Friday, May 30, 2014

Bits & Pieces: T.E.A.M.


I saw lots of evidence of team work taking place throughout Grove in the last few days as various members of the community pulled together to respond to the water crisis.

From city employees working tirelessly to get the repairs made, to community members finding resources for folks in need, Grove residents did what they do best – pulled together to help others.

We even had a bit of teamwork happening in The Grove Sun’s office.

Christian Favalora, our new sports editor, caught the scanner call regarding the barge accident while I was out of the office.

He jumped right in, tackled the story, and kept up with things throughout the two-day process.

It let me stay in the background, work on other stories for today’s issue, and update readers on Facebook.

He did a great job and definitely earned his “stripes” in his second week in Grove. I’m excited to have him be part of the team.


Things taking place this week remind of a favorite anocrym involving the word TEAM – Together Everyone Achieves More.

When the dust settles, and the immediate crisis is over, we’ll bring you more information about the incident and how it will impact different aspects in the community.

But for now, kudos to everyone – from local non-profits, businesses, community leaders and city officials, for pulling together during this crisis.

We were fortunate. It could have been much worse.

* * *

During last week's graduation, several things blessed me in the midst of the ceremonies.

One image which continues to resonate with me, involved two young men in wheelchairs with ginormous smiles.

Honestly thought, I'm not sure whose smiles were bigger - the young men, or the women who helped push them into the ceremony.

Kudos to everyone who worked as a team to help them achieve this moment in life. It was awesome to see the happiness shine through their smiles and eyes.

* * *

In the last year, I've had an opportunity to meet and talk with numerous members of the Class of 2014 who have some amazing stories.

One of which involved a young man named Matt Cordero.

To say that Matt impressed me is an understatement. I, and others, expect amazing things to take place in his future.

Matt's managed to not only support himself, and help his mother while attending Grove High School.

He's held down a job, served as a member of the student board at the hospital, balanced volunteering with academic demands, and set a goal for himself - to pursue a career in oncology.

Matt's dad, you see, died from brain cancer. It's made Matt a bit passionate about pursuing a career to help do something about the disease.

He plans to attend Northeastern A&M in Miami and Grove, to get his basics before transferring to Oklahoma State University. He's received several scholarships and honors, which will help get him off to a good start to his higher education goals.

He's even taken the lessons he's learned from the adults mentored him, and worked in the last year to pass them along to freshman in the AVID program - hoping to help them make the right choices in life.

Matt Cordero. Remember that name. I know we'll be hearing it again.

Congrats to the grads. Remember it takes a T.E.A.M. of voices to make it through life. Choose your team wisely.

Editor's Note: This was originally published in the May 30, 2014 issue of The Grove Sun.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Bits & Pieces: Changes

Life is a series of changes.

I love this quote: "Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them - that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like." - Lao Tzu

Change is never more so apparent, than on the eve of graduation.

On Saturday, I'll travel to Fayetteville to see three girls I've watched grow into amazing young women, walk across the stage to receive their diplomas.

The three were members of a middle school small group I led (or better yet, they led, I was the "adult" in charge) oh so long ago.

It's bittersweet and yet exciting to see Tanna, Biz and Connor on the brink of adulthood.

On Saturday I'll watch Siloam Springs (Arkansas) High School seniors Elizabeth "Biz" Reisbeck, Tanna Eiland and Connor Bedor (far right) graduate from high school. They are shown along with Tanna's younger sister, Tabitha (second from right).
Tanna plans to be a librarian, Biz, something "math or science" related is my best guess and Connor, well, I'm sure she'll have something with music in her future (she just won a huge music award from the state of Arkansas.)

Hard to imagine the obnoxious squirts who have brought so much joy and laughter to my life for so many years are old enough to be high school graduates.

I'm proud to have them in my life, and proud to be part of this milestone weekend.

If they are reading this, and thinking I'm getting to mushy, here's something to make them laugh - I might just hand you my phone on Saturday and say "have fun calling China."

(Tanna and Bizzy tried without success one day, while we were traveling back from a youth event - I was driving and had to just listen as they giggled in the back of the van.)

Other changes

Speaking of changes, next week we'll be adding to the staff of The Grove Sun.

We will formally introduce him on Tuesday, but beginning Monday Christian Favalora will join the news team as our new Sports Editor.

Let the rejoicing among sports fans begin. I'm excited to have Christian join the team and to bring some new ideas from his time on the staff of the Oklahoma State University's newspaper the O'Colly.

Christian is just one new face you'll see around this summer. The Grove Sun will host an OSU intern thanks to the Oklahoma Press Association's foundation.

Taryn Sanderson, a journalism student from OSU, will be here during June and July learning the ropes of community journalism. We'll tell you more about her in her first week - but I'll tell you this, I'm quite excited to "pick" her brain for some new ideas.

In the meantime, we're still looking for a place for Taryn to live during her eight-week time in Grove. She's bring her car, clothes and cat. So if you have an idea - or know of somewhere we can house her for the eight weeks - let me know. I'd appreciate any housing leads you might have.


It's a season of change. To all of the graduates - high school and college - I'll leave you with two thoughts.

My favorite Bible verse to give to graduates is this "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take." - Prov. 3:5-6.

Or this quote from Kate Morton in The Forgotten Garden. "He had the vague sense of standing on a threshold, the crossing of which would change everything.”

Y'all are standing on the threshold of life. Enjoy the changes - the good and the bad - because all together, they make life quite sweet.

So here's the bits and pieces for this week. Have a great weekend, be safe and enjoy the sun!

Editor's Note: This column was originally published in the May 16, 2014 issue of The Grove Sun.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Bits & Pieces: Lessons

Have you ever had one of those weeks when little "life lessons" kind of jump out at you in a variety of ways?

You know those lessons. Things that make you "snap" out of a rut and make you stop and go "hum."

Here's a few of the lessons I've been learning.

Take time to relax

Ok, it's no secret - you can probably drive by The Grove Sun office at any given time, and see my car.

In the last year, I've poured a lot of energy and time into the paper. That's a good thing. I like what I'm doing. Really. (To paraphrase from Sally Fields, I "really, really like" you guys.

But now, after a year, I'm learning to take a bit of time for myself. I'm delegating a bit more, having a few stringers we're developing cover a few events. It's not that I don't think that everything is important, it's just that, well, sometimes I need to unplug and shut my brain off.

On Sunday I did that.

Last weekend, I was gifted with a couple of tickets to the Renaissance Festival in Muskogee. It was unexpected and it meant that I got to go to something that's been on "my bucket list" of sorts for years.

I mean, I've heard about the festival for years, but never took the step to go.

Let me tell you, it wasn't what I expected, and it was a whole lot of fun. It's a bit like "dress up" for adults. I won't "out" my friend who gave me the ticket, but let's just say, she really gets into character at the fair.

It was a chance to unwind, relax and well, just have fun with a friend. It was a needed time away.


This quote popped upon my Facebook feed in the last couple of days.

"Show respect even to people who don't deserve it; not as a reflection of their character, but as a reflection of yours." - Dave Willis

Let's face it, we all have bad days, and sometimes we're not perfect. I see this as a reminder that no matter what life tosses at us, we should always reflect what we want to see, not what the person deserves.


It's always cool when people of faith gather to worship. Spending time with people in the community at the National Day of Prayer service, organized by the Grove Area Ministerial Alliance, was quite moving.

It's amazing (I'll probably say this a lot in the next few columns) to see how many people I have met in the last year - this was my second NDP event.

