Saturday, December 27, 2008


Surprises this past week:

1. Driving to Alabama for a day, Tuesday, to surprise family. So good to have dinner with Uncle Vernon and Bekah!

2. Jason's face. Winter has ended. . .notice his perfect, clean skin! He surprised me one morning before Christmas by shaving!

3. A beautiful but dead bird in front of our building. Neither cause of death nor species known. Hawk, falcon?

4. An extra day at the cabin. For Christmas presents to and from our family we rented a cabin and got to come a day early for cheap! Saturday through Tuesday!
Tomorrow: shopping and the Dixie Stampede. Woo hoo!

*See December 5th post

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Alphabets, Blankets, Gilberts and Joy

After being challenged to make this a season of giving a few weeks ago, some interesting magazines arrived in the mail. Magazines with opportunities to give: Advancing Native Missions (ANM), Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) and World Vision. Looking through them we were able to find gifts that give encouragment and Hope. Click here to see some of the interesting opportunities we found through ANM like goats and rice and here for opportunites through VOM like action packs and blankets to persecuted Sudanese Christians.

To finish out our week Jason tackled a motorcycle project of re-wiring brake lights while I baked and organized an Alphabet party to wrap up a semester-long alphabet study!

Friday was early to bed for the long anticipated event that was happening Saturday at 10:56 am. Travis, Amanda and Baby Norah Gilbert were arriving back after two years of living and working overseas. Norah, only 20 days old, made the trip to see family for the first time!

It was a reunion that gave a beautiful picture to the word joy and started off our Christmas week reflecting on the joy of babies. Today, Sunday, with these realities of babies and joy lingering in our heads we are reminded of the baby who has brought us deep, lasting joy: God's free gift for all people, Jesus.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Rest for the Weary

I heard the slogan countless times growing up, "There's no rest for the weary." But after wrapping up a busy, stressful semester, the weary needed rest so they made it happen! After the final week of school and a Residence Life Christmas party, we took our friend, Jason's boss Phil, to a remote cabin where we fished and relaxed. Thanks to the Grimes family, the weary began a season of rest!

Friday, December 5, 2008

All Winter

Call him mountain man or scruffy, but No Shave November for Jason is turning into a facial hair frenzy. Last night he brought up the question: Would you mind if I don't shave until the end of winter? I nervously inquired as to the end of winter. It's March according to Jason. Yikes!!

We'll keep you posted on the great debate. Threats have already been made that the mustache might magically disappear during the night!!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Stu-Be Christmas

Last week we set the date: Monday, December 1 at 4:40 p.m. It was the time all Stu-Be resident assistants were supposed to be ready for a mission. Our mission? Find the perfect Christmas tree for our lobby.

After our five minute drive we stepped out into 30 degree weather with one saw, ten people and two cameras.
After a quick picture of the group, someone decided he found the tree of choice and wouldn't take no for an answer...well, really he just took the challenge to climb a tree.

The second tree we stood by had a crooked top and still didn't meet the height criteria so we walked on. Finally, as our fingers were going numb we spotted "the one."
After taking turns sawing we took it for shaking then wrapping and finally loading. Hot chili was a great break from the cold as we thawed out. Then a little sharing of hot chocolate (sharing in the eyes for sorry) and decorating. All this to make a very inviting lobby and excited students. Jason was right, there really is something about a live tree!!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Harrell Thanksgiving

It was so good to spend our Thanksgiving in Georgia where Kelley grew up. We had lots of food and laughter. An especially funny moment was Kelley's first turkey cooking lesson. I think we officially decided turkey is no longer the bird of choice for us on Thanksgiving. Watch the video below to see why.

After the turkey was rinsed and prepared, it finally made it back out to the kitchen for cooking. Then everyone pitched in for a table filled with lots of amazing delicacies.

In between cooking and setting the table, we spoke to Jason's Grandmother Putney who spend her Thanksgiving having an unexpected surgery. We are grateful she is feeling better now though doctors are still evaluating her progress.

