Wednesday, July 31, 2013


I finished cleaning out my office today and checked my mailbox for the last time.  This was followed by a trip to the leasing office where I turned in my keys and told them about the mishap I had with Gorilla Glue.  The keys were attached to a Justin Bieber keychain fob, while the Gorilla Glue was stuck to the back of my office door - along with 1/4 of my wood business sign and a few divots from our screwdriver.

Even though I prepared myself for this moment, I got choked up while carrying the last of my business supplies to our basement and wiping off the counter of suite 232.  When there wasn't anything left to do, I laid on the floor of the empty room and stared up at the florescent lights I never did like.  I said a prayer and took a deep breath.  

I'm trusting God for the rest.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

police blotter: and so it goes

TRAFFIC COMPLAINT, HARTLEY DRIVE: A caller reported an elderly woman driving her handicap scooter in the middle of the street with two children on her lap about 11:30 a.m. July 21.  She was gone when officers arrived.

THEFT, EDSAL DRIVE: A man got off his bicycle about 7 p.m. July 19, grabbed a woman's bike and rode away, leaving his own bicycle behind.  The woman gave a description, but he was not located.

EXPLODING GATORADE, STRONGSVILLE: A man reported at 4:20 a.m. July 18 that someone threw a Gatorade bottle, which then exploded, at his house.  He said it was not the first time it's happened.

MISCHIEF, BENNINGTON DRIVE: A resident informed police at 2:15 a.m. July 16 that a group of youths were toilet papering a house across the street.  An officer stopped one of the cars the youths were driving, and found out they were initiating new choir members.  They had finished for the night, and the officer didn't see any damage in the area.

DISTURBANCE, CLIFTON BOULEVARD: Police received reports July 16 that two men were arguing near the Shell gas station.  One of the men was pushing a dog in a shopping cart.  According to police, the men were arguing about the dog being tangled in the cart.

DRUNK MAN, BROOK PARK: Monday mornings can be brutal.  The one saving grace is the routine you find yourself suddenly embracing.  Roll out of bed, punch your alarm clock until it shuts up, brush your teeth, shower, get dressed, head downstairs, say good morning to the hung-over man at your table, and pour yourself a bowl of cereal.  For one Brook Park family, that routine was their reality July 15.  A drunk Cleveland man had stumbled into the family's home at some point during the night.  He apparently fell asleep at their kitchen table. The family found him sleeping there the next morning.  They called police, who escorted the man, still reeking of alcohol, from the house.

DISTURBANCE, BELLE AVENUE: Callers told police July 13 that a car alarm was going off in the 1300 block of Belle.  According to reports, police arrived and found a resident inside a parked vehicle near his home.  The man told officers he had stepped outside to smoke a cigarette and fell asleep with his head on the vehicle's horn.

LITTER, ADMIRALTY DRIVE: A man was advised about his garbage dumping habits July 11 after an officer found three cases worth of beer cans in the street.  How did they track the garbage to the man? In addition to the beer, the officer found a pizza box with his name and phone number on it.

THEFT, PEARL ROAD: Someone stole a Middleburg Heights woman's load of laundry on July 10.  The woman estimates the total value at $50.

TRAFFIC COMPLAINT, INTERSTATE 90: A caller reported seeing a naked driver traveling about 90 mph eastbound on July 9.  Officers were unable to locate the driver and advised Westlake police about the complaint.

MENACING, NORTH ROCKY RIVER DRIVE: Police arrested a man on a motorcycle after he followed an off-duty police officer into a local gas station, took off his shirt and challenged him to a fight.  The victim called police from the gas station at 12:50 a.m. in the July 9 incident.  The suspect, found in a nearby parking lot, said the other driver cut him off and he wanted to confront him about it.  The girlfriend became upset over the incident and defended her boyfriend.  The suspect was cited for menacing.

NEIGHBOR DISPUTE, MORRISON AVENUE: A man told police July 9 that he suspected a neighbor was tampering with his water supply while he was taking a shower.  Police arrived at the residence and urged both parties to try and get along.

