A light at the end of the tunnel and a very special announcement

Hello Blogging World, IMG_0087

I’m back… well almost.  I am nearing the end of my 6 month stint of working 2 jobs and I’m beginning to see a glimmer of hope that I will return to writing more consistently here soon.  [smile]  In the meantime in case you hadn’t heard via Facebook or in person, Caleb and I are very pleased to announce we’ll be welcoming our first child in early August!  We are half-way through the pregnancy, but still can’t believe how blessed we are!  We’ve chosen not to find out the gender so right now he or she goes by the cool moniker- Baby Fraz.

Look forward to getting back in the writing mode in earnest very soon.  Until then, thanks for sticking with me even during this season of silence!




His and Hers: Reality TV Roundup

Last night was a big night for TV in the Fragwell household!  In the perfect storm of network programming, the premier of Survivor:  Blood Vs. Water and the finale of this summer’s season of Big Brother were scheduled by CBS for the same Wednesday night! [smile]  Happily the stars aligned so we could both watch most of both shows.  My new work schedule doesn’t start for another week and Caleb’s Wednesday night was relatively free considering the normal hiccups and delays that can happen with church Wednesday night programming. [smile]

A few spoilers follow so beware if you haven’t watched the episodes and plan too:

Overall, we were both really happy with the set up for the new Survivor season and the conclusion to Big Brother!  Caleb’s the real Survivor expert, but since we’ve been married he’s been putting me through a crash course of the history of this still popular after all these years reality show.  [smile] He and I love that this season features returning players and the loved ones twist is really quite genius.  The dynamics of the game seem to be much more complex and there is some unpredictability in a show that’s been around for a while.  Caleb says:  “Even though nothing can trump the first season or Heroes Vs. Villians, this season may come close to achieving Survivor gold!”  [smile]

If Caleb is the resident Survivor expert, I guess my few summers of watching Big Brother make me the expert in this regard. So then what can I say about Big Brother?!?  I guess, “Go Andy” is appropriate.  Honestly, for me this show isn’t so much about watching to see who will win, but watching the game in progress.  The premise of the show is such a fascinating social experiment.   While the finale was fun, my favorite episode this summer was that second double eviction when the big showmance was finally broken up.  So much drama!  [smile]

I must confess that I was a little hesitant to share our reality TV obsessions for fear it might shatter our super cool image.  [smile] Seems like reality shows like Survivor and Big Brother are out of vogue these days.  So I’m curious… are we the only ones still watching these “traditional” reality TV game shows?  I would love to hear what you thought of either show last night or hear what reality TV shows are your favorites.  Leave a comment with your reality TV confessions.


His and Hers: Inbox maintenance

Daily Musings “His and Her’s” series is back! It’s Thursday and its been too many weeks since my last “His and Her’s” post, plus I just can’t talk about the bathroom remodel for another second.  For those wondering where we are in the process, I’ll just say our one day project is turning into multi-week project.  In the last 48 hours, I feel like I’ve learned the secrets of DIY homeowners out there: plan to expect the unexpected and everything takes longer.  [smile]

Back to the “His and Her’s” post for today- inbox maintenance.  Da da duuuummmmm!  Did you hear the scary music too at the mention of such a heavy and dreaded topic or was it just me?  Perhaps I’m the only person whose anxiety slowly increases with the number of unread items in my email inbox.  [smile]  My inbox anxiety disorder began near the end of college when I found myself with a very full and very mismanaged inbox where I could hardly find anything that I needed.  The ever-growing inbox was a result of a summer of little to no email access when I was a camp counselor and my tendency to be a bit of a pack rat. [smile]  By the end of my 4 year stint at LaGrange College it seemed like dozens of more messages were added to the pile each time I logged on.  It got to the point that I just thought for sure I was going to lose it.

Thankfully around the same time my inbox anxiety disorder was reaching its peak I discovered Google’s Gmail.  Gmail’s user-friendly platform with the capability to create different folders and archive just about any and every email I wished felt heaven sent. So I said goodbye to my old address and became mnellbagwell [at] gmail [dot] com.  [smile]  When I converted to Gmail I thought my days of anxiety producing inboxes were over but boy was I wrong.  I’m sure by now you all know where this is going– Caleb’s inbox is bursting at the seams!

You may be wondering why the state of Caleb’s inbox should even matter to me.  Well I must admit that is a great question and my not so great answer is “I don’t know.”  It is his email inbox and not mine.  Only occasionally does something that I need to see only get mailed to him, regardless his very full (we are talking 7000+ messages) makes me break out in sweats.  [smile]  The obvious difference in our ideas of inbox maintenance got me wondering whether one or the other of us were more “normal” than the other.  Time for another poll. [smile] Share your thoughts below.



