About Me

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My passion is helping others defend themselves and their families. I am an NRA Certified pistol instructor, a NRA Chief Range Safety Officer, leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - North Cincinnati, and the state leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - Ohio. I also have a heart for the Lakota people and lead mission teams to the Pine Ridge Reservation each year, am founder and director of Backpacks For Pine Ridge,, and do various volunteer work in my own community. My greatest joy is being a grandma and hanging out with my husband of 30+ years.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What a Summer

I've not blogged for a while because I've been taking some time off to recover from the summer activities. I meant to get a slideshow together from Rezonate but still haven't gotten around to it. So I guess you'll have to settle for pics. The totals are in ... we made $1750.00 that goes straight to Backpacks for Pine Ridge and our operating expenses were well into the black as well. Not bad for a first year event. We will be taking 500 backpacks to the Rez next year.

And, there is more exciting news on the horizion. I can't share yet, but some really cool things are in the works. Let's just say that some of our team members (far and near) ROCK! :)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Day of Fun For a Good Cause

Just a few pics. I'm working on a slideshow which is why I've not posted pics from Rezonate yet. (Tim, I need your pics) But in the meantime, here are some pics that our friends 8 Lives Spent took. They invited me and Brian up on stage with them to sing backup to Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World". Well, I wasn't going up there alone so we had the whole Pine Ridge crew up with us. Check Brian's blog for another pic and a post about Rezonate '08.

Joe playing the bass guitar that he designed and donated to Backpacks for Pine Ridge.

We raffled it off after he played it. I really wanted that guitar but the right person won it.

"Now what do you think you're going to do with that??"

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Rockin' in the Free World

I'm wiped out. It was a LONG day yesterday but a good one. Only one word adequately describes yesterday - BLESSED. I now know what it means when the bible says that "he will pour you out a blessing that you won't have room enough to contain". I can't yet soak it all in. There was too much good that happened.

Attendance was not all we had hoped for but not to shabby for a first year event. A lady that does an event that draws 17,000 people stopped by, told us we were doing an excellent job and that her event was much the same. She told us that it takes 3 years for people to recognize the event and for word to get out about it. The bands, the radio personalities, and the events director for the city all told us it was a very nicely done event and that we did a professional job. Not too bad for a bunch of people who had no idea what we were doing.

Even though the event was a fundraiser it has never been only about money or numbers. It was about the body of Christ being a light in the community and I have to say - it was that. God was glorified and in a way that was not manufactured by a church program - it happened spontaneously and it was a beautiful thing. Much of what happened I cannot talk about because I don't want to intrude on people's privacy, but it was GOOD. Very good.

OH and it was FUN too. 8 Lives Spent called me and Brian up on stage to sing backup on Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World". I didn't want to go alone so I called our Pine Ridge team up with me. It was a riot. Never in my life would I have guessed I'd see Brian rocking out on stage with a rock band. What a dork. Oh well, we were all dorks which was what made it fun.

I'll put together some pics and post them soon.

As for Rezonate '09 ..... It's gonna happen! All of the big acts said they'd be back next year if we did it again as did the dj and most of the vendors. So it looks like we'll keep on rockin in the free world.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

News Article About Rezonate '08

A couple of newspapers (The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Fairfield Echo, and the Pulse-Journal) covered Rezonate '08 today. Click here to see one of the stories. Blessid Union is not performing but their frontman, Eliot Sloan is.

And here is a pic of the banners that are up along Tylersville Rd at the VOA entrance. There are two of them, one on either side of the entrance. Click for a larger view.

2 Days and Counting

Well, well, well. Its almost here. Things are coming together very, very well. Way beyond my wildest expectaion. A year ago I would not have dreamed this would be this big ... or nice. This is not going to be a shabby deal. Nothing like the "4 guys on the back of a truck" that my friend was afraid it might be.

It amazes me. It really utterly amazes me, that I can come up with a whacked out idea and people will give their time, energy and money to see it happen. Weird. But happening it is.