STAR GAZING, ROYALTON ROAD: A truck parked in the driveway across from Serpentini Chevrolet seemed suspicious to one caller at 12:20 a.m. July 6.  The driver of the vehicle explained that he was watching the stars with his girlfriend.  The two agreed to leave the area.

YELLING, NORTH COURT: Police were called to a restaurant at about 6:20 p.m. June 15 upon a report that a group of juveniles was making a disturbance.  When officers arrived, they found a large group of juveniles, wearing fake mustaches, yelling at vehicles driving past the restaurant.  Officers warned the boys about using inappropriate language.  No citations were issued.

BOYFRIEND BUSTED, MEDINA: A man busted the boyfriend of his 24 year-old daughter trying to sneak into the family's West Homestead house at 1:07 a.m. May 28.  The father called police.  No arrests were made, but officers settled the disturbance.

VULGAR NOTE, BROOKPOINT: A vulgar note was taped to a vehicle May 27 while it was parked at a home on the street.  The car owner found the note at about 7 p.m.  The note had been written in crayon and was addressed to a name that was not the name of the car owner.  Police made a report of the incident.

DISORDERLY CONDUCT, MEDINA: A manager at Denny's called police when a customer became disorderly after receiving the wrong change May 18.  After the problem was corrected, the customer continued to be disruptive and profane.  When he was asked to leave he went outside and started making faces at customers inside.  He claimed he wasn't being disorderly.  He was cited for trespassing, ordered to leave and informed that he would face criminal charges if he returned.

INDECENT EXPOSURE, OHIO TURNPIKE: Police have received numerous reports of a white male in his 20s exposing himself to motorists along the Ohio Turnpike.  Between May 16 and July 12 police received reports that the man, who has short brown or reddish hair, was seen along the westbound lane of the turnpike.  Most of the incidents have taken place in the grassy area near mile marker 168, between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.

GOATS ON THE RUN, MEDINA: A group of goats broke loose at a Lake Road home and was grazing in the front yard at 7:50 p.m. April 22.  The owner herded the goats back into the backyard.  Police warned the goat owner regarding a city ordinance, but did not cite the resident.

Welcome to Ohio.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

wild & wonderful

On June 20th, our nation's 35th state celebrated its 150th birthday.  A month later, our 25-member team from Ohio arrived for a 1.5 day outreach to the community of Webster Springs.  If you do a search on my blog for "West Virginia," you can read about all of the trips we've taken as a church group.  Each experience has had similar themes, and the people have become sweetly familiar.

We shared the grounds of a 4-H camp for our lodging, and did our charity work at a nearby mission called Mountain Marketplace Mission.  The weather was hot and humid while we were there, and several of us had a fit of a time during the week leading up to the trip.  For me, it was unexplained stomach pain for two days.  I thought I might have food poisoning, but thankfully it subsided by the morning of our main service day.

My buddy (of the holy pierogis), Geri, let me borrow her extra fan (aka "the wind tunnel"), which was a lifesaver for me and my sleep.  I took the top mattress off of my bunk and replaced it with the fan facing down.  I had a delicious amount of cool air both nights we stayed, which kept the heat down, the noise out, and the bugs off of me.  I'm telling you, God is good at every turn.  

The mission we partnered with is operated by a darling couple named Gary & Lily Melton.  They are as cute as they come, and serious about their work.  You can read more about them and their home-turned-mission here.  Gary & Lily have always been kind to us, but we noticed their warmth seemed to run deeper this time around.  They spent time with us during our ministry, and even gave us a framed certificate of appreciation before we departed.

It was a treat that so many of the residents remembered us from visits past.  A common conversation I'd have with my facial recipients (after name introductions) included:

Me: Have you ever had a facial before?
Resident: Yes, once.. from you last year!

I'd often recognize them by face first, but some had to remind me.  It was a thrill for me when that exchange took place.  We are building a relationship with this community, which is what we've hoped for all along.  Our spa team alone gave 100 treatments in 8 hours!  Our group also provided construction work, hot meals, fresh produce, free beauty and hygiene products, warehouse sorting, cleaning, landscaping, and community outreach.  Each of our team members found their place and we worked in synergy. 