Thanks to the alliance for pulling the service together. I'm glad we live in a community where denomination differences are put aside, and members of the community can gather to worship together.

For those who had to listen to me speak (someone had to talk for the media right?) my deepest apologizes. As I said, with a laugh, I'm a writer, not speaker. Thanks for not throwing tomatoes - and for the encouragement post speech.

This weekend is Mother's Day. If you haven't purchased something nice for your mom, put the paper down and head to the store. (Just kidding.) Take time to tell your mom, grandma, aunt or really, any woman who has played a significant role in your life, how much you love them. It's a funky holiday that reminds us to do something we should do on a daily basis - so use it as an excuse to say "I love you." I promise you won't regret it.

So here's the bits and pieces for this week. Have a great weekend, be safe and enjoy the sun!

Editor's Note: This column originally appeared in the May 9, 2014 issue of The Grove Sun. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Bits & Pieces: Pits and Peaks

I have a thing I've used with students I've worked with called "pits and peaks."

Primarily used during the prayer time, or when I asked them to share about their day, I encouraged them to share at least one "peak" - happy thing, and one "pit" - something they are worried, sad or mad about.

I've thought a lot about this, as different things began swirling through my head this week.

It's pretty easy to get caught up in only thinking about "pits."

Let's face it, at times, life is hard. One only has to look at the weekend events in Quapaw, Okla., Baxter Springs, Kan., and Vilonia and Mayflower, Ark., to see that in action.

Life is hard.

But then, like the sunshine at the start of a new day, the "peaks" began to emerge.

People who reached out to help their neighbors in need. Items lost and returned to owners from miles away. Friends pulling together to support the people they love.

There are peaks in life. Sometimes we have to be willing to look up and past the pits to see what is ahead.

So while I could list a few pits here: the messed up execution here in the state, Sarah Palin's statement equating baptism (something I hold very sacred) to a form of acceptable torture, and the way the Christian community at large has seemed to eaten Dan Haseltine (lead singer for Jars of Clay) alive after he posted a series of questions struggling with faith on Twitter - I'm choosing to focus on some peaks.

But on a side note, I hurt with Hasletine and the backlash he is experiencing. I think, from reading his accounts, his questions were meant to simply struggle through the issues - especially after watching 12 Years A Slave and participating in a roundtable discussion in Australia.

While Twitter probably wasn't the best place to struggle with the moral questions plaguing the church, I'm glad that he's at least struggling and asking questions and looking for the grey in a not-so black and white world.

So here they are in no particular order.

1) The Superhero 5K

I forgot to mention last week that I not only took part in the anti-bullying 5K sponsored by the Wyandotte Nation, but I finished - in less than 60 minutes thank you very much.

My "walk/run" time was extended a bit, thanks in part to the train that decided to stall part of the participants mid-race.

Thanks to Vanessa and Missy for encouraging me at the start, and thanks to Cheryl and Jeanie for catching up with me, and then staying with me through the bitter end of the course.

The pair were an inspiration - they are in training to walk a marathon together in November. Cheryl said she can walk one in six and a half hours. No, I'm not there yet, but maybe. Someday.

2) A new cat

A friend and I have "adopted" a cat together. My friend will have "primary" custody, while I'll have visitation rights to Alibi or Ali for short.

Who knows, apparently since I can keep a plant alive, I've graduated to joint ownership of a calico kitten.

It's funny, the girl who never had an indoor cat is writing this column while Alibi is asleep in a newspaper paper box, at her feet.

It's amazing how your stress level decreases when you hold a little bundle of fluff in your arms. I promise not to become one of those "crazy cat owners" and to keep the photos at a minimum on Instagram.

3) Relief

I'm grateful that some ministry colleagues in Arkansas rode through Sunday's tornado without bodily injury. I'm also grateful for friends who have responded to the situation in Vilonia, Ark., to help as needed.

My prayer continue to be with friends at Vilonia United Methodist Church. Buildings and stuff can be replaced. The congregation will rebuild - and my guess be stronger than ever.

Here's a couple peaks I'm looking forward to this weekend: the third annual GRDA Lake Launch on Friday night and Saturday's Burning of the Socks. Both were fun "first events" for me to cover last year, and I'm looking forward to seeing them again as a slightly "seasoned" Grand Laker.

So that's the bits and pieces of this week - a look at my pits and peaks. Have a great week and be safe!

Editor's Note: This column originally appeared in the May 2, 2014 issue of The Grove Sun.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Bits & Pieces: Snippets of Life

Last week, I mentioned that I was spending my first anniversary in Grove shooting pictures of some snazzy kidlets attending prom.

Let's just say, our high school juniors and seniors "clean up" well.

From glittery gowns to snazzy tuxes, Grove High School students shined as they walked across the red carpet into the evening world of "Paris After Dark."

Kudos to the team of volunteers who worked hours to turn the gymnasium into a glittery wonderland of lights - complete with a giant Eiffel Tower. It looked simply amazing.

We've started uploading images from the "Red Carpet" to our website gallery ( As of last count more than 80 have been loaded - with more than 300 still needing to be edited. We'll try to get the rest up this weekend for your viewing enjoyment.

We are also in the process of uploading a variety of cute kidlet pictures from the various Easter Egg Hunts. By Friday we should have the complete collection uploaded online in the gallery.

Looking ahead

This weekend the Grove Education Foundation for Excellence or GEFFE for short, will hold its annual fundraising gala.

I've heard it's a ritzy affair, filled with lots of glitz and glamor for adults (hum is this the parents' prom?).

I've also heard it's an amazing tool, that helps Grove teachers fund a variety of projects each year. A preview of the event, along with a listing of the spring grant recipients, can be found inside today's issue of Grove Sun.

Har-Ber Village

This weekend, the press will roll once again at Har-Ber Village, during the opening of the newly remodeled "print shop."

If you've never seen an "old press" (aka the line-o-type press of our ancestors) run, it's a sight to behold. It's one of the many renovations visitors will see this year, as the 2014 season kicks off.

Kudos to Har-Ber Village for finding ways to make history come alive for visitors. I remember visiting the village as a middle school/high school student with my parents. I love watching the new things - especially the living history events - take shape because it truly does give us a window into the past.

Har-Ber Village is a gem that is starting to shine again on Grand Lake. If you haven't been in a while, take some time in the near future to check it out. The upcoming Agricultural Days in May would be an excellent time to visit.

Flip Flops and more

I know the weather has been crazy - one minute it's sweater weather, the next we're dodging hail and rain.

I don't know about you, but I'm ready for summer sun, flip flops and maybe finding a piece of Grand Lake I can pull up next to, to soak up some piece and quiet.

Here's to the start of flip flop weather. You know it's coming, next weekend marks Harbor View Marina's annual "Burning of the Socks." I'm looking forward to "officially" starting my annual "farmers tan" on my feet.

So here's to the bits and pieces of life that make up Grand Lake. Have a bright and shiny weekend.

Editor's Note: This column appeared in the April 25, 2014 issue of The Grove Sun.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Bits & Pieces: 525,600 Minutes

525,600 minutes ago, give or take a few minutes depending upon when you are reading this, I landed in Grove.

Can you believe it? One year ago on April 19, I loaded up the truck in Little Rock, Ark., and found myself arriving in Grove to start a new life. The next night, in the midst of unpacking, I covered my first event: Grove High School's prom.

Tomorrow night, I'll celebrate my first anniversary doing the same thing - snapping pics at Grove's Prom at the high school.