Today I spent the day visiting sponsors and food vendors, thanking them and giving them passes to the event. Tomorrow morning the stage goes up. Did I mention that someone who wants to be anonymous rented a professional stage for us. This is a pic of it. Pretty impressive, eh? And it took no small change to get it but this person offered to do it out of their own pocket.

Tomorrow night all the booths will be in place. And then Saturday morning .... it begins.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The "Official" Video (longer version that was shown @ church)


Don't Stop Dancing - Creed
Love is Here - 10th Ave. North

Monday, August 11, 2008

I Just Don't Even Know What To Say About This

OK, so the pic has nothing really do to with this post. It was just a pic that I needed to post because I like it. :)

I'm not sure how a day can be so good as far as ministry and so bad personally, but today was both good and bad.

Today was another one of those days where I've just been blown away. There is so much giving going on that I don't even know what to say about it. I'm sick. Really sick. And its NOT a good time for me to be sick with so much work for Rezonate this week. I did go to church last night because our crew had the service and were sharing about the trip to Pine Ridge, but as soon as I got home my fever spiked at 103 and I went to bed with chills and felt about as bad as I ever have.

This week I am forced to stay at home and do what I can via email and phone calls while my team carries the ball. I don't like that. It bugs me to no end to be grounded while other people are doing "my" work. It makes me feel guilty. I know this is not about "me" at all. This is about taking the love of God in a really tangible way to the kids at Pine Ridge. I know that is why these good folks are giving so much of their time and money to this, but it still feels like I should be doing the bulk of the work, and I am not. Its very frustrating. I'm sure God has some big profound lesson for me in this, but I don't like it. Not one bit. Add to that all my own "issues" are giving me fits. I know my old therapist used to tell me that fat wasn't a feeling but I'm here to tell you that I feel fat. And ugly. And looking at all the pics of me on the trip doesn't help. They just serve as a reminder of how fat and ugly I really am. Oh well... it's not about me, right. That's what I tell myself anyway. Not sure if that's just a way to avoid some bigger deeper issue that I should be addressing but heck, I'm too tired and sick to figure that one out.

Then there are the people who are giving in big ways. I don't even know what to say about that either. At church a lady handed me an envelope with my name on it and "Rezonate" written on it. I had no idea what it was and didn't open it until I was in the car and on the way home. When I did I found two $100 bills. This was from a single mom who, I imagine, had a tough time making ends meet. Wow. I was floored.

And until today the stage for Rezonate was two flatbed trucks put together. Not bad. In fact, it was probably what was expected. But today there is word of an anonymous donation of a couple thousand dollars to rent us a professional stage. The donor doesn't want to be named. He wasn't asked to do this.

*sigh* Yeah, I just don't even know what to say.

"No Safe Place"

People sometimes wonder why we don't focus more on work projects when we go to the Rez. Although we do various work projects and we do manage to get quiet a bit of that kind of work done, the work projects always take second place to the kids. Our trips are really all about the kids.

Here is why....

This year an eight year old little boy made the comment to one of our crew that "No body loves me... nobody.... and there is no place in this whole world that is safe". That's a tough thing for an eight year old to come to believe.

So if we can give the kids a safe place to play and be a kid ... a place where they can know that they are loved by us .... and if we can let them know that God loves them more than life itself, then the way I see it, that's about the most important thing we can do.

Work projects come and go and there will alwasy be work to do there, but the kids are only young for a short time. Our chance to touch their lives is very limited, so they always take priority.

BTW, I love these pics of our crew with the kids. You can really see the love, can't you.

Overheard on the Rez

Just some things the kids said that I happened to hear or hear about....

(We always rent a Ryder truck to haul our supplies and the backpacks are also in it. We give out the backpacks from the back of the Ryder so the kids have come to associate it with backpacks.)

Kid: "I can read so I know what that truck says."

Staff: "You do??"

Kid: "Yeah, it says Backpacks."


Staff: "Be sure to come back on Friday because we have a surprise for you."