On the other side of the globe our friend Amanda spent Thanksgiving in and out of the hospital waiting for the baby. We're expecting any time now to hear baby Norah has arrived!

After talking, shopping and eating with Mom and Dad Harrell we drove back to SC to be ready for students who return tomorrow. What a great Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Our Top Ten

Rich Stearns wrote something in a recent World Vision magazine that gripped us and won't let go.
The mixture of conviction over the facts and thankfulness for our blessings is strong. Realizing we have been presented with the harsh realities around the world, we know we are called to action. So in the days and weeks to come we are prayerfully considering our part and exactly what sacrificial giving looks like. It's also a reminder of what we've been given, not to hoard, but to share.

In no particular order, we are so grateful for:

1. Each other

2. God-given jobs

3. Healthy, loving families: The Harrells & Tegens

4. Time in the States

5. Food!

6. A home with heat and electricity

7. Our health

8. Freedom

9. A relationship with the Creator through Christ

10. Rich friendships

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

When Girls Get Together

While Jason was skiing his way down the mountains with Steven, I, Kelley, began organizing scrubs, make-up, tables and lighting for a late night girls' party. We had lotions, scrubs, mineral masks, makeup, nail polish, camera, lights, fans, fifty girls and an absolute blast! Here's the sneak peek at what girls do with four hours and a chance to be pampered:

Monday, November 24, 2008

Nine Degrees...

It was a spur-of-the-moment decision to drive to Sugar Mountain with Steven Groves this Friday. A blizzard of snow was falling on the mountain and the temperature reading a mere 9 degrees. Any bare skin froze. And a frequent skier (Jason) watching a novice (Steven) made for an entertaining day. Although not so entertaining for Steven...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The World Next Door

In Walmart the other day two dark-haired, dark-eyed little boys bantered back and forth in another language. I noted how cute they were but said nothing. We were in Produce. Down the Frozen Pizza isle I stopped resisting and asked. I had to know the language and where they were from. The mom hesitantly said Arabic then Jerusalem.

After picking out my groceries, I left to prepare a meal for a Central Asian family who would be joining us for dinner. That night we compared notes from the city they call home where we once lived for a year.

Then following night we attended a Thanksgiving party to welcome a SWU student's parents to America for their first visit. Chen Chen, from China, enjoyed having friends come to meet her Mom and Dad.

All these people from around the world within a 10 mile radius of our little apartment in Central, SC!

Friday, November 21, 2008


So there's this catchy kids song. *Confession- I like it!* But when I sang it to the three-year-old I nanny I realized...this song might be traumatizing!

Give it a listen and see what you think, but be warned before you listen: It's catchy, you just might like it too!

Click here, select the song Bears and enjoy!

Man Love

Isn't it interesting how men bond? Take, for example, Jason and the male RAs. A chat over coffee doesn't suffice. Instead it has to be something wrestling.

Monday night Jason had just gone to the bedroom when an RA poked his head in the door looking for him. When I said he was just going to sleep...he asked if he and a fellow RA could launch a full-scale attack. While the troops rallied I warned Jason, "All I'm saying is be ready."

He was waiting behind the door, and I believe took two guys down. At least he bragged that was the case. Scratches and blood didn't deter them either. Imagine a girl getting into a brawl that brought blood. That would mean war! But not for these guys, they laughed and have been jokingly threatening another attack since.

Men, such strange creatures!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A New Kind of Friend

It's been almost seven months from our first real post. Some remember our sad farewell to Jason's parents' cat Marley. Finally last week his mom said she was ready for another. That was all it took! We hopped in the car heading straight to the animal shelter to find the perfect new kitten for the Tegen family.
And here he is...

The only trouble has been in finding a name. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Movies to See Pt. 1

Call us behind, but we just saw The Kite Runner. Many of the scenes and a lot of the language reminded us of our time overseas. It's a gripping story that we won't soon forget. We highly recommend it for expanding your world and heart for it!

