It’s Time to Save the Food

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

Did you know that about 40% of all food produced in America is wasted? That’s like buying five bags of groceries and dumping two of them in the trash before you even bother bringing them home.

Lots of GroceriesAll that food waste is a terrible waste of money and natural resources.

Think about it:

  • The average family spends $1,500 a year food it simply dumps.
  • And 25% of our America’s fresh water goes into producing food that never gets eaten.
  • Reducing food waste by even one third could feed all 50 million food-insecure Americans.

The good news: there’s something you can do about it. The better news: it’s easy. And you’ve got everything you need, right in your refrigerator.

In my next few posts, I’ll be explaining how you can help save the food and perhaps some money for your family in the process. I’ll provide shopping advice, meal planning information and food storage tips that will help you cut food waste, while saving money and the planet.

This World Needs to Change

By: Shannon Boatwright


I’m only going to write a short note here and let the poem and performance do the speaking and inspiring. As a middle school Drama teacher, I quite often am impressed with the talents of the young, brilliant minds that I have the honor of teaching.

This past year I taught a lesson on soapbox rants that produced many astounding written works and performances. The one I’m sharing here is by one of my 8th grade honors drama students that I’ve taught since she was in the 6th grade. Graycen Bozard has proven to be not only a talented actress, but also a very talented writer. Upon reading her first soapbox submission, it touched and impressed me so much that her words inspired an entire piece for our big end of the year show. She, being her toughest critic, didn’t think it was that great and proceeded to write a different soapbox – which also was so good that I was able to convince her to perform it in our show. She also wrote some of the scenes in our show, adding a genuine feel to the teenage representation that was a theme in our production. But the piece I’m sharing here is quite touching and profound, considering it’s written by a 13-year-old.

I’m very proud of her work and feel very honored to share it.  – Shannon


Written by 8th Grade Honors Drama Student, Graycen Bozard

I see humans but no humanity

The things we do are nothing short of insanity

we kill, we rob and we take

the things we do should make your heart break

but it doesn’t explain the things I am saying

They are just like a record playing

you’ve heard them before

why should they mean more?

how about because what I’m saying is real

what can I do to make you feel

I could say something cheesy

like changing the world is easy

or that it’s something anyone can do

but that simply isn’t true

I hope you don’t ever feel the core of the emotion

or that the pain is deeper than an ocean

bad things happen I know it won’t stop

but we may be able to get its numbers to drop

I may be a bit of a dreamer

some might even say schemer

but I know the difference between right and wrong

I know what it feels like to have to stay strong

there are do’s and dont’s

can’ts and won’ts

I know there are rules that we live by

but does that mean that we can’t try

I am just one person I can’t do much

this is a dream I’ve only begun to touch

this planet holds dangers

so we need world changers

but you can’t judge the ocean by the parts that reach the sand

maybe this is just too hard for kids to understand

now that I’ve said all these beautiful words

about how nothing’s impossible we can fly with the birds

we need a way

not just a say

how about we start with a smile

It might take awhile

but why not?

if it was happiness we sought

then maybe the world would change

on a much wider range


A Trip to the Mailbox

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

The past week, I’ve complained several times that the walk to the mailbox is a total waste of time, except for getting steps on my Fitbit. It’s gotten to the point that we just get junk. Today made up for it, however, as I received the title to my car in the mail.

Buh ByeI looked at the envelope and marveled at how realistic sales mail had become. There was no way that envelope held the title to my car. I still owed at least $8,000 on it. In the hopes that a fairy godmother had paid off my car loan – it could happen, right? – I opened the envelope to find my title.

(Wait, what, my car is paid off?)

I was certain there had been a mistake. Before I got too excited, I picked up the phone to call Chase. The rep laughed at my disbelief. How could I have made the last payment without knowing it? The timing seemed right. I bought the car new, and it’s a 2010. I giggled with excitement as I told my sister, and as usual, she had the most profound insight.