Kid: "Ya know, the backpacks really aren't that big of a surprise when the truck is sitting right there."


One little girl who never talks when she is there was not able to be there on Friday when backpacks were being given out because she had to go somewhere with her mother. Her mother called to see if we could put one back for her. In the background this normally quiet little girl was heard screaming at the top of her lungs, "I AM NOT GOING WITH YOU... .IT'S BACKPACK DAY!!!"


After a lesson about God's overflowing love a little boy who was there for the first time approached one of our crew and asked, "Will you pray with me and tell me more about how much God loves me?"

That was completely random while they were playing on the playground.

Friday, August 08, 2008


Not good. I think I'm getting sick. OK, so I know I'm getting sick ... I was just trying to convince myself that maybe I wasn't. I'm feeling worse today so I think this thing might stick around. I CAN'T be sick now. I've got too much to do. Sunday I have to teach SS and then I have meetings from 3pm - 6pm for Rezonate. Then our mission team has the evening service. Next week - its REZonate '08. So I CAN'T be sick. In two weeks I can be sick, but not NOW!

Please pray for me to get over this. Soon. Really soon. Really, really, soon.

Volunteers Needed!!

A note from Jessica, the Volunteer Coridnator for Rezonate '08

If I have already contacted you to set up your time to work and your duties at the concert, then disregard this email.I made a round of phone calls to all of you last night. Some of you were at church when I called.

I need to hear from you NO LATER than Saturday night if you have NOT signed up for a time to work at REZonate '08.

Here are the times available:

  • Fri. 6pm-10pm - Setting up tents, tables, chairs and possibly the stage. NEED MANY MORE FOR THIS!

  • Sat. 7am-10am - Helpers to set up sound equipment and do last minute jobs like putting water in coolers with ice... etc.

  • Sat. 10am-2pm; 2pm-6pm and 6pm-10pm - 4 hour shifts - Parking lot attendants, booth workers, Trash/Clean-up Crew, Volunteer attendants (to help pass out water/food etc.), band security and band assistance and more... Please CALL me to sign up for one of these jobs as some are filled up.

  • Sat. night 10pm - ??? WE NEED MANY MORE who are willing to stick around after the concert to help us take all the equipment down and get it back to where it goes. People with pick-up trucks, we need you.

  • Sun. 1pm - we may need people with pick-up trucks to take tables, chairs and tents back where they belong depending on the hour in which we get it loaded up on Sat. night. If its super late, we may store it at VOA and take it back on Sun. ???

PLEASE, Please call me or email me to let me know when you can work!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Worst Day on the Rez

Tuesday was quite possibly the worst day we have ever had on a trip to the Rez. Let me explain what a typical day is like there first, then I'll talk about what went wrong.

We begin with Devos and Breakfast at 7AM. Right after breakfast is over we begin work projects. At some point in the morning, usually around 10:30, we do a Kool Aid run through the village, giving out cookies and Kool Aid to the children and reminding them that we'll be back to pick them up for VBS a little later. At 11:30 we begin the pick up. It takes 3 vans to do it - one for the "country" or "outskirts" and 2 for the village. As each van full of kids arrive back at the mission, they go through the lunch line and then take a seat and eat lunch with the help of whatever crew members are available. Once they finish, they can go out on the playground and play until each van full of children are finished with lunch. It is not uncommon for a van to make 2 trips through the village picking up kids so they eat in shifts and it can sometimes take an hour or more to get finished with lunch. Then we round them up, and yes, it is like rounding up cattle - most of the ignore any attempt to get them together so they can go to their groups.

Once in their groups they do whatever their "teacher" has planned for them. It may be music, or crafts, or a bible lesson, or all three. Sometimes it is simply shooting hoops and trying to connect on some level.

After their groups are finished, they play. We do sack races, a toilet seat toss, play with a parachute, swing, or just hang out with the kids. I firmly believe that our greatest ministry happens on the playground. That is where the hugs happen. That is where we bandage skinned knees and kiss hurts away. That is where the kids are not just "students" but friends who feel loved and cared for by the crew. In a word, the playground is where the connection and relationship happens.