Cautious about movies? Us too! Check out the review at Focus on the Family's Plugged In. One scene is described as graphic. We didn't find it graphic just heartbreaking.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Conference Time

Whew! The conference is over and went well! Jason headed five chapel meetings, and we spoke for the last one. What a great time meeting Todd Ahrend, a mobilizer, and five representatives that met to talk with students about opportunities overseas! The best part...over 100 students responded that they want to get involved in the world!!

Here are a few pics from all the events!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Quarter of a Century

Today Jason turned 25! The celebrations actually started Friday though. In order to surprise him and enjoy some R&R, Jason was told to pack his bag and be ready to leave Friday after work. And where were we heading? Atlanta, GA! Our first stop was at the Perimeter mall where we picked up some excellent Israeli food and then to our hotel! You can see a picture of our room here.

After lots of rest and some TV from the big screen, we traveled over to Stone Mountain. I had never been but thought hiking, a ropes course and some exploring would be fun! We loved it! After looking through the shops we headed for home with a stop by Bass Pro Shops.

For supper we met with Jason's family for a meal, cake, and presents. After celebrating there we returned home for a late night party of cookie bars and ice cream with the students from our building.

A wonderful day for a wonderful friend, leader, husband, and companion!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

L, M, N, O, P

We realize we've left out some details from the last few weeks and thought we'd bring you up-to-date on the latest with us!

L for Leo the Lion. A huge thanks to David and Katie for making "Pin the Tail on the Lion" a success!

M for Monday and the meeting we attended to encourage Clemson students to study abroad in the country where we lived for a year!

N for the new design we prepared for a conference we have been planning. We are responsible for five meetings of the conference and for housing people coming in for it. So here's the background design we came up with...and all was edited in Word!

O for the outrageous pictures we got of Jason and Eric (an RA) fire jumping at the RA bonfire.

P for party. How often do you get three celebrations for one birthday? That's just what Jason got today for his birthday. Pictures and more coming soon!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


It's about small steps I've decided. For years we've enjoyed sponsoring a little Zambian girl who we call Euphie. It's been amazing to watch her swollen tummy shrink and her height and health increase! Each year's picture and reports show us a stronger little girl who is doing well...well...except in Science...we feel your pain little Euphie ;)!

Recently I have been overwhelmed with the amount of need in the world. I directed my out-loud thinking to God. How can I make any impact? Not long after I received the email to volunteer for World Vision at a local concert...and took the small step to do something.

It was a great night of music and people and twenty three kids were sponsored! One of my favorite stories was of a brother and sister who were part Filipino. They came with their mother to each chose a kid their age from the Philippines to learn more about their heritage and reach out at the same time. What a cool gift for a child!

You can catch the vision too! Sponsor a child through World Vision by clicking here.

(Note the time stamp. Just a glimpse of what coffee ice cream does to a body! Man...6:45 is going to come real early!)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Enjoying Fall!

It's always a relief when the hot summer weather gives way to cool Autumn temps and beautiful leaves fall from the trees. Jason decided to enjoy the season with a camping trip to the mountains with his brothers. Although it turned out to be rainy and foggy, the guys made the most of the trip cooking steaks on the grill, hiking to a waterfall and bringing back gorgeous leaves for our coffee table!

After he got back and got a nice run in, we headed to Greenville for their crowded Fall for Greenville celebration. Local restaurants offer their delicacies for reasonable prices and a tasting frenzy ensues. We enjoyed marinated chicken, chicken curry, hummus and pita and fancy Italian ice cream called Gelato!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

New AP!

We were excited to discover that Andrew Peterson, one of our favorite songwriters, is about to release a new album! The album Resurrection Letters, Vol. II is coming out at the end of the month.

If you've never heard any of his music or would like a sampling of the new album, click here or visit his website and order here. Hurry, if you order soon you can get two for $15!

