Chick-Fil-A’s got my back!

It doesn’t take much to get me excited. And this little find did it! I took Gabe to Chick-Fil-A for lunch today and was pleasantly surprised to find these little gems in place of those awful catsup packets. According to the box, one of these is equal to three catsup packets. All I know is that three catsup packets in my most wonderful swaggerwagon usually equals much time getting catsup out of clothes and van seats. You know how it is…once you finally get the doggone things open, you have to squirt them out onto something to hold the catsup. Well, the catsup in these new beauties is self-contained; hopefully minimizing the mess.

As much as we eat on the road on the way to ball games and inbetween activities, I’m all about minimizing the mess! I can’t wait to see how these perform during the Farrow family eat-on-the-run test.

Thank you, Chick-Fil-A! Thanks for looking out for us moms. That’s great customer service and another reason I’ll be back.

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Lasting Impressions from Indiana

Last year Cornerstone Church gave me the opportunity to visit Granger Community Church (GCC) in South Bend, Indiana, for a “Connections Strategies Coaching Network”. This was a series of four all-day seminars designed for pastors and church leaders to connect, discuss and brainstorm issues such as volunteers, assimilation ministries and many others. Our fearless leader was Mark Waltz, Pastor of Connections at GCC. His knowledge of what it takes to make the experience of a first-time church visitor a great one is quite extensive. So extensive, in fact, that he’s written two books about it, “First Impressions” and “Lasting Impressions”. And word on the street is that he has a third book in the works.

As part of these seminars, I got to not only indulge in the experience of Mark and GCC, but I got to connect with 13 other church leaders from all over the United States (we had some great travel adventures to share). I learned so much from these other leaders, as each church was unique – different denominations, church sizes, etc. But we all had the same concerns – how do you create a culture of volunteering, make a great first impression on first-time visitors, and how do you keep those visitors coming back? What an incredible way to tap into resources outside of Auburn, Alabama!

One of the guys in our group was Danny Franks, Connections Pastor and Campus Pastor at Summit Church in Raleigh, NC (Go Heels!). Even after our seminars together have ended, I still find myself laughing on almost a daily basis over the blog posts this guy writes in his Connective Tissue. But I also find myself nodding my head in agreement and saying, “What a great idea!” or “That is so cool!”  I would encourage anyone in any sort of customer service area, but especially church first impressions/connections, to follow Danny’s blog and Mark’s blog.

All this to say that I’ll probably refer to them at times. But at least you’ll know who/what I’m talking about. I’m really looking forward to putting all the valuable knowledge I’ve gained from both of them, along with the other leaders, into practice at Cornerstone Church.

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Yep, that’s me!

This is a photo that a co-worker, Scott Fillmer, took of me doing my new job. My job title has now expanded to include “Volunteer Coordinator” at Cornerstone Church. Recently my boss, Jack Fisher (aka. Admin Czar), published a Cornerstone leadership blog about my new job responsibilities, Meet Julia Farrow. It’s pretty scary how someone can pretty much sum up your life in a few paragraphs, but Jack did a good job of it.

I’m very excited about being a part of this great team on Sunday mornings! I know technically there are two teams working on Sundays – the staff  and the volunteers. However, when it comes to leading people to know and serve Jesus, there really is just one team of both combined. Recently a cousin of mine said she happened to be at a service station and overheard the following conversation:

  • An employee was explaining to a customer that the employees there worked as a team. He asked her if she had ever seen a football team standing around a fumbled football pointing at it and waiting for someone to pick it up. They pick up each other’s slack there.

And that’s how it should be! I’m looking forward to leading our volunteers to be the best team players we can be, so those who walk through the doors of Cornerstone Church on Sunday mornings have the best experience possible. As a friend of mine used to say, see you at the house come Sunday!

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God granted us a safe and pleasant journey!

“God grant us a safe and pleasant journey.” When I was growing up, every time our family loaded up the station wagon and headed out of town, my mother always led us in this prayer. I now know, however, that what she was silently praying was, “Please Lord help me not to strangle any of my kids as I sit in this blasted car for all these hours with them!” My parents truly are my heros for putting up with these family trips for hour on end with no cell phones, GPS devices, DVD/CD players, Redbox Movie rental kiosks, McDonald’s Playplaces, Ipods or Nintendo DS’s; nothing but the sound of 4 screaming kids and the AM/FM radio.