Tuesday we didn't get to have that time. Normally we keep the kids until 3PM or so. Last Tuesday was such a disaster that we sent them home at 1:30. It broke my heart to do it, but it needed to be done. Things were out of control.

It began when one little boy decided to jump out of the van before it stopped moving. I don't think he did it because he was glad to see us. I think he was just trying to be cool. I'm not even sure what all happened that day, but I do know that within the hour that the kids were there we had rocks thrown at people, at least 3 small children around the age of 4 years old decided to take off and walk back to the village before we chased them down, a door in a bathroom torn off it's hinges, a screen in a window torn out and while a crew member was telling that boy to stop, the boy tore a sliding door frame off its track and hung it over the crew members head. That was the last straw.

We rounded everyone onto the basketball court and I told them that we had a problem ... that people and property were being harmed and that we couldn't have that. They would have to go home and come back tomorrow and try again. I tried to assure them that we wanted them there ... that we really didn't want to send them home so early but that the mission needed to be a safe place for everyone and they couldn't be there if it wasn't safe - and that day was anything but safe. We then lined them up and loaded them into vans and sent them home. After scolding them I made sure to love on them before they left. We loaded them up with bags of chicken "drummies" to take home and hugged on them as they waited for the vans to pick them up.
The picture is of "Hammer" an adorable 4 year old that stole all of our hearts. In the picture he is waiting to go home that Tuesday while he is eating a bag of chicken nuggets we sent home with him.
After all the kids were returned home we had a crew meeting in the dining hall to try to figure out what had happened and if we could do anything different to prevent it from happening again. I apologized to the crew for cheating them out of a day with the kids. The kids are the reason we go there and we only get 5 days with them and we had lost one of those and I felt bad. It broke my heart to send them home and the crew will tell you that I cried like a baby in that meeting.
After making a run for supplies later that day I returned to find out that the tribal police had been there questioning us about what had happened. That turned out to be not a big deal - there had been a fight between two teenage girls and one of them was injured. The fight did not take place at the mission so it did not involved us at all.
Although that day seemed an awful lot like a failure, I think it was anything but. Tuesday evening when we had our devos and team sharing/debriefing time, I tried to share some encouragement with the team. Bad days happen. Ministry is not always fun, glorious, or rewarding. In fact, a good deal of ministry is just plugging along through the bad days with the hope that a good day will come. And I believe the kids needed that day too. I believe they needed to know that even though we loved them that there were boundaries that could not be crossed. In the end, Tuesday may have been the best day because the kids tested us and found out that we loved them enough to be firm with them. Firm enough to let them feel safe.
On Wednesday I went on the pick up and as the kids boarded the van I reminded them that if things got out of hand they would be sent home. Things did not get out of hand on Wednesday, or the rest of the week. They were great. Oh there were the normal little scuffles between kids and the normal jealousy and picking, but that's par for the course when you have 100+ kids around.
Next year it will be all to do over. We'll have more bad days. But those bad days in no way mean we're failing ... they just may mean that things are going exactly as they should be.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Coming Home is Hard Sometimes

Although I'm happy to see my family and friends again emotionally and mentally I'm still on the Reservation and wish I could be physically there as well. Its difficult when you pour yourself into other people for a time and then have to tear yourself away. When Bree held onto me and sobbed and would not let me go, it just about did me in. I hate being so far from her. Even though I know I'll see her next year, a year to a 7 year old can be a long, long time. Its just hard to make the transition back home. I don't think I'm the only one feeling that way.

But life goes on and I've got plenty to do with Rezonate coming up in a week and a half. Lots to do and I don't really feel like doing any of it. And there's the daily stuff to deal with ... like today my monitor died ... right when I have a ton of work to do. And I think I'm getting sick too. Not good timing. In two weeks I can get sick, but not before.

I may write more about this later. Right now I'm tired and I think a good night's sleep is in order.

A Few Favorite Pics from Our Trip