His and Her’s: Writing

We have both spent the morning at our computers writing.  Caleb’s putting the finishing touches on his sermon for our first Sunday- this Sunday!!- at “The Church.”  He’s going to do great!  I know because I’ve gotten a sneak peek.  [smile] I’ve been blogging.  We’ve had a fun morning doing our own thing, but being together.

I envy the way Caleb can put words on a page.  He gets a thought in his head and can pound out two or three pages in no time.  Pondering over every word and the placement of every clause, I write so much slower.  His speed and productivity was particularly frustrating when we were in classes together.  It seemed like he wized through assignments that took me forever.  [smile] Really its a matter of two different processes.  He lets everything he’s thinking just spill out and then goes back to edit.  I’m a more of an edit as I write type.

After posting one of my blogs recently, WordPress in its inspirational and congratulatory way spit back this quote from Carlos Fuentes who after a quick search on the worldwide web I found was a Mexican novelist.

Writing is a struggle against silence.

As soon as I read it, my writer’s soul sighed with the assurance that I am not alone in my struggles to put pen to paper or finger to keyboard.  It is so much easier not the write, to not express thoughts and feelings.  Silence is more comfortable and it feels safer, but there is so much joy in the struggle of writing I can’t give it up. With our move to Kingsport, my opportunities for employment seem both wide open and completely closed because once again I find myself at a crossroads where I must choose which path to go down.  When I think about what I would most like to employ my time with, I have to admit a little voice within wishes it could be this– writing.  Whether writing curriculum for Cokesbury; articles for Sojourners or Archaeology Magazine; or as Caleb suggests the next great American novel, writing is what I enjoy despite the struggle and it would be wonderful to find some way to do this and support our family.  Someday perhaps I will be able to, until then I’ll just jot down my musings.


His and Her’s: Wednesday

It feels like we are on vacation here at my parents’ house.  Everything is so new and unknown it is a bit like we are living in a rented vacation house except for the absence of the beach or mountains to draw the tourists.  We are still surrounded by boxes and everyone is living out of suitcases for the most part– another vacation-esque aspect of life here. We have also been in a media deficit which is frankly beginning to make us all a little stir crazy.  [smile]  Cable and internet hasn’t been installed so we’ve been watching movies in the evening and mooching a very weak wi-fi signal off one of our new neighbors.  The frustratingly slow wi-fi and the quiet lull of vacation time that has set in all over this house are the cause of my not posting yesterday.  Well it was that and it was also, I must confess, the reading coma I slipped into yesterday afternoon.  [smile]   Thankfully Caleb found something fun to occupy him.  A brief account of mine and Caleb’s very different afternoons follow.

Her Wednesday afternoon:  It seems like at least once a year I have one book that captures my attention so greatly that I can’t put it down and I find myself camped out on the sofa, a bed, or the porch for hours at the time just reading.  During these periods of reading binges, my sense of hearing is cut off for a time and all awareness of the world around me is blocked.  I move only to readjust my body as my arm begins to cramp from holding whatever paperback has infected me.  It is the most glorious state and always feels like a gift.  [smile]

I started reading Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani a few weeks ago, but haven’t gotten very far into the story until yesterday when I think the vacation atmosphere; the need to veg out; and the lack of cable combined to create the conditions for the perfect reading storm.  I read at least 75% of the book over the afternoon hours and tried to finish it last night until my eyes, tired from reading all day, grew too heavy. Reading all afternoon and being completely distracted from all the change that is surrounding me was exactly what I needed.  [smile]

His Wednesday afternoon:
Caleb spent his afternoon mowing and edging the lawn!  It sounds like the least fun activity to me to occupy a lazy Wednesday afternoon and I worry that y’all will think I’ve allowed him to do all that work while I laid back relaxing, but he insists that mowing is his hobby.  [smile]

I’ve tried to figure out what he finds so enjoyable about an activity that leaves you feeling so sweaty and earthy smelling and we’ve had many conversations on the subject.  Occasionally catching a glimpse of him while he circled the house yesterday on the new-to-us riding mower that came with the house, I think I’m beginning to understand why he enjoys mowing so much.  First, he seems to be able to zone out while following the serpentine mowing path around the yard.  He’s also told me many a time that he loves the instant gratification of seeing your hard work turn into a beautiful and neat lawn.  He takes pride in the most precise edges and I think it is so cute how he wants to make sure I notice.  I think the fact that we don’t have a lawn that’s he’s responsibility currently is also appealing.

