Whatdya Give?

Whatdya Give?

Sister Hazel has been an integral and bedrock part of Lee’s and my relationship since we met. Lee and I have seen the band countless times since 2005, and our immediate circle of friends is a result of people we met through Sister Hazel.

As we transition into full-time mission work, Lee and I have been drastically downsizing. Although it’s been a pleasure and a blessing to give away so much of our stuff, there is also a need to fundraise in order to cover some of the moving expenses associated with this next chapter in our lives.

So to accomplish this goal, we’ve listed two of our favorite Sister Hazel items for auction via Facebook. I’ve copied the descriptions below, and we have the auction open until Friday, March 16. Unfortunately, you have to have a Facebook account in order to participate in the auction.

If you’re interested in supporting our missionary work directly or sponsoring a child for Advocates of Love, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

We are auctioning *TWO* excellent and unique Sister Hazel items from our collection.

Our first is a framed image of an acoustic guitar on the beach, with lyrics to Sister Hazel’s ‘Sail Away’, and signed by Ken Block.

Our second is an acoustic guitar signed by Drew Copeland and Ken Block.

Bids can be entered in the comments, and this auction will remain open until 10:00 PM PACIFIC time on Friday, March 16. We will ship to anywhere in the continental US.

Please keep us in your prayers and we appreciate your support. Also be sure to share this post with your circle of friends and fellow Hazelnuts. Happy bidding.




Hooked on Ponics

Hooked on Ponics

I had the pleasure this afternoon of meeting Jaime Guerra from Aquaponics for Communities. Jaime is an expert in aquaponics and he presented to me the various options and setup types that are available in the aquaponics arena. My goal in meeting with him was to establish a relationship so that when the time is right, Jaime can assist us with the implementation of an aquaponics system at the Advocates of Love children’s home in the D.R.


Image of one of Jamie Guerra’s aquaponic systems in the U.S.


In summary, aquaponics uses the waste water from a fish tank, typically Tilapia, to provide nutrients for plants (herbs, leafy greens, and other vegetable garden items). The plants are grown with no soil as the root system of the plants is submerged in the nutrient-rich water system. The end result is a sustainable mini-ecosystem that produces both edible fish and greens.

The way aquaponics would fold into our vision for the children’s home in Samaná is varied. There would be reduced food costs as a result of being able to produce meal items on site. We could teach responsibility to the children by assigning them chores related to the cleaning and maintenance of the system. Their potential for learning is expanded by introducing them to new aspects of biology, botany, and engineering. And the community as a whole can be introduced to the concept of sustainability and stewardship.


Visit Aquaponics for Communities on Facebook



I know we’re many months (if not years) away from realizing the benefits of an on-site aquaponics system at the children’s home, yet today’s meeting was about sowing. God has had me working on my patience for some time now, and today was another exercise in that. Still, I firmly believe He will honor our prayers and intentions and deliver us a wonderful system that will make the lives of the kids and staff at the children’s home so much better. But for now, we simply …


A word of thanks to my new friend Tami Carr who made this meeting with Jaime possible. Tami has a servant’s heart and a passion for aquaponics, and I am grateful my new boss (Mike Clark) introduced me to Tami. 

First Day on the Job

First Day on the Job


Upon returning from Georgia, Lee and I headed over to North Pointe Church for an event put on by No More, “a non-profit organization focused on helping orphans and eradicating slavery & poverty & helping the hopeless by becoming the hands & feet of Jesus to make a difference in the world.”

In addition to experiencing their presentations from room to room, Lee and I got to work the Advocates of Love table at the event. It was our first function in the capacity of missionaries for AOL, and it was exciting to be able to represent our organization.


The best part is we walked away with this amazing painting by Jim McMahel. It was painted by McMahel during the show and put up for auction. We were blessed to win the auction, with the proceeds going to pay for a child’s ability to attend camp. We can’t wait to hang this on the wall of our new place in the D.R.



Real Talk

Real Talk

In this process that is transitioning to full-time mission work, things got a lot more real today.

It started this afternoon when Lee and I met with our realtor. Referred by my new boss, our realtor Jeff was very nice and we found him to be confident and personable. After we showed him around the house, we sat down to discuss the details of the house, what additional work needs to be done in order to list it, what the right price point is for the house (given various factors), and the expectations Lee and I should have in terms of timelines and processes.

The experience was informative and eye-opening. On some aspects, Lee and I were right on with what we thought the answer would be, and Jeff’s concurrence was reassuring. On other points, however, Lee and I were way off. So it was a bit of a learning experience, and one we can step through with confidence knowing Jeff has our best interests in mind.

A couple of hours later, we fielded a call from my aforementioned new boss and we discussed the missionary agreement the non-profit put together for us, as well as a possible option for living accommodations in the Dominican Republic. It was a constructive and informative conversation, and one that has brought us one step closer to the reality of becoming full-time missionaries.