Not a bad way to celebrate a one-year anniversary, taking pics of high school kidlets all dressed up in their finest attire.

All in all it's been a pretty amazing first year sitting in the "editor's seat" at The Grove Sun, and I know in a large part, it's because of everyone within the community.

We've laughed together. Trust me, there have been some moments where much laughter ensued - oh Tracy Bloss and Dan Hinman, thank you for hunting a pig behind Lowe's. That call on the radio still tops the opossum in the kitchen or the tractor parked randomly in someone's back yard. (Although Mark Londagin's "Red Man" outfit at the Christmas 5K in December could earn a close tie for something memorably funny!)

We've also cried together. Especially in the moments when someone in the community was taken too soon, or lost their battle to cancer. I still expect to see the late Ben Hynum walk into the office to update me about the Third of July event for the city of Grove.

You've probably even laughed with me, as I've learned about sports in the last few weeks after our sports editor moved on to another paper. My hashtag #NotASportsGirl is slowly changing a bit thanks to everyone who helps explain things to me.

I'll be honest though, I'll be just as excited as the rest of you, when we officially fill the position. Thank you for your patience, and enjoy my oops - yes, I now know that baseball players don't "huddle" with the coach, they "conference."

Thank you for giving me a new place to call home. Dorothy may have said "there's no place like home" and referred to Kansas. For me, I'll just say "there's no place like Grove" and I'm grateful to call it home.

Running for a cause

Saturday I'll lace up my tennis shoes, and put on a pretty silly costume and take part in the anti-bullying 5K hosted by the Wyandotte Nation. (Pst. Thank you to Sam and Suesan in my office for the tutu assistance and Lorri from Dar-Lynn Embroidery for the amazing "bat girl" t-shirt.)

The Superhero 5K kicks off bright and early in the morning. I'm sure I'll Instagram pictures of the event (and I have a feeling a few "friends" are plotting to make sure you see me in my full costumed regalia.).

Kudos to the Wyandotte Nation for having a 5K and fun run that helps bring awareness to the every growing curse of bullying.

So if you see me at an Easter Egg hunt (or another event Saturday morning) dressed a bit "colorfully" just know it was for a good cause.

Speaking of egg hunts

If you capture a fun image of your kidlet(s) hunting eggs during a weekend outing, or snap a shot of them in their Easter best outfit, feel free to send it my way. You can email your favorite pics to Who knows, if we get enough, we might just include a selection of "fan favorites" in Tuesday's issue.

Well that's the bits and pieces for this week. Thank you again for an amazing first year. I'm looking forward to what's ahead in Grove 2.0. I have a feeling the best is yet to come.

Editor's Note: This column originally appeared in the April 2

Friday, April 11, 2014

Bits & Pieces: Events with a twist

Maybe it's because I'm "looking" for things, or maybe its because the three things I'm about to mention are raising funds and awareness for three causes I've been partial about in the past.

It seems like local organizations are stepping up and raising awareness for bullying, human trafficking and domestic violence. Here's a few ways you can get involved:

Superhero 5K in Wyandotte

In Wyandotte, the tribe is in it's fifth year of conducting a Methamphetamine Suicide Prevention Initiative funded through Indian Health Service.

According to Kelly Walker, director of health services for Wyandotte Nation, the program is designed to address the dual crises of methamphetamine abuse and suicide in Indian Country.

On Saturday, April 19, the tribe will host a Superhero 5K with an anti-bullying theme. The goal is to raise awareness in the community that bullying can, and often does, lead to suicidal thoughts, inclinations and actions. Walker said the theme for the event comes from a Superhero's daily life.

"The average Superhero fights crime and bad guys," she said. "We want to stop bullying and have encouraged community cooperation by making it a fun theme for the whole family to relate to."

Folks will even have a costume contest and villains to chase during the one mile fun walk. There's also a timed 5K event. Registration will continue until 12:01 a.m. on Monday, April 14. The event is free. Participants are encouraged to bring a bag of dog or cat food, or make a donation toward the walk's charitable sponsor, the Humane Society of Grove and Grand Lake.

For more information, or to sign up visit: Who knows, you might see me there, dressed up in a costume (details to come - but Lorri at Dar-Lyn Embroidery and I are working on the project literally as I type this up!)

Human Trafficking in Nepal

Another 5K, designed to help girls emerging from human trafficking, will take place at 7 a.m. on Saturday, May 3, in Grove.

Packet pickup and race day registration will begin at 7 a.m., with the 5K starting at 8:15 a.m. at the INTEGRIS Grove Hospital parking lot, off of 13th Street. The one-mile fun run will begin at 8 a.m.

Sponsored by the young adults at Grove Christian Center, the event is designed to raise fund for the Gan-Nepal organization. It is in need of a facility to help the more than 12,000 to 15,000 Nepali girls trafficked into India each year.

Ann Davis, one of the organizers, said 100 percent of the proceeds raised will go to Gen-Nepal, a registered non-government organization) to buy land and build a facility that will house and educate those who have been saved from human trafficking.

It's the first 5K of it's kind. Davis hopes they will offer it again on an annual basis. Pre-Registration ends on April 25. Early registration is $20 per person for the 5K and $10 per person for the one mile fun run. After April 25, the fees increase to $25 and $15, respectively. T-shirts will be available for the first 150 registrants.

For more information, persons interested may visit or follow the group on twitter at stopthetraffic@stopslavery2014 or visit then by clicking “Stop The Traffic” tab.

Shooting for a cause

One last event takes place rain or shine on Saturday, April 13, at the Fort Crowder Wildlife Conservation Area in Neosho, Mo.

The Lafayette House, the domestic violence shelter, with locations in both Joplin and Neosho, will host a 3-D Archery Shoot, in conjunction with the New Justice Network and the Cherokee Bowhunters Club.

The books open at 9 a.m., and the cost is $12 per person, plus a novelty shoot, 50/50 drawing and more. Amy Lane, my friend who works for the Lafayette House said the event will take place rain or shine.

For more information, persons interested may visit or

Editor's Note: This column originally appeared in the April 11, 2014 issue of The Grove Sun.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Bits & Pieces: To Bully or Not To Bully

I'll admit it. Sometimes when I have writer's block, or I'm just looking for a question of the day, I surf Facebook posts.

Earlier this week, a post by a friend struck a nerve. (Ok, honestly, it not only struck a nerve, but it tap danced on my last one.)

She talked about witnessing a young man working on his skateboarding skills. That in itself is not really noteworthy, except this young man kept working over and over and over to master a skill. Determination seemed to be the key to his success.

What was noteworthy, is that my friend witnessed numerous people making fun of, ridiculing and even being quite bullying towards this young man.

Unfortunately, to my friend's dismay, it wasn't just teens being rude to a peer. Some of the harshest comments came from the mouths of adults.

Let's face it, whatever you call it, bullying is here. It's like an insidious creature from the black lagoon which creeps in and covers everything in its path.

It has no age or gender limitations. It can come from the mouths of the very young to the very old. It can creep into every nook, cranny and well, aspect of life.

Let's face it, bullying is well, pure evil masquerading as just something that is part of everyday life.

After reading my friend's post, I posted a #QofD (Question of the Day) on the Grove Sun's Facebook page asking about bullying. The responses I got were a bit mixed.

Some blamed the lack of parenting at home. Others said rather than try to stop bullying, we need to teach children to face the attacks of bullies - and disappointment in life - to prepare them for the real world.

It's a lot to ponder. What do we do? Do we tell kids (and adults) to "suck it up buttercup" and to ignore the bullies, or do we tell the bullies to grow up and act like human beings?