Of the album, Andrew said: When we were in the middle of the record, we realized the songs seemed to find their unity in the idea that they touched on the effects of Christ’s resurrection on our own lives...songs about what happened in the wake of that day (when) life was touched by a freedom and grace that those in the Old Testament only dreamed of. See, the Resurrection—that moment when Jesus drew a breath in the dark of the tomb and his flesh and blood and bones reanimated—real flesh and bones, mind you—that moment changed the universe. It was the climax of the long crescendo that marked the change of the song from minor to major. Or from simple to complex. Or from darkness to a spray of refracted light.

Our lives are still difficult, of course. The world still needs fixing. But the Fall, the great brokenness of the world, began to work backwards after that moment on Easter Sunday. God gave us his Holy Spirit so that we could partake in the long work of pushing back the effects of the Fall. God said to Death, you may come this far and no further. And the flood waters began their recession.

Makes us wanna listen!

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Because this week is Fall break for the SWU crew, we decided to head to Georgia for some much-needed rest and relaxation. The slower pace is always a welcomed bonus when going down to see family and friends. We got lots of time with Mom and Dad Harrell, Aunt Kas and others. Sleeping in most days we had an incredible time with the worst part being that we had to leave. Our alarm went off at 5:45 a.m. this morning. So began our trip back today for work this afternoon!

-The chorus running through our minds as we upload pics and write-

Georgia family, we miss you already!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sunday Sunrise

Sunday morning a few girls set out at 6 o'clock to see the sunrise. It's amazing that such a beautiful sight was free for the taking and that such beauty happens every morning and evening without me ever thinking about it. We stayed to sing, pray, and marvel as the sun visibly moved from mountain peaks into the clouds! When we got back, Jason had muffins and yogurt waiting! Amazing! (Both the man & the morning!)

Special thanks to Ms. Coleman for letting us use her ridge above Lake Jocassee.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Training in Truth

The day finally arrived! In early August I, Kelley, got excited about a curriculum on truth from Focus on the Family. I brainstormed how to incorporate it into our Bible study or how I could lead a small group, but Jason didn't share my passion. "Just wait and we'll do something like that later" he would say. Then one Thursday he told me he sensed God clearly say I was to lead a group. God had given me the passion and my husband had affirmed His leading. I registered that day. Saturday the training finally happened and left me more excited than I ever was before. Twelve people are the maximum and right now we have eleven signed on. This Thursday afternoon will be the first meeting! Catch the passion for Truth! Only about 9% of Christians have truly Biblical worldviews...are you in that nine? Click on The Truth Project to watch trailers, find a small group near you or register for the next training! Any questions? Email or leave a comment, we'd love to answer!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


We've done a lot of eating lately. Tuesday night we had six freshman girls over for supper. The girls have started a prayer group and invited Kelley to join in so we took an opportunity to get to know them better over a meal. The menu: chicken broccoli alfredo pasta, Caesar salad, Italian bread and chocolate fondue for dessert!!

Wednesday night we traveled a few thousand miles away just by driving to Clemson. We, Sam Stack actually, recently discovered a family living in Clemson who are from the Asian country we lived in for a year! They had not met any students or individuals familiar with their country until they met us! As we drank tea and ate rice, we couldn't help but feel back across the ocean in our former home. And the highlight of the evening- singing happy birthday complete with blowing out the candles for the couple's daughter when it wasn't even her birthday! Sweet Havva!

A Day In the Life

Yesterday was a busy but typical day that went something like this:

7:15- Up and ready
7:30- Breakfast with Jason
7:45- On the road to the kiddos
8:00-10:30- Getting up and going
10:30-1:00- Martha Marie and kids come play / neighbor joins for a picnic (6 kids!)
1:00- Clean-up (Chocolate cupcakes for lunch!)
1:30- We all fall down (Nap time)
3:00- Music, Play, Fun
5:00- Home and Reading
5:30-7:00- Supper and Meeting with girls
7:00-7:30- Rest
7:30-8:15- Three mile walk
8:30-9:45- Jason's guitar lesson w/ Martha Marie
10:30-11:30- Meeting with girls
11:45-12:15- Trip to McD's with RA
12:30- Sleep

And that was only Monday...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Far, Far Away

This weekend we escaped from campus to the mountains with our RAs. We hiked up to see some incredible views and got some great shots. The only rules were no textbooks and no cell phones on the mountain. How simple and sweet!

