Tag: Kentucky

Roadschooling and how to change a life

Dedicated to my road/homeschool mommy pals: Maureen, Deanna, MarthaJulie & Renee. Miss you all!

Today we visited a radio station. I wanted to consider it a bit of a field trip for Miranda and Kaity, but ~

they met Jessica, and liked her, a LOT.

So they did not see the studio or go live on the air. In fact, it was difficult to get them to take a picture with their Daddy while he was on the air.

But they did play office with Jessica, seemingly mastering the most important part: ordering lunch.
(For the record, the lunch being ordered was pepperoni pizza and spaghetti. My children are all about the carb-laden office diet… which of course, calls for mid-afternoon sugar!)

While Miranda and Kaity were keeping Jessica’s hands busy protecting office equipment, Rod was on the air with our friend Bruce Edwards, the drive-time voice of Lexington’s almost 25-year old southern gospel station. However, music was not the subject in question

this photo by keelymariescott.com
Our trip to Colombia with Compassion International was.

The staff at WCGW have decided to sponsor a child!

So today, the life of Robinson, a 14 year old boy in Nicaragua, was forever changed.

Every time a child is sponsored, it means that the project church he attends received funding earmarked for him – funds that help provide DAILY healthy meals, clothes, school supplies, and sometimes, even medical care or help for his family.

Most importantly – MOST importantly, it means that this kiddo will now have a personal relationship with a sponsor who loves him, sends encouragement to him, prays for him, and cheers for him.

Jessica, your words will mean the world! – Want to know how I know?

Well for one, there’s Leo.

For two, meet Ben. We did this past Friday at the NQC Compassion breakfast.

Ben was born in a city in Kenya whose name translates to “trash.”

When he was eight years old, he began attending a Compassion project and started school.

He is now in his 20s. He graduated with a degree in Physics. And his family? All believers in Christ!

Think your words don’t mean anything?

Think what you show your kids on field trips or in your daily life don’t amount to much?

Your words and actions, to a child, can change a life!

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.

(Harlan pt.2) ‘Won’t you walk with me out of the mouth of this hollar?’

*Past, present, future all together...*
*Past, present, future all together...*

Our tour into the town of Harlan was, as most things go, not simple. The kids were cranky and/or jumpy, so I had to focus on them and not so much the sites. I did get to enjoy going past the “used-to-be” places, which included the house Rod was born in, the house he then moved to, Tiny Jo’s, the diner where he ate chili dogs for lunch (Green Dragon), several other hot dog haunts, the Burger Queen, another eating place (you see why Rod and I get on so well), and the theatre where he saw his first movie at the age of 9 (turned out to be a western with nudity).

It was funny to me how much bigger Harlan seems compared to how Rod and his family make it sound. Of course, it’s been built up a lot since he lived here and now boasts all the essential fast food places, a Walmart, a Family Dollar, and CVS drugstore. It had a few more ‘sit down’ restaurants than I’d expected, but though we had plenty of food left for cooking on the bus (spaghetti and meatballs, burgers, pork roast anyone?), we had to have dinner at Ken’s (formerly Western Sizzlin’), where I shared a horrible burnt pizza with the girls and Rod had steak, and we both had a giggle over the wonderful hospitality. The girls were given beaded necklaces and Rod’s diet Coke was filled before he was even ready because the waitress said, “This is just bothering me, seeing it like that.”

Kaity at the stone of her great-great-grandfather
*Kaity at the stone of her great-great-grandfather*

After dinner we paused for more photos, including some of a bridge that our bus was to heavy to cross (by a lot)! I finally put Patty Loveless’ Mountain Soul in to play (she lived in Pineville, not far from here). The girls listened to the aforementioned Harlan anthem, then dug right in and danced to “Pretty Little Miss,” which might just be Miranda’s new theme song (Shady grove, Pretty Little Miss, goin’ back to Harlan…’). Then we made our way to the cemetary to revisit some Burton family heritage.

‘Who said we’d never leave Harlan alive?’

“Where the sun comes up about ten in the morning
and the sun goes down about three in the day,
and you fill your cup with whatever bitter brew you’re drinkin’
and you spend your life thinking about how to get away…”
– from “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive”

Miranda at the foundation of Rods last home in Kentucky
Miranda at the foundation of Rod's last home in Kentucky

The song referenced there is a pretty sad one, and it’s all about the little Kentucky coal-mining town where my dear husband was born and spent the first 11 years of his life. (Check out the Patty Loveless version of the song… it’s chilling. I hope Rod records it some day).

I have been hearing stories about this place for about 12 years, and today, I am finally here.

I feel a little pressure about my reaction. Rod’s mom and aunts and cousins are all curious what a big city gal like me is going to think (’cause you know, I hail from South Chicago Heights, IL… enormous population of about 8000, but just 30 miles from Chicago…). What I see is a lot like something used in an Alan Jackson video about the good old days and the good old people. There are narrow streets, pickup trucks, lots of toys in the yards, lots of chairs on the porches, new signs on ancient buildings, people waving as they pass by.

10 Things about NQC… the first 5, anyway

We’ve been home for over two weeks and it seems time I finally make up for not blogging every dayTired girls! and barely sTired girls!ince. Let me preface what I do write by saying that I really did require one full week to recover. Besides doing the eight loads of laundry, cleaning up the bus and the house (thankfully, Josh didn’t live like a total pig while we were gone), and nursing some very sore feet, I contended with Miranda and Kaity, who each decided to surprise us with some post-convention milestones: Kaity began to crawl (watch out world!) and Miranda finally lay down the bottle. Tee-hee. That last one is an answer to prayer, though it also has meant a lot of trial and error with cups, straws, “choc-ate milk,” spills, throws, tantrums, and prevention of dehydration. Whew!

Speaking of tantrums and dehydration… NQC! No, I’m kidding… and getting ahead of myself. Being home for so long prior to recording our experiences has allowed me to put aside some of the emotions of it, and that’s a good thing. Now I have decided that instead of cataloging NQC08 chronologically or trying to keep track of every funny/poignant/notable thing, I’ll give you a “10 things” list. It’s not a top 10, it’s not “10 things I hate about you…” just 10 things that stick in my mind from our time at the 2008 convention. (Let me add here that these are my opinions, and not necessarily my husband’s. He is generally a more patient and mellow person than I am!)

1. Who cares about our table? Answer: just me