Unfortunately, I think it becomes a mixture of both. We have to teach our children (and ourselves) to have a thicker skin. That's a given. I also think people in this world need to stop and think about what comes out of their mouths (and fingers) both in person and via social media.

Social media has given adults and students alike, a platform to spread hate, anger, lies and well, verbal venom with the click of a mouse and the stroke of a keyboard.

Anyone can start a Facebook page or group, or use their own profile to spread rumor, gossip and hate, all while dancing around the First Amendment / Free Speech laws.

I'll be honest, the "suck it up buttercup" lesson is hard for many reasons. The saying may be "sticks and stones may break bones, but words will never hurt me" but let's face it, words can wound deeper than the biggest stick or rock. This especially true as people post things to Instagram, Facebook or Twitter without thought.

The worry about how certain cyber bullies may or may not attack things stays in the back of my head on a daily basis. Let's face it, for an adult in their 40s, it becomes an extra layer of stress. For a teen without the coping skills, it not only impacts life and school, but also begins to hurt their health and wellbeing.

Frankly I'm tired of teens and adults who hide behind their computer monitors and chose to spread hate and more with a stroke of the keyboard.

Maybe we do need to learn how to grow thicker skins. But maybe too, its time for people to stand up, and to speak out - and say enough is simply enough.

Maybe then, we won't have adults spewing hate and venom out car windows as a young man practices skateboarding tricks in a parking lot; and instead have adults (and students alike) finding ways to encourage each other and build each other up.

Frankly I'm ready to live in a world with a little less venom and a lot more encouragement.

Editor's Note: This column originally appeared in the April

Friday, March 28, 2014

Bits & Pieces: Destination: Arkansas

As you read this on Friday, I'll be neck-deep in a mission experience with 130 of my closest kidlet friends and other crazy adults.

On Tuesday evening, I "headed for the hills" of Fayetteville, Ark., to take part in Destination: Fayetteville, a mission trip experience for third through sixth graders through the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Destination: Mission trips began in 2007, when I was working for First UMC in Siloam Springs, Ark., and I had a brilliant idea. I say brilliant now, because hindsight is well, hindsight.

Destination: Joplin, the first Destination Mission Team prepares to leave for Joplin, Mo, 
in June 2008. The team was comprised of students and adults 
from First United Methodist Church, Siloam Springs, Ark.

In all honesty, looking back on it now, I'm pretty sure the parents were simply humoring the newbie with a crazy idea.

I thought that rather than wait till a student was in high school to expose them to a mission trip experience, we could take older elementary and middle school students on a trip, out of their comfort zones, to experience age-appropriate lessons in life.

So we ventured to Joplin, and volunteered at agencies I connected with during my days at a newspaper in southwest Missouri.

The trip was viewed as a success - aka we didn't lose anyone and everyone came home happy - so we tried it again in 2009 (we called that trip Destination: Joplin 2.0).

In 2010, a second church joined us and we traveled to Little Rock. By 2011, additional churches were coming on board, and a second trip during the year - during the state-wide spring break was born.

Fast forward to this week. Destination: Fayetteville is the 10th trip. A milestone of sorts. Students from across the state are gathering in Fayetteville to become the hands and feet of Jesus.

Destination: Mission, the 10th trip. Spring Break 2014, 
Fayetteville, Ark., with 136 participants representing 16 churches 
from the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church.
The trip that began with three work sites, has grown to include 14 different work sites during the course of two workdays.

While I'm not directly involved (the hands-on aspect has been passed on to my partner in crime and ministry colleague), I am able to sit back and watch the trip expand into a brand-new, and amazing territory - and continue to impact student lives.

Later this year, the trip will experience another milestone: two summer trips. The idea I had in 2007 has grown up. My mission 'baby" has gone to college. When 2014 comes to a close, trips 10, 11 and 12 will be in the books. Pretty amazing stuff when you think about it.

It's amazing to look back at the team pictures for the last 10 trips and see how some of the "regulars" have grown up, experiencing missions in this way.

For the record, I've only missed one trip to date - Summer 2013, because well, I was a little busy adjusting to my new role at The Grove Sun.

If you want to see what has been happening with the Destination: Mission gang, feel free to check out I'm in charge of the photo team and social media posts (go figure) so I'm sure there will be lots of pics posted throughout the four days of our adventures.

A Note of Thanks

Thanks to the guys at Vance Quick Lane for checking my tires before I left town. The "low tire pressure" light came on Sunday, and well, I'll be honest, I figured it was caused by the cold snap (it happened before).

Fortunately, the guys had time to air up my tires, and when they found out I was headed out of town, the tire with the questionable level was immediately pulled off to be checked for a problem. This is where I admit I apparently drove around town with a screw in my tire for three days.

Thanks y'all for taking care of my tires on Tuesday. It let me focus on getting stories for Friday's paper done and ultimately, ensure that I would be on the mission trip. I appreciate it greatly.

A final note.

On a final note, we're saying adios to a colleague at The Grove Sun this week.

Richard Stroud will move on to a new paper next week in Shawnee, Okla. For me, it's bittersweet because Richard has been a joy to work with not only as a sports editor but as a colleague. I will miss his razing on many levels.

Richard, we will miss you. Thank you for your humor, your encouragement and most of all, thank you for your friendship. May God bless you and keep you in this next phase of life. This is adios, but not goodbye. Stay in touch.

That's the bits and pieces for this week. I'm sure, like any good "parent" I'll have photos to share if you see me on the street.

Editor's Note: This column was originally published on Friday, March 28, 2014 issue of The Grove Sun.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Bits & Pieces: Road trip with the GLA

Pvt. Edwards with the Oklahoma State Capital in the background.
Wednesday I had the opportunity to travel to the state capitol with members of the Grand Lake Association.

Organized by Tad Jones, executive director of the GLA, and members of its boards, the trip was designed to provide legislators with the new Grand Lake Visitor's guide and invite them to attend this summer's legislative event hosted by Grand Lake Area legislators.

Because life happens, by the time our group left Grove on Wednesday we had dwindled down to four: Jones, myself, Ray Claggett (from Bank of Grove) and Dave Claggett (local businessman). Mike Williams (from Shangri-La) and Greg Mitchell (with NE Career Tech) met us in OKC.
With the Grand Lake Association members (from left) Greg Mitchell, 
Ray Claggett, Tad Jones, Sen. Wayne Shaw and Dave Claggett. 
Not pictured: Mike Williams.
Before I go any further, I must confess. I'm slightly a political junkie. Blame the minor in political science or a long-ago goal to become the next Woodward and Bernstein (which just officially aged myself to readers). There's something about political journalism that gets your heart going.

So, I knew going in, the trip would be interesting at least from a political standpoint. It was also intriguing to see "the other side" or the "lobbying" side of politics.

Jones is a great asset to have for the GLA. You can tell as he walks the halls that his former colleagues on both sides of the capitol hold him in high regards. If anything, his presence provides Grand Lake (and Grove) with a positive voice amid the chaos of the political climate.

The trip gave me a chance to meet several people I've been in contact with by phone or email. It also gave me a crash course in Oklahoma politics.

The other part of the trip, well, was spent having a bit of fun for the kindergarteners at the Grove Early Childhood Center.