Thankfully, times have changed. But the family road trip has not! With a family of six, flying is financially impossible. So to get to Minnesota for the Thanksgiving Holiday this year, we loaded up the sticky, stinky minivan with the attractive Sears top carrier and headed out on the road again. And when it was all said and done, this was one of the best Thanksgivings I can remember with my family!

It all began with a soccer tournament detour in South Carolina – not exactly on the way, but certainly not too out-of-the-way. That 4 1/2 hour trip took almost 7 hours and included one episode of taking two of the kids out of the car for a “you guys get along or we’re leaving you here at this gas station” talk. So I was sure “this was going to be a great trip”! After a fun weekend of soccer, we loaded back up the swaggerwagon and headed northwest toward Iowa to my sister’s home. I always dread driving anywhere near the mountains, but I must say that the North Carolina mountains on that morning really looked breath-taking.

All-in-all, after 12 hours in the van, things went pretty well. Until…the battery died. Luckily we were already parked at our hotel for the night in Champaign, Illinois. Instead of waiting until the next morning when Wal-Mart opened to remedy the situation, my husband decided to take matters into his own hands. I came to find out later that he had left the hotel around 3:30 am, walked 2 miles to the closest Wal-Mart, purchased a battery and some tools, and carried it all back. He then proceeded to change the battery by himself and get the swaggerwagon back in working condition. Crazy? Yes! Dangerous? Probably so! But I love him anyway! We were back on the road the next morning just 1/2 hour behind schedule.

After spending a fun night in Ames, Iowa (home of Iowa State University and former home of most wonderful AU football coach Gene Chizik), where we proudly drove our Auburn van through the streets of the ISU campus (wonder if anyone was jealous?), we then headed to Minnesota to see the rest of the family. All of my siblings and their families were there. Great-Grandma was there. We just hung out, relaxed, ate and visited. Even better, my father and (mostly) my mother did the cooking. That’s what Thanksgiving should be. So after a few days of family fun, visit to an indoor waterpark, shopping at the Mall of America, playing in the snow and watching Auburn beat Alabama in the Iron Bowl, we began our journey back to the warm South (did I mention it never got above 23 degrees while we were there?). After deciding we wanted a day at home to unpack before jumping back into the everyday activities, we ended up driving 21 hours and 15 minutes straight to get home. By the way, if you were wondering, there just isn’t much to see down the entire length of the state of Illinois.

So this Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season, I have a few things I am truly thankful for:

  • Walmart
  • Technology
  • Rest Areas
  • My wonderful husband
  • My kids
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Freedom to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior
  • and last but certainly not least, the God who granted us a safe and pleasant journey!
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Marrying into Auburn Football

When I was a student at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, I hated Duke. I REALLY hated Duke. Even when I started dating this really cute guy (who is now my husband), Ben, from Duke, I still REALLY hated Duke. Although I will admit that being able to hassle my hubby did make it more fun. I do now on a rare occasion find myself cheering for Duke (very rare). I married into a mixed Duke/Carolina marriage and love it!

But the big thing I didn’t realize I was marrying into was the Auburn/Alabama rivalry. Growing up in Minnesota, I had never heard of Auburn University or the University of Alabama until my first roommate in college, who was from Alabama near Auburn, educated me. Then when I met Ben, I really got educated in the fine art of the most intense rivalry in the south. And now my own children are being educated.

Now that I actually live in Auburn, this rivalry takes on a whole new meaning. Each year I realize more just how intense this rivalry is and what a huge part it plays in the every day life of a fan. With the end of the AU/GA game on Saturday night came a mix of emotions – elation that we had won, anxiety about the upcoming Iron Bowl, more anxiety about the SEC Championship and great sadness at the thought that the campers, fans and football fun are finished in Auburn for another year. The whole Cam Newton issue also has put an interesting spin on the season.

Recently I was discussing this rivalry yet again with Ben. He put it into perspective for me. He said something to the effect of, “I grew up with this, and I’m just used to it. It’s just the way it is and always will be. You just need to deal with it.” So I guess it’s time for me to put on my thick skin and realize that this is just the way it is and the way it always will be. Some people are just too serious about the whole thing. I’m not going to be one of those people. I’m going to have fun watching the Iron Bowl with my family knowing that it doesn’t matter who is #1 or #50 in the nation. This game can always go either way (kinda like Carolina/Duke).

In the meantime, WAR EAGLE!

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This is my attempt at joining the world of bloggers. Check back for more later.

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