“You know, it was about a year ago, Dr. Vox at the Shepherd Center told Mom and I to consider selling your car,” she said. “He didn’t expect you to be able to drive again and suggested that car payment money may be needed for medical bills.”

(Drop the mike.)

She’d told me that before, but it holds new meaning now. (I still wonder how my prognosis was so far off base.) This is definitely worthy of a celebration. For now, I’m anxiously awaiting the end of the month, the day that my “next car payment” is due. There are so many great things I can do with that extra money. Pay off a credit card, increase contributions to my retirement fund and savings accounts, finally get my scratched bumper fixed or even get that remote starter I wanted in December. A celebration indeed!

Your Struggle is Not Greater Than Your God

By: Chaunte McClure

Mothers Day

I always find it interesting when I’m invited to preach for a Mother’s Day worship service. I don’t have children, although I do have quite a few who are special to me. I accepted the invitation and when I was meditating and thinking about what my message will be on Sunday, Hannah, Elkanah’s wife, came to mind. She longed to be a mother, but was barren for many years. She prayed that God would change her situation and give her a son.

Mother’s Day is well celebrated to honor moms and maternal bonds. On Sunday, my Facebook timeline will be flooded with public statements of thanks to moms and photos of Mother’s Day gifts. Historically, that’s what typically happens; and we ought to honor mothers.

I kept thinking about the sons, daughters, moms or even husbands who are struggling. Struggling? Yes, the mom who is struggling with caring for a sick child. The child who is struggling because mom is deceased, ill, absent, unattached or unavailable. The mom who has lost a child or whose child has made poor choices. The husband whose wife, the mother of his children, is no longer here. What is the message for those parishioners with these struggles? Here’s what came to mind: The struggle is not greater than your God. It’s a message that is relevant even for the mom who doesn’t have any of the aforementioned issues because the demands of motherhood alone are sometimes a struggle.

Hannah’s story exemplifies hope in the struggle, strength in faith, and the power to overcome affliction. This Mother’s Day, it is my prayer that the principles and applications gleaned from Hannah’s story will offer hope and encouragement to anyone who might be facing difficulty. Read Hannah’s story in 1 Samuel and remember, your struggle is not greater than your God.

When Doves Cry…

By: Shannon Boatwright


Ok, so I know I’m one of millions upon millions writing about Prince’s death. BUT… I may be one of only a few in the Midlands, SC area actually blogging about it. Prince made a big impact on so many people, in so many different ways. One of the latest quotes I’ve heard since his passing, I heard on the radio during one of my all-too-early morning drives on the way to school. The radio DJ said that the amazing Eric Clapton was once asked, “How does it feel to be the best guitar player ever?” His response, “I don’t know, ask Prince.”

I’m not usually good at remembering quotes and such, but that one stuck with me. I always loved Prince. And I don’t mean I’m just one of the “normal” fans that “loved” Prince. He intrigued me early on. His music caught my attention in ways that other artists did not. He captivated me and ultimately inspired me in ways that to this day, I could not describe. It sounds silly because when I first heard his music, I was very young. When his Purple Rain album was released in 1984, I was only 9 years old! So I heard his music, I knew his voice, I recognized his vibe when I was so young.

And yet, I fast forward to my middle school, high school, college, and on into my professional adult years and his music has never aged. It’s always struck something in me that lit my heart and soul on fire.

I was just talking to my best friend, Tammy, the other day – we were literally mourning his death and recalling memories that flooded our minds when we thought of any of his music. We were both overwhelmed with a memory of being in the tenth grade at a fellow cheerleader’s house for a sleepover party. How cliché, right?! Well, this friend of ours was a big time dancer and her parents had turned the space above their garage into a dance studio, mirrored walls and all. This was REALLY cool and us girls went all out crazy, dancing in that space. We were 15 and 16 years old, genuinely drunk on life in our innocent youth, feeding off of the natural high that lives in the joy of music and dance. And ironically, Tammy and I both vividly remembered dancing to When Doves Cry. For real, we both vividly recalled dancing to Prince that night – each of us dancing as if no one was watching; in our own worlds, rocking out to Prince like nobody’s business! Prince would’ve been proud. Proud that his music allowed us to lose our inhibitions and just let loose. The music literally inspired us and carried us off into our own worlds as we grooved. I remember killing it on air guitar. I can still see us all in the mirrors, rocking out. I think it was then, thanks to Prince’s inspiration, that I began to conquer the art of playing air guitar. 😉