We took along "Pvt. Edwards" created by Jaden Edwards, a member of the Grove Sun family. The little soldier is part of the Flat Stanley project now taking place at the Grove Early Childhood Center.
Pvt. Edwards hanging out in the Oklahoma Senate Chamber. 
Pvt. Edwards visiting the Oklahoma House Chamber.
Throughout the day, "Pvt. Edwards" kept popping up, taking photos with legislators and appearing in both the house and senate chambers. A few photos ended up on the Grove Sun's Facebook page during the trip and were shared in real time with students thanks to ECC Principal Julie Bloss.

Others will appear in a collage that will be given to Jaden's class, documenting the little soldier's adventures.
Pvt. Edwards with (from left) Sen. Charles Wyrick, Sen. Wayne Shaw, 
Rep. Doug Cox and Secretary of State Chris Benge.

Hanging out with Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb under the rotunda.

One of the highlights of the trip turned into a slight "bucket list" moment for me. On the way home from OKC, Jones took us to Pops in Arcadia, Okla.

Checking out Pops in Arcadia, Okla. (From left, clockwise) In front of the landmark pop bottle in front of the building, Pvt. Edwards with an assortment of soda bottles and Ray Claggett posing with Edwards.
(A true "bucket list trip" for me would include traveling on Route 66, taking in stops off the beaten track worth discovering.)

Pops - a soda ranch on Route 66 - is an experience all in itself. With more than 600 kinds of soda in glass bottles, it was so much fun to scan the shelves to see what random soda we could find.

We each ended up filling a "souvenir" six-pack with bottles: I found a key lime pie soda, Cheerwine (a cherry drink), ginger beer, a huckleberry soda, white peach drink and a Grape Nehi (think Radar from MASH).

It was a sweet treat and a fun addition to the "Flat Stanley" project. Thanks to everyone who made it possible.

Have a happy Spring Break next week. As you capture memories next week, check out - we plan to launch a "Spring Break" photo contest - to give readers a chance to share "tasteful" (lol) photos of their spring break adventures. Stay tuned!

Editor's Note: This was originally published in the March 14, 2014 issue of The Grove Sun.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Bits & Pieces: Confessions of a Fast Food Addict

Hello, my name is Kaylea....and I'm a fast-food addict.

That statement is probably not a "revelation" to people who know me. Let's face it, the journalism diet / pyramid is well, heavily weighted with junk food, pizza, coffee and well, some other beverages.

For someone trying to get healthy, and well, not live the "15 things you must do to call yourself a journalist" lifestyle, food choices can on the run can be a challenge.

So last week, I sat down with Lucinda Wilson, the dietitian at INTEGRIS Grove Hospital, to get some tips on how to be healthy on the go.

Did you know that INTEGRIS not only provides a dietitian to talk with patients at the hospital and through a doctor's referral, but folks like me, who simply want some new information.

(It does work better to have your doctor refer you to Wilson, to get on her official schedule).

Anyway, Wilson and I hashed out a few - we started with five - things I could try to get healthy.

I figured, since I'm not the only one running from event to event, I'd share the tips.

Goal 1) Eat at home more often

Ok, let's face it. This takes planning. Wilson suggests going to the grocery store at least once a week to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, and to pick up food items for the coming week.

The other tip, to make this goal a success comes from having at least one "cook day" each week, where you can cook your protein (meat or beans) and prep the fruit and veggies for the coming week.

Cooking the protein once a week lets you make "fast meals" at home, rather than grabbing something through the drive thru.

Goal 2) Eat at least a small meal two or three times per day

Ah. For me, this means eating breakfast, rather than passing on it and then getting too busy to eat lunch.

Wilson suggests planning for a quick breakfast of yogurt or fruit. She also suggests taking prepped veggies/fruit with you as you set out on your day, so they are available when the munchies hit.

Goal 3) Increase Veggies

Yes, your mom was right. Veggies make the world go round. Wilson suggests prepping the veggies on the cooking day, and sorting them into bags that can be taken with me in my camera bag or purse.

She also suggests having several favorite veggies on hand to cook for dinner each night.

Goal 4) More for Fruit

Are you noticing a trend? Eat less junk and more good stuff. That includes fruit. She suggests fruit for breakfast and to keep some on hand for snacks or desserts.

Goal 5) Stay hydrated

The last goal, focuses on water. An easy way to know if you are getting enough water in your diet is to do this simple math calculation: Divide your weight in pounds by two. This tells you the number of ounces you need to drink. To make it "manageable" divide that number by eight. This tells you how many cups of water (or fluids) you need each day.

Wilson suggested setting a goal to at least drink a fourth of the amount if it is much more than you ever would normally drink, and then gradually increase your intake.

So there ya go. The five goals I'm going to start implementing in my life. For my friends on Facebook (and probably eventually my blog) it means I've started having #AdventuresInCooking again.

This week I tried out a recipe for "Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas." Apparently, for the friend I fed them too (to share the left overs), it was a "keeper" recipe.

I said it was "Kaylea proof" because it only called for four ingredients: Salsa Verde, chopped chicken, shredded cheese and tortillas.

Here's the quick low down: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix 3 cups chopped chicken (I used a rotisserie chicken), 1 cup cheese and 1 cup salsa verde together. Line the bottom of the baking dish with a cup of salsa verde. Then put 1/3 cup of that mixture on a tortilla, and wrap like a burrito and place fold down in the pan. Repeat until all filling is used. (It made about 8 enchiladas). Then cover with another cup of salsa verde and cheese, and bake for at least 10 minutes. That's it. See "Kaylea Proof."

So if you have a "Kaylea proof" recipe I should try, email it to me at My friends (I share leftovers) will appreciate it too. Feel free to send your "get healthy" tips as well. But be forewarned, you may be written about in this column (hey a girl's got to have some fun!)

This column was originally published in the March 7, 2014 issue of The Grove Sun.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Bits & Pieces: Through the eyes of a child

Members of the Tiger Scout Pack 713 visit the Grove Sun office on Thursday, Feb. 20, to earn their communications badge. Students had a chance to see how a digital and print newspaper works. Have a group of students needing to earn a merit badge for a media-related topic? Tours are available for local groups by appointment. 

* * * 

Last week I had an awesome opportunity. I had the chance to give members of Tiger Scout Pack 713 a tour of the Grove Sun office.

Unlike past newspapers I've worked for - that still had the cool presses and layout tables - the Grove Sun's newsroom can be summed up in two words: my desk.

As the boys crowded around the desk, I showed them how to take photos from my phone to upload to Facebook, and how to create a story for our website.

It was all part of a tour designed to help the kidlets earn their communication badge. While young, mainly first grader boys, and well, a bit rowdy (to the chagrin of their parents) it was a fun evening.

One thing to remember when asking kidlets questions - be ready for their answers. I asked the group "what do you know about newspapers?" The response from one young man "they have lots of words and are boring." I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing.

To the troop leaders who invited me to meet your crew, and give them the tour, thank you. It was pleasure to meet with your group, answer their random questions and show off a few of the things I do on a daily basis.

Most of the kidlets in Grove are learning to know me as the "newspaper lady" which becomes quite fun as I see them at different events. Their enthusiasm for life becomes quite contagious.

As I approach my one year anniversary with the paper (April 20), I'm glad to live in town where I can share life with the people around me. Thanks for helping Grove truly feel like home.

So, if your group of kidlets needs to tour a newspaper to learn about journalism, social media, photograph or just to see "behind the curtain" of how we do things at the paper, let me know. We're happy to work out a time when you can stop by the office.

Girl Scout Cookies are in town

In case you missed it, boxes and boxes and boxes of Girl Scout cookies have arrived in Grove.

