September Free Home Depot Kids Workshop – ESPN College Game Day Board

home depot kids workshop 300x240 September Free Home Depot Kids Workshop   ESPN College Game Day BoardOn Saturday, September 3rd from 9a-12pat the Home Depot kids can make their very own ESPN College Game Day Board for FREE! Is anyone else as ready for football (& Fall!) to start as we are?

Left September Free Home Depot Kids Workshop   ESPN College Game Day BoardWe love these Home Depot workshops because the people are so friendly, there’s plenty of room to work, and the kids love the treats at the end.

Home Depot offers FREE Kids Workshops the first Saturday of every month and also gives away free orange aprons and pins once you complete the project.

 September Free Home Depot Kids Workshop   ESPN College Game Day Board

If you’re just looking to save some money on your home projects this weekend, you can use code HDAUG5 to take $5 OFF orders $50 or more at HomeDepot online! (Valid through 9/4/11) What’s even better is that the HomeDepot has just introduced their “Buy Online, Pick Up in Store” policy; so now you can shop with your code, but still pick it up at your local HomeDepot!

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What parents should do before taking their kids to college

graduation What parents should do before taking their kids to collegeAre you getting ready to take your kids to college? Then listen up, here’s what parents should do before the big drop off!

While it’s true most parents pay for college, they should be involved on a deeper level. Don’t expect to impart great wisdom to your teenager as you’re driving up together – they have too many other things on their mind: what will my roommate look like? How far is my dorm from my classes? Should I rush or not? Trust me, this will not be the time to impart your great wisdom upon them.

However, if you don’t talk to them about a few of the basics, I guarantee you, someone else will (I didn’t graduate that long ago!). So here are just a few things you may want to consider talking about before getting on the road this fall:

1. Set the standard

Discuss your expectations for communication (Will you talk every Sunday night or wait for them to call you?), money (do they need to get their own job or will you bail them out every time their account gets overdrawn?), and yes, even relationships (it’s not too late to reinforce the values you’ve been imparting to them over the years and the expectations both you AND God have for them!).

2. Pick up some supplies

Whether it’s the ever necessary laptop or just dorm-room decorations, trust me, you will not want to be one of the thousands of parents rummaging through Target at the last minute trying to find your child a comforter and a notebook for the first day of class. Set them up for success by helping them think through what they’ll need to both be prepared for class and comfortable in their living environment.

3. Understand their school

As much as possible, scope out all the aspects of their new school online before you go. This may include, but is not limited to, learning where their classes are, finding the dining hall, writing down library hours, discovering dress codes, and of course, memorizing the football home game schedule! While much of the culture of a school cannot be learned until arriving on campus and spending some time there, schools today have a lot of valuable information (as well as ways to connect with other new students) on their websites…so don’t overlook this important step.

If nothing else, get there early. There’s nothing worse than being the last kid to pull up, sling your boxes into your room, and arrive at orientation out of breath and out of sorts. Enjoy this experience for what it is and you’ll both have a lot of things to share on that first Sunday night phone call icon smile What parents should do before taking their kids to college

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Why did Drew Middleton leave Tenth Avenue North?

n630230948 1760834 8191106 Why did Drew Middleton leave Tenth Avenue North?

Ok, so I find it odd that on my family blog where I do little else but talk about the funny things my kids say and babble about the interesting (to me) things that God reveals to me during the in-between moments of my day, the most popular seach is “Why did Drew Middleton leave Tenth Avenue North?” Really? Why don’t more people want to know about what I cook and whether or not my kids eat it?

Anyway, if you’re like all the others and seem to be just as curious about where this amazing musician and friend is these days, what he’s up to and why he’s no longer part of Tenth Ave anymore (which is still just as amazing and we’re so proud of you guys!), then click HERE to read my “article” on this very topic.

Thanks, Drew, for allowing me to share your story; I hope I’ve done your heart justice!

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Why did Drew leave Tenth Avenue North?

I find it interesting that the most popular search on this blog (my personal, family blog) is, “Why did Drew Middleton leave Tenth Avenue North?”

Perhaps because we bragged about our friend when he came to Nashville this past spring to claim his BMI Songwriter’s award for his work on the hit, “Love is Here”. After all, I’ve known Drew since he and the boys led worship for our church’s college group in Florida. As the female mentor for the ministry, I enjoyed worshipping with and watching the guys grow in the Lord.

It wasn’t until a few years later that I really got to know Drew.  I learned that he and some of the other ‘kids’ that I served with were getting married! Not only were they getting married, but many now held positions within the church. That meant that their new brides would be graduating college, moving out on their own for the first time AND becoming a pastor’s wife in a sense. Being a recent newlywed myself (just four years prior), my heart became burdened for these precious women (most of whom I’d not yet met!) and started a group to mentor these newlyweds. I met with the girls, my husband met with the guys, and we’d regularly all come together as couples…and it was awesome.

So while I’ve known Mike D. and the Tenth Ave gang for about ten years, it wasn’t until the past three that I’ve had the pleasure of really getting to know Drew and his precious wife, Shannon. You can imagine my surprise when, on a blog where I normally discuss funny things my kids say and my wonderment at the world around me,  there were daily searches on Tenth Avenue North, Drew Middleton and more specifically, why Drew left the band.

So I finally asked him.

It’s amazing how little I really knew about how the band got its start. I learned that it did in fact get its name from the road in Lake Worth where a few of the guys lived back when there were in college. I learned that Drew was not one of the original members of the band (he joined when they were all in college at PBA, not too long after he came in second place to their first place finish at a Battle of the Bands on campus). And I finally learned that Drew left the band because he felt God tugging on his heart to return to ministry at his local church.