After the hike we were starving and finally satisfied our hunger with BBQ, fries, coleslaw and hand-dipped ice cream!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Our Fleet

Our family of vehicles grew immensely the last few weeks, and now we've set a record: three motorcycles for sale at once. It's just hard to pass up good deals so the philosophy lately has been to seize every opportunity. And it's just what Jason's done, seizing three opportunities which have him in negotiations constantly. Interested in a bike? Leave a comment now, they're going fast!

Mama Mia!

It was only ten days. That's such a short time but such a long time when it comes to food. Just recently we took the challenge to detox our bodies and address unhealthy attachments to food. So after ten days of no sugars, meats, or dairy, what did we crave? Yogurt for Kelley and Papa Johns Pizza for Jason!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

We're Back

Not that we went anywhere...just disappeared from the blogging world for a few weeks. Life has been busy with everything and nothing: mingling with students, meetings, work, nannying, an RA project, cleaning, dorm Bible study, sleeping, growing spiritually, and entertaining. It's hard to believe these things have completely filled the last three weeks and made them a blur.

For today, we are enjoying a Saturday, stepping back into the e-world, and catching up with organization and cleaning. Also, Jason is planning to enjoy a Clemson game (hope he enjoys it this time...)with his dad and brother.

Finally, we are wishing a happy birthday and huge year of firsts to Matt Tegen. We enjoyed celebrating with him yesterday on year twenty-seven!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ready, Set, Go!!

It has been three weeks now. We were engulfed in preparing for resident assistants (RAs) to arrive. Meetings and training followed with a final push at the end to have the dorm ready for freshmen check-in. We welcomed eight RAs into our building and spent time at a mountain home training with the entire staff from all buildings. It's amazing how bonds can form among people in only a week.
The final push consisted of staying up until 2:30 p.m. to complete the last of hall decorations and waking at 8 o'clock to welcome 120 freshmen at 9:00. Things went smoothly and orientation began. We met in the new chapel for an opening event and spent the following couple of days watching people settle in and say good-bye to family.
To date we have a great class that is quieter than last year (so far) and make going to bed by midnight actually possible. So for now we are settling into routines and still learning names. We only have about 100 left to memorize! No problem, right?!

Sunday, August 3, 2008


My cousins call him Paw Paw, but I have always called him Uncle Vernon. In his 70s he has seen a lot, including the recent passing of his wife, my Aunt Doris. It was good to be in Alabama last weekend and to have some overdue conversations on how he is doing. As I sat in church on Sunday morning I was reminded of his influence. A true gentleman with a soft, giving heart I have always greatly respected and admired him...even when his family was tough on him. Years ago he and my aunt responded to the need for a church that accepted the outcast so Church On the Rock was established. And all those excluded from traditional churches or unchurched altogether were welcomed in and began to grow. It is a beautiful thing to see biker guys sitting beside little old ladies in hats. My heart smiled. This is what it's about!

While I saw all the cousins, went to a birthday party and talked to my Aunt Kas, I was reminded of my roots. Raised in a small, rural town in South Georgia I was shy and backward. I went to school covered in a heavy coat because of insecurity and spoke only a few words during a day until I returned home. I was dorky, and I was quiet. I was a nobody.

But in my state of nobodyness, God loved me. He gave godly Christian parents and a rich heritage of uncles and aunts, like Aunt Doris and Uncle Vernon, who love Him. And He made me a somebody...using them to share much of that love. It's a revealing blog that's been on my heart to share and that has been postponed time and again the past two weeks. This is the testimony at the core of me...a nobody turned somebody because she was loved by Jesus and the family He gave...