I have on good authority from scout leaders that you can get your "fix" in this weekend thanks to booth sales at Walmart, Harps and other locations throughout the area.

For those of you who plan to give up sweets for Lent, you have until Tuesday to purchase and eat your stash - because Ash Wednesday is well, Wednesday!

A personal favor

Last year, I wrote a column about Canaan, a kidlet in my life, who needed a bone marrow transplant.

Canaan had his transplant and has been recovering in Houston. Test results earlier this week have raised concerns that he may be rejecting his transplant.

If you could remember Canaan, and well, everyone who might be facing the need for an organ transplant or might be recovering from treatment.

One last thing

Starting next week, in the Grove Sun, you'll find an ad featuring well, a movie trivia question. We'll explain how the contest will work in Tuesday's paper, but the basic jist is this - bring in the answer to the question of the day and you'll be entered in a drawing for a pair of movie tickets we'll award at the end of March.

Happy welcome back and boat show weekend. Hopefully March will bring sunnier days - cause I don't know about you, but I'm ready for flip flop weather again!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Bits & Pieces: Connections


Life is truly a small world. Sometimes it takes a tragedy to remind us how interconnected we are in this world.

As the Amber Alert went out for 10-year-old Haliey Owens, her photo began popping up on the social media accounts of friends in southwest Missouri.

Then like the ripples in a pebble tossed pond, the word began to spread - especially after Kansas and Oklahoma media were added to the Amber Alert.

We live in a vast interconnected world.

We laugh and celebrate together. We cry and mourn together.

My heart breaks for the family of Owens. It cries out for my friends who work within the Springfield school system and for those who have direct connections with the family.

Sometimes living in a community hurts.

In the wake of a tragedy like this, I know my immediate reaction is to grab my loved ones, hold them tight and well, find a hole and not come out.

But isolation is not the answer.

One of my favorite authors, Thomas Merton, penned a book, No Man Is An Island during his writing career. The jist of it is this. We cannot live without connections. We need each other — not only to share our joys, but also our sadness.

I wish I knew why things happen. I guess I'll add this to my "long list" of questions that have no answers.

Evil exists in the world. It's a fact. But here's the deal, we cannot let it win.

If we isolate ourselves, turn on each other, become suspicious, and frankly look for monsters behind every nook and cranny, evil wins.

I think Grove Police Chief Mark Morris summed it up best yesterday.

We need to educate ourselves and be aware of our surroundings — but we can't scare ourselves (or our children).

Monsters may not come with signs that say "I'm evil, run from me." They don't look like the zombies on Walking Dead. Sometimes they masquerade as people we would least expect.

We need to educate ourselves, we need to talk to the kidlets in our lives. We need to step out of our isolation and band together with our community. This means not only reporting suspicious behavior but also coming together to celebrate life.

Yes, evil won in this case. But in reality, the good is shining through.

From the Springfield (Mo.) Department's Facebook page: "We would like to thank all of you, the Springfield community, as well as the dozens of communities near and far that helped spread the word of Hailey's abduction. You often witness the strength of a community in the way they handle a tragic situation, and we couldn't be more proud of the citizens' concern and assistance in this matter. ... We certainly wish more than anything that this event could have had a different conclusion. If there's any positive news in this at all, it's that the suspect is no longer on the streets of Springfield. Please keep the family and friends of Hailey in your thoughts and prayers."

I think, more and more, I'm going to need to rely on a verse a friend reminded me of yesterday.

"Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever — faith, hope, and love — and the greatest of these is love." — 1 Corinthians 13:12-13 (NLT)

I don't see things clearly right now. Evil has clouded the view for the moment. But I know that ultimately, faith, hope and love can, and will win - we just have to be willing to puzzle through the murky times in life to find them.

Kaylea M. Hutson is the managing editor of The Grove Sun. She can be reached at or 918-786-2228. This column originally appeared in the Feb. 21, 2014 issue of The Grove Sun.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Blog Tour: Smitten (Review)

When I had a chance to review this book, I jumped on it. Honestly, I love all four of the authors who contributed stories to it.

I thought, it will be a fun book to read, I'll enjoy it, go for it.

Ok, I'll start with what I liked.

The idea of a group of friends having a book club, reading a joint book is just intriguing.

To have a group of friends you are so close to and can share with in this way sounds very inviting.

I really wanted to like this book. Like I said, I liked books by all of these authors.

Some how, though, I just didn't get the book. I didn't connect with the storyline. I tried. Really, I tried.

Ultimately, though here's what I know. This is a fun book. The authors are solid. If you like a light, fun read, this book is for you.

I'm not sure why it didn't "click" for me. Like I said, I like all of these authors. Here's what I know. If you like this group of writers, it's at least worth a look.

About The Book
The century-old Gentlewoman's Guide to Love and Courtship is no ordinary book club choice. But for the little book club in Smitten, Vermont, it might be their best pick yet!

The thick, leathery tome Heather pulled out of the dusty cardboard box was definitely coming home with her. Not only was The Gentlewoman's Guide to Love and Courtship an appealing curiosity by virtue of its title; it was also written by Smitten, Vermont native Pearl Chambers, a local gentlewoman from three generations back.

Little did Heather know the repercussions this little curiosity would have on her and her friends' romantic exploits.

When Heather and her fellow book club members begin passing the book around, their respective interpretations are unleashed on their respective love lives . . . for better or for worse. Is it a mystery? An idealist fantasy? An intimation of Jane Austen? As romantic love finds its way to each woman, the Guide proves itself both surprisingly prescient and hilariously irrelevant.

What's more, a handwritten inscription indicates that the arcane book might hold the only extant clues leading to buried gold---exactly what one of the members needs to keep her house. How could they not go treasure hunting?

In this remarkable collaborative novel, besties Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Denise Hunter, and Diann Hunt tackle the tale of the Gentlewoman's Guide by writing for one book club member apiece. Smitten Book Club is a hopeful, hilarious story of friendship and healing, written by friends for friends.

Purchase a copy:

Meet the authors:
RITA-finalist Colleen Coble is the author of several best-selling romantic suspense novels, including Tidewater Inn, and the Mercy Falls, Lonestar, and Rock Harbor series.

Christy Award finalist and two-time winner of the ACFW Book of the Year award, Kristin Billerbeck has appeared on The Today Show and has been featured in the New York Times. Her books include A Billion Reasons Why and What a Girl Wants.

Denise Hunter is the award-winning and best-selling author of several novels, including A Cowboy's Touch and Sweetwater Gap. She and her husband are raising three boys in Indiana.

Diann Hunt has lived in Indiana forever, been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, her dog, and, well, chocolate. Diann lost her courageous battle with cancer in December 2013.

Smitten Book Club 
Kindle Fire Giveaway, 
Facebook Party and Saturday Brunch

The Smitten gals are back with their newest release, Smitten Book Club! Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, and Denise Hunter are celebrating with a Kindle Fire giveaway, a Facebook party on February 20, and a nationwide book-club brunch on March 22.


One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • The Smitten books (Smitten, Secretly Smitten, Smitten Book Club)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 20th. Winner will be announced at the Smitten Book Club Facebook Author Chat Party on February 20th. Connect with Colleen Coble, Denise Hunter, and Kristin Billerbeck for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! The Smitten gals will also be taking questions from the audience, giving away books and gift certificates, and sharing news about their upcoming nationwide Smitten Book Club brunch on March 22nd. (Sign up to host today!)

So grab your copy of Smitten Book Club and join Colleen, Denise, Kristin, and friends on the evening of February 20th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today

Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER 

and increase your chances of winning. 