“Through college, it was a good time – nothing that demanded our full time attention – if someone asked for a show we’d go play.” After he graduated, most of the guys worked part time at the church in the fall and winter and then the band went on tour in the off times and during the summer. However, after all the guys had worked at Christ Fellowship part time for a year, they went to the church to let them know they felt called to pursue the band full time. From that point in 2005 through 2006, Drew and the guys concentrated their full energies on the band, even releasing two full length albums and some EP’s.

So why did Drew walk away from it all?

“I felt this tug on my heart to go back to Christ Fellowship. I just knew it was what God was calling me to do, though at the time, I didn’t know why.”

Drew was engaged then and while he knew his future wife would always support him in whatever he felt God called him to do, Drew believed it was time for him to go back to the local church and lead worship. At the same time, his friend and fellow band-mate (Danny Zayas, who had just married his wife Renee a year earlier) approached Drew with a similar sentiment.

Ironically, things were starting to take off for the band. They had just met with some guys in Nashville and were considering what record label to sign with. “We were at a conference somewhere in Florida and were meeting as a band when Danny & I spoke up and said we felt called to bow-out of the band. Needless to say, the other guys were shocked.”

It was never their intent to deliver a double-whammy. They knew it would be a big deal to lose two members at once, but both Drew & Danny stayed on and played for several more months until their “Hello/Good-Bye Show” at City Place where they introduced Jeff (Owen) into the band and said goodbye to Drew & Danny.

Does Drew have any regrets about leaving the band?

“For the first two years after I left the band I had no regrets (even though they had a lot of success). I started feeling regret the last time I was in Nashville. Not because of the Dove Awards or the recognition or the hit song, I had regrets because being up there and hanging out with the guys again reminded me of the family nucleus we had as a band. More than friends, we were like a family church, constantly looking out for one another, encouraging each other and spurring one another on to do great things for God. Did we fight? Yeah. Were there times we wanted to rip each other’s faces off? Absolutely…but what a great group of guys. My regret is 50% because I know God has me here for this time and using me down in FL, but I think I’ll always vicariously live through them after being such a part of that band and that industry for 5-6- years. When that’s all you hang out with for so long, of course there’s going to be a tug.  All that to say my regret isn’t that I left the band and all this success; I miss the guys and that nucleus.”

So what’s next for Drew?
“You’re asking the wrong guy – it’s up to the Lord.
I can tell you what I’d like to be doing, but who knows if that’s what God has for me. I have some dreams and some ambitions, but God has his perfect will and I’m going to make sure I’m following that.”

Not to worry; the guys are still as close as brothers. They’ve sang at each other’s weddings, hang out together even when they’re not singing and are now welcoming children into the Tenth Avenue North Family.

While Drew isn’t welcoming any children of his own just yet, he does have some valuable advice for young ones looking to get into the music industry:
“Never give up playing or learning more about your craft. You constantly need to ask yourself, ‘How can I get better at what I’m doing – spiritually and musically?’”

To bands just getting started, Drew suggests the same as what kept his band so close: “Do whatever you can to encourage one another all the time. Get in the habit of speaking words of encouragement to your band-mates. It’s all too easy to get caught up in character flaws and focusing on the wrong (negative) thing.”

“When every band gets started, there seems to be a #1 goal of getting a record deal – don’t let that be your goal. That was never our goal (to be signed) and I think that’s why they (Tenth Avenue North) have achieved the success they have, because that was never our goal. God brought that to us, but we were never out searching for it. Don’t make getting signed your life ambition because:
1. It’s the wrong goal – your goal should be to uphold Christ above all else and pursue him.
2. What will you do after you get signed? Most have a plan but some don’t, so don’t get caught up in that rabbit trail.”

While he may be done with the road for now, music and songwriting is still an integral part of Drew’s life. He is now a worship pastor at Christ Fellowship church in Florida and is married to Shannon, a beautiful and talented girl in her own right (which I can say proudly because she’s such a good friend too!). Personally, I hope Drew continues to win many more awards for his amazing songs so that we get to see more of the Middletons in Nashville!

Thanks, Drew, for allowing me to dig a little deeper into your passions and for speaking so candidly. Ricky and I are so proud to call you friends and we pray many others will benefit and grow from reading your story and learning of your continuing faithfulness, both to God, your family and your craft!

To see some pictures of Drew’s winning moments (and his wonderful wife), click here to see my earlier post.

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17 Again

So the recent success of 17 year old tennis phenom, Melanie Oudin, made me get reflective today.

“Melanie who?” You’re asking….

Well, let me tell you. In the past week, this 17 year old from Marietta, Georgia has upset the #4 seed (Dementiava) & #29 seed (Maria Sharapova) at the U.S. Open! As a former tennis pro, I started to think back to when I was 17 – a lowly freshman at Emory University struggling to make my mark on their tennis team. And then it really hit me – I’m twice her age!

So aside from the fact that I wonder how I ever managed to fit into those cute little dresses, never mind the fact of how I played grueling matches for 8 hours a day in 100 degree heat….I’m twice her age! Now I’m not one to focus on age, but I still feel like I can hang with the college kids, but seriously, 17? Who am I kidding?

All I have to say is Bravo, Melanie…you go girl! You only live once, so you might as well give it all you’ve got. I’ve been getting nervous watching her, so I can’t imagine what it feels like to be the one under all that pressure in scrutiny.

But it comes down to what she had designed into her shoe: Believe. We all have to believe in something. Obviously she believes she can win it all -and she is! I’m thankful that while I wasn’t smart enough to believe in myself at 17, I now know a Savior who has given me all the confidence in the world, regardless of what I do or who I know. Ah, if only I had that youthful exuberance and spiritual wisdom at the same time, but then I wouldn’t have gained the insights that I now possess and have the privilege of sharing with all of you icon wink 17 Again

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