Ready to give facials and sweat for Jesus!

The dormitory is really coming along!  Our construction guys helped build a deck on the backside of the building during this trip.

I think our team cooked up over 600 hamburgers/hotdogs!

Our ladies cut A LOT of hair!  The water bottle is for scale.

Karen planted a memorial garden in front of the Mission 
(in the shape of a heart)!

A local grocer gives the Mission money for their cardboard, so we spent a couple hours breaking down boxes and delivering them to the store.

One of my favorite residents is named Karen.  I wrote about her in my blog post from last year, and am so happy she came back to see us. Last summer, she was in really bad shape.  She was disheveled and withdrawn, and her skin was literally falling off of her in some areas with open wounds taking up the majority of space on her arms.  I just had so much love for her back then, and am pleased to report that she is doing much better!  Over the past year, she used the vitamin E oil that I recommended and with fabulous results!  She now sports a sassy short hairdo and has a steadier gait.  She seemed far healthier than when we first met and greeted me with her signature down-turned smile.  Her eyes were bright and her hug was strong.  

I had another sweet interaction with a child named Morgan.  She was tiny with a big personality!  When I found out it was her birthday, I had everyone sing loudly to her.  She was so embarrassed.  I held her in my chair, so she couldn't get away, which made her giggle and squirm.  We had a special connection after that, and she gave me a big hug when the facial was over.          

Often the kids in this region are raised by grandparents, because their parents are in jail for drug-related crimes.  We met several families in this situation, so I made a point to ask about the part of their reality that isn't sad.  I heard about county fairs, bonfires, riding horses and four-wheelers, trips to the mall, cupcakes, and baby kittens.  I also got to pray with a young (very pregnant) gal named Alisha.  She and her boyfriend are welcoming their baby in to a challenging family dynamic without much support or income.  I got to feel the little girl move in her belly, and pray for her to know a life of love.  They've named their sweet one Abigail Leigh.

Aside from getting lost on West Virginia's winding country roads more than once, and one major thunderstorm disrupting power, everything came together for this trip.  I was blessed to be part of the leadership team and help see many turn their hearts towards service, and love on this community as a community.

I'm going to miss this mountain town and the people in it.  Next year, I might just buy a plane ticket and crash the party.

Sunday, July 14, 2013


While holding a bag of trash, I walked out through the open garage door to fill the garbage can.  No sooner had I stepped in to the driveway when I found myself staring down a deer.  It was dusk and the deer was on the other side of the driveway, but we both stopped (and I barely breathed).  I so wish I had had my camera with me.  It's the closest I've ever come to a wild doe before.  

After about two minutes frozen like that, she twitched her ears, turned, and quietly walked away.  I couldn't wait to get back inside to tell Chris what happened.

Sadly, my man is on the couch nursing a head cold.  

He and the Nicaragua team arrived home safely Friday night.  Rachel and myself, and the other spouses, waited at the airport by the first available passenger entryway, and hugged our loved ones as soon as humanly possible.  It was so good to have my beloved in my arms again.  He smiled a tired smile, and kissed me with his unshaven face (I like when he lets his facial hair go).  He has since camped out inside our house, doing some audio work, eating leftovers, coughing, and sleeping.  We did have a date night outside of the house last night, which included our favorite pizza and Brad Pitt's exciting and smart (emotional, even) zombie movie.   

Today, we watched two Netflix picks together: Being Elmo (a nod to hubby's recent puppet ministry) and A Late Quartet.  Other lovable and daring documentaries we've seen lately (since I'm on the subject): Happy, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, The Woodmans, and Craig's List Joe with The Happy Poet and Hot Coffee on deck.

We've begun sorting through our things, deciding what to sell at our garage sale this month.  I've added a few items on Craig's List and eBay.  And our house sold, officially!  The months have turned in to weeks and will soon feel like a matter of days before our move.

The ball is indeed rolling.