Prince was a huge part of the musical soundtrack of my college years, too – albums ranging from Purple Rain to Diamonds and Pearls to (most unfortunately not found on iTunes) The Gold Experience. When news hit that Prince had passed, special friends from my college days texted me song lyrics and song clips. That’s big time there. Even though we are deep into our professional lives, we couldn’t help but contact each other, even after all these years. Wow…Whew…Wow again….

During my ten years living in Los Angeles, CA, my best night EVER in the City of Angels was the night that I was in the same room with Prince. No lie. No exaggerations here.

One night, my employer gave me the choice to either work an event or to walk the red carpet as “The Girl with Something Xtra.” Well, I’m thankful I made the choice to walk the red carpet instead of getting a paycheck.

Ironically, a dear friend of mine had recently moved to L.A. and she and I cheered together in high school. Yep…she was in that home with the dance studio. She was at that high school sleepover night that my best friend and I remember so vividly, dancing to Prince’s music. She and her husband had just moved into town and I couldn’t think of a better person to invite out on a fabulous night out. I had no idea what to expect, but I thought she’d surely enjoy walking the red carpet on one of her first nights out in Los Angeles. Little did we know that the night would turn out to be so incredibly unforgettable.

I won’t go into all the juicy details… there were many reasons why that night was one of the best nights of my L.A. experience. But, I will say – and I have a dear friend to vouch for me – on that already oh-so-incredible night, when Prince walked through the door, with his cane and a gorgeous woman on either side of him, and the crowd parted as he crossed the small room and sat on his perch that overlooked the dance floor, celebrities literally at his feet, singing his praises…well, time stood still.

As I reflect, I can literally feel the room, smell the room, see the glow of Prince’s hair and his mac-daddy suit, the electricity that filled the air… no lie, the crowd parted…it was a small room… and he was right there…Prince…in all his glory. I think just watching and taking in everyone else’s reaction to him was as priceless as being in the same room with him. It’s quite mind blowing to think back to. My friend, Amy, and I were literally speechless.

After a multitude of “OMGs” and “This Can’t Be Happening” moments, the inevitable happened… Yep, eventually, the club played a Prince song. The crowd went wild, naturally. And in that moment, myself, my high school girlfriend, and a crowd of celebrities ranging from Taye Diggs to Michael Vartan to the cast of “That 70s Show”, all went nuts when we had the opportunity to dance to a Prince song while Prince was right there. All celebrity status went out the window…we all succumbed to the power that was Prince. I vividly remember dancing with Laura Prepon, from “That 70s Show.” She and I had never met, yet we happened to be near each other when Prince’s music played. We jumped up and down like schoolgirls as we looked up and across the room, dancing, holding hands, bouncing up and down, while Prince watched us all.

We all let go of inhibitions, forgot who was who and just gave in to the music. Bad thing is, I don’t even remember which played. In that moment, it really didn’t matter.

Whew, what an experience! Words really just cannot express! I have to admit…when I really think about that night it really was out of this world. If it weren’t for my precious high school girlfriend who was there too, I don’t think anyone would believe me.

Needless to say, hearing of Prince’s death rocked my world. It’s weird…Prince was like an untouchable god, yet at the same time he was a little bit of all of us. What I think most of us failed to realize until he left our world, is that his talent was beyond incredible. Repeatedly since his passing, I’ve been reminded not only of the mark he left on so many of us personally, but of his amazing talent. I could go on and on…

But I’ll hush for now. Go find your favorite Prince songs… listen, reflect, rejoice and just soak in the awesomeness of his many talents. And above all, as the doves cry, remember that we’re all gathered here to get through this thing called life.

So make the absolute best of it!