… but that it would not just be “ok” – because nothing in this world will be quite right until Christ dwells on it again.

I don’t believe my friend meant we should stop trying to better ourselves or make the best possible lives for our families. What she was saying is that we are to do more than just pray for the strength and faith to get us through a current trial (be it the illness of a loved one, the loss of a job, or, you know, the Wal-mart being out of Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos). I admit: I am guilty of this. I am always looking to the end of my current road… I will be happier when I get married, I will be complete when I have children, I will be successful when I finish my degree, I will be confident when I lost 20 pounds, I will be less stressed when Josh is done with high school/babies are out of diapers/such-and-such-convention is over, I will be satisfied when we get to Richmond and I’m eating Aunt Sue’s Jell-o salad and homemade biscuits…

I am loathe to admit that I pray better in the trenches, but it’s true. I am loathe to admit that I think a lot about how to make my life and the lives of my loved ones better here, but this is also true. I take on these “bee in the bonnet” tasks all the time: We need to have homemade bread. I need to personalize 150 Christmas cards. The girls need coordinating clothes for vacation. Blah, blah. I mean, these are things that I spend energy on, and even now as I list them, it’s not as embarrassing as it should be, because nearly everyone I know has the same idiosyncratic worries. We’re spinning our wheels to eat well and dress nicely and have fun and support the right causes and be witty on our Facebook status lines and…

I am not suggesting we stop living in the world we have been given to live in or enjoying the time we have here. But I am reminding myself – and anyone who happens to identify with me here – that we’re to be about the Lord’s business, and perhaps sometimes we get too distracted with playing the part to actually do it. Example: we are on our way to Southern Gospel Music Fan Fair for the first time. I have spent some time making sure we have what we need for the product table, that we have enough dress clothes to last the week, that I’ve brought enough comforts from home to keep the kids and us in pleasant moods, that I have the battery charger so we can catch plenty of it on camera, and that I Tweet our highlights so that they can be enjoyed by anyone who happens to care. But moments spent in prayer that lives will be changed by the music that is shared next week? Well, I’ve had very few, and all pretty perfunctory. And what is the point of being a “Southern Gospel” wife if I am emphasizing everything but the “Gospel?”

The notion of Heaven on Earth is older than I am. It made for a catchy Belinda Carlisle tune in the ‘80s. It’s a term used in romance novels and to describe culinary delights. And sometimes it’s misinterpreted to mean that we can have what God intends for later right now and even that we can use just the right amount of this-and-that to create it ourselves. The fact is, we won’t see Heaven in the life we’re living now.

The grandmother of some friends of mine is looking at her last days. Apparently Grandma Mitchell used to dance the jitterbug back in the day, and so her family is now imagining her jitterbugging down the streets of gold. I have been thinking about that all night. Can you imagine? I mean, take the absolute best moment of your life, the one that still makes you swell with emotion when you remember (I think for me it’s still seeing that first test that told me “YES! You’re pregnant!” on April 12, 2006). Heaven is going to be infinitely better than that. We have hope that is beyond reason, we have joy that is more than optimism, we have a promise that is enough to be the foundation for everything we do. On Rod’s last CD he sang a song about Heaven that said “just one glimpse will do.” And that’s the thing: all we get here are glimpses. I’m going to try to stop working so hard to see them… but rather to slow down, and recognize them as they occur, and wait patiently for the day that we all get to do perform our dance of choice in a much better place.

Laughing over spilled milk

Photo: The last day of the trip, in the recording studio. Bottle because I had NOTHING to give. Poor Kay-kay. This is either right before or after Miranda rolled toiler paper all over the place and the record company president almost tripped over one of her toys. Ah. Good times.

Adventures in the Life of a Southern Gospel Wife ~ February 2009 ~ SGMRadio.com

Most people who know me know about my miracle. The short version: In December 2004 , I was told by a specialist that likely, I would never get pregnant. In November 2006, having received absolutely no fertility treatments or intervention, I gave birth to our beautiful daughter Miranda. Fifteen months later, her precious baby sister Kaitlyn was born. A miracle so tangible occurring to me, for me, has changed my life forever, and everyone I meet hears about it at least once!

Not everyone knows though, that in the winter of 2008, our family actually added two babies within the course of one month. The second one is named Gracie; she is our forty-foot, blue and gray, Prevost coach. When we brought her home, Kaity was less than two months old. Guess which one my husband had pictured as the wallpaper on his Blackberry?

This is not to say, of course, that Rod doesn’t adore and cherish our kids, but southern gospel music ministry is definitely a part of our family, too… and it’s because of our kids and our commitment to keeping our family together that we decided to make a (carefully calculated) leap of faith and acquire a home on wheels. After weighing the cost of fuel and food and hotels, and the need to find diaper stations and drinkable water, and being led to the seemingly perfect coach for us, bringing Gracie home made sense.

That is, of course, until the end of April, when I packed up a 17 month old dealing with sibling jealousy, a nursing and thankfully patient 2 month old, and a nervous-even-if-he-wouldn’t-admit-it husband – and a lot of stuff (it took us almost a full day to load up for that first trip – to head for Alabama in a rolling piece of metal that only one of us could drive. We planned to drive as much of that 13 hour trip in the first day.

Were we ever in for a shock. The first enemy that reared its head was centrifugal motion. When we took our first circular ramp, our well-stocked refrigerator went flying open, and a full gallon of milk crashed to the floor and spilled everywhere. My instinctive response was the panicked crying of, “Pull over! Pull over!” But after I remembered that asking for help makes me weak (sarcasm, friends), I somehow managed to clean it all up and keep the kids safe and content (and Miranda from wading in her favorite beverage) while barreling at 70 mph down the road… although, looking back, I have no idea how. Sometimes, I still find a spot of milk hidden in some random, inconspicuous place.

That was the first of our adventures that weekend. I do not use the word adventures with any lightness. We had no idea what we were doing.