Friday, July 12, 2013

come back to me

© 2013 Amy Holowaty

I'm ready for my baby to come home.
I'm ready for my baby to come home.
He's been gone too long and that's just wrong,
Which gave me cause to write this song.
I'm ready for my baby to come home.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Monday, July 8, 2013

pb + banana bread

So, it seems the midwest and west coast are trading heatwaves.  

Isn't that nice of us to share?

During our rainy week, I had a hankering for banana bread.  I can't remember the last time I made banana bread without adding another flavor to it.  The judges at the county fair might be purists, but I need to dance with my food.

Joy the Baker is one of my go-to blogs for foodie inspiration (and clever phrasing).  This time, she wooed me with her recipe for Peanut Butter Banana Bread.

To make it GF/DF, I substituted the following:

Plain goat milk yogurt for regular vanilla yogurt.
Coconut oil for butter.
GF all-purpose flour for the flours (I like Bob's Red Mill).
I added DF chocolate chips (I like the Enjoy Life brand).
I also added a drizzle of maple syrup on top (before baking) and omitted the peanuts (I don't like crunch in my quick breads, but that's just a personal preference).

I took this loaf to a church meeting and shared it with friends.  They all went for a second piece.  I mean, who doesn't love the peanut butter-banana flavor combo?  It reminds me of the sandwiches I used to make as an after-school snack.  I like to think you made them as your after-school snack, too.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

riding solo

Early Wednesday morning, I took my man to the airport for his second missions trip to Nicaragua.  This year, he is leading a team of 13 (last year he was one of only three participants from our church), plus two friends from California who met him there.  Since my not being a morning person is well-known around these parts, we had several people from church offer to be Chris's 3:30am ride.  Thank you kindly, but no thank you.  I wanted to be the one to share that bleary-eyed moment with him.  And I did it!  It was a little rough for my body, but so good for my heart.

Chris swore he didn't have to work with puppets last year, but this year there was no denying it.  Within the first two days, he got to put his hand inside of a felted doll.  Chris confessed this to me himself, and our friend, Dan, sent me a small phone picture of the puppets on stage.  At first, I was just proud of him for taking on the team leadership role, but now my pride beams even brighter.  

Funny how God stretches us.

The team is connecting well and finding their niche.  Today is their first full day of ministry, and it's blazing hot.  Some will work at a free medical clinic, others will help with building construction, and the rest will be with Chris handing out Bibles and doing street ministry (music, drama, puppets, etc.).

It was strange being at our church's annual July 3rd tailgate party without hubby.  I requested a full-time volunteer gig at the sno-cone machine, which kept me busy.  Bruce's Patty also went to Nicaragua, so he and I sat together with a few others during the fireworks show. Naturally, I had to send my man a photo of me with the bagpipers. (He likes bagpipes as much as he likes clowns.)

Safety first.  Hi, Erva!

© photo credit: Amanda Mural

© photo credit: Amanda Mural

On the actual holiday, I met with a couple of clients, ran a few errands, and then joined hundreds of other spectators down at Chippewa Lake for their annual waterski show.  We know one of the families on the team from church, and their water acrobatics are really something to see.  I walked along the lake and tried to find a good viewing spot amongst the locals on golf carts.  The show itself was entertaining, but so was the people-watching.  Oh man, so many cut-off shorts and ponytails (on men!), farmer tans, classic sun visors and fanny packs.  I left before the cardboard boat races started, but not before getting an eyeful of Chippewa's finest.

Chippewa Lake is a natural inland lake in Ohio that creates a peaceful view year-round, and is maybe best known for the amusement park it used to host.  With just over 711 residents, the village has a fascinating history of being one of the former hot spots in the area's social scene.  Chippewa Lake Park was the Cedar Point of its day and operated for decades before being shut down.  Go here for a stylized docu-video about the defunct park. 

As much as I miss my other half, I'm grateful he is where he is, doing what he loves.  He mentioned they might have him preach in Spanish tomorrow.  Sans puppets?  

Tonight, I'm having a scary movie night with friends, and praying the next week goes by without incident.  I've only needed to replace a lightbulb in the bathroom and refill the gas can for our lawn mower so far.  Here's hoping our plumbing behaves.