Whew! It has been a whirlwind of moving activity since my last entry. Our project ended in Rockford, Illinois and it was time to say “so long” to a wonderful hotel staff and several good friends made along the way. After a very brief time at home in Florida, the road called us once again. I guess I should say, the “job” called us once again. It was difficult to say goodbye to our families that we had just had a taste of spending time with but off we went toward a new adventure.
Now we are in Tyler, Texas, the rose capital of the world! I feel like I have been to Tippecanoe’s town and every other city from the Midwest to Florida and back to Texas. I never thought I would say that I was tired of traveling but as the trip to Tennessee next week to visit family for Thanksgiving looms ever closer, I must say that staying in one place for a while is sounding very comforting. Can I please just be “bored” for a time.
Texas is a state I never thought I would live in but it holds the promise of much to see and do. There are new restaurants to find and cultures to experience and new friends to add to my list of many. We are grateful to have found work in the land of opportunity. There seems to be less of a job shortage in the great state of Texas.
So stay tuned for some down home tales from my waltzes across Texas.
I had never seen so many working ladders in one room!
How many people does it take to transform two public schools in just a couple weeks time? 100s I can tell you. It takes a lot of time, talent, planning and most of all MONEY to make the most positive impact on a public school imaginable.
From the playground to the driveway from the gym to the classrooms the painting and dry walling, all transforming a dingy old tired school into a haven of brightness and shine! You would have to see it for yourself to believe that it could happen so remarkably. I’m proud to have been even the tiniest part of such an undertaking. I will not soon forget the experience of seeing a church come together to help out a public school. One that likely few members of the church even attend. But that is not important, however. What IS important is the impact that those upgrades can make on the youngest, most vulnerable members of the Rockford community. Heartland Church of Rockford, Illinois spends two weeks each summer changing lives in the public sector. The elementary children that can be easily forgotten in a town that has been stricken with some of the highest unemployment rates in the state. A school that sits fairly closely to the crime capital of the town but a school now that those children can be proud to attend in the fall. It’s a place that they can look forward to carrying their backpacks into. They may not know who Heartland church is but they will know that somewhere a lot of regular folks came in and made their school a really nice place to learn.
They may never know that folks came from as far away as Oregon to help with the project or that some people were injured or that some took time off from their real jobs to be a part of their success story but the children will know deep down that someone somewhere cares about them. When they look at new books in their new library or swing on a freshly painted swing, it will make them smile inside.
There is probably no other food on earth that is eaten more than bread. Whether it is tortillas or pitas or just good ol’ American Wonder Bread, bread is a daily staple in most diets. So there is bread and then there is GREAT HARVEST BREAD COMPANY!
I had only been in Rockford for a couple weeks before someone told me about this wonderful place and drew me a map of how to get there. I didn’t get to go right away because….well good bread can be purchased at any high end grocery store and besides I had already found Panera. Then a friend from Florida who lives here half the year picked me up at my hotel and took me on a tour of the city. The second place she took me was to the Great Harvest Bread Company. We looked in the window as she described the amazing fragrances and delicacies that awaited me TOMORROW because we were there on Monday and the place was closed. So I tucked it away for another time but did not go back.
Then I reconnected with Weight Watchers in Rockford and the desire to seek out a luscious high points+ food item was no longer with me. But after a few months my attention was once again brought to the Great Harvest Bread store. I finally succumbed and stopped by and oh my! It is unlike any other bakery or bread place I’ve ever visited. They have real “bakers” who mix and knead the bread by hand and you can stand and watch them.They use interesting wholesome ingredients and bake each item with pride. The staff greets you with a warm smile…….
The breads shown here are for sampling!!!
and an offer of a sample of one of the delicious mouth watering jewels that was baked just an hour or so ago. There is a large bowl of real butter and a knife just begging to be spread on the fresh delicacy. Oh and when I say “sample” I really mean a nice generous HUNK of yumminess to try.
If you ever get to Rockford, Illinois and it’s not a Monday, you must do yourself the favor of visiting the Great Harvest Bread Company on North Alpine Road. Your view of bread will never be the same!
Everything in Rockford, Illinois has something to do with a rock…there’s the Rock River, Rock Cut Park, Rock Valley College, Rockford College. Rock River Times. Then up the road is Rockton and Roscoe (switch the S and C sounds and you have rock again).
There are also some noteworthy people from this rocky place. Jodi Benson from Toy Story 3 and the voice of the Little Mermaid is from Rockford. And how about Shawn Wade the bass player for the band, “12 Stones (little rocks). There is also the well known author John Ortberg, and the female astronaut, Janice Voss, who left the solid rock of earth to go into space. There is Chad Knaus too, the crew chief for that NASCAR rock, Jimmie Johnson. I guess my personal favorite rock reference for the city though would be Rick Nielsen, the lead guitarist for the ROCK band Cheap Trick. So by now, even though there are more, you are likely weary of my rock references so I will move on.
I will move on to the main Rock. The true Rock that I stand on and that is Christ. I know that I couldn’t have gone through some of the events and challenges in my life if I had not had the Lord and His word to stand on and lean on in those tough times. Now traveling along the road and being away from the people, the town and buildings and streets that are familiar and comforting to me for an extended length of time, I rely on the comfort and strength that will never leave me.
I don’t know what lies ahead with our next work project, just as you don’t know what lies ahead with your life. Our circumstances can change in an instant. I literally rest at night assured that God is in my corner and He’s watching out for me. So whatever lies ahead in Rockford or wherever, I say “Rock On!”
Everything in Rockford, Illinois has something to do with a rock…there’s the Rock River, Rock Cut Park, Rock Valley College, Rockford College. Rock River Times. Then up the road is Rockton and Roscoe (switch the S and C sounds and you have rock again)
The locals are friendly, the scenery is great. Rockford in the spring is a nice place to be. We have certainly enjoyed our time here so I say “Rock On!”
One of the great joys of traveling around the country for work is getting to see events and landmarks that you probably would never see otherwise. Even though one of the museum attendants told us that some folks came from Atlanta, Georgia to see the sock monkey festival, I doubt that very many made the 1,000 mile trek to see some historical brown socks with red heels.
But if you are located for a few months, in a part of the country where you have never been, you are happy to visit the local museum and see unusual sights. I had no idea when we got the call to go to Rockford, that it was known for the sock monkey. The way it goes is that John Nelson immigrated to Rockford from Sweden in 1852. He was an inventor and started several factories in the town. He knew that there could be a better way to make a sock and was determined to invent a machine that would do it. So at the risk of losing everything, meaning that he sold his furniture company, and his wife had to take in laundry, it finally came together for him in 1870. Then an innovative knitter made a monkey out of those socks and….. the rest is history.