After it was all said and done, I took a moment to process it all. Selling the house, moving out, finding an interim solution until we can move to Samaná, and figuring out all the logistics and timelines of actually getting to the D.R. For the first time since we thought about making the move into mission work with Advocates of Love, I felt the weight of this new reality bear down on me. For the first time, I had to take a deep breath and deliberately remind myself to trust God.

It’s not hard to trust God. It’s hard to remember to trust God. And for now, that is what I must do: remember to trust in Him. I know this is a process, and I know I cannot determine all the answers myself. Instead, I will pray for continued patience and wisdom, and I will lean on the words of Proverbs 16:9.

In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.

– Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)


Super Official

Super Official

On this Super Bowl Sunday, before the wings and prop bets, we joined the board of Advocates of Love as they held their annual, in-person meeting to set the direction for the calendar year.

It’s with great enthusiasm and a sense of blessed humility that I am able to announce Lee and I have been officially commissioned as the missionaries to run the children’s home in Samaná. Although we’ve been operating with the confidence of God’s direction for us, it is rewarding – and a bit relieving – to have this opportunity made formal and official.

We look forward to the opportunity to move to the Dominican Republic and build on the work Advocates of Love have been doing there these last four years. Besides, who can resist a vocation that pays in smiles?


Mental Shuffle

Mental Shuffle

Yesterday I wrote about things I am going to miss once Lee and I move to the Dominican Republic. Tonight’s post is kinda’ the opposite, but not entirely.

To say my music family has changed my life is a dramatic understatement. When you follow the dominoes that have fallen, it’s very clear Lee and I would not be preparing for this move into full-time mission work if not for our music family. We ended up at Relevant Church as a result of being invited by our friend whom we met through our music family. Our introduction to Advocates of Love came as a result of my best friend whom – again – I met through our music family. Being introduced to that community of friends back in 2006 has been life-changing.

Part of this music family experience had been The Rock Boat, a floating music festival that is the best vacation you’ll barely remember. Lee and I have had the pleasure of taking part of seven TRB’s, and each one has been uniquely special. From our first in 2007 to our last in 2015 (we missed a couple of years here and there), thinking back on TRB memories makes my heart smile.

I say “last” one because we sailed on TRB XV a day after returning from our first ever mission trip in January 2015. Even though we had a good time, there was something off about that boat. For Lee and me, it was not the go-for-broke party atmosphere we’d enjoyed on previous cruises. Rather, there was an almost somber undercurrent, a whisper from God telling us TRB XV was our last hurrah.

He was preparing us for our next steps.

So here I am, on the sail away day for TRB XVIII, seeing the Facebook posts from literally hundreds of my friends who set sail for five excellent days of music, sun, fun, and killer hangovers. And it’s interesting how The Boat is no longer a priority in my life. Instead, I am filling my days with process steps I need to complete in order to move to a foreign country and serve God with the work my wife and I do.

Just like with old computers when you’d run a defrag command in order to re-order the hard drive, God performs a spiritual defrag in us according to His will. Things we once thought were important are moved out of the way in order to make more room for Him.

Would I like to be on a music cruise with my friends right now? Of course! Is it where I need to be right now? Not even close. Where I need to be is here, prepping my house so I can sell it, reaching out to other ministry organizations seeking partnership opportunities, and praying everything for which we’re hoping comes to fruition.

So instead of pining away about a ship that has already set sail (literally), I’ll close out with a nostalgic look back at what used to be. Enjoy.


Things I’ll Miss (Part 1)

Things I’ll Miss (Part 1)

As Lee and I prepare to take our next steps into full-time mission work, we’ve had several conversations about what it means to give up everything and act out of obedience to God’s calling. Many of those talks have been deep, tear-producing moments that have helped us grow in our faith. Others have been more tongue-in-cheek banter about some of the conveniences we’re going to miss. This is one of those moments.

If you stop and think about it, the list of things we’ll be leaving behind is really quite long. In all seriousness, that’s part of the obedience process. However – and as an example – today was a busy day with errands involving a visit to the veterinarian and an oil change for the car. As is typical behavior for Lee and me, I decided to pick something up for lunch on the way home (as opposed to fixing lunch once I got there).

In a pinch, we like ordering from Little Greek that is in the shopping center across the street from our housing development. The food is always amazing, the service is fast, and it’s an affordable meal. Lee, who was working from home, placed the order, and I picked it up as I completed my errands.

As we sat and devoured our food, the thought came to me. “We’re not going to have this in the D.R.” It was a somber and melancholy thought, one that quickly led to another conversation about things we’re going to miss once we move. So in the spirit of list-making, I am moving the gyros from Little Greek to number 2 on my list of foods I will miss most, second to the deli subs from Publix. Seriously, I may cry if I think about going a year or years without Publix subs.

But in the end (and in all seriousness), missing out on these items and conveniences is so worth it.