Hope to see you on the 20th!

Sign up to host a Smitten Book Club Brunch 
on March 22nd!

Smitten Book Club Brunch Coble, Hunter, Billerbeck, Hunt

Read more reviews online at:

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this e-book by Litfuse Publicity. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Bits & Pieces: The tale of snow days and more

All in favor of spring starting immediately, say I? Motion carried. Now how do we enact this with Mother Nature?

I don't know about you, but frankly, I'm ready for spring, and as I write this, it's only Jan. 9.

From friends lamenting on Facebook about cabin fever to teachers trying crazy science experiences, I know that the last few days have been "challenging" to say the least.

Frankly, my favorite - don't try this at home without adult supervision experiments came from a couple of my teaching friends. I loved the one where you make boiling water become snow, which really does work (but note that it must be VERY cold outside, and you run the risk of being burned by water splash back if not done safely), and the "stiff as a board" frozen t-shirt.

Frankly some pictures of frozen bubbles have inspired me to have it on hand for the next really cold day.

Ah snow days. Somehow the carefree snow days of my childhood have moved into the reality of adulthood - there's really no "snow day" for adults. Work and life tend to fill in the gaps.

I know it hasn't been a popular decision at times, but after talking with Superintendent Sandy Coaly, I understand her reasoning for having canceled school in Grove - especially on Thursday.

It only takes one teacher, one student, and for that matter, one bus full of elementary students, running into difficulty, to make you realize life is short, and missing a day of school is well, not a matter of life or death.

I've been in her shoes. I've made the call when it meant more than 200 basketball players, parents and cheerleaders would miss - and not make up - an Upward Sports basketball game.

Deciding that for 200-plus individuals was hard enough - and yes, I didn't make everyone happy when I made the call for a snowstorm.

Imagine taking into account more than 2,600 students and more than 300 faculty and staff. Sandy Coaly has some hard shoes to fill in this case and I'm thankful that she is focused on the safety of GPS students and adults.

The point is this. I'm grateful to be writing a story about how the district will make up snow days, verses a story about a bus of children exposed to frostbite or worse - and I'm pretty sure, ultimately, most parents would agree they would rather read the later than the former.

Give us your opinion.

Some days, we ask questions, and get a few responses. Other days, like this week, wow, y'all have lots of opinions.

This week, we asked two questions that are still going strong, even days after the initial post on Facebook.

The first dealt with the proposed statue the Satanist would like to place on the capitol grounds featuring a seven-foot statue of what has been described as a "goat-headed demon sitting on a throne with children next to it."

The other, dealt with the city of Grove's decision to mirror the recent executive order to limit the use of electronic cigarettes on city property, well, has let us know there are some strong thoughts on both sides of the issue.

Thank you to everyone took time to share thoughts and opinions about issues raised in these question of the day. I believe it's a new form of democracy and truly lets local officials have a sampling of their constituents opinions.

So here's to snow days, snow ice cream and more. May your days be filled with laughter and humor, and may spring come quickly!

The column appeared in the Jan. 10, 2014 issue of The Grove Sun.
You can read the original column here.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, January 10, 2014

From the 01.10.13 Grove Sun

From the 01.10.14 issue of The Grove Sun
(Left) An eagle, captured in mid-flight over Grand Lake with its prey. Local photographer Dave Wagenblatt caught this image in December from his home on Monkey Island. - Dave Wagenblatt / Special to the Grove Sun

(Right) Kevin Swalley, with Vapers Tek, demonstrates the use of an electronic cigarette and the water vapor produced in the process. Swalley, who spoke at Tuesday's council meeting, urged council members to not limit the use of the devices on city property, saying many people - including himself, have used them to stop smoking regular cigarettes. - Kaylea M. Hutson / Grove Sun

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Renew my spirit

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me. - Psalm 51:10 NIV..

This week's faith photo.

Loving this concept.

Need to think of a slightly better game plan for future photos.

Fortunately a co worker took my idea - hands and snow - and made it awesome when she said "What about shaping a heart?" So I said yes! Then captured the pic after she made the shape.

Creativity and faith. Mixing the two on the faith page. I've created a monster. Now I need to think of ideas for the coming weeks.

Monday, January 6, 2014

From the 01.07.14 Issue of The Grove Sun

From the 01.07.14 Issue of The Grove Sun

(Left) Chuck Smith, with the City of Grove's Building and Grounds department, works to clear a walkway for city offices Monday morning. The weekend weather system brought in several inches of snow and temperatures hovering around zero.

(Right) On Thursday, family and friends will gather together at the Delaware County Extension office to celebrate Barbara Denney with a come-and-go retirement luncheon. The event, set for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 9, commemorates the 10 years Denney served with the Delaware County Extension services, most recently as the director, family and consumer science and 4-H educator. She is shown with two 4-H'ers during the halloween-themed fall party.

Photos by Kaylea M. Hutson / Grove Sun

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Defining my word: Laugh

Working to define my word: Laugh for the January project of One Little Word.

I've struggled with the assignment today - partly because the day changed when the "storm" blew in the snow and bitter temperatures. I've spent most of the day updating first church closing, than school closings.

I've overthought the project. Today, I finally decided to do everything digitally, Using Phonto and Instagram. A new app, Noteshelf, giving me a way to gather the images/project together in one piece.

How I'll print it? Not sure yet. But that's a concern for another day.

Here's my images up close.

My word for 2014 - Laugh.

#olw2014: Defining my word - Laugh. Ok, the definition I found didn't really fit why I chose it, so I kind of tweaked it to fit my reasoning. :-)

More about my word: The synonyms for Laugh. Again, I tweaked the definition to fit why I chose the word for 2014.

My Selfie portrait. The assignment was to take a current pic, or use one that represents your word within the last six months.

I love this one. I took it in December, after Tassie highlighted my hair. I liked it, because I was laughing after I finished - because I walked in to get a cut, and said "do what ever you want" and came out with highlights.

So here's the first part of the January assignment. My word, its definition and some of the other words that relate to it.

This is a journey of self discovery. It's not a sprint, but rather a marathon. Here's to a year-long marathon designed to help me truly embrace my word. I'm hoping it helps me smile for rest of the year.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Saving Mr. Banks

I had a chance to slip away and see Saving Mr. Banks today.

The movie (despite having a few "spoiler" comments from friends) was not what I anticipated.

It was even better. The storyline, which shows how Walt Disney worked for more than 20 years to bring Mary Poppins to life, to keep a promise to his daughters.

It also shows how PL Travers strived to honor her father, despite his flaws.

It was powerful. I loved the performances by Tom Hanks & Emma Thompson. Wow. Each embraced their respective character with depth and authenticity.

I also loved how the storyline was filled with messages of hope, perseverance and forgiveness of oneself and others.

The story also found a way to reminds all of us to find laughter and joy in life despite things that happen in the past.

This was definitely a film worth seeing. Here's a tip - STAY thru the credits.

I loved this quote, Disney told Travers at the end of the fillm, as he encouraged her to step out in faith and to trust him with her story.

“That’s what storytellers do. We restore order to imagination. We bring hope.”

On a side note: It's amazing how this story wove into my word for 2014 - Laugh. Travers had to learn how to put aside the past in order to learn how to laugh again.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, January 3, 2014

Bits & Pieces: Starting a New Year

The new year started with a bang (literally) for me Tuesday, as I hung out with a friend and her kidlets as they had a New Year's Eve slumber party.