Two very different afternoons, but both enjoyable and renewing in their own ways.  Discovering new joys through seeing things from a bit of a different perspective is one of the things I love most about life together with Caleb.  Yesterday was one of those kind of discovery days.


His and Hers: Bursting with Pride

I try to reserve Thursday His and Hers post for something with a bit more humor, but today I am so excited over yesterday’s events that I simply must share!  Yesterday my husband officially became Rev. Caleb Frazier!  All of his hard work in seminary and the work he put in on his essays and interviews finally paid off and he was commissioned by the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church.  I am bursting with pride! [smile]

Caleb's Commissioning

Caleb’s Commissioning

Granted this is only the first step toward being fully recognized as a elder in the UMC (Caleb will have more essays to write, interviews, and evaluations over the next 2 years), but still getting to this point is really something to celebrate.  Before I continue to reflect a couple of quick thank yous:  Caleb had a great group come out to support him as he moved forward with this public declaration of his intent to follow his call.   I am so thankful his parents were sitting with me in the family section and equally grateful to have some new friends from “the church” we’ll begin serving later this month and old friends who are also pastors in the conference to join us as well!  The day was so much more special having you there.

The theme of the conference was IMAGINE which seemed particularly appropriate given Caleb’s Beatles obsession.  [smile]  A friend commented on Facebook after I posted pictures of the commissioning that she thought IMAGINE was a great theme also to capture the transition we are making into life as “the preacher’s family.”  I agree completely!  The future seems like it is open so wide now that Caleb has been confirmed in his calling in such a powerful way.

The author of Acts records this in the second chapter, verse seventeen:

‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams.

I feel like the prophesying and dreaming about what our life of ministry will be like is just beginning.  I am overjoyed to find that Caleb was commissioned with other young adults who are visioning, dreaming, and prophesying too.  As our Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor said in her sermon during the service of commissioning and ordination, I am hopeful for the future of the church when I look at those who have been commissioned or ordained yesterday.

With the Rev. Caleb Frazier!

With the Rev. Caleb Frazier!

Thank you for indulging my gushing today!  I am just so proud, excited, and joyful.


His and Her’s: Waffles

His and Her’s: A weekly series on “Daily Musings on Life Together”

Still no air conditioning, but we are trudging through and crossing all our fingers that the AC guy will show up today with the part that he ordered on Monday.  Hopefully we will be chillin’ like villains by this afternoon.  [smile]  In the meantime, we’ve found that maintaining our sanity while living in and packing up a hot house requires that we indulge in a few rewards throughout the day.  Last night we ate dinner out and then picked up a movie to watch at home.  And this morning we are headed to my favorite place to eat breakfast out… WAFFLE HOUSE!

If you know me at all you know of my love for this classic American diner.  I got onto the Waffle House bandwagon a few years ago when I moved back in with my parents who at the time liked to eat out there about one morning per week.  We’d always visited every once in a while when I was a child, but eating out there once a week really convinced me of how special these restaurants are.  I love to watch how community happens at Waffle House, especially between “the regulars” and the wait staff.  Though my parents don’t eat out at Waffle House as often as they once did, they are still regular enough customers to have a couple of waitresses who visit their table just to say hi during each visit.  I’m convinced that the church could learn something about what it means to welcome people from the Waffle House hospitality model.  Perhaps I’ll explore that topic a bit more in the future.  [smile]

Another thing I love about Waffle House is it’s predictability.  The coffee is strong and if you have a good neighborhood diner they’ll even make a fresh pot when you arrive.  The waitresses are down to earth and friendly.  The waffles are sweet and the grits are perfectly creamy.  And at our table at least the consistency of service is matched by a consistency in conversation.

For years my mother has always kidded my dad and I on our waffle eating technique.  Waffle eating technique?  In answer to your question, yes there are multiple ways to eat a waffle.  My dad and I meticulously cut our waffle following the lines and squares and my mother inevitably points out how silly she thinks we are.  Its a sign of our very rigid type A minds, she says.  In return, we appropriately mock her free form slicing of the delicious waffle before her.  We laugh about how there is no way that the other person can enjoy eating their waffle quite as much when they are using the wrong technique!  [smile]

Caleb’s first visit with us to Waffle House was secretly a test to see where he would fall in the waffle eating spectrum.  Funnily enough seems like us type A’s are attracted to free form thinkers because Caleb eats his decidedly less meticulously than me and my dad and more like how my mom eats hers.  [smile]  I guess its kind of a silly thing to notice and even sillier to bring up in conversation regularly, but we do and I’m glad.  Watching how Caleb eats a waffle is a reminder that he brings something different to my life.  As clique as it is to say so his differences complete me.  I am so fortunate to get to laugh and cry and argue and agree through life together with him.