By bang, I mean those crazy little confetti poppers. I had fun tormenting my friend's first grader, with the poppers - he liked the idea of popping them, but not listening to them pop!

And then there was the "just dance" party, and a crazy game of charades. Let's just say, hanging out with my friends helped me start my year with hours filled with lots of laughs (my word for 2014, if you missed last week's column.)

Then on January 1, I joined others across the country taking part in the "First Day Hike," at one of the many state parks. I was near Siloam Springs, and love the Natural Falls State Park, so I brushed off my walking shoes and went for a hike.

Ok, for the record, walking on a treadmill does NOT prepare you for the "natural trail" at Natural Falls State Park. I'm glad a few people were patient as I trudged up the path.

It was nice to be outside for more than an hour, spending time away from the "screens" that take up most of my life.

I love the concept behind the First Day Hike. It's like Amanda Wiley, the park manager for Grand Lake State Park - Bernice Nature Center told me, the hike is one of the many activities she will plan this year to get people outside and enjoying nature.

Wiley has several things planned during the course of the next year, including a weekly "wild eats" program, that lets visitors to Bernice see the park's animals during feeding time.

So how did you ring in the New Year? Did you make any resolutions (or revolutions as my friend's first grader said in all sincerity).

I also spent New Year's Day celebrating the arrival of the New Year babies (see elsewhere in the paper for their happy stories), yet grieving, for a young family that I know.

Drew and Mandy Harris have fought valiantly, with integrity and honor, as their daughters, Alex and Emma struggled for years with a wretched disease known as PKAN or Pantothenate Kinase-Associated Neurodegeneration, a rare genetic disorder that allows for the accumulation of iron in a person’s brain.

The disease caused the girls to exhibit many of the symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease, including a rigidity of muscles, tremors and a lack of coordination. It also affects a person’s cognitive and developmental abilities.

One to three individuals for every one million births are diagnosed with PKAN. Alex and Emma Harris were, at the time of their diagnosis in 2009, the first cases of the disease at Children’s Mercy in Kansas City.

While many with PKAN live into their 20s or 30s. Individuals who present symptoms early in life, often progress with the disease at a faster rate.

For Mandy and Drew, this meant saying goodbye to their youngest daughter Emma in March 2012. On Wednesday, their first-born daughter, Alex who turned 11 at the end of December, ended her battle with the disease.

On Tuesday, I'll journey to northwest Arkansas, to stand alongside friends, and the many children I know who grew up with Alex, to say goodbye to a sweet little girl who charmed everyone she knew. A little girl who could say more with her eyes, than words, and loved the color purple.

So if you see me in town sporting purple highlights, know I'm joining in with others to honor Alex's memory in this way.

Do me a favor this week, hug the kidlets (of all ages) in your life, and make sure they know how much you love them, and care for them - and then make some memories. Because, like Patti Beth says in her column today, memories are what last for a lifetime.

Kaylea M. Hutson is the managing editor of The Grove Sun. She can be reached at or 918-786-2228.

Note. This column appeared in the Jan. 3, 2014 issue of The Grove Sun. Click here for the original link.

From the 01.03.14 issue of The Grove Sun

From the 01.03.14 - Issue of The Grove Sun


It's (Two) Girls!

Read more about them here!

(Left) Derek Hagar and Toshina Williams of Grove welcome their daughter, Lexie Nichole Hagar, the first baby born at INTEGRIS Grove Hospital in 2014. She arrived at 12:10 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 1, weighing weighing 6 pounds, 12 ounces, and was 18.5 inches long.

(Right) Isabel Mae King arrived at 4:21 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 1, to Cheyenne Burlein and Brandon King, weighing 5 pounds, 9 ounces and measuring 18 inches long.

Kaylea M. Hutson / Grove Sun

Here's a fun fact: Dr. Zachary Bechtol was on call for the New Year's deliveries. The two girls were his first two New Year's Day babies.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Deep calling deep

Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life. (Psalm 42:7, 8 NIV)

I'm trying something new. On Fridays, when the faith page is "light" on stuff, I'm putting a photo in, with a bible verse - kind of a devo without words.

Another way to try some non-traditional journalism, and a way to blend the yin / yang of my world.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Bits & Pieces: Happy New Year!

I originally wrote this column for the Dec. 27, 2013 issue of The Grove Sun - my last editor's column for the year. It seems appropriate for today, the first day of 2014. - Happy New Year!

As you read this, the 12 days of Christmas are in full swing (psst. Christmas really doesn't end until Jan. 6, on Epiphany) and the first day of 2014 is knocking on our doors.

Are you ready for 2014? Well, I guess it doesn't matter if you answer no, because guess what — it will be here, ready or not — in a less than four days.

A year — 365 days full of untapped possibilities — await you. What are your hopes and dreams this New Year?

Do you have a resolution to make? If you are like me, the resolution made on New Year’s Eve is often left in the dust by spring break.

In the last few years, starting in 2007, I’ve done something different. Rather than make a resolution that will fail, I've filled my days with a word to help guide my life.

I’ll be honest, because I’m a “wordy” gal, I usually pick one word in January, and then by mid-summer, another has woven into my life. Such is the case in the first year, when I started looking for “wonder” around me, and later found myself “seek”ing out God’s will for my life.

Other past choices have included simplicity and joy (2008), dream and hope (2009), half-full and see (2010), new and renews (2011) and rest and sabbath (2012).

One word.

It amazes me the power a single word can hold, especially as I watch God use it to shape and define the things I encounter in a year.

It's quite astounding really, when I think of the ways God uses the words I choose to speak to me — through the experiences that fill my days.

In 2013, I began the year with "imagine" and that word grew to include "rejoice." I will admit, however, I spent most of the year focusing on "imagine."

I found the word imagine (or maybe it found me) before Christmas 2012, when a friend and ministry colleague handed me a rock with the word imagine engraved on it.

He challenged me to "imagine" the freedom that can only be found because of God's love. He also challenged me to consider the things in store for my life, that may seem beyond my imagination.

At that time, God only knew how the word would shape my year. In the past year, God has used the word to challenge me to imagine a new direction in life — and even a chance to return to the newsroom.

Was it easy? Absolutely not. But things that challenge us are often what ultimately bring us the greatest joy and satisfaction.

This year, my word came to me as I spent time putting together the "Christmas adventure" that unfolded for Sunny the Elf on The Grove Sun's Facebook page.

I'll be honest, I laughed a lot as I not only took the pictures, but as Samantha and I put the storyline together on Christmas Eve.

Suddenly, the word for 2014 began to emerge — laugh. It was reinforced when a new friend texted me a photo on Christmas eve with an altered sign with "For Lease Navidad," painted on it. (I'll admit that I'm still giggling over the photo several days later.)

Life gets pretty serious, especially in a newsroom. Sometimes laughter is truly the only medicine to get through the day. So I'm starting the year with a goal to find ways to fill my days with laughter.

Defining 2014
So what word would you use for 2014? What comes to mind? Maybe it’s “new” or “adventure” — because of the endless possibilities that await you. Or maybe it’s “friend” because you want to focus on building or repairing friendships with the people around you.

Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong answer to this idea. You simply pick a word to help define your hopes and dreams for 2014 — then start looking for the things God wants to teach you using the word.

A new year — 365 days as clean as a page in new sketchpad — and new opportunities. What will you create this year?

Kaylea M. Hutson is the managing editor of The Grove Sun. She can be reached at or 918-786-2228.

Note. This column appeared in the Dec. 27, 2013 issue of The Grove Sun. Click here for the original link.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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